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The Australian 08-Aug-16
The President had been up all night. Peering through thick glasses, he addressed the republic. “This attack has all the elements to be called a terrorist attack. It is clear we have to do everything in our power to fight this terrorist plague.’’
Six hours earlier, Francois Hollance had received the grim news: 84 people had perished under the wheels of a 17-tonne truck driven at speed down Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, a smile-shaped strip of road that runs along the Mediterranean coast.
Far away from the gilded halls of the Elysee Palace where an exhausted Hollande waited to address the nation, France’s security services were hard at work piecing together the brief life of Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the 31-year-old driver of the truck, now dead.
Soon a picture emerged. Police would know whom he had spoken to, where he had prayed, the places he had travelled, the phone numbers he had called, the websites he had visited. Even the women he had bedded.
But at 4am that morning none of that mattered. Phone footage of the attack uploaded to YouTube told the President everything he needed to know. France had been hit again. Blinking into the cameras, Hollande struck a defiant tone. “Nothing will make us yield in our will to fight terrorism.’’
Behind the pluck, France was reeling. For the third time in 12 months Islamic State terrorists had struck. France was not unused to political violence. Since the end of World War II, Algerian nationalists, Red Brigade terrorists and right-wing extremists had shot, killed, bombed or conspired on French soil. But the scale and tempo of the Islamists’ attacks — 17 killed in the Charlie Hebdo shootings, 130 dead in the November Paris attacks, 84 in Nice — had many wondering if mass violence was the new normal.
“As (Islamic State) is losing ground they are trying to find new ways to propagate the illusion of momentum,’’ Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tells The Australian.
“They are seeking other avenues to intimidate and terrorise, including through directed or inspired attacks against the West or Western interests.’’
It is one of the cruel ironies of the war against Islamic State that the closer to victory the West gets, the more dangerous life in its cities becomes. The attack in Nice was the latest, and perhaps the most visceral example, of a wave of Islamist violence that has swept France, Belgium, the US and Turkey, to name a few. As the group’s caliphate nears extinction, its operatives are lashing out.
FBI chief James Comey warned late last month that there was an emerging link between the recent defeats of Islamic State on the battlefield and terror attacks in the West. And that this deadly connection would only get worse.
“At some point there is going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said. “Not all of the Islamic State killers are going to die on the battlefield.”
He predicts that when the group is defeated, “through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of really dangerous people and they are going to flow primarily to western Europe.” Primarily, but not solely.
ASIO estimates there are some 110 Australians fighting in Syria, almost all of them with radical Islamist groups. Inevitably some will find their way home, particularly as the foundation stones of the caliphate begin to shudder.
In the 1980s and 90s a flow of Australian Muslims made their way to Afghanistan, drawn by the jihad against the Soviets. Those that made it out remained a problem for authorities.
The threat Australia confronts now is 10 times that scale. Moreover, Islamic State has bred a generation of radicals encouraged to act independently of their masters, picking their own targets, choosing their time frames and honing their method of attack.
The spate of terror attacks in Europe this year is evidence of this.
The attackers in Nice and in the Orlando nightclub massacre had no known contact with anyone in Islamic State and the group had no apparent knowledge of their planned attack. And yet the carnage they wreaked exceeded the wildest imaginings of Islamic State leaders.
They have proved that attacks by extremists inspired by Islmaic State are just as dangerous and just as likely as those directed in full or in part by the terror group itself.
This new DIY model of terrorism gives rise to endless debate about what makes Islamic State’s ideology so appealing to radical Western Muslims. But such musings turn on the wrong question.
The question is not why is the ideology so popular, it is why is it so popular now. Militant Islam has existed in some form or another for centuries; however, never before has it enjoyed such wide currency. The ubiquity of social media and the ease with which Islamic State has used it to spread its propaganda tells some of the story.
But the real lure of the group lies in the dusty plains and parched deserts of the Levant. Here it has restored the caliphate of the Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, the 7th-century ruler who succeeded the Prophet Mohammed. This gesture, absurd as it appears to Westerners, appeals directly to Sunni pride and has distinguished Islamic State from the hoard of competing Islamist groups that have talked a big game, but never quite delivered.
Turnbull, like Abbott before him, understands this. “The key (to defeating Islamic State) is the destruction of the so-called caliphate,’’ he says. “This is why the retaking of Mosul and al-Raqqa is significant.’’
Turnbull says the war in Syria has reached a crucial phase — if not a tipping point, then something closely approaching it. “ISIL (Islamic State) has not yet been defeated in Syria and Iraq but it is being rolled back,’’ he says. “We have not just halted ISIL’s momentum, it has been turned back.’’
This, says the Prime Minister, has been critically important in demolishing the group’s myth of invincibility and inevitable victory.
“Far from sweeping across Europe to stable their horses in the Vatican, ISIL is now seen on the defensive, losing territory, resources and lives,’’ he says. “Would-be recruits can now see that travelling to Syria to fight with ISIL is joining a losing battle and almost certain death on the battlefield.’’
As Islamic State is slowly pushed back in Iraq, the group has amplified its call for its followers to conduct attacks in the West.
The terror group is frustrated by the slowdown in the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq, mostly because of the clampdown on entry points into Syria.
“If the tyrants close the door of migration in your faces, then open the door of jihad in theirs and turn their actions against them,” says spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, referring to attempts to stop foreign fighters travelling to join the group.
Brett McGurk, a US State Department spokesman, says that as of the end of June, Islamic State had lost 47 per cent of the territory it held in Iraq and that its fighting strength had fallen from around 33,000 militants in 2014 to between 18,000 and 22,000.
Islamic State has lost territory including the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah because of the slow, inexorable advance of much larger Western-trained Iraqi forces supported by coalition airstrikes and real-time intelligence.
The losses have forced the group to change tactics, with the commander of US forces in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, claiming last month that Islamic State is now fighting more like a hit-and-run terrorist force than a proper army.
Its defeat in Iraq is within sight by early next year and its strongholds in Syria, including Raqqa, are expected to come under severe pressure soon afterwards, but few experts believe this will spell the end of Islamic State.
“That doesn’t mean it’s the end of Islamic State,” says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. “They will go underground and will pop up somewhere else — that’s one of the concerns.”
Many believe it will step up its insurgency war in Iraq if it is defeated on the battlefield and that the recent suicide attack in Baghdad, which killed 330 people, is a grim sign of things to come.
“When ISIS’s army is defeated in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq, there will still be ISIS terrorist cells that will attempt to continue to carry out the kind of terrorist attacks we have seen in Baghdad and elsewhere in recent months,” former US commander in Iraq General David Petraeus tells TheNew York Times.
The fear is also that Islamic State will continue to grow in countries such as Libya, which was the target last week of the first US aerial bombing raid to hit Islamic State targets in that country.
Islamic State is the most hideous terrorist group the world has seen. Australia has more than played its part in the international effort to weaken it. But despite the hard-won triumphs now on display on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, the war has some way to run.
A meeting between Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin will thaw the political freeze brought on by Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet. The pace of rapprochement has observers surprised.
The frosty climate between Russia and Turkey lasted nearly seven months; the thaw has only taken six weeks. When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Russia’s Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, the two will have completed their 180-degree turn.
In a letter to Putin at the end of June, Erdogan expressed regret over the fact that Turkey’s air force had shot down a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft in the border area with Syria on November 24. He also apologized to the victims’ families.
The downing, which cost two Russian airmen their lives, put an unprecedented chill on relations between the previously close partners. Russia reacted with an import ban on Turkish foods and suspended all charter flights to Turkey, a popular tourist destination for millions of Russians. Moreover, Russia also put two major projects on ice: the construction of a gas pipeline across the Black Sea and a nuclear power plant. Now Putin and Erdogan will personally discuss the future of the two projects.
‘The ruling clique’
The rapprochement is all the more astonishing when one recalls how both sides had dealt with each other until very recently. After the downing, Erdogan said Turkey would not tolerate aerial violations of the border. In the weeks prior to the incident, Turkey had protested such incursions by Russian bombers several times. In the United States and EU, concern grew over the possibility of a military conflict between Russia and the NATO member state Turkey.
Putin called the downing a “stab in the back.” And, in a speech in December, he said that “Allah has decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey and deprived them of their reason.” Furthermore, Russian officials accused their Turkish counterparts of getting involved in oil deals with the “Islamic State.” Russian state television ran anti-Erdogan content on an almost daily basis. A right-wing parliamentarian called on Putin to drop an atomic bomb on Istanbul in order to “wash away” the Turkish metropolis.
Over the past few weeks, however, it has become apparent that Russia’s anger is what has washed away. Just a few days after writing his letter to Putin, Erdogan was on the phone with Russia’s president. It was then that they agreed to the meeting that will now take place. Putin also lifted the ban on charter flights, and Russian tourists have flocked to Turkish beaches since late July. There was another phone call after the failed July 15 coup attempt: This time it was Moscow on the line, with Putin expressing support for Erdogan.
Meeting Moscow’s demands
Such “somersaults in Russian-Turkish relations” might be confusing, even to seasoned observers, Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs, wrote recently. However, he added, “the harshest words can be forgotten if need be.”
Turkey has not only formally apologized for the downing of the Russian plane, but has also met, at least in part, two further demands made by Moscow: The pilots who shot the jet down have been jailed, and compensation payments are up for discussion.
It seems natural that Turkey would move closer to Russia in the wake of the coup. Officials from the European Union and US have criticized Erdogan’s curtailing of democracy. Given the tone in Brussels and Washington, Moscow could become an appealing base of support for Turkey, Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky, of the Russian Institute of Political and Social Studies of the Black Sea-Caspian Region, told DW. “Recently there has been talk of Turkish membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union,” Nadein-Rayevsky said. Russia is the driving force behind both organizations.
Nadein-Rayevsky said Russia and Turkey could speed up economic relations “relatively quickly.” Political rapprochement, on the other hand, might take longer. “The main problem is Syria,” Nadein-Rayevsky said. Erdogan wants regime change in Damascus, but Russia has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad politically and militarily.
Diverting humanitarian aid is despicable. Diverting it to a militant organisation that carries out attacks against civilians is simply evil.
It is now common knowledge that Hamas — the designated terrorist organisation which rules the Gaza Strip — has for years been diverting cement and other materials meant for the reconstruction of Gaza and the benefit of Palestinian civilians. It steals them to use for building military infrastructure — such as terror tunnels targeting Israeli towns. What has now come to light is just how successful they’ve apparently been at infiltrating those who are supposed to keep this from happening.
The Israeli government have recently charged the manager of operations for the charity World Vision in Gaza, Mohammad El Halabi, with channelling 60% of the charity’s annual budget for Gaza to Hamas (approximately $7.2 million per annum). Furthermore, it is alleged that 40% of the funds intended for civilian projects were instead given in cash to Hamas combat units.
Having reportedly given World Vision over $5 million in the past three years for projects in the Gaza Strip, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have suspended further funding for World Vision programs in the Palestinian Territories pending an investigation.
The aid reportedly diverted includes 2500 food packages worth $250,000 and money raised to support injured children in Gaza, sent instead to the families of Hamas operatives by falsely listing their children as wounded.
This is only the latest episode in the fraught delivery of aid to Gaza’s civilians and demonstrates the ongoing difficulties faced by aid organisations and governments, including Australia, in getting well-intended funds and donations to those in need.
Hamas is notorious for taking building materials meant for hospitals, schools and civilian infrastructure and using them to construct underground tunnel networks extending into Israeli population centres for the sole purpose of launching attacks. Israeli government spokesperson Dore Gold claimed in May that Israel had evidence that “out of every 100 sacks of cement that come into the Gaza strip [from Israel], only five or six are transferred to civilians”, with the rest being diverted by Hamas for military purposes.
Israeli sources also say Hamas is employing more than 1000 people fulltime in building tunnels and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on these efforts. Even children of Gaza have reportedly been exploited for such work, resulting in the deaths of many young Palestinians.
Following conflict between Hamas and Israel in 2014, Israel eased restrictions on the entry of materials into Gaza to allow goods necessary for reconstruction to be delivered to the Strip under a UN-brokered supervision arrangement.
