Weekly News 23 – 27 April 2018 | Mediterranean Affairs 

Monday 23 April 2018

Republic of Armenia: Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigns after days of protests. Opposition supporters accused Mr Sargsyan, who was made prime minister last week after serving 10 years as president, of clinging to power.
Former prime minister Karen Karapetyan has taken over as acting PM.
President Armen Sarkissian accepted Mr Sargsyan’s and the government’s resignation.
Mr Sargsyan’s announcement came soon after opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was released from detention. Mr Pashinyan had been arrested on Sunday after he called for Mr Sargsyan’s resignation during televised talks.
As well as Mr Pashinyan, two other opposition politicians and some 200 demonstrators were held. (BBC)

Ukraine: A Ukrainian crime gang used offshore firms in British tax havens to secretly invest millions of pounds in the UK.
The gangsters, and in some cases family members, bought luxurious property in prime London locations, including a £12.5m flat.
Many of the revelations come from the Paradise Papers data breach.
The gang were from the Black Sea port of Odessa and made money in the oil industry. (BBC) 

Tuesday 24 April 2018

EU: Popular messaging service WhatsApp is banning under-16s from using its platform in the European Union.
Users must currently be at least 13, but the firm is changing the rules ahead of the introduction of new EU data privacy regulations in May.
The app, which is owned by Facebook, will ask users to confirm their age when prompted to agree new terms of service in the next few weeks.
It has not said how the age limit will be enforced. (BBC)

Iran: US President Donald Trump has warned Iran of “big problems” if it resumes the nuclear programme it agreed to curb in a 2015 international accord.
Speaking at the White House with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Trump called the Iran deal “insane”.
Mr Macron, who is lobbying Mr Trump to preserve the deal, said it was possible to forge a new Iran accord.
The US president has been threatening to reject an extension of the Obama-era nuclear pact by a 12 May deadline. On Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened “severe consequences” if the US withdrew from the deal. (BBC)

UK: The UK has been powered without coal for three days in a row, setting a new record and underlining the polluting fuel’s rapid decline. Coal has historically been at the cornerstone of the UK’s electricity mix, but last year saw the first 24-hour period that the the country ran without the fuel since the 19th century.
That milestone in turn was smashed on Monday afternoon and the UK passed the 72-hour mark at 10am on Tuesday. The coal-free run came to an end after 76 hours.
Without the fossil fuel, nearly a third of Britain’s electricity was supplied by gas, followed by windfarms and nuclear on around a quarter each. (The Guardian)

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Egypt: Three soldiers and 30 extremists have been killed in the past week in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula where the military is battling ISIS, the army said Wednesday.
Around 200 extremists and at least 33 government troops have now been killed since the launch of a major offensive against the extremists on February 9 dubbed “Sinai 2018,” according to official figures. (Al Arabiya)

Israel: An Israeli border police officer who fatally shot a Palestinian teenager at a demonstration while the boy was posing no threat to soldiers has been sentenced to nine months in prison after a protracted court process.
The father of 17-year-old Nadeem Nawara described the sentence for causing death by negligence as “ridiculous” and claimed that the officer, Ben Deri, had murdered his son. Nadeem was one of three Palestinian teenagers shot with live ammunition over a period of over an hour during a stone-throwing demonstration near Ofer prison on 15 May 2014, the day each year when Palestinians mark the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, the war around the time of the creation of Israel in 1948.Mohammad Salameh, 16, was fatally shot an hour after Nawara, and Mohamed al-Azi, who was 15 at the time, survived a gunshot wound to the chest.  (The Guardian)

Turkey: Nearly 30,000 Afghans have arrived in Turkey in the last three months, the Turkish government said on Wednesday, after Amnesty International criticised the authorities “ruthless” decision to send more than 7,000 back to Afghanistan.Turkish authorities have sent back 7,100 migrants to Afghanistan since early April, rights group Amnesty said on Tuesday (April 24), as it denounced the “ruthless deportation drive”.  (The Straits Times)

Vatican City: Pope Francis has invited leaders of all Christian denominations in the Middle East to join him in Italy in July to discuss how they can help bring peace to the region, the Vatican said on Wednesday.
The meeting will take place on July 7 in the southern Adriatic port city of Bari, chosen because it is home to the relics of St. Nicholas, a figure venerated in both the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity. (Reuters)

Thursday 26 April 2018

Germany: Germans of various faiths donned Jewish skullcaps and took to the streets Wednesday in several cities to protest an anti-Semitic attack in Berlin and express fears about growing hatred of Jews in the country.
The kippa protest was triggered by the daytime assault last week of two young men wearing skullcaps in an upscale neighborhood in the German capital. The attack, in which a 19-year-old Syrian asylum seeker is a suspect, drew outrage in Germany and sharp condemnation by Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Haaretz)

Spain: Thousands of people have been protesting across Spain, after a court acquitted five men of rape charges for an attack on a young woman during a bull-running festival.
Angry demonstrators packed central Madrid and other cities shouting “Shame! Shame!” and “No means no”.
The five were jailed for nine years for sexual assault, but many saw the sentence as too lenient. Under Spanish law, the charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation. (BBC) 

Friday 27 April 2018

Palestine: Three Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces Friday as thousands participated in the “March of Return” along the Israel-Gaza border for the fifth week in a row, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. At least 174 Palestinians were wounded by live fire, said the ministry. Of the wounded, at least four were medical staff and six were journalists, reported the ministry. Two of the wounded are said to be in critical condition and six in very serious condition.Forty-two Palestinians have been killed and 5,511 were wounded in the mass protests since March 30, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Tuesday.  (Haaretz)

Saturday 28 April 2018

Armenia: Protests have continued in Armenia despite the country’s ruling party announcing that it would not put forward a candidate for prime minister. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, has insisted that parliament should elect him as prime minister next week, after which he would hold parliamentary elections under new laws. Most of the demonstrations have remained peaceful but have impacted on Armenia’s stability after protesters became angry over corruption allegations surrounding the ruling Republican Party. The resignation of Serzh Sargsyan, who had been appointed as prime minister after being president for 10 years, failed to appease protesters. (Euronews)

Turkey: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has kicked off his election campaign in İzmir, a city known for being a stronghold of the main opposition Republican People’s Party. The rally came as former president Abdullah Gul announced he would not be running in June’s election …. a point that Erdogan was quick to seize on. ”We’re ready for these elections,” he said. ”As opposed to the opposition which has no candidate yet and can’t even reach agreement among themselves.” More than 50 million Turkish citizens will head to ballot boxes on June 24 for the parliamentary and presidential elections after the AK Party and the MHP called for early elections last week. The snap poll has caught opposition parties by surprise. (Euronews)