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US-backed SDF captures Syria’s largest oil field from ‘Islamic State’

Russia has accused the US of "barbaric" bombardment of Raqqa, after US-backed forces took control of the city earlier this week. Forces on both sides are racing to reclaim land in Syria's oil-rich Deir el-Zour province. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, on Sunday captured one of Syria's largest oil fields in the Deir el-Zour province. Riding on the heels of victory against the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group in Raqqa, the SDF is racing to seize parts of Syria's oil-rich province. The news came as Russia's Defense Ministry accused the United States and its coalition partners of erasing Raqqa, the former IS stronghold, off the map, likening it to Allied bombing of Dresden during World War II. He claimed Western announcements of aid for the city seek "to hide evidence of the barbaric bombing." Earlier, Kurdish-led forces announced they had taken full control of the Al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria after forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad came under attack from IS militants. The SDF added that pro-government forces were about 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) away from the oil field. The US-backed forces have been engaged in a monthslong campaign to uproot IS in Syria. It was unclear how the Syrian regime, backed by Russia, Iran and Shiite militias, would respond to the seizure of the oil field. The regime has vowed to retake all the territory, and Deir el-Zour's oil wealth would be a key prize for Damascus. Oil profits Considered the largest of its kind in Syria, the Al-Omar oil field produced 30,000 barrels per day before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, when government forces launched a deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters calling for Assad to step down. Read more: 'Islamic State' gold remains hard to trace However, the US-led coalition against IS destroyed the oil field in 2015, after the militant group managed to make an estimated $5.1 million (€4.3 million) per month off oil sale revenues. IS seized oil fields across the region, with black market oil comprising one of its revenue streams, alongside extortion and looting. Liberating Raqqa IS has lost most of the territory it managed to capture in 2014, when it launched a blitzkrieg campaign across Syria and Iraq. Read more: The human cost of degrading 'Islamic State' Last week, the SDF announced it had liberated Raqqa, once considered the de facto IS capital, from which it staged mass beheadings and hatched plans for attacks on European soil. The monthslong offensive to retake the city, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, has displaced more than 200,000 civilians and turned large parts of the city into rubble. In a statement Sunday, Russia's Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said thousands of civilians had been killed by the US and its coalition partners in the battle for Raqqa. The United States and other powers have accused Russian and Syrian air forces of indiscriminate bombing, most notably in an offensive to retake Aleppo from rebels last year.

Russia has accused the US of “barbaric” bombardment of Raqqa, after US-backed forces took control of the city earlier this week. Forces on both sides are racing to reclaim land in Syria’s oil-rich Deir el-Zour province. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, on Sunday captured one of Syria’s largest oil fields in the ... Read More »