Various countries pledged $US3.5 billion in aid to rebuild Gaza in 2014 — however much of this aid never materialised, especially aid promised by the Arab countries of the Middle East. This failure to deliver seems emblematic of the trepidation these nations have about Gaza’s leaders’ ability to use the aid appropriately and for the benefit of the population.
And indeed, reconstruction of homes in Gaza has been proceeding very slowly. This is despite the fact that, under the arrangements set up in 2104, over 5 million tons of construction materials have entered Gaza since then, and an average of 80 truckloads of cement enter Gaza weekly.
Hamas’s interference directly impacts on the Gaza civilians for whom the aid was intended — hampering the ability of charities and like-minded organisations to effectively deliver a better life for Gaza’s residents.
But more than that, it imperils both their hopes for the future and hopes for a peaceful two-state outcome in the Middle East. The last thing Gazans need is another round of deadly and destructive fighting — yet Hamas is diverting well-intentioned aid, including it seems Australian taxpayer money, to prepare for exactly this. Thus, aid that is intended to make things better is actually making things worse for both Gazans and Israelis.
This latest scandal reinforces the imperative for aid to be subjected to strictest oversight and continued monitoring to ensure it ends up in the right hands. Arrangements must be built first and foremost from an overwhelming awareness that Hamas, a terrorist group that is the actual government authority of Gaza, is determined to use any means at its disposal to get its hands on money and materials for its own violent ends.
The case against Mohammad El Halabi, who it is charged was a Hamas operative deliberately infiltrated into World Vision over the course of a decade to steal aid, if substantiated would highlight just how far they are prepared to go.
If well-meaning people let them, Hamas will misuse aid to not only deprive Gazans of much-needed humanitarian assistance, but to commit acts of terror and other war crimes, to further diminish Middle East hopes, and to start yet another devastating conflict. It is incumbent upon governments, charities and aid organisations not to make deals or compromise with this evil when they understandably and commendably try to help the people of Gaza.
IS:160807:(13-AUG-16):As brain drain looms, new rules create roadblocks for ultra-orthodox to enter Israel’s tech sector
Tech Crunch 07-Aug-16
The Israeli government’s decision to reverse math and English learning requirements for the country’s ultra-Orthodox schools could deal a serious blow to Israel’s vital technology industry and seems to fly in the face of the wishes of the ultra-Orthodox community itself.
On July 24 the Israeli government announced that Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools do not have to teach math, science and English to qualify for state funding. The original law, introduced by former education minister Shai Piron, was killed as part of coalition talks with ultra-Orthodox parties.
“Ultra-Orthodox men who lack basic English and math skills from a young age find it very hard to integrate into the hi-tech world. Cancelling the law that would have required cheders (ultra-Orthodox schools) to study a core curriculum, can be seen as a harsh blow to the national effort to integrate Haredim into the realm of hi-tech,” said Gilad Malach, a researcher at Israel Democracy Institute.
The news comes at a time when ultra-Orthodox workforce participation is at an all time high and the government is desperately looking for solutions to avoid any disruption to Israel’s burgeoning tech industry. Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy, said that the country is facing a shortage of about 10,000 engineers and programmers.
Encouraging developments in the ultra-Orthodox community show that talk of manpower shortages might be premature as for first time in the country’s history workforce participation rate among ultra-Orthodox men is over 50%, compared to 86% in the general population.
The increase from low 30s in 2003 to over 50 can be partly attributed to welfare cutbacks, but also to the explosive expansion of Israel’s high tech and strong economic growth visible not only in Tel Aviv, but also in Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba.
Today the ultra-Orthodox in Israel comprise 11% of the population and about 8% of the workforce. In 20 years time, according to Kamatech, an organization that facilitates the integration of Haredim into the Israeli hi-tech workforce, the number of ultra-orthodox will be 18%, and by 2030, 40% of the population.
“Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community is in the midst of a revolution, both in terms of women in the workplace and employment in general. However, given that their leadership encourages the men to continue with Torah study, rather than employment, all the progress that is being made must take place quietly, without the explicit support of the rabbinic leadership,” said Goel Jasper, managing director of Finn Partners Israel. Jasper works with ultra-Orthodox organizations to integrate their community into the hi-tech work-force.
“Behind the scenes, on a case-by-case basis, even the women are encouraged to seek employment, and the hi-tech sector is right in the middle of the action,” Jasper said.
A survey from July last year showed that the number of ultra-Orthodox employees in the business sector doubled from 8 percent in 2008, to 16% in 2015.
Interestingly, 67% of businesses employing ultra-Orthodox are secular. In addition to the increase in participation, Haredim are also joining combat and intelligence units. In 2014, 2,300 enlisted up from 288 in 2007. Considering that Israeli tech owes much of its success to the army and its special units, the uptick in Haredi soldiers is a sign of deepening integration.
Indeed, workforce participation among Israeli women and men ultra-Orthodox is trending up and new initiatives are working to bridge gap between the secular and the religious.
In another sign of deepening ultra-Orthodox involvement, a Ministry of Economy report released in mid-July showed that the percentage of Haredi working women climbed to 73.1% in 2015, from 61.5% in 2010. The initial goal of 63% was reached five years ahead of schedule.
“Perhaps the most fascinating and important development here is that ultra-Orthodox women are working in hi-tech by the thousands, which means that they are almost certainly gaining a more worldly outlook. This is sure to impact every aspect of ultra-Orthodox life in the coming decade and beyond,” said Jasper.
Indeed, workforce participation among Israeli women and men ultra-Orthodox is trending up and new initiatives are working to bridge gap between the secular and the religious.
Encouraging developments might be short-lived as the government’s decision to cut the Haredim from the mainstream will put a question mark on Israel’s ability to keep the tech engine running in the future.
“We now find ourselves at a critical junction: If the education minister will truly work to incentivize institutions that are interested in teaching the core curriculum, and help to train teachers and provide proper books in cooperation with interested parents, I think we will see a gradual integration of English, math, science and other core subjects into even the most conservative Haredi institutions,” said Malach.
“Alternatively, if the education minister does not do anything to advance these subjects, then the situation will continue as it is today. We will only see the results of this policy in about 15 years, when many Haredim have entered hi-tech.”
Daily Telegraph 10-Aug-16
The Russian army can outgun British troops on the battlefield, a leaked report suggests, following military advances by the Kremlin.
The assessment by the British Army’s warfare branch, seen by The Times newspaper, warned that Russian weapons, including rocket launchers and air defence systems, were more powerful than their British equivalents.
It came as Vladimir Putin and Theresa May on Tuesday spoke for the first time since she took office and both expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of Russian-British relations .
The announcement by the Kremlin could herald the start of improved relations between the two countries that have been strained since the 2006 poisoning death of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko and the Ukraine crisis, among other issues.
In the phone call, which Moscow said was initiated by Britain, both leaders “expressed dissatisfaction with the current parameters of cooperation in both the political and economic sphere”.
The leaked military report added that the UK and its Nato allies were “scrambling to catch up” with Russia’s ability to use electronic means to hijack enemy drones and disrupt other military transmissions, which were described as a “real game changer”.
“In the unlikely event of a direct confrontation between Nato and RUS [Russia], we must acknowledge that RUS currently has a significant capability edge over UK force elements,” the paper reportedly said.
“Due to the fact that some of our high-end military capabilities have been eroded since 2003, we must find ways to ‘fight smarter’ at the tactical level, acknowledging that some adversaries may be armed with weapons that are superior to our own.”
The publication was produced in March under the direction of General Sir Nick Carter, head of the Army, the newspaper said.
It is understood the report is based on one training exercise carried out in Ukraine.
An Army spokeswoman said: “The British Army conducts regular reviews of potential scenarios in order to improve its readiness to both protect UK influence and protect our people.”
The report also recommended that soldiers were made more aware of manipulative online tactics used on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and should leave electrical devices at home while on exercises.
The publication, Insights to “Training Smarter” Against a Hybrid Adversary, concluded that one of Russia’s goals in Ukraine was to practise “new methods of warfare as well as testing modern and prohibited weapons”, the newspaper said.
It sets out how the UK could counter Russia’s new hybrid strategy of electronic warfare, drones, propaganda and artillery.
General Sir Richard Shirreff, Britain’s former top officer in Nato, said: “What we get from successive governments has been that it is all fine and dandy and ‘aren’t we doing well’.
“Actually, the reality is that our capability has been dramatically hollowed out.”
In June, Poland and its Nato allies launched the largest-ever joint military exercises aimed at shoring up security on the alliance’s eastern flank amid the West’s worst standoff with Russia since the end of the Cold War.
The two-week long Anaconda manoeuvres were aimed at “checking the alliance’s ability to defend its eastern flank,” Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said.
More than 31,000 soldiers from 24 Nato and former-Soviet “Partnership for Peace” states including Ukraine took part in the manoeuvres, held biannually across Poland since 2006.
Some 14,000 US troops joined 12,000 Polish soldiers and around 1,000 from Britain for the exercises involving some 3,000 vehicles, 105 planes and 12 naval vessels.
One nation. One flag. One homeland. One state.
These eight words have been the key slogan of Turkish politics in the last years, strongly favoured by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a symbol of national unity.
But in the months before the July 15 failed military coup, there had been precious little such unity in Turkey with the southeast riven by conflict, the opposition in a constant war of words with the government and the country split down the middle over the polarising figure of Erdogan.
Yet as hundreds of thousands of Turks stood in solidarity against the coup in a sea of red at an Istanbul rally on Sunday attended by opposition leaders, it appeared some harmony had been found.
But it is unclear whether Erdogan will take this new unity forwards to heal the wounds in a deeply divided nation and keep his own confrontational instincts in check.
“The mood in the country is nervous, angry and dark, but also united with Erdogan,” Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Programme at The Washington Institute, told AFP.
“At this stage, Erdogan can play a unifier, which he has not done much in the past… or he can return to his divisive political platform.”
Cagaptay said the current unity stemmed from the sheer historical significance of the night of July 15, which saw seized fighter jets bomb key targets in Ankara including parliament in a putsch attempt blamed on the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
“The coup plot is probably the most traumatic political event in Turkey since the fall of the Ottoman Empire,” he said, noting Ankara had not sustained such a serious military attack since it was occupied by the forces of the Turco-Mongol conquerer Timur in 1402.
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, director of the German Marshall Fund’s office in Ankara, said public fury over the plotters’ actions had even rallied support behind the ensuing legal crackdown and state of emergency that has seen thousands detained.
“While many fear president Erdogan may use the coup attempt to further consolidate power and build an authoritarian regime, this fury has unified the populace in support of the measures,” he said.
‘Crush the PKK’
As a symbol of the reconciliation, Erdogan is dropping legal suits for slander against opposition figures including Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu who had called him a “tinpot dictator” but spoke at the unity rally.
But while Erdogan invited Kilicdaroglu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli to his presidential palace for talks that would have been unthinkable weeks ago, one man was conspicuous by his absence.
Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the main political party of Turkey’s largest ethnic minority the Kurds, was not invited to the palace or the big Istanbul rally.
While the HDP has more seats in parliament than the MHP and also unequivocally condemned the coup, the government accuses it of links to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels who are waging a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state.
After a two-and-a-half year ceasefire was shattered last year there appears no chance of a return to peace talks that had raised hopes of an end to the three decade conflict, with the government vowing to crush the PKK into submission.
“Erdogan will play a unified role, excluding the HDP and Kurdish nationalists. His attitude towards the HDP will only change after he has militarily defeated the PKK,” said Cagaptay.
Meanwhile, Erdogan faces a huge challenge in keeping the country together in what will be a long haul in the next few years, with the president able to stay in power until 2024 and planning projects for his “New Turkey” ranging from high speed train lines to a Panama-style canal in Istanbul.
His most cherished political plan is agreeing constitutional changes to create a presidential system in Turkey that would enshrine greater powers in the head of state, a move that had seemed plagued with uncertainty before the coup.
The general secretary of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Abdulhamit Gul said Wednesday that talks would start this week with the opposition on a new constitution.
“This is a fragile unity and would be broken the moment president Erdogan tries to use it for his own personal goals,” said Unluhisarcikli.
