Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Israel kills dozens of Palestinians, US embassy moves to Jerusalem

The UN Security Council is expected to meet to investigate the high number of Palestinian casualties in Gaza on Monday

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Monday a historic great day of peace in acknowledgement of the US embassy formally opening in Jerusalem as scores of Palestinian protesters were killed and injured in Gaza.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said that the Israeli military killed 52 Palestinians during demonstrations protesting the inauguration of the embassy in Jerusalem. Another 2,400 were injured it added.

Six children are among the dead, it said.

Israeli security officials estimated the number of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border at 35,000. Netanyahu said Israeli forces were protecting themselves from Hamas militants.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on the escalating deaths later today.

Egypt, Iran and Turkey immediately condemned the Israeli killing of Palestinian protesters and the embassy move to Jerusalem.

The embassy inauguration comes a week after Israelis celebrated 70 years since the founding of the state. On Tuesday May 15, Palestinians and Arabs commemorate the Nakba, also known as the 1948 Palestinian exodus when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled – or were expelled during – the war with Israel.

Trump’s decision has been condemned by major powers around the world.

A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Monsay said London is firmly committed to a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

“We are concerned by the reports of violence and loss of life in Gaza. We urge calm and restraint to avoid actions destructive to peace efforts,” the spokesperson said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow has a negative view of the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The Kremlin says regional tensions will escalate in the wake of the move.

In December, Netanyahu hailed US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but this runs contrary to the foreign policies of many on the Middle East.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Trump’s move on Jerusalem destabilized an already “difficult situation” in the Middle East.

“There needs to be a long-term and fair solution that fulfills the interests of both sides, and complies with previous stances of the international community,” Putin told reporters in December.

There are currently no embassies in Jerusalem as the international community considers it a disputed city with its final status only decided by agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

During a UN Security Council meeting in December, 14 of 15 members criticized Trump’s decision leaving US ambassador Nikki Haley having to defend her president’s position.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Syria: New proxy battles as Macron cuddles up to Trump

On April 7, images showing children being frantically hosed off in what was described as a suspected chemical attack in the district of Douma, Syria were beamed across the world.

The Russians and the Syrians claimed it was staged by a humanitarian organization called the White Helmets. The Russians went even further that they have proof the British government assisted this organization as it receives funding from the UK.

This was the third chemical attack which the Western governments blamed on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad since the sarin attack in East Ghouta in August 2013. His government strongly denied any involvement.

In April 2017, another chemical incident, which the Russian and Syrian authorities explained as accidental, took place in a place called Khan Sheikhdoom.

The explanation given was that one of the missiles from a Russian plane hit a rebel warehouse storing chemical poisonous gas prohibited in warfare.

As punishment, the US was the only country taking action against Syria for the Khan Sheikdoom incident.

Here the US crossed its own red line by attacking Syria directly, albeit in a limited strike without the involvement of the UK and France.

But in response to the alleged April 7 Douma incident a coalition including the UK and France joined in the US attack, despite contested versions of what really happened notwithstanding the announcement by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that they would visit the Douma site(s) where the attacks allegedly took place.

Leftist claims under the spotlight

The claim often made by the left is that countries like the UK and France act like poodles when they assist the US in bombing sovereign countries, often in contravention of clearly defined international law.

This accusation the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May strongly denied in parliament recently and insisted instead that the UK acts in its own best interests.

These interests include becoming a major supplier of arms to many countries in the Middle East as well as to the US.

This is in addition to lucrative investments by states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia giving the British economy some respite in recent years after the 2008 economic meltdown.

And when President Emmanual Macron was seen standing next to President Donald Trump during his recent trip to Washington and threatening to renegade on the Iran nuclear deal, the same accusation of being a poodle was leveled against him.

But it was France that took the leading role in the regime-change operation in Libya by recognizing the rebel leadership in the eastern city of Benghazi where the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi’s rule had started.