UN Rohingya conference: EU pledges millions in aid for refugees

سوئس شہر جنیوا میں آج دنیا میں پیدا ہونے والے مہاجرین سب سے بڑے بحران کے موضوع پر ایک ڈونر کانفرنس کا انعقاد کیا جا رہا ہے۔ اس دوران روہنگیا پناہ گزینوں کے لیے رقم جمع کی جائے گی۔ اقوام متحدہ نے مختلف ممالک سے درخواست کی ہے کہ جنیوا اجلاس کے دوران روہنگیا برادری کے لیے کم از کم 434 ملین ڈالر اکھٹے کیے جائیں۔ روہنگیا کی ہجرت کا معاملہ بنگلہ دیش اور میانمار کے مابین تیزی سے ایک بحران کی صورت اختیار کرتا جا رہا ہے۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ادارے برائے مہاجرین کے سربراہ فیلیپو گرانڈی کے بقول، ’’یہ بہت ہی نازک صورتحال ہے اور اس سلسلے میں امداد کی شدید ضرورت ہے۔‘‘ یہ رقم اقوام متحدہ کے ان مختلف منصوبوں پر خرچ کی جائے گی، جو بنگلہ دیش میں رہائش پذیر روہنگیا کے لیے جاری ہیں۔ بتايا گيا ہے کہ اس امدادی رقم سے آئندہ برس فروری تک کے ليے روہنگيا مسلمانوں کو بنيادی سہوليات فراہم کی جائيں گی۔ تشدد کی وجہ سے میانمار سے فرار ہو کر بنگلہ دیش پہنچنے والے روہنگیا کی تعداد تقریباً چھ لاکھ ہو چکی ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش کا شمار ایشیا کی غریب ترین ریاستوں میں ہوتا ہے، تاہم اس کے باوجود اس ملک نے اپنی سرحدیں روہنگیا مسلمانوں کے لیے کھولی ہوئی ہیں۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ہنگامی امداد کے ادارے کے سربراہ مارک لوکوک نے کہا ہے کہ سالوں سے روہنگیا برادری کے خلاف جاری ظلم و ستم، زیادتی اور نقل مکانی کی وجہ سے اسے کوئی علیحدہ یا الگ تھلگ بحران قرار نہیں دیا جا سکتا ہے۔ رپورٹس کے مطابق ہر دس روہنگیا مہاجر میں سے چھ بچے ہیں اور ان میں سے اکثریت کو کم خوراکی کا سامنا ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش میں شہر کوکس بازار میں اور اس کے ارد گرد قائم مہاجرین کے مراکز میں مقیم روہنگیا کو پانی کی کمی اور نکاسی آب کا نظام نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے ان کیمپوں میں بیماریوں کے پھوٹ پڑنے کے خطرات بڑھتے جا رہے ہیں۔

The EU has pledged €30 million as the UN holds a fundraising conference to aid Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar. More than 600,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh amid persecution at home. The European Commission on Monday promised to give €30 million ($35 million) as the United Nations opened a fundraising conference in Geneva that aims to secure some ... Read More »

