Reader’s Links for March 20 – 2016

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In order to preserve the flow of conversation about various posted items, and also in order to make it easier for visitors to find the list of related links being shared by other readers, regulars and interested parties in one place, each day a post is automatically created at a minute past midnight ET.

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Thank you all for those that take the effort to assist this site in keeping the public informed. Below, typically people can find the latest enemy propaganda, news items of related materials from multiple countries and languages, op-eds from many excellent sites who write on our topics, geopolitics and immigration issues and so on.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

55 Replies to “Reader’s Links for March 20 – 2016”

  1. Paris attacks: France boosts border checks after Abdeslam arrest (BBC, Mar 20, 2016)

    “France is sending more troops to its borders after the arrest in Belgium of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam.

    Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said they would join more than 5,000 police mobilised since the attacks.

    Interpol has urged increased border security saying suspects may seek to flee after Abdeslam’s arrest on Friday.

    Abdeslam, who had been on the run for four months, is co-operating with the authorities, his lawyer says.

    Belgium has charged Abdeslam with terrorism offences. He has decided to fight extradition to France, which could take up to three months.

    On Saturday, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Abdeslam had admitted he wanted to blow himself up during the Paris attacks on 13 November but then changed his mind.

    Abdeslam’s Belgian lawyer has said he plans to take legal action against Mr Molins for breaching the confidentiality of the investigation.

    Sven Mary told Belgian public broadcaster RTBF that Mr Molins’ comments at a news conference were “a violation… I cannot let it go unchallenged.”…”

  2. Migrant crisis: EU-Turkey deal comes into effect (BBC, Mar 20, 2016)

    “An EU-Turkey deal to tackle the migrant crisis has formally come into effect.

    Under the deal, migrants arriving in Greece are now expected to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or their claim is rejected.

    The influx of people crossing to Greek islands grew ahead of the deadline, and Greece said it would not be able to implement the deal immediately.

    On Sunday, volunteers on the Greek island of Lesbos were dealing with the first arrivals under the new regime.

    Just hours before the agreement came into force, a four-month-old baby girl drowned when a boat carrying migrants sank off the Turkish coast, Turkey’s Anadolu agency reported.

    The deal says that for every Syrian migrant sent back to Turkey, one Syrian already in Turkey will be resettled in the EU.

    However, there were still many doubts about the implementation of the agreement, including how the migrants would be sent back…”

  3. Turkey blames Islamic State for Istanbul bombing (BBC, Mar 20, 2016)

    “The suicide bomber who killed four people in Istanbul’s main shopping street belonged to so-called Islamic State (IS), the interior minister says.

    Efken Ala named the man as Mehmet Ozturk. He told reporters that five people had been questioned so far.

    Mr Ala announced a review of security measures and curfews in seven Turkish provinces.

    Three Israelis – two with Israeli-US nationality – and an Iranian died in the attack. Another 36 were injured.

    Eleven Israelis were among the injured. Two Irish citizens, one national each from Germany, Iceland, Dubai and Iran were also injured.

    The coffins of the Israeli nationals were being flown out on Sunday. The Israeli government advised its citizens to avoid Turkey.

    “We have determined that Mehmet Ozturk, born in 1992 in Gaziantep, carried out the heinous attack on Saturday in Istanbul,” Mr Ala told a news conference in the capital Ankara

    “It has been established that he is a member of Daesh,” he said using another name for IS.

    Turkey is part of the US-led coalition against IS and allows coalition planes to use its air base at Incirlik for raids on Iraq and Syria.

    It has been attacked by IS in the past – most recently in January when a suspected suicide attack in Istanbul killed 12 German tourists.”

  4. Up to 200 Men Attack Police in Cologne, Spark Investigation (abcnews, Mar 20, 2016)

    “German authorities are investigating after up to 200 men attacked police at Cologne’s main train station in what authorities called a “massive riot.”

    A spokesman for the federal police says fans of the German soccer club 1. FC Kaiserslautern threw fire extinguishers and metal bars at officers on Saturday afternoon, injuring two of them. Rail traffic was halted during the attack.

    Police spokesman Jens Floeren said Sunday the attackers were traveling home from Duesseldorf, where Kaiserslautern had lost a match. Floeren said alcohol may have played a role but “one can assume that a large share of them were proper hooligans.”