The Institute for The Study of War 11-Aug-16
Preparations for conventional conflict between Russia and Ukraine are accelerating and the likelihood of open war is increasing rapidly. Russia has prepositioned military forces along all of its common borders with Ukraine: to the north in Bryansk district, to the east near Rostov, to the south in Crimea, and to the west in separatist-controlled Moldovan territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin has escalated hostilities after claiming that Ukrainian forces entered Crimea on 07 AUG. On 11 AUG, he mobilized additional forces in the separatist republics and to the south in Crimea. In response, Ukraine is beginning to redeploy forces to adjust to Russia’s deployments, which may leave Ukrainian forces engaged in combat with Russian proxy forces in Donbas without access to adequate support and vulnerable to offensive operations. Russia has not yet articulated any clear political objectives or demands, making it impossible to determine on what negotiated basis the looming conflict might be resolved. Putin may be seeking to trigger a political crisis in Kyiv designed to topple Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The situation for now, however, is moving clearly in the direction of open conflict between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Donbas or elsewhere in Ukraine.
Russia began rapidly moving forces into Crimea and the Black Sea on 11 AUG:
The Ukrainian Armed forces claimed that Russian troops stationed along the de-facto Ukraine-Crimea border have been reinforced by additional men and vehicles and have begun digging trenches.
There have been reports of Russian convoys moving through Kerch at the crossing point between Russian and Crimea, in Krasnodar, and moving north through Krymsk towards Crimea.
Bastion-P coastal defense systems were spotted heading towards Crimea from Russia.
Russia announced that the Black Sea Fleet will hold drills in the Black Sea from 11-13 AUG (warning: link to .RU site).
Russian naval and air units have been reported entering the Black Sea.
Russia continued efforts to disrupt internet access in northern Crimea.
Russia has been engaged in a steady buildup around Ukraine:
Russia escalated its military buildup on Ukraine’s northern, eastern, and southern borders in August.
The Moldovan Foreign Ministry strongly condemned aggressive military exercises held on Ukraine’s western border with Russian regular forces and separatist troops in the pro-Russia separatist region of Transnistria on 08 AUG. (LINK: link to .md site.
Ukraine took steps to adjust to Russia’s redeployments as the international community examines the sides’ competing claims on 11 AUG:
Ukrainian troops are being deployed to the de-facto Crimean border and are on high alert.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is increasing the readiness of forces in Donbas and on the de-facto border with Crimea.
Ukrainian Naval Infantry and coastal artillery systems began live fire drills.
The UN Security Council is hosting an emergency meeting on Crimea.
U.S. and EU officials noted the lack of independent verification of Russia’s claims about the alleged 07-08 AUG infiltration.
Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine escalated rhetoric and offensive operations on 11 AUG in what may be an attempt to exploit Ukraine’s military focus on other fronts.
Leader of the pro-Russia Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko announced that the “terrorist state” of Ukraine is preparing an offensive against separatist forces in Donba
Separatist forces began to rapidly increase the intensity of their shelling of Ukrainian positions during the night of the AUG 11 near the key port city of Mariupol according to unconfirmed local sources.
Ukrainian intelligence reported that Russian paratroopers from the 331st parachute regiment rotated into frontline positions in Donetsk as Russia deployed additional artillery systems in Donbas.
TU-EGE-UK:160812:(13-AUG-16):Turkey, the Refugee Crisis and Brexit: Concerns and Opportunities for Greece
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 359, 12-Aug-16
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The unending refugee crisis, the failed Turkish coup and subsequent purge, and Brexit are all causing great apprehension in Athens. But these challenges might present new opportunities. Turkish tensions with the West highlight Greece’s status as the most responsible element in the eastern Mediterranean, which could bolster Greece’s relations with both the EU and the US. And European distraction over Brexit and its own refugee problem is emboldening Greece to take steps that run counter to both the EU and the IMF.
Greece continues to cope with a refugee crisis that refuses to end. More than a million refugees passed through it last year alone. This wave included citizens of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and even Albania. Of this total, 57,000 refugees remain in Greece, where they are being held in 60 makeshift camps set up by the government. These are in addition to previous waves of refugees from southeast Asia and Africa who are still in the country.
Some of last year’s refugees have returned to Turkey, in accordance with the agreement reached by Ankara and the EU. Since the attempted coup in Turkey, however, no refugees have returned from Greece to Turkey. The Greeks fear that following the abortive putsch, Turkey will cancel the agreement, which would result in yet more waves of refugees flooding into Greece. (Two million Syrian refugees still live in Turkey.)
Another possibility is that the Turkish government will lose control altogether, resulting in refugees roaming unchecked into Greek territory.
The failed coup, and President Erdoğan’s subsequent oppressive measures, shocked the many Greeks who desire normalization with Turkey. They hope for improvement in Ankara-EU relations because they believe such an improvement would favorably affect Greek-Turkish relations. The growing nationalism in Turkey and the purge Erdoğan is conducting are likely to impair rather than improve Ankara-EU relations, prompting great concern in Athens.
Despite their fears, the Greeks see some light at the end of the tunnel. The tension between Turkey and Europe, and to a lesser extent between Ankara and Washington, highlights the Greek position as the most responsible element in the eastern Mediterranean. This might lead to wider strategic cooperation between Greece and the US, in addition to further strengthening strategic ties among Greece, Israel and Egypt.
Greece also hopes the events in Turkey will positively affect its economy. As the only stable democracy in the region, Greece expects the EU to decrease its huge debt, accumulated through bailout schemes over the past six years. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has already initiated a campaign in this direction, calling on European leaders to “rise to the occasion and show the greatest display of solidarity.”
Tsipras aims to forge an alliance with other leaders in southeastern Europe in a bid to bolster Greece’s bid for debt restructuring. To explore these possibilities, Tsipras will visit Paris in late August and will try to arrange a regional summit in Athens in early September.
Another economic advantage for Greece might be a surge in tourism at Turkey’s expense, since many tourists might decide to opt for the Greek isles over Turkey following recent events.
Not surprisingly, Cyprus is also watching the events in Turkey very closely, particularly the further emergence of nationalism and autocracy. Greek-Turkish negotiations over Cyprus are again at a standstill, and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim recently warned Greek Cypriots that this is their last chance to reach a compromise. Such threats have been issued before, but this time, they sound especially alarming to Greek Cypriot ears.
The events in Turkey took place before the Greeks had had a chance to recover from Brexit and its possible consequences. Athens fears a European economic crisis that might affect debt reconstruction and future bailout programs. Increasing isolationist tendencies on the continent might also complicate future assistance to the “sick man of Europe.”
Another concern is the weakening of the British pound that resulted from Brexit, a condition that could hurt tourism to Greece. In 2015, 2.4 million British vacationers visited the Greek isles – about 10% of all tourists.
A further negative consequence of Brexit might be that many of the Greek citizens who work and study in Great Britain will be forced to return home if privileges offered to EU citizens are rescinded. In recent years, 400,000 young Greeks left home, many of them to work and study in Britain. No employment awaits them on their return.
In addition to these worries, Greece also fears that Brexit might reopen discussions on Grexit, both within Greece and throughout Europe.
The left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras and his right-wing coalition partner, Minister of Defense Panos Kammenos, are seeking new opportunities in the face of these fears and concerns. The Europeans are immersed in the Turkish crisis, Brexit and the refugee impasse and have almost completely lost interest in Greece – while continuing to finance its bailout schemes. The Greek government is trying to exploit European distraction.
Greece has taken two steps, for example, that sharply contradict the EU’s and the IMF’s demands. The Greek government agreed, as demanded by its creditors, to privatize the old airport area near Athens known as Ellinikon. This huge development project is supposed to produce billions of euros for government coffers. The Greek Ministry of Culture subsequently announced, however, that Ellinikon is an important archeological site, throwing the future of this privatization scheme into doubt.
The second instance involves the creditors’ demand, in addition to the privatization of government assets, that a reduction be made in the huge and ineffective public sector. Very little was done in this regard in recent years under several governments. The Tsipras government just announced that rather than reducing the public sector, it will instead hire 20,000 more employees.
These two steps are a direct challenge to the EU and the IMF. Since the bailout programs started six years ago, no Greek government has adopted policies such as these. These steps are believed to be an attempt by the Siriza party to attract potential supporters in case the government collapses and new elections are declared. Currently, most polls predict a Siriza defeat and a victory of the conservative right in the next elections.
The Australian 13-Aug-16
Prime Minister Theresa May has the task of negotiating the best possible EU exit deal for Britain.
Since the referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU I have received numerous telephone calls and emails from friends and colleagues who are EU nationals as well as from friends in America and Commonwealth countries who are genuinely mystified at the result. The Leave vote has been seen by them as a vote for xenophobia, racism, a “little Englander” mentality, withdrawal from the world stage and a rejection of Europe by Britain. In my judgment nothing could be further from the truth. Let me explain why.
Even for those who campaigned and voted for Leave, the result of the recent referendum was a great shock. It was a response to a single question, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” It did not fudge the issue and neither did the result: 48.1 per cent voted to remain, 51.9 per cent voted to leave. No post-Brexit planning had been done by either side, presumably because everyone thought Remain would win.
A number of those who voted Remain called for an immediate second referendum, refusing to accept the result. The decision by the people to leave the EU is more far-reaching than the two great watersheds of postwar British politics, the Attlee government of 1945, which introduced a comprehensive welfare state and the National Health Service, and nationalised whole sections of British industry, and the Thatcher government of 1979, which privatised state-owned industries, deregulated other areas of the economy, sold council houses to tenants and gave parents greater choice for their children, including in new kinds of schools.
In my judgment any attempt to undo the result of the referendum will be seen as a betrayal of the democratic process and a disdain by the political establishment of those who voted to leave because they think they know far better. This was a vote of no confidence in the Platonic guardians. As Nigel Lawson and others said in the two-day debate in the House of Lords (July 5), any attempt to undo the result will be political mayhem.
The EU is not working
In the first place the EU is not working. The euro as a common currency was set up because the euro area was what economists judged to be an “optimal currency area”. For the original six members (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg) this made sense as one could easily imagine free movement of labour and capital across their borders. Today the euro area is made up of 19 countries including such geographically dispersed and different countries as Finland, Greece, Iceland, Malta and Slovenia. Unemployment is low in Germany (4 per cent), Austria (6 per cent) and The Netherlands (6.5 per cent), but much higher in France (10 per cent), Italy (12 per cent), Portugal (12 per cent), Spain (20 per cent) and Greece (24 per cent). Unemployment in the UK, which is outside the euro, is 5 per cent.
The euro was set up as a monetary union but without a banking union, a fiscal union or a political union. When countries do not have the ability to devalue or revalue their currency because of shocks to their economies, the whole adjustment process is placed on domestic fiscal policy and changes in the level of wages, both of which are difficult to achieve in democracies.
Not only is the euro not working, neither is the Schengen Area, which comprises the 26 countries that have abolished passport and other types of control at their mutual borders. As a result of the migration crisis and terrorist attacks in Paris, seven of them (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden) have reintroduced controls on some or all of their borders, with five Schengen states erecting fences to keep out migrants. The free movement of labour is one of the EU’s four founding freedoms along with freedom of goods, services and capital.
A further aspect of the EU which is not working are traditional political parties. Because these have failed to respond to the aspirations of the citizens, there has been a growth in minority parties such as Alternative for Germany, UKIP, Front National (France) and Freedom Party (Austria), some of which have very unattractive and extremely right-wing, even fascist, elements.
As a political entity the EU has a weak common identity compared to a sovereign state. In the Lords debate, Norman Lamont, former chancellor of the exchequer, stated that “Europe is an entity without a demos, and thus it is without the potential for real democracy”.
The high unemployment in southern EU countries, the construction of fences by EU member states against other member states and the growth of minority political parties all suggest the EU is not working. These are not the result of peculiar British obsessions but are inherent in a EU driven by ever closer union. As it stands the EU in my judgment is not a sustainable political organisation and continued membership will involve us in fruitless debate.
