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Macron describes NATO as ‘brain dead’

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Emmanuel Macron

Paris, Nov 8 : French President Emmanuel Macron has described NATO as “brain dead”, stressing what he sees as waning commitment to the trans-atlantic alliance by its main guarantor, the US.

“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” the BBC reported citing Macron as saying in an interview to The Economist on Thursday.

He warned European members that they could no longer rely on the US to defend the alliance, established at the start of the Cold War to bolster Western European and North American security.

Article Five of NATO’s founding charter stipulates that an attack on one member will produce a collective response from the alliance.

But Macron appeared unsure whether it was still valid when asked as he replied “I don’t know”.

The alliance, Macron said “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what Nato is in the light of the commitment of the US”.

The French leader urged Europe to start thinking of itself as a “geopolitical power” to ensure it remained “in control” of its destiny.

Responding to Macron’s remarks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while speaking in Berlin alongside visiting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said the French President “used drastic words – that is not my view of co-operation in NATO”, reports the BBC.

Merkel acknowledged that there were problems, but said she did not think that “such sweeping judgements are necessary”.

Stoltenberg said the alliance remained strong, adding that “European allies are stepping up, investing more in defence”.

Also reacting to Macron was Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said in a Facebook post: “Well said. Truthful words, and ones that get to the nub of the matter… An accurate description of NATO’s current state.”

NATO members were taken by surprise when US President Donald Trump abruptly decided to pull most US forces out of north-eastern Syria in October.

The move paved the way for Turkey, also a powerful NATO member, to push into Syria and create what it termed a security zone along its border.

Middle East

Iraqi PM condemns rocket attack on US embassy in Baghdad

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Adel Abdul-Mahdi

Baghdad, Jan 27: The Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday condemned the rocket attack on the US embassy in the Green Zone in central Baghdad.

An attack occurred once again against a foreign diplomatic mission when Katyusha rockets landed inside the campus of the US embassy, said a statement by Abdul Mahdi on his official Twitter Page, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“We denounce the continuation of these condemned and outlaw acts that weaken the state and undermine its sovereignty,” the statement said.

Abdul Mahdi, commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, said that he has ordered the Iraqi forces to deploy and look for the attackers, as well as launching an investigation into the incident, in order to arrest those who fired these rockets, according to the statement.

“The continuation of such irresponsible act, which makes the entire country to bear its consequences and serious repercussions, would lead to damage the country’s higher interests and its relations with its friends, which may turn Iraq to a battlefield,” the statement added.

Abdul Mahdi also confirmed that his government is “committed to protecting all diplomatic missions and take all necessary measures in accordance with the law.”

Abdul Mahdi statement came after an Interior Ministry official said that four Katyusha rockets landed in the evening near the US embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Later on, a statement by the media office affiliated with the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said that five rockets hit the Green Zone, without giving further details.

The heavily fortified Green Zone has been frequently targeted by insurgents’ mortar and rocket attacks. The roughly 10 square km zone is located on the west bank of the Tigris River, which bisects the Iraqi capital.

On Friday, the Iraqi prominent Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for a scheduled withdrawal of US troops from Iraq through peaceful means.

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq on January 5, two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against the Islamic State militants, mainly providing training and advising to the Iraqi forces.

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Middle East

Four rockets land near US embassy in Baghdad

On Friday, the Iraqi prominent Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for a scheduled withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq through peaceful means.

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Katyusha rockets
Katyusha rockets (File Picture)

Baghdad, Jan 27: Four Katyusha rockets on Sunday landed near the US embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, capital of Iraq, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attack took place in the evening when the four rockets landed near the US embassy in the Green Zone, which also houses some of the main Iraqi government offices, the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

There was no casualty reported, as the rockets landed in empty area near the embassy, the official said.

The heavily fortified Green Zone has been frequently targeted by insurgents’ mortar and rocket attacks. The roughly 10 square km zone is located on the west bank of the Tigris River, which bisects the Iraqi capital.

On Friday, the Iraqi prominent Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for a scheduled withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq through peaceful means.

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq on January 5, two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against the Islamic State militants, mainly providing training and advising to the Iraqi forces.

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India

EU moves resolutions against India over CAA, Kashmir

Out of 751 members of the European Union Parliament, 626 have moved six resolutions on both the issues.

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Modi and Amit Shah

New Delhi, Jan 26: After Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s relentless global campaign against India over the Citizenship Amendment Act and reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, the European Union (EU) parliament has decided to pressurize New Delhi.

Out of 751 members of the EU Parliament, 626 have moved six resolutions on both the issues. The diplomatic offensive by the EU against India comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Brussels for the India-EU summit in March.

Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs here said the government took note of the EU move immediately and will withstand the EU pressure by reminding its members that the CAA is “an internal matter” of India.

“Moreover, this legislation has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public debate in both Houses of Parliament,” a source said.

The government, sources said, is going to argue that every society takes into consideration a context and criteria to formulate its own process for naturalisation. European countries have themselves followed the same approach, an official pointed out. “This is not discrimination,” he added.

Sources said that New Delhi is hoping that the sponsors and supporters of the draft in EU will engage with it to get a full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further. “As fellow democracies, the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world,” a senior official said.

Interestingly, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in the midst of completing Brexit from the EU, has been reaching out to India for strengthening trade and bilateral relationship ties. The EU-UK ties have soured since the Brexit vote.

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