As The New York Times reported on November 3, 2011 “France’s aggressive diplomatic stance is seen as a way of showing commitment to the popular uprisings and democratic changes in the Middle East and North Africa after Mr (Nicholas) Sarkozy admitted that Paris was too slow to recognize the strength of the revolutionary movements in Tunisia …and Egypt”.

We later learned that the late Libyan leader Gaddafi bankrolled Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential bid illegally; the issue has now gone to trial.

Libyan opposition groups promised the French oil company Total one third of all oil production if Gaddafi is removed, a claim which the company denied.

Others still saw this supposedly humanitarian intervention in Libya as a way for Sarkozy to boost his election chances as he was trailing other candidates in the race to be re- elected president in 2012.

The Arab Spring spreads to Syria

Protests in Syria started to intensify as soon as the US, UK, and France received the green light to create a no-fly zone in Libya, which turned into a regime change operation violating the letter and spirit of UN Security Council resolution 1973.

The fall of Gaddafi, which was portrayed as a success story in Western media kowtowing to their respective governments’ own self-serving narrative, was a huge boost to those in Syria who always wanted to overthrow the Assad dynasty.

This included groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that also saw their fortunes rising in Egypt with the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in January 2011.

What is often omitted in commentary on Syria is that there was a pause between the time the first air strikes hit Libya in March 2011 and the first arms shipment to the rebels in Syria soon after Gaddafi’s lynching in October 2011.

This window of opportunity was used by countries like Turkey and Qatar which were closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood to persuade President Bashar Al Assad to leave power peacefully.

A similar call came also from President Obama in August 2011 but this was a miscalculation (apart from setting a red line for the use of chemical weapons) as it disincentivized the combatants from coming to the peace table, as we shall see later.

A question of pipelines

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey met on April 4 to preserve Syrian sovereignty, but could there also be a question of pipeline access to Europe? [PPIO]

President Assad’s removal had been predicated on his opposition to a gas pipeline running from Qatar via Syria to the Mediterranean Sea to supply gas to European markets.

This pipeline had the backing of Qatar, Turkey, the US, UK and France but not Syria, Iraq and Iran which had already signed up to build another gas pipeline running from Iran via Syria through to the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

The Obama administration saw the Qatar pipeline as a direct challenge to Russia’s own gas supply to Europe, and welcomed it.

Given Qatar’s geographical position, the gas-rich state can only supply gas via sea routes to Europe at the moment which is a more expensive option than through pipelines.

Its Far East markets are also coming under threat from Russian competition and customers like China have plans to develop their own shale gas fields, as the US has done in the past decade.

The Europeans due to environmental considerations have no plans to explore shale gas in the distant future.

Arms flow

Seymour Hersh wrote in the London Review of Books in January 2016 that the intelligence arm of the Pentagon became concerned early on in the Syria conflict that most of the arms that were flowing from the CIA through Turkey as well as from Qatar ended up in the hands of extremist Islamic groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Obama chose to ignore this data which triggered military-to-military intelligence exchanges between the Pentagon and counterparts in countries like Israel, Russia and Germany bypassing the White House.

The Pentagon claimed that this vital exchange saved Syria from collapsing into the same chaos we had seen in Libya and Iraq.

The same intelligence personnel at the Pentagon, such as Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn, who saved Syria from falling into the hands of extremist Islamic groups went on to shape presidential candidate Donald Trump’s policy in the Middle East.

As the Syria conflict dragged on and hit a stalemate, Qatar was quietly being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the primary source of providing arms to the rebels notwithstanding they were Al Qaeda-affiliated, the Financial Times said on May 18, 2013.

What brought this about was President Obama’s second term win and the quest to find a solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the region – to develop nuclear power since the times of the Western-backed Shah in the mid-seventies.

Saudi Arabia and Israel strongly opposed this policy shift.

To undermine the thawing of relations between the State Department now headed by John Kerry and Tehran there is ample evidence to suggest Saudi Arabia was trying to force President Obama’s hand in Syria by instigating incidents of chemical warfare in view of his red line ultimatum to Assad in August 2012.

