The German government can no longer implement important foreign policy projects in the Arab world without Russia’s support, as the results of Saturday’s negotiations between Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin demonstrate. Moscow will, in principle, support the “Berlin Process,” with which the German government would like to take on the role of an influential mediator in the Libyan war. Without Moscow, Berlin did not succeed in holding the International Libya Conference, which was designed to become the first highlight in the “Berlin Process.” In the run-up to Merkel’s Moscow visit, German foreign policy experts lavished unhabitual praise on the influence Russia has gained over the past few years. If you wanted to achieve anything in Syria, “you had to call Washington;” according to Bijan Djir-Sarai, FDP foreign policy parliamentarian, “today you have to call Moscow.” Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, member of the Bundestag (FDP) calls German/Russian relations “a treasure.” (German Foreign Policy, 1/15)
Mayor’s resignation highlights threat to German leaders
Arnd Focke, the Social Democratic mayor of a town in Lower Saxony, was regularly threatened by nationalists. Now he has resigned. Regional officials have repeatedly faced threats across Germany.
The mainstreaming of nationalist politics, most visible in the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has become a means of spreading ideas once considered taboo, Focke said. But, he said, it would be too simple to blame the AfD for the threat to centrist regional German politicians. “The problem is right at the heart of our society,” Focke said. “We no longer stand up for each other or against extremism. People are able once again to say things they weren’t even allowed to think five years ago.” “We failed to educate,” Focke said. “Children and young people must be taught that we in Germany have a past that cannot be allowed to repeat itself. And there are many people who are discontented and are too easily manipulated to this end.” Focke is now trusting federal investigators to look into the swastikas and the threatening notes. He believes that other politicians have also resigned because of threats — they just don’t say so publicly. (Deutsche Welle , 12 Jan 2020)
Illegal immigration throughout Europe continues unabated. In France, for instance, nearly 20,000 migrants have been arrested so far in 2019, according to the police website France Bleu, which also reported that 189 people smugglers have been arrested since January 1.
In Britain, The Telegraph newspaper reported that Albanian people smugglers were posting advertisements on social media platforms, including Facebook, promoting their ability to get people into Europe. The ads are accompanied by TripAdvisor-style feedback comments from “satisfied” customers…. people smuggling gangs generate profits of up to £6 billion (€7 billion; $8 billion) a year…
“Europe under siege from people-smuggling gangs,” Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 1/7)
SUEZ CANAL ALTERED ECOLOGY
Experts say Mediterranean Sea altered by Suez Canal’s invasive species. Red Sea invaders have driven native marine life toward extinction and changed the delicate ecosystem with potentially devastating consequences, marine biologists warn by Aron Heller and Isabel Debre (16 Jan 2020, Times of Israel)
AP — As Egypt marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Suez Canal, marine biologists are bemoaning one of the famed waterway’s lesser known legacies — the invasion of hundreds of non-native species, including toxic jellyfish and aggressive lionfish.
The canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, revolutionized maritime travel by creating a direct shipping route between the East and the West. But over the years, the invasive species have driven native marine life toward extinction and altered the delicate Mediterranean ecosystem with potentially devastating consequences, scientists say.
The influx has increased significantly since Egypt doubled its capacity in 2015 with the opening of the “The New Suez Canal,” raising alarm in Europe and sparking criticism from various countries along the Mediterranean basin. The sharpest criticism comes from neighboring Israel, which once battled Egypt in war alongside the 193-kilometer (120-mile)-long canal.
LIBYAN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
Libya pledge: Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other foreign powers have promised to end all interference in the armed conflict in Libya, as part of a German-brokered effort to halt rising violence and chaos in the north African country and prepare the ground for a UN-sponsored peace process. The promise was contained in a document agreed by world leaders at a conference in Berlin yesterday. However, there were already signs of fresh military escalation in the civil war-wracked state. (FT 1/20)
ALPINE AUSTERITY: As the World Economic Forum prepares to kick off its 50th annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Tuesday, the Financial Times reports on the elite gathering’s efforts to appear more environmentally-friendly. Among other things, it is encouraging participants to take trains instead of private jets, and is providing shoe grips to cajole attendees to “walk the snowy promenade between meetings rather than take cars.”
