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- Europe endorses Brexit deal and urges UK MPs to back it
European Union leaders endorsed a hard-fought Brexit deal with Britain on Thursday, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces an uphill battle getting it through the British parliament. "It looks like we are very close to the final stretch," EU Council President Donald Tusk told reporters after the other 27 leaders approved the accord. If the deal is defeated, the prime minister is legally obliged to ask EU leaders to postpone Brexit for a third time -- breaking his vow to lead Britain out on October 31.
- Protests spread across Lebanon over proposed new taxes
Lebanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters in Beirut early Friday after they tried to push through security barriers around the government headquarters amid some of the largest demonstrations the country has seen in years. The protests erupted over the government's plan to impose new taxes during a severe economic crisis, with people taking their anger out on politicians they accuse of corruption and decades of mismanagement. People gathered near the government headquarters and parliament building where riot police were deployed, chanting: "Revolution!" and "Thieves!" — the latter a reference to widespread corruption in a country that has one of the highest debt loads in the world.
- Trump's Turkey deal hands power to Ankara and leaves Syrian Kurds for dead
Trump hails ceasefire and ‘safe zone’ on Turkey-Syria border as ‘great day for civilisation’ but few believe itTurkey-backed Syrian rebel fighters in the border town of Tal Abyad. The US-Turkey agreement calls for a 120-hour ceasefire in a “safe zone”. Photograph: Khalil Ashawi/ReutersThe deal agreed between the US and Turkey immediately achieved the priority objective of vice-president Mike Pence’s peace mission to Ankara: Donald Trump was able to claim victory on Twitter.The president had unwittingly alienated most of his own party over his acceptance of the Turkish invasion of north-eastern Syria, and was already in the midst of an impeachment battle.So when the talks were over in Ankara, the president’s thumbs were hovering over his phone and he turned the usual hyperbole up to maximum. “This is a great day for civilisation,” he exulted. “People have been trying to make this ‘Deal’ for many years. Millions of lives will be saved.”The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also scored a quick win. The threat of US administration sanctions was suspended and his occupation of the Turkish-Syrian border zone was given an extra layer of respectability.Otherwise it was hard to pinpoint what the 13-point document produced in Ankara actually meant. It was agreed between Turkey and the US, which has withdrawn its troops from the contested area.Washington had been in touch with the actual combatants on the ground, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but appears to have sold them a completely different deal.The SDF commander, Mazloum Kobani, said he had agreed with the Americans that there would be a ceasefire in two areas about 100km apart, along the border where there was heavy fighting, Ras al-Ain, and Tal Abyad.“As far as he is concerned the ceasefire is only where there’s active fighting and he totally rejects the idea of any kind of withdrawal, any removal of heavy weapons,” said Charles Lister, a Syria expert at the Middle East Institute. “So everyone seems to be talking a different language, which can only spell more trouble.”The Ankara document envisages a 120-hour ceasefire in a “safe zone” that would be “primarily enforced by the Turkish armed forces”. The size of this “safe zone” is not defined. The phrase had been used to define a narrow strip of land along the border that was jointly patrolled by the Turks and US troops under an agreed joint security mechanism.Who is in control in north-eastern Syria?Until Turkey launched its offensive there on 9 October, the region was controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which comprises militia groups representing a range of ethnicities, though its backbone is Kurdish. Since the Turkish incursion, the SDF has lost much of its territory and appears to be losing its grip on key cities. On 13 October, Kurdish leaders agreed to allow Syrian regime forces to enter some cities to protect them from being captured by Turkey and its allies. The deal effectively hands over control of huge swathes of the region to Damascus.That leaves north-eastern Syria divided between Syrian regime forces, Syrian opposition militia and their Turkish allies, and areas still held by the SDF – for now.How did the SDF come to control the region?Before the SDF was formed in 2015, the Kurds had created their own militias who mobilised during the Syrian civil war to defend Kurdish cities and villages and carve out what they hoped would eventually at least become a semi-autonomous province. In late 2014, the Kurds were struggling to fend off an Islamic State siege of Kobane, a major city under their control. With US support, including arms and airstrikes, the Kurds managed to beat back Isis and went on to win a string of victories against the radical militant group. Along the way the fighters absorbed non-Kurdish groups, changed their name to the SDF and grew to include 60,000 soldiers.Why does Turkey oppose the Kurds?For years, Turkey has watched the growing ties between the US and SDF with alarm. Significant numbers of the Kurds in the SDF were also members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) that has fought an insurgency against the Turkish state for more than 35 years in which as many as 40,000 people have died. The PKK initially called for independence and now demands greater autonomy for Kurds inside Turkey.Turkey claims the PKK has continued to wage war on the Turkish state, even as it has assisted in the fight against Isis. The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US, the UK, Nato and others and this has proved awkward for the US and its allies, who have chosen to downplay the SDF’s links to the PKK, preferring to focus on their shared objective of defeating Isis. What are Turkey’s objectives on its southern border?Turkey aims firstly to push the SDF away from its border, creating a 20-mile (32km) buffer zone that would have been jointly patrolled by Turkish and US troops until Trump’s recent announcement that American soldiers would withdraw from the region.Erdoğan has also said he would seek to relocate more than 1 million Syrian refugees in this “safe zone”, both removing them from his country (where their presence has started to create a backlash) and complicating the demographic mix in what he fears could become an autonomous Kurdish state on his border.How would a Turkish incursion impact on Isis?Nearly 11,000 Isis fighters, including almost 2,000 foreigners, and tens of thousands of their wives and children, are being held in detention camps and hastily fortified prisons across north-eastern Syria.SDF leaders have warned they cannot guarantee the security of these prisoners if they are forced to redeploy their forces to the frontlines of a war against Turkey. They also fear Isis could use the chaos of war to mount attacks to free their fighters or reclaim territory. On 11 October, it was reported that at least five detained Isis fighters had escaped a prison in the region. Two days later, 750 foreign women affiliated to Isis and their children managed to break out of a secure annex in the Ain Issa camp for displaced people, according to SDF officials.It is unclear which detention sites the SDF still controls and the status of the prisoners inside.Michael SafiBy invading, Erdogan had swept that mechanism aside, but in Ankara, Pence allowed the Turks to hijack the terms to refer to their area of occupation. Ankara said it would stretch 440 km from the Euphrates river to the Iraqi border, and 32km (20 miles) deep into Syria, up to the M4 highway which runs east-west across the region. The Turkish foreign minister said that across that whole area, Kurdish forces would have to hand over their heavy arms and withdraw.That is a fair description of Erdogan’s maximalist war aims for his “Operation Peace Spring”. By explicitly accepting those terms, the US signalled acquiescence to the long-term Turkish aim of creating a buffer zone in north-eastern Syria, by removing much of the Kurdish population and resettling the area with Syrian Arab refugees.Colin Kahl, a former senior White House official in the Obama administration, who was extensively involved in dealing with the Kurds and Turkey, said he had assumed that the Turkish forces would aim to control just majority Arab areas in the north-east, but that this agreement suggested bigger ambitions.“If they really think they’re going to push the Kurds all the way back to behind the M4 highway, that’s, that’s a huge population transfer,” Kahl said. “It would involve massive ethnic cleansing essentially.”Turkey-Syria border mapIn hailing the deal, Trump not only adopted Turkish talking points but even seemed to embrace the language of ethnic cleansing.“They’ve had terrorists, they had a lot of people in there that they couldn’t have. They suffered a lot of loss of lives and they had to have it cleaned out,” the president said. “This outcome is something they’ve been trying to get for 10 years.”So when Trump had boasted “people have been trying to make this ‘deal’ for many years”, the people he was talking about were Erdoğan and his military leadership. Until now no one was prepared to give them deal. Certainly not the Kurds who live there.Pence claimed the US would work with the YPG (the dominant Kurdish element within the SDF) to carry out an “orderly withdrawal” from the 32km zone. He even said it was already under way on Thursday evening. But the YPG showed no readiness to surrender that territory.Trump’s “great day for civilisation” may not last very much longer than a day or two at best. For its part the US Senate seemed particularly unconvinced.The Republican senator and usual Trump loyalist Marco Rubio said on Twitter that it “doesn’t appear the ‘ceasefire’ signals change in Erdogan’s goal. He still plans to rid area of Kurds and create a ‘security zone’, but it’s giving Kurds an ultimatum: they can leave voluntarily or leave dead.”The Democratic senator Chris Murphy was even more blunt. “Let’s be clear: this essentially gives Erdoğan everything he wants – it ratifies a Turkish takeover of a huge swath of the country and calls on the Kurds to abandon their territory or else the slaughter will continue,” Murphy said. “This isn’t a diplomatic victory – it’s the capstone on Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds.”The choice of 120 hours for the length of ceasefire may not have been an accident. In five days Erdoğan is due to fly to Moscow to meet Putin. That is where the real outline of a settlement will be hammered out, argued Jennifer Cafarella, researcher director at the Institute for the Study of War. “So basically the threat of US sanctions will help Russia get a deal,” Cafarella wrote on Twitter. “Mazloum is likely betting that the negotiation between Russia and Turkey that will occur at the end of those five days will produce an outcome he can live with.”
- The Latest: Australia won't retrieve refugees in cease-fire
Australia has ruled out retrieving dozens of Australian women and children from refugee camps during the cease-fire in Syria. About 46 Australian women and children who fled Islamic State-held territory are being held at the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria. Eight Australian offspring of two slain Islamic State group fighters were removed from Syria in June, Australia's only organized repatriation from the conflict zone.
- Brexit concerns blowing a gale across nervy Falklands
It may be a remote archipelago 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometres) from mainland Britain but the Falkland Islands' incredible biodiversity, as well as fishing and meat exports, are under threat from Brexit. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government and the European Union squabbled over Brexit, conservationists in the Falklands -- a British overseas territory of 3,400 inhabitants -- were anxiously following events as they run the risk of losing significant EU funding.
- UN: September deadliest for civilians in Yemen but new hope
September was the deadliest month for civilians in war-torn Yemen this year but violence has lessened very recently and there are signs of hope, U.N. officials said Thursday. "These are small signs perhaps in a frightening season but something for us to nurture," Griffiths said by video from the Saudi capital Riyadh.
- US hails Turkish cease-fire; Kurds must vacate border area
The U.S. and Turkey agreed Thursday to a cease-fire in the Turks' deadly attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, requiring the Kurds to vacate the area in an arrangement that largely solidifies Turkey's position and aims in the weeklong conflict. After negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hailed the five-day cease-fire as the way to end the bloodshed caused by Turkey's invasion.
- Venezuela wins seat on UN rights body despite opposition
Venezuela won a contested election for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday despite a campaign by over 50 organizations and many countries opposed to Nicolas Maduro's government and its rights record. There was scattered applause in the General Assembly chamber when its president announced the results of the voting for two Latin American seats. Brazil topped the ballot with 153 votes, followed by Venezuela with 105 votes and late entry Costa Rica with 96 votes.
- Deal between US, Turkey spawns more questions than answers
President Donald Trump hailed it as a great day for civilization, but the agreement hammered out Thursday in Ankara between U.S. and Turkish leaders spawned more questions than answers. The deal calls for a five-day pause in fighting between Turkish and Kurdish fighters and puts at least a temporary halt to the battle along the Syrian border. It also gives the Turks the 20-mile-deep safe zone in Syria that leaders in Ankara have sought for months.
- The Latest: Romney: Abandoning Kurds 'a bloodstain' on US
The Utah senator took to the Senate floor Thursday to criticize Trump anew over his withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. Romney says removing U.S. troops who protected the Kurds "violates one of our most sacred duties.