Attacking Syria at that point would have seriously jeopardized negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program.

David Usborne wrote in the Independent on August 26, 2013 that the Saudis had accused Assad of using chemical weapons as early as February 2013.

It was none other than Prince Bandar bin Sultan – who directed military operations in Syria and was an implacable foe of Iran and staunch ally of the Bush family dynasty in the US – who pointed the finger at Assad.

On August 29, 2013, the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne reported a sarin gas attack five months earlier in the town of Khan Al Assal outside Aleppo.

The attack killed 16 government soldiers and 10 civilians according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The UN chief prosecutor on Syria Carla Del Ponte in an interim report concluded that the rebels and not Assad may have been responsible for the attack.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry website and in regards to the missile type that was used in the Khan Al Assal attack, the warheads were only put into production in February 2013 – the same time Saudi Arabia was making accusations through Prince Bandar that Assad was using chemical weapons indiscriminately.

A few days earlier, UN experts were due to arrive to fully investigate this incident when the much larger Ghouta attack happened in August 2013.

As Oborne pointed out, it would have been high unlikely the government would have used poisonous gas when UN inspectors were due to investigate an incident which had all the hallmarks that it was perpetrated by the rebels.

France changes course

After President Obama and President Putin decided that the best course of action for Syria would be to destroy its chemical arsenal under the supervision of the OPCW, France was furious that it was not consulted.

It was the only country that was standing with the US in its bid to attack Syria after blaming it for the East Ghouta chemical attack while the UK parliament voted against military intervention in 2013.

It was at this point that France saw a similar opportunity which had existed after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war that both the US and UK were losing their influence in the Middle East.

A declassified CIA report compiled in 1970 but released in 2011 showed how French influence gathered pace from the late 1960s – its focus shifting from the Maghreb region in North Africa to oil-producing Arab countries like Iraq.

France, like the UK in 1974, had to reconsider its pro-Israel stance in order to win allies in the region.

Similarly during the start of the Obama presidency, numerous reports surfaced of the US pivoting to the Far East as evidenced in an article authored by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the authoritative Foreign Affairs magazine in 2009.

France saw this pivot as an opportunity to play a greater role in the Middle East.

Ostensibly, this role gained more impetus after France was not consulted on Syria’s chemical weapons destruction.

Unlike the UK that always allowed the US to take the lead role in the Middle East since the humiliation over the Suez affair in 1956, France always carved for itself an independent role to the consternation of its traditional allies as was the case when it opposed the illegal Iraq invasion in 2003.

Such independence was shown again when it sided with Saudi Arabia opposing an interim Iran nuclear deal in late 2013. But this time it also had support among neoconservatives in Washington and London who otherwise had been France’s main critics leading up to the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Raphael Ahren in the Times of Israel (10/11/2013) noted that Saudi Arabia is the region’s foremost buyer of French arms:

“In light of the current economic situation in France, which really does not look so bright, these weapons deals are very important to the country.”

The Saudis were also investing heavily in French agricultural and food sectors hit hard by subsequent Russian retaliatory sanctions over Ukraine .The agricultural lobby has always been important in France for any government in power.

The Trump embrace

It is in this context one has to see the current French president warming up to President Trump like no other Western leader. President Trump brought Saudi Arabia back from the cold after Obama had marginalized Riyadh to some extent during his presidency.

Toward the final years of the Obama administration, the price of crude oil fell precipitously adding a further blow to the Saudis but since Trump came into the White House markets have seen the price go up steadily giving the Saudis additional economic clout that Western powers like France can benefit from.

During his press conference with Macron on April 24, Trump made it clear that Iran will not have access to the Mediterranean Sea. This helps explain why the US has stationed troops in northern Syria and wants Saudi Arabia and Gulf states now to foot the bill by deploying their own troops.

These are policy positions which Trump had expressed during his election campaign.

