MIGRANT TRAINS BLOCKED IN BUDAPEST
Photo: Sven Hoppe/DPA/ZUMA
Thousands of asylum seekers â€" mostly Syrians fleeing their countryâ€™s civil war â€" have reached Munich, in Germany, and Vienna, in Austria, after leaving the Hungarian capital of Budapest by train Monday in what German daily Die Welt cited as the biggest movement of people in Europe since World War II. The number of migrants reaching Europe is reaching record levels, with 107,500 arriving in July alone, the BBC reports.
- By Tuesday morning, Hungary began blocking trains from its main rail terminal in Budapest and clearing train stations of hundreds of migrants trying to board the western-bound trains. Read more here in Worldcrunchâ€™s Extra! feature from Budapestâ€™s Metropol daily.
- Germany is expected to receive at least 800,000 asylum seekers this year. Reuters quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying that the EU failing to find greater shares in the migrant crisis could threaten the Schengen area: â€œIf we don't succeed in fairly distributing refugees then of course the Schengen question will be on the agenda," she told a news conference in Berlin. "We stand before a huge national challenge...not only for days or months but for a long period of time."
- About 20,000 people also marched in support of migrants in Vienna Monday, the AFP reports. On Thursday, 71 migrants were found dead in a truck on an Austrian highway. Authorities have since introduced additional road checks.
- About 3,650 migrants arrived in the Austrian capital, according to The Local, and most continued to Germany.
PAKISTAN SUICIDE ATTACK
A suicide bomber killed at least six people, including four tribal police officers and wounded another 31 Tuesday outside a government office in the Pakistani town of Jamrud, in the northwestern Khyber tribal area, The Express Tribune quoted officials as saying. Pakistani security forces have been fighting Taliban forces in the volatile Khyber Agency for the past year in an attempt to suppress the decade-long insurgency.
AL-SHABAAB ATTACK SOMALI AFRICAN UNION BASE
Militants of the Islamist al-Shabaab group attacked an African Union base early Tuesday in the town of Janaale, in southern Somalia, Al Jazeera quoted a spokesman of the armed organization as saying. After breaching the entrance of the base with a car bomb, fighters allegedly stormed the base, killing dozens of African Union soldiers. These reports have however not been confirmed and al-Shabaab has exaggerated the number of victims in the past.
UKRAINE OFFICER KILLED IN KIEV PROTESTS
A National Guard officer was killed and more than 100 were wounded, including several seriously, when a grenade was thrown at them from a crowd of far-right and nationalist protesters outside the parliament in Kiev, the Kyiv Post reports. The Ukrainian interior minister Arsen Avakov said the 25-year-old officer died from shrapnel wounds in hospital. Anton Gerashchenko, an interior ministry advisor, wrote on Facebook that several officers also suffered gunshot wounds. The demonstrators, mostly from the far-right political party Svoboda, which was also part of last yearâ€™s Maidan movement, were protesting a decentralization reform that was being voted by lawmakers that would give more autonomy to regions, including those facing an insurgency from pro-Russian separatists.
ON THIS DAY
Tokio Hotel and Louis XIV left their mark on September 1. Check out the 57-second video shot of history.
SECOND SUSPECT ARRESTED OVER THAI BLAST
A second foreign man has been arrested by Thai authorities on suspicion of involvement in the Aug. 17 bombing in Bangkok that left 20 dead, Al Jazeera reports. The Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the man was arrested at a checkpoint on the Cambodian border.
â€œOn this issue â€" of all issues â€" there is such a thing as being too late,â€ U.S. President Barack Obama said late Monday during a visit to Alaska about the need for climate action, USA Today reports. This is part of a three-day presidential trip to Alaska during which the president is also set to take part in the television show Running Wild with Bear Grylls, according to NBC.
THAI COURT CLEARS REPORTERS IN NAVY DEFAMATION CASE
Australian Alan Morison and Thai Chutima Sidasathian, two journalists working for the website Phuketwan were acquitted by a court in Phuket Tuesday after they were accused of defamation by the Thai navy, the Bangkok Post reports. In a report published in 2013, the two journalists implicated the navy in human trafficking. â€œWe hope it is sign of Thailand's growing maturity and that the media and military can live side by side,â€ Morison was quoted as saying by Phuketwan.
