Monday 16:

Morocco: the Parliament has elected a speaker after three months that the elections left the country without a government. The sole candidate Habib el-Malik who obtained the vote is a leftist economist who has held several ministerial posts. Morocco is interested in re-joining the African Union (AU), to this aim King Mohammad VI asked the government to pass some laws by Friday to clear the way for Morocco’s return to the AU at a summit in Addis Ababa at the end of January. (The Daily Star)

NATO: President-elect Donald Trump judged the NATO alliance as obsolete, this caused worry in the members of the alliance. In addition, Mr Trump affirmed that Mrs Merkel has done a big mistake in admitting a million Syrian refugees in Germany. He also made threat that German carmakers may have to face high import takes. Mr Sigmar Gabriel answered that the migrant crisis is the consequence of “faulty, interventionist American policies in the Mediterranean and the Middle East”. (BBC)

Syria: some Syrian opposition groups have accepted after five days of negotiation in Ankara to participate to the talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. According to opposition groups official every rebel group accepted to take part to the talks, however this was contradicted by an opposition group’s website, Shaam network, which affirmed that a number of other rebel groups will not be present. The representative of the opposition forces will be Mohammad Alloush, a leading figure in the Jaish al-Islam group. He told AFP that the rebel’s interests in these talks is to neutralize the criminal role of Iran in Syria. The Syrian government also said to be willing to participate. (Al Jazeera)

 

Tuesday 17:

Lebanon: some fighters of Hezbollah have found an Israeli recognition drone, which fell on the Lebanese soil on Monday evening. The news was reported by the television station affiliated to Hezbollah Al-Manar, which added that the drone has been taken to a safe zone for further examination. According to the Lebanese National News Agency, the Lebanese army did patrol the area after the happening; however, they could not reach the exact point due to difficulty of access to the region. Israel and Hezbollah have been raging a lethal war in 2006 causing 1,200 Lebanese causalities – mostly civilians – and 160 Israeli dead. (L’Orient Le Jour)

Libya: forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government led by Khalifa Haftar have gained control the last Islamist holdout in Benghazi. After a two days assault, the Libyan National Army troops, backed by airstrikes, have captured a district south-west of the city which was still under control of Daesh fighters. The government led by Haftar, who is a leading figure in the factions of eastern Libya, has refused to join the U.N.-backed government of Tripoli. (The Daily Star)

Migrant Crisis: a ship capsized in the Mediterranean on Saturday and caused the death of four people together with other 180 people who are missing. Four have survived and arrived the Sicilian port of Trapani on Monday. Three man and one woman from Eritrea and Ethiopia who survived said that their two-tier wooden boat had left Libyan coast on Friday with 180 people on board and started sinking slowly after five hours. The boat has been rescued on Saturday by a French boat operating as part of the European borders agency’s Operation Triton. (Al Jazeera)

Turkey: a man suspect of the shooting at the Istanbul Reina nightclub was captured late on Monday. The man is an Uzbek national who received training in Afghanistan. According to Istanbul’s governor, Vasip Şahin, the man, who operated under the alias Ebu Mihammed Horsani, was well educated and spoke four languages; he seems to have entered in Turkey in January 2016 and to have made the attack in the name of Daesh. (The Guardian)

United Kingdom: Mrs Theresa May stated that UK will leave the single market as not doing so would mean not leaving Europe at all. She also said that the Parliament will vote the deal between UK and EU. May said that UK’s interest are to be in control of migration from the EU on one side, and to maintain free circulation of people with the Irish Republic. (BBC)

 

Wednesday 18:

Iraq: the eastern part of Mosul – east of the Tigris, which bisects the city from north to south – has been liberated from the last Daesh fighters. The army has thus taken control of the eastern bank of the city, an important step in the fight against IS. The operation was carried out by the Iraqi army, the special forces and elite police. Air strikes from the US-led coalition have targeted bridges in order to halt reinforces to IS fighters; in addition, residents reached by the phone have said that air strikes in western Mosul have increased in recent days. The operation to free the city from IS is at its third month. (The Daily Star)

Palestine: The Palestinian Authority (PA) ruled by Fatah has agreed to form a unity government with the rival organisation Hamas. After three days of negotiations in Moscow, the agreement that was reached took together the two parties which had not been running for elections together since 2007. The two organisations will form a new National Council involving Palestinians in exile and hold elections. The Palestinian representatives also met with the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and asked him to dissuade Trump to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Al-Jazeera)

Syria: the important rebel group Ahrar al-Sham said that it would not participate to the Russian-organised negotiations in Kazakhstan. The group, which is one of the seven rebel groups who signed the ceasefire backed by Russia and Turkey, affirmed that this refusal is in response to the Russian non-observation of the truce and to its continuous air strikes on the district of Wadi Barada 15 km from Damascus. This district controls the water sources of the capital and regime troops are fighting in order to gain control of water supply. (L’Orient Le Jour)

Thursday 19:

Libya: a month after that US declared end to the air campaign in Libya to support Libyan government to counter Daesh, US defense press secretary Peter Cook affirmed that US air strikes have hit an IS training camp south-west of Sirte. According to him, IS fighters had fled the city to reorganise. Whereas Mr Cook said the air strike does not sign the resume of the military campaign in Libya, he affirmed that US defense remains available to support the fight against IS. (The Guardian)

Morocco: on Sunday 15 a few dozen Salafist activists gathered in front of the parliament in Rabat to protest against the recently issued anti-niqab – integral veil – law. Everything started on the 8th of January when the Ministry of Interior spread a communicate to its territorial agents to advise traders to stop making and sale of the integral veil. Other demonstrations took place in the city of M’diq in the north. Their slogans traces similar slogans of the Arab uprisings: “The people want to be free [to wear] the niqab”. (Le Monde)

Syria: Assad said in an interview that he hopes to see a ground for reconciliation in Astana talks. In particular, his idea of reconciliation is that opposition troops give up arms in exchange of amnesty from the Syrian government. Furthermore, he added that talks would prioritise a ceasefire. Astana talks are due to begin on Monday and were organised by Russia and Iran – both Syria’s allies – and backed by rebels’ ally Turkey. (The Daily Star)

Friday 20:

Syria: Denmark decided to send troops to Syria to counter Daesh. Denmark joined the international coalition against Daesh in October 2014; the United States requested in 2015 that the country carry its weight in the fight against Daesh in Syria. The decision was backed by a majority of the Parliament, although it was voted against from the Red-Green Alliance, Social Liberals, Social People’s Party and The Alternative. (The Local Denmark)

Russia will enlarge and modernise its naval base in the Syrian port Tartous. Syrian and Russian governments have signed an agreement for a larger military presence in the Syrian base. With the new deal, 11 Russian warship can be located in the Tartous base at one time. (The Daily Star)

Turkey said that it is no longer “realistic” to exclude Assad from a solution in Syria. On the same day, several Turkish soldiers were hit by an attack from Daeshrael in northern Syria. Five were reported dead and many more injured. The bombing happened in al-Bab, where Turkish-backed rebels have suffered casualties in a long bid to gain control of the town. (Al Jazeera)

Israel: on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he hopes ties between the United States and Israel to be “stronger than ever”. Meanwhile, Israeli left-wing newspaper Haaretz reported that security services have presented a plan with the potential explosion of violence if Trump goes forward with the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as Israeli capital; the eastern part of the city was taken by Israel in the 1967 war. (Al-Monitor)