Trump says the US has since 2001 spent $7 trillion fighting wars in the Middle East yet has shown nothing for all this expenditure that could otherwise have been spent on building infrastructure at home. This is a sentiment often expressed by his nationalist support base.

In light of this, Syria has become a proxy play among major Western powers like France and the UK vying for influence and deal-making in the region, with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries (after the rise of energy prices in 2004).

Meanwhile, the country’s suffering continues with no end in sight.

News review – Wednesday 8 May 2018

News review – Wednesday 8 May 2018

Single market

Theresa May could bypass her Brexit “war Cabinet” by asking the full Cabinet to back her controversial plan for a customs partnership with Brussels, Eurosceptic ministers fear. Mrs May has postponed plans to discuss Britain’s future customs arrangements with her 11-strong Brexit sub-committee on Thursday, having been outnumbered 6-5 last week by those who opposed the partnership idea. As she considers her next move, Brexiteers have warned her she could face a revolt – and even a leadership contest – if she tries to steamroller opponents of the plan. Boris Johnson has described the customs partnership proposal – which involves Britain collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU – as “crazy”.

Theresa May could look to force through her plans to keep the UK shackled to a customs partnership with Brussels by by-passing her Brexit ‘War Cabinet’ and instead letting her full Cabinet vote on it.
She lost the last vote 6-5 last week and her plans for Britain’s future ‘customs partnership’ with Brussels were said to be dead in the water…but apparently she’s still trying to force them through. One Cabinet source said: “There is a growing feeling that the Prime Minister is going to avoid another confrontation with the Brexit sub-committee on a customs partnership, which she would lose, and just put the matter to a full Cabinet meeting where she has the numbers to win.

MPs will have a vote on remaining in the European Economic Area – effectively a vote on the single market – after a shock defeat for the government in the Lords.
It means the Brexit strategy of both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn has been blown apart in the last 24 hours. The rebel Labour amendment in the Lords opened the prospect of a Commons vote on the EEA – a less stringent version of the single market – after 83 Labour peers voted against the party whip. Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP who co-chairs a pro-European Commons committee with Conservative Anna Soubry, said the leadership would now have to come off the fence and make it clear where it stood.

Boris Johnson has challenged the prime minister to sack him by indicating that he has no intention of quitting the cabinet despite branding her favoured customs plan “crazy”.
Downing Street tried to sidestep a confrontation with the foreign secretary yesterday after he said that Theresa May’s proposed customs partnership would create a “whole new web of bureaucracy”. Friends of Mr Johnson said he would not resign. “Why should he?” asked one. “He knows it’s better to fight for this on the inside.”


Jacob Rees-Mogg praised ‘aggressive’ Boris Johnson and ‘amazing’ Sajid Javid today amid speculation over a Brexiteer bid to oust  Theresa May. The Tory backbencher – head of the influential Eurosceptic bloc of Tory MPs – upped the pressure on the PM amid a mounting meltdown over plans for trade with the EU. Boris Johnson brought the bitter Cabinet row crashing into the open today with a dramatic intervention in which he warned that the proposal would create ‘a whole new web of bureaucracy’.

House of Lords

Peers have voted to strip the official date of Brexit from flagship laws on leaving the bloc tonight in a twelfth defeat for Theresa May.
Axing the date from the EU (Withdrawal) Bill will not stop the Article 50 clock and should not delay Britain’s actual departure from the Brussels club. But the move flies in the face of Government policy to write the date of March 29, 2019, into British law.  Opposition and rebel peers claim stripping the date from the Bill will make the negotiations easier. The 311 to 233 vote was the second defeat for ministers today on the final day of report stage on the flagship legislation. Earlier peers  demanded Britain stay in EU agencies after quitting the bloc, voting 298 to 227 in defiance of appeals from the minister.  

The Lords have voted to keep the UK in the single market after 83 peers defied the Labour whip to land the government a devastating defeat.
Theresa May has insisted Britain will also leave the European Union’s single market and customs union after it quits the bloc next March. A total of 83 Labour peers voted for an amendment tabled by Lord Alli which would see the UK remain part of the European Economic Area – and effectively the single market. The government suffered two earlier losses, when peers backed plans to remove references to official Brexit date from the face of the bill as well as plans to keep the UK in EU agencies after Brexit.