- Congress Pushes Forward On Turkey Sanctions Despite Ceasefire
(Bloomberg) -- Republican and Democratic lawmakers vowed to move ahead with sanctions on Turkey despite the announcement by Vice President Mike Pence that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to temporarily halt hostilities in northern Syria.South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen said they welcomed the agreement but will continue urging their colleagues to sign on to the sanctions bill they introduced Thursday. That measure would sanction Turkish leaders, financial institutions and its energy sector, as well as prohibit any U.S. firms or individual from buying the country’s sovereign debt.Senators of both parties said the deal Pence outlined doesn’t do enough to protect the Kurds who fought with the U.S. against the Islamic State and have been targeted by Turkish forces seeking to occupy Syrian territory south of Turkey’s border.Graham said the deal was “encouraging,” but he doesn’t trust Erdogan.“We’re ready to come and hit Turkey hard if they don’t get out of Syria and reset the table,” Graham said. Referring to his sanctions proposal, he said he will “continue to get co-sponsors, but this sounds positive.”Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said he didn’t see Pence’s announcement as a win for the Kurds.“From what I understand it’s not a cease-fire,” Rubio said. “You have one hundred and x number of hours to get out of here before we kill you.”The Graham-Van Hollen measure is one of four bills that have been introduced in recent days to sanction Turkey for invading northern Syria. The Trump administration had imposed some sanctions on Turkey earlier this week, but Pence said those will be re-evaluated as part of Thursday’s deal with Erdogan.Speaking with reporters Thursday, Van Hollen said it is “within Turkey’s power” to avoid these sanctions by drawing back from Syrian territory that had been controlled by the Kurds.“We do not want these sanctions to have to go into effect,” Van Hollen said. However, he said that Congress will insist on punishing Turkey if it doesn’t change course.House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, who sponsored the bipartisan House sanctions bill, said his committee will continue with its work on penalties for Turkey.”I am glad there is a cease fire, it’s a good sign, but let’s see if it lasts,” Engel said. ”Last time I had confidence in Turkey was a long time ago.”House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer dismissed the deal with Turkey that Pence announced on Thursday. They said in a statement that Trump is “flailing” and said Erdogan has “given up nothing.”“Next week, the House will pass a strong, bipartisan sanctions package to work to reverse the humanitarian disaster that President Trump unleashed in Syria,” they said. “Our service members, our allies and our partners all suffering from the Syrian conflict deserve smart, strong and sane leadership from Washington.”Veto-Proof MajorityThe sanctions in the Graham-Van Hollen bill would be effective immediately upon enactment unless the Trump administration comes to Congress every 90 days to certify that Turkey is not operating unilaterally in Syria and has withdrawn its armed forces, including Turkish supported rebels, from areas it captured beginning on Oct. 9.The version of the bill introduced Thursday also includes sanctions on Halkbank and any other financial institution that “knowingly facilitated transactions” for Turkey’s military. The Trump administration has come under scrutiny for not fining Halkbank for its alleged involvement in a massive scheme to evade sanctions on Iran.The same version of the bill would have to pass the House and the Senate before going to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. There is strong bipartisan opposition to Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, but Senate leaders haven’t committed to bringing a sanctions bill to a vote.Graham said he thinks there is enough support for the legislation to win a veto-proof majority in the Senate.The House Foreign Affairs Committee bill doesn’t include the provision to sanction sovereign debt or that country’s energy sector. That proposal does include the Halkbank sanctions, as well as penalties on senior Turkish officials and the military.Both the House and Senate bills include penalties already mandated by a 2017 law that requires sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile.Additional ProposalsSeparately on Thursday, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch and ranking Democrat Bob Menendez introduced another sanctions proposal targeting Turkish leaders and people providing arms to Turkish forces in Syria. That bill includes the Halkbank sanction and would also direct Trump to oppose loans to Turkey from international finance institutions and review Turkey’s participation in NATO.The Graham-Van Hollen bill is the only one that would restrict purchases of Turkey’s sovereign debt, by directing that “the president shall prescribe regulations prohibiting any United States person from purchasing sovereign debt of the Government of Turkey.”The U.S. Treasury Department has been reluctant to sanction the sovereign debt of other countries, an option that was floated in 2014 to punish Russia, citing concerns that the impact would spill over into the global financial markets. Congress has proposed, but not passed, measures to sanction Russian sovereign debt.Timothy Ash, a strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London, said sanctioning sovereign debt would be “lights out for Turkey.” He said the penalties against Halkbank and other Turkish banks are “also pretty severe.”Ash said the bill could be “softened” as it goes through Congress, with some of the more severe provisions removed, but “the warning signal to Turkey is pretty stark.”Bipartisan RebukeIn a show of bipartisan opposition to Trump’s decision to pull troops out of northern Syria, the House Wednesday passed a mostly symbolic resolution by a 354-60 vote to disapprove of the U.S. withdrawal and call on Erdogan to “immediately cease unilateral military action” in the region.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he was encouraged by the House’s bipartisan vote and wants the Senate to pass an even stronger measure.McConnell said he wants a measure tougher than the version passed in the House, which he said doesn’t address the plight of the Sunni and Christian minority in the country and doesn’t take a stance on whether the U.S. should maintain a military presence in Syria.“My first preference is for something stronger than the House resolution,” he said. McConnell has not yet commented on the cease-fire Pence announced or the timing for a vote on sanctions legislation.\--With assistance from Laura Litvan.To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel Flatley in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Anna Edgerton in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at firstname.lastname@example.org, Joe SobczykFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Syrian Kurdish-led force says it will abide by cease-fire
The commander of Kurdish-led forces in Syria on Thursday said they will abide by a cease-fire agreement announced in Turkey by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Mazloum Abdi, speaking on Kurdish Ronahi TV, said the extent of the cease-fire stretches about 100 kilometers (60 miles) along the middle of the border — between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. "We hope that this cease fire will be successful, and we will do our best to make it successful," Abdi said Thursday, describing it as a "tentative agreement." Abdi is also known by his nom de guerre, Mazloum Kobani.
- 3 Trending Oil And Gas Stocks Amid Trade War, Middle East Tensions
With tension mounting in the world’s top oil producing region, oil and gas stocks have trended in interest and volatility in recent months. Regional turbulence has increased since the U.S. last year abandoned the Iran nuclear agreement and a civil war in Yemen became a proxy war between two regional powers, Iran and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest oil producer. Supply threats increase the price of crude, which is good for upstream oil production companies.
- Europe's Leaders Set to Clash Over Their Trillion-Euro Budget
(Bloomberg) -- After managing a united front over Brexit, divisions between European Union members will be laid bare on Friday when leaders gathered in Brussels will discuss how to plug the budget shortfall left by the U.K’s intended departure.The trillion euro ($1.1 trillion) seven-year budget is a cornerstone of EU policy that lets farmers compete against imports from the developing world, helps poorer states catch up with the rich ones and underpins projects that bind the union together. But agreeing on the amount of cash and how to spend it is a regular source of tension between the net contributors and those who get more than they put in.Britain, of course, was a net contributor. Now richer members are calling for the hole it eventually leaves to be covered by cuts in the budget for the 2021-2027 period. Poorer ones are calling for everyone else to increase their contributions.No One Is HappyThe spat is expected to keep leaders at loggerheads for months but at its heart it’s about a tiny amount of money when spread over the EU’s 450 million people: 0.1% of GDP. The bloc’s executive arm has proposed that member states commit around 1.1% to the joint budget, while net contributors want to cap that at 1%. Either way it’s not much more than they have put in previously.Finland, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has proposed 1.03% to 1.08%, according to an internal memo. The difference between those figures amounts to about 50 billion euros over seven years. Yet almost no one is happy, according to several diplomats following the issue.Leaders will try to make progress toward a compromise on Friday. They need to agree on a ceiling for the budget before discussing what to spend it on, and the conditions attached to the disbursement of cash.The EU is no stranger to fighting over small change.The 19 finance ministers representing the euro-area’s $19 trillion economy just completed a two-year negotiation over a separate budget worth less than 20 billion euros.\--With assistance from Viktoria Dendrinou, Milda Seputyte, Jan Bratanic, Aaron Eglitis and Lyubov Pronina.To contact the reporters on this story: Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at email@example.com;John Ainger in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at email@example.com, Ben Sills, Rosalind MathiesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Pence and Erdoğan agree on ceasefire plan but Kurds reject 'occupation'
* Mike Pence strikes deal with Turkish president in Ankara * Agreement appears to cement key Turkish objectivesThe Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has agreed with the US vice-president, Mike Pence, to suspend Ankara’s operation on Kurdish-led forces in north-east Syria for the next five days in order to allow Kurdish troops to withdraw, potentially halting the latest bloodshed in Syria’s long war.Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters would pull back from Turkey’s proposed 20-mile (32km) deep “safe zone” on its border, Pence told reporters in Ankara on Thursday evening after hours of meetings with Turkish officials.“It will be a pause for 120 hours while the US oversees the withdrawal of the YPG [a Kurdish unit within the SDF] … Once that is completed, Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire,” Pence said, adding that preparations were already underway.“Great news out of Turkey!” Donald Trump tweeted just before Pence spoke. “Millions of lives will be saved.”The arrangement, however, appeared to be a significant US embrace of Turkey’s position in the weeklong conflict, and did not publicly define the safe zone’s borders.General Mazloum Kobane of the SDF confirmed the ceasefire deal in comments to local television on Thursday night, but said it only applied to the area between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, both of which have seen heavy fighting.Damascus and Moscow, who have since also moved troops into the contested border zone, also had no immediate comment. Erdoğan is due to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Sochi on Tuesday, where it is expected more concrete talks on the size of Turkey’s planned buffer zone will take place.The initial plan was met with scepticism by many Syrian Kurds on Thursday night, as it gives the Turks what they had sought to achieve with the military operation in the first place: removal of Kurdish-led forces from the border.When asked, Pence remained silent on whether the agreement amounted to a second abandonment of the US’s former Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State.A statement released after the meeting reiterated the US understanding of Turkey’s need for a safe zone which will be “primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces” after the Kurdish withdrawal, implying that Ankara still intends to occupy the 270m (440km) stretch of land, which includes several important Kurdish towns and parts of a major highway.It also made no mention of the presence of Syrian government and Russian troops, who were invited to the area by the SDF to help defend against the Turkish attack, and are not bound by the terms of the US-Turkish agreement.“Our people did not want this war. We welcome the ceasefire, but we will defend ourselves in the event of any attack … Ceasefire is one thing and surrender is another thing, and we are ready to defend ourselves. We will not accept the occupation of northern Syria,” the Kurdish political leader Saleh Muslim told local television.Who is in control in north-eastern Syria?Until Turkey launched its offensive there on 9 October, the region was controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which comprises militia groups representing a range of ethnicities, though its backbone is Kurdish. Since the Turkish incursion, the SDF has lost much of its territory and appears to be losing its grip on key cities. On 13 October, Kurdish leaders agreed to allow Syrian regime forces to enter some cities to protect them from being captured by Turkey and its allies. The deal effectively hands over control of huge swathes of the region to Damascus.That leaves north-eastern Syria divided between Syrian regime forces, Syrian opposition militia and their Turkish allies, and areas still held by the SDF – for now.How did the SDF come to control the region?Before the SDF was formed in 2015, the Kurds had created their own militias who mobilised during the Syrian civil war to defend Kurdish cities and villages and carve out what they hoped would eventually at least become a semi-autonomous province. In late 2014, the Kurds were struggling to fend off an Islamic State siege of Kobane, a major city under their control. With US support, including arms and airstrikes, the Kurds managed to beat back Isis and went on to win a string of victories against the radical militant group. Along the way the fighters absorbed non-Kurdish groups, changed their name to the SDF and grew to include 60,000 soldiers.Why does Turkey oppose the Kurds?For years, Turkey has watched the growing ties between the US and SDF with alarm. Significant numbers of the Kurds in the SDF were also members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) that has fought an insurgency against the Turkish state for more than 35 years in which as many as 40,000 people have died. The PKK initially called for independence and now demands greater autonomy for Kurds inside Turkey.Turkey claims the PKK has continued to wage war on the Turkish state, even as it has assisted in the fight against Isis. The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US, the UK, Nato and others and this has proved awkward for the US and its allies, who have chosen to downplay the SDF’s links to the PKK, preferring to focus on their shared objective of defeating Isis. What are Turkey’s objectives on its southern border?Turkey aims firstly to push the SDF away from its border, creating a 20-mile (32km) buffer zone that would have been jointly patrolled by Turkish and US troops until Trump’s recent announcement that American soldiers would withdraw from the region.Erdoğan has also said he would seek to relocate more than 1 million Syrian refugees in this “safe zone”, both removing them from his country (where their presence has started to create a backlash) and complicating the demographic mix in what he fears could become an autonomous Kurdish state on his border.How would a Turkish incursion impact on Isis?Nearly 11,000 Isis fighters, including almost 2,000 foreigners, and tens of thousands of their wives and children, are being held in detention camps and hastily fortified prisons across north-eastern Syria.SDF leaders have warned they cannot guarantee the security of these prisoners if they are forced to redeploy their forces to the frontlines of a war against Turkey. They also fear Isis could use the chaos of war to mount attacks to free their fighters or reclaim territory. On 11 October, it was reported that at least five detained Isis fighters had escaped a prison in the region. Two days later, 750 foreign women affiliated to Isis and their children managed to break out of a secure annex in the Ain Issa camp for displaced people, according to SDF officials.It is unclear which detention sites the SDF still controls and the status of the prisoners inside.Michael Safi“We’ve previously stated that Turkey’s proposal of entering a depth of 30km inside Syrian territories is rejected,” Aldar Xelil, another senior political figure, was quoted by local media as saying after news of the Ankara agreement broke.The deal was “a great day for civilisation”, Trump told reporters before praising Erdoğan as “a hell of a leader.”Trump seemed to endorse Turkey’s aim of ridding the Syrian side of the border of the Kurdish fighters who fought Isis on behalf of the US – but who Ankara regards as proxies for the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) that has waged a 35-year insurgency against the Turkish state. “They had to have it cleaned out,” he told reporters.But the deal was condemned by Republican senator Mitt Romney, who said Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria “will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.”In Ras al-Ayn, one of the two border towns under attack by Turkey, warplanes and drones were still flying overhead and ground fighting between the SDF and Syrian rebels allied to Turkey continued.The US and Turkey have “mutually committed to peaceful resolution and future for the safe zone”, Pence said. In return, the US will not impose further sanctions on Turkey and remove those that were imposed last week once the permanent ceasefire takes hold.The letter from Trump to Erdoğan. Photograph: White House/ReutersThe senior US delegation had travelled to Ankara with the stated task of pressuring Turkey to halt its offensive in north-east Syria or face sanctions, hours after Donald Trump said his country had no stake in defending Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as the US’s partners against Isis.On Wednesday Trump hailed his decision to withdraw US troops in Syria, paving the way for the Turkish offensive, as “strategically brilliant”, declaring that the Kurds he had abandoned were “much safer now” and were anyway “not angels”.Syria mapHis remarks not only undercut the mission to Ankara but contradicted the official assessment of both the state and defence departments that the Turkish offensive was a disaster for regional stability and the fight against Isis.In two further extraordinary developments, a bizarre letter from Trump to Erdoğan emerged in which the US president warned his Turkish counterpart “don’t be a fool”, and a White House meeting with Democratic lawmakers descended into mutual accusations of “meltdowns”.The letter was sent on 9 October – three days after a phone call in which Erdoğan informed Trump of his plans, and understood the US president had given a green light. Trump issued a statement announcing the offensive was about to happen and that US troops would be moved out of the way. He also invited Erdoğan to the White House.Trump wrote: “History will look upon you favourably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”Nancy Pelosi confronts Donald Trump in the White House on Wednesday. Photograph: Twitter/@realDonaldTrumpOn the day the letter was received, Erdoğan launched his offensive to create a buffer zone between Turkey and territory held by the SDF.The Turkish president had insisted earlier on Wednesday he would “never declare a ceasefire”.While Erdoğan has faced global condemnation for the operation, it is broadly popular at home, and any pathway to de-escalation probably needed to avoid embarrassing him domestically.On Wednesday, two-thirds of House Republicans supported a resolution condemning Trump’s decision to withdraw troops.The vote triggered what the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, described as “a meltdown” by the president when she and other members of Congress visited him in the White House.Pelosi and other top Democrats said they walked out of a contentious White House meeting after it devolved into a series of insults and it became clear the president had no plan to deal with a potential revival of Isis in the Middle East.
