Monday, May 5, 2014

JORDAN – Calm has been restored in Jordan’s northern city of Ajloun after a number of young Muslim men attempted break into a church over killing of a Christian girl who converted to Islam a few days earlier, police officials said Sunday. The young men were demanding to take body of the girl from the church to bury her in a Muslim graveyard, but police handled the situation without violence, added the official. (ANSAmed)

SLOVENIA – Slovenian Premier Alenka Bratusek resigned after 15 months in power to allow a snap vote, even after a bank cleanup she oversaw prompted Fitch Ratings to improve the nation’s outlook and helped the economy recover. Bratusek informed Parliamentary Speaker Janko Veber and President Borut Pahor about her decision to quit the post, she said in a post on her Twitter account today. The move comes after she lost support of the ruling party to Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovic last week. (Bloomberg)

GREECE/TURKEY – At least 22 migrants including a number of women and children drowned to death on Monday when two boats carrying them went down in the Aegean Sea. Twelve others are still missing, said the Greek Coast Guard, noting that the boats had been trying to reach Greece from Turkey. (ANSAmed)

LIBYA – After a chaotic day that saw Libya pick a new prime minister only for the vote be declared invalid hours later, the volatile North African country appears to have a new premier — the fifth in more than two years. The General National Congress, Libya’s transitional parliament, seemed to have selected a new prime minister on Sunday, choosing businessman Ahmad Mitig during a lively legislative session that saw several rounds of voting. (CNN)

PALESTINE – The Palestinian reconciliation process gained new momentum on Monday with a meeting in Qatar between President Mahmud Abbas and the political leader of Hamas Khaled Meshal. Also, al-Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad was dispatched to Gaza. ”President Mahmud Abbas will meet Meshal to discuss with him the steps to be taken in order to implement the agreement that has just been signed” at the end of April, the leader of the political committee of Fatah at the Palestinian legislative council, Abdullah Abdullah, told ANSA. (ANSAmed)

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

SERBIA – Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic expects to see the first chapters of EU membership talks for the country open in October, he told journalists on Monday after meeting with EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule. Vucic said he expected to see Chapter 23 (on the justice system and fundamental rights) and Chapter 24 (justice, freedom and security) to be opened first, due to their importance in establishing true rule of law in the country. (ANSAmed)

SYRIA – About 30 Syrian government fighters were killed when rebels set off a bomb in a tunnel beneath a checkpoint in a northwestern province, activists said on Tuesday. Videos and images posted by opposition supporters online showed a massive plume of smoke and earth shooting into the air near a small town as men shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest). Rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad regularly carry out guerrilla attacks against his forces, but the size of the blast, which occurred on Monday, was unusual. (Reuters)

CYPRUS – A delegation of Troika technocrats have kicked off work at the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC), in the framework of the fourth mission review of the country’s adjustment programme. CBC Spokesperson Aliki Stylianou said that the meetings will focus on developments in the banking sector and the regulatory framework. (ANSAmed)

EU/USA – In a major diplomatic coup for Ireland, one of the country’s most senior EU civil servants is set to be formally announced today as the European Union’s new ambassador to Washington. David O’Sullivan (61),  who is currently the chief operating officer of the EU’s foreign service arm, the External Action Service, will take up the post shortly. He was the only nominee for the position. (Irish Independent)

RUSSIA – Russia will beef up its Black Sea fleet this year with new submarines and warships, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying on Tuesday, following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula. New air defense and marine infantry units would also be deployed at the fleet’s bases, which include Sevastopol in Crimea. (Reuters)

EGYPT – Former army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said in his first televised interview on Monday evening that the Muslim Brotherhood would cease to exist if he were elected in the May 26-27 elections. In response to a question on whether the movement was ”done with”, Sisi said that ”I haven’t eliminated it, but you Egyptians have.” Replying to a journalist on whether this meant that under his presidency the Muslim Brotherhood would no longer exist, he answered affirmatively. (ANSAmed)

UKRAINE – Ukraine’s Interior Minister said that 30 pro-Russian insurgents were killed during government operations to expunge anti-government forces in and near a town in the east. Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page Tuesday that four government troops also died and another 20 were injured during fighting in Slovyansk. Gunbattles took place at various positions around the city in what has proven the most ambitious government effort to date to quell unrest in the mainly Russian-speaking east. (Fox News)

