Weekly News 8 – 12 May 2017 | Mediterranean Affairs

Weekly News 8 – 12 May 2017 |  

Monday, 8 May 2017

France: Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, 39, has become France’s youngest-ever president after an estimated 65% to 35% victory in the second round run-off against Front National’s right-wing leader Marine Le Pen. (The Guardian)

Israel: Israel has released a video that appears to show the high-profile leader of a Palestinian hunger strike eating in prison.
The prison service released the video of what it said was Marwan Barghouti eating cookies and confectionery on two occasions in late April and early May.
Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, claimed the video was “fabricated” and “intended to break the morale of prisoners”, after more than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails joined Barghouti in refusing food from 17 April. (The Guardian)

Migration crisis: At least 113 people are missing at sea after a migrant boat wreck off the coast of Libya, International Organization for Migration spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said Monday. (AnsaMED)

Syria:Syria’s foreign minister says the government will not accept foreign forces patrolling any of the newly-established so-called ‘safe zones’.
It’s part of a deal struck by Russia, Iran and Turkey to reduce violence in Syria, but it has gotten off to a shaky start. (Al Jazeera)

Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has compared Israel’s policies against the Palestinians to the racism of the early days of the United States and the apartheid-era in South Africa. The Turkish leader criticised Israel over legislation working its way through the Knesset that would place restrictions on the Islamic call to prayer. One such bill would ban calls to worship via loudspeakers between 11pm and 7am. Erdogan’s comments come shortly after Israeli ministers approved a controversial bill that will downgrade Arabic as an official language. (Al Jazeera)

Weekly News 8 – 12 May 2017 |  

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

France: French far-right MP Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, whose aunt was defeated in Sunday’s presidential election, has said she is quitting politics for “personal and political reasons”.
She was seen by some as a future leader of the National Front (FN), founded by her grandfather Jean-Marie Le Pen.
She said she was giving up because she missed her two-year-old daughter but was not leaving politics for good. (BBC)

Malta: Malta’s embattled prime minister, Joseph Muscat, is facing a growing rebellion in Brussels, where MEPs are openly calling for his departure amid a growing corruption scandal involving his wife, a Panamanian shell company and alleged payments from the president of Azerbaijan’s daughter.
The Mediterranean island state’s presidency of the EU, which began in January, has been rocked by allegations of money laundering and kickbacks. Malta’s spell at the helm of the union has done nothing to airbrush its reputation as a haven for dark money, and with the entire European project now at stake, it is becoming a source of anxiety and embarrassment in Brussels.
The scandal began last year with the publication of the Panama Papers, a leak of 11.5m documents from the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca. (The Guardian)

Syria:The Trump administration has announced it will arm Syria’s Kurdish fighters “as necessary” to recapture the key Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, despite intense opposition from the US’s Nato ally Turkey, which sees the Kurds as terrorists.  The officials described no firm timeline, with the American intention to provide the new weapons to the Syrian Kurds as soon as possible. (The Guardian)

Weekly News 8 – 12 May 2017 |

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Kosovo: Kosovo’s government fell on Wednesday after members of parliament backed a no-confidence motion, paving the way for a snap legislative election next month. Prime Minister Isa Mustafa failed to win the confidence of 78 out of the body’s 120 MPs, marking an end to the coalition of his Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and President Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party (PDK).Following the vote, Thaci dissolved parliament. According to the constitution, the election has to be held within 45 days. (Al Jazeera)

Migration crisis: In the first effect of a deal recently signed with Italy the Libyan Coast Guard, recently equipped with Italian vessels, on Wednesday rescued a boat carrying some 300 migrants and took it back to Tripoli. The migrants had sent an SOS to the Italian Coast Guard. (AnsaMED)

Russia: Russia is marking the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II 72 years ago. President Vladimir Putin has attended a large military parade in Moscow. Victory Day is still one of the most important holidays in the country. (Al Jazeera)

Tunisia: Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi has ordered the army to protect the output of the country’s main resources following a wave of protests over unemployment and worsening economic conditions. Protests return to Tunisia as trading route is closed. It is the first time that troops in Tunisia were deployed to guard industrial installations, including phosphate, gas and oil production facilities, that are key to the national economy. (Al Jazeera)

Turkey: Turkey warned the United States on Wednesday that a decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in Syria could end up hurting Washington, and accused its NATO ally of siding with terrorists. (Reuters)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Afghanistan: A proposal to boost NATO forces in Afghanistan will be on the agenda of a meeting between the alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.
The meeting comes on the heels of a request from military chiefs for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan. (Al Jazeera)

France: Emmanuel Macron’s start-up political party was to announce on Thursday the names of several hundred candidates to do battle in a French parliamentary election that will decide how much power the centrist president-elect will enjoy once in office. (Reuters)

Syria: An alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has announced it has taken a strategically important town from so-called Islamic State (IS).
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had “completely liberated” the town and its nearby dam, which are 40km (25 miles) west of IS-stronghold Raqqa. (BBC)

Tens of Saudi Arabian soldiers were killed and wounded after Yemeni forces fired missiles on two Saudi military bases near the southern Saudi Arabian city of Najran, in what is being called an act of retaliation, according to a report by Iranian broadcaster PressTV. The bases targeted were al-Fawaz and al-Makhrouq.
Inside Yemen, four soldiers from the Saudi-led coalition were killed during ground fighting in Ma’arib Province. (ANSAmed)

Weekly News 8 – 12 May 2017 |  

Friday, 12 May 2017

Israel: Approximately 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners are on their fourth week of a hunger strike, risking their lives in hopes of gaining basic rights in Israeli jails. The prisoners’ demands are simple. They include the installation of a public telephone to communicate with their families, reinstating bimonthly family visits, better medical treatment, allowing prisoners to take photographs with their families regularly, and installing air conditioning where lacking.
Spread across several prisons in Israel, Palestinian prisoners embarked on the dangerous journey of an open-ended fast to pressure Israel – which is responsible under international law for the well-being of all persons in its custody – to improve prison conditions. The prisoners are surviving on salt water only. (Al Jazeera)

Italy: Explosions damaged a car near a post office in central Rome on Friday, Italian media reported, although nobody appeared to have been injured in the blast. RAI said two devices had been found near parked cars in the area, where authorities were exploring all possible causes, including that the explosive may have been a letter bomb or a similar improvised device. (Reuters)

Turkey: Police on Friday arrested Oğuz Güven, the web editor of Turhish secular opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet. (ANSAmed)

Yemen: An attack on Yemen’s Hodeidah port would displace more than 400,000 people, the U.N. International Organization for Migration said on Friday, doubling its previous minimum estimate. (Reuters)

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