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Hamas is cooperating with Hezbollah against Israel


After Israel has demonstrated that it can virtually neutralize any rocket launched south of Israel from Gaza and develop what is dubbed “an underground iron dome” to combat the growing threat of Hamas terrorist tunnels, the Palestinian terrorist group is threatening Israel from north. Last week, a Hamas official escaped an attack in the city of Sidon in southern Lebanon and this weekend the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper al-Akhbar reported that Lebanese intelligence found that Ahmed Battiyah, a Dutch Muslim, had been recruited in Amsterdam by the Mossad and charged with preparing the plot. Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz responded to the accusations of Hamas and Hezbollah on a “Zionist plot” denying any involvement in the assassination attempt. Whether or not Israel is involved in the attempted murder will probably remain an open question, but the fact of defense minister Avigdor Liberman is that Hamas is cooperating with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and is building “terrorist infrastructure” in the country.

Legislative elections scheduled on May 12


On Monday, AlSumaria News quoted a parliamentary source saying that “The House of Representatives ratified a decision that set May 12, 2018 as date for holding the legislative elections. The decision was taken in consensus”. Earlier on the day, the parliament held a session, presided over by Salim al-Jubouri, in attendance of 171 MPs to tackle the measures related to elections. On Sunday, the parliament said holding the legislative elections of the chamber has become obligatory after the federal court decreed holding the elections on the scheduled time. After the chamber failed to reach a consensus over the schedule of polls, the parliament approached the court to settle a political dispute over the holding of legislative elections. Parliament speaker Salim al-Jubouri ordered a secret poll among representatives over holding the legislative elections on time while postponing local elections: Sunni blocs preferred to postpone elections to give time to displaced voters to return to their home regions after the end of military operations against Islamic State militants. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Shia parties have opposed postponement.

Top Judge Larijani slammed US Ignorance


On Monday, in an address to a meeting of senior Judiciary officials in Tehran, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani slammed the US government for spending millions of dollars for creating chaos and fomenting riots in Iran, revealing the enemy’s lack of knowledge and ignorance of the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic. Describing hostile measures against Iran as an ordinary policy of the US, the official cited a recently-released report on the US spending for inciting chaos and insecurity in Iran during the recent unrest, saying Washington failed to achieve its objectives despite spending millions of dollars. In late December, peaceful protests over economic problems broke out in a number of Iranian cities, but the gatherings turned violent in some places when groups of participants, some of them armed, vandalized public property and launched attacks on police stations and government buildings. People held several demonstrations across the country to condemn the violent riots and acts of vandalism, and voice support for the Islamic Republic’s Establishment. After those events, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said that a tripartite plot was behind the violent unrest, referring to the US and Israel as one side of the triangle that masterminded the plot and worked on it for months.

The Border Security Force of India has fired over 9,000 rounds of mortar shells across the international border


The BSF has fired over 9,000 rounds of mortar shells across the International Border (IB) in Jammu in the past four days as part of “pinpointed” retaliatory action against Pakistan’s unprovoked firing, destroying firing positions and fuel dumps of the Pakistan Rangers at multiple places, officials said on Monday.
Senior officials of the Border Security Force (BSF) and in the home ministry said the situation along the 190-km IB in the Jammu area was “very tense” as Pakistan had “opened” heavy fire in the entire stretch since Sunday evening. They said the BSF had fired over 9,000 rounds of mortar shells since January 19, after “Pakistan first breached the peace and hit BSF posts and civilian areas”. The mortar shelling is in addition to an effective retaliation by an assortment of other arms and ammunition, they said. The BSF said the force was retaliating with “pinpointed” fire which destroyed firing positions, mortar launching pads and ammunition and fuel dumps of the Pakistan Rangers at multiple places.The force also released two small video clips purportedly showing the destruction of fuel dumps. They said the “chicken neck” area of the border in Jammu (which was untouched till now), near Makwal and Kanachak border posts of the BSF, is also being pounded by the Pakistani forces. A senior official said that a security force jawan and a few civilians have been injured in these areas and we are receiving heavy fire here since yesterday,. Sources said the Indian forces have also witnessed the movement of senior commanders of the Rangers and Pakistan Army in the forward areas across the border. “These visits, as we understand, are being undertaken by Pak commanders to motivate their troops who are getting some good pounding from the Indian side and it is also understood that many of their personnel have been hit fatally or have been injured,” the official added. The Rangers, they said, have also “refused” to talk to the BSF and come over for a flag meeting till now. All the BSF border posts in the Jammu area have been put on “high alert” and senior commanders have been asked to be at the front “at least for the next about a week’s time”, they said. The force has also stepped up the deployment of its “ambush patrols” along the IB to check infiltration, they said.