The effort to be sustainable extends to advising caterers not to serve luxuries such as foie gras and caviar, and one day of the meeting has been set aside for “vegetarian menus and the discovery of alternative protein sources.” This year’s events — including the launch of an initiative to plant 1 trillion trees in the next decade — will take place in rooms decorated with seaweed-based paint and carpets made from “end-of life fishing nets.” The scores of companies hosting their own events have been asked to consider offering local wines and “mountain herbal infusions” instead of imported drinks.
(Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, 1/20/2020)
RELIGIOUS TENSIONS IN INDIA
Whether it is France or Nigeria, Italy or Myanmar, the presence of militant Muslims is a serious cause of concern to all — most of all to Muslims who want freedom from Islamists, be they inspired by Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.
If one were to watch India through the lens of its social media and the statements made by its upper middle-class urban elites of the Left, the country is facing chaos and is in a downward spiral towards a catastrophe.
At the centre of this storm in a teacup is a new law passed by both houses of the Indian Parliament that provides for a fast track towards citizenship for refugees in India who fled religious persecution in three of India’s neighbors — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2015 and who now live in difficult conditions as stateless persons.
Since most of the people who fled India’s three Islamic neighbors were non-Muslim, the new Indian law known as the Citizenship Amendment Act is applicable to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians. (Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, MEF, 1/20/2020)
IRANIAN WOMEN DEFY MULLAHS — WHY DON’T WESTERN FEMINISTS SUPPORT THEM?
Before 1979, Iranian women had freedom. They want it back.
If Iranian feminists who refuse to wear the hijab are brave, their Western counterparts, who wear pink hats, have wretchedly abandoned them. Why is Iranian barbarism so easily condoned in the West?
Thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall was torn down by ordinary citizens who wanted to reclaim their freedom of movement. Today, the wall of the Iranian regime could be torn down by these ordinary women who want to reclaim the freedom to wear what they like. They are bravely refusing to walk on flags of Israel and the U.S. — and enjoying the wind in their hair again. (Giulio Meotti, Gatestone, 1/19/2020)
TO THE POINT·
- Yemeni Journalist Ahmed Al-Musaibily: Israel Is Our Number One Enemy But At Least It Does Not Try To Convert Muslims To Judaism The Same Way That Iran Converts Sunnis To Shi’a Islam (MEMRI 1/20) – Iraqi security forces reportedly killed two protesters in Baghdad. Demonstrators, frustrated at the slow pace of the government’s reforms, are demanding new elections, an independent prime minister and prosecution of corrupt officials. Security forces responded with live rounds and tear-gas. The UN envoy in the country called for protests to remain peaceful and for politicians to address people’s concerns. (Economist, 1/22)
- EUROPE’S NIGERIAN MAFIA — Italian intelligence has named the Nigerian mafia “the most structured and dynamic” of any foreign crime entity operating in Italy, according to the Washington Post…. What distinguishes the Nigerian crime networks is their severe brutality. Black Axe has also spread to Canada, where a 2015 report by the Globe and Mail described it as a “death cult”… linked to “decades of murders and rapes…. In the US, the FBI recently linked a series of financial frauds to Black Axe. (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 1/8/2020)
- FRENCH ANTI-SEMITISM — “In France, perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks claim insanity to elude justice. The mental illness defense has become more prevalent when it comes to hate crimes in France. And it seems to be working.” — Shirli Sitbon, Haaretz.
- Muslim anti-Semitism has long been ignored in France.
- “The situation is not under control.” — Celine Pina, Le Figaro. (Guy Milliere, Gatestone, 1/22)
- PIERS MORGAN: “Spare me your ‘patriotic’ crocodile tears, Harry – you DIDN’T have to quit. You chose to ditch the Queen, the monarchy, your military comrades and your country… to become a royal Kardashian and keep Meghan happy. ” (Daily Mail, 1/20/2020)