‘Matilda’ hits cinemas as Russia fears more violence

Russia is on edge as the controversial historical drama premieres. DW's Juri Rescheto in Saint Petersburg explains why attacks have dogged Aleksei Utichel's film and why the response has been too little, too late. "Maltida" is good at playing hide and seek. Nothing points to a premiere: no posters, no trailer, no program brochure. Instead, the calendar of events at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater announces a guest performance of the Estonian National Ballet. Nothing else. Barely known is the fact that on Monday October 23, the famous theater will host an event of national significance, a premiere that has had the whole country holding its breath for months. In the Mariinksy, on a different stage next to one where the contemporary Estonian troupe will perform, an entirely different ballerina will be dancing, one who is historic, classic and controversial. Her name? Matilda — the main character of the eponymous film by Russian director Aleksei Uchitel. Over 100 years ago, Matilda Kschessinskaya, the picture-perfect dancer of Polish origin, turned the head of Nicolas II, Russia's last czar. The affair almost cost him the throne — almost, because he remained steadfast and returned to his less beautiful wife, the German princess Alix von Hessen-Darmstadt. The monarchy was saved, even if not for long… That's as far as the script for this movie goes. Made in the Hollywood manner of an overly pompous costume drama, the film has been a thorn in the eye of the Russian Orthodox Church for nearly a year and has given militant supporters of the state church a reason for hate and violence. The resulting controversy has become so bad that numerous cinemas are refusing to show the film. The main actor in "Matilda," German Lars Eidinger, even canceled his trip to Russia for the film's premiere due to fear of violent attack. He has been defamed in Russia as a "gay German porno actor." Natalia versus Matilda: a politician fights the film Behind the hate campaign is a delicate blond: Natalia Poklonskaya, one of the glitziest figures in Russian politics. The former public prosecutor of the Crimean peninsula is currently a member of the Russian Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament. About one year ago, she made the fight against "Matilda" her life calling. She accuses the film of portraying the czar in an "unworthy" manner. Nicolas II was murdered by the Bolsheviks as a consequence of the October Revolution of 1917 and was recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church as a martyred saint in 1981. Thus, the film is opposed on the grounds of "insult to religious feeling," which in Russia is punishable by law. Poklonskaya has not seen the film. When I asked her how she reached her judgment, the member of parliament answered that one need not eat a whole bucket of crap in order to know how bad it tastes. Just a spoonful suffices. The "spoonful" is the trailer that she has seen. It has a chaste bedroom scene. That seemed to be enough for her. Uncontrolled violence Poklonskaya pulled out all the stops: she gathered signatures, submitted one claim after another to the state's attorney, worked with group after group of experts. All fruitless. "Matilda" may be screened. After a private viewing, the Duma came to the conclusion that the film was permissible. But it was too late. The authorities had remained silent for too long, and the spirit of religiously motivated hate had already been let out of the bottle. Poklonskaya's threats, and those from the ominous group "Christian State — Holy Rus," had been observed passively for too long. When I met supporters of this group in February in the Russian city of Lipetsk, some 438 kilometers (272 miles) southeast of Moscow, they defended their threats to set fire to cinemas that want to show "Matilda." One wants to fight "for the honor of the holy czar," so they said, and for the honor of "Christian State — Holy Rus," as they called their organization at the time. A troop of numerous, well-trained, bearded young men sat across from me and filmed our team as we filmed them. It was an absurd and unsettling situation. Some half a year later the leader is in jail and the unregistered group has been classified as an extremist organization. Too little, too late But even that came too late, as a series of events reveals. On September 4, just days before the sneak preview in Yekaterinburg, a metropolis of over 1 million lying east of the Ural mountains, a minibus rammed into the cinema where the screening was to take place. The cinema went up in flames. The driver and arsonist's attack was motivated by protest against the film. On September 11, heavily armed security troops were called out to Vladivostok to protect viewers and "Matilda" director Uchitel — who had traveled from Moscow some 9,174 kilometers (5,700 miles) to the far eastern city — from potential attacks. Shortly before, coach buses drove through Vladivostok displaying texts calling for a boycott of the film. Read more: Russia gripped by hoax bomb threats, thousands evacuated And in Moscow on the night of September 11 to the 12, the car belonging to Uchitel's lawyer was burned. Three suspects were arrested, one of whom was a "Holy Rus" religious extremist. A search of the house belonging to one of the arrested individuals turned up stickers bearing the slogan, "To burn for Matilda." Not even director Uchitel's personal appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin can stop the violence. Will the extremists be able to prevent "Matilda's" premiere in the Mariinsky Theater? Probably not. But provocations and attacks have not been ruled out — even though event organizers have banished the film about the czar from their public schedule of events.

Russia is on edge as the controversial historical drama premieres. DW’s Juri Rescheto in Saint Petersburg explains why attacks have dogged Aleksei Utichel’s film and why the response has been too little, too late. “Maltida” is good at playing hide and seek. Nothing points to a premiere: no posters, no trailer, no program brochure. Instead, the calendar of events at ... Read More »

