Victoria Hudson

NATO and Europe try to block China buying spree
Geopolitics

NATO and Europe try to block China buying spree

“We need to do more to protect Western technology from being bought up by Chinese companies,” John Sawers, the former chief of Britain’s MI6, told Sky News last week. “I don’t think it’s an existential threat in the way the Soviet Union was in the Cold War, but nevertheless there is going to be deep rivalry over control of technology.” While Europe’s economic relations with China continue to move forward cautiously, now that economies are facing a massive downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, both NATO and EU officials are warning governments to block Beijing buying spree.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking after a videoconference of defense ministers Wednesday, noted that the geopolitical effects of the pandemic could be significant if economic difficulties made some allies more exposed for situations where critical infrastructure can be sold out. He said ministers had discussed the point that “resilience” is enshrined in Article 3 of the alliance’s founding treaty and talked about “making sure that we have resilient, critical infrastructure, industries, and that we are able to, for instance, provide critical equipment during crises.”

According to the latest report of the Netherland Institute of International Relations, Chinese investments in European seaports have increased rapidly in recent years. This process has triggered a debate in Europe on the significance of, and how to deal with, growing Chinese influence in European ports. This process is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – in particular, its maritime component, the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) – and is among the financial and geopolitical effects of China’s growing role in international affairs.

“This time around I think there’s more attention and there’s more scrutiny of China’s activities, and there are greater protection measures put into place,” Erik Brattberg, director of the Europe Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Deutsche Welle’s online magazine. “We have yet to see how successful and effective those measures will be should China seek to take advantage of an economic crisis in Europe.” He added.

At the beginning of the Chinese expansion, Western European countries believed they would not be vulnerable to Chinese influence, but they were wrong. New measures were introduced by the EU a year ago. They are part of the so-called foreign investment screening framework, aimed at safeguarding the bloc’s strategic interests. By October 2019, EU member states were due to have a process in place under which they notify each other and the European Commission if an investment offer from outside the EU could be uncertain. In light of Chinese and Russian influence operations during the pandemic, the commission has urged governments to speed up the implementation of this process.

Russiagate: New FBI documents raise doubts about Michael Flynns trial
Americas

Russiagate: New FBI documents raise doubts about Michael Flynns trial

The US federal judge for the District of Columbia, Emmet G. Sullivan, has revealed new documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that raise concerns about the handling of investigations on General Michael Flynn, former national security adviser of the President Donald Trump. Flynn was the first high-profile defendant in the “Russiagate” trial on the hypothetical collusion between the president Trump’s election campaign and Russia, which kept the current presidential administration under check for two years.

The documents released on Wednesday show details of a debate among F.B.I. officials before they interviewed Mr. Flynn at the White House and about how to address legal, investigative and political issues, as well as other inner workings of a high-level law enforcement review. The materials include a written note from Bill Priestap, then director of FBI counter-espionage, in which the agency’s agents are suggested to conduct the interrogations against General Flynn: “What should be our goal? Does admitting the truth, or pushing him to lie?”. The notes say, adding: “If we push him to admit that he violated the Logan Act, then we can pass the matter to the Justice department, and let them decide”.

The Logan Act is the law that prohibits negotiations by unauthorized US citizens with foreign governments. The document seems to describe exactly what happened with Flynn in 2017: the official admitted to having violated the Logan Act through his paid participation in some events organized by the Turkish government. Flynn has resigned from the role of adviser of President Donald Trump. He was subsequently tried and sentenced, in a high-profile affair in the context of investigations into Russia’s electoral interference in the 2016 United States presidential electoral campaign.

The notes were taken on January 24, 2017, only days after Mr. Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his discussions with Mr. Kislyak. As part of his guilty appeal, Mr. Flynn stated he knew lying to the FBI was a crime, but he has since said he was innocent. Mr. Flynn is now asking Judge Sullivan to allow him to withdraw from the guilty plea, saying he was forced into the decision. The judge, who carefully walked Mr. Flynn through the plea in 2018, has not ruled on the request.

