19th March 2018

  • Since consolidating his power in rigged elections at the start of the decade, the Russian leader has pioneered a politics of fictional threats and invented enemies.
  • Fake news stories. Doctored photographs. Staged TV clips. Armies of paid trolls. Has Putin’s Russia developed a new kind of information warfare – fought in the ‘psychosphere’ rather than on the battlefield? Or is it all just a giant bluff.
  • It did not take long for Suleimani’s proxies to spell all this out to the Qatari government. As their messenger, they used Hezbollah, the only group with trusted links to all the parties involved: Tehran, Doha and the Shiite militia that held the hostages in Iraq.
  • The core of the criminal conspiracy began in March of 2016 when Russian hackers, backed by high-ranking officials in the Russian government, infiltrated the computers of the Democratic National Committee.
  • How a mock political campaign spread confusion and awareness ahead of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections.
  • Many Lebanese fear that Palestinian and Syrian children of non-Lebanese men will never leave the country if they are given Lebanese nationalities, many others say that such concerns are racist.

  • Skaff says parties isolating Popular Bloc.

  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on Monday for greater access to the civilian population of Afrin, declaring that the Turkish Red Crescent lacked credibility among the Syrian Kurds after Turkey’s military operation.
  • Britain is due to leave the European Union at the end of March 2019, but its post-Brexit relationship with the EU has yet to be worked out.
  • OPCW inspectors begin work on Salisbury nerve agent attack: source.

  • Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies made a lightning advance into the city after Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia appeared to have retreated.
  • Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Monday that his ministry was 70 percent prepared for upcoming parliamentary elections, in comments made after a sit-down with President Michel Aoun.
  • While political alliances are still being hammered out in many of Lebanon’s electoral districts, Chouf-Aley stands out as having one major agreement finalized.
  • Hariri said his job as prime minister and head of the Future Movement was to snuff out “political fires” and prevent wars raging in the region from spilling over to Lebanon.
  • Egypt’s Debt Loses the Edge That Attracted $20 Billion.

  • China to Finance Majority of New Egypt Capital’s Tower District.

  • Trump committed a ‘serious felony’: Former Watergate prosecutor.

  • President Trump on Sunday abandoned a strategy of showing deference to the special counsel examining Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, lashing out at what he characterized as a partisan investigation and alarming Republicans who feared he might seek to shut it down.
  • “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?” Trump wrote. “Another Dem recently added … does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”
  • Mostafa al-Asar’s lawyer said he had barely started work on a documentary critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when police arrested him and charged him with publishing “fake news”.
  • Japan, U.S., S. Korea discuss denuclearization, summit talks.

  • “It is unreasonable to think that the purpose of the Constitution is that Japan has to sit and wait for death when it comes under attack by missiles and other weapons,” Hatoyama said.
  • Torture allegations dog Gina Haspel as she is poised to be first female CIA head.

  • A North Korean official will hold unofficial talks in Finland with a delegation from the U.S. and former South Korean government officials, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.
  • Representatives of North Korea, South Korea and the United States are set to meet in Finland for talks on denuclearization, according to South Korean and Finnish officials.
  • Kim Jong-un has committed to denuclearisation, says South Korea.

  • Traders are reacting to speculation that David Davis and Michel Barnier are making progress at today’s meeting, ahead of the EU summit later this week.
  • Britain’s biggest business lobby group is seeking to prevent the loss of as much as €1bn (£882m) in annual European funding for scientific research and technological development, which has been thrown into doubt by Brexit.
  • The Kurdish militia, the YPG, withdrew from Afrin before dawn on Sunday, members blending in with an exodus of up to 150,000 civilians who had been fleeing the city since Friday.
  • Recent dismissals shows the president is gaining confidence in his foreign policy instincts, and surrounding himself with allies.
  • Taking Afrin has been the main objective of Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, a ground and air offensive launched on 20 January with the aim of ousting the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia group.
  • Rebels in Syria’s eastern Ghouta discussing ceasefire with UN – statement.
  • Alex Farrell walked through 10 countries alongside a family of Syrian refugees. His groundbreaking documentary records their perilous journey.
  • South Africa’s chief prosecutor has said the former president Jacob Zuma will face prosecution on corruption charges that haunted much of his term in office.
  • Shutting down EU ivory trade is a ‘personal priority’ for Boris Johnson.
  • Japan’s embattled prime minister has hit back at critics over a favouritism and cover-up scandal that has seen his popularity plunge and loosened his grip on power.
  • US anti-war protesters will travel to Ho Chi Minh city for an exhibition that will remind people they were far from a fringe element.
  • North Korean minister’s Swedish visit fuels Trump-Kim expectations.
  • China: “The voyage of a great country cannot do without a helmsman,” the paper wrote.
  • China has called on the US to “correct its mistake” after Donald Trump approved rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taipei counterparts.
  • Diplomacy between India and Pakistan can involve high-stakes negotiation, subtle messaging and the ever present threat of nuclear war.
  • Malcolm Turnbull has encouraged Aung San Suu Kyi to resettle displaced Rohingya but Amnesty International has criticised Australia for adopting a “softly softly” approach on the humanitarian crisis during the Myanmar leader’s visit.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi asks Australia and Asean for help with Rohingya crisis.

  • The chair of the Senate foreign relations committee has predicted Donald Trump will pull the US out of the nuclear deal with Iran.
  • The expected rise in US interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60% jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned.
  • Doctors and civil leaders among signatories to open letter to the UN, demanding action to stop massacre by Syrian forces.
  • Turkey claims to have encircled Afrin, besieging up to 200,000.
  • Syria: Most of deaths, including at least 13 children, were in town of Kfar Batna, with toll expected to rise.
  • Quick Guide: What are the allegations in the Trump-Russia investigation?
     What are the most serious allegations?

    The investigation into Trump and his team appears to encompass allegations of collusionobstruction of justiceabuse of power and charges specific to Trump aides and former aides.

    Any case along these lines against the president would be historic. Both of the presidents to face impeachment proceedings in the past century, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, faced obstruction of justice and abuse of power charges.

    Is there anything we don’t know?

    It’s important to note that the work of the special counsel is secret, and the public has no way of knowing for certain what charges prosecutors may be weighing against the Trump team or, in what would be an extraordinary development, against the president himself.

    What can the special counsel investigate?

    Mueller is authorized to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and related matters. In other words, potential collusion during the 2016 election.

    But so-called “collusion” is only part of it. The special counsel has the broad authority to build a prosecution wherever the inquiry may lead. The investigation has already resulted in charges against former Trump aides such as tax fraud that do not relate directly to election activity.

    Anything else?

    In the course of the investigation, Trump’s past business practices have also come under scrutiny. With his first indictments of people in Trump’s orbit, the special counsel has demonstrated an appetite for the prosecution of alleged white-collar crimes. The president has denied all wrongdoing.



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