Cristiano Ronaldo the favorite to win FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world's top men's football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the world's most expensive player when Paris Saint-Germain spent €222 million ($260 million) last summer to trigger his release clause at Barca. However, the general consensus ahead of Monday evening's awards ceremony in London was that Ronaldo has the clear edge. Over the past year, the Portuguese superstar fired Real to glory in La Liga and scored 12 goals as they won the Champions League for a third time in four seasons. "In the end, Ronaldo is ahead of the others," former Italy and Roma star Francesco Totti told FIFA's website. "He had an amazing season and also accomplished all of his goals with the most prestigious of teams." World-class peers There's also an argument to be made for the 30-year-old Messi, who scored a total of 54 goals in all competitions last season, and helped Barcelona to a Copa del Rey title. The Argentina superstar is off to a great start to the current season, having scored 15 goals so far. He also earned his country a place at next year's World Cup with a hat trick against Ecuador. "We all know who is the player in the world," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "The truth is, the handing out of a trophy isn't something that worries me too much." At 25, Brazilian star Neymar is the youngest of the three. He was part of the Barcelona side that lifted the Copa del Rey and helped Brazil become the first team aside from hosts Russia to qualify for next year's World Cup. Zidane the favorite to win coaching honor Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is expected to be named "The Best" men's coach for 2017 after becoming the first man to lead his team to a successful defense of the European Cup in the Champions League era. The former France star is up against Chelsea's Antonio Conte and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. "To be sincere, if they give it to me, I'll take it with pleasure," Zidane said. "But if the question is, 'Am I the best coach in the world?' No, and I'm sure of it." Neuer up for top goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich and Germany is one of the three candidates to the top goalkeeper of 2017. The 31-year-old is joined on the shortlist by veteran Italy and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon, 39, and Real Madrid's Costa Rican shot stopper, Keylor Navas. The shortlist for the best women's player includes Venezuela's Deyna Castellanos, American star Carli Lloyd and Dutchwoman Lieke Martens. Fan award Borussia Dortmund's supporters, who won the inaugural award last season, have been nominated again as one of the three finalists for the ward in the fan category. They are up against the supporters of Celtic and FC Copenhagen. The awards were voted on by national team captains, national team coaches, selected members of the media and fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world’s top men’s football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the ... Read More »

UN rapporteur raps Sri Lanka for dragging feet on war-crime investigations

The UN expert said Sri Lanka was slow to deliver on its promise of justice for atrocities during its decades-long civil war. He warned the country faced international action if it did not expedite probe into war crimes. Pablo de Greiff, the UN special rapporteur for transitional justice, said on Monday Sri Lanka was slow in dealing with allegations of war crimes and other rights violations linked to its civil war. During his visit to the island nation, de Greiff told reporters that the Sri Lankan government had yet to address many of the issues he had highlighted during his last visit more than two years ago. The issues that remain unaddressed include the release of civilian lands occupied by the military, repealing a harsh anti-terror law, speeding up cases against terror suspects languishing in jails and putting an end to intimidating forms of surveillance. "Each of these issues involves questions of basic rights and thus, the continued failure to achieve progress in fully addressing them constitutes a denial of justice," de Greiff said. "The delays raise questions in many quarters about the determination of the government to undertake a comprehensive transitional justice program," he said. Justice delayed Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war came to an end in 2009 when government troops defeated Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels who fought to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils. At least 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed during the military offensive in the final months, according to UN figures. Both sides were accused of serious human rights violations, some amounting to war crimes. Responding to international pressure, the Sri Lankan government led by President Maithripala Sirisena promised justice for war victims. But, so far, it has been slow to deliver on its pledge. Sirisena has rejected UN calls for allowing international judges to investigate atrocities committed during the war. De Greiff said Sri Lanka risked action by foreign jurisdictions if it did not take steps to ensure a credible investigation of its own. He was referring to cases filed by a South African rights group against a former Sri Lankan military general for his role in the civil war. Jagath Jayasuriya last month quit as Sri Lanka's ambassador to Brazil and left the country two days after the case was filed. "As the recent case presented in Brazil against a former member of the armed forces demonstrates, accountability will be sought either here or abroad," de Greiff said in Colombo on Monday.

The UN expert said Sri Lanka was slow to deliver on its promise of justice for atrocities during its decades-long civil war. He warned the country faced international action if it did not expedite probe into war crimes. Pablo de Greiff, the UN special rapporteur for transitional justice, said on Monday Sri Lanka was slow in dealing with allegations of ... Read More »