The trial against Flynn and his sentence are considered, according to “CNN”, one of the main successes of the investigation on Russiagate by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, which lasted two years and led to the sentencing of several figures close to Trump, mostly for offenses related to the main vein of the investigation. However, Mueller’s work did not lead to the confirmation of the alleged contacts between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Mr. Trump has said he fired Mr. Flynn for lying to the vice president and the FBI, but late Wednesday, the US president took Twitter to say that the investigation against his former national security adviser was a “scam.” As for now, Flynn and his lawyers intend to reopen the file, and accuse the FBI and the US Justice department of irregularities in the investigation procedures.

Artificial intelligence to fight coronavirus
Americas

Artificial intelligence to fight coronavirus

Predictive data analysis, remote monitoring, 3D printing, chat boxes and robots can be useful to contain and reduce the contagion of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), to follow the positives at a distance, to program resources, to disinfect and help people sick in total safety. By analyzing news reports, social media platforms, and government documents, artificial intelligence (AI) can learn to detect an outbreak. Artificial intelligence company Infervision launched a coronavirus AI solution that helps front-line healthcare workers detect and monitor the disease efficiently. Imaging departments in healthcare facilities are being taxed with the increased workload created by the virus. A consortium called C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute (C3.ai DTI) has been also created in USA with a fund research for a total of almost 6 million dollars aimed at mitigating the pandemic using artificial intelligence.

The consortium is made up of academic and non-academic institutions, including the universities of Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, as well as the C3.ai and Microsoft groups. According to reports on the C3.ai DTI website, the consortium’s mission is to attract the world’s best-trained researchers in the field of artificial intelligence in a joint, coordinated and ongoing effort in this venture.

The first research call launched by the consortium, for a total of 5.8 million dollars, is entitled “Techniques based on artificial intelligence to mitigate the pandemic” and the proposals of scientists from all over the world can be sent by May 1. There are many objectives in the field for this call: from the use of artificial intelligence to develop new drugs against the virus or to convert drugs already in clinical use with other indications, from designing clinical trials to the development of models to simulate the effectiveness of prevention and making predictions for the near future. The researchers will also be able to use supercomputers and all the artificial intelligence tools.

European Council gives go-ahead to support from EU budget
Europe

European Council gives go-ahead to support from EU budget

Following a video conference with leaders of political groups in the European Parliament, President David Sassoli called an extraordinary plenary session for March 26 to approve measures to tackle COVID-19. It will be the first plenary session to use a remote voting system. “I want to express my warmth and solidarity to all those suffering and all those who have lost loved ones. I want to stress my admiration and support for all those who are on the front line fighting this pandemic”. Sassoli said, affirming that “Europe is moving. Faced with this dramatic situation, with a duty to defend lives, livelihoods, and stability for all, the European Union is acting. Of course, we had to fight against national selfishness, but now it is a clear how we are going to face this emergency”. Last night the ECB decided to make 750 billion Euros available to Parliament’s calls, to the measures of the Commission, to those of the States, to possible additional initiatives, such as mobilizing another 500 billion from the European Stability Mechanism, the so-called bailout fund. “We are talking about an intervention that, overall, is close to two trillion euros. The greatest demonstration of the power of European solidarity in a long time.

Comparable to the Marshall plan, the programme that helped us get back from the ruins of World War II”. Stressed Sassoli.
Yesterday, EU ambassadors agreed the Council’s position on two legislative proposals which will free up funds to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the urgency of the situation, both proposals were approved without amendments. The so-called Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative will make available €37 billion of Cohesion funds to member states to address the consequences of the crisis. About €8 billion of investment liquidity will be released from unspent pre-financing in 2019 for programmes under the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The measure will also provide access to €29 billion of structural funding across the EU for 2020. Expenditure on crisis response will be available as of 1 February 2020. The new measures will support SMEs to alleviate serious liquidity shortages as a result of the pandemic, as well as strengthen investment in products and services necessary to bolster the crisis response of health services. Member states will also have greater flexibility to transfer funds between programmes to help those most adversely affected. EU ambassadors also endorsed without amendment a legislative proposal to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies. The fund was initially set up to help member states and accession countries deal with the effects of natural disasters. Including public health emergencies will enable the Union to help meet people’s immediate needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to complement efforts of the countries concerned.

