Weekly News 1 – 5 April 2019 | Mediterranean Affairs


Monday, 1 April 2019

Algeria: President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika will step down “before April 28” the date his term expires. He should take several “important measures to ensure the State institutions continue functioning during the period of transition,” said Monday a communiqué of the presidency of the Republic. (APS press agency)

Turkey: The hotly contested municipal elections in Istanbul will have to wait for the official announcement of the results by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) as both the government and the opposition have claimed victory, although initial results by the election watchdog show the latter’s candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, was ahead of the government’s mayoral candidate, Binali Yıldırım, by around 25,000 votes. (Hurriyet Daily News)

Brexit: British MPs have rejected four further Brexit options, putting the spotlight on a last round of voting before the new EU exit date. The rejections, on Monday (1 April), included one to negotiate a new form of “customs union” and one called “common market 2.0”, to go back to the kind of basic trade relations the UK had with the then European Community in the 1980s. (EU Observer)

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Israel: A Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli forces on Tuesday during clashes with troops in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials said. The Israeli military said troops opened fire after Palestinians threw rocks and explosives at them during an operation southeast of the city of Ramallah. (Reuters)

Germany: Germany, like the United States, believes that Russia has breached the Cold War-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Turkey: The Pentagon has suspended deliveries of equipment related the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey unless Ankara refuses to take a delivery of a Russian missile defence system. The United States has repeatedly warned Turkey that the Russian S-400 system it aims to buy would compromise the security of the F-35 aircraft, which is made by US company Lockheed Martin. (Al Jazeera)

Algeria: Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned after weeks of massive street protests. Mr Bouteflika, who has been in power for 20 years, had already dropped plans to seek a fifth term as opposition to his rule grew. The powerful Algerian army had called for the 82-year-old to be declared incapable of carrying out his duties. (BBC)

Egypt: An Egyptian policeman found guilty of killing a Christian man and his son in a case that outraged the minority Coptic community was sentenced to death on Tuesday, judicial sources said. (Middle East Monitor)

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Libya: A Libyan Navy spokesman, Admiral Ayob Amr Ghasem, on Wednesday said ”we are an institution worthy of respect and, in the event of the violation of our country’s sovereignty, we will respond according to international law”. Ghasem was explaining Tripoli’s decision to warn NGOs not to cross into Libyan territorial waters to rescue migrants. (ANSAmed)

Israel: Kahol Lavan chief Benny Gantz plans to propose a coalition government with the center-right Kulanu party, the Zehut party and the ultra-Orthodox parties if he beats Likud by at least four seats in Tuesday’s election. He says another government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu would only last eight months until the prime minister is indicted in the corruption cases against him. (Haaretz)

Brexit: MPs have voted by a majority of one to force the prime minister to ask for an extension to the Brexit process, in a bid to avoid any no-deal scenario. Labour’s Yvette Cooper led the move, which the Commons passed in one day. The bill will need Lords approval to become law, while it is the EU who decides whether to grant an extension. (BBC)

Algeria: Outgoing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Wednesday addressed a message to the Algerian people, recalling the achievements made during his terms in office as head of State, asking “forgiveness for any failure towards them.” (APS)

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Migration: A humanitarian aid ship carrying 64 rescued migrants was holding position in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday as both Italy and Malta refused it safe harbour, leaving the migrants sleeping in cramped conditions on deck as a storm approached. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s hard-line interior minister, said that Italy would not accept the migrants and that since it was a German ship it should “go to Hamburg”. (The Guardian)

Libya: A spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar said on Thursday that troops have entered the city of Gharyan, 100 km south of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The troop movement comes after local media reported on Wednesday night that armed clashes took place between Haftar’s forces and those of Fayez Al Sarraj’s government of national accord, and that there were troop movements in various directions in Tripoli. (ANSAmed)

Wikileakes: Ecuador is preparing to expel WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its embassy in London within “hours to days”, according to a WikiLeaks Tweet. According to the tweet sent out on Thursday, the “#INAPapers offshore scandal” was being seen as a pretext to expel Assange. (Al Jazeera)

BiH: Plans to change the public order law in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity have alarmed independent media there – who see it as potential threat to their work. Under the changes, “those who disturb or prevent the activities of state bodies, companies or other legal entities that exercise public authority … by unauthorized photographing or recording while performing their duties… will be punished with a fine of 200 to 750 euros,” the draft law, proposed by the entity Interior Ministry, reads. (Balkan Insight)

Syria: Syrian government shelling has killed at least a dozen people in rebel-held Idlib, according to rescue workers, the latest violence to threaten a Russia-Turkey brokered truce in the northwestern region. The bombardment on Thursday killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens more in the town of Kafr Nabl, where one missile hit a market. (Al Jazeera)

Friday, 5 April 2019

Brexit: European Council President Donald Tusk is proposing to offer the UK a 12-month “flexible” extension to its Brexit date, according to a senior EU source. His plan would allow the UK to leave sooner if Parliament ratifies a deal, but it would need to be agreed by EU leaders at a summit next week. (BBC)

Theresa May has written to Donald Tusk to ask for Brexit to be delayed until 30 June while she battles to win cross-party agreement on a way forward. Rather than the year-long flexible extension to article 50 recommended by the European council president, the prime minister suggested 30 June as the new departure date, but with an option to leave earlier if the necessary legislation has been passed. (The Guardian)

Algeria: Thousands have taken to the streets of the Algerian capital demanding a complete overhaul of the country’s political structure. This is the seventh successive week of Friday protests and Tuesday’s resignation of long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika does not appear to have satisfied the demonstrators. According to the constitution, parliament’s speaker should take over. (BBC)

Greece: Greek police on Friday used tear gas to disperse some 500 mainly Middle Eastern refugees and migrants, including families with women and children, who gathered outside the Diavata refugee reception camp close to Thessaloniki in northern Greece in the hope of crossing the border with North Macedonia. (Balkan Insight)

Libya: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi on Friday in a bid to avert renewed civil war as his forces advanced on the capital Tripoli to challenge the internationally recognized government. (Reuters)