    Police are examining the video footage before pressing charges.

    Violence in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, blamed on foreigners, sparked outrage and a national debate about integration.”

  5. Bahrain urged to stop deporting citizens stripped of nationality (france24, Mar 20, 2016)

    “DUBAI (AFP) – Human Rights Watch called on Bahrain on Sunday to stop deporting citizens after stripping them of their nationality, two days before a hearing that could lead to the expulsion of another nine.

    Since February 21, the Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority kingdom has deported five people after revoking their citizenship and leaving them stateless, the New York-based watchdog said.

    Another nine risk the same fate if an appeals court on Tuesday upholds a 2012 ruling to rescind their nationality for allegedly causing “damage to security of the state”.

    “These unlawful deportations are ripping families apart and causing untold suffering,” HRW’s deputy Middle East director, Joe Stork, said.

    “Bahrain should stop the deportations immediately and restore citizenship to those who have been left stateless, especially when this was done without justification or because they criticised their government.”

    One of the nine who risk deportation after Tuesday’s appeals hearing, father of four Taimoor Karimi, told HRW he was concerned about being forced to another country away from his family and with no papers.

    “I am not a young man,” he said. “This does not make sense.”

    In December, a Bahraini court ruled that the authorities need not provide “specific means of proof” when revoking the citizenship of nationals who “cause harm to the state” or fail in their “duty of loyalty,” HRW said.

    The tiny but strategic Gulf country, which is home to the US Fifth Fleet, has been wracked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding political reform in 2011.

    In 2015, Bahraini authorities stripped 208 Bahrainis of their citizenship, HRW said.”

  6. UN staffers pull out of Western Sahara mission (france24, Mar 20, 2016)

    “Dozens of United Nations international staffers pulled out of their Western Sahara mission on Sunday after Morocco demanded they leave because of Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks about the disputed territory, Morocco’s state news agency and a source said.

    MAP state news agency said a “significant number” of UN staffers had left Laayoune airport in U.N. aircraft and commercial flights to Las Palmas in Spain.

    The source said 73 U.N. staffers had left, 10 would leave in the afternoon and one would remain for now.

    Rabat accused Ban earlier this month of no longer being neutral in the Western Sahara dispute.

    Morocco said he used the word “occupation” to describe its annexation of the region at the centre of a struggle since 1975, when Morocco took over from colonial power Spain.”

  7. ‘Civil war’ in UK govt as anti-EU minister who quit speaks out (france24, Mar 20, 2016)

    “LONDON (AFP) –
    A top British eurosceptic minister who quit over welfare cuts launched a damaging attack on Prime Minister David Cameron Sunday, exposing tensions within his government ahead of June’s referendum on EU membership.

    In his first interview since resigning Friday, Iain Duncan Smith accused Cameron of trying to reduce Britain’s budget deficit through benefit cuts which were unfairly hurting poorer voters while protecting older, richer ones.

    Duncan Smith, who last month became one of the most prominent Conservatives to say he would campaign against Cameron for Britain to leave the EU on June 23, denied his shock resignation was about Europe.

    But he admitted that Cameron and his finance minister and close ally George Osborne had stopped listening to him.

    “This is not some secondary attempt to attack the prime minister or about Europe,” Duncan Smith said in a BBC television interview, adding he quit because he was “losing that ability to influence events from the inside”.

    The resignation of Duncan Smith — a former Conservative leader often referred to simply by his three initials, IDS — is perhaps the biggest blow Cameron has suffered since being re-elected last year.

    It comes just three months ahead of the referendum on EU membership on June 23 which opinion polls suggest will be closely fought.

    In his resignation letter, he questioned whether Cameron was honouring his slogan that Britons were “all in this together”, despite deep austerity cuts including £1.3 billion (1.2 billion euros, $1.4 billion) axed from annual disability welfare.

    – ‘Maximum damage’ –

    Meanwhile, a furious Cameron called Duncan Smith a four-letter word in a phone call to discuss the resignation, describing him as “dishonourable”, the Mail on Sunday reported.

    Ministers in Cameron’s government argued publicly Sunday about whether Duncan Smith’s resignation was a principled stand against benefit cuts or a eurosceptic plot to undermine the premier.