FURY erupted last night as members of the Lords were accused of “taking a wrecking ball” to Brexit. There were four new defeats for the Government over vital legislation, including supporting a move that could delay our departure from the EU. It took to 14 the number of times that unelected peers have defied Brexit voters, ministers and majority opinion in the House of Commons to back changing the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Tory MP and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said after yesterday’s votes: “The peers set themselves against the people, using an ermine-covered wrecking ball in their efforts to stop Brexit.”

Europhile Lords have out-voted the government yet again, backing an amendment to remove any specific date out of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Those seeking to delay and stop Brexit won the vote by 311 votes to 233. Included among them were 10 Conservative Lords, 86 Liberal Democrats and 145 Labour Peers. What an insult to the British people. The Lords are showing they have zero respect for the referendum result.

Sky News
The Government has suffered an unexpected Brexit defeat in the Lords, rounding off a series of reverses in the upper chamber. Peers backed retaining key aspects of the EU’s single market through continued participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) by 245 votes to 218, a majority of 27. It came in defiance of both the Government and Opposition frontbenches and followed earlier defeats on the Brexit date and participation in EU agencies. The Government has suffered 14 defeats over its flagship EU Withdrawal Bill, with the latest reversals coming on the sixth and final day of the bill’s report stage in the upper chamber.


Peers have dealt a major blow to Theresa May’s Brexit strategy by backing a bid to force the government to effectively keep the UK in the single market. Rebels in both Labour and Tory ranks defied the  leadership to inflict the defeat on the government in the Lords, where they supported a cross-party amendment calling for continued participation in the European Economic Area (EEA). The news will come as a blow to Jeremy Corbyn, as 83 Labour peers rebelled against a frontbench edict to abstain on the vote. Some 17 Tories also defied Ms May to back the bid.

The House of Lords voted to keep Britain in the single market last night, causing headaches for both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.
The government was defeated on an amendment that would have forced Britain to remain a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) by 247 votes to 218, with rebels from both parties. Mr Corbyn had ordered his peers to abstain but 83 ignored him and 17 Tories abstained to deliver one of four defeats last night on the government’s Brexit legislation, amid signs of growing discord in the Lords. Ministers must now decide whether to undo 14 amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill when the legislation returns to the Commons.


STAYING in the European Union would subject Britain to ever more Brussels control as the bloc plots to tighten its grip on member states, new analysis has shown.
Brexit backers said statements by senior EU figures since Britain’s historic referendum show the folly of seeking to reverse the 2016 vote. The comments point to an EU future where power is centralised yet further in Brussels with countries forced to join the euro, pay more in budget contributions and open their borders to workers from impoverished new member states.

The European Union single currency Euro slumped Monday, reflecting gloomy investor confidence, slow economic growth, and strong Dollar performance. The Euro hit the lowest level against the U.S. Dollar of the year Monday, casting into relief the plight fo the sluggish Eurozone with the economic uptick int he United States where the economy is responding well to President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and push for deregulation. The currency slipped 0.5 per cent agains the Dollar Monday, taking the Euro down 1.4 per cent just in the first week of May, reports the Financial Times.

Press freedom

Labour’s plans to muzzle the press would return Britain to the legal Dark Ages and make it easier for wealthy people to suppress negative stories, according to a senior lawyer who represented phone-hacking victims.
Mark Stephens, an expert in media law, warns in a letter to The Times today that a “small and affluent privacy lobby” is trying to hijack data protection legislation to impose tighter regulation on newspapers. MPs will vote today on two opposition amendments to the Data Protection Bill that opponents say pose a chilling threat to media freedom. The outcome is thought to be on a knife-edge.