- What next after UK, EU agree Brexit deal?
Britain and the European Union have struck a new Brexit accord but it is by no means a done deal, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has to get it through parliament. The House of Commons has rejected a previous divorce text three times, forcing Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, to delay Brexit twice. Leaders from the EU's 28 member states have signed off on the deal.
- Venezuela Wins a UN Human Rights Council Seat Despite Criticism
(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s government has faced accusations of widespread torture, extrajudicial killings and economic malpractice as the country with the world’s largest oil reserves struggles to import basic food and medicine. That didn’t stop it from winning a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday elected 14 new members to the 47-nation council. Seats are allotted according to regional groups, and Venezuela garnered 105 votes to win one of the two slots for Latin America despite fierce opposition from human rights groups and intense lobbying from the U.S., which pulled out of the council last year. It finished behind Brazil’s 153 votes and knocked out Costa Rica, which had 96.“Today’s election of the former Maduro regime in Venezuela to the UN Human Rights Council is an embarrassment to the United Nations and a tragedy for the people of Venezuela,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said. “I am personally aggrieved that 105 countries voted in favor of this affront to human life and dignity. It provides ironclad proof that the Human Rights Council is broken and reinforces why the United States withdrew.”Venezuela’s election to a body supposed to promote and protect human rights worldwide also gives U.S. critics of the UN yet another reason to accuse the world body of bias and dysfunction. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the rights council in 2018, saying it has an anti-Israel bias.The council has a long history of including members with checkered records on the very issue it’s supposed to help oversee. Current members include Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China, which has been criticized by the U.S. for a campaign of detaining Muslim Uighurs in the western province of Xinjiang.“The Human Rights Council is the United Nations’ greatest failure,” former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wrote in the Miami Herald last week. “Instead of protecting human rights, it has long protected the tyrants, dictators and strongmen who abuse them.” Haley said she was grateful for Costa Rica’s late entry to the race.Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the decision a victory for “peaceful diplomacy” and a defeat for the U.S. efforts to undermine Mauro.“It’s a victory that will have to be measured over the course of the days but that today we dare to describe as historic,” he said in a news conference broadcast on state television. “Because we are fighting a fierce campaign by the United States government and its satellite countries and governments, a campaign to prevent Venezuela from being chosen today.”As recently as July, the UN called on Maduro’s government to take “immediate, concrete measures to halt and remedy the grave violations” of economic, social and civil rights. Maduro’s government -- which has blamed its economic problems on the U.S. -- has used social programs in a discriminatory manner based on political grounds as a tool for social control, the UN report said. At the same time, security forces often resort to torture or inhuman treatment, including electric shocks, suffocation, beatings and sexual violence to extract confessions, it added.“A vote for Venezuela is a vote for the torture, murder, and impunity that have become trademarks of President Nicolas Maduro’s government,” Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said before the vote. “It’s a slap in the face to the millions who have fled the country, many facing dire humanitarian conditions, and the countless victims who never made it out.”(Updates with Venezuelan foreign minister’s comment in seventh paragraph)\--With assistance from Alex Vasquez.To contact the reporter on this story: David Wainer in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at email@example.com, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Trump to Host G-7 at Miami Resort, Sparking Conflict Claims
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s Doral golf resort in Miami will be the site of next year’s Group of Seven summit, the White House said on Thursday, a decision that reignited claims he’s violating a constitutional prohibition against profiting from the presidency.The announcement, from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, came as the president faces a House impeachment inquiry. Trump has been attacking rival presidential candidate Joe Biden, saying that when he was vice president, he used his position to further his son Hunter’s business interests.“It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,” Mulvaney told reporters at the White House Thursday, saying “a lot of the same criteria” used for past summits were applied to choosing the site. He said the president “will not be profiting here” and that Doral will be much less expensive than alternatives.The president pitched hosting the 2020 G-7 summit at Trump National Doral at the August gathering of leaders in Biarritz, France, saying that the luxury property is “very big” and that each country could “have their own villa, or their own bungalow.”With the host setting much of agenda for a G-7 meeting, Mulvaney said that Trump could invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the June 10-12 event, although he said that issue hasn’t yet come up. He also said that climate change isn’t on the agenda.After Trump’s initial comments in August, the House Judiciary Committee said it would investigate the proposed site selection as part of its ongoing probe to determine whether to bring articles of impeachment against the president.Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who criticized Trump’s suggestion in August, on Thursday said the selection breached the ban on foreign “emoluments” to a president.“This is a blatant violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution,” the New York Democrats said. “The president uses his official office to bring an official function to his business to personally benefit from it. This is why the emoluments clause is written into the U.S. Constitution to prevent this type of corruption.”QuickTake: Trump’s Business Ties and the Problem With EmolumentsNadler is party to a lawsuit, along with about 200 other members of Congress, to enforce the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, one of the Democrats on the lawsuit, said he will add Trump’s G-7 decision to the complaint.”If you wanted a classic violation of the United States Constitution, you couldn’t think of a clearer set of actions,” Blumenthal said.Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said, “no” when asked if it’s appropriate for Trump to host the multilateral summit at his own property.The decision got a thumbs-up, though, from Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who said he “selfishly” liked to see his state get attention and that others in the nearby community would benefit from staging the event there. Trump’s decision to maintain his varied private business holdings while in office has drawn criticism from ethics experts and led to several lawsuits. Trump has said he’s likely losing billions of dollars by serving as president.Most legal actions accusing Trump of serially violating the emoluments ban so far haven’t advanced far enough to resolve underlying constitutional issues.Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, has sought to counter criticism by donating profit from foreign leaders’ visits to the U.S. Treasury, which his critics say is an unenforceable commitment that doesn’t resolve the constitutional issue.Even if the Trump Organization turns over profit from the G-7, Doral would benefit in other ways from hosting a summit of world leaders. The resort would get free publicity that could boost future profit.(Updates with lawmaker comments beginning in the ninth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Ben Brody, Erik Wasson and Steven T. Dennis.To contact the reporters on this story: Ryan Beene in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org, Anna Edgerton, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Uproar as Venezuela wins seat on UN rights council
Venezuela won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council Thursday, sparking outcry from the United States, advocacy groups and Latin American countries who say its rights record is appalling. The United States slammed the result as an "embarrassment" for the United Nations but Venezuela hailed it as a "historic victory," saying it would use its position to promote peace. To applause in the chamber, Venezuela got the nod in a vote by the UN General Assembly that chose 14 new members for the 47-member body based in Geneva.
