News Summary EUCOM: Thursday, November 16, 2017
-The Washington Post – Carol Morello – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Russia blocked a U.S.-written resolution at the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that would have extended an international investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria, angering diplomats who said Moscow was making it difficult to prevent future attacks. The Russian veto is the 10th that Moscow has made to protect its ally, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
- It means that the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a body formed to learn who was responsible for chemical weapons attacks on civilians in Syria, expires at midnight Thursday. The U.S. proposal sought to extend it for another year.
-The Jerusalem Post – Anna Ahronheim – 11/16/2017
BLUF: IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has offered to share Israeli intelligence about Iran with Saudi Arabia, in remarks published in a rare interview with a Saudi newspaper published in London.
- According to the chief of staff, the expansion of Iranian influence across the Middle East is a major concern to both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
-The Guardian – Patrick Wintour and Saeed Kamali Dehghan – 11/16/2017
BLUF: The UK hopes to finally end a near four-decade legal dispute with the Iranian government over hundreds of Chieftain tanks Tehran bought from the UK in 1976, but never received. The British government admits it owes Iran up to £300m, but the countries have wrangled over the precise sum and whether any payment could be made while Tehran was still under EU economic sanctions for its nuclear programme.
- Downing Street insists there is no link between the dispute and efforts by the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to release the Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe during an expected visit to the country soon.
-Reuters – Unknown – 11/15/2017
BLUF: At least 3,000 people formed a chain of light in Vienna on Wednesday to protest against the formation of a government that includes the far-right Freedom Party. It was the biggest protest in Austria since coalition talks between the conservative People’s Party (OVP) and the Freedom Party (FPO) started two weeks ago.
- Organizers estimated the number of people taking part at 8,000 to 10,000, the police at around 3,000.
-The Local France – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: People travelling by plane or train in France on Thursday could face transport disruptions after three of the country’s leading workers’ unions called for members to down tools in response to the government’s “liberal reforms”. Several of France’s unions including hardline CGT, FO and Solidaire have called for transport workers to strike on Thursday.
- Around a 170 strikes will take place around the country in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s “liberal reforms” which started with his highly controversial changes to France’s enshrined labour code.
-CNBC – Kevin Breuninger – 11/16/2017
BLUF: German manufacturing conglomerate Siemens announced on Thursday that it was cutting 6,900 jobs worldwide in response to changes in the energy and commodity sectors. Roughly half of the job cuts will be made in Germany, the company said in a press release, and will be made in the affected industries “over a period of several years.”
- Despite the cuts, the company expects its new hire level to remain stable from the current year to 2018, and says it plans to move as many affected employees as possible to its 3,200 vacant job slots.
-Deutsche Well – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Germany has replaced the US as the country with the best “brand image,” according to a new study of 50 countries released Thursday. The Nation Brands Index (NBI) survey by German-based market research firm GfK and the British political consultant Simon Anholt measured public opinion around the world on “the power and quality of each country’s ‘brand image.'”
- Germany moved up to first place after coming in second in 2016. The US dropped from top to sixth, with France, Britain, Canada and Japan taking spots two to five.
-BBC News – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: A German court has ruled that a Kuwaiti airline was within its rights to refuse to carry an Israeli citizen. The ruling angered Jewish groups and others, who argued that it condoned anti-Semitism.
- Kuwait Airways cancelled the passenger’s ticket for a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok.
- The Frankfurt court said the airline was respecting the laws of Kuwait, which does not recognise the state of Israel.
-The Local Spain – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Russia on Wednesday dismissed allegations from Spain that it had meddled in the Catalan independence crisis by spreading “disinformation”. “The Spanish authorities, NATO and the newspapers did not bring up a single worthwhile argument to back these claims,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
- “We consider these claims to be groundless and more likely a deliberate or inadvertent continuation of the same hysteria that is now happening in the United States and a number of other countries.”
-BBC News – Unknown – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Russia has agreed to restructure $3.15bn (£2.4bn) in debt owed by Venezuela, providing breathing space to the cash-strapped country. The deal, announced on Wednesday, allows Venezuela to make “minimal” repayments on its Russian obligations over the next six years.
- Venezuela owes an estimated $140bn to foreign creditors.
-Rudaw – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Top Iraqi oil officials met with a Turkish energy delegation in Baghdad to discuss resuming Kirkuk’s oil exports through the Turkish port of Ceyhan which were halted early in November. Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi announced on Monday that Iraq plans to double Kirkuk’s oil exports to 1 million barrels per day (bpd).
- Oil exports from Kirkuk to Turkey’s Ceyhan port via the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline were halted by Baghdad on November 1.
-Reuters – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: The United States has told Turkey that jailed gold trader Reza Zarrab is in good medical condition, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Thursday.
