Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

Monday, January 23, 2023

Joseph Borrell: "You can't say I consider you a terrorist because I don't like you."

    Monday, January 23, 2023   No comments

In a rare admission, the EU top diplomat suggests that the label “terrorist”, when used by politicians, can be void of any legal validity. Speaking before a meeting of EU foreign ministers which will discuss the designation of Iran’s revolutionary guards, a branch of the Iranian armed forces, as a terrorist entity, he declared that "You can't say I consider you a terrorist because I don’t like you."

The European Union foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, conditioned the validity of the designation by a court ruling: "This matter cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first."

He pointed out that a court in an EU member state must issue a concrete legal conviction, before the bloc itself can move in this regard.




Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Qatari Minister to the West: LGBT people can visit our country but don't try to change our beliefs

    Wednesday, November 30, 2022   No comments

The Minister of State for Energy Affairs in Qatar, Saad Al-Kaabi, told the German newspaper “Bild” that members of the LGBT community can go to Qatar to watch the World Cup soccer matches, but the West cannot “dictate” to Qataris what they should believe.

Relations between Qatar and Germany have been troubled recently.

The German Minister of the Interior, Nancy Weser, put the “One Love” badge that supports gays in the match that her country played against Japan last week, and criticized the human rights record in Qatar, but this week Germany concluded a deal to import liquefied natural gas from

In his statements, which were published by the German newspaper "Bild" today, the Qatari minister said about the LGBT community: "If they want to visit Qatar, we have no problem with that."


But he said the West wants to "dictate what it wants" to Qatar, which considers same-sex relations illegal.


He added, "If you want to change me so that I say that I believe in the LGBT community and that my family should be gay and that I accept homosexuality in my country and change my laws and Islamic teachings in order to please the West, then this is unacceptable."


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Germany: The first cause of Europe's crisis is the rise of Asia, not the Ukraine war

    Tuesday, November 22, 2022   No comments

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed that "the past 30 years of low inflation and stable economic growth in Europe were exceptional," stressing that "the conflict in Ukraine is not the main reason for the end of this era, but it has accelerated it."

Today, Tuesday, during an economic forum that brought together representatives of economic companies in Berlin, Scholz said: "Today we are in a new stage of globalization, and over the past 30 years, here in Europe and North America, we have witnessed stable growth, low inflation and high employment rates." And the conflict in Ukraine It hastened the end of this era, but it's not the main reason."

"The real reason is the growth of Asian economies, which compete with Europe in energy, raw materials and technology," Scholz said, warning "once again of a decline in globalization" and calling for "economic diversification."

"The real reason is the growth of Asian economies." German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.


He stressed that "Germany will not make the mistake of entering into an energy dependency, such as the one that has arisen in recent years with Russia with regard to natural gas supplies for the second time," and added, "What I understood after holding a number of talks with representatives of the German economy is that this mistake It won't happen to us again."


During the forum organized by the Bavarian daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper, Scholz explained the types of challenges facing the German economy, and his ambition to diversify its sources of energy supply in multiple regions, from now on. He promised the Germans that he would "work so that the German economy and Germany can regain its place as a place for business, and get through the hard times."


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Josep Borell, EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Chief: "Europe is a garden... the rest of the world is a jungle"

    Wednesday, October 19, 2022   No comments

 After days of mounting international backlash, Josep Borrell, the European Union's outspoken foreign policy chief, has apologised for people being hurt by his comments, but necessarily for what he said.


"My reference to 'jungle' has no racist, cultural or geographical connotation," the diplomat said. "Unfortunately, the 'jungle' is everywhere, including today in Ukraine."

Josep Borell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has triggered a controversy by saying that Europe was a garden and “most of the rest of the world” was a jungle. He warned in a speech at the European Diplomatic Academy on the 13th of October that the “jungle could invade the garden”.

“The gardeners should take care of it, but they will not protect the garden by building walls. A nice small garden surrounded by high walls in order to prevent the jungle from coming in is not going to be a solution. Because the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden. The gardeners have to go to the jungle. Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us, by different ways and means.”

"Europe is a garden. We have built a garden. Everything works. It is the best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion that the humankind has been able to build – the three things together," Borrell said during the event.


"The rest of the world," he went on, "is not exactly a garden. Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden."

Borrell then appeared to refer to EU ambassadors as "gardeners" and urged them to "go to the jungle," that is to carry out their diplomatic work around the world and advance the bloc's geopolitical agenda.

"A nice small garden surrounded by high walls in order to prevent the jungle from coming in is not going to be a solution. Because the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden," he said.

"Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us, by different ways and means."

But over the weekend, the "garden vs jungle" metaphor gained traction across social media, fuelling backlash against the diplomat for what many saw as condescending, out-of-touch and racist undertones and a stark reflection of the Western sphere's superiority complex over the Global South.

