In Brief – N.38 – September 5, 2016

France’s Orange SA has entered preliminary talks to buy a piece of Iran’s largest cellular operator MCI in what would mark the first acquisition of a stake in a major Iranian firm by a Western company since the Nuclear Deal was signed in July 2015.

Venezuela’s opposition is vowing to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro after 1 million protesters flooded the streets of Caracas in their biggest show of force in years. According to analysts, the fact that a referendum could be organized, given the difficulty of the whole process, means that Maduro could be nearing his own ousting and/or impeachment.

After provisional results of Gabon’s presidential election triggered clashes between supporters of reelected Omar Bongo and his rival Jean Ping, the UN expressed deep concern. “Any disputes concerning the results should be resolved through the judicial channels,” reminded French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

President Dilma Rousseff was stripped of her office in the culmination of a political crisis that has left Brazil adrift, with an economy in deep recession and a public sharply divided over the country’s future. Michel Temer has become the new President as a result.

Spain’s acting Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has lost a parliamentary bid for a second term in office. The failure to secure the position deepens the country’s political crisis after two inconclusive elections, and increases the likelihood of a third election within a year.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran is set to break ground on the 10-year-long Russia-backed construction of two more nuclear power plants in the southern city of Bushehr on September 10, 2016.

The main spokesman and second most senior leader for the Islamic State (ISIS) armed group, Abu Mohamed Al-Adnani, has been killed by a US air strike in the Syrian province of Aleppo, while monitoring terrorist operations.

France’s Economy Minister 38-year-old Emmanuel Macron has resigned, breaking away from embattled president and mentor François Hollande to prepare for a rival presidential bid. Macron explained he quit to “regain his freedom” and focus on building a “transformation plan” for the country.

France will seek the suspension of negotiations on the transatlantic free trade agreement (TAFTA), announced Matthias Fekl, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade. “At the end of September 2016, I will ask on behalf of France the halt of TAFTA negotiations.”

To boost production and facilitate investment, Chahed Youssef, the new Tunisian Prime Minister, proposedeconomic emergency” as most economic indicators are in the red: sluggish growth at just 1% and unemployment around 15%.

Every companies, whatever their nationality, if they generate profits in a European country, should pay taxes in accordance with national tax laws,” the European Commission (EC) reminded.

“Everybody has to do their bit,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told ARD television. “What I continue to think is wrong is that some say, ‘We generally don’t want Muslims in our country regardless if there is a humanitarian need or not.’ We’re going to have to keep discussing that.”

“According to my assessment, TTIP negotiations with the United States have de facto failed although nobody really admits to it. And that is because, having had 14 rounds of negotiations made into 27 chapters there has not been a single joint statement. We must not allow ourselves to submit ourselves to the American proposals. In Europe we have our way of living together,” German Vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said.

Alstom and Amtrak have signed a contract for Alstom to design and build 28 new high-speed trains, which will run on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington D.C. Amtrak and Alstom also signed a long-term contract under which Alstom will provide Amtrak with long-term technical support and supply spare components and parts for the maintenance of the new trainsets. Together, these contracts are worth USD 2 billion.

DCNS has been made aware of articles published in the Australian press related to the leakage of sensitive data about Indian Scorpene. The subsequent investigation will determine the exact nature of the leaked documents, the potential damages to DCNS customers as well as the responsibilities for this leakage.

Negotiators seeking to end the 52-year-old bloody insurgency in Colombia said in Havana that they had reached a final peace deal after 44 months of talks. The conflict killed 22,000 and displaced 6 million people.

Without any authorization from the Syrian government, Turkey launched its first major ground assault into Syria since the civil war began there, sending in tanks and special forces backed by US airstrikes to help Syrian “moderate” rebels retake the border town Jarablus from ISIS.

A dozen Algerian generals have allegedly petitioned Gaït Salah, Chief of Defense Staff to testify about the decade (1992-1999) of war between the Military and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). Some would interpret this as a move of political leadership against recently sacked high-ranking officials of the DRS and the military.

A North Korean (DPRK) ballistic missile fired from a submarine flew about 310 miles in the longest flight by that type of weapon, Seoul officials said, a range that can place much of South Korea within its striking distance.

Interior ministers of France and Germany, Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maizière, have called for new regulations to let police read encrypted messages. Many “jihadist” groups use messaging apps like Telegram.

Germany’s GDP grew a better-than-expected 0.4% in the second quarter of 2016, compared with the first three months of the year, while France stalled at 0%.

Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would seek to win back the French presidency in 2017 should he win November’s conservative Les Républicains (LR) party primaries. “I felt I had the strength to lead this battle at a troubled time in our history,” Sarkozy wrote on his social media pages ahead of the publication of a book called “Everything for France”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned South Sudan’s warring leaders that Washington’s aid would evaporate if they failed to halt the spiraling violence that has plunged the world’s youngest nation into a humanitarian emergency.

The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton‘s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge  pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned.

The Russian military said its aircraft operating from an Iranian air base to conduct strikes in Syria had completed their tasks, but left open the possibility of using the Hamadan base again if circumstances warranted.

The UK military is not adequately equipped to deal with the growing threat of a world war, a top British military commander has warned, renewing calls for more funding.

French citizens or residents of Asian descent have demonstrated peacefully waving French flags in order to demand government more security and to express their anger as for the racism they’ve been suffering from mainly on behalf of delinquents of African or Maghreb descent.

After quick worrisome nuclear developments by North Korea (DPRK) and despite a strong military alliance with the United States, the debate about South Korea going nuclear has been growing, showing the long-term risk of letting threats developing almost unabated.

The integrity of the euro zone is at risk once Britain leaves the European Union (EU), JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said. Such a scenario “unfortunately could be one of the fat tail outcomes of a Brexit,” Dimon stressed.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) could come again to the aid of Greece after having participated in the first Greek bailout six years ago. Although the situation is different today, the pressure remains enormous.

A video attributed to Islamic State (IS) urged jihadists to stage attacks in Russia. The threat comes amid Russia’s repeated warnings that IS terrorism in Syria and Iraq could soon spread to other parts of the world.

Tokyo elected its first female governor as it prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, with voters turning to a leader promising clean politics.

Pope Francis said that it was wrong to identify Islam with violence and that social injustice and idolatry of money were among the prime causes of terrorism.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader reiterated Tehran’s support for Turkish people and government in the face of threats. According to Turkish ambassador Hakan Tekin, bilateral relations have reached their highest level over the past 10 years.

By 2035, the US could find itself in an environment where Russia or China may match or even exceed the West’s military and economic might in some areas, taking advantage of a “disordered and contested world,” the Pentagon’s research unit said.

With more than 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters from some 100 countries around the world, terrorism is a global threat requiring a comprehensive and unified response, Jean-Paul Laborde, a top United Nations counter-terrorism official said.

Malik Obama, the half-brother of Democratic President of the United States Barack Obama, told Reuters he would vote for the Republican candidate Donald Trump for President in November. A Kenyan Muslim living in Washington DC, Malik Obama said he welcomed the directness and the absence of political correctness in Trump’s speeches.

According to Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Tehran could join the international ITER project, which aims to build a thermonuclear experimental reactor in the French town of Cadarache. Iran would thus add to the existing 27 members, including the United States, Russia and the European Union (EU).

The recent terrorist attacks in France and Germany started a deeper reflection on the necessary evolution of the criminal law applied to persons guilty and/or suspected of terrorism. Considering the political risk that is growing exponentially as the terrorist threat infuriates the public, more and more political leaders call for preventive solutions and/or extra-judicial mechanisms.

About 11 people have been arrested and/or identified as part of an investigation in Brazil about an ISIS-tied terrorist group which was targeting the Rio Olympics. « Absolutely amateur and disorganized, » according to the Brazilian Justice Minister, the suspects allegedly imported AK-47 assault rifles from Paraguay.

Yahoo may sell its main assets for only USD 4.8 billion to telecom giant Verizon. Yahoo, an Internet pioneer, was valued USD 100 billion in 2000 and USD 44 billion in 2008. Most of its value today lies in its shares in China’s Alibaba for a total of about USD 37 billion.

Donald Trump multiplied tough – and controversial – proposals. After he explained last week that the US would not necessarily intervene to defend the Baltic states against Russia, the Republican candidate offered this week to withdraw his country from the World Trade Organization (WTO) if, as US President, he was not allowed to penalize US companies which are moving overseas.

The Republican candidate for the 2016 US presidential elections Donald Trump said that to protect the United States, he will have to limit immigration even from allies like France and Germany that he deems “infected by terrorism”. This proposal has provoked negative reactions from Europeans reminding Trump that the Islamic State (ISIS – Daech) is also a consequence of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Wikileaks has caused quite a stir within the Democratic Party whose president Debbie Wasserman Schultz was pressed to resign by Bernie Sanders following revelations that she deliberately favored Hillary Clinton at the expense of the latter.

A Syrian aged 27 whose application for asylum had been rejected was allowed to stay in Germany. He died last night blowing himself up at the entrance to a pop concert near Nuremberg in southern Germany, injuring 12 people. This new act of terrorism confirmed that a vast low intensity conflict has gained momentum across Europe with serious potential political implications.