- Harry Dunn's parents accuse British government of abandoning them
The parents of Harry Dunn have accused the British government of abandoning them during their visit to the United States, saying they believe the Foreign Office “just want us to go away and forget about it all”. Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn will leave the US on Friday, at the end of a whirlwind five-day trip pleading with the US authorities to send their son’s killer back to Britain to face justice. The pair told The Telegraph they have been dismayed by the lack of support from the British government. “We don’t understand why,” said Mr Dunn. “Harry has died in an accident, and we feel that nobody but us wants to get justice for him.” Mrs Charles said it was remarkable that they were invited by Donald Trump to the White House, on Tuesday evening, and yet were not offered support by their own embassy or consulate. “They just want us to go away,” she said. “And forget about it all. They really do.” Charlotte Charles and her husband Bruce Charles arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to meet Trump Her husband, Bruce Charles, added: “It doesn’t make any sense. Why haven’t they come back with any information for us? Are they trying to figure out how to relay the information? Or are they covering up?" Harry Dunn, 19, died when an American woman, Anne Sacoolas, crashed her car into his motorbike while she was driving on the wrong side of the road. After Mr Dunn’s death the US authorities spirited her away from the UK, forcing the Dunn family to travel to the US and beg Mr Trump to return her to Britain. Mrs Sacoolas’s husband Jonathan was initially described as a diplomat, but is now believed to be a spy. “We’re led to believe he’s a spy, from the media reports,” said Mrs Charles. “That’s all we know. Dominic Raab mentioned it.” Mr Charles added: “He said he was senior.” An early photograph of Anne Sacoolas' husband Jonathan, first thought to be a diplomat but now believed to be a spy His wife continued: “I can’t remember exactly how he explained it, but he said he was brought in to control that area. Or sector. He just used a lot of different words to skirt the issue.” Asked whether they had asked the Foreign Office for clarification as to his status, Mr Dunn laughed. “I don’t think we’re their favourite people,” he said. Mr and Mrs Charles, plus Mr Dunn and his wife Tracey, found themselves in the “surreal” surroundings of the Oval Office, with only their spokesman Radd Seiger – a friend from their village in Northamptonshire - for help. Asked whether they were surprised to have no British diplomat accompanying them, Mr Dunn replied: “Maybe it might have helped. But they haven’t really spoken to us so we don’t know how they feel about the whole situation.” Anne Sacoolas fled the UK shortly after the accident They were ushered in to the Oval Office, and confronted by Robert O’Brien, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, who immediately stated: “She will never return to the UK.” Mr Dunn said: “He was really unpleasant, and trying to be intimidating. Trump wasn’t at all. And actually when he said that, Trump put his hand up to stop him. Until Charlotte took over it was on Trump's terms.” Mrs Charles, they all agreed, then commanded the situation. “She went on at him for about five minutes,” said Mr Charles. Mrs Charles explained: “He didn’t interrupt me once. That’s why we said he was gracious and welcoming. I didn’t raise my voice. I just spoke to him like I am now.” “He never took his eyes off you, did he?” Mr Charles said. “He was well behaved, in that sense,” she added. “It was just the concoction of this plan, which is disgusting.” Robert O'Brien was named on September 18 as the new national security adviser, replacing John Bolton Unbeknown to them, Mr Trump had arranged for Mrs Sacoolas to be in the next door room. During their visit, he hoped all sides could meet in a reality television-style encounter, captured on camera. “Getting a call to go to the White House is quite daunting,” said Mr Dunn. “We got there and had no idea who we were meeting.” The family were just told it would be “a senior official”. “We had no idea,” continued Mrs Charles. “We speculated as a family, on the three hour train journey from New York to Washington, about how it could unfold. What about this, what about that. I think that’s why we could be so strong, because we did discuss the fact that maybe he would bring her to the White House. We thought through even the most bizarre scenarios. “We never thought we would be in that situation. But knowing his reputation, we couldn’t rule it out.” Mrs Charles said their decision not to meet her was easy. “It was always going to be on our terms,” she said. “We said all along we are happy to meet with her, but it needs to be on UK soil, with proper professionals around to help us all. Her, her family, not just us. Everyone is going to need help to get us there. We need preparing for that, she needs preparing for that. “I imagine she was a little bit shocked to be invited to the White House, or dragged to the White House. We were told she wasn’t aware of the meeting either. “That’s not right for her either. It’s not fair.” Bruce and Charlotte Charles (left) stand besides their spokesman Radd Seiger. Tim Dunn and his wife Tracey are on the right. The four are philosophical when asked whether they expect Mrs Sacoolas to be returned to the UK to face justice. The case has now been referred to the CPS, and so they say it is in the hands of the lawyers and the police. They urgently want to know why the Foreign Office asked the US for her immunity to be waived, and then concluded that she did not have diplomatic immunity – after she had fled. “They obviously know what happened, when she left,” said Mr Dunn. “They need to ‘fess up, if they have made a mistake. Or done it underhand. But if it’s straightforward, why has it taken so long?” Asked if they felt that Britain’s desire to secure a trade deal with the US, post Brexit, had made the Foreign Office tread on eggshells around Washington, Mr Dunn laughed. “It’s a bit late for that now!” he said. “The president is saying that Boris wanted us to meet Anne Sacoolas in the White House. And Boris is not backing him up. I think that might have scuppered it all anyway! “To me there is something not right, that it’s taken so long for the Foreign Office to give us answers. They are trying to hide something.” All four agree, however, that the trip has been worthwhile. The US coverage has been intense, with the family or Mr Seiger appearing on breakfast shows, late night shows and news broadcasts in between. They will return if need be, they say, to keep pressing the issue. “He’d be very proud of all this,” said Mrs Dunn. “He fought for peoples’ rights. If he knew he was in the right, he’d fight for it.” “If someone was upset he’d find out why and try to right it. He was always there with bear hugs,” said Mrs Charles. Asked what her son wished for in life, she laughed. “To ride as far around the world on his bike as possible,” she said. Mr Dunn added: “He was 19, good looking, he had money and a motorbike. What more do you want in life?!” Mrs Charles continued: “He had a full time job in customer service. He went through college, got distinctions and merits in video programming and gaming. But his passion was motorbikes. He rode over 50,000 miles, had his first one when he was seven. “He loved football, and his family, and his bikes.” And all four said the highlight of the trip had been seeing the support from the American public. "They've been coming up to us and hugging us, on the street," said Mrs Charles. "And the social media support has been overwhelming." Mr Dunn agreed. "The people of New York have been fabulous. Everyone agrees with us." They also took a momentary break from the non-stop interviews to visit the September 11 memorial in Manhattan - something they all said was deeply moving. "We couldn't come here, with everything we are going through, and not stop to pay our respects to those families," said Mrs Charles. "It was a beautiful place. And a really special moment for us as a family."
- UPDATE 2-UK Brexit plan has 'decent chance' in key vote on Saturday -Javid
Britain's new Brexit deal has a "decent chance" of clearing parliament on Saturday and the alternative is to leave the European Union in two weeks' time without anything to soften the economic shock, finance minister Sajid Javid said. Javid rejected calls from some members of parliament for an economic impact assessment of the agreement struck by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU earlier on Thursday which now needs approval by lawmakers. Instead, he said, parliament had to realise that the plan would end the uncertainty that has dogged the world's fifth-biggest economy since voters decided to leave the EU in 2016.
- White House official: Kushner to visit Israel this month
President Donald Trump's top Mideast adviser, Jared Kushner, will visit Saudi Arabia and Israel at the end of the month, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. Kushner, who also is Trump's son in law, will join Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at an economic conference in Saudi Arabia before heading to Israel, the official said. In Israel, Kushner is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief political rival, Benny Gantz.
- Pence Just Ratified All of Turkey’s War Aims in Syria
via REUTERSLast month, at the United Nations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan waved a map of northeastern Syria before the world’s dignitaries. His point was to demand U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, whom Washington had relied upon to fight the so-called Islamic State, get out. His subtext was that he was ready to violently extend the Turkish border southward, seizing Syrian territory. In Ankara on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence gave Erdoğan everything the Turks wanted in the long-telegraphed war Erdoğan launched following a green light from President Donald Trump during a now-infamous Oct. 6 phone call. The U.S. did not even get the status quo ante. The Turks did not agree to withdraw from Syrian territory. They agreed to a ceasefire, Pence announced. Over the next five days, the Kurdish forces that the U.S. abandoned are to withdraw approximately 20 miles south. In exchange, the Trump administration agreed not to implement new sanctions—Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen introduced a new sanctions package as Pence briefed reporters—and, should the Turkish ceasefire hold, will lift those the administration placed on Turkey after Trump’s greenlight drew widespread backlash. “It’s a ratification of what Donald Trump told the Turks they could do,” assessed Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. A Turkish official told Middle East Eye, “We got exactly what we wanted out of the meeting.” Erdoğan’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, even boasted that Turkey had agreed to do no more than “pause” its war for the five agreed-upon days. “We will only stop the operation if our conditions are met,” Cavusoglu said. Pence said he and the other members of the high-level U.S. delegation in Ankara, which included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and new national security adviser Robert O’Brien, had a brief to deliver no more than a ceasefire. “This will serve the interests of the Kurdish population in Syria,” Pence insisted, crediting the agreement to “President Trump and President Erdoğan.” In Stein’s view, it’s more like an agreement between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. After Trump ordered U.S. forces back from the Turkish front, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces reached a modus vivendi with the Russian-backed government of Bashar Assad that brought Syrian government fighters back into the area for the first time in about seven years. All these new facts on the ground–the Turks in, the Syrian government in, the Americans back–ensured Turkey would wind its operation down. Erdoğan and Putin have agreed to meet in Sochi on Oct. 22. “As soon as that date was reached,” Stein said, “this thing was over.”Faced with apparently unexpected anger over the abandonment of a U.S. partner in exchange for nothing, the Trump administration has spent the past week insisting against publicly available and observable information that it had opposed the Turkish invasion all along. A senior State Department insisted last week that Trump had given Erdoğan a “red light,” despite the White House announcing Turkey’s invasion in a statement that expressed no opposition and Trump’s subsequent invitation of Erdoğan to the White House in an Oct. 8 tweet. For days afterward, senior officials demanded Turkey end the war, only to be rebuffed. Turkish forces even fired on American-held positions that Pentagon officials had earlier declared Turkey knew about. Through it all, Trump falsely insisted that the approximately 1,000 U.S. servicemembers in Syria had withdrawn entirely. In truth, he ordered several hundred of those troops elsewhere in the Mideast, despite claiming to deplore the foolishness of America’s endless military foray there, where he has sent 14,000 new troops to threaten Iran. As of now, hundreds of remaining U.S. troops are pulling back to the garrison at at-Tanf, which they hold for an entirely separate and undeclared mission, preferred by former national security adviser John Bolton, of pressing Iran and its Syrian proxies. The surveillance assets the U.S. had tasked with watching a resurgence of ISIS fighters, many of whom escaped prisons the SDF could no longer prioritize amidst Turkish fire, have gone instead to protecting a U.S. retreat. “You expect at some point to come out, but somehow at-Tanf manages to stick. It’s the herpes of the American presence in Syria,” observed Stein. Accordingly, the U.S. has not even extricated itself from a war that Congress never approved back in 2014. It has pulled back but not out, permitting its partners to be killed, all after a year during which it actively discouraged the Kurds from making contingencies for a post-U.S. Syria. An ISIS revival is now a live possibility, but this time without an American partner permitting the “by, with and through” strategy that allowed Washington to wage war indirectly. Should ISIS return in force, it will test the American political system not to re-invade. Stein noted that the U.S. no longer has leverage over the SDF to get its leadership to honor the deal Pence struck with Erdoğan. Nor do the Turks and Americans agree on the basic definition of who is an SDF fighter and who belongs to the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish terrorist group against which Erdoğan predicated his invasion. Syrian forces are likely to keep fighting Turkish forces and proxies. The multiplicity of wars in Syria, in other words, are likely to continue, ceasefire or no. “Turkey set the tempo, they always set the tempo. It created facts on the ground and Donald Trump was an enabler of that,” Stein said. “The U.S. just caught up to its own president. Is it a win for Turkey? Yes, I guess, but they’re winning hostile territory in a broken state.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Civilian Casualties Reach Highest Level in Afghan War, U.N. Says
