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  • US defense secretary in Iraq to discuss troops leaving Syria

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    U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has arrived in Baghdad on a visit aimed at working out details about the future of American troops that are withdrawing from Syria to neighboring Iraq. Wednesday's meetings at the Iraqi Defense Ministry comes a day after Iraq's military said American troops leaving northeastern Syria don't have permission to stay in Iraq.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 02:59:12 -0400
  • Germany open for short Brexit extension to allow smooth ratification - Maas

    Germany would be open to grant Britain a short-term extension for its departure from the European Union if it will be for the right political reason, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview on Wednesday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said it was up to the EU to decide whether it wanted to delay Brexit and for how long, after a defeat in parliament made ratification of his deal by the Oct. 31 deadline almost impossible.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 02:50:57 -0400
  • Brexit Has the British Fleeing to Europe

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Five years ago, I emigrated to Germany from Russia, because it had abandoned any pretense of wanting to be a European country. Now, I’m watching in amazement as Britons — people we Russians have long considered the epitome of Europeanness — are doing the same, in droves, for the same reason.It’s well known that tens of thousands of U.K. citizens have obtained second passports from Ireland as insurance against a post-Brexit loss of the European freedom of movement. But that’s only part of the story. Far more British citizens are applying for passports in other European countries than had been doing so before the Brexit referendum; they’re also moving to these countries in numbers not seen in a decade.The number of Britons acquiring the German nationality, for example, has jumped from hundreds to thousands a year. There are so many of them they no longer get a traditional ceremony when they receive their German passports.In 2014, five times as many Russians as Britons became naturalized Germans. The situation has reversed today: In 2018, 6,640 U.K. nationals obtained German passports, compared with 1,930 Russians. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s international migration database, after Brexit passed, the naturalizations of Britons also went up sharply in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden, although the absolute numbers are smaller there than in Germany.While Britons getting second passports from Ireland mostly aren’t going anywhere, there’s a substantial jump in U.K. emigration to the rest of the European Union. While Britons migrated to the continent in similar numbers in the mid-2000s, about half of those emigres were moving to Spain, which marketed itself aggressively to retirees (and enjoyed a housing boom as a consequence). Today, the geography of the U.K. emigration is much more diverse. And, as with naturalizations, continental Europe is receiving significantly more U.K. nationals than Russians. Data from the OECD are only available through 2017. But Daniel Auer of the Berlin Social Science Center, who is working on a study of recent U.K. emigration with co-author Daniel Tetlow, projects that the number of U.K. citizens moving to other EU countries increased to more than 75,500 in 2018, and will go up to almost 84,000 this year. That would be an absolute record. The numbers are bigger than those reported by the U.K. Office of National Statistics for the outward migration of U.K. citizens --according to the ONS, net out-migration in the 12 months ending in March 2019 reached 52,000. But Auer considers OECD data and his extrapolations from national statistics in Germany, Spain and Ireland more accurate than British data, which is based in large part on passenger surveys.It’s true that Britons face a lot less bureaucracy than Russians when they want to move to EU member states. And, unlike Russians, they are allowed dual citizenship in Germany while the U.K. is still an EU member.  But I still can’t help my incredulity as I look at the numbers.Russia is a corrupt country run by an authoritarian ruler who invades neighboring states, and it’s much poorer than the U.K. It fits the profile of a country of emigration much better than Britain does. According to Gallup data from the end of last year, 34 million people worldwide would want to move to the U.K. and only 8 million to Russia. And yet the U.K. appears to be beating my country of birth at driving people away.The fact that the U.K. is still an attractive destination for immigrants makes it likely that post-Brexit Britain will be able to attract enough talent to replace those who leave. The foreigners still come: According to the OECD, the number coming to study — mostly from non-EU countries — has increased even as fewer people have been arriving to take jobs. But the U.K. government needs to pay more attention to how many citizens are leaving the country and declaring their allegiance to other European states. It needs more accurate statistics, obtainable from destination countries, and policies designed to persuade its people to stay or to come back if they’ve left.The growing emigration of U.K. nationals is a measure of policy failure — just as it has been for the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia since the 2014 Crimea annexation. The U.K., like Russia, is losing people who disagree with insular policies. Brexiters may consider that good riddance — just like the Kremlin does. But I’m deeply convinced that countries need such people. They’re the the ones who connect nations in this increasingly small world, and with fewer of them, countries can quickly lose their edge.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 02:00:24 -0400
  • Australia asks Israel to quickly extradite alleged pedophile

    Australia's prime minister said on Wednesday he will raise with Israel's next administration the need for a quick resolution to a 5-year-old extradition battle over an Israeli educator accused of child sex abuse in an Australian school. Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement after meeting at Parliament House with sisters Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, who were allegedly abused by Malka Leifer when she was principal of Melbourne's ultra-orthodox Adass Israel school.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 01:47:00 -0400
  • Esper arrives in Baghdad to discuss US troop deployments

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    Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad Wednesday, as chaos swirled along the Turkey-Syria border and Iraqi leaders chafed over reports the U.S. may want to increase the number of troops based in Iraq at least temporarily. Esper has said that under the current plan, all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military would continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence in the region. Iraq's military, however, said Tuesday that U.S. troops leaving Syria and heading to neighboring Iraq do not have permission to stay in the country, even as the American forces continue to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey's invasion of the border region.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 01:34:54 -0400
  • Brexit delay looms after UK MPs demand more time to debate deal

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    European Council President Donald Tusk said Tuesday he will recommend EU leaders grant another Brexit extension, hours after British MPs rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bid to force his divorce deal through parliament this week. Tusk said he would advise the bloc's 27 other member states to accept a postponement request from the UK government, which Johnson was forced to submit Saturday under British law after he had failed to win lawmakers' backing for his new agreement. Johnson immediately announced he would pause the process of trying to ratify the text -- the first that MPs have backed since the 2016 referendum -- while he consulted European Union leaders on a possible delay.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 00:55:45 -0400
  • Germany’s ‘Debt Brake’ Is an Unnecessary Drag

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Germany’s refusal to use fiscal policy, in the form of a big and quick stimulus, to ward off recession is a serious problem for the global economy. This excessive caution is enshrined in a balanced-budget law known as the “debt brake.” Several other countries have been emulating it, or thinking about doing so. They shouldn’t. And Germany should reconsider the law in a hurry, as a growing chorus of economists and the country’s largest business lobby are demanding.The debt brake dates to 2009, when Germans blamed the financial crisis on excessive debt, the German word for which happens to be etymologically akin to that for “guilt.” They approved a federal constitutional amendment and changes to state constitutions to outlaw structural budget deficits. The federal government has a bit of wiggle room; the states have none. The only exceptions are for natural disasters or severe recessions.Such laws aren’t unheard of. In the U.S., almost every state has a balanced-budget rule in some form. Switzerland adopted a debt brake in 2001. The European Union has the Stability and Growth Pact, with ceilings for deficits and debt. But Germany’s law is especially strict. Since its introduction, the Austrians and Spaniards have adopted rules modeled on it.To Germans, fiscal wisdom is embodied by the proverbial “Swabian housewife,” who is thrifty bordering on stingy. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been known to invoke her. But the housewife runs only one household within a larger economy — an economy that would tank if all its participants suddenly turned frugal. In the aggregate, economies can suffer from deficient demand. When they do, and the government has sufficient room for fiscal maneuver, running a controlled budget deficit supports employment and growth. Under the right circumstances, higher government borrowing can even reduce public debt as a proportion of gross domestic product. Unduly rigid rules foreclose this opportunity.At the moment, the case for fiscal flexibility in Germany is especially strong. The ill-advised trade war led by U.S. President Donald Trump is putting pressure on the global economy. Much of Europe is slowing down. Germany’s economy has been hit particularly hard, and its plight is compounded by years of anemic investment, in public goods such as roads and bridges and broadband lines. Germany’s debt is low enough to provide ample fiscal space. And the government’s cost of borrowing is now less than zero: That is, lenders are willing to pay the government to borrow their money.In such circumstances, fiscal flexibility is the prudent choice. At a minimum, Germany should exempt investments, as opposed to welfare spending, from the debt brake. But it might be better to revise the law more thoroughly, or even scrap it altogether. Germany’s suspicion of high public borrowing might be sufficient discipline in itself. In any event, when a policy rule militates against doing what almost everybody agrees should be done, it’s time to think again.\--Editors: Andreas Kluth, Clive Crook.To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg Opinion’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net, .Editorials are written by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 00:01:26 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Eyes Election After Parliament Forces Brexit Delay

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson looked set to try for an election after Parliament blocked his plan to rush his Brexit deal into U.K. law.A day of threats and promises from Johnson ended with an official in his office warning that if the European Union agreed to a request from the British Parliament that Brexit be delayed until Jan. 31, then the prime minister would call an election instead.As European Council President Donald Tusk had earlier signaled that this was what the EU was likely to do, Johnson is likely to put passing his Brexit deal -- something he discovered on Tuesday evening that he has the votes to do -- on hold in favor of trying to secure a parliamentary majority.His gamble will be that voters give him one, attracted by his pitch of getting Britain out of the EU with the deal he’s negotiated. The risk is that the polls that put him well ahead prove unreliable -- as they have done in the past -- and that voters opt instead for the opposition Labour Party’s offer of a softer Brexit, confirmed by a second referendum. That could put the entire Brexit project in jeopardy.Premier’s OptionsOne risk that has receded is that of a no-deal Brexit, as Johnson is now committed to a deal, and the EU seems likely to allow the time to either pass the deal or have an election. “One way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal, to which this House has just given its assent,” the prime minister told Parliament.Johnson isn’t certain to go for an election. He threatened one earlier Tuesday if Parliament didn’t agree to rush his Brexit bill through, and later in the evening an official repeated the threat. But Johnson has gone back on such promises before. He said last month he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than apply for a Brexit extension, and unidentified officials in his office had briefed journalists there were ways around the law that required him to do so. On Saturday evening, he requested an extension.Nor is it certain Parliament would agree to give him one. He was twice refused last month. But people familiar with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s thinking said he’d support one if Brexit was put off until Jan. 31, removing the risk of an accidental no-deal split.Justice Secretary Robert Buckland suggested he wanted Parliament to come up with an alternative timetable to break the impasse, rather than hold an election. He told the BBC on Wednesday an election may not be necessary if MPs can work together to find a way to “crack on.”Breakneck PaceTuesday afternoon began with Johnson’s election threat, directed at members of Parliament who wanted more time to scrutinize his Brexit legislation.As the afternoon went on, it looked like it might be working. The first vote of the evening saw Parliament back Johnson’s Brexit deal in principle, and not by a narrow margin, but convincingly, 329 votes to 299. That was the first time Parliament had approved any Brexit deal, and it suggested there is a way to get the deal through.But Johnson didn’t just want to pass his deal, he wanted to push it through at a breakneck pace before the current Oct. 31 deadline. That meant getting the House of Commons to agree to pass it through all its stages in just three days.Johnson’s opponents argued that they needed more time, and voted 322 to 308 against his proposed timetable. That defeat made it certain the prime minister would need to delay Brexit, something he’s promised repeatedly not to do.Labour’s Corbyn offered to work with Johnson to come up with a better timetable to help Parliament improve the deal.Johnson himself seemed more emollient than earlier, not raising his election threat again. “Let me be clear: our policy remains that we should not delay, that we should leave the EU on Oct. 31 and that is what I will say to the EU and I will report back to the House,” he told the House of Commons.Tusk then responded by saying he’d recommend the EU accept the U.K.’s request for an extension. While he didn’t set a date, his suggestion that this could be agreed by letter, and without a summit, pointed to accepting the British Parliament’s request of a new exit date of Jan. 31. It’s possible the EU will offer to allow an earlier exit if Johnson can get his deal passed in the next month, something that seems plausible after the first vote of the evening. That might persuade Johnson to get his deal passed before going for an election.‘Keep People’s Trust’Earlier, when MPs had voted to endorse the broad thrust of Johnson’s deal, the winning margin included 19 members of the main opposition Labour Party. Crucially, Johnson won that vote without the Democratic Unionist Party, his former allies, whose support he lost after he broke a commitment to them not to create a customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland. If Johnson can keep those 19 Labour MPs on board, he can pass his deal.Labour’s Lisa Nandy, one of the 19, warned Johnson that their support shouldn’t be taken for granted. “Those of us who are seeking to engage in the detail do so not because we will support a Tory Brexit -- our votes at Third Reading are by no means secure -- but because we want to see if we can improve the deal and keep people’s trust in our democracy.”Johnson’s First Battle With MPs: The 2020 Trade Cliff EdgeThe government is making promises to secure their support, and that of former Tories who have their doubts about Johnson. Minutes before the votes, MPs were assured they’d get a say on whether the government extended its post-Brexit transition period if it hadn’t concluded a trade deal with the EU by the end of next year. Some had feared another no-deal cliff edge.If Johnson does go for an an election and wins a majority, those promises may be dropped. Or he could use that majority to soften his Brexit position.(Updates with Buckland comment in eighth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie and Jessica Shankleman.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Edward Evans, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 23 Oct 2019 03:11:40 -0400
  • China Drawing Up Plan to Replace Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam, Report Says

