SYRIAN ARMY TAKES BACK KEY AIR BASE FROM ISIS
The Syrian army has regained control of the Kwairis military airbase, near the northern city of Aleppo, ending a siege that started in April 2013 and was reinforced by ISIS in the spring of 2014, the Syrian Arab News Agency reports. According to experts quoted by AFP, this is an important breakthrough for the Assad regime and its allies, and the airbase could now be used by Russian warplanes to fully retake the city of Aleppo, as well as protecting the Syrian governmentâ€™s western stronghold in Latakia, where 24 civilians were killed yesterday in terrorist rocket attacks. The BBC meanwhile reports that a Russian document circulating at the United Nations set out a potential political transition process of 18 months, followed by presidential elections. This comes ahead of a summit, due to take place in Vienna on Saturday.
EUROPEâ€™S TWISTS, TURNS ON MIGRANT CRISIS
Reversing a decision made in August, Germany will resume the application of the Dublin rules on asylum, meaning that the mostly Syrian refugees that have entered will be sent back to the countries where they first registered (except Greece) upon entering the European Union. German weekly Der Spiegel reports that the announcement comes amid reports of tensions in Chancellor Angela Merkelâ€™s coalition government, and even inside her own CDU party. According to officials statistics, about 800,000 migrants have already registered in the country this year, with authorities forced to requisition school gyms and even churches to accommodate the refugees.
Hungary, which erected fences at most of its borders to prevent more refugees from entering, has warned Germany that â€œnot a single Syrianâ€ should be returned there. â€œThe Dublin system is dead since apart from a few exceptions, countries arenâ€™t abiding by its terms,â€ Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.
Slovenia has meanwhile started to erect a barbed-wire fence on its border with Croatia to limit entries, as the tiny country is overwhelmed by the number of migrants, a situation made worse by restricted entries into neighboring Austria.
Meanwhile in France, migrants clashed with the police for a third consecutive night in the northern city of Calais, amid recent attempts to relocate the estimated 6,000 migrants on the infamous â€œJungleâ€ to other parts of France. Speaking to AFP, local officials said the violence had spread to the cityâ€™s suburbs located near the camp, with residents reporting theft and damage to their homes.
The growing unrest comes as 50 leaders from Europe and Africa meet Wednesday in Malta to discuss the migrant crisis. According to Euronews, EU leaders are willing to grant Africa 1.8 billion euros in emergency funds to help it take back some of the economic migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean.
GERMANY SPIED ON FABIUS, FBI, UNICEF
New revelations about Germanyâ€™s BND intelligence service show that its list of targets included French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, as well as several international and foreign institutions. According to public radio station RBB, which didnâ€™t name its source, the BND spied on the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the FBI, the United Nations bodies UNICEF and the World Health Organization, as well as European and American companies, such as weapons manufacturer Lockheed.
ON THIS DAY
World War I ended and a more â€œmodern artistâ€ named Leonardo was born.
MYANMARâ€™S SUU KYI TO MEET PRESIDENT AFTER VICTORY
Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of Myanmarâ€™s National League for Democracy has written to the countryâ€™s President, army and Parliament speaker, requesting a meeting to prepare â€œnational reconciliationâ€ after her partyâ€™s victory in a historic national poll, The Irrawaddy reports. The President has reportedly accepted the meeting, though it will likely take place only once the final results have been announced. Suu Kyi has retained her own constituency, and her party has won 163 seats.
â€œWhy does she keep interrupting everybody?â€ Donald Trump hit another bad note, chiding fellow candidate Carly Fiorina, during Tuesday nightâ€™s fourth Republican debate. The attack earned Trump boos from the audience and commentators generally agreed that his overall performance was lackluster. The New York Times picked Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul as the top performers in the debate, describing Jeb Bush as â€œBetter. Maybe.â€
MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Half-a-day is all it took for Chinese online shoppers tobreak the $9.3 billion spending record for Singlesâ€™ Day, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced earlier today. The figures dwarf those registered in the U.S. on Cyber Monday, with a record of â€œjustâ€ $1.35 billion.
ISRAEL-EU ROW OVER LABELS
Israelâ€™s Foreign Minister has summoned the European Unionâ€™s representative to Israel after the EU approved plans to label products from occupied West Bank settlements, Haaretz reports.
Le Temps correspondent Arnaud Dubus visited northern Laos to discover how Chinese business interests are largely taking over large swaths of the Southeast Asian country. â€œWith its casino surrounded by pseudo-Greek statues, its early century Shanghai-like neighborhood and its Beijing pagodas, the "Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone" is the most extravagant example of Chinese economic presence in northern Laos. This zone, which the Laotian government has allocated to a Chinese company for 99 years, is a Chinese enclave where people live a Beijing lifestyle and speak only Chinese.
It's a sign of the economic changes that have transformed northern Laos, on the border with China. There is a massive penetration of Chinese entrepreneurs in this country, which is one of Asia's poorest in terms of per capita incomeâ€¦â€ Read the full article: How Northern Laos Is Being Swallowed By China
PORTUGAL WITHOUT GOVERNMENT
As expected, the opposition in the Portuguese parliament ousted the center-right minority government of Pedro Passos Coelho on Tuesday, making it the shortest-lived in the countryâ€™s history after just 12 days in power. The newspaper Díario Económico said the likeliest option now is for the President of the Republic to name the leader of the center-left Socialist party, António Costa, as the new Prime Minister and let him form a coalition government with other left-leaning parties. The head of stateâ€™s unusual attempt to name aâ€œminority governmentâ€ clearly failed.
INDEPENDENCE FOR EASTER ISLAND?
A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.
BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.
Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.
The incident at the cemetery
They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."
There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.
It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.
The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
Crimes against Jews are rising
Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.
Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.
Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.
And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?
Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously
This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.
Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.
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