Monday, 4th April 2016

GREECE Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for the International Monetary Fund to replace top officials overseeing the nation’s bailout following leaked information on the IMF possibly pressuring Germany to provide debt relief to Greece. (Bloomberg)

MIGRANT CRISISFirst boats carrying people from Greece arrive on Turkish shores under EU deal. More than 200 people have been put on boats by Greek police and sent back to Turkey under a deal the EU brokered with Ankara to stem the flow of refugees to Europe. (Al Jazeera)

TURKEY Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday ruled out reviving peace talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and vowed to stamp out the conflict, at its deadliest in two decades, once and for all. Two members of the security forces were killed in fighting in the mainly Kurdish southeast on Monday, officials said. (Al Arabiya)

WAR ON TERRORSyrian forces and their allies have retaken the central town of al-Qaryatain from so-called Islamic State (IS), dealing a further strategic blow to the militant group, state media say. It comes days after IS was pushed out of the nearby ancient city of Palmyra. (BBC)

Tuesday, 5th April 2016

CYPRUS Cyprus’ potential wealth from newly-found offshore gas reserves could be used to partly fund a costly deal reunifying the ethnically-divided island, the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots said Monday. Akinci said with the “likely” improvement in relations between Turkey and Israel, Cypriot and Israeli gas could flow to Turkish and European markets through a pipeline linking a reunified island with Turkey about 70 kilometers (45 miles) away. (Time of Israel)

MIGRANT CRISISGreece may have deported asylum seekers by mistake, says UN. Some of the first people to be deported from Europe under the terms of the EU-Turkey migration deal may have been deported by mistake, the UN refugee agency has said. (The Guardian)

SYRIA – The United Nations envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow Tuesday as he looked to lay the groundwork for peace talks expected to resume next week. The visit came as the UN said the talks will likely restart in Geneva on April 11, but that regime negotiators would only arrive several days later, after the completion of parliamentary elections in the country. (Al Arabiya)

The Islamic State group has mounted a deadly gas attack against Syrian troops at a besieged eastern airbase, state news agency SANA said, the latest report of the jihadists’ use of chemical weapons. (Daily Mail)

Wednesday, 6th April 2016

CYPRUS Cyprus has approved the extradition of an Egyptian national who faces charges of hijacking a plane, in response to a request from the Egyptian government, Cypriot government and court officials said on Wednesday. (The Wall Street Journal)

MIGRANT CRISIS – Greece paused deportations of migrants to Turkey on Tuesday, a day after the first boats took back 202 people under a controversial EU plan to cut off a migrant route to Europe. Hundreds more are due to be removed later this week, but the migrants are arriving in Greece faster than they can be sent back. (BBC)

Days after a wave of deportations of migrants arriving in Europe from Turkey, the European Union’s executive arm proposed a new quota system for members accepting asylum seekers to ease the burden on the nations confronted with an overwhelming influx. The proposals would create a quota mechanism to deal with exceptional situations when a country is confronted with an unmanageable crisis. (The New York Times)

SYRIA A pregnant woman and three children were among 18 civilians killed when Syrian fighters shelled a Kurdish neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo, according to a monitoring group. (Al Jazeera)

Thursday, 7th April 2016

ISRAELThe Israeli military has tripled its demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied territories over the past three months, a United Nations’ report says. Figures collated by the UN’s office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) – which operates in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – show from an average of 50 demolitions a month in 2012-2015, the number rose to 165 since January, with 235 demolitions in February alone. (Al Jazeera)

MIGRANT CRISIS – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday warned the European Union that Ankara would not implement a key deal on reducing the flow of migrants if Brussels failed to fulfill its side of the bargain. (The Daily Star)

TURKEY The U.S. ambassador to Turkey has called on Kurdish rebels to lay down arms and end violence in Turkey. Ambassador John Bass also said Thursday that the United States does not provide weapons to a Syrian Kurdish militia group, which is affiliated with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party — or PKK. (The New York Times)

Friday, 8th April 2016

EGYPT Italy on Friday recalled its ambassador to Egypt for consultations in protest over the lack of progress in a probe into the fate of murdered Cambridge student Giulio Regeni. The move came after two days of talks between Egyptian and Italian investigators in Rome ended without a resolution of tensions between the two countries over the fate of 28-year-old Regeni, whose tortured and mutilated body was discovered outside Cairo on February 3. (Middle East Eye)

Saudi Arabia’s king has announced that a bridge linking the country to Egypt will be built over the Red Sea. King Salman said in a statement that the bridge would boost commerce between the two allies. (BBC)

GREECE Greece sealed the sale of Piraeus Port Authority to China COSCO Shipping Corporation on Friday, while striking dockworkers protested against what will be the country’s second major privatization since late last year. The sale of Greece’s biggest port had been halted by the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras when it won elections in January last year but it was resumed under Greece’s 86 billion-euro bailout deal agreed with its euro zone partners in August. (Reuters)

Greece and its creditors are aiming to agree on a list of new austerity measures in the coming days to break months of deadlock over the country’s bailout, with Greece needing billions of euros in rescue funding to avoid bankruptcy this summer, but differences remain between European authorities and the International Monetary Fund. (The Wall Street Journal)

MIGRANT CRISIS Greece has lifted its suspension of the EU-Turkey migration deal, deporting a second group of migrants to Turkey after a four-day pause amid administrative chaos and civil unrest. The country forcibly returned 124 people from the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Kos early on Friday – the first deportations since the EU-Turkey migration deal came into effect on Monday and was then halted. (The Guardian)