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    (Bloomberg) -- The Chinese government is drafting a plan to replace Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam with an “interim” chief executive, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people briefed on the deliberations.Lam’s successor would be installed by March, covering the remainder of her term should Chinese President Xi Jinping decide to carry out the plan, the paper cited the people as saying. Lam’s replacement wouldn’t necessarily stay on for a full five-year term afterward. Leading candidates to succeed Lam include Norman Chan, former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and Henry Tang, who has also served as the territory’s financial secretary and chief secretary for administration, the report added.Neither Chan or Tang immediately responded to requests for comment on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Chief Executive’s Office said the office does not comment on speculation.Hong Kong Announces $255 Million in Economic Support Measures“Business should not expect that the removal of Lam will end the civil unrest,” Verisk Maplecroft, a consultancy that advises businesses on political risk, said in a note on Wednesday. “No matter who the next chief executive is, the protesters will continue to demand an independent investigation into police conduct amid widespread dissatisfaction with how the authorities are managing the demonstrations.”Lam’s introduction of legislation allowing extraditions to China sparked months of increasingly violent protests against Beijing’s tightening grip over the city, pushing the economy toward a recession. Her moves to withdraw the bill and invoke a colonial-era emergency law to ban face masks have done little to stem the unrest.According to audio excerpts released by Reuters last month, Lam told a gathering of business people that she had caused “huge havoc,” and would quit “if I had a choice.” She subsequently told reporters that she never asked China for permission to resign over the historic unrest rocking the city.If Lam resigns, responsibility for leading the city of 7.5 million would fall immediately to Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung, who can act as chief executive for as long as six months. Before that interim period ends, the city’s 1,200-member Election Committee comprised overwhelmingly of Beijing loyalists must meet to select a new leader.How China Can Recover Even If Hong Kong’s Lam Quits: QuickTakeIn 2005, Hong Kong’s first post-colonial leader, Tung Chee-hwa, resigned after mass protests forced him to withdraw China-backed national security legislation. Tung, a shipping magnate, held onto the job for more than a year after the demonstrations peaked as the party settled on a succession plan.Opposition lawmaker Claudia Mo said last week that Lam’s resignation could help ease tensions.“She can go, if she wants to,” Mo said in an interview. “You might say, ‘What’s the point of having Carrie Lam gone? There would just be another puppet in place.’ But at least we can have a new face, and let’s have a restart, if possible, between the government and the people.”In her annual policy address last week, Lam tried to appease the economic concerns of poorer Hong Kong citizens with incentives for first-time home buyers and annual grants for students. Still, she didn’t make any new proposals and repeated her opposition to the protesters’ demands, including granting amnesty, an independent police inquiry and the ability to nominate and elect their own leaders.“Heads need to roll” in order to show the administration is accountable but Lam’s removal would also carry risks for the Communist Party in Beijng, said David Zweig, an emeritus professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and director of Transnational China Consulting Ltd.“How many cities in China may have bad situations, unemployment or difficulties particularly going forward if the U.S.-China trade war continues, China’s economy slows down, and people march,” he said. “Are they going to remove mayors? Are they going to remove officials?”(Updates with analyst comments from fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Natalie Lung, Jason Scott, Blake Schmidt and Fion Li.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Belinda Cao in New York at lcao4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 23:28:51 -0400
  • Merkel’s Successor Splits German Coalition With Rogue Syria Plan

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    (Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel’s designated successor is causing trouble in Berlin with her efforts to assert authority.Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been undermined by a series of errors since she was chosen to follow Merkel as leader of the Christian Democratic Union last year. In the latest on Tuesday, just two months after also taking the job as defense minister, she sprang a proposal for an internationally-monitored security zone in northern Syria with little warning. Allies in the coalition, which includes Social Democrats, complained they were informed late or not at all.“I find it somewhat unusual – and I don’t think it should become the way the cabinet works,” Social Democratic caucus leader Rolf Muetzenich told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday. “I do think that Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer should learn a little from the discussion that she’s confronted in the past few hours.”The political storm that surrounded Kramp-Karrenbauer’s rushed roll-out comes after she stumbled for months in her role as Merkel’s heir apparent, committing a string of gaffes and failing to communicate. That assessment was buttressed as many party colleagues were caught unawares by the plans of AKK, as she is also known.If nothing else, the volley drove a wedge between the CDU and its junior coalition partner just as the Social Democrats approach a sensitive decision on whether to remain in the 17-month old government.Dim ViewFor now, her party is closing ranks behind her. Merkel, who earlier this year took a dim view of the new CDU leader’s performance, backed her defense minister in a closed-door meeting with lawmakers in Berlin, according to two people present. A similar security-zone proposal was raised in 2016 during the siege of Aleppo, Merkel said. AKK even drew a round of applause.That sense of unity only went so far. Earlier in the day, officials in Merkel’s coalition were scrambling to figure out what was being announced.Syria was discussed at length at a Sunday evening meeting of coalition leaders, including the CDU, their Bavarian allies in the Christian Social Union and the Social Democrats. But AKK made no mention of such a plan at the time, CSU caucus leader Alexander Dobrindt said. He himself learned of the initiative only Tuesday morning.Kramp-Karrenbauer is battling to reverse an increasing sense of disappointment among the party faithful 10 months after she was elected its chief in a tight vote. Complaints range from a leadership vacuum AKK has left to an inability to implement or communicate fresh ideas, according to at least three people familiar with the thinking within the party.The fresh approach of 57-year-old AKK hasn’t been a boon to the CDU’s public backing. The party has 27% support, down five points from the week she was elected in December of last year, according to an Oct. 19 Forsa poll. Separately, Bild newspaper last week carried a headline showing a “horror” poll for AKK, who came last in a list of top German politicians.Kramp-Karrenbauer would have to forge a unified position among coalition partners to gain any traction, according to a German government official. Judging by the Social Democrats’ response, that’s unlikely to happen before the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, when she intends to present her proposal.Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, a Social Democrat, complained that he was informed via text message.“I don’t believe much in SMS diplomacy,” Maas told local media. “That can quickly turn into SOS-Diplomacy.”Muetzenich, the usually soft-spoken SPD caucus leader who has opposed German participation in military interventions, was more withering, asking how such a security zone could win United Nations approval after failing to do so for years.Kramp-Karrenbauer said an internationally agreed security zone would defuse the fighting in northern Syria and allow the focus to return to fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS, and allowing displaced Kurds to return. It’s not clear how the plan would overlap with Turkey’s proposed security zone, designed to be off-limits to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. Turkey is seeking to clear a swath of territory along its border with Syria currently occupied by Kurds.Irrespective of the merit of the Syria proposal, a German bid for a military venture in the Middle East puts AKK on risky terrain with a public that has been broadly resistant to such entanglements throughout the country’s post-World War II history.To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net;Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond ColittFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 23:00:01 -0400
  • What next after UK parliament's votes on Brexit deal?

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    Britain's three-year Brexit saga took another dramatic twist on Tuesday, with the outcome still tortuously tough to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal -- only then to reject Prime Minister Boris Johnson's rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country's scheduled October 31 departure date. Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 22:09:32 -0400
  • Kim Jong Un Deals Blow to South Korean Plans for Joint Resort

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    (Bloomberg) -- Kim Jong Un has threatened to tear down South Korean-built structures at a North Korean mountain resort, delivering a blow to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s plans to bring back the now-frozen project once seen as a symbol of reconciliation.The North Korean leader toured the Mt. Kumgang resort, built by an affiliate of South Korea’s Hyundai group and shuttered for more than a decade, saying the facilities “were built like makeshift tents in a disaster-stricken area or isolation wards,” the state’s official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday reported him as saying.“He instructed to remove all the unpleasant-looking facilities of the South side with an agreement with the relevant unit of the South side,” KCNA said adding Kim “made a sharp criticism of the very wrong, dependent policy of the predecessors who were going to rely on others when the country was not strong enough.”Kim indicated he is open to South Koreans coming back to Kumgang, but on his terms. Moon has pressed for reviving Mt. Kumgang and a joint industrial park with North Korea that have been closed due to political tensions and Pyongyang’s testing of nuclear devices and ballistic missiles in violation of United Nations resolutions.“He is serious about tearing down the existing South Korean-built facilities and build new ones,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, a specialist on North Korea at Seoul-based NK Pro, adding the report suggested “North Korea may be leaving the door open for South Korea to keep its finger in the pie in some form.”Last HurdleSouth Korea’s Unification Ministry said it was looking into the report. “If North Korea makes a request, our government is ready to engage in talks regarding the protection of our people’s property rights, the spirit of the agreement between North and South Korea, and the resumption of tourism in Mt. Kumgang,” it said in a statement.In a speech Tuesday to South Korea’s National Assembly, Moon said the Korean Peninsula is facing its last hurdle before a permanent peace and called on Kim to respond to South Korea’s proposal to build “peace economy” with expanded economic, cultural and social exchanges. North Korea has largely ignored Moon’s calls over the past several months for talks.Hyundai Asan Corp. said it has invested 767 billion won ($653 million) in Mt. Kumgang that includes 226 billion won for facilities and 560 billion won paid as operating fees to North Korea.“We are confused at such abrupt reports when we are at the point of resuming tourism, but we plan on responding patiently,” the company said in a statement in response to the KCNA report. South Korea has given no indication that a resumption of tourism was imminent.The news from North Korea sent shares of affiliated firms such as Hyundai Elevator Co. and Hyundai Rotem Co. lower in early trading in Seoul.Source of CashMt. Kumgang was once a source of foreign currency for cash-starved North Korea with each tourist having to pay a fee to enter North Korea and Pyongyang taking a cut on all the money they spent on food, lodging and tours. The U.S. had raised worries that North Korea used funds from Mt. Kumgang to help pay for its weapons programs.The resort on North Korea’s east coast opened in 1998 as a symbol of cooperation between the two countries technically still at war. It included hotels, restaurants, shopping arcades and a performance hall with the then modern facilities standing out from slipshod North Korean-built structures in the area.In 2008, South Koreans were ordered to vacate the resort after a 53-year-old woman vacationer who wandered close to a North Korean military facility in the area was shot and killed. More than 2 million South Koreans had visited the scenic mountain site located on clear blue waters before it closed.The resort was largely staffed with ethnic Koreans who had been living in China, which minimized interaction between North and South Koreans.\--With assistance from Heejin Kim.To contact the reporters on this story: Jon Herskovitz in Tokyo at jherskovitz@bloomberg.net;Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Ruth PollardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 22:04:02 -0400
  • Hong Kong Police Already Have AI Tech That Can Recognize Faces

