Issue94: 2017 03 02:Week in Brief International

02 March 2017

Week in Brief: International

UN Flag to denote International news


FRANCE: Prosecutors opened a criminal inquiry against Francois Fillon. It will probably be months before criminal charges can be made; in the meantime, M.Fillon says he will stay in the race for president.

A parliamentary report concluded that President Hollande’s plan to de-radicalise militant French Islamists has been an expensive failure.

Marine le Pen ‘s chief of staff was charged with illegally using European parliamentary funds to pay party staff.

A member of the gendarmerie’s elite Specialised Protection Unit accidentally shot a waiter and a railway worker in the legs while he was on a rooftop covering President Hollande’s opening of a new high-speed railway line.

GEORGIA: Visa-free travel to the EU’s 26 Schengen states was agreed.

GREECE: There were violent clashes outside a school in Thessaloniki when protesters tried to stop nine migrant children from enrolling.

Two Turkish soldiers have claimed asylum at Orestiada, a town on the border, saying that their lives are in danger.

ITALY: The campaign against fanulloni (slackers) in the public sector continues: in a hospital in Naples, 53 members of staff were arrested for not working, and another 39 are under investigation; in a hospital in Salerno, 200 are under investigation and 850 are under suspicion.

The prosecutor’s office in Rome is to investigate allegations that the Italian consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan sold visas to Europe for €10,000. More than 150 cases are involved.

NETHERLANDS: A DBB (Dutch security services) agent of Moroccan origin was arrested and charged with ‘violating official secrets’.  It has been alleged that he leaked details of the police protection surrounding Geert Wilders (leader of the far right Freedom Party) to a Moroccan-Dutch criminal organisation.

RUSSIA: The supreme court has ordered the release of Ildar Dadin, a political activist who was sentenced to three years in jail in 2015 for repeatedly taking part in unsanctioned protests.  He has been imprisoned in a remote penal colony, and has complained of torture and abuse.

The Kremlin suggested that President Putin will run for a record fourth term in next year’s elections.

More than ten thousand anti-Putin demonstrators marched through Moscow on the second anniversary of the murder of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov. The anniversary was also marked in St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod.

Middle East and Africa

AFGHANISTAN: 11 policemen were killed by a Taliban infiltrator at a check-point in the besieged city of Lashkar Gah, Helmand province.

IRAQ: In the battle for Mosul, Iraq forces recapture Mosul airport and Ghazlani military base.  Their assault on Isis-held west Mosul has begun.  They have taken the suburbs of Tayaran and Josaq and the southern-most Tigris bridge – it has been destroyed but they are hoping to put pontoons in place.  A mass grave has been discovered five miles south of the city, thought to contain the bodies of 4000 victims of Isis, but it is heavily mined and booby-trapped; one journalist and five other people have already been killed.

LIBYA: Italian coastguards have rescued 1000 migrants in recent days.  The International Organisation For Migration says 13,170 have crossed this year, with at least 272 deaths.  The head of the EU’s border agency Frontex criticised rescue operations by charities for encouraging people trafficking and the use of un-seaworthy craft, because they are operating so close to the coast of Libya.

SYRIA: UN-chaired peace talks are due to start in Geneva.  The USA is temporarily suspending military aid to moderate rebels to encourage them to unite; there has been infighting among rebel groups after their defeat at Aleppo, and the USA is concerned that arms given to moderates will be taken by extremist groups.

The deputy leader of al-Qaeda, Egyptian-born Abu Khayr al-Masri, was killed in his car in northern Syria.

The USA, France and Britain proposed a UN security council resolution to punish the Assad regime for using chlorine gas, but it was blocked by Russia and China.

TURKEY: A reporter for Die Welt has been arrested on charges of inciting hatred and producing propaganda for terrorists.  He has German and Turkish citizenship; Chancellor Merkel has complained to the Turkish ambassador to Germany about the detention.

Far East, Asia and Pacific

AZERBAIJAN: President Aliyev has appointed a new vice-president – his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva.

CHINA: The USA claims that concrete structures being built by China on artificial islands in the Spratlys, South China Seas, are bases for long-range surface-to-air missiles.

INDIA: Voting is underway in the Uttar Pradesh elections. The state is so big and populous (more than 200 million people) that there are seven rounds of voting. Results are due on March 11.

KOREA, NORTH: Reports claim that four officials from the ministry of state security have been executed with anti-aircraft guns.  It is not known whether this has any connection with the murder of Kim Jong-nam.

Following the murder of  the USA has withdrawn the visa for North Korean diplomat who was due to visit New York for unofficial talks about opening up communications between USA and North Korea.

KOREA, SOUTH: It is reported that foreign minister Yun Byung-se is to travel to the UN in Geneva to denounce North Korea for the murder of Kim Jong-nam.

MALAYSIA: There was an attempted break-in at the mortuary holding the body of Kim Jong-nam, the murdered half-brother of the North Korean leader, thought to be by North Korean agents. The toxin which killed Kim Jong-nam was identified as VX, a deadly nerve agent, which was rubbed in his face by two female assailants. The police have named eight North Korean suspects (said to include two diplomats and four officials from the ministry of state security) wanted for the murder, one of whom has been arrested.

PHILIPINNES: The Isis-linked group Abu Sayyaf has killed a German sailor it had kidnapped from his yacht three months ago. The deadline for a ransom payment had expired. The group holds another 26 hostages of various nationalities.


CANADA: Illegal immigrants in the USA, fearful of being repatriated, are fleeing across the border to Canada.

USA: Extreme weather – storms, heavy rain and snow, floods – continues to destroy homes and take lives in California, which was recently suffering from an unprecedented drought.

Several news organisations, including the BBC, were barred from a White House press briefing.

President Trump is due to make his first address to a joint session of Congress today.  He is expected to call for an extra $54 billion in military spending.

A Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was attacked, with more than a hundred graves desecrated.  Vandalism against Jewish cemeteries and bomb-threats against Jewish schools and community organisations are increasing.

VENEZUELA: Judge Maikel Moreno has been appointed president of the supreme court.  He has been the subject of two murder allegations in the past. President Maduro often relies on the supreme court to help him overcome opposition in parliament.


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