Monday, 20th July 2015

EUROPEAN UNION – The EU is within months of enacting a long-delayed plan to label products made in occupied Palestinian lands, prompting a fightback from Israel to stop what it regards as the use of consumer policy as a political weapon. (Financial Times)

GREECE – Greece reopened its banks and ordered billions of euros owed to international creditors to be repaid on Monday in the first signs of a return to normal after last week’s deal to agree a tough new package of bailout reforms. Customers queued up as bank branches opened for the first time in three weeks on Monday after they were closed to save the system from collapsing under a flood of withdrawals. (Reuters)

ITALY – Four Italian employees working for a construction firm on the western coast of Libya have been kidnapped, the Italian Foreign Ministry said Monday. (CNN)

MIGRANTS CRISIS – The surge of migrants into Europe from war-ravaged and impoverished parts of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa has shifted in recent months. Migrants are now pushing by land across the western Balkans, in numbers roughly equal to those entering the Continent through Italy. (The New York Times)

PALESTINE – At least four explosions rocked Gaza City early Sunday, targeting cars belonging to officials from Islamist factions, including the territory’s Hamas rulers. There was no claim of responsibility, but speculation immediately centered on Islamic State supporters who have been battling Hamas and other Islamist groups in the small coastal strip. (The Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, 21st July 2015

IRAN – The United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution that creates the basis for international economic sanctions against Iran to be lifted, a move that incited a furious reaction in Israel and potentially sets up an angry showdown in Congress. (The New York Times)

ISRAEL – The Obama administration opened its Middle East reassurance tour on Monday with the secretary of defense, Ashton B. Carter, promising Israeli officials that the United States would remain vigilant in trying to combat what he called “Iran’s malign influence” in the region despite the nuclear deal struck last week between Tehran and six world powers. (The New York Times)

MIGRANTS CRISIS – EU Ministers have fallen short of a target to agree the redistribution of 40,000 migrants who have arrived in Italy and Greece. At a meeting in Brussels, they agreed to start the relocation of just over 32,000 in October. The allocation of the remainder will be decided by the end of the year, officials said. (BBC)

TURKEY – Turkey’s Government blamed Islamic State for a suicide bombing in a Kurdish border town that killed at least 31 people, one of the worst cases of spillover violence from the four-year-old war in neighboring Syria. The attacker targeted a cultural center in the town of Suruc where some 300 members of socialist youth groups from across the country were meeting Monday to prepare rebuilding projects in the Syrian city of Kobani, just across the border. (The Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, 22nd July 2015

ISRAEL – EU Foreign Ministers have called on Israel to halt plans for the “forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing” in the West Bank village of Khirbet Susiya amid growing concerns that it may be knocked down in the coming days. (The Guardian)

SYRIA – A military drone strike this month killed the leader of a shadowy Qaeda cell in Syria that American officials say has been plotting attacks against the United States and Europe, Pentagon officials said on Tuesday. The leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, was killed on July 8 while traveling in a vehicle near Sarmada, in northwestern Syria, a Defense Department spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, said in a statement. (The New York Times)

TURKEY – Kurdish militants claimed responsibility for the killing of two Turkish police officers on Wednesday in what they said was retaliation for a suspected Islamic State suicide bombing which killed 32 mostly young students. (Reuters)

Thursday, 23rd July 2015

GREECE – Greece’s creditors prepared on Thursday for the start of bailout talks in Athens, after lawmakers adopted a second package of reform measures before dawn despite a left wing rebellion that may bring early elections. (Reuters)

IRAN – Iran on Thursday outlined plans to rebuild its main industries and trade relationships following a nuclear agreement with world powers, saying it was targeting oil and gas projects worth $185 billion by 2020. Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said the Islamic Republic would focus on its oil and gas, metals and car industries with an eye to exporting to Europe after sanctions have been lifted, rather than simply importing Western technology. (Reuters)

SAUDI ARABIA – Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter gave a surprisingly upbeat assessment on Wednesday of American relations with Saudi Arabia, asserting that the kingdom welcomed the international nuclear deal reached with its regional rival, Iran. Mr. Carter, who visited Jidda and held his first meeting with King Salman, also said the Saudi monarch would visit the United States this fall and was committed to fighting the Islamic State, the Sunni militant extremist group. (The New York Times)

Friday, 24th July 2015

SYRIA – Syria’s Foreign Minister said on Friday it was too early to hold another United Nations-backed peace conference on Syria, indicating the dim prospects for diplomacy as a U.N. envoy wraps up three months of consultations on the war. (The Daily Mail)

TURKEY – Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday that security operations against Islamic State, as well as leftist and Kurdish militants, were not a one-off but were comprehensive and would continue. Davutoglu told reporters at a news conference that 297 people, including 37 foreign nationals, were detained in operations across the country. The raids followed air strikes by Turkish fighter jets against Islamic State in Syria, which completely destroyed their targets, Davutoglu said. (Reuters)