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    (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong law enforcement authorities have access to artificial intelligence software that can match faces from any video footage to police databases, but it’s unclear if it’s being used to quell months-long pro-democracy protests, according to people familiar with the matter.Police have been able to use the technology from Sydney-based iOmniscient for at least three years, and engineers from the company have trained dozens of officers on how to use it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The software can scan footage including from closed-circuit television to automatically match faces and license plates to a police database and pick out suspects in a crowd.In addition to tracking criminals, iOminiscient’s artificial intelligence can be used for everything from finding lost children to managing traffic. In one training session that took place after the protests began in June, the people said, officers asked how to automatically identify license plate numbers using dashboard cameras.Questions over the use of facial recognition technology have loomed over the protests, stoking fears that Hong Kong is moving closer to a mainland-style surveillance state. Demonstrators have worn masks, destroyed CCTV cameras, torn down so-called smart lampposts and used umbrellas to hide acts of vandalism. Authorities in turn used an emergency law this month for the first time in more than half a century to ban face masks, a move that triggered increased violence.“Hong Kong people are afraid of being captured by the CCTV cameras,” said Bonnie Leung, a district councilor and a former leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized some of the biggest protests in the past few months. “Why are people still wearing face masks? Because of the police surveillance.”While Hong Kong’s government has disclosed some ways it uses facial recognition technology, Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration and the police haven’t publicly confirmed whether they are using it to monitor the protests. Patrick Nip, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, said in June that no government department had procured or developed automated facial recognition-CCTV systems or applied the technology in CCTV systems.Nip’s office referred all questions on facial recognition technology to the police, which didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.iOmniscient declined to comment on whether Hong Kong’s police use its facial recognition technology. The company said that its technology also has the capability to keep identities anonymous for such uses as crowd control. Its systems are used in more than 50 countries and only a small portion of overall revenue comes from Hong Kong, where business opportunities are relatively limited given privacy concerns and fewer cameras compared with other cities, according to the firm.Under Hong Kong’s privacy laws, which are more stringent than the mainland, members of the public must be informed if they’re subject to surveillance. If authorities are matching faces or names to identity markers, that would fall under the privacy ordinance, according to Stuart Hargreaves, a law professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong who researches surveillance and privacy issues. However, police can claim an exemption if the data is being used to detect or prevent crime.“Is the ‘facial recognition’ simply the police combing through video footage for ‘known individuals,’ or is there some kind of automated AI system at play?” Hargreaves said. “The truth is we simply do not know.”The world’s five most-watched cities are all in China, with the top city of Chongqing having about 168 cameras per 1,000 people, according to estimates by Comparitech. By comparison, Hong Kong’s 50,000 CCTVs are one-tenth the number in London and not enough to put it in the top 20 most-watched cities.Hong Kong authorities have tried to appease concerns by pointing out that there is no in-built facial recognition in recently installed smart lampposts or in CCTV cameras at China government offices. Still, the technology has been used in the city for more than a decade, including at the airport and Shenzhen border for immigration control.Next year a new electronic identity system is scheduled to come into effect in which as many as 100 public services will make use of biometric authentication, including facial recognition, eye scans, and finger and voice prints. A unit of Ping An Insurance Group Co., whose shareholders include the Shenzhen government, is responsible for the design, implementation and support of the core system, as well as facial recognition and imaging processing, according to a government statement in April.Some Chinese companies recently blacklisted by the U.S. over human rights concerns in the far west region of Xinjiang have their tech in Hong Kong. Face scan technology from AI startup Yitu Technology will be among the options that staff can choose to access the headquarters of the government’s electrical and mechanical services department, according to a June statement on the three-month trial project. Yitu didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. cameras with facial recognition capabilities are installed outside of buildings including the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, though the facial recognition function hasn’t been turned on, according to responses from government agencies to lawmaker Charles Mok. The department told him it sent footage from its cameras to police seven times since the protests began.“The whole thing is: do you trust the government with your data?” said Mok, who has been in the information technology industry for more than 20 years. “That’s the problem, if there’s a whole breakdown of trust.”A Hikvision spokesperson said its products are sold through third parties, so it cannot confirm camera locations or whether a specific function is turned on. The group opposes the U.S. sanctions and is working to address concerns, recently retaining former U.S. Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper to advise on human rights and compliance.On Hong Kong’s streets, riot police have sought to avoid the cameras even while arresting more than 2,000 protesters, including nearly 100 people for violating the mask ban. They’ve used flashlights to disrupt media coverage, and some officers removed ID numbers and donned masks to hide their identities for fear that they could become victims of personal attacks online, known as doxxing. Apple Inc. recently pulled a live mapping app used by protesters to track some police deployments including of water cannons.Hong Kong protesters have continued distributing masks at rallies, telling demonstrators to take one “if you aren’t feeling well” to take advantage of exemptions in the law.At least one Hong Kong company, TickTack Technology, pulled out of the smart lamppost program after protesters tore one down and found a Bluetooth Beacon the company used to signal its location to devices including smartphones. Demonstrators then doxxed some of the group’s founders.“We prefer to be low-profile till things cool down,” a TickTack spokesman said by email.Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Bureau said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” that a local enterprise was cowed into stopping the supply of its technology, calling it a “serious blow” to local innovation. The government has denied that the lampposts have facial recognition capabilities.Hong Kong’s colleges are also involved in facial recognition. Tang Xiaoou, a professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Information Engineering, is a founder of SenseTime, the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence startup.The developer of facial recognition was among eight Chinese companies blacklisted by the U.S. over Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has implemented a massive program of surveillance and re-education camps to monitor the local mostly Muslim population. The company said it sees its technology as a “global force for good” and is disappointed with the U.S. sanctions, and will work to address any concerns.Sensetime said its focus in the city is on education and it does not have any contracts with the Hong Kong government. The group published Hong Kong’s first textbook on artificial intelligence for secondary schools.Banks including HSBC Holdings Plc allow clients to open accounts with selfies under guidelines of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which is also considering allowing face scans for ATMs. Customs guidelines allow firms to use face scans for security.The current protests may dampen enthusiasm for greater use of facial recognition. As demonstrations have become more violent and intense over the weeks, the number of masks has grown -- including, more recently, those of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Guy Fawkes mask associated with the Anonymous movement.“The government is just trying to take away our rights,” Angus, a 22-year-old student wearing a surgical mask and black clothes, said on the day Lam announced the ban. “They’re just the tool of the Chinese government. We don’t want to be China.”(Updates with Hikvision comment.)To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Schmidt in Hong Kong at bschmidt16@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net, Adam Majendie, Chris KayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 21:44:30 -0400
  • The Latest: Pence says 5-day cease-fire in Syria has held

    Golocal247.com news

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says that a five-day cease-fire in Syria has held and that negotiations continue for a permanent cease-fire. Pence says such a safe zone would ensure peace for everyone in the war-torn region. U.S. troops in Syria fought five years alongside Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria and succeeded in bringing down the rule of the Islamic State group there.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 20:54:16 -0400
  • UN investigator: 11 million North Koreans are undernourished

    Food insecurity in North Korea "is at an alarming level," with nearly half the population — 11 million people — undernourished, the U.N. independent investigator on human rights in the country said Tuesday. More broadly, Quintana said he has seen no improvement in North Korea's human rights situation during his three years as special rapporteur.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 20:46:16 -0400
  • EXPLAINER-EU set to approve Brexit extension, but what will it look like?

    Will the other members of the European Union grant Britain an extension to leave the bloc beyond its Oct. 31 deadline and if they do, what will the delay look like? European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday he would recommend granting the delay requested by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson following a defeat in parliament that made ratification of his exit deal by Oct. 31 almost impossible. British lawmakers on Tuesday voted narrowly in favour of legislation for a Brexit deal that Johnson clinched with the EU last week, but minutes later voted against his tight timetable for parliamentary approval.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 20:08:15 -0400
  • UN mission head says risk of genocide recurring in Myanmar

    Golocal247.com news

    The head of a U.N. fact-finding mission on Myanmar warned Tuesday that "there is a serious risk of genocide recurring" against the estimated 600,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority still living in the country. Marzuki Darusman told the General Assembly's human rights committee that "if anything, the situation of the Rohingya in Rakhine state has worsened," citing continued discrimination, segregation, restricted movement, insecurity and a lack of access to land, jobs, education and health care. The government of Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority nation, has refused to recognize Rohingya as citizens or even as one of its ethnic groups, rendering the vast majority stateless.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 20:05:20 -0400
  • Michael Cohen-Linked Fundraiser Made Illegal Campaign Contributions

    (Bloomberg) -- A Southern California venture capitalist who contributed $900,000 to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee agreed to plead guilty to making almost $1 million in illegal campaign contributions from 2012 to 2016.Imaad Shah Zuberi, 49, also admitted he hid his work for foreign nationals while he lobbied U.S. government officials and evaded paying taxes, according to the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.The charges don’t appear linked to contributions made to the Trump campaign, but Zuberi has been linked to numerous people in Trump’s orbit who have come under the scrutiny of federal prosecutors, including the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, and Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy.Zuberi, who ran the venture capital firm Avenue Ventures, solicited foreign nationals and representatives of foreign governments for money, which he used to hire lobbyists and public relations people and to make campaign contributions to both Republicans and Democrats, according to prosecutors. He also pocketed money from foreign sources for his personal use, prosecutors said.“Mr. Zuberi’s multi-faceted scheme allowed him to line his pockets by concealing the fact that he was representing foreign clients, obtaining access for clients by making a long series of illegal contributions, and skimming money paid by his clients,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the statement. “Mr. Zuberi circumvented laws designed to insulate U.S. policy and our election process from foreign intervention.”Zuberi’s plea agreement with prosecutors doesn’t include a cooperation clause. Zuberi’s lawyer, Thomas O’Brien, declined to comment.Read more on Trump inaugural committee hereZuberi made campaign contributions that gave him access to high-level U.S. officials, some of whom took action to help his clients, according to prosecutors.The $900,000 to the Trump inaugural committee came through Avenue Ventures, according to a person familiar with the case. For that, Zuberi got a table at the president’s candlelit dinner, next to a table where Broidy and Vice President Mike Pence were seated.In February, prosecutors in New York served a subpoena on the inaugural committee, demanding records of its finances, according to a person familiar with the matter. Zuberi and Avenue Ventures were the only donors named in the subpoena, the New York Times reported at the time.Prosecutors asked Cohen about his dealings with Zuberi after the president’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other crimes, the newspaper reported.Zuberi took about $6.5 million from the government of Sri Lanka as part of a 2014 contract to help to rehabilitate that country’s image in the U.S., prosecutors said. Of that money, less than $850,000 went to lobbyists and public relations firms, while more than $5.65 million went to Zuberi and his wife, they said.He also pocketed the bulk of the money investors put in U.S. Cares, a company created to export humanitarian goods to Iran, according to the Justice Department. Of the $7 million invested in 2013 and 2014, Zuberi allegedly used more than 90% to buy real estate, pay down credit cards, remodel properties and make charitable donations.He faces as long as 15 years in prison.(Adds response from Zuberi’s attorney in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Caleb Melby.To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Joe Schneider, Peter BlumbergFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 20:02:37 -0400
  • Britain takes another Brexit baby step

