Middle East & Balkans News Brief – 1 July 2011


News Summary

NORTH AFRICA

Tripoli (Libya). Libyan women of all ages have answered Muammar Gaddafi’s call to oppose rebels and NATO. Many Libyan women are ready to undergo military training and fight for their leader, ITAR-TASS reported. Women from various regions in Libya arrived in the city of Bani Walid where a military training course is organized for them. They learn how to shoot and dismantle and assemble arms. It is still not clear how many women have decided to follow Gaddafi’s call.

Ayesha, Gaddafi’s daughter, has confirmed that the authorities have “direct and indirect contacts” with the rebels, RIA Novosti reported. “We are trying to stop bloodshed and to achieve this goal we are ready to form a union even with the devil, even with the armed rebels,” said Ayesha and noted the conflict had united her family. Earlier, Libyan Prime Minister Bagdadi Mahmudi also confirmed there were contacts between Tripoli and rebels.

Тhe United States disputed Russia’s contention that France’s reported arms drop to Libyan rebels would amount to a UN Security Council violation. “We believed that UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, read together… neither specified nor precluded providing defense materiаl to the Libyan opposition,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, quoted by Russian news agencies, demanded an explanation from France over the reported arms drop, and said: “If this is confirmed, it would be a brazen violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1970.” His French counterpart Allen Jupe underscored that Russia may play a decisive role in resolving the crisis in Libya. The French diplomat said also that France and Russia can coordinate their actions regarding the conflicts in the Arab World.

MIDDLE EAST

Amman (Jordan). Close to 2,000 demonstrators demanded the dissolution of the Jordan’s “Parliament of Shame” and insist on the resignation of the government. On 27 June Prime Minister Marouf Bahit was ousted by Members of Parliament on allegations pointing at his involvement in a corruption deal on opening of a casino in the country. Several Members of Parliament protested the decision of Parliament and pledged their resignations.

Beirut (Lebanon). Four arrest warrants have been issued by the UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Rafik Hariri and 21 others were killed in February 2005 in central Beirut when a huge bomb went off as his motorcade passed by. Saad Hariri, son of the deceased Prime Minister, has welcomed the news on the warrants. Hezbollah has criticised and attempted to discredit the tribunal

According to BBC, divisions over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), based in the Hague, have thrown the country into political turmoil and sparked fears of sectarian unrest. The Lebanese cabinet is meeting on 30 June to agree its policy towards the tribunal.

Manama (Bahrain). The five-member panel of human rights and legal experts, unveiled ahead of a national dialogue set to start on 1 July, is part of Bahrain’s efforts to restore its reputation after the Sunni rulers cracked down on demonstrations led mostly by the Shi’ite majority in February and March.

“We will ask for files, we will go to the prisons,” said panel chairman Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-American law professor and U.N. war crimes expert who was involved in the formation of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) and recently headed a U.N. inquiry into events in Libya. At least two dozen people were killed, including protesters and security personnel, and hundreds were arrested during the unrest, which Bahrain’s rulers called the work of Shi’ite protesters,backed by Iran, pushing a sectarian agenda.

Shi’ites deny the accusations and say they were protesting against systematic discrimination that limits their access to jobs and social services. Many say, people have been tortured in the crackdown.

BALKANS

Athens (Greece). About one hundred of French and US activists in favor of the Gaza Flotilla II rallied in front of the American Embassy in Athens. Carrying the flag of peace, they chanted slogans against the US, French and Greek authorities, because they allegedly yielded to the pressure of Israel against the fleet to the Gaza Strip.

Bucharest (Romania), Sofia (Bulgaria). The Dutch parliament adopted a new law that Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, as well as immigrants from non-EU countries, will get work permits in the Netherlands only in exceptional cases, the Romanian Mediafax news agency reported. The measure, which was proposed by Labor Minister Henk Kamp, was adopted by the parliament, despite the EU’s warnings that it might infringe on the right to free movement. The Netherlands is one of the EU countries to keep restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian workers in place after the two countries acceded to the Union in 2007. As of 1 January 2014 restrictions will be lifted.

Sofia (Bulgaria). Bulgaria keeps the record for high unemployment. The highest hike in unemployment was registered in Greece (11.0% to 15.0% between the first quarters of 2010 and 2011), Bulgaria (10.1% to 11.2%), Cyprus (6.4% to 7.4%) and Slovenia (7.3% to 8.3%).

The Euro area (ЕА17) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.9% in May 2011, unchanged compared with April. The EU27 unemployment rate was 9.3% in May 2011, unchanged compared with April. Eurostat estimates that 22 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 15 million are in the Euro area, were unemployed in May 2011. Compared with April 2011, the number of persons unemployed fell by 5,000 in the EU27 and increased by 16,000 in the Euro area.  Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in the Netherlands (4.2%), Austria (4.3%) and Luxembourg (4.5%), and the highest in Spain (20.9%), Lithuania (16.3% in the first quarter of 2011) and Latvia (16.2% in the first quarter of 2011).

Podgorica (Montenegro). Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic has expressed his gratitude to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov for his support for Montenegro’s integration into the European Union and NATO, the government’s press service announced.

“I believe this is the right path for you and we will keep on supporting you in opening EU accession negotiations, sharing our experience in pre-accession process and fulfillment of NATO Membership Action Plan,” said PM Borissov. He emphasized on the need of enhancing bilateral cooperation in economy.

Sofia (Bulgaria). The Russian company Transneft will soon reconsider the expedience of its future cooperation with Bulgaria in Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, said the company’s head Nikolai Tokarev, cited by RIA Novosti. “I think Bulgaria insulted us. Partners do not do such things, we cannot finance the project forever. We will soon reconsider the expedience of our future cooperation with Bulgaria,” he went on.

Russia, Bulgaria and Greece signed an intergovernmental agreement about Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline in 2007. Due to Bulgaria’s decision to cut the financing of its part the project is stumbling.

The Russian company Transneft is exploring the possibility to build an oil pipeline bypassing Bulgaria, said the company’s head Nikolai Tokarev, cited by Interfax.

Pristina (Kosovo). Some of the five EU states which have not recognized the Republic of Kosovo have started to be “flexible”, Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said. Answering a question about how Kosovo’s hopes for eventual integration with the European Union reconcile with the fact that only 22 of the 27 member states recognize the young republic, Hoxhaj said  he believes that the five EU non-recognizers of Kosovo’s independence declared in February 2008 – Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovkia, and Cyprus – no longer have reasons to withhold recognition after the ruling of the UN Court in 2010.

He believes that recognizing Kosovo’s independence is the interest of the five EU states, and in the interest of the peace and stability in the region.

(Middle East & Balkans News, 1 July 2011)

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About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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One Response to Middle East & Balkans News Brief – 1 July 2011

  1. Inga Odam says:

    I’m from Berlin, Germany, and several human beings right here are embarrassed that Germany just isn’t struggling together with NATO in Libya. We would not understand the mindset of our own govt. When it concerns the military, Germany is solely absurd.

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