“We are at war” French president announcing two-week lockdown in France
Europe

“We are at war” French president announcing two-week lockdown in France

French President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday a new phase to fight the coronavirus emergency. From Tuesday noon and for at least 15 days, restrictions on movement will be applied in France, it will be limited to movement for health reasons, food shopping, work, if no teleworking option is foreseeable, and solo sporting activity. Large gatherings are prohibited as concerts, demonstrations, sporting and cultural events. President Macron also announced that sanctions would be applied for transgressors, that the French government should develop in a communiqué later.

Macron said in televised remarks that the government decided to order the restrictions because people haven’t complied with earlier public health measures and “we are at war”. The address arrived after he held a meeting with his prime minister, top military adviser, intelligence coordinator and ministers of health, the interior and foreign affairs on the health crisis. “I want our citizens to realise that there are people who are sick, who are in intensive care and that their number runs into hundreds,” France’s director general of health Jérôme Salomon said on Monday. According to the latest official figures published on Sunday, France has had 127 coronavirus deaths and 5,423 confirmed cases. According to France24, that was a jump of 36 deaths and over 900 cases in 24 hours. More than 400 people have been hospitalised in a serious condition.

A series of measures was also announced to support the French medical and hospital system, businesses, workers, and independent stores. The State will offer financial and material support to hospitals and their staff. A military hospital and the army will be mobilised to reduce public hospitals’ congestion, and to support hospital, medical and nursing personnel. Taxis and hotels will be made available and paid by the State for these personnel, and they will be provided with a dedicated childcare service. It must be said that such lockdown measures have already been applied in Italy and Spain. Belgium or Greece have also taken similar measures. Several EU countries even decided to close their borders, followed by Spain. The European Commission has also issued recommendations or measures that are developed on its dedicated website.

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Even the coronavirus doesn’t stop Erdogan expansionistic plans
Middle East & Africa

Even the coronavirus doesn’t stop Erdogan expansionistic plans

Not even the Coronavirus emergency stops the Turkish plans on the energy dossier, with a series of chain risks that the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking personally to continue his expansionistic plans in the region. The Kanumi, the third offshore drilling vessel that joins Fatih and Yavuz from England, has arrived in Turkey and has been quarantined for the novel virus COVID-19. Last February, Ankara announced that the new ship would likely operate in the eastern Mediterranean. It is easy to speculate that it follows Ankara’s gas strategy in Cyprus, where Turkey’s illegal activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone have been condemned by the EU and the US, but in fact have not stopped. While Erdogan continues to fight alongside terrorists in Syria and Libya, in parallel with the provocations with migrants in Evros, the Turkish president and head of the International Muslim Brotherhood continues his illegal action to take over gas in Cyprus. The Fatih and Yavuz ships have operated within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus (EEZ) since last May breaking international laws and treaties, and for this reason Ankara made them escort by two warships in a handkerchief of waters where other ships also transited, such as the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the French frigate Fremm and various American, Egyptian and Italian military vessels. Erdogan’s plan has expanded to Libya since February 2020 with the signing of two agreements with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli for military collaboration and maritime jurisdiction.

The Memorandum signed by Erdogan and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj – strongly rejected by the Libyan people- created an exclusive Turkish area of expertise in the eastern Mediterranean that violates the interests of third countries, in particular Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. In Libya, Turkey plans to extend its gas search to the territorial waters of the North African country in exchange for military support for the militias and armed groups affiliated to the GNA. Erdogan has also started a dispute with Greece for the island of Kastellorizo. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis affirmed that “Turkey’s attempt to abolish the maritime borders of islands such as Crete, Rhodes, Karpathos and Kastellorizo with escamotages will not produce legal results internationally”. Of the islands he mentioned, Kastellorizo is located only 2 km from the Turkish coast. The Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who still attacks the Treaty of Lausanne replied: “Greece has illegally militarized 16 of the 23 islands under the Treaty of Lausanne since 1936. On the other hand, it claims a continental shelf six miles, claiming it has a 10-mile airspace, never seen before in history. That doesn’t make sense”. All this created a reaction from Athens not only diplomatic, expelling the Turkish and Libyan ambassadors, but also military with a large military deployment and joint training operations with its allies. It is clear that Erdogan’s criminal policy threatens the economy, stability and peace in Europe and in the whole region.