Video clips on Twitter received hundreds of thousands of views. International media, such as the New York Times and Al Jazeera, offered critical coverage of the fallout.

The United Arab Emirates summoned the acting head of the EU delegation in the country and asked for explanations over the "inappropriate and discriminatory" remarks.

Marc Botenga, a Belgian MEP from the Left, said Borrell's words were "rooted in colonialism and racism."

On Monday morning, when asked about the growing criticism against his remarks, Borrell said he was "very okay" and that "every day is as much as intense as the previous one."

Standing his ground

By Tuesday evening, as backlash continued, the diplomat, who is affiliated with the socialist party, offered a careful apology but stood his ground and stuck to the metaphor.

"The metaphor of 'the garden' and 'the jungle' is not my invention. Some truly dislike it because, among others, it has been used by US neo-conservatives, but I am far from this school of political thought," he wrote in his personal blog.

"Regrettably, the world in which we live today looks more and more like a 'jungle' and less and less like a 'garden', because in many parts of the world, the law of the strongest is eroding agreed international norms."

Borrell said Europe had managed to replace centuries of war with lasting peace, cooperation and the rule of law, while other countries outside the continent, such as Russia, were resorting to "force, intimation and blackmail to get their way."

"I also have enough experience to know that neither Europe nor 'the West' is perfect and that some countries of 'the West' have at times violated international legality," he admitted.


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

On suspicion of ties to Russian intelligence, Germany dismisses the head of cybersecurity

    Tuesday, October 18, 2022   No comments

 The German Interior Ministry has dismissed the head of the Federal Office for Information Technology Security (BSI), Arne Schönbaum, over reports of possible ties to Russian intelligence.

A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry stated that Interior Minister Nancy Wieser decided to prevent Schönbaum from carrying out his official duties as head of the "BSI" office with immediate effect, noting that the background to the decision is in particular the accusations announced by the media and widely discussed.

He added that these accusations "permanently damaged the necessary confidence on the part of public opinion in the impartiality and integrity of the office's leadership as head of the most important German cybersecurity service," noting that this matter applies more in light of the current crisis situation due to the Russian-Ukrainian war.

The spokesperson stated that the accusations raised affected the necessary trust relationship on the part of the Minister with the leadership of the office.

Schönbaum has been in a critical situation since the media revealed his relationship with a cybersecurity advisory association suspected of having had contact with Russian intelligence services.

Schönbaum, 53, co-founded and managed the "Cyber ​​Security Council-Germany" advisory a decade ago, which includes experts from public institutions and the private sector, and German media said that among its members was "a company founded by a former Russian intelligence agent."

The Home Office said the study of these allegations was continuing, and added that "pending the conclusion of this study, the presumption of innocence naturally applies to the person of Mr. Schönbaum."

The German government announced more than a week ago that it was thoroughly investigating the media reports.

The dismissal comes at a time when Germany has been placed on alert against possible acts of sabotage by Moscow after the leakage in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines to transport Russian gas to Europe, and this country was subjected to widespread sabotage of railways on the eighth of October, where it occurred Some expressed the hypothesis that Russia was behind the operation in the context of the war on Ukraine.

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Sunday, October 16, 2022

Tens of thousands protest in Paris against Macron, and Melenchon calls for a general strike

    Sunday, October 16, 2022   No comments

Today, Sunday, a demonstration of the left and environmentalists began in the French capital, Paris, to protest against the high cost of living, and against the economic plans of the government of French President Emmanuel Macron.


During his participation in the event, the leader of the Left Alliance, Jean-Luc Melenchon, explained that "there is a kind of popular front taking shape at the present moment."

Mélenchon added: "We will have an extraordinary week, and we must all think about how we will help each other," stressing that "France is living in chaos not because of you, but because of them."

He stressed that "national unity is the solution to the crisis," adding that "popular unity can become a popular front."

Melenchon called on the demonstrators to participate widely in the demonstration next Tuesday, addressing them by saying: "Do not leave your place in the battle for others, do not surrender and prevent the theft of your wealth."

Related to this, French media reported that "Melenchon called for a general strike."

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the left-wing "France Proud" party, planned the rally long before the current strikes began, but organizers hope the current labor movements will give their demonstration more momentum.


"The rise in prices is unbearable...it is the biggest decline in purchasing power in 40 years," said Manon Aubry, an MP for the "France Proud" party.

It is noteworthy that the Left Alliance turned into the first opposition force, and the strongest in the French Parliament, after winning 149 seats, compared to Macron's camp, which won 244 seats in the French legislative elections last June.