The government is facing two difficult votes, and potential defeats, over amendments to the data protection bill that are due to be debated in the Commons on Wednesday. The amendments would establish a “Leveson two” inquiry into the misuse of personal data by the media, and a measure that would impose punitive legal costs on English media organisations that refuse to sign-up to an officially recognised press regulator. At present, the only such regulator is  Impress The second amendment, tabled by the Labour MPs Tom Watson and Liam Byrne, has prompted a robust response from media organisations who fear it would have a chilling effect on investigative journalism in the public interest.

Tonight the Commons votes on Tom Watson and Ed Miliband’s amendments declaring war on press freedom. The amendments are a Trump-style assault on the media, outrageously attempting to force publishers to pay both sides’ legal costs even if they win a dispute – a reform that will potentially bankrupt media companies. Watson and Miliband, backed by former fascist Max Mosley and Hacked Off’s press-hating millionaire celebrities and oligarchs, last night lost the support of the Guardian. In an excoriating statement condemning Watson and Miliband, Guardian News and Media warn the amendments “would further erode press freedom and have a severe chilling effect for the news environment in the UK”.

Theresa May is urging MPs to reject a bid to further tighten press regulation ahead of a knife-edge vote on new proposals in the Commons. The prime minister told senior ministers at cabinet that plans put forward by opposition MPs would “undermine” the free press and unjustly see papers forking out crippling sums of money even if they do not lose legal cases. But government insiders have suggested there is a serious chance of the proposals passing, with questions over how the DUP may vote and some Tories planning on abstaining.

The right of the press to report the truth about police investigations would be undermined if Sir Cliff Richard won his legal action against the BBC, the corporation’s lawyers claimed yesterday. The 77-year-old singer is suing the BBC over coverage of a police raid on his home in 2014. He has told Mr Justice Mann that the coverage, which involved use of a helicopter, was a “very serious invasion” of his privacy. The BBC disputes his claims, saying that its reporting of the search of the apartment in Sunningdale, Berkshire, was accurate and in good faith.


Patients are finding it much more difficult to see the same GP each time they book an appointment, researchers have found. Only half of people are able to see their ‘preferred’ family doctor most of the time – down from two-thirds five years ago. In the first study of its kind, the University of Leicester researchers analysed 6,243 surgeries from 2012 and 2017.  Over that five-year period, they found that ‘continuity of care’ – a measure of patients being able to see their preferred GP – had dropped by more than a quarter.


A row has broken out over the removal of a portrait of Theresa May  from the walls of Oxford University, which she attended.  The photograph of the Prime Minister, who read Geography at St Hugh’s College and achieved a second class degree, featured in a display about alumnae. But the image was taken down following a Twitter  campaign called “Not All Geographers”, which criticised Ms May’s policies. Students raised concerns about the Windrush scandal and the Conservatives hostile environment policies. Messages were stuck to the wall around the picture saying: “Let in every refugee. Throw the Tories in the sea.” 

Sky News
A portrait of the Prime Minister has been removed from the walls of her university’s geography department after students wrote critical messages around it. The photograph of Theresa May, who read the subject at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, was put up as part of a display about high-achieving alumnae.
But a campaign was quickly launched on Twitter, under the banner “Not All Geographers,” calling for the picture to taken down. Students voiced their disquiet over the Windrush scandal and the “hostile environment for immigrants”.

A picture of Theresa May has been removed from the walls of her old geography department at Oxford University after students complained she was a “contentious figure in a department with many EU citizens and de-colonial scholars”. A portrait of Mrs May was put on the walls of a stairwell at the university’s School of Geography and the Environment last week as a part of a celebration of the department’s female alumnae. However, after a protest by students – channelled through a social media account called ‘NotAllGeographers” – the picture has been removed, Cherwell, the university’s student newspaper, reported.

A row has broken out over a portrait of Theresa May which was removed from the walls of her alma mater, the University of Oxford, after students and academics objected to her being included in a celebration of female geographers. The picture of the prime minister, who graduated from St Hugh’s College with a second-class degree, was put up on the walls of the school of geography and the environment last week as part of an exhibition intended to inspire the next generation of female geographers. Days later it was removed after members of the school objected to her inclusion without consultation and mounted the Twitter campaign  #NotAllGeographers.