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Another 200 terrorists previously transferred from Turkey to Libya reached Europe
Middle East & Africa

Another 200 terrorists previously transferred from Turkey to Libya reached Europe

The Syrian Observatory for Human reaffirms that in these days 200 pro-Syrian fighters arrived in Europe after have been transferred to Libya by Turkey. According to the Observatory report: “200 pro-Turkish mercenaries have emigrated across the Mediterranean from the coasts of Libya to Europe and have already reached the countries in southern Europe”. Also, according to the study, the fighters were members of factions of the North Falcons Brigade, of the Sultan Murad Brigade, of the Mutasim Division, of the Hamzat and Suleiman Shah militias. To these fighters, the NGO adds 117 others killed in Tripoli during the clashes with the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who has tried to seize the capital since April 4, 2019. The Observatory added in a statement that the killed mercenaries were brought by the Turkish government to Tripoli to support the ranks of the Government of National Accord (GNA) forces.

The number of Syrian fighters who have reached Tripoli so far has increased to 4,750, while more than 1,900 others are being trained in Turkey to join their comrades in Libya soon added the same source. “Reliable sources have informed the Syrian Observatory that about 40 militiamen from Hamzat and other factions have fled to Italy in the last hours “. Egypt has also launched an appeal before the United Nations asking not to underestimate the recruitment and transfer of foreign fighters from Syria to Libya. Egypt’s permanent ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Edris, expressed concern about: “the blatant violation of international peace and security, including the relevant UN Security Council resolutions”. Edris then urged the United Nations Security Council to assume its responsibilities, maintaining international peace and security through the application of UN resolution 2396 which prohibits the movement of terrorists to other countries. It seems clear that Turkey is continuing to destabilize the whole Middle East, which could favour terrorist infiltrations across Europe for its long-term purposes.

Read more related Turkey News
> Al Qaeda thanks Turkey for protecting it from Russia and Syrian army
> Erdogan intentionally provoked the migrant’s humanitarian tragedy, tensions increase between Turkey and EU
> The European Union requiring Turkey to take migrants back from the Greek borders.

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Trump declares national emergency in the USA, aid package for families
Americas

Trump declares national emergency in the USA, aid package for families

US President Donald Trump has declared the status of national emergency for the coronavirus, COVID-19. On Saturday, the US House of Representatives has approved an overwhelming majority of aid packages for Americans affected by the coronavirus epidemic. The measure passed with 363 votes in favour and 40 contraries and now awaits the go-ahead from the Senate. Before the vote, president Trump expressed his support for the bill on Twitter and asked Republicans and Democrats to support it. “This bill will follow my lead for free coronavirus tests and paid sick leave for our affected American workers,” affirmed Trump in a tweet, assuring that he will “always put the health and well-being of American families first.”

“This bill will follow my directives regarding free tests for Coronavirus and to pay sick leave to affected American workers,” tweeted Trump who added that he gave instructions to the Treasury and Labor Secretaries to enact regulations to ensure that small businesses are not damaged by the measures. “I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES,” wrote Trump. “I will always put the health and well-being of American families first.” I can’t wait to sign the decree, ASAP! “. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated apocalypse numbers in its projections if the worst-case scenario materializes in the United States. According to the New York Times, the infected in the USA could be between 160 and 214 million during the epidemic that could last months and perhaps even a year. The deaths could be between 200,000 and 1.7 million. Also according to the CDC, between 2.4 and 21 million Americans could request hospitalization, causing as happened in northern Italy, the collapse of the national health system that, the American Hospital Association said, has 925.000 hospital beds.