    Pensions Minister Ros Altmann, who served under Duncan Smith, released a statement saying she was baffled by his decision to quit after Downing Street had already said it would rethink the cuts he was objecting to.

    “He seems to want to do maximum damage to the party leadership in order to further his campaign to try to get Britain to leave the EU,” she added.

    In response, three other ministers who worked closely with Duncan Smith, including another leading eurosceptic, Priti Patel, issued statements supporting him.

    David Laws, who served as a Liberal Democrat minister in the last coalition government under Cameron, told the BBC the implications of the current row were “huge”.

    “I hate to intrude into a civil war which is now dominating British politics,” he added.”

  8. EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece (reuters, Mar 20, 2016)

    “They waved, cheered and smiled, elated to have made it to Europe at dawn on Sunday in a packed blue rubber motor boat.

    The 50 or so refugees and migrants were among the first to arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos on day one after an EU deal with Turkey designed to close the route by which a million people crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece in 2015.

    Exhausted but relieved, the new arrivals wrapped their wet feet in thermal blankets as volunteers handed out dry clothes and supplies.

    Reuters witnesses saw three boats arrive within an hour in darkness in the early hours of Sunday. Two men were pulled out unconscious from one of the boats amid the screams of fellow passengers and were later pronounced dead.

    Twelve boats had arrived on the shoreline near the airport by 6 a.m. (0400 GMT), a police official said.

    Under the European Union deal with Turkey, all migrants and refugees, including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally by sea from Sunday will be sent back to Turkey once they are registered and their asylum claims have been processed.

    In return, the EU will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with more money, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

    Among the arrivals on the seaweed strewn beach on the south of Lesbos was Syrian Hussein Ali Muhammad, whose studies were interrupted after the war began. He said he wanted to go to Denmark to continue university. Asked if he was aware of the European decision, he said:….”

  9. Algerian army kills militants behind Krechba gas plant attack: source (reuters, Mar 20, 2016)

    “Algeria’s army has killed four militants authorities believe were responsible for Friday’s attack on the Krechba gas facility operated by state oil company Sonatrach with BP and Statoil, a security source said on Sunday.

    Al Qaeda’s North Africa branch claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on the gas plant in central Algeria that caused no casualties or damage. BP had initially said the plant had been shut down as a safety precaution, but a top Sonatrach source said on Sunday production was unaffected by the assault.

    “Output in Krechba’s site was not affected, and Sonatrach’s CEO visited the gas facility to support workers and encourage them to maintain production,” the Sonatrach source said on condition of anonymity.

    Algeria’s oil and gas facilities are heavily protected by the army, especially since Islamist militants killed 40 oil workers in an attack on the In Amenas gas plant near the Libyan border.

    An Algerian security source who also did not want to be identified told Reuters that four militants were killed and three others wounded by the army in the desert region of Ain Saleh, where Krechba is located….”

  10. Medieval barbarity in the heart of Britain: Hardline Muslims spill blood in their London mosque by flaying their skin with chains in a practice so extreme it is banned in Iran (dailymail, March 20, 2016)

    “Wielding blood-drenched chains with razor-sharp knives attached, a group of hardline Muslims flay the skin from their backs as a baying crowd looks on, chanting and beating their chests.

    With the force of each new sickening swing of the bladed instruments, more blood spatters through the air, landing on a plastic tarpaulin on the ground – and even on the faces of some of the audience.

    This ‘barbaric’ practice has been banned even in ultra-religious Iran by the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. However, these appalling scenes did not take place in Iran, Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East – but in suburban Britain, and partly on local council land….”

  11. U.S., allies conduct 16 strikes against Islamic State in Iraq – U.S. military (reuters, Mar 20, 2016)

    “The United States and its allies targeted Islamic State militants in Iraq with 16 strikes on Saturday, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

    Three of the strikes were near Hit, which has been heavily targeted in recent days, hitting two separate Islamic State tactical units and four tactical vehicles, it said.

    Additional strikes in Kisik and Mosul destroyed Islamic State tactical units and supply caches.

    No strike were reported in Syria.”