German military: 200 soldiers classified as far-right extremists since 2008

A German lawmaker has criticized discrepancies in the reporting of right-wing sympathizers among the military's ranks. The identified extremists could use their military training to advance their cause, she warned. Germany's Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) has classified about 200 Bundeswehr soldiers as right-wing extremists since 2008, according to a report published Monday in regional daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. The German defense ministry released the figure following a parliamentary inquiry by Green Party lawmaker and domestic policy spokesperson Irene Mihalic, the report said. Mihalic told the newspaper that the recruitment of more than 20 right-wing extremists per year poses a serious challenge to domestic security. They could use their military training to advance their agenda, she said. Read more: What draws right-wing extremists to the military? The German lawmaker noted that MAD President Christof Gramm told parliament earlier this month that only eight Bundeswehr soldiers had been identified annually, marking a stark difference to the latest data received by the military branch. The discrepancy represents a "high analytical uncertainty on the subject," Mihalic said. She said the MAD must regularly inform Germany's parliament about extremist efforts in the military, especially when it concerns networks and strategies. A growing issue? The Bundeswehr has come under increased pressure from the government to deal with members of far-right movements after an army lieutenant identified as Franco A. was discovered in April leading a double life as a Syrian refugee and planning a terrorist attack. In September, the MAD said that it had recorded 286 new cases of right-wing extremism in Germany's military. But MAD President Gramm told lawmakers earlier this month that after the suspension of mandatory military service in 2011, the number of right-wing cases decreased significantly. Read more: The German military and its troubled traditions However, it is unclear how the latest data from MAD compares to Gramm's earlier statements on decreased right-wing activity among the Bundeswehr's ranks. With the latest revelations, authorities have pushed for more information about far-right activity in the German military. In the German city of Tübingen, prosecutors last month said they launched a probe into allegations of right-wing extremist behavior among the Special Forces Command, the country's elite military troops.

A German lawmaker has criticized discrepancies in the reporting of right-wing sympathizers among the military’s ranks. The identified extremists could use their military training to advance their cause, she warned. Germany’s Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) has classified about 200 Bundeswehr soldiers as right-wing extremists since 2008, according to a report published Monday in regional daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. The German defense ... Read More »

Bertelsmann: 21 percent of German kids are long-term poor

According to a new study, 21 percent of German children and their families live in permanent poverty. Such kids are excluded from lives that many of their peers take for granted. Children whose families are below the poverty line in Germany are likely to stay there. That's the main takeaway of a long-term study commissioned by Germany's Bertelsmann foundation that evaluated the living standards of more than 3,000 children over a period of five years. Researchers found that 10 percent of children surveyed have experienced short-term poverty. However, 21 percent of children are in conditions of permanent or recurring poverty. The risk is especially high for boys and girls with at least two siblings, children of single parents and kids whose parents received a low level of education. "Germany is a wealthy country that has seen an economic upswing in recent years," Anette Stein, Bertelsmann's family policy expert, told DW. "But many children and families did obviously not profit from that." 'If poverty becomes permanent' The study defined poor families as those whose income is 60 percent or less of the household average in Germany and families who receive state welfare. Family background is a strong predictor of a child's academic future, according to studies. Kids who are long-term impoverished are less likely to receive a university education, which then often shuts the door to higher-paying jobs. This can repeat across generations. "That's really sad for the kids concerned, but it's also not good for society at large," Stein said. "It means poverty is passed on and these children will grow up to be adults who, again, need support from the state or who at least won't pay into the social insurance system." General exclusion Bertelsmann listed 23 quality-of-life factors that many impoverished people lack, from adequate, affordable living space to laundry facilities to outdoor areas for children to play, such as a yard or even a balcony. Other items on the list included winter clothing, financial savings, and the means for modest entertainment expenditures, such as inviting friends over for dinner, seeing a film once a month or taking an annual weekly vacation. Children defined by the survey as coming from permanently poor families lack access to an average of about seven of these; those in temporary poverty are missing out on an average of 3.4. "There are currently 2.7 million children and youth growing up in poverty, and that has far-reaching consequences," Heinz Hilgers, the president of Germany's child protection agency, the DKSB, said in a statement released on Monday. "A child who experiences poverty hardly has a chance of true participation in society. That's especially true if poverty becomes permanent." Proactive steps Bertelsmann and the DKSB recommend three steps toward ending childhood poverty. First of all, the true needs of children need to be surveyed regularly and systematically. "We can't just treat children like small adults," Stein said. Secondly, the social support system needs to be made simpler. There are multiple options that families can apply for, but they often need to fight their way through a bureaucratic jungle to find the right one. Bertelsmann and the DKSB call for a unified program to help poor children. And, thirdly, children need leisure opportunities, as well as educational activities that are tailored to the needs of families in their neighborhoods. With these measures, the DKSB's Hilgers said, authorities might finally "truly contribute to making equal chances for all children in Germany a reality."

