Newsletter

World News Issue Jan 14, 2019.

World News Jan 14

Rejecting Brexit would be catastrophic: U.K. PM Theresa May

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May has pleaded with lawmakers to accept
her deal for leaving the European Union, warning that faith in democracy was
at stake.

Writing in the Sunday Express ahead of a critical vote this week, Ms. May
urged lawmakers to “do what is right for the country”, because she said
rejecting the will of the people would be “a catastrophic and unforgivable
breach of trust in our democracy”.

Ms. May has urged Parliament to support her little-loved European Union
divorce deal so that Britain doesn’t leave the E.U. on March 29 without an
agreement on exit terms.

She postponed a vote in mid-December when it became clear lawmakers would
resoundingly reject the Brexit deal.

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Trump concealed details of meetings with Putin from senior officials: report

President Trump concealed details about encounters with Russian President
Vladimir Putin from officials in his administration on multiple occasions,
current and former U.S. officials told the The Washington Post in a report
published on Saturday.

The Post reported that there is a lack of detailed records on five of
Trump’s face-to-face meetings with Putin.

On one occasion, Trump reportedly took notes on an encounter from his own
interpreter and directed the linguist not to discuss the meeting with other
officials in his administration.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for
comment on the new report.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the Post’s
story, calling it “outrageously inaccurate.”

“The Washington Post story is so outrageously inaccurate it doesn’t even
warrant a response,” she said.

“The liberal media has wasted two years trying to manufacture a fake
collusion scandal instead of reporting on the fact that unlike President
Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around,
President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”

The Post highlighted a 2017 meeting in Hamburg between the two presidents
where a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought
information beyond a prepared readout.

Trump has received criticism for alleged ties to the Kremlin, and his
campaign is currently thought to be being investigated by special counsel
Robert Mueller for potential collusion during the 2016 election.

One source of that criticism comes from the president dismissing claims of
Russian interference in American elections as a “hoax.”

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Post that he “was present
for the entirety of the two presidents’ official bilateral meeting in
Hamburg,” but declined to discuss the content of the meeting and did not
respond to questions about whether Trump had instructed the interpreter to
remain silent or had taken the interpreter’s notes.

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Trump warns Turkey of economic devastation if it hits Kurds

US President Donald Trump warned Turkey on Sunday of economic devastation if
it attacks Kurdish forces in the wake of the US troop pullout from Syria,
while also urging the Kurds not to “provoke” Ankara.

Trump took to Twitter to reveal some of his latest thoughts in the slow
drip-drip of information being released by his administration after his
shocking December announcement of the troop withdrawal.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at
reassuring allies amid rising tensions between the US and Turkey over the
fate of Washington’s Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic
State group.

Pompeo also sought to reassure Washington’s Kurdish allies in the fight
against IS, who fear the departure of American troops would allow Turkey to
attack them.

Turkey had reacted angrily to suggestions that Trump’s plan to withdraw
troops was conditional on the safety of the US-backed Kurdish fighters, seen
by the Turkish government as terrorists.

“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” Trump tweeted, while
pushing for the creation of a 20-mile (30-kilometer) “safe zone.”

“Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Trump did not detail who would create, enforce or pay for the safe zone, or
where it would be located.

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Iran foreign minister in Baghdad for talks

Baghdad – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Iraqi
counterpart in Baghdad yesterday for wide-ranging talks, including on US
sanctions against Tehran.

The visit came just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a
surprise stop on his regional tour to urge Iraq to stop relying on Iran for
gas and electricity imports.

Washington has granted Baghdad a waiver until late March to keep buying
Iranian gas and power, despite reimposing tough sanctions on Tehran in
November.

After a two-hour meeting yesterday, Iraq’s top diplomat Mohammed Ali
al-Hakim said he had talked through the restrictions with his counterpart.

“We discussed the unilateral economic measures taken by the US and are
working with our neighbour (Iran) on them,” Hakim said.

He said the two talked through various political and economic issues,
including Syria and Yemen, in a “long and interesting meeting”.

Hakim said Iraq was in favour of the Arab League reinstating Syria’s
membership, eight years after suspending it as the conflict there unfolded.

Zarif is expected to attend several economic forums in various Iraqi cities,
including Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish north.

Iran is the second-largest source of imported goods in Iraq.