  12. Greece: Scuffles break out as Idomeni’s refugees try to secure aid

    Refugees climbed into the trucks attempting to secure cleaning products and food before the formal distribution started at the camp. Many refugees living in Idomeni have no or little access to water, electricity or proper sanitation systems.

    Around 14,000 refugees remain stranded at the camp near Idomeni, with Doctors Without Borders having warned that the health of the refugees at the makeshift camp is worsening since Macedonian authorities closed the country’s borders with Greece.

    • Kosovo PM says brother, other relatives, tried to migrate to EU

      Kosovo’s prime minister said on Sunday his brother and some nephews and nieces were among tens of thousands of Kosovars who tried to enter the European Union last year fleeing poverty and unrest in their homeland.

      More than a million migrants took the so-called Balkan corridor to western Europe in the past year, before countries along the route closed their borders.

      While most publicity has been given to those fleeing conflict in Syria or Iraq, Kosovo also saw its biggest exodus last year since the 1998-99 guerrilla war against Serbian rule.

      Confirming a report by Pristina-based news portal Insajderi, Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said his own brother Ragip was among those who had tried to get into the EU.

      “I read that my brother was an asylum seeker to get medical help. This is true,” Mustafa wrote on his Facebook page.

      “On the wave of migration, I want to be open with you, nieces and nephews also went but they are back now. This shows that my family members also face the same destiny as other citizens,” he said.

      The rise in Kosovars leaving their country followed a relaxation of travel rules allowing them to reach EU borders via Serbia and coincided with political turmoil and street unrest in Kosovo fueled by poverty, high unemployment and corruption.

      In the six months to March 2015, some 70,000 Kosovars – more than any other nationality – sought asylum in the European Union.

      Insajderi reported that Mustafa’s brother entered the EU through Hungary, before Budapest closed its border with Serbia late last year.

      Ragip Mustafa first applied for asylum in France and made another application in June 2015 in Germany, Insajderi said.

      Mustafa said his brother had surgery late last year in Tirana, the Albanian capital, for an undisclosed condition.

      “Now he is back in Pristina and his condition continues to be very grave,” he said.

      Mustafa said he was committed to easing visa requirements, attracting investment, creating jobs and improving health care so that fewer citizens sought medical help outside the country.

      The flow of Kosovo asylum seekers has dried up as Germany and other EU countries started to send Kosovars home, saying they did not meet requirements for refugee status.

      Up to 800,000 Kosovars are estimated to be already living and working in western Europe, mainly in Switzerland and Germany, as part of an exodus that began in the late 1990s.

      Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but the country of 1.8 million people remains one of the poorest states in Europe.

      The medical sector is in a miserable condition and those who want better medical treatment have to pay for private care in the region or in EU countries.


      Kosovo PM Isa Mustafa’s brother sought Germany asylum

      A brother of Kosovo’s prime minister joined the migrant exodus to Germany last year, it has been confirmed.

      PM Isa Mustafa says his brother Ragip was one of many Kosovo Albanians seeking asylum there last year.

      The prime minister said his brother had made the move because he needed treatment for a serious condition and that was not available in Kosovo.

      People from Albania and Kosovo were among the top five nationalities applying for asylum in Germany in 2015.

      Mr Mustafa confirmed a news report by investigative portal

      In his Facebook message, the prime minister also said that he had nephews and nieces who had also tried to seek asylum and came back to Kosovo – “sharing the fate of other poor citizens”

      This was an incentive for him to improve conditions in Kosovo.

      It is not clear what happened with Ragip Mustafa’s request. The prime minister said his brother had had an operation in Albania and was in ill health at home in Kosovo.

      A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

    • I just wonder what it is about this that people don’t get. Has it not touched them personally yet? When it does they will be in for a big surprise.
      If I told you that illegal immigration changed the entire trajectory of our family, would you believe me?

      • Yes I would, that has happened to many people in the US and the other western nations. This is what is driving the popularity of Trump and Cruz, they are both outsiders who want to secure the borders. Cruz is more conservative (by a long shot) then Trump but the US can survive a Trump Presidency especially if Cruz is picked for and accepts VP. This would insure that Curz will follow Trump as President.

        Trump will do things I don’t like as President but he is a Patriot who wants the US to be strong and to make us strong again an keep us strong he will do many of the things I want the next President to do.