    Britain’s never-ending Brexit debate cleared a major psychological hurdle Tuesday. The House of Commons actually voted to support a form of leaving the European Union — the first time in three years of tortured debate. With the clock ticking toward an Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, we still don’t know how this will end.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 19:35:32 -0400
  • Susan Rice thinks Lindsey Graham is 'a piece of s--t'

    The world now knows exactly how Susan Rice feels about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).> "He's a piece of shit." -- @AmbassadorRice on Lindsey Graham > > Hear the rest of her interview on tomorrow's PodSaveTheWorld pic.twitter.com/9GQITwlSlg> > -- Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) October 22, 2019Rice, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013 and was former President Barack Obama's national security adviser from 2013 to 2017, sat down with two other Obama officials -- Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor -- for their podcast, Pod Save the World. In a clip released Tuesday afternoon, Rhodes said that in order to understand President Trump, "you have to understand Benghazi," referring to the 2012 attack in Libya, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.Vietor responded, "Right, because Lindsey Graham isn't just a piece of s--t now," and was quickly interrupted by Rice. "He's been a piece of s--t," she said with a laugh. "I said it. I said it, damnit, finally. He's a piece of s--t." Vietor added that Graham was "lying, lying, lying" about the attack, and "raising money off of the death of four Americans."Rice and Graham went toe to toe in the wake of the Benghazi attack, as Republicans accused Rice of intentionally misleading the public, with Graham among the loudest voices. It was determined during 10 separate investigations that no members of the Obama administration lied or engaged in a cover-up, and when that conclusion was shared in a report released in November 2014 by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee, Graham was heated. "That's a bunch of garbage," he told CNN. Graham said Rice went on television after the attack and declared on "three different occasions the consulate was strongly, and significantly, secure." Nothing, he added, "could be further than that from the truth."

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 18:40:00 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Gets a Dose of British Justice

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Having denied Theresa May support for her Brexit deal three times, Parliament voted in favor of her successor Boris Johnson’s version by a majority of 30 on Tuesday night. It was a significant victory for the prime minister. It was, however, more first season finale than the end of the Brexit saga.What Parliament gave with one hand, it took away with the other — and there was a certain justice to that.In a second vote, the House of Commons rejected Johnson’s demand that the opaque 115-page bill that incorporates the new treaty into U.K. law be rushed through in three days. Johnson tried to bully lawmakers into accepting his timetable. If the timetable vote didn’t go his way, he would pull the legislation and seek a general election. It was now or never.Except it wasn’t. Parliament refused to blink and voted against him. The whole point of Brexit was to return sovereignty to Westminster. “If you are taking back control, then show that you are worthy to exercise that control. And all I am asking for is a little patience,” said Rory Stewart, the former Tory lawmaker who now sits as an independent. A reasonable request given the historic importance of the legislation.Brexit exhaustion aside, there was no real rush other than to help Johnson fulfill his own pledge to quit the European Union on Oct. 31. He has already had to submit to Parliament and request a Brexit extension from Brussels until the end of January, 2020. The EU will have to think hard about how to implement that after Tuesday’s second vote showed Johnson’s deal wasn’t going to make it into British law this week. But there’s little doubt that Brussels will accommodate Parliament’s request; it doesn’t want a no-deal split, or the blame for one.Neither does Johnson want the U.K. to crash out if his statement on Tuesday night is anything to go by: “One way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal.” Gone are his former threats of no deal, which no longer serve a political purpose now that he has a deal that commands a parliamentary majority.All of this sounds rather positive, except that the deal itself has a long way to go. And there’s the continued possibility that Johnson will abort and pursue an election. However it happens, though, whether a longer legislative timetable is agreed now or Johnson returns to Parliament with the deal after winning an election, this deal is so fiendishly convoluted that it really does need close inspection. First off, one has to give Johnson some credit for getting this far. He has scored three major political feats: winning the Tory leadership contest (making him prime minister), clinching an 11th-hour Brexit deal with the EU that many thought impossible, and prevailing in Tuesday night’s vote to approve the legislation implementing his deal — the first time any Brexit plan has won over a majority of MPs. Timing has been on his side, but it takes real skill to have achieved even one of these feats. To have accomplished all three in just under three months is remarkable.Less miraculous, though, are the terms of his deal. It looks like a worse agreement than May’s in many ways. Both Johnson and May promised three things: to keep the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland open; to make sure Northern Ireland was still treated just like the rest of the U.K.; and to take Britain out of the EU’s customs union so it could do its own trade deals. Both managed two out of three only.May gave in on the third pledge, agreeing to a plan that would keep the whole of the U.K. in the EU’s customs union until a better way could be found to avoid a hard border with Ireland. Brexiters hated it. Johnson has given in on the second promise, agreeing to a de facto border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. to make sure Britain didn’t have to stay in the customs union. His deal is semi-permanent and messy, and his erstwhile allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party are apoplectic. Business isn’t much happier.The new border in the Irish Sea will mean substantial regulatory checks for food and agriculture. Then there are the customs arrangements. Exporters from the British mainland to Northern Ireland will probably have to fill out a customs declaration with 50 fields, requiring a 10-digit number for each separate product to determine the applicable tariff if it's deemed their products are "at risk" of ending up in the EU.Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has admitted that companies in Northern Ireland will also have to fill out export declaration forms when sending goods to the rest of Britain. It’s as if a new U.S. law required companies exporting from Virginia into Washington or Maryland into Delaware to fill out customs declarations.Even if all of these things worked smoothly, there’s a danger that as Britain’s regulatory environment diverges, the border hardens and Northern Ireland’s bonds with the rest of the U.K. weaken. It won’t take long, too, for Scottish nationalists to look at the new arrangements as bolstering the case for their country’s independence.For the U.K. as a whole, there isn’t great news here either. The government refused to release its economic analysis of the deal until after the vote, but the U.K. in a Changing Europe think tank reckons Johnson’s plan would leave the economy substantially worse off than May’s deal.All of these costs, lawmakers might decide, are acceptable, or at least better than the alternative of further delay and uncertainty. But it’s right that they take a little more than a few days to determine that.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 18:05:22 -0400
  • EU moves towards Brexit delay as PM Johnson seeks election to break impasse

    EU leaders should delay Brexit after Prime Minister Boris Johnson paused legislation on his deal following a parliamentary defeat, EU Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday, as Britain spins towards a possible election to break the impasse. As the clock ticks down to the deadline for Britain's departure on Oct. 31, Brexit is hanging in the balance as divided lawmakers debate when, how and even whether it should happen more than three years since the 2016 referendum. In another day of Brexit drama in the 800-year-old Westminster seat of power, lawmakers handed Johnson the first major parliamentary victory of his premiership by signalling their support for his deal in an early legislative hurdle.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 18:00:10 -0400
  • Russia, Turkey seal power in northeast Syria with new accord

    Golocal247.com news

    Russia and Turkey reached an agreement Tuesday that would cement their power in Syria, deploying their forces across nearly its entire northeastern border to fill the void left by President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces. The accord caps a dramatic and swift transformation of the Syrian map unleashed by Trump's decision two weeks ago to remove the American soldiers. U.S. troops in Syria fought five years alongside Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria and succeeded in bringing down the rule of the Islamic State group there at the cost of thousands of Kurdish fighters' lives.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 17:45:23 -0400
  • UNHCR probes Libya-Malta interception in migrant rescue

    Golocal247.com news

    The U.N. refugee agency is investigating why Malta last week allegedly asked the Libyan coast guard to intercept a migrant boat in a zone of the Mediterranean under Maltese responsibility, in possible violation of maritime law, a U.N. official said Tuesday. Vincent Cochetel, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees' special envoy for the central Mediterranean, told reporters in Rome that "there's some evidence that Malta requested assistance (from) the Libyan coast guard to intervene" in its own search and rescue region on Oct. 18.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 17:31:11 -0400
  • Trump’s Betrayal of the Kurds? U.S. Allies Will Get Over It, and Soon