The EU is a political project for “ever closer union”
Because the EU is not working it is in desperate need of reform. For most of its leaders and officials of the European Commission, reform means “ever closer union” between EU member states. This would result in more fiscal powers over tax and expenditure transferred from individual member-country governments to Brussels, targets set for numbers of migrants for each member state by Brussels rather than by themselves, and the creation of a European army and a defence force, publicised by the German government in a paper conveniently released following the British referendum.
“Ever closer union” requires a little more explanation. The European project started with the six founding member states in 1951 with the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community. Next came the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the Economic Community, then the Maastricht Treaty of 1993, which created the EU.
Through the European Communities Act of 1972, British courts are subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice based in Luxembourg. The increasingly active court’s decisions have a growing impact on British life. Britain entered the EU in 1973 with a promise from the then prime minister, Edward Heath, that it would have no implications for our national sovereignty. This was patently untrue as history has shown.
The EU is a political project that seeks to create a transnational state with a government, parliament, currency, supreme court, and a common foreign and defence policy. Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the project, said in the late 1940s that “there will be no peace in Europe if the states rebuild themselves on the basis of national sovereignty”.
The key to “ever closer union” is the EU’s acquis communautaire. This refers to the body of European treaties, directives, regulations, legal decisions and court judgments made since 1958 that take precedence over national laws. This must be accepted by all new member countries. No individual nation has the right to pass a law contradicting the acquis communautaire. New laws and regulations made in Brussels expand the acquis communautaire.
The irony, however, is that the recently released Attitudes Survey shows “ever closer union” is rejected by France (60 per cent), Italy (65 per cent), Germany (68 per cent), The Netherlands (73 per cent), Sweden (85 per cent) and Greece (86 per cent).
Regaining control of our affairs
The British choice to leave is a decision to regain the governance, law-making powers and control of our affairs. The greatest example of the benefits to be had from controlling our own affairs is the fact that we retain the pound sterling and are not a member of the euro area. This has allowed the pound to take some of the pressure when we have faced external shocks such as the financial crisis of 2008.
Another area not working for Britain is the Common Agricultural Policy. It consumes a high percentage of the EU budget, distorts trade, is one of the main areas of fraud in EU expenditures and overcompensates some countries, particularly France. Some agricultural subsidies maybe justified but not the CAP.
Regaining greater control of our affairs involves the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act, which makes UK law subordinate to EU law, and leaving the EU. Not only that but there is a huge amount of detailed law and regulation that need to be assessed. Some of it we will continue with, some of it we will scrap.
By asserting such control we will also be doing a favour to other EU countries. Increasingly over recent years Britain has been seen as a drag on further integration within the EU. We opted out of the euro and the Schengen Agreement. Any attempt to create a European army, navy and air force would encounter huge resistance from Britain. Without us the EU can decide far more quickly to move in the direction in which it wishes to travel.
Our medium-term future is better outside the EU
The way forward requires a new prime minister and a new cabinet, which we now have, to launch a comprehensive set of new policies for the economy.
The first priority is to negotiate an exit from the EU on the best possible terms. This means new trade agreements, a level playing field for financial regulation and control over immigration.
On trade we need to develop the best negotiating team we can. New Zealand has already offered help because we are short of negotiators. Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India are open to agreements. Former US trade negotiator Robert Zoellick has suggested that the North American Free Trade Area (US, Canada, Mexico) should offer Britain associate status. France, Italy, Germany and Sweden have large firms that export manufactured products to Britain and are desperate for continued access to our markets. There is no reason why this should not be matched by access to the single market for financial and other services.
We are a big player in the single market and there is every reason to think we can negotiate a reasonable outcome. If we are excluded from the single market we will be able to strike new trade deals in the world’s growth markets in the Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East, and with countries such as Indonesia, Mexico and The Philippines.
Given the result of the referendum, we cannot duck the issue of immigration. Continued immigration is essential for the British economy and for our public services. But following the Leave vote it is essential we have control over total numbers entering the UK and the freedom to admit the kind of economic migrants we choose.
We need a debate about criteria for asylum, tackling the problem of overstaying and removing those who are in Britain illegally. Our immigration system is too open to abuse. We need to create a consensus on all these issues. To suggest greater controls over immigration are impossible is an obvious starting negotiating position for the EU. To claim it is final is to rule out many possible trade-offs.
Next we need a coherent economic strategy that provides stability and reinvigorates enterprise economy. We need to boost enterprise. As Luke Johnson, a successful entrepreneur, says, “planning, employment law, environmental and energy legislation — all should be rigorously simplified”. Ex-chancellor George Osborne had already discarded his objective of a budget surplus by 2020, creating an opportunity for lower taxes on companies and increased infrastructure expenditure.
Reaching the Irish rate of 12.5 per cent is attractive; a 10 per cent corporation tax would be even better. Top of the list for increased infrastructure spending is London’s third airport, the Trans-Pennine railway, greater investment in the northern powerhouse and a house building program by local authorities and housing associations.
There are short-term economic costs to exit, with the possibility of uncertainty leading to reduced consumer and investment spending. The government urgently needs to show business that it means business, because business will not wait for the timetables of political parties or legislative assemblies. The fact that less than three weeks after the referendum we already had a new Prime Minister in Theresa May, who appointed her cabinet within days, has certainly helped to reduce uncertainty. It will take time to prove whether or not leaving the EU is successful. Both the Leave and Remain camps will be pushing their stories to show that it is either a success or a disaster. It will take a minimum of five years and probably 10 before a sensible judgment can be made.
The Leave vote and the losers from globalisation
The vote to leave touched a deep nerve in our society — something commented on by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the House of Lords. The vote was a judgment by people about the way that British society has developed over the past few decades: the growing divide between the rich and the rest, between winners and losers from globalisation; the rapid changes in our culture, which have left people confused and without a clear sense of identity; and a sense that modern Britain has become a two-class society with stagnant real incomes for lower-income earners, inadequate housing, high youth unemployment and millions of families without any ownership state in this society.
The vote therefore not only affects Brexit but is a wake-up call for us all. In this context — and most difficult of all — we need to set out how we can create a far more inclusive economy in which each family has a stake in our economic life. We need far more houses being built across all tenures: private ownership, housing associations and local authorities. We also need far more people being able to buy their own homes: 86 per cent would like to own their own home; at present only 62 per cent do so, the lowest level since 1985.
We need far more investment in training people for a digital world. We have 865,000 people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are NEETS — not in education, employment or training. Apprenticeship schemes, technical education and raising standards in schools are essential.
There are many challenges ahead in making Britain an even more dynamic enterprising economy and a fairer society. The Brexit vote has achieved exit from the EU. However the vote is also a wake-up call for all of us to face radical change in 21st-century capitalism.
What about the risks?
The three most serious risks from Brexit are the short-term economic cost, possible exclusion from the single market and Scotland voting for independence so as to rejoin the EU.
Because of the uncertainty and time associated with negotiating new trade agreements there are economic costs over the next 12 to 18 months. In view of the fact that we are consuming more than we are producing by running a balance of payments deficit, some fall in the pound has been a necessary adjustment. Some of the fall may have had a speculative element which may or may not turn out to be revalued. Already British stock markets have recovered.
Continued access to the single market would be the best outcome of the negotiations. If to remain in the single market we have to accept the freedom of EU citizens to live and work in Britain, we shall find ourselves outside. That is an inevitable conclusion of the referendum vote. We would then find ourselves in the same position as China and the US, Australia and India, some of which have increased their exports to the EU faster than we have. Exporters would face a protective tariff of on average 4 per cent; banks may find they can only trade in euro denominated instruments within the euro area.
The reception Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was given following the referendum made it clear that France and Spain would raise objections to Scotland being admitted to the EU because of the pressure they face from separatist movements by Basques and Catalans. Scotland would also lose the considerable net fiscal transfer it receives from Westminster, which, linked to a low and volatile oil price, makes it uncertain whether a vote for independence would in any event be successful.
There should be no risks for the three million or so EU nationals who had already settled in Britain before June 23, the day of the referendum vote. It’s quite outrageous that the government has not already made a clear commitment on the issues. These people should never be thought of as bargaining chips in the negotiations.
“A heart and a soul”
One final comment. The founders of the European movement, Konrad Adenauer, Jean Monnet, Alcide de Gasperi and Robert Schuman had a Christian conviction that underlay their politics. They were predominantly Catholic and their vision of Europe was based on Catholic social teaching, namely the dignity of each human being, the pursuit of the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity.
On November 5, 1990, Jacques Delors, three times president of the European Commission, the driving force for the creation of the euro and a devout Roman Catholic, made an appeal for the European Community to become a “real community” — not just a market but something that required a new “sense of belonging”, a European affectio societatis. We need, he said, for the EU to possess “a heart and soul”.
Just a year later he predicted that Europe could not succeed on the basis of legal expertise and know-how alone, adding: “If in the next 10 years we haven’t managed to give a soul to Europe, to give it spirituality and meaning, the game will be up … Today’s Europe lacks a heart and soul.” It was because Europe was not able to find a collective identity at a spiritual and national level that it was not able to make an appeal to Britain except on the basis of fear and scaremongering.
The Way Forward
- A vote for Brexit is not a vote of no confidence in Europe. I am proud of my European heritage and voted in the 1975 referendum to remain in the EEC. It is however a vote of no confidence in the EU becoming a superstate. For me Brexit is a platform for the revitalisation of the British economy and the implementation of policies to move us to a fairer society.
- Delors’s observation that the EU does not have “a heart and a soul” reflects the current reality. I doubt if it ever will. The heart and soul of Europe is to be found in the histories, languages and cultures of different countries and regions, not in concentrating more powers in the institutions of Brussels or in the artificial creation of a new flag, anthem and Europe day.
- Brexit may open up other possibilities, namely a recognition that Europe as a spiritual heritage is not dependent on political unity any more than the Western cultural heritage requires that all Western countries, from France to Canada to New Zealand, need to be members of one political entity.
- If the ideals of the founders of the European movement are to be realised, the EU must take a step back. The EU should become an organisation that facilitates “willing and active co-operation between independent sovereign states”. Containing nationalism is a worthy objective. Suppressing nationhood is damaging and counterproductive. Three areas of reform are crucial.
(a) One is the euro. Germany is the anchor state of the euro. Germany, France, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark look like an optimal currency area in that one can easily imagine free movement of people, goods, services and capital between these countries. Other EU countries should have the freedom to re-establish their currencies and, if so, peg them to the euro, but with an adjustable peg (as happened in the Bretton Woods system), such that under the rules they draw up they are to revalue and devalue their currencies when in disequilibrium. In any event, because of the problems of countries within the euro area that run fiscal and balance-of-payments deficits, the German electorate will not continue footing the bill to bail these countries out.
(b) The EU at present is a protected customs union. It must retreat from its protectionism in agriculture and services and become a genuine free-trade area. Europe must show to the world that it is open for business.
(c) At present EU member states have regained control of their borders in a highly unsatisfactory way. The process whereby countries regain control of their borders should be formalised, with free movement remaining an ideal, but meanwhile subject to appropriate controls to meet local circumstances.
In short, Brexit could prove to be the catalyst for a renewed Britain and a renewed Europe. The task is immense. We cannot determine Europe’s future but we can our own. We in these four countries that comprise the UK need to regain the self-belief that we can strike out on our own in a globalised world, building trade links throughout the world and revitalising our own enterprise economy, which in turn will provide a basis for a fairer and more equitable society. I firmly believe we can succeed, which is why I voted to leave the European Union.
Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach is an academic, a politician and a banker. He served as the head of the Downing Street Policy Unit in Margaret Thatcher’s administration, and was dean of the City University Business School prior to entering government. This is an edited extract from Quadrant — www.quadrant.org.au
RU-RCR:160807:(13-AUG-16):’Like Being A Slave’: Workers On Russia’s Bridge To Crimea Report Abuse, Deceit
Bridge is Russia’s top-priority infrastructure project.
At the end of July, construction worker Vyacheslav Abdullin quit his job and headed home on foot – a 600-kilometer trek from the Kerch Strait to his hometown in the Ural Mountains region of Russia.
After a month laboring on a project that President Vladimir Putin has made clear is extremely important to the Kremlin — a bridge linking Russia to the peninsula it seized from Ukraine in 2014 — Abdullin had nothing to show for his pains except harrowing stories of deception and abuse.