  13. the guardian – Salah Abdeslam lawyer plans to sue over revelations of aborted suicide plan

    Barrister says reading out client statement about him backing out of plan to blow himself up in Paris was privacy violation

    Salah Abdeslam’s lawyer plans to sue French officials for violating his client’s privacy after they revealed that the 26-year-old had abandoned plans to blow himself up during the attacks on Paris last year.

    Paris prosecutor François Molins told a packed press conference that Abdeslam had confessed to his aborted suicide plan within hours of being taken into custody.

    The former tram driver is the only surviving member of the 10-strong jihadi squad that killed 130 people on 13 November. Security forces hope he could provide valuable information about their planning, logistics and support.

    “He wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and, I quote, backed out,” Molins told reporters in Paris, adding that people should treat Abdeslam’s initial statement with caution.

    Barrister Sven Mary said reading out Abdeslam’s statement to journalists was an abuse of the judicial process, which should be confidential at this stage.

    “This is an error that I cannot allow to pass,” Mary told Belgian national news channel RTBF. “Reading this out at a press conference is a violation.”

    Mary has already said he would seek to block Abdeslam’s extradition to France. It was not clear if the attempt to sue for violation of his privacy would be linked to those proceedings.

    French police suspected Abdeslam had aborted plans to become a suicide attacker long before his capture.

    An Isis statement about the evening’s bloodshed claimed an attack in the 18th arrondissement, where none took place, but investigators did find a suicide belt and car linked to Abdeslam. And when the extremist group produced a magazine spread celebrating the killers, they left Abdeslam out of their lineup of “martyrs”.

    Abdeslam fled France after the attacks, calling friends in Brussels to come and pick him up. After four months on the run, he was captured by police on Friday in Molenbeek, the district where he grew up, in an apartment just a few minutes walk from his family home.

    He will appear before a judge in Brussels on Wednesday, but Mary has indicated that he will not seek bail for his client, who has been charged “with participation in terrorist murder” and in the activities of a terrorist organisation.

    Abdeslam is being held in solitary confinement at a maximum security prison in the north-western city of Bruges. He is in an “individual and special safety” wing for people who pose an escape risk or for those with particular behavioural problems, a spokeswoman told AFP.

    • Paris attacks Muslim terrorist planning ‘something in Brussels’

      Brussels (AFP) – Detained Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam has told investigators he had been planning to target Brussels, Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders said on Sunday.

      “…he was ready to restart something in Brussels, and it may be the reality because we have found a lot weapons, heavy weapons, in the first investigations and we have found a new network around him in Brussels,” Reynders was quoted in a statement as saying at a panel discussion in Brussels.


  14. Germany: 1,000s march against racism at Berlin’s Carnival of Refugees

    Around 10,000 people took part in a protest rally at the ‘Carnival of Refugees’ during Berlin’s Global Action Day Against Racism on Sunday, to condemn racism and show their support for refugees.

  15. Paris attacks: terrifyingly fatal layers of resources and tactics

    Investigators found crates’ worth of disposable cellphones, used and discarded after being meticulously scoured of email data. All around Paris, they found traces of consistent and improved bomb-making materials. And they began sketching in the details of a multilayered terrorist attack that evaded detection or prevention until much too late.

    In the immediate aftermath of the Paris terror attacks on November 13th, French investigators came face to face with the reality that they had missed the signs that the Islamic State was able to mount large and sophisticated international terrorist strikes.

    Now, the arrest on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, the man investigators believe was the attacks’ logistics chief, offers a crucial opportunity to address the many unanswered questions surrounding how they were planned. Abdeslam, who was transferred on Saturday from a hospital to the Belgian federal police headquarters for questioning, is believed to be the only direct participant in the attacks who is still alive.

    Much of what the authorities know is in a 55-page report compiled in the weeks after the attack by the French anti-terrorism police, presented privately to France’s interior ministry; a copy was recently obtained by the New York Times. While much about the Paris attacks has been learned from witnesses and others, the report has helped investigators in recent months come to a deeper understanding of the sophisticated nature of the attacks.

    • You know what? I’m not buying it. Within 36 hours of the attacks, police rolled up dozens of terrorists. Do you think they didn’t already know of them? Of course they did…
      It wasn’t PC to roll these terrorists up beforehand.
      That’s why the Paris massacre took place. French gov’t didn’t want to be seen as arresting Muslims.