    Golocal247.com news

    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/ReutersPresident Donald J. Trump’s decision to redeploy U.S. forces from the Syrian-Turkish border, if not to withdraw the majority of U.S. troops from Syria altogether, constitutes a shameful betrayal of America’s Kurdish partners in the fight against ISIS and a needlessly self-inflicted wound to U.S. interests. Indeed the images of U.S. withdrawal are feeding ISIS, Iranian and Russian propaganda mills.But among the disastrous consequences of Trump’s decision summoned up by his critics, one seems hyper-inflated: the notion that deserting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has so shaken the confidence and trust of Washington’s longtime allies and partners that they will now think carefully about relying on the U.S. for their security and cooperating with the Americans.Last U.S. Base in Syria ‘Is Everything Wrong With Trump’s War’We don’t buy it. Even the victim of America’s latest perfidy – Mazloum Kobani, Commander of the SDF – recently expressed the hope (perhaps out of desperation) that the relationship with the U.S. would continue. Indeed, America’s relations with its most important Middle Eastern, European, and Asian allies will survive Trump’s stab in the back and almost certainly outlast his presidency.On the face of it, it’s easy to understand the impact that throwing the SDF under the bus had on America’s Middle Eastern allies, who understandably, in a cruel and dangerous Middle East, to worry for a living. The Israelis, who had long supported and identified with the Kurds as a minority felt particularly aggrieved, convinced America had now left the field to Iran. It is also important to bear in mind that Trump’s 180 on the Kurds took place against the backdrop of his “America First” policy, his dismissive attitude toward many of America’s Nato’s allies, and his unwillingness to respond with force to Iran’s attacks against Saudi oil installations in September (though the Saudis no doubt breathed a sigh of relief).But does Trump’s Kurdish betrayal spell disaster for America’s allies and rapture for their adversaries. Are we in for a major realignment because Trump has forgotten who America’s friends are? Almost certainly not. And here’s why. * * *THE KURDISH EXCEPTION* * *To compare America’s relationship to the SDF – a newly created non- state actor – with any of Washington’s traditional allies in the region or beyond is misplaced, misleading and just plain wrong. Whatever doubts South Korea or Japan have about Trump, it’s not driven by his policy toward a Kurdish/Syrian militia, but rather by the way he has dealt with both allies in the face of a threat from North Korea. Going forward, both will be watching how Trump deals with them and whether he fulfills his commitments to Tokyo and Seoul, not to the Kurds.. The SDF was a valiant partner in America’s campaign against ISIS. And deserting those who had sacrificed thousands of their fighters in the battle against ISIS was an abdication of moral responsibility. But both the history of America’s ties with the Kurds and the future of that relationship were quite different from America’s ties with its historic allies in Europe and Asia. America had a tactical marriage of convenience; there had never been a history of consistent cooperation and no domestic base of public support. The relationship was not anchored in shared values and Syria, unlike the major concentrations of wealth and power in Europe and northeast Asia, is of little strategic or geopolitical consequence for the balance of power in the Middle East.Few, if any, of America’s treaty allies – not even the British or the French who were contributing to the campaign against ISIS – were prepared to assume a long-term commitment to Kurds, offer the SDF security guarantees over the territory they controlled, or accepted Kurdish aspirations for autonomy given the Turkish determination to crush it. And that’s because the Kurds fate is of little matter to the US traditional allies. To assume, however, that they would draw the conclusion that Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds signaled that the U.S. would not defend them in response to an external attack or willingly put them in life threatening circumstances is a real stretch even in Trumpland.* * *MISUNDERSTANDING CREDIBILITY* * *In betraying the Kurds, Trump has been almost universally scorned for putting US credibility at risk with its allies in the region and beyond. According to this theory, if America fails to confront a challenger in one place, it will confront challengers in many places because of the loss of American credibility. Like so much that passes for conventional wisdom these days, it is wrong. And because it results from bad analysis, it can lead to very bad decisions that increase the risk of America going to war to defend its reputation. A 1984 Yale University Study reviewed dozens of cases between 1900 to 1980 for signs that if a country stood down in one confrontation, it would face more threats elsewhere. There was no correlation. International relations experts who have studied the role of credibility – or what is often referred to “as reputational anxiety" – in U.S. foreign policy agree on the following propositions: First, when an adversary of the U.S. is contemplating an attack on an American ally, its decision-making calculus on the risks and rewards of aggression is not based on what America may, or may not have done, to confront challenges in other circumstances; rather, it is determined by its perception of how Washington views its stake in the outcome of the potential conflict in the circumstances it is facing and whether America has the will and capacity to defend those interests. And second, the threatened American ally will make similar calculations about whether it can count on Washington to meet its security commitments. It is preposterous to believe, for example, that because of Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds, Kim Jong Un would order an attack on South Korea; Vladimir Putin would decide to attack a NATO country; President Xi Jinping would decide to seize Taiwan, or Iran’s leaders would decide to launch a full-scale attack on Israel. Nor is it likely that Trump’s decision will embolden these leaders to take greater risks in a situation where misjudging America’s resolve could lead to serious consequences for the survival of their country and their rule. The U.S. gets stuck in a self imposed credibility trap thinking wrongly that reputations are all that matter. Studies suggest that the Russians didn’t believe the US was weak because it abandoned South Vietnam and were surprised the US had stayed for so long. * * *TRUMP ISN’T FOREVER* * *America’s allies are justifiably concerned about Trump’s general unpredictability and erratic, mercurial, and impulsive behavior. His policies have strained America’s relationships with its allies. Japan and South Korea are worried about Trump selling them down the river to placate North Korea; Israel is worried about the possibility of a rapprochement with Iran and the absence of U.S. leadership in the Middle East. And yet these countries depend on America -- they have no alternative to an American guarantee of their security, certainly not Russia, and the US withdrawal of all its forces from Syria, if and when that happens, won’t change that. In fact, even as Trump withdrew U.S. forces there, he announced the additional deployment of several thousand troops, combat aircraft, and air defense systems to Saudi Arabia. That Riyadh is prepared again to host U.S. troops reflects how dependent it has become on U.S. support. And not only Saudi Arabia; this week Bahrain hosted, under U.S. auspices, a conference on maritime security with 60 countries including Saudi Arabia and Israel. The U.S. has an enormous military footprint in Qatar and Kuwait. None of the U.S. partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council lifted a finger to help the Kurds in their fight against ISIS and none made a significant contribution to the anti-Jihadist cause in either Syria or Iraq. So it is not terribly logical to argue that they would get all exercised about the U.S. ending its military support for the Kurds. America’s long-time allies make decisions based on their own circumstances, the common interests they share with the U.S., the context of their relationship, and whether or not they view Washington as fulfilling specific obligations and commitments to them. In some cases, America’s relations with its partners and allies go back decades and they are rooted not only in shared interests but common values as well. These relationships should not be taken for granted, but they are not easily breakable like fine China. And more than likely, even with an impulsive bull in that China shop, they’ll be around much longer than Donald Trump.Donald Trump Is Perfectly Happy to Let Allah Sort ’Em OutRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 17:24:42 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-EU's Tusk says he will recommend Brexit extension to avoid no-deal

    European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that he would recommend that the 27 other member states of the European Union approve a delay of Britain's departure date following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to put the Brexit deal on hold. For this I will propose a written procedure," Tusk said in a tweet. Johnson said on Tuesday it was up to the EU to decide whether it wanted to delay Brexit and for how long, after a defeat in parliament made ratification of his deal by the Oct. 31 deadline almost impossible.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 17:16:52 -0400
  • EU Set to Delay Brexit After Johnson Defeated in Parliament

    (Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson’s defining mission to take the U.K. out of the European Union in nine days’ time was derailed as members of Parliament dramatically blocked his plan to rush the Brexit deal into law.European Council President Donald Tusk responded by saying he’d recommend the EU accept the U.K.’s request for an extension. While he didn’t set a date, his suggestion that this could be agreed by letter, and without a summit, pointed to accepting the British Parliament’s request of a new exit date of Jan. 31. The pound fell on the vote.Johnson earlier in the day threatened that a delay until January would see him try to call an election. He didn’t repeat that threat in the evening, though. It’s possible the EU will offer to allow an earlier exit if Johnson can get his deal passed in the next month, something that seems plausible after the first vote of the evening.Minutes before Johnson was defeated on the timetable for his bill, he was victorious, with members of Parliament voting 329 to 299 to endorse the general principles of his deal. That’s a margin that gives him a decent chance of getting the bill through.The question is whether Johnson decides to use the time offered by the EU to pass his deal, or to go for an election -- something that could give him a majority, or could see him lose power to Labour, and see the entire Brexit project put into doubt.In any event, the chances of a no-deal Brexit are diminishing.After the votes, the prime minister’s office declined to rule out agreeing to a short delay beyond the Oct. 31 deadline, and Johnson said: “One way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal, to which this House has just given its assent.”Speaking afterward, Johnson said his draft Brexit law will now be paused.“Let me be clear: our policy remains that we should not delay, that we should leave the EU on Oct. 31 and that is what I will say to the EU and I will report back to the House,” Johnson told the Commons. He promised to step up contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, and to consult with EU leaders and tell them he doesn’t want another delay. Tusk’s response came two hours later.Earlier, when MPs had voted to endorse the broad thrust of Johnson’s deal, the winning margin included 19 members of the main opposition Labour Party. Crucially, Johnson won that vote without the Democratic Unionist Party, his former allies, whose support he lost after he broke a commitment to them not to create a customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland. If Johnson can keep those 19 Labour MPs on board, he can pass his deal.‘Keep People’s Trust’Labour’s Lisa Nandy, one of the 19, warned Johnson that their support shouldn’t be taken for granted. “Those of us who are seeking to engage in the detail do so not because we will support a Tory Brexit -- our votes at Third Reading are by no means secure -- but because we want to see if we can improve the deal and keep people’s trust in our democracy.”The government is making promises to secure their support, and that of former Tories who have their doubts about Johnson. Minutes before the votes, MPs were assured they’d get a say on whether the government extended its post-Brexit transition period if it hadn’t concluded a trade deal with the EU by the end of next year. Some had feared another no-deal cliff edge.Five Takeaways From U.K. Parliament’s Brexit Votes: TOPLiveBut though the prime minister could get support for his deal in principle, MPs refused to be rushed into signing it into law.Johnson’s opponents argued that they needed more time to scrutinize the historic exit deal than the three days of debate he had proposed for the bill to pass all its stages in the Commons.And so, MPs voted 322 to 308 against Johnson’s proposed fast-track timetable for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill -- the crucial piece of law to implement the deal he struck in Brussels last week.The defeat makes it now virtually impossible for the prime minister to get his hard-won accord ratified in time to meet his Oct. 31 deadline for leaving, his defining goal since he took over as prime minister from Theresa May in July.Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn offered to work with Johnson to come up with a better timetable to help Parliament improve the deal.(Adds Tusk recommends acceptance in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie.To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Edward Evans, Alex MoralesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 16:56:26 -0400
  • France to review 'purely technical' Brexit delay at end of week-diplomatic source

    France is ready to grant an additional few days in order to facilitate the vote on Brexit legislation but rules out any extension beyond that, a diplomatic source said on Tuesday. Earlier on Tuesday, the British Parliament rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proposed timetable to pass Brexit legislation, making ratification of his deal by the Oct. 31 deadline almost impossible. "We'll see at the end of the week whether a purely technical extension of a few days is necessary to complete this parliamentary procedure," the diplomatic source said.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 16:44:04 -0400
  • U.K. Parliament rejects Johnson's fast-track Brexit

    The U.K. Parliament voted Tuesday to accept Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal but reject his quick timetable.Parliament first granted Johnson the win on his overall deal before saying it wouldn't fully adhere to the agreement in the next three days. That makes it unlikely Britain will pull out of the EU by the Oct. 31 deadline, BBC reports.Johnson was already forced by law Saturday to ask the EU for an extension on the U.K.'s membership until January 2020. He said Tuesday he'll "pause" progress on his Brexit legislation until he hears back from the EU, but criticized Parliament for plunging the country into "further uncertainty."Emily Thornberry of the opposition Labour Party meanwhile called the Oct. 31 deadline an "artificial timetable," per The Washington Post. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile called Johnson "the author of his own misfortune," but did say he'd talk to Johnson to agree on a "sensible" timetable for the prime minister's deal to advance.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 16:28:00 -0400
  • EU's Tusk says he will recommend Brexit extension to avoid no-deal

    European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to put the Brexit deal on hold, he would recommend that the other 27 member states of the European Union approve a delay of Britain's departure date. For this I will propose a written procedure," Tusk said in a tweet.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 16:18:37 -0400
  • What Trump gets wrong about war against the Islamic State

    Golocal247.com news

    President Donald Trump has made several incorrect or misleading statements about the five-year battle against the Islamic State group as he seeks to end what he calls "endless wars" and explain an abrupt abandonment of America's Kurdish partners in the face of a Turkish offensive. TRUMP: THE U.S.-LED EFFORT TO DEFEAT THE ISLAMIC STATE GROUP WAS "A MESS" BEFORE I TOOK OFFICE. It's true that he accelerated the military push in Syria, in part by giving U.S. commanders in the field more authority.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 16:05:10 -0400
  • Egypt's options dwindle as Nile talks break down

    Golocal247.com news

    The latest breakdown in talks with Ethiopia over its construction of a massive upstream Nile dam has left Egypt with dwindling options as it seeks to protect the main source of freshwater for its large and growing population. Talks collapsed earlier this month over the construction of the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is around 70% complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia's 100 million people. Speaking at the U.N. last month, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he would "never" allow Ethiopia to impose a "de facto situation" by filling the dam without an agreement.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:57:04 -0400
  • EXPLAINER-What next for Brexit after UK parliament rejects Johnson's timetable?