Sunday, October 09, 2022

Media Review: The West is Paying the Price for Instrumentalizing Human Rights and Convenience-Driven Policies

    Sunday, October 09, 2022   No comments

As revealed again by the West’s rhetorical support of protesters in Iran, the practice of using human rights claims to go after governments the West does not like and ignoring human rights abuses when they are done by Western-supported regimes or when done in Western countries, such a practice is very short-sighted and tends to backfire.

Case in point: for more than seventy years, the US and other

European governments provided unwavering support to the Saudi regime even when such regime banned women from driving, unleashed its morality police to beat shop owners who did not close their shops during Friday prayers, abused migrant workers, oppressed its Shia community, beheaded dissidents, launched illegal wars against its neighbors, and sent a team of 15 operatives to lure a dissident into its embassy building and dismember his body. Then, after one single decision by the Saudi regime to cut oil export just one month before midterm elections in the US and when Russia's oil is sanctioned, and the media and politicians are now gearing up to tell the world how bad the Saudi regime is. Soon, you will see more commentaries and political talking points unmasking Saudi Arabia’s “bad” human rights record. Given the context, few informed people will pay attention, and even fewer will trust the human rights claims behind which the West stands to justify its sanctions or interventions in countries run by leaders who do not follow and obey Western preferences. Here, the preeminent NYT and its top influencer is using a line from Trump’s book, They Are Laughing At Us, to promote the idea of punishing the Saudi regime.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

“OPEC +” agrees to reduce oil production by an average of two million barrels per day

    Thursday, October 06, 2022   No comments

 Reuters quoted sources in Vienna as confirming that the "OPEC +" group agreed today to reduce oil production by two million barrels per day.


The Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee of the Global Oil Exporters Alliance "OPEC +", which includes ministers of prominent producing countries, agreed to reduce crude production by two million barrels per day in response to the decline in prices.


This came according to what was quoted by "Reuters" agency, quoting 3 sources familiar with the events, and as expected by media reports earlier, and in a move believed to destroy the efforts of the United States to increase supplies and reduce prices.

A disaster for the United States and will cause crises

On Tuesday, CNN reported, quoting a White House document, that "the United States is concerned that a possible decision by "OPEC" to reduce oil production may cause major crises for the country, and can be considered a hostile act."



And a report by the American network stated that the White House “warns that the “OPEC +” meeting may cause great damage to the United States, and that the decision to reduce oil production will be a “complete disaster” for the country.


The United States, in an attempt to persuade its OPEC allies, is proposing to buy back up to 200 million barrels of oil from its OPEC partners, which will be used to refill the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which President Joe Biden uses to help lower oil prices.


This is while another US official stated, according to "CNN", that the White House "is in a state of panic and panic."


"We have made clear that energy supplies must meet demand to support economic growth and lower prices for consumers around the world, and we will continue to talk to our partners about that," National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson said in a statement.


A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting participants in the upcoming “OPEC +” meeting, that the coalition countries were “considering reducing oil production by more than one million barrels per day.”


Action to Prevent fluctuations


Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC Plus, which includes OPEC countries and non-OPEC producers including Russia, say they are seeking to prevent volatility and not target a specific oil price.


Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose today, Wednesday, towards $93 a barrel, after rising yesterday.


The West accuses Russia of using energy as a weapon, and of creating a crisis in Europe that may force it to ration gas and electricity this winter.


In contrast, Moscow accuses the West of using the dollar and financial systems - such as Swift - as a weapon in response to Russia sending troops to Ukraine last February.

Reactions

US President Joe Biden expressed his disappointment over the decision of the OPEC Plus alliance to reduce oil production, and stressed that his administration would seek to reduce the alliance's control over energy prices, according to a statement issued by the White House.

The statement described the OPEC Plus decision as "short-sighted", and said that the decision - which is the largest reduction in oil production since the Covid-19 pandemic - will harm countries that are "already reeling" under the weight of high oil prices in light of a global economy that in turn suffers from the "negative impact". Russia's attack on Ukraine, according to the statement.

The White House considered that the "wrong" decision was in Russia's own interest, and said, "It is clear that OPEC Plus is allied with Russia."

He added that "in light of today's decision, the Biden administration will consult with Congress on additional tools and mechanisms to reduce the control of the coalition of oil-producing countries on energy prices."

On the other hand, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak described the decision taken by the OPEC Plus alliance during its meeting in Vienna today, Wednesday, as "unprecedented", and attributed it to the need to achieve balance in the oil market.

Novak warned - in statements he made to state television - that the trend to impose a ceiling on the price of Russian oil - a step proposed by the European Union as part of new planned sanctions on Moscow - will have a detrimental effect on global markets.

Novak stressed that Russian companies will not send oil supplies to countries that adopt this ceiling.