- Last week the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons website showed that Zarrab had been released, but a U.S. spokesman said on Monday that he remained in federal custody.
13. Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova could join EU customs union and Schengen area, European Parliament says
-The Independent – Jon Stone – 11/16/2017
BLUF: The European Parliament has backed closer integration between the EU and Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova with a view to those countries joining the customs union and Schengen area, plus gaining increased access to the single market. A motion passed by the body calls for deepening integration with the three eastern states as they implement more reforms, potentially paving the way for them becoming candidate countries to join the bloc.
- A new level of closer cooperation for countries that had implemented reforms to their political systems and economies “could eventually lead to joining the customs union, energy union, digital union and Schengen area, further EU internal market access, integration into EU transport networks, industrial partnerships, increased participation in other EU programmes and agencies” the motion says.
-Reuters – Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Ukrainian investigators fear corruption probes could get buried because the national anti-corruption bureau will soon be flooded by thousands of old cases and recently passed legislation could further hobble their work.
- Their comments spotlight Kiev’s patchy record on fighting corruption, which has delayed billions in aid from international donors who have supported Ukraine since the 2014 Maidan protests brought pro-Western forces to power.
-BBC News – Matt McGrath – 11/16/2017
BLUF: The UK and Canada have launched a global alliance of 20 countries committed to phasing out coal for energy production. Members including France, Finland and Mexico, say they will end the use of coal before 2030.
- Ministers hope to have 50 countries signed up by the time of the next major UN conference in Poland next year.
-The Guardian – Alex Hern – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Facebook is under pressure from academics and parliamentarians to reveal what it knows about Russian attempts to manipulate British politics, as research efforts flounder against the company’s locked-down social network.
- Earlier this week the Labour MP Damian Collins called on Twitter to release examples of posts about British politics, similar to the list of 2,752 US political accounts believed to be Russian-run that the company handed to the US Congress.
-BBC News – Unknown – 11/16/2017
BLUF: Theresa May is to hold Brexit discussions with the president of the EU Council as the UK seeks to move talks on to a new trade deal. The prime minister and Donald Tusk will meet in Gothenburg on Friday, Mr Tusk’s spokesman said on Twitter.
- The EU has so far refused to discuss the “future relationship”, which includes trade, saying not enough progress has been made on “separation issues” like the UK’s financial.
-The Guardian – Robert Booth – 11/15/2017
BLUF: Britain’s intelligence watchdog is facing demands to examine whether Russian “troll factories” interfered in UK politics, amid mounting evidence that thousands of fake accounts may have been used to influence the Brexit vote. An investigation by parliament’s powerful intelligence and security committee would represent a significant escalation in the UK’s response after encouragement from senior Labour and Conservative MPs.
- Labour’s Mary Creagh asked Theresa May at prime minister’s questions if the committee would urgently evaluate “the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine our democracy”. In reply, May said that she expected the committee to be re-formed imminently.
-Department of Defense – Unknown – 11/16/2017
CONTRACT: General Dynamics Mission Systems, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is being awarded $14,739,246 for cost-plus-incentive-fee and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification P00016 to a previously awarded contract (N00030-16-C-0005) for sustainment of the U.S. and United Kingdom (UK) SSBN fire control system, the U.S. SSGN attack weapon control system, including training and support equipment. Also included is the missile fire control for the Columbia-class and UK Vanguard-class Common Missile Compartment Program development, through first unit UK production, and strategic weapon interface simulator. The work will be performed in Pittsfield Massachusetts (90.5 percent); Bremerton, Washington, (3.6 percent); Kings Bay, Georgia (2.7 percent); Dahlgren, Virginia (1.0 percent); Cape Canaveral, Florida (0.9 percent); Portsmouth, Virginia (0.9 percent); and the United Kingdom (0.4 percent), with an expected completion date of September 2023. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funding in the amount of $6,824,000; operations and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $2,863,000; other procurement (Navy) funding in the amount of $492,280; and United Kingdom funding in the amount of $4,559,966 are being obligated on this award. Funds in the amount of $2,863,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.
20. Raytheon Co.
-Department of Defense – Unknown – 11/16/2017
CONTRACT: Raytheon Co., Andover, Massachusetts, has been awarded a $10,158,872 modification (P00006) to domestic and foreign military sales (United Arab Emirates, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Spain, Germany and Qatar) contract W31P4Q-17-C-0073 for engineering services for the phased array tracking radar to intercept on target weapon system supporting U.S. and foreign military sales customers. Work will be performed in Andover, Massachusetts; Burlington, Massachusetts; Huntsville, Alabama; and Tewksbury, Massachusetts; with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2018. Fiscal 2018 other; research, development, test and evaluation; and operations and maintenance (Army) funds in the combined amount of $10,158,872 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.