Working on the Kerch Strait Bridge “is really like being a slave,” Abdullin told RFE/RL.
“You can’t stand, and you can’t sit. Even if you have to wait half an hour for additional materials, if you are standing around, you will be fired. If you sit down, you are fired. You have to be doing something, even if you are just moving boards from one pile to another or tossing stones back and forth,” he said by phone from Zlatoust, a city near Chelyabinsk in the Urals. “You have to look busy all the time. If not, you are fired.”
The laborers were not allowed to take off their shirts in the hot summer sun, and sometimes they worked whole days without being given water to drink, Abdullin said.
He was not given any of the 47,000 rubles ($718) per month he was promised.
The Kerch Strait Bridge is Russia’s top-priority infrastructure project. At a cost of at least $4.5 billion, the 19-kilometer car-and-rail bridge will tie Russia to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Moscow annexed from Ukraine after sending in troops and staging a referendum dismissed as illegitimate by 100 countries in a UN vote.
INFOGRAPHIC: The Bridge To Crimea
Putin has claimed Crimea is “sacred” Russian land and displayed pride in taking control of the peninsula, a move that poisoned relations with Kyiv and the West but which he claims righted a historical injustice. He needs the bridge to improve access to Crimea, which is linked to mainland Ukraine but not to Russia, and to show that he is making it an integral part of the country.
During a visit to the construction site in March, Putin emphasized that the span must be completed by the end of 2018 — the year he could seek a fourth presidential term — and threatened “to hang” any manager who “fails to do the job.”
Nonetheless, Kremlin auditors estimated in June 2015 that two-thirds of the money allocated for the bridge over the preceding year was unaccounted for.
Abdullin’s story began last fall when his house in Zlatoust burned to the ground.
He, his wife, and their two children moved into a rented room, but were told they would have to move out by the end of August because of another renter – leaving him desperate for a way to make money to pay for a new place to live.
That’s when he saw a television advertisement from a company called Liberti, in the Russian city of Izhevsk, looking for workers to go to Kerch.
“I phoned them and asked about food and lodging and all that,” Abdullin said. “They told me that they pay 5,000 rubles ($77) a month for expenses, plus a cash salary of 47,000 rubles. They promised two meals a day, transportation there and back, work clothes, and a place to sleep. All of that was included.”
But when he got to the construction site and spoke with other workers, he heard a different story.
“Everything was deducted [from the salary],” he said.
The stories the Kerch Bridge workers tell are reminiscent of similar accounts from the construction sites for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, another prestige project for Putin.
According to Human Rights Watch, many of the estimated 70,000 migrant workers on those sites endured long hours, unpaid wages, and overcrowded accommodation.
Russia’s economy has deteriorated since then, hit by an oil-price collapse that began four months after the Sochi Games and the effects of sanctions imposed by the Western nations over its annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as the measures Moscow has taken in response.
Abdullin said there are workers from across Russia at the Kerch project, drawn there from depressed towns by promises of high wages.
“They come from far off because there is no work in the cities,” he said. “There were some who came and immediately understood what was going on and then took off again the next day — the ones who had money. But what were the guys who had no money supposed to do? Where do they go?”
‘Worse Than Animals’
Abdullin returned from Kerch with another man from Zlatoust, Aleksei Loginov, who told a similar story.
“They treat people very badly there. They don’t even consider them to be people. They treat them worse than animals,” he said. “All day, you can’t even sit down or take a smoke. There were no smoking breaks…. All 11 hours, you had to work, work, work. Without a break. If you sit down, you are fired. That’s how they treated people.”
Loginov recalled seeing one shift supervisor fire two men on the spot for allegedly “sawing crookedly.”
“They’ll fire you for nothing,” he said. “That’s how the whole Kerch Bridge project is built. They fire people and send them away without any pay. They are actually trying to break people because they know they are far from home and they don’t have the money to travel home.”
When one month of work was up and no money came their way, Abdullin and Loginov had enough. They caught the ferry to the village of Taman, on the Russian side of the strait, and started walking. They hitchhiked occasionally, slept in fields, and ate whatever food they could find.
“We ate corn and whatever else we could find,” Loginov said. “Cherries, apples.”
When he reached the village of Millerovo in Rostov Oblast, Loginov received a wire of train fare from his wife. Abdullin walked the rest of the way alone.
Abdullin, who remains in desperate need of money, still hopes to get his wages from the people at Liberti, even though his work contract and other documents were taken from him at the Kerch site. He plans to take his case to local prosecutors.
Loginov, on the other hand, just wants to forget the whole experience.
RFE/RL was not able to reach Liberti for comment. The only telephone number listed has been disconnected.
German business magazine says any Brexit deal will be blocked until Britain settles up. We examine whether the claim stands up
A German magazine has claimed the UK owes the EU €25bn (£21.2bn) in unpaid debts, its share of €200bn owed by all member states to the bloc, and that any Brexit deal will be blocked until London settles up. The report in Wirtschaftswoche quoted an anonymous EU official who said: “A deal with Great Britain is unimaginable if the British do not pay their outstanding debt.”
Is it true?
Like any divorce, splitting the money will not be easy. Neither European commission or UK government officials would confirm the €25bn figure, but unwinding Britain’s contributions to the EU budget will be more complicated than simply writing out a cheque.
Britain must pay EU membership dues until Brexit
Britain’s contributions to the EU budget were central to the success of the leave campaign. Brexiters such as Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart drove around the country in a red bus emblazoned with the slogan “We send the EU £350m a week”, ignoring the consensus among statistical experts that the figure was misleading. The true figure is about £136m a week.
The UK has voted to leave, but remains a member of the EU and will continue to pay into the common pot for several years. It is due to contribute £45.3bn between 2016 and 2020, the net total once the British rebate and payments to British farmers, scientists and regions have been stripped out.
If Theresa May fires the starting gun on EU divorce talks next year, the earliest possible moment under current thinking, the UK could be out by 2019. But the EU’s €960bn seven-year spending plan does not expire until 2020.
Some Brexiters might want to stop the cheques the day after the UK’s EU membership lapses, but that might not be so easy. David Cameron signed up to the seven-year budget plan in 2013. Other member states are unlikely to welcome the UK wriggling out of its commitments early.
Nor is it necessarily in the UK’s interests. “Possibly it makes sense to stay in the framework until 2020 when it runs out,” said Pawel Swidlicki, a policy analyst at Open Europe. In that case “local authorities, scientists, farmers – all the current recipients of EU funds – are guaranteed payments”. He points out that the UK could be paying into the EU until 2023, because of the time lag built into the budget.
It is this lag between “commitments” and “payments”, to use EU jargon, that will complicate the Brexit divorce.
The EU budget is like a credit card. The EU might agree, for example, to fund a university campus in Swansea or a motorway in Slovenia one year, but not pay the bill until months or years after the work is complete.
Maxing out the EU credit card
For years the EU has been agreeing to fund more projects – commitments – than it makes payments. By the end of 2015 the difference amounted to €218bn, up from €190bn the previous year. Essentially, the EU has maxed out its credit card in the last decade, after splurging on new motorways, airports and other shiny new infrastructure projects in central and eastern Europe.
The overspend rolls from one year into the next and is not seen as a problem in Brussels, but now the UK is leaving there has to be a reckoning.
You say debt, they say outstanding commitments
According to Wirtschaftswoche, the UK’s share of that “debt” amounts to €25bn.
A European commission spokeswoman said it was not possible to confirm the figure because there was no breakdown by member state. “Outstanding commitments are not debt. No member state has outstanding debts to the EU budget,” she said.
The British government has not confirmed the figure. A spokesperson said: “We are about to begin these negotiations and it would be wrong to set out unilateral positions in advance. Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it.”
The €25bn figure sounds like a back-of-the envelope calculation. The UK has an eighth of the EU population so could be liable for an eighth of the EU’s unpaid bills. It won’t be that simple, say EU sources who are familiar with far more elaborate formulas that take into account relative wealth. Poorer member states might also expect Britain to chip in more.
Swidlicki thinks budget negotiations could soon get quite fractious. The government will be under pressure from Brexiters to “bring back a chunk of EU funds”, while the EU side may demand payment to the common budget “if we are going to get a good deal on free-market access and free movement” he said.
In parallel, talks will be ongoing about the UK’s share of the EU’s €59bn pension liability, which guarantees income for 1,730 retired British officials as well as other nationalities.
All these issues are on the table, but it is too soon to tell what the final Brexit bill will be
The Guardian 09-Aug-16
Roderick Abbott, former ambassador to WTO, says Brussels is very unlikely to offer any concessions on freedom of movement
The UK could strike a trade deal with the European Union within two years but will struggle to win concessions on free movement of labour, according to one of Britain’s most experienced trade negotiators.
Roderick Abbott, a former EU ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, thinks the UK might conclude a trade deal with Brussels in 24 months – a faster timetable than estimated by some European leaders, who have warned of talks stretching on for five years or more.
Abbott spent four decades of his career immersed in trade policy. He told the Guardian that an UK-EU trade deal could be done in two years because negotiators would soon have to tackle the crucial question of how to balance access to the single market against the EU’s demand for free movement of people.
Analysis The facts about EU trade policy lost in the Brexit kerfuffle
Both sides of the referendum did little to explain the mechanics of EU trade policy and member states’ tug of war with Brussels
“It is likely to be damned difficult,” he said. “I don’t see how you can go beyond two years on that sort of thing, or else you are going to retire and say we can’t get anything.”
He doesn’t expect the EU to offer any concessions on free movement of people to keep Britain in the single market. “The EU is in my judgment not going to yield on the free movement of people, which matters very much to some of the newer member states.”
Countries such as Poland and Hungary “have got thousands of citizens working in the EU and therefore access to the single market really matters to them. But when things start who knows who will blink.”
After a decade in Whitehall as a trade specialist, Abbott began working at the European commission in May 1973, just a few months after the UK joined the then European Economic Community. He went on to become second in command to the EU trade commissioner at the time, Pascal Lamy, and had senior jobs at the WTO in Geneva.
The EU negotiates trade deals on behalf of all member states, leaving the British government scrambling to create a department from scratch after 43 years of outsourcing policy to Brussels.
The former trade official said the government faced an enormous task. “Not only is there a lot to do, but some of it has to be done reasonably quickly if you want to avoid a vacuum, which is not very good for the economy and trade.”
As well as negotiating a trade agreement and divorce settlement with the EU, the UK must re-establish its credentials in the WTO, where it is currently represented by the EU. The UK must also secure the 34 trade agreements negotiated with 60 countries that it takes advantage of as an EU member.
Leading Brexiters have promised to sign new trade deals. Before his appointment as secretary of state for Brexit, David Davis claimed it would be possible to negotiate deals worth more than the value of the EU single market within two years. His priorities include the US and China, as well as Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, India and Japan.
But Abbott said sophisticated trade deals with such countries would take far longer to negotiate. Offering a “charitable” interpretation, he saidDavis could have been thinking of the absolute zero-tariff deal on goods, meaning deals could be done more quickly. But as soon as negotiators focus on services, which make up 80% of the British economy, they would enter far more complex talks. He added that this type of “second-generation trade deal” focused on regulation would take much longer. Moreover, the UK is barred from signing any deals while it remains an EU member.
The government may struggle to have substantive talks with non-European countries while the outlines of a UK-EU deal remain murky. Michael Froman, the US trade representative, has said it is not possible to make progress on a trade deal with Britain without knowing more about the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Abbott thinks the UK is unlikely to be a top priority for the US, which is trying to nail down the controversial TTIP agreement before the president, Barack Obama, leaves office.
“In the trade world the size of the market – the number of people who are out there as consumers – that really counts. The UK is only 65 million and you don’t get the same priority even if you are a long-standing friend,” he said.
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 356, 09-Aug-16
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Precision-guided medium-range missiles, a relatively new technology, are beginning to proliferate in the Middle East. When they work as designed, they can deliver half a ton of high explosive to within meters of their targets. This means that for many targets, they are almost as effective as nuclear weapons. With their capacity to destroy capital facilities like power plants, the loss of only a few of which would severely harm Israel’s economy, they introduce a new way for Israel to decisively lose a war. Israel will have to get the difficult balance between offense and defense right before the next war or it may not have a second chance.