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Civilian casualties caused by the long and intensifying conflict in Afghanistan reached a record number in the third quarter of 2019, the United Nations said on Thursday as it reiterated a call for an urgent cease-fire.In its quarterly report documenting the harm to civilians by all sides of the conflict, the United Nations' mission in Afghanistan said civilian deaths and injuries had increased by 42% in the third quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, with 1,174 civilians killed and 3,139 wounded. In July alone, 425 Afghan civilians were killed and 1,164 wounded, making it the deadliest month since the mission started tracking civilian harm in 2009."The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan signals the importance of peace talks leading to a cease-fire and a permanent political settlement to the conflict; there is no other way forward," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan. "Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable, especially in the context of the widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan."The uptick in civilian deaths correlates with the increased number of Afghan and American military operations that followed the collapse of the peace negotiations and the Taliban's subsequent all-out war on the Afghan presidential elections last month."We have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!" President Donald Trump said on Twitter last month.While the United Nations had pointed blame at Afghan and coalition forces for causing a large share of the casualties earlier in the year, the organization said the increase in the third quarter was mainly because of large-scale attacks, including suicide bombings, by the Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate in the country.Even while talks with the Taliban continued late in the summer in an effort to find a settlement to the long war, both sides were hitting each other hard to gain leverage at the negotiating table. The Taliban continued carrying out suicide bombings, assaulting districts and besieging to cities. Afghan commandos, supported by American air power, retaliated with frequent airstrikes and special operations raids, some of them blamed for causing civilian casualties.Some of the deadliest militant attacks resulting in mass civilian casualties included a suicide bombing in a wedding hall claimed by the Islamic State group, which killed as many as 80 people, and a truck bombing outside a hospital in Zabul province that killed at least 20. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for an explosion outside a campaign rally for President Ashraf Ghani that resulted in the deaths of at least 25 civilians.The deadliest attack blamed on Afghan and coalition forces is the reported death of up to 40 civilians in an operation in Helmand province last month that Afghan and American forces said had resulted in the killing of one of the most high-profile al-Qaida leaders in years. Also last month, locals in the Khogyani district of the eastern province of Nangarhar said about 30 civilians harvesting pine nuts were killed by an airstrike.The Taliban's offensives come in waves that can last up to three weeks, Afghan security officials say. In response, Afghan forces tend to concentrate their firepower during that wave to stop the insurgents' advance and make it harder for them to regroup and retaliate.U.S. Air Force documents show that in September alone, American aircraft dropped 948 munitions, the most in any month in the last five years. So far this year, the number of missiles and bombs dropped by U.S. forces in Afghanistan is set to meet or possibly outpace the 7,362 munitions launched in 2018. The most ordnance dropped before 2018, according to Air Force data compiled since 2006, was in 2011 at the height of the U.S. military presence in the country, with 5,411 munitions.And while there are roughly 14,000 U.S. troops on the ground, along with several thousand from NATO countries, assessing civilian casualties from offensive operations is usually done by overheard surveillance aircraft such as drones. But experts warn that the grainy footage -- often the equivalent of looking at the ground through a soda straw -- usually presents only a limited picture of what happens after an airstrike. The U.S. military has repeatedly criticized the United Nations' methodology on counting civilian casualties.One of the most recent operations in which civilians were hurt came last week, when eight people were killed and eight others wounded in an airstrike in the northern province of Badakshan, according to Naji Nazari, a member of the provincial council there.Among the dead were four children and two women, he said. It is unclear if the airstrike was carried out by American or Afghan forces. The fledgling Afghan air force has a small fleet of single-engine propeller planes, supplied and equipped by the United States, that are capable of dropping guided and unguided bombs.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company
- EU Shuts Down Talk of Fallback If Deal Defeated: Brexit Update
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with the European Union was barely agreed before it ran into trouble at home, as his Northern Irish allies in parliament said they could not support it.EU leaders meeting in Brussels Thursday endorsed the agreement, while Johnson’s aides back in London began trying to muster the votes needed to get the plan through parliament, where he does not have a majority.Must read: Will U.K. Parliament Back a Boris Johnson Brexit? We Do the MathHere is a rundown of major events in Brussels local time:Key Developments:Johnson’s Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, said they won’t support the dealNew withdrawal agreement means customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. Juncker signals no more extensions, helping Johnson’s cause. But it’s not his callEU Likely to Grant Extension If Johnson Asks (8:55 p.m.)It’s unlikely the bloc’s leaders would refuse a request for an extension if the U.K. seeks it, according to an EU official. There would need to be a reason such as an election or referendum, said the official, who added that they expect Johnson would campaign for the deal he’s negotiated rather than a no-deal exit. An extension would require another summit, the official said.Javid Says No Impact Assessment, Benefits of Deal ‘Self-Evident’U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid dismissed calls from 29 Members of Parliament for an impact assessment on the deal before they vote on it.Speaking to reporters in Washington, Javid said he doesn’t think there is any need for such an analysis. "It’s self-evident that bringing certainty on the whole delivery of Brexit is a good thing," he said.Earlier, a group of MPs including former Justice Secretary David Gauke wrote to the chancellor asking him to look at the impact of the deal before they vote. Javid said he doesn’t agree with existing government assessments which suggested earlier plans could reduce GDP by 3.9%.Johnson Will Fly Back to London to Sell Deal (8:02 p.m.)The premier plans to return to London after the leaders’ dinner concludes on Thursday night so he can spend Friday trying to persuade members of Parliament to back his Brexit agreement in a vote on Saturday.A U.K. official said he’s likely to offer a package of plans intended to win over opposition Labour MPs, including protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards after Brexit.In his press conference in Brussels, Johnson said the plan for the future partnership contained important commitments to maintain the "highest possible standards" on "social protection" and the environment. "We make those commitments gladly and they are entirely right for our country to do," he said.Rutte Says EU Has to Accept Reality of Brexit (7:30 p.m.)Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte voiced sentiments shared by many leaders at the summit. "I hate Brexit from every angle," he said. "At the same time, this is the reality. The reality is that the Brits want out, and I have to help work towards a solution there."EU Council President Donald Tusk and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar both said the door will be open for the U.K. to return one day. While European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the 48% of British voters who opposed Brexit "were right."Johnson Says Another Delay Suits No One (7:22 p.m.)The British prime minister argued that the deal delivers on Brexit, keeps the U.K. together and lays the foundation for a new relationship with the EU. "This is our chance in the U.K. as democrats to get Brexit done," he said. "I don’t think delay is to the advantage of the U.K. or indeed of the whole of Europe. I think people want to move this thing on, it’s been going on for a long time."Johnson Won’t Say How He Plans to Win the Vote (7:09 p.m.)Boris Johnson didn’t answer the two most critical questions when he spoke to journalists after the summit: what will he do if he loses the vote in Parliament? And did he ask EU leaders to rule out any further extension to help his case?He said he’s confident U.K. deputies will back his deal once they’ve had chance to consider its merits.EU Council Shut Down Debate on Fallback Plan (7:04 p.m.)A few countries wanted to talk about how EU leaders would respond if the U.K. Parliament rejects the deal in the vote expected on Saturday, according to one EU official. That discussion, however, was quickly shut down by others around the table, the official said.Most EU leaders are keen to avoid interfering with Johnson’s domestic battles -- either by increasing pressure on undecided lawmakers, or by offering them a way out via an extension.Varadkar Says Deal Meets All Ireland’s Goals (6:58 p.m.)Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said all his government’s objectives had been achieved in the agreement and lauded the solidarity the EU has shown with Ireland in the Brexit process. "United we stand, divided we fall," he told reporters in Brussels.He also held open the door from the U.K. to rejoin the bloc at some point. "It’s a little bit like an old friend that’s going on a journey or adventure without us, and we really hope it works out for them, but I think there will always be a place at the table for them if they ever choose to come back,” he said.No Reference to an Extension in Official Conclusions (6:39 p.m.)As expected, EU leaders didn’t put in writing any threat to deny a further extension if Johnson’s deal is voted down by parliament on Saturday. The only thing they did say in the summit communique is that the deal can take effect as of Nov. 1 -- so an extension shouldn’t be necessary.EU Council President Donald Tusk said that if an extension was requested, it would be considered. "The ball is in the court of the U.K.," Tusk told reporters. "If there is a request for an extension I will consult with member states to see how to react."Merkel Says She Wants Quick Trade Deal With U.K. (6:23 p.m.)German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU leaders were unanimous in welcoming the Brexit agreement; she wants a trade deal with the U.K. to be negotiated quickly once Britain’s departure has been completed.She said there was no discussion of what leaders might do if the U.K. Parliament rejects the deal."We didn’t consider every if or but," Merkel said at a press conference. "But it’s clear that we of course trust in the British Parliament to make its decision. It’s an old, experienced and wise parliament and the British Parliament will make this decision in the fullest freedom."Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier ruled out another extension for the British, upping the pressure on lawmakers to back the agreement. But Juncker doesn’t decide on an extension. That’s up to the leaders’ council.Earlier:EU and U.K. Reach a Brexit Deal, But It Quickly Hits a SnagBetting Firm That Called May Votes Sees Johnson Beaten on BrexitJohnson’s Deal Would Move U.K. Further From EU\--With assistance from Dara Doyle, Morten Buttler, John Ainger, Richard Bravo and Jessica Shankleman.To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Brussels at email@example.com;Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at email@example.com, Rosalind MathiesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Congo Targets 60% Budget Increase for 2020 to Fight Poverty
(Bloomberg) -- Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said his government wants to boost the country’s budget for next year by almost 60% to $10 billion, even though it isn’t clear how he would fund the increase.The increase is meant to fight poverty, Tshisekedi, who assumed office in January, said in a speech on the outskirts of the capital, Kinshasa. A $10 billion budget is still “meager for the great Congo, but we will get there progressively,” he said.The largest and one of the least-developed nations in sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo relies almost entirely on mining for its earnings. Tshisekedi has pledged to lift millions of people out of poverty over the next five years through investments in water, electricity, and infrastructure. More than three-quarters of the population of 81 million people make do with less than $1.90 per day, according to the United Nations.The announcement comes after the International Monetary Fund criticized Congo’s budgeting process and said the country needs to increase the efficacy of its revenue collection. Congo and the IMF are discussing the possibility of a loan program.“Budget execution bears little relation to the approved budget because revenue projects -- driven mainly by political pressures to accommodate higher spending -- and expenditure projections have been overly optimistic,” the IMF said in August.The amount is roughly $3 billion higher than what Budget Minister Jean-Baudouin Mayo proposed last month, which was already 15% higher than Congo’s official budget of 10.4 trillion francs ($6.29 billion) for this year. The Council of Ministers will need to approve a budget before submitting it to parliament.The IMF halted its last program in 2012 over concerns about corruption in the mining sector. Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and Africa’s biggest producer of copper, but its mineral riches have done little to alleviate poverty, Tshisekedi said. The poverty rate in the main copper-mining region, Katanga, is falling much slower than the national average, he said.The government will be further hampered by a weak cobalt price, which has dropped more than 60% since March 2018.To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at email@example.com, Pauline Bax, Andre Janse van VuurenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- What Would Happen If President Trump Quit, Raymond James Asks
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump hasn’t shown any sign of budging as he continues to fight the House impeachment inquiry and refuses to release his tax returns to Congress. But, what would happen if he did? In fact, what if he just up and quit?As an intellectual exercise, that’s the question Raymond James analysts Chris Meekins and Ed Mills posed in a research report that tried to imagine what the aftermath of a resignation would look like.“While we acknowledge this is a low probability event; the question we are hearing more often in D.C. is: What if President Trump decides to walk away from the presidency and voluntarily resigns prior to being impeached and/or having to release his tax returns,” Meekins and Mills wrote.The Raymond James analysts speculate that Trump could quit the presidency before impeachment and before he’s forced to release his tax documents. The president wouldn’t want to go down in history “as one of the only impeached presidents.”“Trump can go make even more money and maybe start his own media network, which reportedly was the initial plan,” Meekins and Mills wrote.After a resignation, the analysts see a President Mike Pence making Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, his vice president and campaigning at the top of the ticket in the 2020 presidential race.After an initial shock, with Pence campaigning as a “predictable, traditional, conservative choice,” the market would rally -- most notably companies related to China trade, pharmaceuticals and defense contractors.Meekins and Mills stress that Trump leaving voluntarily is remote, seeing him instead as “the rare individual who declares victory in defeat.”“There is a sense that he is still seeking validation through winning re-election and he strongly believes he has been treated incredibly unfairly by Congressional Democrats and the press,” they said. “He is strong in his belief that he did nothing wrong and resigning early would only validate that criticism.“To contact the reporter on this story: Jarrell Dillard in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Courtney Dentch at email@example.com, Scott Schnipper, Jennifer Bissell-LinskFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- UK's Brexit deal faces big hurdle, but is right way forward-Javid
The Brexit deal that Britain has struck with the European Union faces a big hurdle in a vote in the country's parliament on Saturday but its approval is better than the alternative of leaving without a deal on Oct. 31, finance minister Sajid Javid said. "It is self-evident that what we have achieved with this deal is the right way forward for the economy, much better than any alternative," Javid told reporters on the sidelines of meetings at the International Monetary Fund.
