Three years after Europe’s biggest influx of migrants and refugees since the second world war, tensions between EU member states over how to handle irregular immigration from outside the bloc – mainly from the Middle East and Africa – are rising again. What is the scale of migration? Numbers are sharply down from their 2015-16 peak because of an EU deal with Turkey, new border fences in the Balkans, and a bilateral arrangement between Italy and Libya. The UNHCR says Spain has welcomed 9,500 irregular migrants so far this year, Greece 12,000 and Italy 15,300. But the underlying factors that have led to more than 1.8 million migrants coming to Europe since 2014 have not gone away; most observers believe it is only a matter of time before the number of arrivals picks up again. Why is it a problem? Everyone agrees Europe needs to urgently overhaul its asylum and immigration rules. At present Italy and Greece take most of the strain because of their geographical position … [Read more...] about What is the current state of the migration crisis in Europe?
What is demand response
“Foreigners” are easy to blame; oil conglomerates for the devastation of west African land, IMF demands for the impoverishment of Arab nations, western powers for the invasion of Middle East lands and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. Lebanon was always blaming foreigners for its tragedies: it was always the Israelis or the Syrians or the Americans or the UN who were the culprits. And all of the above is true. Many Lebanese still refer to their civil war as “the war of the others”. But for once in the Middle East, it is a single Arab nation – Lebanon – which is solely responsible for the destruction of its heritage, its land and its mountains. The mass plundering of rock and sand to build monstrous high rise apartment blocks and private villas, and the subsequent violation of the country’s landscape, the subject of an Independent investigation last week, is down to the greed and hypocrisy of the Lebanese – and … [Read more...] about Opinion: For once in the Middle East, a single Arab nation is solely responsible for the destruction of its land and heritage
The detention and release of anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder in Spain has again cast an unfavourable spotlight on Russia. Police in Madrid picked up Mr Browder on a warrant issued by Russia before setting him free on the advice of Interpol's secretary general Jurgen Stock in Lyon, France. The former investment fund boss, born in Chicago but of British nationality, believes he was detained by order of the Kremlin on false tax evasion accusations as revenge for his work with US Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act. Read more Putin critic Browder detained in Spain after Russian arrest warrant But what is that law and how does it relate to President Vladimir Putin? The Russia and Modova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnistsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 takes its shortened name from Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a tangled web of tax fraud in 2008 involving 23 companies and $230m linked to high-ranking officials … [Read more...] about What is the Magnitsky Act and how does it relate to a British anti-corruption campaigner’s arrest in Spain?
Why did the US designate the MEK a terrorist organisation in 1997? The MEK's supporters say it was banned as a move by the Clinton administration to appease the Iranian government. The US state department, which decides which groups to include on the list of designated terrorist organisations, points to a long and bloody history. The MEK ran a bombing campaign inside Iran against the Shah's regime the 1970s. The targets were sometimes American, including the US information office, Pepsi Cola, PanAm and General Motors. The group routinely denounced Zionism and "racist Israel", and called for "death to America". A state department report in 1992 identified the MEK as responsible for the killing of six Americans in Iran during the 1970s. They included three military officers and three men working for Rockwell International, a conglomerate specialising in aerospace including weapons, who were murdered in retaliation for the arrest of MEK members over the killings of the US military … [Read more...] about Q&A: what is the MEK and why did the US call it a terrorist organisation?
What is Galileo? Galileo is an £8bn satellite navigation system intended to rival the US-controlled Global Positioning System. Once fully operational in 2020 it will provide accurate position, navigation and timing information to be used by governments, citizens and industry. It will be used by everything from smartphones to security-critical military applications in target acquisition and tracking. The UK is developing receivers for military platforms that will incorporate Galileo’s encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS). What is the problem? The European commission has started to block Britain’s space industry from being involved in manufacturing of the security elements of the satellite programme. The EU says the agreement struck over the terms of the 21-month transition period after Brexit gives it the freedom to do so. The commission has suggested that after Brexit the UK should not be given privileged access to “need-to-know” information about … [Read more...] about What is Galileo and why are the UK and EU arguing about it?