Monday, 22nd February 2016

LYBIA – The head of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Monday that more attacks on Libya’s oil facilities are likely unless a United Nations-backed unity government is approved. Militants have hit one oilfield just last week. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

SYRIA – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, had reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria and the sides were closer to a ceasefire than ever before. (Reuters)

The agreements between Russia and the U.S. on a cease-fire in Syria are a real step towards halting the bloodshed and may become an example of action against terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday, Russian news agencies reported.  (Haaretz)

TURKEY – Turkey’s military said on Monday it had killed 14 militants in a drive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the southeast as an envoy from the European Parliament denounced what she said were rights abuses by Ankara. (Reuters)

Tuesday, 23rd February 2016

ITALY – Europe’s top human rights court condemned Italy on Tuesday for its role in the 2003 kidnap by the CIA of an Egyptian Muslim cleric under the U.S. “extraordinary rendition” program. (Reuters)

LEBANON – Saudi Arabia on Tuesday warned its nationals against travel to Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates banned its citizens from traveling to the Arab country. The news comes after Riyadh cut $4 billion in military aid to Lebanon over Beirut’s failure to back the Sunni kingdom in its spat with Shiite powerhouse Iran, the leading backer of Hezbollah. (Al-Arabiya)

MIGRANT CRISIS – More than 700 migrants were rescued from six leaky boats in the sea between Tunisia and Sicily on Tuesday and four were found dead, the Italian navy said. (Reuters)

More than 100,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe so far this year, at triple the rate of arrivals over the first half of 2015. At least 102,500 have arrived on the Greek islands of Samos, Kos and Lesbos, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). (The Guardians)

TURKEY – Kurdistan’s oil exports to world markets are set to be suspended for a second week running, a shipping source said, a move that will deprive Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of its main revenue stream as the security situation in southeast Turkey worsens. (Reuters)

 

Wednesday, 24th February 2016

MIGRANT CRISIS – Austria and nine Balkan states on Wednesday agreed on several measures to choke off the flow of refugees from Greece, effectively imposing their own response to the migrant crisis while the European Union has been paralyzed over what to do. (The New York Times)

MOROCCO – Public and private sector workers in Morocco’s four largest labor unions went on strike for 24 hours on Wednesday, protesting against government efforts to overhaul spending on pensions and subsidies. (Al Jazeera)

SYRIA – A diplomatic push in recent weeks to secure access for desperately-needed humanitarian aid to all of the some 480,000 people estimated to be living in besieged parts of Syria has made great strides, top UN official Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva. (Al-Monitor)

TURKEY – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday said Syrian Kurdish militia forces must remain outside the scope of a ceasefire agreed between Syria’s warring parties, in a blow to the deal days before it is due to be enforced. (The Daily Star)

WAR ON TERROR – Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognized government have seized a key central neighborhood of Benghazi from militia groups, the military said. Special Forces on Tuesday retook the Benghazi area of Lithi, which had been a stronghold for armed groups including the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) group, after days of fierce clashes. (Al Jazeera)

Thursday, 25th February 2016

GREECE – Greece has recalled its ambassador to Austria amid growing tensions between the two countries over Vienna’s strong-arm approach to the handling of Europe’s migrant crisis.  Enraged at its exclusion from a mini-summit of Balkan states convened by Austria on Wednesday, Athens hit back denouncing what it described as diplomacy that had “roots in the 19th century.” (The Guardian)

MIGRANT CRISIS – EU interior ministers met in Brussels on Thursday in their latest attempt to forge a common response, but the meeting was clouded by a ferocious row between Greece and Austria, which is spearheading a campaign to quarantine Greece and throttle the flow of migrants up the Balkans by partially sealing the Greek border with Macedonia. (The Guardian)

SYRIA – The United Nations set a Friday deadline for all parties to accept a framework cease-fire agreement in Syria that will lay out how the truce will be enforced and what will happen in case of violations. (The Wall Street Journal)

TURKEY – Russian energy giant Gazprom has reduced natural gas supplies to private sector companies in Turkey by 10 percent due to a price dispute, officials at Turkey’s energy ministry told Reuters on Thursday. (Reuters)

WAR ON TERROR – Libyan forces battled to clear Islamic State insurgents from the western city of Sabratha on Thursday, in fighting that killed at least three Libyans and one of the militants, officials said. (Reuters)

 

Friday, 26thFebruary 2016

EUROPEAN UNION – The rift over how to handle Europe’s immigration crisis ripped wide open Friday. As nations along the Balkans migrant route took more unilateral actions to shut down their borders, diplomats from EU nations bordering the Mediterranean rallied around Greece, the epicenter of the crisis. (The Washington Post)

MIGRANT CRISIS – The Greek government is trapping thousands of refugees on islands in the Aegean Sea after ordering ferries to stop transporting them to the mainland. Instructions were sent to transport companies and regional authorities on Friday morning as tightened restrictions on asylum seekers attempting to travel through Macedonia, Slovenia and Austria drove the situation in the country to crisis point. (The Independent)

SYRIA – U.S. President Barack Obama put the onus for upholding a ceasefire in Syria firmly on the regime and its Russian ally on Thursday, warning Moscow and Damascus that the “world will be watching.” (The Telegraph)

The al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front rejected on Friday the cessation of hostilities in Syria due to begin at midnight, and urged insurgents to intensify attacks against President Bashar al-Assad and his allies. (Reuters)

Russian warplanes carried out intense air strikes on rebel strongholds in Syria on Friday hours before a ceasefire was due to come into force, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. The partial ceasefire between regime forces and non-jihadist rebel fighters is due to take effect at midnight Friday Damascus time. (Al-Monitor)