- Desperate Boris Resorts to Re-Run of Theresa May’s Big Brexit Gamble
Christopher Furlong/GettyLONDON—Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.The British Prime Minister has secured a compromise Brexit deal with Europe that will ensure Britain’s orderly exit from the union if the parliament in London will back it.As Theresa May found out on three brutal—and career-limiting—occasions that is an awfully big ‘if.’The latest agreement will be put to a vote on Saturday just 12 days before Britain is scheduled to crash out of the European Union without a deal.There is no doubt that Boris Johnson has extracted more concessions from Europe than his predecessor achieved but that’s partly because he caved on his own red lines when it came to the intractable issue of Northern Ireland.Brexitmageddon: The Boris Johnson vs. Nigel Farage Showdown that Could Blow Up BrexitJohnson now has 36 hours to charm, cajole and bully British lawmakers to fall into line and pass a deal that would bring to an end the three-year ordeal of Brexit negotiations. If he fails, he will try to force Britain out without a deal, but that gambit is legally treacherous and unlikely to succeed, paving the way for a snap election campaign that is likely to be the most divisive and heated in modern times.May tried to get her compromise deal through the Commons three times. At the first attempt in January she rewrote British political history by suffering an unprecedented 230-vote defeat. She suffered another massive defeat—by 149 votes—the second time she asked. By then she was so desperate that she promised to quit if lawmakers finally approved her deal at the third attempt in March, but she was still defeated by 58 votes.Two months later she announced her resignation, allowing the head of the Brexit campaign, Boris Johnson, to become prime minister. He said he would guarantee that Britain left the EU by Halloween and pledged to knock the EU into shape by making a credible threat to leave without a deal.Three months later, he has succeeded in getting the EU to reopen negotiations—which they initially refused to do—and signed up to a new compromise deal, which ditches the hated “backstop” insurance policy that May had accepted.The deal Johnson has struck is fiendishly complex but essentially he has replaced the backstop, which would have kept Britain closely aligned to the EU if there was no agreement on a future relationship, with something that looks very much like the backstop but only applies to Northern Ireland, which shares a land border with the EU in the Republic of Ireland.In order to prevent the creation of a hard border on the island of Ireland, he has agreed to the creation of a customs border in the Irish Sea, which effectively separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the British economy.This is something Johnson vowed he would never countenance, describing such an arrangement in September of last year as “a monstrosity” that “would amount to a change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional status without its people’s consent.”Johnson’s governing partners, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), used similar language on Thursday when they rejected the prime minister’s new deal out of hand.“Following confirmation from the Prime Minister that he believes he has secured a ‘great new deal’ with the European Union the Democratic Unionist Party will be unable to support these proposals in Parliament,” an official party statement said. “The Government has departed from the principle that these arrangements must be subject to the consent of both unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland.”These words—delivered within an hour of Johnson tweeting that a deal had been secured—were a hammer blow to his chances of delivering Brexit and remaining in office beyond this month.The views of the fringe DUP grouping, which has just 10 lawmakers in the 650-seat House of Commons, would be a niche concern were it not for the Conservative government’s perilously fragile grasp on power.The DUP’s opposition to May’s deal even though she had paid handsomely for their support in a billion-pound 2017 agreement was one of the most damning indictments of her attempt to secure a deal.Johnson currently commands a majority of -45, and that includes the support of the DUP, so he needs every vote he can get. Worse than that, members of the DUP leadership are trusted advisors to the Conservatives’ most hardline Brexiteers, who will weigh their hostility before deciding whether to support the government in a crunch vote this weekend.The parliamentary showdown will take place on just the fourth occasion since World War II when the House of Commons has been in session on a Saturday.The Labour Party leadership condemned Johnson’s deal as “worse than May’s deal” and the ultra-Remainer Lib Dems concluded this was “desperation from the prime minister.” With the Scottish National Party also implacably opposed, Johnson’s hopes of passing the deal lay in the hands of Labour rebels, some of whom will defy their leadership because they believe the result of the 2016 referendum should be delivered, as well as 21 lawmakers he booted out of the Conservative Party just last month for being against a No Deal Brexit.Johnson is taking a huge risk by putting the deal to Parliament in the knowledge that it might go down. Brexit Party politicians have long seen this scenario as their best chance of wiping out the Tories at the next election where they would paint Johnson as a sell-out who crumbled in negotiations with the EU and still failed to deliver Brexit.If Johnson loses on Saturday and then asks the EU for an extension, the opposition parties have said they would vote to call an election. There is still the chance that the EU would refuse to grant Britain an extension, leading to a No Deal scenario, but that is unlikely.Supreme Court: Boris Johnson ‘Unlawfully’ Halted Democracy Over BrexitThe Conservatives hope that the prospect of No Deal helps to motivate Conservative waverers and potential Labour rebels to back the deal.“Win win for the Tories. Either we secure the vote and we leave by 31, or we don’t because those who say they want a deal have turned down the deal, in which case it’s hey-ho and onto the general election,” a government minister told The Daily Beast. “If we can secure the deal without the DUP then it’s even better. It rips the teat from their mouth, allows a distance to be demonstrated between Tories and DUP, and it means going into a general election on a better footing.”Despite the blustering confidence of some in No. 10, Conservative pollsters have indicated to The Daily Beast that a resurgent Brexit Party would pose an existential threat to Johnson’s government in a post-extension election.Johnson’s decision to sack any colleague who voted against him to outlaw a No Deal Brexit in September may come back to haunt him. Without any of their support he is almost guaranteed to fail on Saturday. Some of them have already swallowed their pride and indicated that they will vote with the government; others have said they will not vote for the deal; and the rest will be torn over one of the most consequential parliamentary votes of their careers.There was another casualty of the sacking of the 21. Jo Johnson, Boris’ little brother, quit the government in disgust saying he could no longer reconcile “family loyalty and the national interest.”With every vote set to count on Saturday, what chance is there Boris Johnson’s little brother is the man who effectively ousts him from power?Additional reporting by Jamie Ross.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- WRAPUP 9-UK's Johnson agrees Brexit deal, but must now win over parliament
European Union leaders unanimously backed a new Brexit deal with Britain on Thursday, leaving Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing a battle to secure the UK parliament's backing for the agreement if he is to take Britain out of Europe on Oct. 31. Speaking after the EU's 27 other leaders had endorsed the deal without Johnson in the room, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared himself pleased that an agreement had been reached but unhappy to see Britain go.
- Turkey, U.S. Agree on Cease-Fire to End Feud: Syria Update
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he reached an agreement with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a 120 hour cease-fire in Turkey’s military operation in Syria, allowing Kurdish militants to leave parts of the northeast.Once Kurdish forces complete their evacuation, Turkey’s cross-border operation in Syria will come to a complete end, Pence said on Thursday.pic.twitter.com/6wN436SxTP— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 17, 2019 President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and stand aside when Turkey advanced into Syria has prompted widespread criticism, even from some of his staunchest defenders in Congress. The White House has since sought to limit the damage by imposing sanctions on Turkish officials and dispatching Pence, along with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, to the region to push for an immediate cease-fire.Erdogan said Wednesday that Ankara’s military operation in Syria could end after Kurdish fighters, who fought for years with the U.S. to defeat Islamic State, leave a strip of territory in northeast Syria, where they have set up an autonomous administration.Here is a rundown of major events in Turkish local time:Key DevelopmentsPence, Erdogan reach deal in AnkaraTrump faces Congressional rebuke for Syria pulloutAssad’s forces take strategic border town of KobaniRussian forces patrol areas of northeast Syria after U.S. forces leaveTrump-Erdogan call led to a lengthy quest to avoid Halkbank trialTurkey Agrees to 120-Hour Cease-Fire in Syria, Pence Says (8:40 p.m.)Pence said the U.S. and Turkey have agreed to end hostilities in Syria.Turkey would cease operations permanently once the Kurdish forces withdraw and work on detention centers in the affected areas would be coordinated with Turkey, Pence said.Once a permanent cessation of hostilities is in place, the U.S. will lift all sanctions slapped on Turkey earlier, Pence said.Pence, Erdogan Talks End after More Than Four Hours (7:55 p.m.)Talks held between Erdogan, Pence and their delegations including Secretary of State Pompeo ended after more than four hours. The American delegation is expected to hold a joint press conference at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador.Graham’s Turkey Sanctions Bill Includes Ban on Sovereign Debt (7:50 p.m.)Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is proposing a prohibition on U.S. persons from buying Turkey’s sovereign debt in response to its actions in northern Syria, according to the framework of the sanctions bill.The same version of the bill would have to pass the House and the Senate before going to Trump to be signed into law. There is strong bipartisan opposition to Turkey’s offensive, but Senate leaders haven’t committed to bringing the bill to a vote.Pence Meeting With Erdogan Lasted About 80 Minutes, Longer Than Planned (5:32 p.m.)The meeting lasted longer than planned (10-to-15 minutes) at the insistence of the Turkish side, according to a U.S. official.The two leaders are now holding an expanded bilateral meeting.Trump’s Oct. 9 Letter to Erdogan Irrelevant; Turkey Moved On: Presidential Aide (4:16 p.m.)“It was an old, leaked letter that wasn’t taken seriously at the time, especially given its lack of diplomatic finesse. And the response to that letter was the start of the operation” into Syria, Erdogan’s aide, Gulnur Aybet, told NPR in an interview. “We’ve really moved on considerably since this letter was sent. It’s absolutely irrelevant.”Pence, Erdogan Meeting Begins (3:30 p.m.)The one-on-one meeting begins at Erdogan’s office. Photos disseminated by the Turkish presidency show the two leaders looking extremely serious as they shake hands.Pence Lands in Turkey’s Capital, Ankara (1:14 p.m.)Pence arrived in Ankara, where he will pressure Erdogan to call a cease-fire in northern Syria, a demand the Turkish leader publicly rejected ahead of the visit.The hastily arranged trip came at the direction of Trump, who spoke earlier this week with Erdogan. Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Syria envoy James Jeffrey have all traveled to the country for high-level talks.Trump’s Letter to Erdogan Is ‘Quite Unusual,’ Kremlin Says (12:57 p.m.)Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the letter “quite unusual,” saying, “you don’t often come across such language in the correspondence of heads of state.”Vladimir Putin, who’s cemented his power-broker role in Syria since Trump opened the way to the Turkish operation, will host Erdogan in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday to discuss the crisis, following a phone conversation earlier this week.Merkel Urges End to Offensive That “Strengthens Russia’s Position” (10:48 a.m.)In a speech to lawmakers in Germany’s Bundestag, Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated her plea to Erdogan to end the military incursion into Syria, an “already devastated country.” Germany will join EU member states in halting weapons exports to Turkey.“In geopolitical terms, this massively strengthens Russia’s position in the region, together with Iran” with U.S. troops withdrawn,” Merkel said early Thursday. “The consequences are at this moment not foreseeable.”Lira Steadies Before Erdogan Meets Pence on Syria (08:27 a.m.)The Turkish lira remained near its weakest level in almost five months before Erdogan meets Pence and Pompeo in Ankara later Thursday.The lira was trading at ~5.88 per dollar.One-year dollar-lira swaps -1bps to 16.69% after jumping more than 60bps on WednesdayFive-year CDS closed above 400bps on Wednesday, nearing a one-month high touched earlier this weekPelosi Cites Trump ‘Meltdown’ as Republicans Blasts Syria Reversal (02:47 a.m.)A White House meeting between Donald Trump and congressional leaders to contain fallout from the Syria crisis broke down abruptly Wednesday, with the president hurling insults at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused him of having a “meltdown.”Pelosi said Trump appeared to be “shaken” after 129 Republican lawmakers backed a resolution rebuking him for withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s insults of Pelosi during a “nasty diatribe” prompted Democratic leaders to leave.Trump Warns Erdogan: Don’t Be ‘Tough Guy’ or ‘Fool’ (11:43 p.m.)Trump wrote a letter to Erdogan calling on him to “work out a good deal!” and warning him not to be a “tough guy” or “fool.”“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” according to the Oct. 9 letter, reported earlier by Fox Business Network and confirmed by the White House. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”UN Security Council Expresses Concern Over IS (10:30 p.m.)The United Nations Security Council, deeply divided over Syria since civil war broke out in 2011, issued a statement Wednesday expressing “deep concern” over the risk of the dispersion of terrorists from groups including Islamic State and “over the risk of a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.”Syrian Military Forces Enter Key Town of Kobani (8:42 p.m.)Syrian government forces entered the strategic border town of Kobani Wednesday night, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, as part of a deal with Kurdish fighters to fend off Turkey’s offensive on the border. Syrian troops also expanded their deployment in the northeastern province of Raqqa earlier in the day, state-run Sana news agency said, showing images of troops carrying their national flag and pictures of Assad as they made their way into the area. Kobani carries a particular symbolic resonance as Kurdish forces backed by U.S. air power ended Islamic State’s hold over the town and its environs in a grueling months-long battle in 2014-2015 that was widely seen as a turning point in the war against the jihadist group.\--With assistance from Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Patrick Donahue, Selcan Hacaoglu and David Wainer.To contact the reporters on this story: Jordan Fabian in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at email@example.com;Firat Kozok in Ankara at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at email@example.com;Lin Noueihed at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Johnson’s and May’s Brexits: The Key Differences
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.The difference between Boris Johnson’s planned Brexit deal and that of his predecessor Theresa May can be summed up in one word: harder.Johnson wants to put greater distance between the U.K. and European Union so he can have greater freedom to strike international trade deals and diverge from EU standards.You can dive into the new documents yourself, but here’s a brief summary of the key differences between Johnson’s Brexit and May’s:Customs UnionThis is the big one. Under Johnson’s deal the U.K. will leave the EU’s customs union, allowing it to strike its own trade deals with other countries. Under May’s proposals the country would have stayed in — at least until it had reached a free trade agreement with the EU — preserving trade ties built up over its 46-year membership of the bloc and its predecessors.Free Trade AgreementMay’s political declaration spoke of both sides aiming to reach “an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic co-operation.” With Britain outside the EU’s customs union, Johnson has pledged to seek a more limited free trade agreement: “An ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation with a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement at its core.”Northern IrelandWith the U.K. outside the EU’s customs union, some form of border checks will be necessary. The question is, where? In Johnson's agreement, Northern Ireland will keep a foot in both systems: It will remain in the U.K. customs union but follow the EU’s customs code and many of its single market’s rules to avoid the need for border controls with the south. That will mean putting a customs border in the Irish Sea, something unacceptable to his predecessor. (You can read more here.)Unlike May’s deal, which could have left Northern Ireland in the EU customs union indefinitely, Johnson has negotiated an exit route: The Northern Ireland Assembly will be able to vote on whether to go on applying EU rules. But that can’t happen until four years after the transition period finishes — so the end of 2024 at the earliest.Level Playing FieldJohnson wants to give himself greater room to diverge from EU rules on, for example, social and environmental standards — something that has already angered Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman.Here’s what May said about those safeguards:The future relationship must ensure open and fair competition. Provisions to ensure this should cover state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change, and relevant tax matters, building on the level playing field arrangements provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement and commensurate with the overall economic relationship.And here’s Johnson:The precise nature of commitments should be commensurate with the scope and depth of the future relationship and the economic connectedness of the Parties. But then look at what assurances he’s had to give to get his deal accepted. Here’s a whole new section:To that end, the parties should uphold the common high standards applicable in the Union and the U.K. at the end of the transition period in the areas of state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change, and relevant tax matters. The Parties should in particular maintain a robust and comprehensive framework for competition and state aid control that prevents undue distortion of trade and competition; commit to the principles of good governance in the area of taxation and to the curbing of harmful tax practices; and maintain environmental, social and employment standards at the current high levels provided by the existing common standards. In so doing, they should rely on appropriate and relevant Union and international standards, and include appropriate mechanisms to ensure effective implementation domestically, enforcement and dispute settlement. The future relationship should also promote adherence to and effective implementation of relevant internationally agreed principles and rules in these domains, including the Paris Agreement.On the face of it, Johnson’s deal commits the U.K. to a host of new safeguards and trade relationships. However, the political declaration is just that — a statement of intent rather than a binding commitment.To contact the author of this story: Edward Evans in London at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Adam Blenford at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- For Brits living in Europe, Brexit throws a once clear future into doubt
- Consulting group Eurasia forecasts narrow defeat for Brexit deal in parliament
Consulting firm Eurasia Group on Thursday predicted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would be narrowly defeated in a parliamentary vote on Saturday. After several days of negotiations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday said that Britain and the EU had agreed a "great" new Brexit deal, but it must still be approved by the British parliament.