Swiss daily Le Temps has a thorough rundown about all the misconceptions floating around about the so-called theory of evolution. (For starters, itâ€™s not even a theory...) â€œAnother common but false idea is that by controlling the environment so much, mankind freed itself from evolutionary pressure. But our recent genetic history proves that we are evolving, as the appearance of lactose tolerance shows â€¦â€
Read the full article, 10 Misconceptions About The Theory Of Evolution.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
YOUâ€™RE A VILLAIN, HARRY
What if Harry Potter turned out to be the bad guy? This expand=1] truly creeper trailer imagines a revenge-thirsty boy wizard.
The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.
LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.
Agence France-Presse news agency, meanwhile, has cited an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Saudi Arabia wants to end its costly discord with Tehran. The sides may already have agreed to reopen consular offices. For Saudi Arabia, the costs include its war on Iran-backed Houthis rebels fighting an UN-recognized government in next-door Yemen.
The role of the nuclear pact
Bilateral relations were severed in January 2016, after regime militiamen stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amirabdollahian was then the deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs. In 2019, he told the website Iranian Diplomacy that Saudi Arabia had taken measures vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear pact with the world powers.
It's unlikely Ali Khamenei will tolerate the Saudi kingdom's rising power in the region.
He said "the Saudis' insane conduct toward [the pact] led them to conclude that they must prevent [its implementation] in a peaceful environment ... I think the Saudis are quite deluded, and their delusion consists in thinking that Trump is an opportunity for them to place themselves on the path of conflict with the Islamic Republic while relying on Trump." He meant the administration led by the U.S. President Donald J.Trump, which was hostile to Iran's regime. This, he said, "is not how we view Saudi Arabia. I think Yemen should have been a big lesson for the Saudis."
The minister was effectively admitting the Houthis were the Islamic Republic's tool for getting back at Saudi Arabia.
Yet in the past two years, both sides have taken steps to improve relations, without firm results as yet. Nor is the situation likely to change this time.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020commons.wikimedia.org
Riyadh's warming relations with Israel
Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, told the ILNA news agency in Tehran that Saudi Arabia is doing Israel's bidding in the region, and has "entrusted its national security, and life and death to Tel Aviv." Riyadh, he said, had been financing a good many "security and political projects in the region," or acting as a "logistical supplier."
The United States, said Dastmalchian, has "in turn tried to provide intelligence and security backing, while Israel has simply followed its own interests in all this."
Furthermore, it seems unlikely Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will tolerate, even in this weak period of his leadership, the kingdom's rising power in the region and beyond, and especially its financial clout. He is usually disparaging when he speaks of Riyadh's princely rulers. In 2017, he compared them to "dairy cows," saying, "the idiots think that by giving money and aid, they can attract the goodwill of Islam's enemies."
Iranian regime officials are hopeful of moving toward better diplomatic ties and a reopening of embassies. Yet the balance of power between the sides began to change in Riyadh's favor years ago. For the kingdom's power has shifted from relying mostly on arms, to economic and political clout. The countries might have had peaceful relations before in considerably quieter, and more equitable, conditions than today's acute clash of interests.
For if nuclear talks break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive.
Beyond this, the Abraham Accord or reconciliation of Arab states and Israel has been possible thanks to the green light that the Saudis gave their regional partners, and it is a considerable political and ideological defeat for the Islamic Republic.
Assuming all Houthis follow Tehran's instructions — and they may not — improved ties may curb attacks on Saudi interests and aid its economy. Tehran will also benefit from no longer having to support them. Unlike Iran's regime, the Saudis are not pressed for cash or resources and could even offer the Houthis a better deal. Presently, they may consider it more convenient to keep the softer approach toward Tehran.
For if nuclear talks with the West break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive, and as experience has shown, tensions often prompt a renewal of missile or drone attacks on the Saudis, on tankers and on foreign shipping. Riyadh must have a way of keeping the Tehran regime quiet, in a distinctly unquiet time.
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