    The British parliament rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's attempt to fast-track a Brexit law through parliament, making a delay beyond the Oct. 31 exit date almost inevitable, and casting the entire EU divorce into doubt. After agreeing a last-minute Brexit deal with the EU last week, Johnson was trying to pass the domestic law needed to enact it. The defeat leaves Johnson with no clear way to deliver his Brexit deal on time.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:13:46 -0400
  • Boris Loses Control as Parliament Rejects Brexit Exit Plan

    Golocal247.com news

    REUTERSLONDON—Boris Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to take Britain out of the European Union by Oct. 31 was quashed by Parliament on Tuesday night, handing the initiative to the EU to effectively trigger a British election.Johnson threatened to call for a general election if British lawmakers refused to allow him to rush through his deal and the EU proposed a new extension of three months or more. Under a law passed in Westminster last month, Johnson is not allowed to negotiate to shorten whatever extension the EU chooses. Rather than seek to compromise with opponents who want proper time to scrutinize the Brexit deal, Johnson responded to the 322 to 308 vote defeat on fast-tracking it by halting the passage of his deal altogether while Britain waits to see what extension the EU will grant. “We will pause this legislation,” he said, a phrase that sounded innocuous but could well kick-start an epic new election showdown between the forces of Remain and Leave. A snap vote could take place before Christmas. It remains to be seen if Johnson is as good as his word—and there have been plenty of reasons to cast doubt on it in the past—as there was no specific mention of the election he had threatened earlier in the day in the aftermath of his defeat. Under Britain’s fixed-term parliament act, a two-thirds majority is usually required to call an election so both the government and the opposition would have to agree. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, did not need a second invitation, however. Soon after Johnson said he was pausing the agreement, Tusk tweeted that he was talking to leaders in Brussels about issuing a written extension, which is likely to delay the Brexit deadline until January 31.If that were confirmed, British politicians would be under heavy pressure to agree to hold an election and seek a fresh mandate from the voters before proceeding with any Brexit deal.Johnson had earlier won a vote on his deal—the first time his government has won a single significant vote in the Commons. That was a major step towards securing Brexit, as Parliament has always refused to back any formal arrangement that would result in leaving the EU.The next phase of the legislation’s progress is where things become more difficult, however, as lawmakers are able to amend the bill in order to clarify sections or—as No. 10 fears—introduce so-called wrecking amendments that would collapse the bill entirely.Just last week, Johnson had secured a compromise deal that many thought was impossible in Brussels, but that came at a serious cost. The EU had sworn they would not re-open the Withdrawal Agreement that had been negotiated with Theresa May, but then Johnson did what he said he would never do and he caved on one of his key red lines. He signed up to a version of the deal that May had rejected, which would effectively create a customs border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the mainland. That concession led to a breakthrough in Europe but it meant the Democratic Unionist Party, which had been propping up the Conservative government, fled from the deal. It was lawmakers who made the most aggressive speeches attacking the prime minister during a contentious debate in the House of Commons. Sammy Wilson of the DUP said he felt they had been betrayed by the Conservatives. “I nearly choked when the prime minister said it,” he said on Tuesday.Wilson and his nine DUP colleagues voted against Johnson’s expedited deal. Wilson was particularly aggravated that Johnson had been unfamiliar with the precise details of the deal he had agreed that would govern Northern Ireland’s relationship with the rest of Britain. There were doubts about exactly how familiar Johnson was with the customs rules that he was attempting to rush through Parliament.Jill Rutter, an independent former civil servant who worked at the Treasury and No. 10, said: “I don’t think Johnson understands what he has agreed for Northern Ireland…”With the Europeans jumping on his “pause” to bind Britain into another extension, Johnson may have also misunderstood that he was putting his job on the line. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:07:36 -0400
  • Turkey and Russia agree on deal over buffer zone in northern Syria

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    Erdoğan hails agreement with Putin in which Kurdish fighters will be moved from border areaTurkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin agreed the deal after meeting in Sochi. Photograph: Mikhail Metzel/TASSThe Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have agreed on the parameters of a proposed Turkish “safe zone” in Syria, a development that could bring an end to Ankara’s offensive against Kurdish forces over the border by severely curtailing their control of the area.The two leaders were locked in marathon talks for more than six hours in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi, emerging just two hours before a five-day ceasefire brokered by the US expired at 10pm local time.Erdoğan hailed the deal as “a historic agreement” while addressing reporters alongside Putin.“According to this agreement, Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda on Syrian territory,” he said.Tuesday’s developments more concretely define the size and scope of the area that Turkish soldiers will occupy, adding to pockets of northern Syria that Turkey seized from Islamic State and Kurdish fighters in operations in 2016 and 2018.The deal was widely perceived as good news for Ankara and a poor result for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), building as it does on the US’ agreement last week that Turkey has a right to a buffer zone on its border at their expense. Most of all, it cements Moscow’s new role as prime powerbroker in the Middle East as US influence in the region wanes.Turkish troops in areas of north-east Syria seized since the start of the 9 October offensive will remain in situ, and Russian troops and the Syrian army will control the rest of the frontier, effectively fulfilling the goal of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring at Russia’s discretion: the dilution of Kurdish control over the 270-mile (440km) border corridor.Russian military police and Syrian border guards controlled by the president, Bashar al-Assad, will from Wednesday at noon facilitate the removal of Kurdish fighters and weaponry to the depth of 18 miles from their positions on the border, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said after their respective presidents announced the agreement to reporters.The Kurdish YPG element of the multi-ethnic SDF has 150 hours to withdraw, a joint statement said, and then Turkish and Russian soldiers will begin joint patrols of the entire border area to a depth of 10km with the exception of the de-facto Kurdish capital, Qamishli. The deal appears to also include the contested strategically key town of Manbij as well as the important Kurdish town Kobane. It made no mention of the long-term presence of troops loyal to Assad, now also present in the proposed border zone.The deal also left unclear the fate of the military councils the SDF have set up in towns that were under its control, and what happens to the YPG’s partners inside the SDF including local self-defence forces.No comment on the deal from the SDF or Kurdish political leaders was immediately forthcoming. The umbrella force’s commander-in-chief, Mazloum Kobane, confirmed earlier on Tuesday that his fighters had withdrawn from the border strip between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, the two towns bearing the brunt of the Turkish attack, hours before the poorly observed US-brokered ceasefire ended.The chain of events triggered by Donald Trump’s 6 October announcement that US troops would leave Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria has left Moscow the most powerful player in Syria’s complex war, now in its ninth year.Turkish troops, allied Syrian rebel proxies, the SDF, and soldiers belonging to Assad are now all present in the border zone, with Russia the only negotiating force between them.Trump has been widely criticised for his decision to pull back the remaining 1,000 US special forces from the region, which in effect greenlit the Turkish attack on the SDF, the US’s ground partner in the five-year-campaign to defeat Isis. Ankara, however, has long maintained the main Kurdish unit in the SDF is indistinguishable from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK).As a result of the Turkish offensive, Syria’s Kurdish officials struck a deal with Assad, their former enemy, for military reinforcements in the border area.The US defense secretary, Mark Esper, said that the US troops withdrawn from northern Syria will “temporarily” go to Iraq before returning to the US. Earlier in the day the Iraqi joint operations command said that the retreating US troops did not have permission to remain in the country.Esper told CNN that Trump had yet to approve a plan to keep some troops in eastern Syria to protect oil fields from Isis. He also downplayed the extent to which the retreat had led to Isis jail-breaks from SDF-run detention facilities.Esper said: “Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were in prisons in north-east Syria, we’ve only had reports of a little bit more than a hundred that have escaped... So right now we have not seen this big prison break that we all expected.”Ankara will be pleased that Moscow has persuaded Damascus to cede it control over more territory in the north-east, breaking up Kurdish control. In return, Moscow appears to have extracted commitments from the Turkish delegation that Turkey will respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, raising questions over the future of nearby rebel-held Idlib province, where Turkey maintains observation posts.Assad himself has repeatedly vowed to reunite his entire country under Damascus’s rule. In a symbolic visit to southern Idlib on Tuesday – territory the regime now occupies for the first time in years – he called Erdoğan “a thief” and said he was ready to support any popular resistance against Turkey’s invasion.“We are in the middle of a battle and the right thing to do is to rally efforts to lessen the damages from the invasion and to expel the invader sooner or later,” he told troops, adding that Kurdish fighters would be granted an amnesty if they returned to the fold of the Syrian government.At least 120 civilians in Syria and 20 in Turkey have died as a result of the almost two-week old assault, with 176,000 Syrians displaced by the violence, the UN said on Tuesday. Intermittent fighting has continued despite a US-brokered ceasefire announced by Mike Pence, the American vice-president, on a visit to Ankara last Thursday.Last week’s US-Turkish agreement did not specify the zone’s size, where Turkey also plans to repatriate up to 2 million of its 3.6 million Syrian refugee population - a policy dubbed demographic engineering by critics.Previous agreements between Washington and Ankara over a safe zone along the Syria-Turkish border floundered time and again over diverging definitions of the area.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:06:02 -0400
  • Taliban say new intra-Afghan peace talks to be held in China

    Golocal247.com news

    A fresh round of intra-Afghan peace talks will be held in China next week, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Tuesday, raising hopes for renewed negotiations, even as violence surges in Afghanistan's 18-year war. The talks planned for Oct. 28 and 29 will be the first meeting between Taliban and prominent Afghans from Kabul since a July round of talks held in Doha, the capital of the Middle Eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. On Monday, the U.S. State Department said its peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, started a fresh round of talks with European, NATO and U.N. allies about ending the war.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:05:36 -0400
  • 1 Brexit deal passes Parliament but another critical timing vote fails

    Golocal247.com news

    A proposed deal that could lead to the United Kingdom leaving the European Union (EU) passed a critical vote in Parliament on Tuesday, but was followed by another vote that failed, suggesting it might not meet the required deadline for Brexit to happen. The lengthy document details a package of laws required to be put in place to help allow the U.K.'s retreat from the EU to happen. The agreement is upwards of 110 pages long and details the deal reached between the EU and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:03:00 -0400
  • UK parliament to resume Queen's Speech debate on Wednesday - government

    Britain's parliament will resume its debate on the government's legislative programme on Wednesday, the leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said, after lawmakers rejected the timetable for a law to ratify its Brexit deal. The government had hoped to pass the Brexit legislation through the lower house of parliament by the end of Thursday, but lawmakers rejected that by 322 votes to 308, with many saying it was not enough time to scrutinise the bill. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would pause the legislation while waiting for the European Union to decide on a request to delay Brexit.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:01:17 -0400
  • 157 dead in Iraq protests: new official toll

    Golocal247.com news

    The death toll from week-long anti-government protests that erupted in Baghdad and southern Iraq at the start of October totalled 157, an official inquiry announced Tuesday, ahead of further demonstrations. It also said commanders from across the security forces had been dismissed in the wake of the violence, including from the army, police, anti-terror, anti-riot, anti-crime, intelligence and national security units. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, in a report of its own, said that "serious human rights violations and abuses have been committed" and excessive force used against demonstrators.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:57:26 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson to call EU leaders to discuss Brexit next steps - spokesman

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold conversations with other EU leaders on Tuesday to determine what their next steps are after parliament rejected his proposed timetable to pass Brexit legislation, his spokesman said. Earlier, Johnson said he would end an attempt to win parliamentary approval for the legislation that would enable Britain to leave the European Union and instead press for an election if lawmakers rejected the timetable.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:51:52 -0400
  • Johnson to Press Ahead After Timetable Setback: Brexit Update