Throughout history, until 1945, a country was basically safe as long as no enemy army could invade and defeat its army. This basic strategic fact became obsolete with the invention of nuclear weapons, which could be thrown or delivered by plane over a defender’s undefeated army and kill hundreds of thousands of a defender’s population with a single warhead.
The first generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) was not accurate enough to present much of a threat to military or strategic targets. They could not reliably hit close enough to destroy an airfield. But large nuclear weapons, each with destructive effects measured in miles, combined with ICBMs whose accuracy was similarly measured, turned the focus of war thinking toward attacks on cities. This represented a new kind of war.
A special kind of “deterrence” thus became the central topic of strategic thinking: deterrence based on the threat of a retaliatory attack that hurts the country to be deterred, but doesn’t necessarily turn the balance of forces in the deterrer’s favor. This new style of deterrence says, “If you hit me, I will hit you back even if I have to do so in a way that does me no good. I will commit myself to hitting you, regardless of its effect on my situation, to stop you from hitting me first.”
This paper is a narrow analysis of strategic concepts in a historical context, omitting diplomatic and arms control considerations as well as several technical issues. Throughout history, countries have faced dangers other than those posed by military attack. And in a nuclear world, there are ways of protecting yourself other than through your own nuclear deterrence.
ICBMs eventually became accurate enough that smaller nuclear weapons could be used, but not so accurate that ballistic missiles without nuclear weapons could be a strategic threat.
More recently, however, technology driven by the computer revolution began to create a new strategic situation for the great powers. This technology controlled a warhead’s accuracy not by improving the precision of the missile’s launch, but by guiding the missile’s warhead as it approached its target.
“Terminal guidance,” as this technology is known, can enable warheads to be delivered over very long distances and to hit within meters of their aim-points. The launch does not have to be perfectly accurate if the final trajectory of the warhead is controlled by guidance that depends not on the initial trajectory of the missile but on equipment on the warhead.
To survive, a country has to make sure that it is not attacked by weapons that kill a large number of its citizens or that destroy so many critical pieces of infrastructure, like power plants, that its economy will be ruined. Precision-guided missiles make it possible to threaten decisive damage with a small number of non-nuclear weapons. They can have a strategic effect, in other words, that is comparable in important ways to that of nuclear weapons.
Terminal guidance technology (much of which is based on civilian technology) is now beginning to spread among smaller powers, including some that have not acquired nuclear weapons. Before now, few countries without nuclear weapons bought or built medium-range missiles, because the warheads those missiles could deliver were not destructive enough to justify the missiles’ cost. But even half a ton of high explosive, if delivered accurately, can kill a lot of people or destroy a strategic target.
That is, a precision-guided missile armed with a non-nuclear warhead can produce enough damage to justify its cost. It is reasonable to expect, therefore, that over the next twenty years or so, some smaller countries that do not possess medium-range missiles might acquire such missiles with terminal guidance. The future might reveal a world in which a number of countries – especially in the Middle East – are armed with precision-guided missiles.
Now, many countries participate in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which stipulates that they neither produce nor help others produce any missile that can deliver a half-ton payload over a distance beyond 300 km. Most countries seem to be observing this limitation. But until recently, the ineffectiveness of non-nuclear missiles meant that countries were not giving up anything useful by refraining from building them. As precision guidance technology spreads, it is unclear whether as many countries will continue to refrain from buying or building such weapons.
Up to now, the fundamental strategic situation was different for the great powers versus the less advanced countries. The less advanced countries lived in the traditional world in which they could only be militarily defeated by an enemy army invading their territory and defeating their army. The countries threatened by superpowers could have decisive damage inflicted on them by distant enemies leaping over their armies.
But if terminal guidance technology spreads to more countries (and possibly to terrorist groups), we will be living in a new world. Many governments will have to recognize that countries all over their region, or even those more distant, will have the ability to inflict decisive damage on them. On the other hand, at a reasonable cost, they themselves will be able to acquire the ability to inflict significant damage on distant enemies, either to deter attacks or for political benefit.
This prospect of a world containing many missile-armed countries, and perhaps missile-armed terror organizations, is distinctly unattractive. This is not only because of the bad effect such a scenario would have on political relationships and the prospects for peace. Limited missile forces, like those many small powers would be likely to possess, may not be effective unless they are fired first. There could be some trigger-happy regions in such a world.
Much attention has been given to the need to avoid becoming a world containing many small nuclear powers. But there is another possibility: that the world will contain many countries in possession of precision-guided missiles. These missiles can’t kill as many people as nuclear weapons can, but they can still produce many casualties and cause significant strategic damage.
The effects of precision-guided missiles are similar enough to those of nuclear weapons that if they became commonplace, the world’s strategic situation would change significantly from what it has been historically. A world of widespread precision-guided missiles is not as dangerous as a world containing many nuclear powers, but it would still be much more dangerous than the current world or the worlds of the past.
Israel has, unfortunately, been the first to enter this new world of precision-guided missiles. It faces at least two enemies that already have this capability, or are likely to have it within the next few years (Iran and Hezbollah). Someday, Hamas might also acquire such weapons.
For many years, long-range missiles were not a serious danger to Israel because they were not accurate. Without nuclear warheads attached, they could produce only limited damage. During the second Lebanon war, Israel was hit with some 4,000 missiles (mostly short-range rockets and mortars) but suffered only some 53 fatalities, including 44 civilians, and limited (but substantial) property damage.
Iran recently acquired the technologies that make very accurate medium-range missiles possible, and other regional powers may have done so as well. Iran is thought to have delivered missiles to Hezbollah that are designed to reach deep into Israel and deliver 500 kg of high explosive to within meters of their targets. We don’t know how well or how reliably these missiles work.
Accurate missiles make another kind of war possible because they create a new way that Israel can be defeated even if it wins the old forms of war. Consider the hypothetical possibility of a war with Hezbollah that results in Hezbollah ground forces being defeated so badly that other Lebanese are able to regain control of their country, and a large part of Lebanon’s infrastructure is destroyed. But at the same time, Israel could suffer thousands of civilian deaths, as well as the destruction of its main electric power plants, water desalination capabilities, international airport, and other critical infrastructure.
Two-thirds of Israel’s electricity is produced by only six power plants. The harm caused by the destruction of those six plants would be immense, although the degree of harm would depend on how fast they could be rebuilt and on how efficiently the electricity from smaller plants could be used. Similarly, the impact on Israel of the destruction of the country’s water desalination plants would depend on how efficiently other sources of water could be used. People would have enough water to drink as soon as the distribution system was working, but most irrigation might need to be stopped.
Nobody knows how badly life in Israel would be hurt by a small number of missiles destroying important structures. But the loss of electricity alone would be immensely damaging to Israel’s standard of living and its ability to maintain its economy. And Israel, unlike most countries, could expect little if any help from its neighbors.
The IDF’s effectiveness could also be sharply reduced by the destruction of key facilities. The military damage might be so great that Israel would be less able to defend its borders. Or the economic damage from a small number of missiles hitting cleverly chosen targets might be great enough to cause a significant fraction of Israelis and foreign investors to leave the country.
In other words, in this new kind of war, Israel can be fatally damaged even if it wins according to the tests and goals of the kinds of war with which the IDF has experience.
The IDF has much experience dealing with enemy missiles, but they were inaccurate. The experience therefore taught the wrong lessons for the new kind of war. The missiles of the past, and indeed most of the missiles currently facing Israel, were not accurate enough to do decisive damage.
Now that precision guidance technology has come to the region, the IDF, in addition to all its “normal” responsibilities, must make sure that no enemy can inflict a fatal blow against Israel with accurate short- or medium-range missiles carrying high explosives. Fewer than 20 or 30 missiles that succeed in exploding on target could be enough to produce a fatal blow in this new kind of war.
The IDF might therefore have to plan and organize very differently than it has in the past. This will be no small challenge, as it is very difficult for any big organization to change its conceptions to face a threat it has never seen in action.
If Hezbollah, or Hezbollah plus Hamas, is thought to have more precision-guided missiles than the IDF is confident that it can protect against, strong deterrence will limit Israel’s freedom of action. It could prevent Israel from making an attack, for example, on Iran’s nuclear forces.
While the IDF may recognize the new threat presented by accurate missiles, an adequate response to this threat could require a great deal of money. It is not clear that the Ministry of Defense is capable of moving large amounts of the budget from existing organizations to meet new threats, and the ministry has a long history of being extremely reluctant to use its money for defense.
Missile defense systems like Iron Dome and David’s Sling are recognized as potent ways of protecting the country from the threat of accurate missiles aimed at essential Israeli infrastructure. However, some will argue that increased missile defense would provide less protection against precision-guided missiles than offensive improvements that might increase deterrence and enhance Israel’s ability, in the air and on the ground, to prevent missiles from being launched.
The challenge to Israeli leadership will be to find the best balance between defense and offense and to overcome internal IDF resistance to moving budgets to implement that balance. There is good reason to fear that the IDF will not buy as much missile defense as will be needed to prevent the new kind of defeat.
Israel is not helpless before this new threat. Enemy missiles can be deterred, or destroyed on the ground, or stopped by missile defenses. And the amount of damage, particularly in terms of human casualties, caused by these missiles can be drastically reduced by civil defense.
But the battle between accurate missiles and the measures taken to protect against them is an almost wholly new part of the IDF’s task. It would be easy to fail to give it the attention it needs, and to fail to divert to it the resources it requires. But we cannot afford to use a first experience of the new kind of war to learn how to win the next time. We have to get it right the first time.
In the next war, the threat to the Israeli economy, and the number of Israelis who might be killed, by accurate Hezbollah missiles may require Israel to be able to end the war successfully in a very few days. Even six days might be too long. To do this, Israel might have to threaten to use, or to actually use, some precision-guided missiles of its own to compel Iran to stop Hezbollah from further attacks.
The revolution produced by the spreading technology of precision-guidance may well not be a revolution in Israel’s favor, even if it gives Israel some valuable weapons.
Dr. Max Singer, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is co-founder of the Washington-based Hudson Institute.
Jerusalem Post 10-Aug-16
“This is a very important process, which is expected to encourage international energy companies to invest in the natural gas market in Israel,” says Steinitz.
Israel’s economic waters are open for new natural gas and oil exploration, after a four-year freeze as members of the Petroleum Council, under the umbrella of the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry, decided at a meeting on Tuesday to resume the search for petroleum.
In the initial phase, 24 exploration blocks will be marketed in an international tender in hopes that energy companies will come search for more hydrocarbons in the depths of Israel’s Mediterranean.
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The Petroleum Council selected 24 blocks that have high potential to be geologically suitable for exploration, according to seismic and geological data, the Energy Ministry said. The size of each area is 400 square kilometers, and some of the blocks are located near existing large gas discoveries that were discovered at a depth of 1,500 to 1,800 meters.
“The recommendation of the council regarding the areas for natural gas and oil exploration in Israel’s economic waters is a significant and necessary step toward the development of the Israeli gas sector,” said Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz. “This is a very important process that is expected to encourage international energy companies to invest in the Israeli natural gas market.”
As per the recommendations of a strategic environmental survey conducted by the ministry, all of the blocks are located at least 7 km. from Israel’s coast. The Petroleum Council decided to open up the blocks for exploration based on an independent study recently performed for the ministry by an international consultancy firm, which revealed that some 6.6 billion barrels of oil and about 2,137 billion cubic meters of natural gas have yet to be discovered in Israel’s waters, according to the ministry.
Seismic and drilling data will be made available to all companies interested in performing individual examinations of the areas located within the new licenses, the ministry added.
UK-EU:160810:(13-AUG-16):Brexit RED LINES: European nations to unveil drastic demands ahead of Britain’s EU escape
The Express 10-Aug-16
Theresa May will have two years of talks before we are free from the bloc
According to the survey, which is based on views of ministries, government officials and policymakers, European leaders are laying down their own strict red lines for the Brexit talks.
As the UK prepares to regain controls of its borders and trade agreements, each country in the bloc has different priorities from the talks, including free movement, security and tourism.