      • You are both right, one reason for not arresting them is that they might, I repeat might not have committed any crimes before the attack. I know of several people in my home town that are known drug dealers, the police know they deal drugs but can’t get the evidence for an arrest. Another is that they are afraid to arrest a Moslem for a minor crime when that might spook the rest of the group. Remember that if they haven’t committed crimes or at least real big ones keeping them under surveillance lets you learn who a lot more potential terrorists are. This is how so many terror attacks are foiled.

        Yes in this case the calculated risk bet was lost and the cops and intel types are as upset (probably more then you are) over this. And yes some of the politicians are ordering the cops and intel types to lay off the Moslems. Stephen Coughlin’s being forced out of the military is an example that will stop some people from not obeying orders and others will remain in the police because even if they can’t do all that their job requires they can save some people. Then there are there are the other officers who are the whores for the pols and deserve being called every vile name you can think of.

  16. UK blue-chip firms told to stop reporting every quarter

    Britain’s biggest firms will no longer be under pressure to report every three months

    he UK’s biggest institutional investors are to demand FTSE 100 companies stop quarterly reporting as part of a radical shake-up of how shareholders interact with their investments.

    In an attempt to rebalance the relationship between investors and company boards, aimed at nurturing long-term thinking, the Investment Association is expected to set out a series of demands designed to get more out of the UK’s largest companies.

    The IA, whose members own approximately one third of the FTSE 100, will tell boards to move from spending time focused on three-monthly numbers to work on long-term strategy.

    The new diktat, one of a string of new measures to be announced, will essentially force companies in the FTSE 350 to comply or explain how quarterly reporting fits into their strategy. The IA will monitor those who fail to do so.

    The requirement will be one of 11 actions the group, whose members manage assets worth in excess of £5.5 trillion, is believed to be ready to set out as part of the launch of a landmark report later this week. The report is expected to be the most radical reshaping of big shareholders’ relations with the companies they invest in, and comes in the wake of the Kay Review and other studies designed to shift boards away from short-term targets.

  17. Thinker, soldier, business boss: many faces of Germany’s anti-immigrant AfD

    A car radiator repair boss, a longtime soldier and an economics professor – they are unlikely bedfellows leading the charge of an anti-immigration party that has come from nowhere to disrupt the cozy, stable world of German coalition government.

    Andre Poggenburg, Uwe Junge and Joerg Meuthen steered the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to big gains in three regional elections last weekend as voters disenchanted with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migrant policy turned to them in droves.

    It was partly a measure of success of the three-year-old party’s strategy of offering up leaders from diverse walks of life to woo voters across the social spectrum. Poggenburg who campaigned in a poor eastern state saw himself as championing the “non-academic”, for example, while Meuthen delighted in debating the finer points of the German constitution in the richer west.

  18. Iran’s leader says U.S. still hostile after nuclear deal

    DUBAI (Reuters) – The United States is still fundamentally hostile to Iran and its policies have undermined the benefits of sanctions relief, the Islamic Republic’s hardline leader said on Sunday, warning Iranians not to trust their old enemy.

    Ringing in a new Iranian year at a televised rally in the Shi’ite holy city of Mashhad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said fear of U.S. regulations was keeping big foreign companies, particularly in the financial sector, away from Iran.

    The uncompromising stance of Iran’s most senior figure poses a challenge to President Hassan Rouhani, the architect of last year’s nuclear deal who hopes to open Iran’s economy to the world.

    In keeping with the deal, many international sanctions on Iran were lifted in January. Since then foreign business delegations have flocked to Tehran and billions of dollars of deals have been signed.

    • US undermining Iran’s banks – Khamenei (BBC, Mar 20, 2016)

      “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has accused the US of seeking to undermine Iran’s banks.

      In a televised address marking Nowruz – the beginning of the Iranian new year – Mr Khamenei said the US was reneging on the West’s nuclear deal with Iran.

      The US imposed sanctions on Iranian companies and individuals in response to ballistic missile tests carried out after international sanctions were lifted as part of the deal.
      Iran carried out more tests in March.