Besides canned food and cars, Baghdad also buys 1,300 megawatts of
electricity and 28 million cubic metres of natural gas daily from Iran to
feed power plants.

That dependence is uncomfortable for Washington, which sees Tehran as its
top regional foe and expects Iraq to wean itself off Iranian energy
resources.

But energy ties between Baghdad and Tehran appear to have remained close,
with Iran’s oil minister visiting Baghdad last week to denounce US sanctions
as “totally illegal”.

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Palestinian president plans anti-Hamas measures as split widens

The decade-long Palestinian split looks set to deepen in the coming months,
with president Mahmud Abbas poised to take multiple measures against Gaza to
squeeze its Islamist rulers Hamas.

The moves raise concerns of more suffering for Gaza’s two million residents,
already under an Israeli blockade and facing severe electricity shortages,
while a cornered Hamas could renew violence against Israel.

Analysts say the measures will also widen the gap between Hamas-run Gaza and
the occupied West Bank, where Abbas’s government has limited self-rule.

Hamas and Abbas’s secular Fatah party have been at loggerheads since the
Islamists seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s forces in a near civil war in
2007, a year after sweeping parliamentary elections.

Hamas has since fought three bloody wars with Israel and fears of a fourth
remain.

Multiple reconciliation attempts between the Palestinian factions have
failed but Egypt thought it had made a breakthrough in late 2017 when the
two sides agreed to eventually share power.

As part of that agreement Hamas withdrew from border crossings between Gaza
and Egypt and Israel, allowing the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority to
return and the Egyptian border to be reopened regularly.

The reconciliation agreement has since collapsed acrimoniously.

On Sunday, the PA announced it would withdraw from the Egyptian border
crossing, creating a dilemma for Cairo about whether to leave it open with
Hamas in control. So far they have indicated they will.

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Italy sends plane to Bolivia to get seized fugitive Battisti

Italy sent an aircraft to Bolivia on Sunday to pick up fugitive left-wing
militant Cesare Battisti who was captured there nearly three decades after
being convicted of murder. The development sets the stage for a climax to
one of Italy’s longest-running efforts to bring a fugitive to justice.

Bolivian police, working with Italian agents, arrested Battisti, 64,
overnight in Santa Cruz de La Sierra, Italian police said. He had been
living in Brazil for years, but last month Brazil’s outgoing president
signed a decree ordering his extradition, apparently sparking Battisti’s
latest flight.

Italian police released a video of Battisti they said was taken hours before
his capture, showing him seemingly oblivious that he was under surveillance
as he walked casually down the street in jeans, a blue T-shirt and
sunglasses. A subsequent image showed Battisti’s mug shot under the seal of
the Bolivian police.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said a government aircraft was expected to
land on Sunday afternoon in Bolivia. The Foreign Ministry vowed to have
Battisti extradited “as quickly as possible” and Interior Minister Matteo
Salvini called him a “delinquent who doesn’t deserve to live comfortably on
the beach but rather to finish his days in prison.”

Battisti escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 while awaiting trial on four
counts of murder allegedly committed when he was a member of the Armed
Proletarians for Communism. He was convicted in absentia in 1990, and is
facing a life term for the deaths of two police officers, a jeweler and a
butcher.

Mr. Salvini praised Bolivian police and Brazil’s new government for
following through on the fugitive’s case.

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Airlander 10: prototype of world’s longest aircraft retired

A prototype of the world’s longest aircraft, the Airlander 10, will not be
rebuilt but engineers are set to “rethink the skies” with a production-ready
model.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the Bedford-based company that created Airlander
10, has already received Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval, and it is
hoped the new airship model will take to the skies by the early 2020s.

“Our focus is now entirely on bringing the first batch of
production-standard, type-certified Airlander 10 aircraft into service with
customers,” said Stephen McGlennan, the company’s chief executive.

“The prototype served its purpose as the world’s first full-sized hybrid
aircraft, providing us with the data we needed to move forward from
prototype to production-standard. As a result, we do not plan to fly the
prototype aircraft again.”

“Instead we move ahead with a big job – eight years after the initial build
of the prototype, we are now identifying our critical supplier partners,
getting ready to design all the details that make the difference between a
prototype and a product, and finalising the product certification plans,”
McGlennan said in a statement on Sunday.

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