FMI has projected India’s growth at 7.4 per cent in 2018


The International Monetary Fund has projected India’s growth at 7.4 per cent in 2018 as against China’s 6.8 per cent, making it the fastest growing country among emerging economies following last year’s slowdown due to demonetisation and the implementation of the GST. This comes a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the SWorld Economic Forum in Davos. In its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) update released on Monday, the IMF has projected a 7.8 per cent growth rate for India in 2019. Growth rate projections for both 2018 and 2019 remains unchanged since its October 2017 WEO projections. The IMF said that China, during the same period is expected to grow at 6.6 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively. The IMF said, the aggregate growth forecast for the emerging markets and developing economies for 2018 and 2019 is unchanged, with marked differences in the outlook across regions. It projected India to grow at 7.4 per cent in 2018 as against China’s 6.8 per cent. Emerging and developing Asia will grow at around 6.5 per cent over 2018–19, broadly the same pace as in 2017,” it said, adding that the region continues to account for over half of world growth. “Growth is expected to moderate gradually in China (though with a slight upward revision to the forecast for 2018 and 2019 relative to the fall forecasts, reflecting stronger external demand), pick up in India, and remain broadly stable in the ASEAN-5 region”, the IMF said. In the year gone by, China (6.8 per cent) was ahead of India (6.7 per cent), giving China the tag of being the fastest growing emerging economies, as has been the case for major parts of the past several decades. Notably, with a growth rate of 7. 1 per cent, India was the fastest growing country among emerging economies in the year 2016. But due to the demonetisation in late 2016 and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), India’s economy slowed down a little bit to 6.7 per cent in 2016. In 2017, India’s growth rate dropped to 6.7 per cent. According to Maurice Obstfeld, IMF Economic Counsellor and Director of Research, the two biggest national economies driving current and near-term future growth are predictably headed for slower growth.

Merkel-Macron meeting shows the ‘Franco-German couple is still functioning’


The German leader has yet to form a governing coalition, but that delay did not stop Merkel from offering her support for her French counterpart’s proposals for Europe. “Germany and France can and should take the lead on many questions (related to Europe) and I understand that France is waiting until we have a new government”, said Merkel at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. “On a broad basis, there is absolutely no difference that I see. It is a Europe that must have a common foreign policy on strategic questions, a Europe that must create its own development policies, a Europe of defence, and it is a Europe that has to be economically strong”, she added. Merkel’s visit coincides with the 55th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty establishing friendly relations between France and Germany. The French and German lower houses of parliament are slated to pass a resolution on Monday outlining prospective elements for a new treaty and reinforcing cooperation between the countries’ parliaments.

China ‘warns off’ US destroyer near South China Sea’s strategic Scarborough Shoal


China accuses USA of violating its sovereignty because it has sighted a US Navy destroyer near a group of disputed islets in the South China Sea. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Saturday that the USS Hopper missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Scarborough Shoal, called Huangyan Island in China, in the South China Sea on Wednesday night. The shoal off the western coast of the Philippines is seen as a strategic point among the claimants China and USA because it is within easy striking distance of US forces stationed in the Philippines. The US does not claim sovereignty of the waters but says it has the right to conduct freedom-of-navigation operations in the area.

Angela Merkel in Sofia to discuss about Turkey and Schengen


The German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Sofia to meet with Prime Minister Borisov. They talked about the main goals of the Bulgarian EU Presidency. Among the topics, they talked about Turkey, and Merkel welcomed the initiative of Borisov and Juncker to meet with Erdogan to talk on all issues. Concerning Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen, she praised the efforts made by Bulgaria to reach the requested standards, but she could not say a specific date for the accession.

500 jobs open to Canton Sarajevo citizens


The Government of Canton Sarajevo (CS) has approved a proposal for the adoption of incentives for employment. The five programs, totaling 9.239.615 BAM, will allow 500 people in CS to find employment as well as encouraging the improvement of the labor market and providing the necessary training and formation. One of the programs has been planned for the co-financing for the employment of unemployed doctors in CS, for which 1.092.000 BAM were allocated.

Sonatrach will refine its petroleum in Italy


Sonatrach signed a processing contract on Monday January 15th with an Italian refinery to refine its petroleum before repatriating it. This option should allow Algeria to reduce its invoice for imports of refined products, promises the national company. The CEO of Sonatrach, Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, explained earlier this week that this operation was to rent the equipment of the Italian refiner on site to carry out refining operations in Italy. Lack of sufficient infrastructure to meet the growing demand internally, Algeria has been forced in recent years to import petroleum products. The country now imports more than 15 million tons of fuel per year, compared with local production of 11.5 million tons. After spending $ 800 million on fuel imports in 2016, Algeria tripled its spending in 2017 ($ 2.5 billion). “Our goal is to reduce our fuel imports, they are too high”, Ould Kaddour told reporters on Tuesday. Algeria “can not continue to import $ 2 billion a year in petroleum products”, says the CEO of Sonatrach.

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