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Italy’s migrant crackdown reveals fractures within the EU

‘Welcome thousands of migrants and then we can talk’

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As German Chancellor Angela Merkel races to find a solution to the migrant crisis in Germany by seeking a pan European solution, oppositional interests become more pronounced. As Merkel admits that a solution will come out of a formal bloc-wide meeting on the matter, Italy’s position on the migrant situation becomes more pronounced, and very much opposed to taking in any more refugees.

A draft declaration intended for this weekend’s informal summit was leaked, which proposes that refugees be sent back to the nation in which they initially filed for asylum, almost costed Italy’s presence at the meeting, but, upon Merkel’s assurance that it wasn’t actually on the table for consideration, Conte agreed to participate.

French president Emmanuel Macron, who has a diametrically oppositional position to that of Italy’s populist government, described Italy’s populism as ‘leprosy’, which was immediately called out by Italian ministers, with Matteo Salvini reportedly responding ‘welcome thousands of migrants and then we can talk.’.

Meanwhile, Merkel is on the ropes about finding some sort of answer to the migrant crisis, as her government coalition is verging on collapse over the issue, potentially in a matter of days.

AFP reports:

Italy doubled down Friday on its new tough stance against migrants, insisting it could not take “one more” refugee and warned the migration crisis could put the bloc’s survival at stake.

Just two days before a mini summit on the issue in Brussels, Italy’s three-week-old populist government dug its heels in on campaign promises to stop the influx of migrants, threatening to seize rescue ships or barring them from its ports.

“We cannot take in one more person,” hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the German weekly Der Spiegel. “On the contrary: we want to send away a few.”

The far-right Salvini, who heads the anti-immigration League party and is also Italy’s deputy prime minister, has come to personify Rome’s new confrontational and unbending stance.

It was he who barred the French NGO-run Aquarius rescue ship, carrying some 630 migrants, from docking in Italy earlier this month, triggering an EU-wide row.

On Thursday, he turned his sights to the German NGO, Mission Lifeline.

“The illegal boat Lifeline is now in Maltese waters with its cargo of 239 migrants. For the safety of its crew and the passengers, we’ve asked Malta to open its ports,” Salvini wrote on Twitter.

“Clearly, the boat should immediately be impounded and its crew arrested,” he added.

But a source close to the Maltese government quoted by the Times of Malta newspaper said later Friday that Malta was “neither the coordinating authority nor one competent to carry out rescues”.

Salvini reacted strongly, saying: “If even one person was to get hurt on board this boat… we will hold Malta accountable.”

He also reiterated that the boat would not be allowed to dock in an Italian port.

– Europe’s future ‘will be decided’ –

Just two days before the informal talks on the migration issue — called by Berlin and being attended by some 16 EU leaders — Salvini warned that nothing less than the EU’s future survival was at stake.

“Within a year it will be decided whether there will still be a united Europe or not,” Salvini told Der Spiegel.

Upcoming EU budget talks, as well as European Parliament elections in 2019, would each act as a litmus test for “whether the whole thing has become meaningless”, he said.

Sunday’s talks are supposed to prepare for a full summit next week, where all 28 EU leaders will discuss plans to overhaul the bloc’s asylum system, which has been under severe pressure since the migration crisis exploded in 2015.

Nevertheless, German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who is facing a ferocious political backlash for letting in well over a million asylum seekers into Europe’s biggest economy — played down expectations that a solution could be found quickly.

Speaking on a visit to Lebanon, Merkel said that “we know that no solution will be reached on Thursday and Friday at the level of the 28 member states… on the overall issue of migration”.

Instead, she said, “bilateral, trilateral and multilateral” deals must be reached to tackle the issue.

But Salvini’s uncompromising line found an echo Friday when Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he was also ready to start turning away migrants if Berlin and Vienna did so, as Germany’s interior minister proposed earlier this week.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned on Monday that he would give Merkel a fortnight to find a European deal to curb new arrivals by the June 28-29 EU summit, failing which he vowed to order border police to turn back migrants.

– ‘Never touch Italian soil again’ –

“Italian ports are no longer at the disposal of traffickers. Open the Maltese ports! Open the French ports,” Salvini said earlier on Friday.

And in a Facebook post on Thursday he vowed that “foreign NGO boats will never touch Italian soil again.”

Rome had briefly weighed boycotting Sunday’s mini-summit, but finally agreed to attend after reassurances from Merkel.

Italy had been riled because a leaked draft statement focused more on the redistribution of the migrants once they had arrived in Europe, rather than on securing Europe’s borders.

But the government was placated after Merkel told them the text had been shelved.

Nevertheless, tensions continue to simmer very close to the surface, and tempers can flare up very quickly.

On Friday, Italy took offence when French President Emmanuel Macron likened rising nationalism and anti-migrant sentiment in Europe to “leprosy”.

“One day, he’s saying that he doesn’t want to offend Italy, and then the next, he’s talking about leprosy,” said Italy’s other deputy prime minister and head of the populist M5S party, Luigi Di Maio.

“We may be leper populists. But I take the lessons from those who open their own ports. Welcome thousands of migrants and then we can talk,” said Salvini.

While the migrant issue is one that has plagued Europe for years now, the political conditions in Europe have become such that it is beginning to threaten the unity of the European bloc. The four visegrad countries diluted the authority of the bloc’s policies by refusing to abide by them, Italy has experienced a fruit basket turnover with migration being one of the key topics, and Germany is threatened by conservative voices, backed by the USA, which are putting Merkel’s hold on power within the bloc’s most powerful and economically significant member into question. Now, more than ever, the push to find a soluble solution to the migrant crisis is necessary to securing the union of the 28 member bloc.

 

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Gano1bluewaterBill SpenceRaycomeauLinda Wren Recent comment authors
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Gano1
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Gano1

The EU is a debt ridden migrant infested mess!…………………..Italy has woken up!.

bluewater
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bluewater

I WILL NOT COMPLY

https://youtu.be/55aFy8TrZ0w

Bill Spence
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Bill Spence

Brussels should advise all EU citizens to migrate to North Africa in order to make space for migrants. Just Leave!

Raycomeau
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Raycomeau

Why are these European Countries not calling out USA instead of fighting among themselves. It is the USA wars and “Regime Change” in Latin America which is causing the majority of immigrants. The other irony is that the “refugee immigrants” want to settle into the USA, the actual country which ousted them from their homes! Why is no one dealing with this fact. Is everyone afraid of the USA. I would appreciate many responses, regardless of your views!

Linda Wren
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Linda Wren

For Germany, who incidentally has made billions on the collapse of Greece & have offered to pay the Lebanese ( with Americans help) to ‘keep’ Syrians from returning home. Merkel doesnt have anything to offer to correct the destruction of Europe.

my2Cents
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my2Cents

The EU is a Washington construct. It has not benefited Europe but only the U.S.
The quicker it dissolves the better. The refugee/financial immigrants too are America’s way to create chaos and control Europe. Gladio is actively engaged in creating ‘terrorist attacks’ using the ‘Allahu Akbar’ mantra and blaming the Muslims to keep Europe in its place. The rational population is catching on.

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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