The UK Government will engage in two years of talks with the bloc once Mrs May invokes Article 50 of the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty.
Several countries, including Germany, Portugal and the Czech Republic, have insisted that the UK adheres to rules on free movement of labour in return for access to the single market in goods and services.
Each country in the bloc has different demands from the talks
Only three other countries – Denmark, Austria and Bulgaria – share the UK’s concern over immigration.
A survey by the ConservativeHome website showed 69 per cent of people want a deal with the EU where the UK “does not remain a single market member, and immigration is subject to full control rather than a time-limited emergency brake.”
Eastern European nations may insist that the UK continues to pay the EU to maintain funds to their regions.
Luxembourg hopes that banks will invest there from London
Other challenges for the UK are the Irish government wants to prevent a hard border with Northern Ireland and Austria wants to stop the UK from awarding power subsidies for the Hinkley Point nuclear plant if it receives approval.
Baltic and eastern European states, meanwhile, are concerned about security threats from Russia.
Ireland still wants to give Britain as much access to the single market as possible.
52 per cent of people in the referendum voted for Brexit
Some of the EU members are hoping to profit from Brexit but Rome wants banks to move to Italy instead.
Greece wants to capitalise on Brexit for shipping jobs and Luxembourg wants to attract financial jobs from the City of London.
Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said: “After London, we are the first and obvious choice. We have already many British players in our country.
“And we have a lot of political stability and hence a lot of predictability. That’s what investors are looking for.”
Media Line MidEast Daily News 10-Aug-16
The deal is set to include more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment, worth $1.15 billion, according to the Pentagon. It will increase Saudi Arabia’s “interoperability with US forces and conveys US commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on its website. The arms sale comes as Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition in support of Yemeni forces loyal to the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who are trying to force Houthi forces, allied with Iran, from the capital, Sanaa. Human rights groups have said that many civilians have died in Saudi airstrikes. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the United Nations General Assembly in June to suspend Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council until the military coalition stops killing civilians in Yemen.
UK-IS:160810:(13-AUG-16):Boris the farmer: UK foreign secretary’s sister reveals his quiet past as Kibbutz volunteer
Russia Today 10-Aug-16
New UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, one of the frontmen of the Brexit campaign, got in touch with his Jewish heritage more than 30 years ago when he volunteered at a kibbutz in Israel, his sister has revealed.
The former London mayor has been a close ally with Israel throughout his political career, including calling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “lefty academics” during his trip to the Jewish state two years ago.
But the relationship started three decades ago during his first journey to the Holyland, when he volunteered at a collective farm (aka kibbutz) known as Kfar Hanassi in Galilee with his sister Rachel, according to Haaretz.
What started as a left-wing idea evolved into a billion dollar industry where tourists can volunteer on the farms, which account for nine percent of Israel’s industrial output.
Rachel Johnson was on a gap year before heading to join her brother at Oxford University when they both went to Israel in the summer of 1984.
“It was all very rudimentary,” she said. “I played the shiksa princess card and went straight to the work coordinator and said, there was no way I was going to be cleaning men’s toilets on my holiday. But Boris was amazing. I have to hand it to him. He didn’t complain at all.”
The siblings have Jewish ancestry on their mother’s side with their maternal great-grandfather being a rabbi from Lithuania.
Johnson’s anti-BDS comments during his last visit resulted in a ban from visiting Palestinian charities in the West Bank.
One of those charities, the Sharek Youth Forum, told the Independent Johnson’s “disrespectful” comments were not welcome in Palestine.
“It is our conclusion, supported by the Palestinian youth that we represent, that he consciously denies the reality of the occupation that continues to oppress them and all Palestinians,” a spokesperson said.
MSA-US:160808:(13-AUG-16):U.S. State Department Approves Potential $1.15b Sale of 130 Abrams Battle Tanks, 20 Armored Recovery Vehicles to Saudi Arabia
The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment, worth about $1.15 billion, to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for M1A2S Saudi Abrams Main Battle Tanks and M88Al/A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (HERCULES) Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV), equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $1.15 billion,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic regional partner which has been and continues to be a leading contributor of political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. This sale will increase the Royal Saudi Land Force’s (RSLF) interoperability with U.S. forces and conveys U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” the DSCA said.
The last sale requested by the DSCA and approved by the State Department was in February, when the agency approved $200 million in support services for Saudi Arabia. Just before that, the DSCA approved a possible sale of MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System Block 1B Baseline 2 Kits, equipment, training, and logistics support at an estimated cost of $154.9 million.
In June, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosted Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The two leaders and other defense officials from both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia met “for a series of constructive meetings and briefings,” the Pentagon said in a readout. “The Secretary thanked Deputy Crown Prince bin Salman for Saudi Arabia’s close partnership and reaffirmed their strong relationship.”
UK-EU:160812:(13-AUG-16):It was worth it!’ Greenland’s ‘simple’ exit from Europe ‘proved doomsday prophets wrong’
The Express 12-Aug-16
BREXIT could provide a boost to Britain’s economy that would shatter the warnings of “doomsday prophets”, a veteran of negotiations to cut ties with Brussels has suggested.
Brexit will be ‘worth it’ according to Danish ministers
Lars-Emil Johansen, who helped lead Greenland out of the European Economic Community in 1985, has intervened in the debate about the UK’s European future to paint a positive vision of life outside the European bloc.
He recalled that quitting the EEC – the forerunner to today’s EU – had provoked a political storm but was followed by economic growth once Greenland was free of Brussels.
Mr Johansen, a former prime minister of Greenland and current chairman of its parliament, recalled the negotiations in an interview with the financial news agency Bloomberg earlier this week.
Mr Johansen said: “It was a huge deal for domestic politics in Greenland.
“The doomsday prophets said that Greenland could never get an exit deal that would be as beneficial as the conditions under EC membership.”
But Greenland’s economy then expanded in the years following the exit, “proving doomsday prophets wrong,” Mr Johansen said.
Greenland is a self-ruling autonomous island that is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. It joined the EEC as part of Denmark in 1973 but voted to quit the bloc in a referendum in 1982.
Mr Johansen recalled that the three-year exit was a drawn-out and politically fraught process.
“We had to do a lot of waiting,” he told Bloomberg.
He recalled that a massive political row erupted after two years of exit negotiations.
An exit deal negotiated by his government came “under attack by a broad part of the population who thought we sold ourselves too cheaply for our fishing rights”, he said.
But once Greenland had left the bloc, the economy expanded and opponents were proved wrong, he said.
A former Danish politician involved in the Greenland exit negotiations told Bloomberg that leaving the European bloc could be a lengthy and complicated process.
Former Danish foreign minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen warned that Britain’s departure from the EU would be far more complicated that Greenland’s exit from the EEC.
“Negotiating Greenland’s exit was a fairly simple task that resulted in a relatively simple and easy to understand protocol,” Mr Ellemann-Jensen, 74, said.
“That took three years. Britain will take much longer. It’s impossible to say how long.”
He said there were few similarities between Britain and Greenland, which had a population of just 56,000 and a gross domestic product of about 2.5billion US dollars at the time it quit the EEC.
“Basically, the British need to take time to understand what an enormous task they took upon themselves,” Mr Ellemann-Jensen said.
“Asking for a Brexit” and expecting it to be “clear-cut” simply “can’t happen,” he said.
He thought both the UK and the EU had mutual interests in agreeing a positive new deal, however.
“Everybody knew Greenland was strategically important and the Europeans needed to make a deal that kept the Greenlanders happy,” he said.
“The UK and Europe remain crucial to their mutual security, so neither has any interest in Britain drifting too far off to sea.”
His warning came as warnings grew of a threat to British pension funds resulting from a series of measures introduced by the Bank of England following the referendum Brexit vote.
A former pensions minister yesterday called for an inquiry into the impact on the economy of the bank’s £70billion bond-buying plan.
Baroness Altman, who was pensions minister under David Cameron, said: “The bank wants to stimulate the economy by bringing down interest rates, but the bank is not acknowledging the negative impact these measures are having on pension deficits, and neither is the Government.”
RU-RGR-RUK:160813:(13-AUG-16):Tensions in Crimea. The cruellest month. A worrying spat between Russia and Ukraine
IN RUSSIA, history tends to take cruel turns in August. There was the failed coup of 1991 (August 19th); the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999 (August 31st); and the start of the war in Georgia in 2008 (August 1st). On August 10th, the alarm bells rang again, when Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that it had foiled a Ukrainian plot to launch a terror attack in Crimea. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, decried the Ukrainian authorities, declaring that Russia “would not let such things pass” and that further meetings in the Normandy peace format—involving Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France—were “senseless”. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, denied the claims, calling them “a pretext for more military threats against Ukraine.”
The heightened tensions in Crimea, the most ominous since Russia annexed the peninsula in early 2014, come amid mounting casualties in eastern Ukraine. The FSB said that two separate incidents took place: first, a raid on the terror cell that left one FSB officer dead and a Ukrainian intelligence officer in custody. Second, Russia accused Ukrainian forces of firing across the border into Crimea, allegedly killing one Russian soldier. Reports of Russian troop movements near the Crimean border earlier this week had led Ukraine to put its forces on high alert. On August 6th, Igor Plotnitsky, the head of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic, was the target of an assassination attempt that he blamed on Ukrainian forces (though internal power struggles are as likely to be the cause).
The timing of the spat is notable in light of upcoming elections in both America and Russia. American officials say that Barack Obama, America’s outgoing president, has made it clear that he wants progress on Ukraine before the end of his term. Victoria Nuland, the American State Department official responsible for Ukraine, has been in talks with Vladislav Surkov, a close confidant of Mr Putin. By rejecting the Normandy Four format, Mr Putin may be hoping to pressure Mr Obama into making the grand Yalta-style bargain he has long desired.
A re-run of the Ukrainian drama may also play well domestically ahead of Russia’s parliamentary elections on September 18th. As the country’s economic crisis grinds on, the looming vote has the Kremlin anxious. Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister, drew widespread criticism in May when he told a griping Crimean pensioner that “There’s no money, but hang in there—all the best to you!” While the war in Ukraine has largely disappeared from state media in recent months, its return to the headlines could provide a welcome distraction. Ukrainians have good reason to fear; more than 9,500 people have already been killed.
RU-MED:160813:(13-AUG-16):Maximum realism: Russian navy drills in Mediterranean & Caspian to simulate ‘full battle’ conditions
Russia Today 13-Aug-16
Russia’s naval force in the Mediterranean will begin a tactical drill to test its readiness on August 15, the Defense Ministry’s press-service reported on Thursday.
The group of 10 warships is planning to engage in live artillery and missile fire “under simulated battlefield conditions.” The force includes two fast attack guided missile craft, both armed with Kalibr-NK cruise missile complexes equipped with 8 missiles each.
The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. © Alexei Danichev Russian aircraft carrier to take part in Syria operation by October – source
Simultaneously, on August 15, a group of four attack guided missile craft (each armed with 8 Kalibr-NK cruise missiles) will be deployed in the southwestern part of the Caspian Sea to perform live artillery and missile strikes, the ministry says.
The warships are “fully combat ready” and capable of delivering strikes on targets inside Syria, according to Vladimir Komoedov, the head of the Russian State Duma’s Defense Committee and former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, as cited by Interfax.
On October 7, 2015, four Russian Navy warships in the Caspian Sea fired a total of 26 missiles at positions in Syria held by the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced. The missiles flew some 1,500 kilometers, changing route several times, and eliminated 11 targets.
On November 20, warships of Russia’s Caspian Fleet launched 18 cruise missiles at seven targets in the Syrian provinces of Raqqa, Idlib, and Aleppo. All of the targets were successfully hit.
On December 8, the Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine Rostov-on-Don launched 3M-54 Kalibr missiles from the Mediterranean that successfully eliminated two targets in Syria.
A military diplomatic source told TASS in early July that Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will head from the Barents Sea to Syria in October in order to carry out airstrikes on jihadists. It is set to remain in the Mediterranean until at least January of 2017.
The heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser will reportedly have 15 Sukhoi Su-33 all-weather air superiority fighters and Mikoyan MiG-29K/KUB multirole fighters onboard, as well as more than 10 Kamov Ka-52K, Ka-27, and Ka-31 helicopters.