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Al Qaeda thanks Turkey for protecting it from Russia and Syrian army
Europe, Middle East & Africa

Al Qaeda thanks Turkey for protecting it from Russia and Syrian army

Turkish soldiers are fighting along jihadists in Syria and the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost many of his man in the last 2 weeks, as the coalition formed by Russia and the Syrian Army targeted many terrorist positions in the Idlib area. On March 7th, Al Qaeda’s now largest branch, Al Nusra Front, praised Erdogan because his Government stands beside Al Qaeda, and for other jihadist organizations which are trying to overthrow Syria’s legitimate Government of Bashar al-Assad. Al Qaeda in Syria now calls itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, which recently reaffirmed to continue 9-year war against Syria’s Government, and it especially damns Russian president Vladimir Putin for assisting that secular Government’s efforts to destroy Al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations in Syria. It’s clear that al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood’s leader Erdogan have the same goal, replace any man-made government with one made by God, so to apply the Islamic sharia law toward the creation of an Arab Islamic State.

“The jihad and resistance are a legitimate path for the peoples whose abode has been usurped, and freedom taken captive, and sons bound behind bars, so let them defend themselves and their land by force and arms and patience and insistence and in that the rights are regained, and the fate of the lands is that they should return to their people however long the night of the oppressors lasts and the occupier through its grip takes root over the hearts of the defenceless peoples”. Wrote Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, described by experts as a pro-jihadist ’scholar. In a statement titled “The Moscow Agreement: A New Mirage”, Al-Tamimi condemns what he calls as “the criminal gang in Damascus, supported by Russia” and praise Turkey to support rebels and terror organizations. “We thank the Turkish government for clearly standing with and supporting the Syrian revolution and participating with it in defending the civilians and protecting them in the recent battle.”

Read similar News regarding Turkey
> Erdogan intentionally provoked the migrant’s humanitarian tragedy, tensions increase between Turkey and EU
> The European Union requiring Turkey to take migrants back from the Greek borders.
> EU to offer migrants €2,000 to return home from the Greek islands

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Erdogan provoked migrant’s humanitarian tragedy, tension increase between Turkey and EU
Europe

Erdogan provoked migrant’s humanitarian tragedy, tension increase between Turkey and EU

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan left Brussels on Monday without an agreement with EU leaders on the current migrant crisis. Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, warned Erdogan to respect the terms of a previous deal to keep migrants away from Europe’s borders, after the Turkish leader requested more support in Syria. Can Baydarol, Turkish political scientist, expert in Turkey-EU relations, vice president of the EU and Global Studies Association (ABKAD) commented in an interview with ‘Sputnik’ on the issue of refugees on the border between Turkey and the EU, stressing that the solution to the crisis is possible in the event of a large number of technical difficulties and divergences between the parties, and according to the current situation, Turkey and the EU are far from the definitive solution.

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“Following the outcome of the contacts held in Brussels, it was made known that the negotiations on the migrant crisis have taken place constructively, but there are a large number of various technical difficulties and issues that require further discussion, therefore political dialogue on this theme will proceed”. Affirmed Baydarol, adding that the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in his statement pointed out that technical meetings will be held between the parties, in the framework of which the refugee agreement reached between Turkey and the EU on 18 March 2016 will be reviewed and updated. In the meantime, there is no information on how the document will be modified.

“For now, it seems to me – the expert added – it is too early to talk about a particular possibility of solving the migrant crisis. It is possible to find a formula that will satisfy Turkey, but it is difficult to say exactly when it will happen. Furthermore, a press conference following the talks in Brussels took place without Erdogan. This, in my opinion, shows that a consensus was not reached between the parties, otherwise Erdogan would have been present at the press conference”. The current migration crisis started from Erdogan is the greatest humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century. Most of the people who find themselves on the border are refugees from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, to whom, unlike Syrian citizens, the right of asylum is not granted by the Turkish authorities. Turkey intentionally provoked this humanitarian tragedy, contributing to the massing of thousands of migrants on the border. It must be said that Erdogan is fighting along with terrorist groups in Syria and Libya, transferring thousands of Syrian fighters from Idlib to Tripoli with the possibility that some terrorists infiltrated between migrants reached European coasts.

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