According to a new study, 21 percent of German children and their families live in permanent poverty. Such kids are excluded from lives that many of their peers take for granted. Children whose families are below the poverty line in Germany are likely to stay there. That’s the main takeaway of a long-term study commissioned by Germany’s Bertelsmann foundation that ... Read More »

Brexit: Dinner leaks, Twitter spats and a plea for certainty

As aides and reporters battled on Twitter over leaks from a Brexit dinner between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU's Jean-Claude Juncker, British business lobbies called on their government to provide clarity. The European Commission on Monday denied an account of a Brussels dinner last week during which May and Juncker discussed Brexit negotiations. Juncker's head of cabinet, German lawyer Martin Selmayr, took to Twitter to deny the leaking of the details which were was published in Germany's Frankfurt Allgemeine (FAZ) newspaper. According to the FAZ, May was "begging for help" from Juncker, who described her to colleagues as being anxious, despondent and discouraged. Read more: Brexit diary 11: Brexit body language "It's an attempt to frame the EU side and to undermine talks," Selmayr said of the leaked report controversy. Selmayr was responding to an allegation from May's former chief-of-staff, Nick Timothy, also via Twitter, that he was behind the leak. European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas repeated the denial. "We have lots of work and no time for gossip." He declined to say who might wish the Commission ill but added that Juncker would "never have said something like this." Earlier this year similar reports concerning a Downing Street dinner emerged in the same German newspaper. Slow progress on Brexit talks has stoked fears the UK could leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place. EU leaders agreed on Friday to include the bloc's future relationship with Britain in negotiations among themselves over the coming months. Businesses: We have to plan As officials bickered via social media, UK business leaders were preparing to call for reassurance. In a draft letter to Brexit Secretary David Davis, five leading business groups called for the economic relationship between Britain and the bloc to be "as close as possible to the status quo" during a two-year transition period for the country's move out of the EU. Read more: Brexit: What's the 'no deal' fallout for the UK and EU? "Agreement (on a transition) is needed as soon as possible, as companies are preparing to make serious decisions at the start of 2018, which will have consequences for jobs and investment in the UK," said the letter from the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, manufacturing trade body EEF, the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses.

As aides and reporters battled on Twitter over leaks from a Brexit dinner between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker, British business lobbies called on their government to provide clarity. The European Commission on Monday denied an account of a Brussels dinner last week during which May and Juncker discussed Brexit negotiations. Juncker’s head of cabinet, ... Read More »

Germany: Turkey made 81 extradition requests since failed coup

Turkey has expressed frustration at Germany's lack of movement on extradition requests after a failed coup. A German lawmaker said Berlin should "exert resistance" to instead get German citizens out of Turkish custody. Since the failed coup of July 2016, Turkey has requested the extradition of 81 people from Germany, according to the Justice Ministry's response to an inquiry from the Left Party's parliamentary party. The Justice Ministry, however, did not provide information on how many of those requests were based on terrorism charges or whether Berlin complied with the requests. Read more: Turkey: Is Germany Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 'best enemy'? Turkey has accused Germany of harboring thousands of suspects allegedly involved in a failed coup on July 15, 2016 that left more than 200 people dead, including soldiers and civilians. 'Exert resistance' Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in November last year that Ankara had already requested more than 4,000 suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Read more: 'Erdogan wants to establish Turkey in Germany' Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed frustration at Berlin's failure to handover suspected criminals. "Look, I've given Germany 4,500 files on the PKK, and we did not receive any feedback on any of the 4,500 files," Erdogan said. However, Left Party lawmaker Alexander Neu said Berlin should not cave into Turkey's demands, especially when German citizens remain in Turkish jails, such as German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, German journalist Mesale Tolu and human rights defender Peter Steudtner. "Instead, the federal government must exert resistance to get the German hostages out of custody," Neu said. Authoritarian turn Since the failed coup, Ankara has orchestrated a nationwide crackdown on suspected supporters of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, who allegedly masterminded the putsch. More than 50,000 people have been arbitrarily jailed and more than 120,000 others purged from the armed forces and civil services. Human rights groups and UN organizations have criticized the sweeping purges and detentions, saying it amounts to an authoritarian shift in the Anatolian nation.