On Thursday, the US administration seem to escalate its reaction to this event. The White House hinted that it would “re-evaluate the issue of Saudi Arabia’s trade preference with regard to arms sales and defense support,” following the decision of the “OPEC +” group to reduce the collective production limit.

The President of the US National Economic Council, Brian Dees, indicated today, Thursday, that "the administration of President Joe Biden is in the process of consulting with Congress on the issue of Saudi Arabia's commercial preference for arms sales and defense support."
In response to a question about whether Saudi Arabia deserves to obtain weapons and US defense support in light of the decision of the “OPEC +” group, Deiss said: “We will conduct an assessment and consult closely with Congress on a number of issues related to this matter.”
The member countries of the “OPEC +” alliance agreed, yesterday, Wednesday, to reduce the collective production limit by two million barrels per day, in what is considered the largest supply curb since the 2020 agreement, in the midst of the historic price collapse due to the Corona pandemic.
Following the producers' decision, US President Joe Biden expressed his disappointment with the "OPEC +" agreement, stressing the importance of global energy supplies in light of the war in Ukraine.
White House spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre said that the “OPEC +” decision to reduce oil production, which is likely to raise prices in Western countries, “shows that the alliance is biased towards Russia.”
And the American network “CNN” reported, earlier, quoting a document of the White House, that “the United States is concerned that a possible decision by “OPEC” to reduce oil production may cause major crises for the country, and it can be considered a “hostile act.”
And a report by the American network stated that the White House “warns that the “OPEC +” meeting may cause great damage to the United States, and that the decision to reduce oil production will be a “complete disaster” for the country.
Read also: The “OPEC +” decision to reduce production .. its political and economic impact on the Biden administration
In turn, the Saudi Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman, confirmed that the decision of the “OPEC +” group to reduce oil production by two million barrels per day “is not an aggressive move and does not aim to harm anyone.”
As for Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, he announced that the decision of the “OPEC +” alliance to reduce oil production “is an unprecedented decision,” noting that the reason for taking such a decision “is the need to balance the market before winter.”

Monday, August 22, 2022

European Union's foreign policy chief: Iran's response to the European proposal on the nuclear deal "reasonable"

    Monday, August 22, 2022   No comments

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, considered today that Iran's response to the bloc's recent proposal for a nuclear agreement with the United States is "reasonable."

He added during an event at a university in the city of Santander in northern Spain: "I presented a proposal in my capacity as the coordinator of the negotiations ... and there is a response from Iran, which I considered reasonable. He was transferred to the United States, which has not yet officially responded.


Borrell was referring to a response Iran sent last week to the European Union's latest proposal to update the 2015 nuclear deal, following 16 months of indirect talks between the United States and Tehran.


For his part, the Russian envoy to the Vienna negotiations, Mikhail Ulyanov, said that he met the new permanent representative of Iran to international organizations in Vienna, Mohsen Naziri, and they discussed a number of issues related to the final stage of the Vienna negotiations on the nuclear agreement.


He added that Iran had made reasonable proposals regarding the nuclear agreement, and the Russian official expressed his hope that Washington would not delay in responding to the Iranian proposals, as he put it.


Friday, August 12, 2022

Tehran: EU proposal to revive nuclear talks may be 'acceptable'

    Friday, August 12, 2022   No comments

Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran news agency quoted a prominent Iranian diplomat as saying that the European Union's proposal to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement "could be acceptable, if it provides reassurance" on Tehran's main demands.


The European Union said on Monday it had submitted a "final" text after four days of indirect talks between US and Iranian officials in Vienna.


A senior EU official said no further changes could be made to the text, which has been under negotiation for 15 months. He said he expected a final decision from both parties within "very, very, very few weeks."


The news agency quoted the Iranian diplomat, who was not identified, as saying that Tehran is reviewing the proposal, adding, "The proposals of the European Union can be acceptable if they provide Iran with reassurance regarding protection (measures), sanctions and guarantees."


The Islamic Republic has sought guarantees that no future US president would withdraw from the deal if it was revived, as former President Donald Trump did in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions on Iran.


However, President Joe Biden cannot make such strong assurances, because the agreement is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.


Washington has said it is ready to quickly reach an agreement to revive the nuclear deal, based on European Union proposals.


Iranian officials said they would pass on their "other views and opinions" to the European Union, which is coordinating the talks, after holding consultations in Tehran.


Assistant for Political Affairs in the Office of the Presidency of the Iranian Republic, Mohammad Beheshti, commented on the recent Western media leaks on issues related to the safeguards system in the nuclear agreement, saying that these leaks show which party is suffering from pressure and needs a quick agreement.


Jamshidi said that he did not want to comment on the content or authenticity of the text published in the media on issues related to the safeguards system at the IAEA, but these coordinated media leaks show which party is under pressure and needs an immediate agreement, and that the study of the issue is continuing.


