Monday, 20th April 2015

LIBYA – Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said “a joint operation against smugglers is possible in Europe but it must be targeted”, in an interview with RTL radio in the wake of a shipwreck believed to have killed hundreds. Renzi suggested “targeted operations against smugglers, people who need to be brought to justice. Italy arrested 976, how is it possible we are the only ones doing that?”. “We ask Europe to confront the issue of Libya in a more serious way than in the past”, Renzi told RTL. “We need to solve the problem of Libya from its root cause”. (ANSAmed)

TUNISIA – Tunisian political parties and unions have criticized a security law draft, saying it could harm freedom of expression and other rights in Tunisia four years after an uprising that ushered in democracy. The draft law sets out five years in prison for insulting the morale of the security forces and two years for anyone who publishes information on operations. Publication of any security documents can lead to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. (Reuters)

TURKEY – Turkey’s top cleric on Monday described comments by Pope Francis that the 1915 mass killing of Armenians was genocide as immoral and said the Vatican should look to its own history before leveling accusations of casting stones. (The Huffington Post)

ISRAEL – Israel said on Monday the drowning of hundreds of Africans off Libya’s coast was tragic but validated its own policy of having buffered its land barriers with Africa to keep migrants away. Yisrael Katz, Minister for Transport in the outgoing cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called the deaths in the Mediterranean a “tragedy that shocks all humanity” which also showcases Europe’s difficulties in handling the migrant flow. (Reuters)

SYRIA – The United Nations Security Council has today expressed deep concern about the grave humanitarian situation in Yarmouk refugee camp, located on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The Security Council stressed the need to support the emergency relief effort for civilians in Yarmouk including through funding the $30 million emergency appeal and to provide diplomatic and political support for the agency. (UNNewsCenter)

Thursday, 21st April 2015

LEBANON – A Saudi-funded $3 billion deal to provide Lebanon with French weapons was underway on Monday as the first shipment arrived at the Beirut International airport. The deal, signed last November, aims to bolster the Lebanese army’s fight against militants encroaching from neighboring Syria. Saudi Arabia has already provided $1 billion in military aid to the Lebanese army. (Al-Arabiya)

LIBYA – A bomb was detonated in front of the Spanish embassy in Tripoli Monday night, causing some damages to the building but no causalities, the international media reported adding that Isis claimed responsibility for the blast. (ANSAmed)

EGYPT – Mohamed Mursi’s reversal of fortune from Egypt’s first freely elected president to a prisoner sentenced to 20 years in jail on Tuesday will not break his will to return to power, his son said. (Reuters)

Wednesday, 22nd April 2015

TURKEY – The European Parliament has approved by a show of hands a resolution that recognizes the Armenian genocide, pays homage to the victims and proposes the institution of a European Remembrance Day, deploring all attempts of denial. It also passed an amendment that “praises the message” of Pope Francis. (ANSAmed)

ARMENIA – Armenia’s president said on Wednesday he was ready to normalize relations with Turkey, two months after he withdrew peace accords from parliament, blaming a Turkish lack of political will to end 100 years of hostility. (Reuters)

SYRIA – Russia is arming Iraq and Syria to help them fight Islamic State, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, calling the radical militant group the main threat to his own country’s security. (Reuters)

Tuesday, 23rd April

LIBYA – The parliament and government of Tripoli, rivals to the Torbuk-based ones recognized by the international community, said Tuesday they were willing to “cooperate with the Italian government against clandestine migration in the Mediterranean”. The statement was issued by the unrecognized legislative body, the General National Congress (GNC). Making explicit reference to the migrant boat disaster in recent days, the GNC and the National Salvation Government (NSG) asked “to support efforts aiming to reach a global political solution that helps us achieve stability, re-establish state authority and control borders” and oil terminals. (ANSAmed)

SYRIA – Syrian rebels’ seizure of the main frontier crossing with Jordan has dealt a heavy blow to the Damascus government’s efforts to revive a once thriving export trade crippled by civil war, and is also hurting businesses across the region. (Reuters)

EUROPEAN UNION – European Union leaders met Thursday to discuss the Mediterranean migrant crisis at an emergency summit that Italian Premier Matteo Renzi pressed for following last weekend’s boat disaster in which over 700 people are feared to have died. Sources have said the summit will also decide to widen its “range of action” – but without changing its mandate. The Triton operation, run by the EU border agency FRONTEX, took over from Italy’s bigger and better-funded Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue operation last November. However, it was given a different mandate from Mare Nostrum, focusing on patrol and rescue rather than search and rescue. Critics – including Amnesty International and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – have slammed Operation Triton as failing to meet the rescue demands of the thousands of people pouring into Europe each year via Italy’s southernmost shores, many of them fleeing war in Africa and the Middle East. (ANSAmed)

Friday, 24th April

TUNISIA – The presumed captain of a migrant boat that sank off Libya with the loss of more than 700 lives appeared before an Italian judge on Friday after prosecutors asked that he be charged with homicide and people trafficking. (Reuters)

GREECE – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had “constructive and positive” talks on the sidelines of an immigration summit in Brussels on Thursday. Kathimerini online reports quoting Greek government sources as saying and adding that there was a “convergence of views” on the level of Greece’s primary surplus target this year and next year and as regards privatizations. (ANSAmed)

ITALY – Italian police launched a massive operation on Friday after uncovering an alleged al-Qaeda network based in Italy, ANSA sources said. The operation featured raids in seven Italian provinces after 18 arrest warrants were issued following a probe by prosecutors in the Sardinian city of Cagliari. The operation targeted Islamist extremists linked to several acts of terrorism and sabotage in Pakistan, including an attack on a Peshawar market in October 2009 in which over 200 people died. Among the suspects were two members of a network that protected late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, the sources said. (ANSAmed)

TURKEY – While Turkey marked National Sovereignty and children’s Day all over the country on Thursday, a recent official report has revealed that child poverty still remains an alarming concern, with 32.4% of the minors in Turkey classified as poor as daily Today’s Zaman reports. (ANSAmed)

EUROPEAN UNION – The “operational area” of the EU’s Triton border-patrol and rescue mission will be extended after its resources and units are strengthened under a new EU accord, European Commission spokesperson Natasha Bernaud said Friday. She did not specify how this would happen because “the decision is up to Italy and (EU border agency) FRONTEX”. The geographical extension, beyond 30 nautical miles from coastlines, “has nothing to do with the mandate,” she said. (ANSAmed)