Turkey has expressed frustration at Germany’s lack of movement on extradition requests after a failed coup. A German lawmaker said Berlin should “exert resistance” to instead get German citizens out of Turkish custody. Since the failed coup of July 2016, Turkey has requested the extradition of 81 people from Germany, according to the Justice Ministry’s response to an inquiry from ... Read More »

Austrian Jewish leader warns against working with far-right Freedom Party

The head of Austria's Jewish community has cautioned against forming a government with the right-wing Freedom Party. He warned that the party is still highly xenophobic despite its attempts to tone down its rhetoric. With formal coalition talks due to begin within days, the president of Austria's main Jewish association issued a warning to the country's centrist parties about working with the far-right, nationalist Freedom Party (FPÖ). "When the nationalist wolf puts on a blue sheepskin, it changes only its appearance and not its character," Oskar Deutsch, the head of Vienna and Austria's Jewish communities, wrote in an open letter on Facebook on Sunday. Blue is color of the Freedom Party. The conservative People's Party (ÖVP), headed by Sebastian Kurz, won the most votes in this month's election but came up short of a majority at 32 percent. The center-left Social Democrats (SPÖ) came in second with around 26.9 percent closely followed by the anti-immigration FPÖ at 26 percent. Kurz previously said his party shares common ground with the FPÖ on several issues, although he said on Monday that he's unsure which party he would like to enter coalition talks with. It's predicted that he will turn to the far-right FPÖ as both parties called for the government to take a hard line on migration during the election. They both also want to decrease taxes on companies. Read more: Make Austria Great Again — the rapid rise of Sebastian Kurz "If ÖVP and SPÖ believe they can tame the wolf, they are deceiving themselves," Deutsch said in his post, adding that any government involving the FPÖ would be "irresponsible." "Whether a grand coalition or a minority government will be formed ... is secondary," noted Deutsch. "It's important to be aware of the responsibilities for Austria, for Europe, and for the future." On Friday, Kurz posted a picture on Twitter of a meeting with Deutsch on Friday, writing: "I am thankful for the active Jewish community in our country." FPÖ rejects criticism Founded by former Nazis around 60 years ago, the FPÖ has since worked to attract more moderate voters by toning down its rhetoric and shifting its focus from being anti-foreigner to staunchly anti-Islam. The party's most prominent Jewish member, David Lasar, dismissed Deutsch's remarks in a statement. Read more:Austria election: Europe reacts to Sebastian Kurz victory "The FPÖ has always been committed to the safety of Austria's Jewish population, especially at a time that anti-Semitism has strengthened its base in Europe due to the limitless immigration of Islamist fundamentalists," Lasar said. Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache has insisted that anti-Semitism has no place in the current FPÖ, which regularly has to expel members who cross the line. Strache has also called anti-Semitism a crime and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. "Symbolic visits to Israel cannot conceal all this. Austria's Jewish community will not whitewash (this)," Deutsch said. He added that there were racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic incidents "almost daily" in Austria.

The head of Austria’s Jewish community has cautioned against forming a government with the right-wing Freedom Party. He warned that the party is still highly xenophobic despite its attempts to tone down its rhetoric. With formal coalition talks due to begin within days, the president of Austria’s main Jewish association issued a warning to the country’s centrist parties about working ... Read More »

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