ITV News
London is the best city in the world for university students, according to new international rankings.
The UK capital overtook last year’s top-placed city Montreal to rank as number one in the QS Best Student Cities Ranking 2018. The study, conducted by analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, builds the rankings based on a range of factors, including affordability, desirability and the view of students. Clinching the top spot for the first time, London scored highly on the student survey, which asked 50,000 students about the quality of their experience in their city, and their willingness to remain there after graduating.

MPs have called on the government to take urgent action to narrow the “stark” attainment gap between young people in the north of England and those living in the rest of the country.  Tory MP Robert Halfon, chair of education select committee, has written to education secretary Damian Hinds to ask what he plans to do to improve the quality of education in the North.  It comes after a report, from the  Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) in February this year, revealed that disadvantaged northern teenagers fall on average one GCSE grade behind the rest of the country.  

A portrait of Theresa May taken down after a protest at Oxford University is set to be reinstated. Mrs May was one of 12 alumnae whose pictures were put up last week to celebrate successful female graduates from the school of geography and the environment. It was swiftly targeted by students and academics opposed to her policies, who surrounded it with angry messages and lobbied on social media for its removal, under the hashtag #NotAllGeographers. They celebrated yesterday morning after the picture was taken down, but the university insisted that it would re-hang it.

Thousands of EU students plan to avoid studying at British universities because of Brexit and do not realise that tuition fees for the next academic year are protected, according to a global study.
The annual International Student Survey found that Brexit had deterred almost two fifths of prospective EU students but had put off only one in ten of potential students from outside Europe. Nearly a third of EU respondents were not aware that students starting degrees in Britain in 2018-19 will pay the same fees as domestic students for the duration of their course.


The leaders of the UK, France and Germany have tonight spoken of their regret following US President Donald Trump’s decision to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal.
Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement issued on behalf of the three nations ‘it is with regret and concern that we … take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.’ But EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini potentially put Europe on a collision course with the US by suggesting the European Union is determined to save the agreement, declaring ‘together with the rest of the international community, we will preserve this nuclear deal.’

President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last night and vowed to impose “the highest level of economic sanctions” against Tehran in a high-stakes move that broke from his European allies. The US president said that the international pact had only made the regime’s “bloody ambitions more brazen” and that all sanctions that had been lifted through it would be reimposed. “It’s clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” he said.

BBC News
The UK has said it remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal, insisting that it has left the world “a safer place”. In a joint statement issued with her European counterparts, Theresa May said she regretted  Donald Trump’s decision to exit the 2015 agreement. The group, which includes France and Germany, said the accord “remains important for our shared security”. “We urge all sides to remain committed to its implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility”, they wrote. Labour, meanwhile, accused President Trump of a “reckless, senseless and immoral act of diplomatic sabotage”.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s ditching the  Iran nuclear deal, calling it ‘disastrous’ and an ’embarrassment.’  Trump said that the U.S. now has ‘definitive proof’ that Iran was lying about its pursuit of nuclear weapons when it entered into the 2015 agreement. And he threatened Tehran’s mullahs with new headaches if they resume their pursuit of a weapon of mass destruction. ‘If the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before,’ the president warned.

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Bizarre, strange or last straw? Slideshows in International Relations

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made headlines with his PowerPoint presentation on Iran’s nuclear program. Media outlets talked of a ‘bizarre PowerPoint’, a ‘strange slideshow’ and deemed it unnecessary for Netanyahu ‘to convince us that you don’t support the Iran nuclear deal’. The slideshow quickly became a twitter meme. What these reactions made me recall is how rare it is for heads of state or government officials to use PowerPoint slides, or any type of visualizations, to convey and illustrate information of international concern to the public. While PowerPoint is a medium of debatable value, nonetheless, we all ...
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