It is noteworthy that some media outlets, as well as some social media, have published news on issues related to the safeguards system and the proposed text of the agreement between Iran and international powers on the nuclear deal.


The Wall Street Journal had claimed that it had seen the text and added that the European proposal included making major concessions to Iran aimed at ending the IAEA investigation.


The Wall Street Journal claimed on Thursday that the European Union had proposed making major concessions to Iran in order to revive the nuclear deal.


According to the newspaper, the proposal submitted by the European Union indicates that Iran is expected to answer the International Atomic Energy Agency's questions "with a view to clarifying them," and adds that if Tehran cooperates, the other parties in the talks will urge the agency to close the investigation.


An EU spokesman has previously stated that the text submitted after recent talks in Vienna is in keeping with the usual confidentiality in such diplomatic processes, he said.



Tuesday, July 26, 2022

IMF: Europe is suffering more than expected, and Russia is less than expected

    Tuesday, July 26, 2022   No comments

The International Monetary Fund announced today, Tuesday, that it "expects the Russian economy not to be affected much this year by Western sanctions," adding that European countries, in turn, "suffer more than expected."

The IMF predicted that "Russian GDP growth will contract by 6% in 2022, much less than the 8.5% decline it had bet on in its previous forecast, which was published in April."


The fund stated, in its report, that it "expects the Russian economy to contract less than was assumed in the second quarter of the year," and noted that "exports of crude oil and products, outside the energy field, were better than expected."


"In addition, domestic demand appears to be showing some resilience thanks to containment of the impact of sanctions in the domestic financial sector, and a weaker-than-expected labor market decline," he explained.


On the other hand, the International Monetary Fund noted that the effects on major European economies "were more negative than expected".


In contrast, the IMF expects the effects of these sanctions to be more than expected in 2023, the year in which the International Monetary Fund expects a recession in the Russian economy by 3.5%, which is 1.2 points less than its previous forecast.


Western countries, in conjunction with the Russian military operation in Ukraine, on February 24, imposed a severe campaign of sanctions against Russia, in order to restrict Moscow financially and economically.


Economic growth forecasts for 2022 have been lowered for Germany (-0.9 point at 1.2%), France (-0.6 point at 2.3%), and Spain (-0.8 point at 4.0%).


The IMF explained that these consequences are stronger due to "high energy prices, as well as declining consumer confidence and slowing manufacturing activity, caused by continued supply chain disruptions and the high cost of raw materials."


The complete suspension of Russian gas exports is expected to "significantly" reduce the growth of the eurozone in 2022 and 2023, and this would force European countries to ration energy, which will affect the main industrial sectors.


The price of gas recorded a record high today in Europe, as the price of the August futures contract reached $2,200 per 1,000 cubic meters, for the first time since its historic record high last March, recording a 13% increase in one day.


Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Algeria suspends friendship treaty with Spain amid Western Sahara tensions

    Wednesday, June 08, 2022   No comments

 


Algeria said its decision was due to Spain's "unjustifiable turnaround" over the Western Sahara region. Earlier this year, Spain recognized Morocco's plans for the disputed territory, sparking tensions with Algeria.

The announcement came hours after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reportedly said his government's policy shift on Western Sahara has "improved (Spain's) bilateral relations with Morocco."


In March, the Spanish government shifted its long-standing position on Western Sahara by endorsing Morocco's autonomy plan for the territory, paving the way for easing diplomatic tensions between the two kingdoms.


The new Spanish position "violates international legitimacy, and directly contributes to the deterioration of the situation in Western Sahara and the region as a whole," the presidential statement said.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

German Central Bank: Boycotting Russian gas will cost the country 180 billion euros

    Saturday, April 23, 2022   No comments

The German Central Bank has indicated that the sudden interruption in supplies to the European Union could reduce economic output by 5 percent this year, according to the British Financial Times.

The central bank has warned that the immediate ban the European Union is considering imposing ban on Russian gas imports will cost Germany 180 billion euros this year.

And the bank added, in its monthly bulletin, yesterday, that this ban will affect the gross domestic product by 5% in 2022, which will lead to higher energy prices, in addition to one of the deepest recessions that the country has experienced in recent decades, according to the British newspaper.

Thus, the central bank's estimates are much more negative than those of academic economists, and it is likely to bring to the fore the fierce debates about the readiness of the economic power of the eurozone in the face of the absence of Russian gas.

This comes at a time when the Ukrainian government, along with European politicians and academics, considers that sales of gas, oil and coal to the West contribute to the stability of the Russian economy, and help "finance the war of President Vladimir Putin." The European Union will ban imports of Russian coal from August, while gas shipments are set to continue.

