Monday, 20th June 2016

TURKEY – Turkish police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a banned rally by the LGBT community in central Istanbul. Several hundred riot police surrounded the main Taksim Square on Sunday to prevent the event called “Trans Pride” from taking place. The rally was to kick off the LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender – week in Turkey. (Al Jazeera)

ISRAEL – On the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Washington in March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a private meeting with Israel’s energy minister, Yuval Steinitz. It was the highest level contact between Israel and Turkey since diplomatic relations broke down six years ago after Israeli forces raided a Turkish ship bound for Gaza, killing 10 Turkish activists. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Israeli government is considering a proposal to build an artificial island off the Gaza Strip that a top official says would give Palestinians living in the besieged enclave their one and only seaport — and maybe a hotel and an international airport, too. (The Washington Post)

WAR ON TERROR – The European Union extended its naval operation to combat people-smuggling gangs in the Mediterranean Sea by a year and added two new tasks for the bloc’s military: training the country’s naval forces and stopping weapons reaching Islamic State. (The Wall Street Journal)

 

Tuesday, 21st June 2016

JORDAN – Jordan has declared its borders with southern Syria a “military zone” after a suicide attack claimed the lives of six soldiers near a refugee camp housing thousands of Syrians. (Al Jazeera)

ISRAEL – Israel and Turkey are “very close” to a rapprochement agreement, Yaakov Nagel, acting head of the National Security Council, said on Tuesday, echoing equally upbeat assessments coming out of Ankara. (The Jerusalem Post)

EGYPT – An Egyptian court today struck a blow against Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as it rejected his controversial plan to give two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (The Telegraph)

TURKEY – A Turkish court placed two Turkish journalists and an academic in pretrial arrest Monday over charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda,” according to the press freedom rights group and Turkish media reports. Reporters Without Borders’ Erol Onderoglu, along with journalist Ahmet Nesin and academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci, had participated in a solidarity campaign in support of Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish publication subject to multiple investigations and lawsuits. (Al Arabiya)

IRAQ – Iraq’s armed forces pressed on with their offensive to retake the city of Fallujah from ISIS Tuesday, dislodging the militants from two eastern districts and pushing them back into a handful of northern and western neighborhoods. (The Daily Star)

SYRIA – Russia called on Tuesday for a swift resumption of stalled Syrian peace talks, saying it was the only way to halt “massive violations” of human rights perpetrated in the five-year-old conflict. (Reuters)

 

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016

ISRAEL – Amid reports about an approaching normalization deal between Israel and Turkey, Hamas claims that Turkey has renounced the condition that Israel lift the siege on Gaza that it has defined as a prerequisite for reconciliation. (The Jerusalem Post)

Turkey will continue to meet with Palestinian group Hamas in its efforts to promote a long-lasting peace in the region, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, adding the meetings were not an obstacle in the normalization of ties with Israel. (Al Arabiya)

TURKEY – Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey overnight on Wednesday and authorities carried out further curfews in rural areas by the time the army and police continue to battle insurgents, security sources said. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

LIBYA – Government-backed forces in Libya have made their largest gains yet into so-called Islamic State (IS) territory in Sirte city since their offensive began in May, officials say.

Troops advanced more than 1km (0.6 miles) into areas previously held by IS, re-taking residential districts. (BBC)

SYRIA – Syria’s President Bashar Assad instructed the country’s Electricity Minister Emad Khamis on Wednesday to form a new government in Syria, a country fragmented by warring factions and economically ruined by five years of conflict. (Haaretz)

WAR ON TERROR – The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq said on June 22 that it was tightening the noose around militants in the Syrian city of Manbij near the Turkish border but expected them to fight to the end to defend their stronghold. (Hurriyet Daily)

 

Thursday, 23rd June 2016

IRAQ – The rapid entry of Iraqi forces into central Fallujah last week surprised many who expected a drawn-out battle with Daesh (ISIS) for the bastion of Iraq’s Sunni insurgency, where some of the toughest fighting of the U.S. occupation took place. The campaign has offered Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi respite from a political crisis that paralyzed government and turned violent when demonstrators breached Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. (The Daily Star)

TURKEY – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested Turkey could hold a referendum over whether to continue its long-stalled accession process to join the European Union. (France 24)

SIRIA – A date for the resumption of Syria peace talks may be clarified after a UN Security Council meeting on June 29, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said June 23 as he headed to Washington and New York for consultations after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia last week. (Al Monitor)

WAR ON TERROR – U.S.-backed forces entered the Islamic State-controlled city of Manbij in Syria for the first time on Thursday, advancing on an area that anchors the extremist group’s last remaining stretch of territory along the Turkish border. (The Wall Street Journal)

 

Friday, 24th June 2016

ARMENIA – Pope Francis waded into turbulent geopolitical waters once again on Friday during his first visit to Armenia when he made an unscripted remark referring to the World War I-era massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks as a genocide. (The New York Times)

SPAIN – Spain is to press for joint sovereignty of Gibraltar with the UK following the Brexit vote in the referendum. Acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo expressed his hope that “the Spanish flag on the Rock” was now “much closer” to reality. (The Independent)

GREECE – Worn down by years of EU-mandated austerity, many Greeks on Friday welcomed Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as an overdue slap in the face for a Brussels bureaucracy they say is out of touch with ordinary people. (Reuters)

ISRAEL – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Rome Sunday to try to fend off pressure from the United States and Europe over his settlements policy and opposition to a French-led effort to forge peace with the Palestinians. Beginning three days of intense diplomacy, the right-wing premier will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in the Italian capital, followed by talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem. (The Daily Star)

TURKEY – Turkey’s parliament has granted immunity from prosecution to members of the armed forces conducting counter-terrorism operations as security forces battle Kurdish militants in fighting that has killed thousands in the past year. (Reuters)