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson’s mission to take the U.K. out of the European Union in nine days’ time was thrown off course as members of Parliament blocked his plan to rush the Brexit deal into law.The House of Commons voted 322 to 308 against Johnson’s proposed fast-track timetable for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill -- the crucial piece of law to implement the deal he struck in Brussels last week. The defeat followed an initial victory for Johnson in gaining parliamentary support for the general principles of the deal he struck with the EU.Key DevelopmentsDefeat makes it virtually impossible for Johnson to get his accord ratified in time to meet the current exit day deadline of Oct. 31.Speaking after result, Johnson said his policy remains that Brexit should not be delayed, but that the legislation will be put on hold. Johnson also said he’ll step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31. The pound fell.Read more: Northern Irish Loyalists Warn of ‘Angry’ Backlash to Brexit DealFollow developments as they happen here. All times U.K.Johnson Pauses Brexit Legislation (7:44 p.m.)After the house of Commons rejected Boris Johnson’s proposed accelerated timetable for debating his Brexit legislation, he said he’ll put it on hold and step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31. In the meantime, he’ll await the EU’s verdict on the extension to the Brexit deadline he was forced by Parliament to request.Immediately before Johnson spoke, opposition Labour Party Leader Jerem,y Corbyn offered him an olive branch, asking him to “work with all of us to agree a reasonable timetable” for the legislation, and he suspected MPs would vote for it.Johnson Loses Vote on Fast-Tracking Bill (7.36 p.m.)Boris Johnson’s victory in securing passage of his Brexit legislation to the next stage of debate in the House of Commons was swiftly followed by defeat, as MPs rejected his proposed accelerated timetable for conducting that scrutiny.The House of Commons voted by 322 to 308 to reject Johnson’s plan, which would have seen the legislation debated in just three days. MPs objected to such a short period of time to scrutinize legislation which will have repercussions for trade, the economy and the union of Northern Ireland with England, Scotland and Wales.Johnson Wins First Vote on His Brexit Deal (7.15 p.m.)Boris Johnson won a dramatic vote on his new Brexit plan by a margin of 329 to 299 on Tuesday evening. It’s the first demonstration that the House of Commons is prepared to approve the broad principles of an agreement that takes the U.K. out of the European Union: the chamber three times rejected the previous deal negotiated by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May.But the prime minister’s victory may be short-lived: MPs are now voting on the accelerated timetable proposed by Johnson to scrutinize and amend the plan. He’s planning to push it through the Commons in just three days, so that he can avoid delaying Brexit for a third time, beyond the current Oct. 31 deadline. If they reject his schedule, he’s said he’ll pull the legislation.DUP’s Wilson Attacks Johnson’s Deal (5 p.m.)Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party tore into Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement. “I don’t believe we should be voting for this bill tonight,” he began. His primary objection is that the deal treats Northern Ireland -- a red line for his party -- and referring to the premier’s assurances on how measures applying to the province could be temporary, said: “The prime minister thinks I can’t read the agreement.”“We will be left in an arrangement whereby EU law on all trade, goods, will be applied to Northern Ireland,” he said.House of Commons Speaker John Bercow then interrupted Wilson before he could finish and confirm he’ll be voting against the deal -- but it didn’t sound good for the government.Letwin Backs Down on Timetable (4.15 p.m.)Oliver Letwin, one of the former Conservative MPs who has been such a thorn in Boris Johnson’s side, is now trying to help. “Getting seriously worried,” he said on Twitter, arguing that it would be a disaster if the bill were pulled. Instead, he said it was “the least of the evils” to back down in the face of Johnson’s threat and accept the accelerated timetable “whatever we really think of it.”Labour MPs Propose Referendum Amendment (3:40 p.m.)Phil Wilson, a Labour MP who put his name to an amendment calling for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal earlier in the year, told Bloomberg he’d proposed it again. “We have put the amendment down because we genuinely believe in 2016 people voted to leave but they didn’t vote on how to leave,” he said.Labour to Whip Against Bill, Timetable (3:25 p.m.)The opposition Labour Party will whip its members of Parliament to vote against the second reading of Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill, and also to oppose the accelerated timetable -- the so-called program motion -- the premier proposes to debate the legislation, two people familiar with the matter said.But in the chamber of the House of Commons, party leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested that rebels won’t be punished with expulsion from the party -- as Johnson did to his own Conservative rebels last months. Asked by Jim Fitzpatrick, who has repeatedly rebelled on Brexit matters, for assurance that such a punishment wouldn’t be meted out, Corbyn declined to give it, but at the same time, suggested rebels will be safe.“I believe in the powers of persuasion,” Corbyn said. “And tonight, I would like to persuade my honorable friend come with us vote against this bill and vote against the program motion.”Can Johnson Even Call An Election? (3:10 p.m.)It’s all very well for Boris Johnson to threaten an election (see 2:45 p.m.), but if it were in his power to call one, Britain would have already voted. Johnson tried twice at the start of September to get one, failing both times because under the law, two thirds of MPs have to vote for an early election for one to happen.That means that as before, Johnson would still need the opposition Labour Party’s agreement, and that’s far from certain, even though leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he’d support one if it weren’t for the risk of a no-deal Brexit.In theory, Johnson could change the law to set another election date. That would require only a simple majority -- though he doesn’t have one of those, either.Barnier to Lead New EU Task Force (3 p.m.)The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, already has his next job lined up -- even though the U.K. is still navigating its withdrawal. The European Commission on Tuesday announced Barnier as head of the EU’s new Task Force for Relations with the U.K.The task force will coordinate work on “strategic, operational, legal and financial” issues related to Brexit, according to an emailed statement from the commission. It will also “be in charge of the finalization of the Article 50 negotiations, as well as the commission’s ‘no-deal’ preparedness work and the future relationship negotiations with the U.K.”What Exactly Is Johnson’s Election Threat? (2.45 p.m.)Boris Johnson’s election threat was carefully constructed. Here is it is full:“I will in no way allow months more of this. If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this. It is with great regret bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election.”The “until January” part of that could be significant. Johnson was required by law to seek a delay of Brexit until Jan. 31 if he was unable to get a deal done -- but the EU isn’t obliged to offer that long. If they offered a shorter period, perhaps Johnson is hinting he wouldn’t go through with his threat to pull the bill.Practically, given the time it would take to hold an election -- at least five weeks -- and the uncertainty around the outcome, it would be risky for the EU to offer a shorter delay. In that scenario, the U.K. could easily find itself on a course out of the door without a functioning government at all.Johnson Threatens Election If MPs Block Timetable (2:26 p.m.)Boris Johnson confirmed earlier reports he will indeed pull his Brexit bill if MPs reject the government’s accelerated timetable this evening.When asked by the SNP’s David Linden, Johnson told MPs that if the motion proposing a fast-track timetable is voted down, “the bill will have to be pulled” and “we will have to go forward to a general election.”Kinnock Proposes Single Market Amendment (2 p.m.)Labour MP Stephen Kinnock proposed an amendment to the bill which seeks to ensure the U.K. stays aligned with the EU single market after it’s left the EU.In an interview with Bloomberg, Kinnock said businesses have raised concerns that the EU would never do a free trade deal with a country that had diverged from its rules and regulations to become “Singapore on Thames.”The amendment proposes the government will work toward close alignment with the single market, “dynamic” rights and protections for workers and the environment, and to participate in EU agencies.Kinnock said the amendment has been proposed for debate and potentially voting on Tuesday or Wednesday.PM ‘Will Ditch Bill’ if Defeated on Timetable (1:45 p.m.)The prime minister may have the votes to get his deal approved but faces a major battle to convince MPs to rush the law through Parliament in just a few days. If they refuse his request for a speedy timetable, Johnson has little chance of meeting his goal of getting Brexit done by Oct. 31.The premier’s team hit back, with one senior government official in Johnson’s office saying he will abandon the bill entirely if he loses the vote on the fast-track timetable motion on Tuesday.The official said the prime minister will ditch the bill if Parliament votes again for a delay and the EU offers an extension to the Brexit deadline to Jan. 31. The official said the government will pull the Bill, there will be no further business for Parliament, and the Johnson will move to trigger an election before Christmas.The official’s comments may put more pressure on MPs to agree to the accelerated timetable ahead of the vote. The pound fell by as much as 0.5% to $1.2891, a fresh low for the day.Johnson: Back Brexit Deal to ‘Heal’ Britain (1:30 p.m.)Johnson opened the debate in Parliament on his deal, calling on MPs of all parties to back his Withdrawal Agreement Bill so that voters can focus on domestic priorities instead of Brexit.Passing the bill later Tuesday will allow the nation to “turn the page and allow this parliament and this country to heal,” Johnson said. A vote to support the new Brexit agreement would provide a “shot in the arm” for the British economy and unleash a “tide” of investment, he said. The premier was replying to a question on why the government hasn’t provided economic impact assessments of his deal.Johnson to Make Case for Fast Timetable (1 p.m.)Boris Johnson will be making the case for a three-day timetable for his Brexit bill to pass through the House of Commons when he opens the debate shortly, according to a U.K. official, though the prime minister won’t say what he’ll do if MPs vote against the accelerated schedule.But precedent suggests the bill could be pulled. According to the official, since so-called program motions were introduced in the 1980s, there is only a single example -- in 2011 -- of one being voted down. That bill was withdrawn, the official said.Johnson to Open Debate on Brexit Bill (12:30 p.m.)Prime Minister Boris Johnson will open the main debate on his Brexit legislation in the House of Commons, his spokesman told reporters, with Justice Secretary Robert Buckland making closing remarks at about 6:30 p.m.Voting down the timetable -- known as the program motion -- for the three-day passage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the House of Commons would have “serious implications,” spokesman James Slack said, declining to say what the government plans to do in that scenario, including whether the Brexit bill would be pulled.“If the program motion is passed, we have a clear path to leave on Oct. 31,” Slack said. “If it’s not passed, there’s no guarantee the EU will grant an extension.”Brexit May Tie N. Ireland to EU Forever: Judge (12:25 p.m.)Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal could permanently bind Northern Ireland to European Union law, according to an Irish judge at the bloc’s second-highest court, who suggested the accord may eventually bring the people of the island of Ireland together.Johnson’s agreement would have “very long-term consequences for the continued separation of Northern Ireland from Ireland,” Judge Anthony Collins said at an event in Brussels late Monday. That’s because EU law and practice would continue to be applied, which will aid the economic development of the region, he said.Boles Proposes Amendment to Extend Transition (11:15 a.m.)Former Conservative MP Nick Boles, who now sits as an independent in Parliament, has proposed an amendment that would force the government to seek an extension of the Brexit transition period to Dec. 2022 if it hasn’t agreed a trade deal with the European Union by the deadline at the end of next year.The amendment reflects unease among MPs that the government’s legislation creates a potential new cliff edge in Dec. 2020, when the U.K. could still face trading on no-deal terms with the EU if the government doesn’t reach a trade agreement. Labour’s Hilary Benn said on Twitter the draft law gives Parliament no say if the government doesn’t propose an extension -- and Boles’s amendment seeks to address that.Labour Party ‘Outraged’ at Government’s Timetable (11 a.m.)The main opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry said the Labour Party is “outraged” at the government’s accelerated timetable for debating its Brexit bill, but stopped short of saying the party would oppose what it sees as an “artificial” deadline. She told the BBC a decision would be made at a shadow cabinet meeting later on how to vote on Tuesday.Government Hints It Will Pull Bill If MPs Amend It (8.30 a.m.)Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC radio the government will not accept any amendments to the Brexit bill that “compromise the integrity of the deal we have secured from the EU,” implying the government will pull the bill altogether and seek a general election if MPs change Johnson’s legislation to include a second referendum or to keep the U.K. in the EU’s customs union.Labour has repeatedly voted down Johnson’s attempts for a general election, arguing an extension must be agreed with the European Union first.Juncker Expresses Brexit Regret (8:25 a.m.)For the European Union, Brexit has been a “waste of time and a waste of energy” when the bloc should have been doing other things, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.Standing with EU Council President Donald Tusk before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Juncker said the EU has done all in its power to prevent a no-deal Brexit. He reiterated that the European Parliament -- which has a veto over the Brexit deal -- would only be able to ratify the deal after the British Parliament. That’s a potential spanner in the works when it comes to Boris Johnson’s ambition to leave the bloc on Oct. 31.EU’s Tusk Still Consulting on Delay (8:20 a.m.)EU Council President Donald Tusk said the situation on Brexit is complicated by the events in the House of Commons on Saturday, and a delay will depend on what the U.K. Parliament “decides or doesn’t decide.” Tusk is still consulting the EU’s 27 leaders on how to respond to Boris Johnson’s extension request, he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.MPs Have Time to Scrutinize Deal: Government (8:10 a.m.)Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News there will be “sufficient” time for members of Parliament to go over the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and that the “vast majority” know where they on Brexit.But MPs from across the House of Commons are threatening to vote against Boris Johnson’s accelerated timetable for his Brexit plan, arguing three days of debate is not enough for proper analysis of the 110-page piece of legislation.Former Conservative Cabinet minister Rory Stewart, who now sits as an independent, told BBC radio Parliament should have “normal time” to discuss the bill, highlighting concerns from voters who wish to remain in the European Union and a lack of trust in Johnson’s government.Johnson: Get Brexit Done and Move On (Earlier)On the eve of the votes, the prime minister appealed to members of Parliament to back his deal and push it through the House of Commons.“We have negotiated a new deal so that we can leave without disruption and provide a framework for a new relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation,” Boris Johnson said in an emailed statement.“I hope Parliament today votes to take back control for itself and the British people and the country can start to focus on the cost of living, the NHS, and conserving our environment,” he said. “The public doesn’t want any more delays, neither do other European leaders and neither do I. Let’s get Brexit done on Oct. 31 and move on.”Earlier:Boris Johnson Finally Gets to Put His Brexit Deal to the VoteBrexit’s Big Winner So Far Is Boris Johnson: Clive CrookFacebook Pledges Tighter Scrutiny for Next U.K. Election\--With assistance from John Ainger, Robert Hutton, Aoife White, Stephanie Bodoni, Ian Wishart and Jessica Shankleman.To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:50:44 -0400
  • Pentagon chief meets Saudi king after troop deployment