Last month, a group of nine university economists deemed the fallout of the entire energy ban "manageable," noting that it would affect Germany's gross domestic product by only 0.3 to 3 percent.

However, industry officials warned that the impact would be more severe. In this context, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller noted that a sudden halt to Russian gas deliveries could destroy "the entire German economy" and could lead to the worst economic crisis since 1945.

For their part, politicians rejected allegations that the economic repercussions of the embargo would be “minor.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described these estimates as “wrong” and “irresponsible,” while Economy Minister Robert Habeck considered that Germany would permanently dispense with Russian gas by 2024.

During the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington yesterday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on the European Union to “be careful” about banning Russian energy imports, warning of the damage such a move could cause to the global economy.

The Bundesbank, which considered its estimates still highly questionable, estimated that industrial consumers could not replace Russian gas with alternative energy sources for three consecutive quarters. As a result, inflation, which reached 7.3 percent, will rise by 1.5 percent this year, exacerbating the risk of inflation, given the association of strong price pressures with weak growth, according to the newspaper.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

China send a fleet of Y-20 transport planes loaded with missiles to Serbia

    Sunday, April 10, 2022   No comments

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Russian ally Serbia took the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system in a veiled operation this weekend, amid Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans at the time of the war in Ukraine could threaten the fragile peace in the region.

Media and military experts said Sunday that six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade’s civilian airport early Saturday, reportedly carrying HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems for the Serbian military.

The Chinese cargo planes with military markings were pictured at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport. Serbia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.

The arms delivery over the territory of at least two NATO member states, Turkey and Bulgaria, was seen by experts as a demonstration of China’s growing global reach.

“The Y-20s’ appearance raised eyebrows because they flew en masse as opposed to a series of single-aircraft flights,” wrote The Warzone online magazine. “The Y-20′s presence in Europe in any numbers is also still a fairly new development.”

Serbian military analyst Aleksandar Radic said that “the Chinese carried out their demonstration of force.”

read more from the AP story...


China's major English language online outlet said this about the event:

A fleet of six Y-20 cargo planes of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force was reportedly spotted in Serbia on Saturday, with observers saying on Sunday that it could be the largest overseas operation by the Chinese domestically developed large transport plane yet, displaying the country's strategic transport capabilities.

Citing commercial flight trackers, US news website thedrive.com reported on Saturday that the six Y-20 aircraft were first spotted heading west in Turkish airspace late Friday night, and later local residents took photos of the Y-20s, which allegedly landed in Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia. The aircraft later flew over the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey again on their way back to China.

China has not made an official announcement about the mission as of press time, but the Global Times learned that the Y-20s indeed have carried out such a flight.


Read GT story here...


Analysts have already connected this event to the war in Ukraine.

As the Ukraine war rages on, Serbia is feeling the heat because of its ties with Russia. While in the U.N. General Assembly, Serbia voted in favor of the resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supporting Ukrainian territorial integrity, Belgrade avoided imposing economic sanctions against Russia.

With its partnership with Russia under duress, Serbian ties with Beijing appear carefree in comparison. Indeed, the war in Ukraine provides Serbia with an opportunity to continue and boost the policy, which was already unfolding even before the war, of replacing Russia with China as Serbia’s primary non-Western partner. This policy is even more appealing as Serbia is about to undergo an electoral cycle in April 2022, making China a perfect instrument of domestic promotion for the Serbian leadership.


 



Thursday, August 24, 2017

Almost all of Germany's 4.7 million Muslims feel connected to the German society... the feeling is apparently not mutual

    Thursday, August 24, 2017   No comments
...
Most Muslims are well integrated into German society, an international research project published on Thursday revealed. But they also face Islamophobia, with nearly one in five Germans saying they would not want Muslim neighbors.
  A new study by Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation looked into the level of education, employment and social engagement of Muslims in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and the United Kingdom, and found that 96 percent of German Muslims - both of first and following generations - felt connected to Germany. The study did not cover Muslims who arrived after 2010.


"The international comparison shows that it is not religious affiliation that determines the success of opportunities for integration, but the state and the economic framework," said Stephan Vopel, an expert on social cohesion at the Bertelsmann Foundation.

"This study proves that the reality, when it comes to participation of Muslims in society, isn't as bleak as it is often presented in the media," said Ayse Demir, spokeswoman for the Berlin-based Turkish community organization TBB. "It shows that a lot of Muslims feel integrated, but there is a lack of acceptance - and that's also our perception. Participation isn't a one-way street: It needs to come from both sides."