- U.K. Plc Urges Lawmakers to Pass Brexit Deal and End Limbo
(Bloomberg) -- British business allowed itself a moment of cautious hope as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union reached an agreement to ward off a no-deal Brexit.Johnson now has to succeed where predecessor Theresa May failed three times and win approval for the deal from the U.K. parliament. With Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party again withholding its support, the optimism is tinged with apprehension.“We have been here before,” the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, said Thursday.U.K. businesses see avoiding a no-deal rupture with the country’s most important trading bloc as the overriding priority as it could bog down supply chains with customs checks and tariffs and upend arrangements that allow data to move freely across borders.As companies digested the terms of the latest withdrawal agreement, some trade bodies were quick to urge lawmakers to ratify it on Saturday and put an end to three years of uncertainty that have clouded their prospects and hampered their investment plans. Ratifying the deal would trigger a transition period that preserves much of the current trading architecture, giving time to agree a new relationship.“It is now up to members of parliament to play their part and finally end the Brexit uncertainty that has been hanging over consumers and retailers,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium.In an open letter to business leaders, Johnson said the U.K. can get Brexit done and leave the EU in two weeks’ time “without disruption.” “The priority now is to deliver Brexit and provide the certainty businesses need so that the country can come together and move one,” Johnson said in the letter.‘We remain Concerned’Corporations doing business in the U.K. remained cautious Thursday night, and are waiting for the Saturday vote. “We remain concerned by a potential ‘no-deal’ and we continue to plan for that scenario as that is the only way any responsible business can plan,” Airbus SE said by email. The French planemaker said it employs 13,500 people in the U.K.Voting for a deal would prevent the worst no-deal hazards, unlock a transition period for striking future arrangements, and guarantee the rights of citizens living abroad. But it’s far from perfect, said Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, which claims to speak for about 190,000 businesses.“The deal remains inadequate on services, which make up 80% of the U.K. economy,” she said in an emailed statement. “And big questions remain about the feasibility of negotiating a new trade agreement deep enough in a 14-month transition period.”Shares of Tata Motors Ltd., owner of the luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands, jumped the most in a decade after the deal was announced, although Jaguar Land Rover was hesitant to declare an end to the Brexit struggles of Britain’s car industry.“We welcome the latest developments and await the next steps, but we cannot comment further until we have considered the detail of the deal and know whether it is supported by Parliament,” the company said in a statement.One possible sticking point for the auto industry revolves around “appropriate and modern” rules-of-origin provisions that would potentially add cost and complexity to manufacturing in the U.K., as carmakers would have to certify where parts came from. Under the plan put forward by former Prime Minister Theresa May, these checks wouldn’t be needed.Car manufacturers this week urged the government to make a deal with the EU and help safeguard the future of an industry that had been going through a renaissance in recent years as foreign brands invested in local plants. Export tariffs would make U.K.-built autos uncompetitive when sold in mainland Europe, they said.“This moves us further away from a damaging ‘no deal’ Brexit and the huge and immediate tariff hit that would ensue,” Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said of Thursday’s agreement. “To give the U.K. automotive industry certainty, however, and to assure its continued global competitiveness, we need a truly ambitious future relationship -- one based on tariff-free and frictionless trade.”(Updates with Johnson’s open letter in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Eric Pfanner, Layan Odeh, Angelina Rascouet, Ania Nussbaum and Ellen Proper.To contact the reporters on this story: Thomas Seal in London at email@example.com;Siddharth Philip in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at email@example.com, Thomas Pfeiffer, John BowkerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Brexit deal: what's in it
Brussels (AFP) - "Fair and reasonable." That's how both Britain's Boris Johnson and the EU describe the new draft Brexit deal reached Thursday after days of intense haggling. Arrangements for the UK province of Northern Ireland were the trickiest part of the new deal, and the core of what has changed since last year's withdrawal agreement, which was rejected by British MPs. The new protocol stipulates that Northern Ireland remains in Britain's customs territory, but in practice there would be a sort of customs border between the province and the mainland.
- Ministers ban export of erectile dysfunction drug to ensure Britain's needs are put first
The Government has banned export of an erectile dysfunction drug - because there is not enough to meet Britain’s needs. A ban has been imposed on exporting Caverject, which is taken by men for whom Viagra does not work. It is only the second time the Department of Health and Social Care has action to stop export of drugs, earlier this month taking action to protect 27 types of medicine, including hormone replacement therapy drugs. Caverject, which is produced by Pfizer, has been beset by shortages and last year the company warned a two-month shortage due to “global supply constraints”. Medics raised fears that this has been exacerbated by men stockpiling the drug as they feared supply problems in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Last year Pfizer supplied 270,000 doses of the drug to Britain. Tet Yap, a consultant urologist with London Urology Associates, said: “Supplies of this drug have been intermittent for many years and getting hold of it has been a nightmare.” He said: “It is fantastic that the government has taken some extreme action — I wonder if someone in the government suffers from erectile dysfunction. For the men who suffer from erectile dysfunction the drug is a real lifesaver.” The drug is particularly used by men who have had surgery for prostate cancer, and for diabetes sufferers. Karen Stalbow, head of policy, knowledge and impact at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Alprostadil is an important treatment for some men with prostate cancer who are experiencing erectile dysfunction following surgery. We have recently been investigating shortages in this particular treatment which men have been experiencing. It is important that action is taken to ensure that these treatments are available for the men that need them.” A spokesman for Pfizer said: “We are aware Caverject has been included on the government’s list of medicines to protect supplies for patients in the UK. We will continue to work with the Department of Health and Social Care to support the effective supply of all Pfizer medicines for patients in the UK. There are five formulations of alprostadil available in the UK , three of which have sufficient supply while the other two are currently experiencing supply issues.”
- WRAPUP 7-Johnson secures EU approval for 'no delay' Brexit deal
European Union leaders gave their unanimous backing to a Brexit deal with Britain on Thursday, putting the onus on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to secure the British parliament's approval for the deal in a vote in two days' time. British and EU negotiators reached the agreement after successive days of late-night talks and nearly three years of heated discussions that have strained EU-UK ties.
- Putin directs exercise of Russian nuclear forces
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday oversaw sweeping war games intended to test the readiness of the nation's strategic forces for a nuclear conflict. The drills featured practice launches of several intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as warships and strategic bombers firing cruise missiles at test targets — a massive check-up of the land, sea and air components of the nation's nuclear triad. The Defense Ministry said the Grom (Thunder) -2019 exercise involved 12,000 troops, 213 missile launchers, 105 aircraft, 15 surface warships and five submarines.
- EU and U.K. Reach a Brexit Deal, But It Quickly Hits a Snag
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with the European Union was barely agreed before it ran into trouble at home, as his Irish allies in parliament said they could not support it.Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced simultaneously on Twitter Thursday morning they’d reached a deal that could pave the way for Britain to finally break 46 years of ties with the world’s largest trading bloc. EU leaders are now meeting in Brussels.But while that sorted one key piece of the Brexit puzzle, Johnson still needs to get the agreement through the House of Commons, with a vote planned for Saturday as the prime minister seeks to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31.The parliamentary arithmetic is very tight, the more so because three officials from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party said Thursday their party won’t support the deal, citing concern about customs checks in the Irish Sea, among other things.Johnson’s been defeated in a string of crucial votes since taking office in July and lost his majority in the chamber. Nevertheless, the prime minister struck an upbeat tone as he arrived in Brussels.Five Takeaways From the U.K., EU Brexit Agreement: TOPLiveHe said the deal is “a reasonable, fair outcome that reflects the large amount of work undertaken by both sides.” The U.K. would leave the EU “whole and entire” on Oct. 31, Johnson said, in a nod to the DUP’s concerns. EU leaders endorsed the agreement and called on the European Parliament to ratify it in time to meet the deadline.Much of the wrangling over Brexit has been how to avoid a hard border on Ireland as a result of the split from the EU.The DUP is opposed to Northern Ireland being treated any differently to the rest of the U.K. Under Johnson’s deal, the region would still be subject to some of the EU’s single market rules to mitigate the need for customs checks on the border with Ireland. That would, in effect, put a customs border in the Irish Sea.As attention swung toward the vote at Westminster, Juncker offered support to Johnson as he tries to bring critics of his deal into line."If we have a deal, we have a deal and there is no need for prolongation -- that’s not only the British view, that’s my view too," Juncker said. "He and myself we don’t think that it’s possible to give another prolongation."By ruling out another extension, Juncker is framing the vote in the House of Commons as a straight choice between Johnson’s deal or no deal, just as the British leader has tried to do himself. That increases the pressure on undecided lawmakers in Westminster to back the government, but it also raises the cost of failure dramatically.Still, the decision over whether or not to grant another extension isn’t actually down to Juncker. That’s something that has to be decided, unanimously, by the 27 EU leaders.U.K. Plc Urges Lawmakers to Pass Brexit Deal and End UncertaintyWithout his Northern Irish allies, Johnson needs to pick up roughly 61 votes from a pool of about 75 deputies who might be persuaded to join him -- that will involve persuading hold-outs in his own party to side with him rather than the DUP. It’s the final, treacherous hurdle for the U.K. leader to clear before he can complete his ambition of leading Britain out of the EU.The pound rallied on news of the deal, touching $1.2990 before dropping again as the scale of the remaining challenge became clear. It traded 0.2% lower at $1.2812 at 2:37 p.m. in London.Stocks Jump With Pound on Brexit Deal; Bonds Slump: Markets WrapIf Johnson can pull off his deal, it will draw a line under three years of political turmoil since the U.K. voted to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc. If he fails, Britain the prospect of a no-deal Brexit will also come into the equation again.Here’s a run down of the main pledges:establish a wide-ranging free trade agreementreach a deal on services that goes beyond WTO levelsagree equivalence for financial services firmsallow free movement of capitalestablish visa-free travel for short-term visitscommit to a level playing field, with common high standards in state aid, competition, welfare, tax, and environmental mattersAt a Glance: More Key Points of the Brexit Political DeclarationEU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in Brussels that he believes the deal can be ratified by the end of October. He called it a “fair and reasonable basis for an orderly withdrawal” by the U.K.In a nod to the painful to-and-fro of the past three years, he also compared getting the deal done to climbing a mountain.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a second referendum, saying in Brussels that Johnson’s deal -- which he described as a “sell-out” -- was worse than that put forward by predecessor Theresa May. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said her Scottish Nationalist Party will vote against the deal as well, complaining that it creates too great a separation from the EU.At a Glance: What Johnson’s Brexit Will Do for the Irish BorderOne important question as the summit talks begin is whether EU leaders will be prepared to ratify Juncker’s gambit. Ireland’s Leo Varadkar and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen both warned against interfering in the U.K.’s domestic affairs."The best thing that we can do in Ireland is not to intervene or interfere in U.K. internal politics," Varadkar said. "It’s up to the members of the House of Commons to decide whether they want a deal. As of now we have no requests for an extension. If and when a request is received we can consider it but not before then."(Updates with EU leaders endorsing the deal.)\--With assistance from Richard Bravo, Tim Ross, Morten Buttler, Nikos Chrysoloras, Helene Fouquet, Alexander Weber, Adam Blenford, Dara Doyle, Jonathan Stearns, John Follain, Katharina Rosskopf, Tiago Ramos Alfaro, Viktoria Dendrinou, Stephanie Bodoni and Edward Evans.To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.org;Kitty Donaldson in London at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rosalind MathiesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Johnson’s Brexit Foe Plans Another Case to Allow Deal Review
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.The lawyer who spearheaded successful challenges to Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan is preparing another lawsuit.This time, attorney Jolyon Maugham hopes to use what he sees as a legal breach in taxation legislation to secure more time for Parliament to scrutinize the agreement with the European Union. Lawmakers are set to meet Saturday to debate a deal.“What -- beyond Boris Johnson’s desire to meet his self-imposed deadline -- is the rush,” the English tax lawyer said in a tweet.Parliament is being asked to approve a 500-page document that it hasn’t seen “with epochal consequences for Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU,“ he said. He uncharacteristically second guessed whether to file the suit, saying he would “pause and reflect and take soundings” before making a final decision.Maugham, who got the courts to quash the prime minister’s suspension of Parliament, plans to return to Scotland for the latest case. He intends to seek an injunction in the Court of Session in Edinburgh “preventing the government from placing the Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament for approval,” he said. The suit will be heard Friday morning, he said.In addition, legal challenges are already mounting in case Johnson fails to get his deal approved in Parliament. Liberty, a civil rights group, will ask a London court Friday morning to force the prime minister to seek a Brexit extension rather than take the country out of the EU without a deal.Liberty said in a statement that the motion seeks to ensure that the government follows the Benn Act, which requires Johnson to seek an extension if faced with no-deal.“If a full hearing goes ahead, Liberty will ask the court to declare the PM’s current position is unlawful and that he cannot take steps which would be likely to result in the EU refusing to agree an extension request, as required by the Benn Act,” the civil rights group said in a statement.(Updates Liberty challenge in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Browning in London at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at firstname.lastname@example.org, Christopher ElserFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- Trump Shouldn’t Be Sending American Troops to Saudi Arabia
President Donald Trump is wisely resisting starting a new war in the Middle East, but the dead-end nature of his failed “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has put him on the spot to do something.