    Golocal247.com news

    US Defence Secretary Mark Esper discussed "strategic cooperation" with Saudi King Salman Tuesday, days after Washington ordered thousands of soldiers to the kingdom as tensions fester with Iran. The meeting in Riyadh, where Esper arrived late Monday after an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, also took in defence issues and the current situation in the region, the official SPA news agency said. The agency later added that Esper had met powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defence minister.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:48:40 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson says will pause Brexit legislation until EU decides on delay

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday the government would pause legislation to ratify its Brexit deal with the European Union while the bloc decides whether to offer a delay to Britain's planned Oct. 31 exit. "I will speak to EU member states about their intentions.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:45:28 -0400
  • Russian Nuclear Bombers Sent to S. Africa in Rare Cooperation

    (Bloomberg) -- Russia will on Wednesday land the world’s biggest military aircraft in South Africa, the Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjack’ bomber, in a rare display of cooperation between the defense forces of the two countries.The two bombers, which are capable of launching nuclear missiles, are the first to ever land in Africa and will be escorted by fighter jets from the South African Air Force when they touch down at the Waterkloof air base in Tshwane, the South African National Defence Force said in a statement. The bombers will arrive at 6:30 a.m. and a number of other Russian military aircraft will also land at the site.“The military-to-military relations between the two countries are not solely built on struggle politics but rather on fostering mutually beneficial partnerships based on common interests,” the SANDF said. Russia’s defense ministry put out a similar statement.The arrival of the bombers in Africa’s most industrialized nation coincides with Russian President Vladimir Putin hosting an Africa summit this week, the first such event to be organized by Russia. The nation is competing with China and the U.S. for influence in Africa.(Adds time of landing in second paragraph)\--With assistance from Stepan Kravchenko.To contact the reporter on this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: John McCorry at jmccorry@bloomberg.net, Pauline BaxFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:42:47 -0400
  • Turkey and Russia announce deal to withdraw all Kurdish forces from Syrian border

    Golocal247.com news

    Turkey and Russia announced last night they had reached a deal to avoid a return to fullscale fighting in northeast Syria, just hours before a US-brokered ceasefire between Turkish and Kurdish forces was due to expire.  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin emerged from marathon talks in Sochi with an agreement that would see all Kurdish forces pull back 30km from the Syrian border over the next six days.  Russia and Turkey will then launch joint military patrols in the area to ensure the deal is being implemented. There was no immediate comment from Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the deal. But if the agreement holds it means Turkey will not restart its military offensive, which many feared would resume as soon as an earlier ceasefire ended at 10pm on Tuesday.   "According to this agreement, Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda on Syrian territory," Mr Erdoğan said. Turkey and Syria border The talks in Sochi underscore how quickly Russia has replaced the US as the main powerbroker in northeast Syria in the days since Donald Trump, the US president, pulled American forces out of the region. Russian forces will now stand guard in areas that only a few weeks were ago were being patrolled by US troops.  The evening agreement between Russia and Turkey capped a dramatic day as the world counted down the hours until the end of the ceasefire brokered last week by US vice president Mike Pence. The US said earlier in the day that it believed that Kurdish forces had fulfilled their obligations to withdraw from a key 120km stretch of the border and warned Turkey that it would impose sanctions if the Turkish military resumed attacks.  Areas of Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan before the Turkish offensive The Russian-Turkish deal appears to expand on the earlier American agreement and ensure that Kurdish forces will leave the entire length of the border. Turkey will maintain control in areas it has already seized while Russian and Syrian regime forces will hold the rest of the border. The agreement also states that the Kurds will withdraw from two holdout towns in western Syria, Kobani and Tel Rifaat, which Turkey has been trying to dislodge them from them for more than a year.      Sergey Shoygu, the Russian defence minister, said up to 500 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) members had escaped from Kurdish-run prisons in northeast Syria amid the chaos of the Turkish offensive.  US troops are withdrawing from northeast Syria Credit: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images Meanwhile, confusion over the US plan to withdraw forces from Syria deepened on Tuesday after Iraq’s government said the retreating troops did not have permission to stay in Iraq. “There is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq,” the Iraqi military said. The comment appeared to contradict claims by the Pentagon that the roughly 1,000 soldiers would stay in Iraq to continue fighting Isil.  Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, said he would try to smooth the issue during a visit to Iraq and added that the additional American forces did not plan “to stay in Iraq interminably”. There was a bleak reminder of the threat from Isil inside Iraq when it emerged Tuesday that a senior Iraqi police commander had been killed in an ambush by jihadist fighters.  Bashar al-Assad visited his forces in Idlib for the first time in years Bashar al-Assad made a rare trip outside Damascus to visit his troops on the front line in southern Idlib, where Syrian regime forces are battling against jihadists and rebels to take back the last opposition-held province in Syria.   The visit is the first time Assad has stepped foot in the province in years and marks his growing confidence after several weeks of good news for Damascus.  While his forces are make slow progress in Idlib, they were handed an unexpected victory in northeast Syria after Kurdish forces invited them in to confront Turkey.   Assad took aim at the Turkish president during the trip to Idlib, saying: “Erdogan is a thief and is now stealing our land.”  He vowed to continue his assault on Idlib, which is home to around 3 million civilians, and said a victory in the provice would help “decisively end chaos and terrorism in all of Syria”.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:42:10 -0400
  • Johnson Wins First Parliamentary Vote on His New Brexit Plan

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson clinched a dramatic vote for his new Brexit plan, in the first demonstration that parliament is prepared to approve the broad principles of an agreement that takes the U.K. out of the European Union.The government won by 329 to 299 votes in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening, paving the way for the next legislative stage, when Members of Parliament will be able to amend it. Before that, they will vote on whether to accept the prime minister’s accelerated timetable for the legislation to pass before Oct. 31. After the chamber three times rejected the deal negotiated by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, today’s vote is the first time the Commons has indicated it’s prepared to back a deal already negotiated with the EU. If Johnson is able to hold onto the slender majority as the legislation continues its passage through the Commons and then the House of Lords, he’ll able to fulfill his pledge to deliver Brexit. It’s a remarkable turnaround for Johnson, who a month ago was found to have illegally suspended parliament, watched his brother quit the government and sacked 21 members of the Conservative Party for refusing to sign up to his no-deal stance.He’s planning to push the so-called Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the Commons in just three days to avoid delaying Brexit for a third time. Some MPs who support debating the bill further may object to the accelerated timetable and switch sides.Opponents argue the timetable is too short to debate such an important piece of legislation, which will have repercussions for trade, the economy and the union of Northern Ireland with England, Scotland and Wales. The government argues that most of the issues covered by the bill have been debated over the past three years in Parliament.Johnson has said he’ll pull the bill if the timetable is rejected. He’s already been bounced into requesting a delay to Brexit by legislation passed against the government’s will, but made clear he doesn’t want that extension. If he can’t get the legislation through by Oct. 31, it’ll be in the hands of the EU to decide whether to grant the extension to Jan. 31 sought by Parliament or to opt for a shorter or longer delay. If the bloc refuses to do so, the U.K. will be on track to crash out of the EU without a deal on Oct. 31.To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Heather HarrisFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:19:32 -0400
  • Sudan council agrees to consider rebel group's proposals

    A top Sudanese official says the transitional government and rebel leaders have wrapped up a first round of talks aimed at ending the country's years-long civil wars, with the government agreeing to consider proposals by the Sudan Liberation Movement-North. Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of the Sovereign Council, says Tuesday the talks will resume Nov. 21. The round of talks ended a day after the government agreed on the agenda for negotiations with the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of rebel groups from the western Darfur region.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:11:53 -0400
  • McConnell resolution prods Trump to keep troops in Syria

    Golocal247.com news

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation Tuesday denouncing Turkey's invasion of northern Syria and gently prodding President Donald Trump to halt his withdrawal of U.S. troops from the embattled country. Senate Democrats also said they wanted to plunge ahead with sanctions legislation. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., would bar arms sales to Turkey and place sanctions on the assets of top officials in Ankara.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:07:46 -0400
  • Man accused of plan to attack Milwaukee temple goes on trial

    Golocal247.com news

    A man accused of plotting a mass shooting in defense of Islam at a Masonic temple in downtown Milwaukee will try to convince jurors at his trial starting Wednesday that FBI informants encouraged him for months to purchase weapons for the attack. Attorneys for 26-year-old Samy Hamzeh plan to argue that the FBI entrapped their client, who they say never owned a gun, has no criminal record, and was incapable of mass murder. The FBI has said their agents thwarted an act of terrorism when they arrested Hamzeh in January 2016.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:07:16 -0400
  • UK minister Buckland offers assurance to wavering lawmakers on Brexit transition

    British justice minister Robert Buckland said on Tuesday the government would bring forward a change to Brexit legislation to allow parliament a say on the merits of an extension to the transition period after exit. Some lawmakers are concerned that if they back the deal, Britain could still leave the European Union without an agreement after the transition ends in December 2020 if a future trading partnership is not agreed with Brussels by July that year. Some want to have an additional guarantee that if there is no future trading relationship by that date, the government will seek to extend the so-called transition.

    Tue, 22 Oct 2019 13:56:49 -0400
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