Demir blamed the media for this disconnect. "We're having a right-wing shift in Germany and in Europe," she said. "At the moment a lot is being instrumentalized: Muslims are being presented as the 'enemy' - and of course that gets used by right-wing populists, and then people verbally attack Muslims."  source

Thursday, June 22, 2017

President Emmanuel Macron Reverses France's Syria Policy: No legitimate successor to Assad

    Thursday, June 22, 2017   No comments
ISR comment: 
For six years, France's policy was one that prioritized the ouster of the Syrian president over all other goals. The French government offered the obscure groups calling themselves "Syrian Opposition" all forms of support, labeling it, the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. After more than 300,000 Syrians died and nearly 5,000,000 were displaced, the French government shifts its Syria policy: the priority is now to fight terrorism and to preserve the institutions of a functioning Syrian government. Too little, too late.
The News:
President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday he saw no legitimate successor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and France no longer considered his departure a pre-condition to resolving the six-year-old conflict.

He said Assad was an enemy of the Syrian people, but not of France and that Paris' priority was fighting terrorist groups and ensuring Syria did not become a failed state.

His comments were in stark contrast to those of the previous French administration and echo Moscow's stance that there is no viable alternative to Assad.

"The new perspective that I have had on this subject is that I have not stated that Bashar al-Assad's departure is a pre-condition for everything because nobody has shown me a legitimate successor," Macron said in an interview with eight European newspapers.

"My lines are clear: Firstly, a complete fight against all the terrorist groups. They are our enemies," he said, adding attacks that killed 230 people in France had come from the region. "We need everybody's cooperation, especially Russia, to eradicate them."Source


Monday, April 03, 2017

Scotland Yard is looking into allegations of war crimes against Saudi Arabia, committed in Yemen

    Monday, April 03, 2017   No comments
A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: "On Thursday, 30 March 2017 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) received a referral of an allegation of war crimes, made against Saudi Arabia committed in Yemen.

"Following receipt of the referral, the MPS war crimes team (part of the Counter Terrorism Command) began a scoping exercise and contacted those making the allegations.

"There is no investigation at this time, and the scoping exercise continues."

Britain's potential role in the ongoing conflict in Yemen has been controversial, with the British government being urged to stop exporting arms to Saudi Arabia.

News outlets, activists, and NGOs have pointed to evidence that British-made bombs and weapons are being used against civilians in Yemen, in what would constitute a war crime.

This is a charge that Saudi Arabia vehemently denies, saying the weapons seen in these reports are older, and that the cluster bombs were in fact dropped in 2009.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

German international magazine, der spiegel, publishes a dossier about Trump's presidency, the illustrative image is astounding

    Saturday, February 04, 2017   No comments
 ISR comment: The image illustrating the cover dossier of “Der Spiegel,” a leading magazine out of Germany, a country that knows firsthand the consequences of being ruled by populist authoritarians, is astounding. It speaks to the power of art in capturing the moment. Its selection for the cover of the magazine underscores the role of the media and journalism in society during challenging times.
__________________

Donald Trump has now been president of the United States for two weeks. It literally pains me to write about all that has happened in these first days. The president of the U.S. is a racist. He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power.

With his style of rule -- his decrees, his appointments and his firings -- he is dividing Washington and the rest of the country. Our cover story this week, which will be published in English on Monday, describes how Trump's inner circle works and how insecurity has grown among government officials. It sheds light on the role of Stephen Bannon, the former head of the right-wing news portal Breitbart News, who has become Trump's Faust, his chief ideologue and the man pulling the strings in the White House. Bannon is also a man who loves wars -- he sees them as being thoroughly advantageous.


During the course of his reporting on the cover story, SPIEGEL Washington correspondent Gordon Repinski met with government officials who spoke of their worries and their pangs of guilt. "They are considering whether the right thing to do would be to leave the government or to put up resistance from within," says Repinski. In London, my colleague Peter Müller spoke with Ted Malloch, who is considered Trump's favorite for the post of ambassador to the European Union -- a man who has praised Brexit and predicted the collapse of the euro.

  
The problem will not resolve itself. German business is the opponent of American trade policy, the German democracy is the ideological opponent of Donald Trump, but even here, in the middle of Germany, right-wing extremists are trying to give him a helping hand. It is high time that we stand up for what is important: democracy, freedom, the West and its alliances. Germany, of all countries, the economically and politically dominant democracy in Europe, will have to form the alliance against Trump, because it won't otherwise take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.


  
The image for this week's cover was created by the artist Edel Rodriguez. Edel was nine years old when, in 1980, he came to the U.S. with his mother -- two refugees, like so many others. "I remember it well, and I remember the feelings and how little kids feel when they are leaving their country," he told the Washington Post on Friday night.

The newspaper wrote: "This DER SPIEGEL Trump cover is stunning." It wasn't the first time Edel has drawn Trump. He usually portrays him without eyes -- you just see his angry, gaping mouth and, of course, the hair. "I don't want to live in a dictatorship," he says. "If I wanted to live in a dictatorship, I'd live in Cuba, where it's much warmer."