      Iran says its missiles are for use solely as a conventional deterrent. It says it has ballistic missiles with a range of 2,000km (1,250 miles), which means they would be capable of reaching Israel and US military bases in the Middle East.

      Ayatollah Khamenei was speaking in the religious city of Mashdad on the first day of the Iranian new year.

      He said the US continued to use its position as a superpower to put pressure on Iran.

      “Our banking transactions in all Western countries – and other countries affected by them – face problems.” Mr Khamenei said, blaming the Americans for the problems faced by Iranian banks.

      And he complained contenders for the US presidency who had “competed to vilify Iran in their speeches” – which was “a sign of hostility”.

      • Iran: US attempting to restore its regional hegemony – Khamenei

        Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei stated that the USA “did not deliver on their pledges” promised in the Iranian nuclear deal, during an address to pilgrims in Mashhad, Sunday.

        Khamenei, who was speaking on the occasion of Nowroz, the Persian New Year, added that Iran’s “our banking restrictions are still facing problems and repatriation of our assets are facing problems.”

        “The US presidential candidates are vying with each other in inveighing against Iran. This is [proof of] enmity,” declared the Iranian leader, adding “they are moving in this direction in a bid to be able to reinstate their previous hegemony.”

        SOT, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iranian Supreme Leader (Farsi): “In the agreement we reached with the Americans on the nuclear issue, the Americans did not deliver on their pledges.”

        SOT, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iranian Supreme Leader (Farsi): “Today, all across Western countries and those who are under their impact, our banking restrictions are still facing problems and repatriation of our assets are facing problem.”

        SOT, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iranian Supreme Leader (Farsi): “The US presidential candidates are vying with each other in inveighing against Iran. This is [proof of] enmity.”

        SOT, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iranian Supreme Leader (Farsi): “They [the Americans] are moving in this direction in a bid to be able to reinstate their previous hegemony.”

  19. Indonesia ‘will ask Australia to take more refugees’ (BBC, Mar 20, 2016)

    “Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi is expected to raise the issue of refugee intake when she meets her Australian counterpart Julie Bishop.

    Ms Bishop is on an official visit to Indonesia from Sunday to Wednesday.

    Reports say Jakarta wants Australia to increase its asylum-seeker resettlement quota.

    In an interview with Fairfax, Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi also urged other nations to take more refugees.

    “Of course there is hope from Indonesia not only to Australia but to every country to be more receptive to these migrants who have been waiting for resettlement,” Ms Marsudi said.

    No asylum seekers are allowed to reach Australia’s territories by boat and those that do so are often turned back to Indonesia.

    Refugees are also taken to detention facilities in neighbouring Pacific countries.

    Asylum seekers often pay large sums to smugglers to travel to Australia by boat from Indonesia and hundreds have died making the dangerous journey.”

  20. Paris attacks: Suspect Salah Abdeslam ‘planned further attacks’ (BBC, Mar 20, 2016)

    “Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was preparing attacks in Brussels before he was arrested, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has suggested.

    Abdeslam is being interrogated in Belgium following his arrest in a dramatic raid in Brussels on Friday.
    Many weapons and a new terror network had been uncovered in the city, Mr Reynders told a foreign policy forum.

    The Paris attacks, claimed by so-called Islamic State (IS), left 130 people dead and dozens injured.
    Mr Reynders cited information that he said had come to light since Abdeslam’s arrest.

    “He was ready to restart something in Brussels,” he told the German Marshall Fund of the United States meeting in the city.

    “And it’s maybe the reality because we have found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons, in the first investigations and we have found a new network around him in Brussels.”

    Mr Reynders said the number of suspects had risen markedly since the November attacks.

    “We are sure for the moment we have found more than 30 people involved in the terrorist attacks in Paris, but we are sure there are others.”

    France has reinforced its border security and Interpol has warned that accomplices may try to flee across frontiers now that Abdeslam is in custody….”

  21. Some U.S. Marines on ground in Iraq to fight ISIS: U.S. military (reuters, Mar 20, 2016)

    “A detachment of U.S. Marines is on the ground in Iraq to support U.S. and coalition efforts against Islamic State, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

    A group of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, will add to the U.S. forces already in Iraq battling Islamic State, it said.

    The 26th MEU is currently deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, which covers the Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean.”

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