 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

IMMIGRATION – Some 1,000 migrants from North Africa have arrived in Sicily, authorities said Wednesday, A Navy ship rescued 300 people in the Mediterranean in two separate interventions as part of Italy’s Mare Nostrum migrant surveillance and rescue operation, and took them to the city of Catania. Another 300 migrants and the body of a young Eritrean man were taken to Pozzallo aboard the Scirocco ship. Authorities are investigating the circumstances of the young man’s death. (ANSAmed)

EU/JAPAN – “We confirmed the importance of an early conclusion, and 2015 is the target date for a basic agreement,” Shinzo Abe told a joint press conference with European Council President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The EU-Japan trade agreement, potentially one of the world’s biggest, could boost the bloc’s overall growth rate by up to 0.8 percent. It could create 420,000 jobs in the EU, according to the bloc’s figures. Exports to Japan could rise by a third, while Japan’s exports to the EU could see a near 24-percent boost, according to the European Union data. (Deutsche Welle)

ITALY/UAE – The Italian government is “committed” to achieving a deal between Alitalia and Etihad, Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said Wednesday. She spoke after a Rome meeting with her United Arab Emirates counterpart Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who said he agreed. “As a government, we will try to create a climate as favorable as possible to the agreement,” between Etihad and Alitalia, said the UAE minister, before meeting Italian premier Matteo Renzi in the evening. (ANSAmed)

CYRENAICA – Indipendentists in Libya’s eastern oil-rich region will not negotiate with new Premier Ahmed Mitig to reopen two major oil terminals at Sidra and Ras Lanuf, which they occupied in July last year, the self-declared head of the Political Bureau of Cyrenaica, Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, said Thursday in a TV interview. The Bureau accuses Islamists in parliament of not respecting accords made by the government of former premier Abdullah al-Thani, who resigned in April after an attempted attack on his family. (ANSAmed)

 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

NIGERIA – A Boko Haram attack has killed hundreds in Nigeria’s northeast, multiple sources have said, as police offered $300,000 for information leading to the rescue of more than 200 schoolgirls held hostage by the armed group. The latest attack reported on Wednesday targeted the town of Gamboru Ngala on the border with Cameroon, where gunmen earlier this week razed scores of buildings and fired on civilians as they tried to flee. (Al Jazeera)

SYRIA – Rebel fighters are believed to have detonated a bomb placed in a tunnel beneath the Carlton Citadel Hotel, near the city’s medieval citadel and souk. Opposition activists said that government troops were based there and that a number had been killed. Both sides have been trying to end a long-standing stalemate in the city. (BBC)

UKRAINE/RUSSIA – The Kremlin beat a tactical retreat over a regional referendum following days of soaring tension that have left dozens dead and fed fears of a civil war in Ukraine. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said the referendum being staged by pro-Russia separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine on Sunday should be postponed. If the referendum goes ahead, it will provide an argument for the region joining Russia as happened in Crimea in March. (The Guardian)

LIBYA – The head of Libya’s general intelligence in the eastern city of Benghazi Ibrahim al-Senussi Akila has been killed, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Thursday, citing security sources. Colonel Akila was gunned down near the Medical Centre in the city centre, the sources said. “He was in his car when unknown assailants opened fire. He was hit twice, once in the neck”. (Al Arabiya)

 

Friday, May 9, 2014

UKRAINE – Vladimir Putin made a triumphant first visit to Crimea on Friday, as the region held its first Victory Day commemorations since it was annexed by Russia two months ago. But the gravity of the crisis gripping the rest of Ukraine was underscored by more deadly clashes in the southern city of Mariupol. Hospitals confirmed that at least five people had died and 40 had been wounded, according to Anna Neistat of Human Rights Watch, who had visited hospitals in the city. (The Guardian)

EU – Candidates to lead the European Commission after EU parliamentary elections this month lashed out on Friday against suggestions that the real choice would be made not by voters but by national governments. The meeting in Florence was the second between the candidates following their first debate in April, part of a broader effort to bring an element of direct democracy to appointing one of the European Union’s top officials. (Reuters)

YEMEN – Al-Qaeda gunmen attacked the presidential palace in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, killing five guards and capturing several others, security sources said Friday. Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi was not in the building, the sources said. (ANSAmed)