In other vital coverage this week, New York correspondent Philipp Oehmke met up with Dave Eggers and Wolfgang Höbel interviewed T.C. Boyle. Both American authors spoke about the issue gripping the entire world right now: Trump's America. "The world must be shaking," says Boyle.

Finally, in a SPIEGEL interview, my colleagues Horand Knaup, Markus Feldenkirchen and I asked Martin Schulz, the center-left Social Democratic Party's candidate challenging Angela Merkel in this year's chancellor race, what he thought of Trump. "Contemptible. He crosses the boundaries of every basic consensus that a democracy needs! It's staggering."

 A selection of stories from the issue will be published in English this week at
Spiegel.de/international.

 



Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Chilcot Report on Iraq War: Devastating critique of Tony Blair and his government

    Wednesday, July 06, 2016   No comments
The effects of the illegal war on Iraq is still being felt in Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi casualties of 2003 war and occupation
The Guardian commented and summarized the report as follows:

John Chilcot has delivered a devastating critique of Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, with his long-awaited report concluding that Britain chose to join the US invasion before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted.

The head of the Iraq war inquiry said the UK’s decision to attack and occupy a sovereign state for the first time since the second world war was a decision of “utmost gravity”. He described Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, as “undoubtedly a brutal dictator” who had repressed his own people and attacked his neighbours.

But Chilcot – whom Gordon Brown asked seven years ago to head an inquiry into the conflict – was withering about Blair’s choice to join the US invasion. Chilcot said: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

The report suggests that Blair’s self-belief was a major factor in the decision to go to war. In a section headed Lessons, Chilcot writes: “When the potential for military action arises, the government should not commit to a firm political objective before it is clear it can be achieved. Regular reassessment is essential.”

The report also bitterly criticises the way in which Blair made the case for Britain to go to war. It says the notorious dossier presented in September 2002 by Blair to the House of Commons did not support his claim that Iraq had a growing programme of chemical and biological weapons.

...
Chilcot’s report is more damning than expected and amounts to arguably the most scathing official verdict given on any modern British prime minister. His 2.6m-word, 12-volume report was released on Wednesday morning, together with a 145-page executive summary.

It concludes:

• There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.

• The strategy of containment could have been adopted and continued for some time.

• The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMDs – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.

• Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam were wholly inadequate.

• The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.

...
The Report of the Iraq Inquiry - The Executive Summary:
http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/246416/the-report-of-the-iraq-inquiry_executive-summary.pdf

Full report can be found here:
http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report/

Monday, January 19, 2015

Escape to Syria of Charlie Hebdo suspect shows Turkey’s role as jihadi highway

    Monday, January 19, 2015   No comments
For the wife of the gunman accused of killing four people at a kosher super market in Paris 10 days ago, the escape from questioning about complicity in the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks was relatively easy.

Once Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, got to Turkey, she followed the path of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other European jihadi volunteers before her – into the self-declared Islamic State.

Aided by smugglers in the Turkish border town of Akcakale, and several companions, she walked through a disused border crossing on Jan. 8 and into the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, which has been an Islamic State stronghold for months.


She would have passed a guard shack on the old road between Alcakale and Tal Abyad, but if Turkish border guards took any notice, they made no effort to stop her, according to a Turkish security official, who spoke anonymously because speaking on the record was not allowed.

By the time French police identified Boumeddiene as one of the suspects in a terrorism onslaught that cost 17 people their lives and that France is calling its equivalent of 9/11, she was beyond their reach. The other three suspects, her husband, Amedy Coulibaly, who is believed to have killed a policewoman in addition to the four at the supermarket, and Said and Cherif Kouachi, blamed for the deaths of 12 at the Charlie Hebdo offices, would die in shootouts with police.

The Algerian-born Boumeddiene is not the first foreigner to cross into Islamic State territory from Akcakale and the surrounding region. But her escape focuses fresh attention on what is a sore point between Turkey and its European neighbors – the ease with which disaffected European youth are able to cross into Islamic State territory from Turkey and join the jihad.

Turkey insists it is taking steps to stop the flow of recruits to the Islamic State. But visits by a McClatchy reporter to Akcakale and three nearby villages found that a foreigner can easily cross into Syria. Smugglers’ fees are a pittance, as little as $30, and daylight crossings are common. Official efforts to discourage crossings to Syria appeared non-existent.

In each village, locals said foreigners cross the border regularly into Syria and offered to assist in crossing or to find a smuggler who would. They also named other villages where illegal crossings are a major business.

“It’s so easy to escape into Syria,” a farmer in a village about 25 miles east of Akcakale said. “You don’t need a smuggler, you can just walk.”



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