Russia has submitted to Turkey its road map for building the Turkish Stream project, energy minister Alexander Novak told Russia 24 TV channel. The aim is to sign an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) in October, he said.
“We have already prepared a road map – a detailed plan and schedule of events for construction of infrastructure and submitted it to the Turkish side. In the near future we will work out this issue with them to sign this road map,” he said. The plan is to start work on the first 15.75bn m³/yr string of the Black Sea pipeline project as soon as all required permits are received. He added that the sides have agreed to create a working group to build the Turkish Stream.
A working group will prepare and negotiate the draft of the intergovernmental agreement on construction of at least one string along the Black Sea bed to Turkey with possible expansion of a second string. The first string could be built in the second half of 2019. Further strings remain possibilities.
The Turkish Stream project was announced by the Russian government as replacement of the South Stream on December 1, 2014. It was planned that the offshore section of the Turkish Stream will have four equal strings and 660 km of the line will be a part of the old South Stream corridor. The remaining 250 km will be built towards the European part of Turkey, reported Tass agency.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin said there were no doubts that Turkish Stream will happen and work could start soon. He was speaking at a joint press conference with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan August 9.
Putin said that the second part of the Turkish Stream project relating to gas export to Europe would have to be negotiated with the European Commission.
UK-EU:160812:(13-AUG-16):EU NEEDS US This map shows British businesses are essential to the EU economy – even after Brexit
The Sun 12-Aug-16
Goods made in the UK form part of a ‘production line’ within the EU single market
EUROPEAN Union countries should still welcome Britain in the single market after Brexit because they rely on our goods, new research reveals.
Financial services company Credit Suisse has produced a European map showing which EU members buy the most-British made goods.
Credit Suisse has produced a map showing where British exports end up in Europe
In Credit Suisse’s map the dark blue segment of each pie chart is the proportion of UK imports that are consumed in that country and the rest are re-exported to other countries.
The percentage underneath the pie chart is that value as a percentage of that country’s GDP.
Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden are some of the biggest consumers.
The research shows instead of products being made in Britain and then sold in Europe, things we make here are now sometimes part of a production line.
And the final destination of something British-made may not be the EU.
Car doors made in Britain may end up in a factory in Germany or elsewhere as part of the EU production line
If this does not continue after Britain leaves the EU then it could be costly and expensive for the businesses which take our imports to find other suppliers.
Business Insider reports the example of a factory in Britain making a car door and it then being shipped to Germany where it would be attached to the full vehicle.
This car could then be sold on in Africa or somewhere else in the world.
According to Credit Suisse, industries like computers, mining and petrochemicals see more than 20% of their exports to the EU re-exported to other countries.
Italian government ministers have made a fresh call for a European army after Brexit in an op-ed for French daily, Le Monde on Thursday. The foreign and defence ministers, Paolo Gentiloni and Roberta Pinotti acknowledge that while Brexit will deprive the EU of “a member state with remarkable military capabilities, it does open up new prospects for a common [European] defence”.
The ministers cite the succession of deadly terrorist attacks in Europe and, remarkably, Brexit as justification for the re-emergence of claims for a common defence policy and believe such a move will “counter the populist drift” that is supposedly exploiting the security threat to peddle anti-European sentiment.
In describing what a common defence would entail, the op-ed curiously moves to reassure the public that this would not be about creating a ‘European army’ – a term that understandably fuels much anxiety in the minds of proud nationalists within their respective Member States – before defining what can only be described as a European army: a “multinational European force, whose tasks and mandate would be established jointly, and which would have a common command structure, decision-making mechanisms and budget”.
It is not for Britons to pontificate to the electorate of other European nations in the aftermath of the referendum, however it is safe to say, as pressure ramps up on Brussels to implement faster, more radical integration to combat the multitude of concerns currently facing mainland Europe, the majority of the UK electorate will be pleased to have voted to distance the UK from greater future political union.
British agriculture should welcome cutting the CAP, it spells opportunity for greater productivity and much more
Perhaps one of the most famous pieces of EU legislation is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It sets the framework for subsidies to be handed out across the agricultural sectors of the EU and also imposes regulation and quotas on farms.
As over 55% of farmers’ incomes are derived from the CAP direct payments, it is fairly hard to see why any of them would vote against it. However, when you dig a little deeper it is easy to see why so many farmers voted to leave the EU and therefore leave the CAP behind.
One of the major issues with the CAP is the ‘parameter’ used to award subsidies, their acreage. This means those with a large amount of unproductive land would receive twice as much as someone who owned half as much land, yet produced ten times as much food. The way the policy has been formulated also encourages farmers holding on to their land for too long – leaving their land fallow, but still drawing their CAP payment, their uncultivated fields effectively act as a pension.
Whilst the end of the CAP in the UK does mean the end of CAP subsidies, it does not necessarily mean the end of government payments to farmers. Even though Brussels hands over approximately £3bn to UK farming each year as a net contributor to the EU coffers, Britain will be able to continue supporting British agriculture after Brexit without spending more taxpayer cash.
But, under these circumstances, subsidies can be more intelligently distributed, in a more targeted manner that reward higher productivity and environmentally friendly practices. A new subsidy regime would also consider domestic demand for agricultural products so that, as a nation, we can become self-sufficient in the most vital of resources.
Young farmers will be hoping that however the subsidy is structured, it will dissuade older farmers from keeping fallow land, either by employing or selling their land to the industrious younger generations.
Aside from the subsidy, some are calling for the additional funding to be made available agricultural research and innovation to improve productivity and agri-environment schemes that promote sustainability.
Through a UK-focused farming policy, we will be able to embrace a more productive, sustainable and environmentally friendly way to farm. The end of the CAP spells opportunity for our farmers and also our farmland.
Catholic Culture 12-Aug-16
The German Catholic bishops’ conference has issued a report praising Martin Luther as a “teacher of the faith.”
The Reformation in Ecumenical Perspective, a document of over 200 pages, argues that the Protestant Reformation was too often seen by Catholics “in a negative, derogatory light.” The report– issued by Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg, the chairman of the German bishops’ ecumenical commission– praised Luther for his “concern for renewal in repentance and conversion.”
The document went on to welcome closer ties between Catholics and Protestants, pointing especially to a joint Catholic-Lutheran statement issued in 1980 and a later 1999 statement on the question of justification. While doctrinal differences remain, the report says, they should “no longer have a Church-dividing effect.”
Vatican Radio 13-Aug-16
Ukraine has put its troops on combat alert along the country’s de-facto borders with Crimea and separatist rebels in the east. The move comes amid escalating tensions with Russia and fears of an all-our war between the two neighbours. Russia earlier allegedly mobilized tens of thousands of troops to counter what it called Ukrainian saboteurs trying to enter the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula. Kiev claims Moscow is preparing a wider military campaign against Ukraine.
Listen to Stefan Bos’ report:
In a statement obtained by Vatican Radio, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry condemned what it called “another Kremlin-manufactured provocation.” The Ministry said it is “particularly concerned about the concentration of Russian weaponry, armaments and military forces” in what it described “as temporarily occupied territories in Crimea and Donbas in eastern Ukraine as well as along the Ukrainian-Russian border.”
The Ministry added that the Kremlin is “undertaking another hybrid special operation with the aim to justify its future aggressive actions against Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s United Nations Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko has told reporters that Russia already amassed tens of thousands of troops in the region. “We are talking all together about more than 40 thousand of Russian troops both inside Ukraine including Crimea, and very close to the Ukrainian border on the territory of Russia,” he said. “This is not a coincidence, these numbers may reflect some very bad intentions, and this is the last thing that we would like to happen.”
These actions prompted Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to put his troops on combat alert. The tensions began after Moscow accused his country of sending several groups of “saboteurs” to carry out attacks in Crimea and said that two Russians died while fending off their incursions.
Ukraine denies claim
Ukraine has denied the claim. Its U.N ambassador Yelchenko suggests that Moscow is lying about the alleged Ukrainian attacks. “If their allegations on what happened, this so called terrorist attempt of Ukraine across the border of Crimea, if it happened in reality, where are the proofs, statements, pictures, photos, videos or whatever. They are only words.”
Amid the escalating war of words, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that Russia could break diplomatic ties with Ukraine, something it didn’t even do after annexing Crimea or throwing its support behind separatist rebels in the east.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 following a hastily called referendum. A a conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces flared up in eastern Ukraine weeks later. That conflict in the east has killed more than 9,500 people and is still raging.
The United States and the NATO military alliance fear the tensions could lead to a wider military conflict and further undermine an already fragile peace process. However criticizing can be dangerous: A court in Russia-annexed Crimea has ruled that a noted Crimean Tatar activist, Ilmi Umerov, must be placed in a psychiatric clinic for examination after he condemned Russia’s control over the region.
And another court in Russia has refused to grant early release on parole to a Russian activist in the southern region of Krasnodar who was jailed on charges of propagating extremism and separatism via the Internet. Darya Polyudova was sentenced to two years in a minimum-security penal colony in December after she criticized Moscow online for its support of Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east.
ALS Pharmaceutical, one of the UK’s leading analytical testing laboratories, has welcomed the Growth Commission’s final report on the London-Stansted-Cambridgeshire corridor. “Brilliant timing of report outlines worldwide opportunities for UK’s life sciences.”
“These are very exciting times to be located in what is Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley” says Sharon Hanly, General Manager of ALS Pharmaceutical, who are based in Ely, Cambridgeshire. “The Growth Commission report launched in July makes the case for unleashing the potential of this major economic region, outlining a 20-year vision for the Corridor that would see it become one of the top “knowledge regions” in the world.”
The Corridor’s gross value added (GVA) has grown 6.1% since the recession compared with the UK average of 3.7% and its productivity is 16% higher than the national average. It is also host to some of the country’s fastest growing towns and cities, accounting for 10% of England’s population growth.
“Ely is just 16 miles from Cambridge, and we are delighted to be one of the knowledge intensive companies located close to the city” says Hanly.
Cambridge ranks as the top UK city for innovation, with 102 patents per 100,000 residents, more than the next seven best-performing cities put together.
“The Growth Commissioner says the region is already one of the most attractive locations in the UK for global investment in knowledge-based industries, and we know that from first-hand experience.” Explains Hanly. “We’ve recently benefited from a combined investment of over £5m into our Ely and Chatteris labs from our global parent, ALS. We’ve used that investment to expand our microbiology and chemical analysis services, adding also new stability trials chambers and a HEPA filtered laboratory. We have a great team of scientists, and we support many of the household names in the pharmaceutical, medical products and cosmetic industries, to help ensure their products meet the regulations required.”
“So this report is brilliant timing for us; firstly, because it outlines the worldwide opportunities for the UK’s life sciences industry and secondly, because it comes just weeks before we officially open our new state-of-the-art premises, when we are inviting clients – both current and potential – to come and see the future themselves.”
Some 5,000 state employees have been sacked and 77,000 suspended in the purge since last month’s failed coup in Turkey, the prime minister says.
Binali Yildirim told reporters in Ankara that more than 3,000 of those sacked were members of the military.
They are suspected of links to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, he said.
Announcing a visit to Turkey by US Vice-President Joe Biden, he again urged the US to extradite Mr Gulen.
The cleric, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, from where he runs a worldwide network of charities and schools.
He denies any knowledge of or involvement in Turkey’s first coup attempt since 1997, which left 270 people dead.
Who was behind the coup?
“The main element improving our relations with the US is the extradition of Gulen, where there is no room for negotiation,” Mr Yildirim was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
“Whether or not the anti-Americanism in Turkey will continue is also dependant on this.”
According to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the Turkish prime minister added that the US stance on extradition was “getting better”.
He said that since the coup attempt on 15-16 July, 76,597 civil servants had been suspended over links to the coup attempt, and 4,897 had been dismissed from their posts, bringing the total number to 81,974.
The coup plotters, he said, had their own “communication network of 50,000 people”.
Mr Yildirim said Mr Biden would visit Turkey on 24 August.
In another development, reported by Reuters, the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office sent a letter to the US authorities asking for the detention of Mr Gulen.
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