From: Homeland Security News Wire
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: World Report: Europe's electoral shock | African commandos | Balkan land mines
Date: Tue May 27 17:48:53 MDT 2014
Body:
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World Report SECTOR REPORT
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Europe's establishment in shock after EU Parliament elections

The voting public in the twenty-eight member states of the European Union was swept by an angry, populist sentiment to inflict a body blow on the more established center-left and center-right parties in the elections for the European Parliament. In four days of balloting across Europe, scores of rabble-rousers and rebellious outsiders -- a motley crew of xenophobes and racists, but also a clutch of anti-Semites (Hungary, Greece) and neo-Nazis (Germany) -- managed to gain seats in the European Parliament. In Greece, a radical left group also managed to get its delegates elected. Centrist parties will still retain control of the European Parliament even if all the newly elected delegates vote as a bloc, which is doubtful because there are differences among these groups: Britain's UKIP, for example, does not share the explicit anti-Semitism of neo-Nazi groups like Hungary's Jobbik party, Greece's Golden Dawn, or Germany's NDP, and France's National Front, under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, has been trying to distance itself from its more offensive origins under the movement's founder, and Marine's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, an open anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. Still, the results rippled across the Europe today, unnerving an increasingly anxious political establishment and raising questions about the institutions, political processes, and assumptions at the heart of post-Second World War Europe.

U.S. helping in creating anti-terror commando units in four African states

U.S. Special Forces have been establishing, training, and equipping elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa, units which American officials say are of key importance in the widening war against al Qaeda’s affiliates and other Islamist groups on the continent. Administration officials admit that the effort to create these anti-terrorism commando units is being made with an awareness of the difficulties of working with weak allies. The secret program, financed, at least in part, with funds from classified Pentagon accounts and carried out by instructors, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was launched last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania, and Mali.

Post-flood Balkans face land-mine problem

The flooding in the Balkans, caused by three months' worth of rain falling in only three days, covered an area larger than the state of Massachusetts in Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. Nearly one million Bosnians have been evacuated or have left their homes because of rising water or landslides. The massive floods have caused another major problem, though. Much of Bosnia was mined during the war, and the rains have unearthed and moved many of these relics of past conflict, threatening to raise the death toll of the floods even after the waters have receded (since the war ended in 1995, more than 600 people have been killed and more than 1,700 wounded by land mines. Four people have been killed and twelve wounded this year alone. Experts have warned people that the more than 2,100 landslides and mudslides caused by the flooding have altered fields of land mines. The 120,000 mines still left in the country used to be contained in 13,000 square feet of well-marked fields. Now they have spread away from the warning signs once indicating their locations. As much as 70 percent of the flooded territory could now be at risk of having land mines on it.

Israel-Egypt security cooperation grows

On the night between Thursday and Friday, 23 May, Shadi al-Menei, the leader of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization, was killed in the Sinai Peninsula. He was wanted for a long time by many intelligence services in the region, including those of Israel and Egypt. Initial reports said that a vehicle with armed men drew close to Menei and two of his militants, and in what can be described as drive-by shooting, killed the man who was said to be responsible for most of the attacks against Egyptian soldiers in Sinai as well as the firing of Grad rockets from Sinai at Israel’s southern city of Eilat. The killing of Menei is but the latest example of the improved security cooperation between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Egyptian military since the Egyptian military last July evicted Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

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Dozens of separatists killed as Ukrainian forces take control of Donetsk airport

The government of Ukraine said it has regained control of the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk after a day of air strikes and fierce fighting with pro-Moscow separatist gunmen. The fighting left dozens of people dead. The clashes over the main transport hub in Ukraine's industrial heartland erupted yesterday (Monday), hours after the president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, announced he would take a tough stand against the "terrorists." The exact death toll from Monday's battle is unclear, but at one central morgue in Donetsk a police investigator said that the bodies of thirty-three people had arrived during the day. Today (Tuesday) separatists were observed building barricades on the main road from the airport to the city, apparently fearful that the Ukrainian army could move from the airport to make a decisive move against the occupied buildings in the city center.

Egypt adopts a conciliatory approach toward Ethiopia's massive Nile River dam

The Egyptian government has adopted new policies in an effort to resolve its dispute with Ethiopia about the latter's ambitious Renaissance Dam project. Egypt had criticized the dam project as a violation of international treaties about the use of the Niles River's water, a project which, if allowed to be completed, would spell economic ruin for Egypt, which is completely dependent on the Nile for agricultural irrigation. Since the military came to power in Egypt last year, Egyptian officials and technical experts have adopted a calmer rhetoric, calling for good-faith policies and the advancement of mutual interests. The Egyptians' more moderate tone has, so far, not advanced the cause of actual arrangements for the holding of new political and technical negotiations between the two countries, following the collapse of the previous round of negotiations in January. Analysts said that the change of tone in Egyptian rhetoric about the Renaissance Dam is part of an effort to extract whatever benefits it can from a dam that it seemingly cannot prevent from being built.

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Existence of government-paid death squads exposed in the Philippines

In a 21 May report, which reads like the script for Clint Eastwood's movie "Magnum Force," Human Rights Watch offered details exposing the existence of a death squad in Tagum City, on the Philippines' southern island of Mindanao. The death squad has been tied to hundreds of killings, and has been operating as a salaried arm of the municipal government. Human Rights Watch notes that extrajudicial killings and the activities of elusive death squads which serve as anti-crime vigilantes are nothing new in the Philippines, but the level of government complicity was a surprise to many, and grabbed the headlines even in a society which appears to be largely inured to street violence. As is often the case, what began as a move by city officials, believing judges were too lenient, to control crime, soon developed into a campaign to kill investigative journalists and political activists. A total of 169 journalists and activists were killed since President Benigno Aquino III's administration came to power in 2010 -- twelve of them in 2013.

Colombia's presidential elections heading to a runoff

Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos came in second in elections in which he was seeking a second term in office. His main challenger, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, a former treasury minister and a harsh critic of peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, led in the presidential voting Sunday, but did not gain the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Analysts say that the results showed the weakness of Santos and the apparent lack of appeal of his call for continuing the peace talks with the rebels which he started in an effort to end five decades of guerrilla war. Colombia, a country of 47 million people, is one of Washington’s closest allies in Latin America and has received billions of dollars in American aid. It has been battling self-proclaimed Marxist rebels for decades, and in the last two-and-a-half decades the government has found itself fighting a coalition of rebels and drug lords.

Chemical inspection team in Syria safe after attack

A team of international inspectors investigating the alleged use of chlorine bombs in Syria came under attack last Tuesday, but the members of the team were safe and returning to base, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said. Syria accused anti-Assad rebel groups of abducting the members of the joint OPCW/U.N. fact-finding team, who had traveled to the central province of Hama to investigate charges of illegal chlorine attacks by government forces.

Also noted

Qatar launches campaign for 'modest' dress code for tourists | What next for India's Congress party? | Jordan expels Syria’s ambassador for "insulting" Kingdom | Gunmen fire grenades at new Libyan PM's home, one assailant killed | Voting opens in Egyptian election lacking suspense | Obama administration goof reveals name of top U.S. spy in Afghanistan | China tensions grow after Vietnamese ship sinks in clash

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