- Iraqi blogger outspoken about country's corruption detained
Masked security agents stormed the apartment of a prominent Iraqi blogger in Baghdad early Thursday and detained him, apparently over his coverage of anti-government protests, a member of his family said. For about a week starting Oct. 1, Iraq witnessed protests by young Iraqis demanding jobs, electricity and clean water — and an end to corruption. Security forces retaliated with live fire, killing more than 100 people and wounding thousands in protests that spread mostly in Baghdad and pre-dominantly Shiite regions in the country's south.
- 'Don't be a fool!' Donald Trump's letter 'binned' by Turkish president as Mike Pence attempts to broker ceasefire
The United States faced further diplomatic humiliation on Thursday as it emerged that Recep Tayyip Erdogan “binned” a letter from Donald Trump asking him not to invade Syria and vowed to continue Turkey's operation there despite US calls for a ceasefire. News of the spectacular snub came as Mike Pence, the US vice president, flew into Ankara on an emergency mission to end Turkey's assault on formerly US-allied Kurdish forces and defuse a rapidly escalating diplomatic crisis between Nato’s two largest armies. The letter, dated October 9, the day the Turkish offensive began, was released by the White House on Wednesday in response to accusations that Mr Trump gave Mr Erdogan a “green light” for the attack when he ordered US troops out of northern Syria. Donald Trump's letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Credit: AFP Written in colloquial, non diplomatic language, it used a combination of exhortation laced with threats to persuade Mr Erdogan to reverse a decision to invade Syria that the Turkish leader told Mr Trump about in an Oct 6 phone call. “Let's work out a good deal!” Mr Trump began. “You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy - and I will.” He went on: ”I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal.“ The president said he was enclosing a letter from the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, that included offers of important concessions. "History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!“ said Mr Trump, before signing off with: ”I will call you later." Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Ankara, facing an impossible task Credit: Evrim Aydin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Turkish officials confirmed the letter was genuine and said Mr Erdogan simply threw the letter in the bin and ordered the attack to begin. "The letter was written on 9 October. Erdogan rejected the offer of mediation and it was thrown into the trash. The clearest answer to this letter was the reply given at 4pm on 9 October. This was the start of Operation Peace Spring," a senior Turkish official told the Yeni Safak newspaper. In another revelation of Mr Trump's diplomatic manoeuvring, Gen Abdi said the US president effectively approved a deal last week between the SDF, Russia, and Syria that has eroded US influence in the region. "We told (Trump) that we are contacting the Syrian regime and the Russians in order to protect our country and land,“ he told a local TV station, Ronahi TV. "He said, 'We are not against that. We support that.'" Mr Pence and Mr Erdogan spent 90 minutes in a one-on-one meeting on Thursday afternoon, and met again with full delegations, including Mr Pompeo, for several hours in the evening. Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Ras al-Ain on Thursday. Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP European leaders including Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, also reiterated calls for Turkey to halt the offensive. But Turkish officials indicated Ankara was determined to push ahead with the offensive despite the US demands. Ümit Yalçın, Turkey's ambassador to London said: "This military operation was a necessity of our security. We did not plan this overnight or just after a few telephone conversations.“ "This is not a war and there cannot be a ceasefire. There is a counter-terrorism operation and it will end when there is a safe zone for the return for Syrian refugees,“ he added. Turkey launched its offensive into northern Syria on Wednesday last week in an effort to crush the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed Kurdish-led militia that it says is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a banned terrorist group in many Nato countries. Mr Erdogan says he wants to create a 20-mile deep ”safe zone“ on the Syrian side of the border and settle millions of displaced Syrian refugees there. Kurdish authorities said 218 civilians, including 18 children, had been killed since the fighting began. The Kurdish Red Crescent issued an urgent appeal to the International Committee of the Red Cross to organise the evacuation of civilians from the border town Ras al-Ain, also known as Serikane, which has been at the centre of the past eight days' fighting. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish and Turkish-backed forces, who have surrounded the city, made further gains in the under cover of heavy artillery fire on Thursday morning. The SDF said the only hospital there was bombed and a civilian convoy hit by shells or an airstrike on Thursday morning. The group also accused Turkey of using using ”non-conventional“ weapons in the city. The claim could not be immediately verified. The Kremlin said Vladimir Putin would host Mr Erdogan for talks on the Syria crisis in Sochi on Tuesday.
- Betting Firm That Called May Votes Sees Johnson Beaten on Brexit
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to lose Saturday’s vote on his Brexit deal by seven votes, Sporting Index said Thursday. The firm established its political credentials calling correctly the result of earlier votes.Johnson will win the backing of 313 lawmakers, compared with the 320 he needs, the spread betting firm said in an email.“The most likely sticking point could be the support of the DUP, with early signs suggesting that Arlene Foster and co. could still scupper the deal passing through Parliament,” the company said.In April, on the final vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the spread betting firm forecast she’d lose by 60 votes. She was defeated by 58. Earlier in March, when May lost by 149 votes, Sporting Index predicted a 148 loss. In January, when she was beaten by 230. it forecast 218.Without his Northern Irish allies, Johnson needs to pick up roughly 61 votes from a pool of about 75 deputies who might be persuaded to join him -- that will involve persuading hold-outs in his own party to side with him rather than the DUP.To contact the reporter on this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ben SillsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- What's in the proposed UK-EU Brexit deal?
Britain and the European Union have a Brexit deal — and if it is ratified, people and businesses will finally have a measure of certainty about what lies ahead. Former Prime Minister Theresa May struck a deal with the EU in December 2018, but Parliament rejected it three times. Ever since negotiations began more than two years ago, the key hurdle to a deal has been finding a way to keep goods and people flowing freely across the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland — the only land border between the U.K. and the bloc.
- Libya official: Gunmen kill 2 women, 3 kids near capital
Gunmen killed two women and three children of the same family while they were driving on a highway near the capital, Tripoli, less than a week after an airstrike slammed into a house killing at least three civilians, a health official said Thursday. The city has been the scene of fighting between rival militias since April. A U.N.-supported but weak government holds the capital, but the self-styled Libyan National Army — which is associated with a rival government in the country's east — is trying to seize it.
- Trump portrays Mideast as a bloody sandbox, maligns Kurds
President Donald Trump is surfacing cultural stereotypes as he depicts the Middle East as a blood-soaked sandbox where people "play" violently because that's "what they do" in that part of the world. This from the president of a nation born in revolution, ruptured by civil war, tested by world wars, bogged in Vietnam and now trying to extricate itself from the longest war in its history, in Afghanistan.
- Boris Johnson Has Sacrificed Quite a Few Lambs
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There was much backslapping in Brussels on Thursday after the unthinkable on Brexit finally became reality: A deal between the U.K. and the European Union that allowed both sides to claim victory.After months of hostility, exasperation and hardball tactics, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was able to say he’d secured the “new deal” he’d pledged to deliver ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit date. Meanwhile, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, could say the new changes stuck to the bloc’s red lines and protected the integrity of the single market, while keeping intact most of the original withdrawal deal agreed with Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.Given that the hurdle of U.K. parliamentary ratification is still to come (a hurdle that May failed to clear three times), one can’t assume this is done. Nonetheless it’s worth reflecting on the sacrificial lambs offered up by both sides to get this breakthrough. On balance there’s more reason for bleating on the U.K. side, which explains both the opposition of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party and the broader challenge for Johnson of driving this through the House of Commons.In fairness to him, the “backstop” mechanism (designed to prevent a return to a hard border in Ireland) is gone. This was Johnson’s chief demand when he entered Downing Street in July; he believed the backstop would have kept the whole of the U.K. trapped in the EU’s customs union, hampering its ability to pursue trade deals. Naturally he’s selling its removal as a major victory.But Johnson had to make a big concession in return: Northern Ireland, while legally staying part of the U.K.’s customs territory, will have to apply EU customs rules and tariffs and align closely with European regulations on most goods. It’s very similar to the Northern Ireland-only backstop that was proposed by the EU to Theresa May. She rejected it outright as it means an effective border in the Irish Sea between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland. How times have changed under her successor Johnson, who once would have lambasted such a compromise as treasonous. One place where time rarely changes, of course, is in the headquarters of the DUP, the parliamentary allies of Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party. They, with some justification, have been quick to seize on his Irish Sea customs fudge as undermining the “integrity” of the U.K, warning that Northern Ireland’s economic well-being is at risk.The DUP are the noisiest opponents in Johnson’s camp to his deal, and they could upset his ultra-tight arithmetic in trying to get it passed by Parliament. That the European Court of Justice would enforce this mechanism also makes Johnson’s chest-beating about “taking back control” from continental courts look pretty hollow.In fairness, the EU has budged a lot by agreeing to the principle of “consent,” where the Northern Ireland assembly would have to agree periodically to carrying on with the Irish Sea mechanism. Yet Brussels didn’t concede on Johnson’s initial DUP-placating proposal, which would have given Arlene Foster’s party a veto over the consent process. Instead this will be a simple majority decision in the assembly, which was enough to guarantee the DUP’s resentment.Johnson could congratulate himself too over restricting the inclusion of a U.K. commitment to a “level playing field” on social protection, the environment and other regulations to the so-called political declaration (a non-binding annex to the main withdrawal agreement). Some might think that keeps the Brexiter dream of a deregulated “Singapore-on-Thames” alive. But the U.K. still needs to strike a decent trade deal with the EU, and a level playing field will be one of the prices it has to pay.It’s too crude to say that one side has “lost” more than the other here. If a deal ends up going through, the EU is about to say goodbye to an important member and the Brits will have to forgo the joys of the single market. Still, Johnson’s sacrifices are big enough to make his parliamentary victory far from assured.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
- UK's Johnson believes lawmakers must choose his deal or disorderly Brexit -source
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes lawmakers have to choose between voting for his new Brexit deal or risking a disorderly exit from the EU because delaying the departure is no longer an option, a senior British official said.