Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.
On November 20, Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, said he had been unable to form a governing coalition with a majority in parliament. He had been given the opportunity to try after Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier failed to do so.
On November 21, President Reuven Rivlin asked lawmakers to agree on a candidate for prime minister within 21 days and avoid an unprecedented third election in a year.
After the charges were announced, Benny Gantz tweeted his support for the attorney general and law enforcement agencies, and wrote it was “a very sad day” for Israel.
In February, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that he intended to indict Benjamin Netanyahu in connection with three cases – known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000 and Case 4,000 – pending final hearings that eventually took place in October.
It is unclear what this means for the prime minister’s future.
Benjamin Netanyahu is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, and there is currently no legal barrier to him staying in office as prime minister.
It could take many months before the cases are brought before a district court. And even if convicted, Benjamin Netanyahu would not be required to step down until the appeals process was exhausted – something that could take years.
According to a monitoring group, North Korea’s harvest will be worse than usual, exacerbating already severe food shortages in the country.
Swiss-based Geoglam said, after using satellite images, that drought had affected crops in an area known as the “cereal bowl”.
According to the UN data, 4 in 10 North Koreans need food aid and crop production is at its lowest level in five years.
Food shortages in North Korea are made worse by international sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.
In May food rations – which feed about 70% of the North Korean population – were cut from 550g (19.5 oz) to just 300g per person following poor results in this year’s early harvest.
According to Geoglam, North Korea’s main harvest in the southern provinces of South and North Hwanghae and South Pyongyan was complete but was estimated to have produced a below-average quantity of crops.
The organization also said that North Korea’s overall food situation was not expected to improve.
The country experienced severe droughts in spring and summer, and in September it was hit by Typhoon Lingling, which flooded farmland.
In September, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said poor rice and maize harvests had left more than 10 million people in urgent need of assistance.
North Korea has also had to cope with a regional outbreak of swine fever in its pig herd, leading to reduced pork production.
Earlier this year a UN team found families surviving “on a monotonous diet of rice and kimchi most of the year, eating very little protein”, according to a report by the World Food Program. The report said some families were eating protein only a few times a year.
China and other countries have already provided North Korea with food aid so far this year.
Despite its situation, North Korea has refused to accept 50,000 tonnes of rice from South Korea. This is reportedly because of tensions with the South linked to stalled talks between Pyongyang and the US over the North’s nuclear program.
Food shortages are regular in North Korea. In the 1990s a severe nationwide famine is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.
On November 5, Turkish officials said the arrest of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s sister Rasmiya Awad would yield valuable intelligence about ISIS.
The arrest was reportedly made on November 4 in an area of Aleppo province now under Turkey’s control.
Rasmiya Awad was found in a trailer, where she was living with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children, a Turkish official told AP news agency, adding she was being interrogated on suspicion of involvement with an extremist group.
Experts say the town where Rasmiya Awad was captured is a known smuggling route for ISIS families.
President Trump announced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death at a press conference at the White House on October 27.
The president said DNA tests had been carried out to verify Baghdadi’s identity, confirming his death.
After the raid, the compound was destroyed in an air strike.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi has since been named as ISIS’ new leader and “caliph”.
The local councilor, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, reportedly was attempting to prevent the attacker leaving the scene when the man bit off a section of his ear. Witnesses said the attacker was badly beaten by passersby who intervened, before police arrested the man.
The injured woman told the South China Morning Post that the attacker drew a knife after arguing with her sister and her husband, who were also injured.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the attacker was a Mandarin-speaking pro-Beijing supporter.
Hong Kong has experienced five months of sometimes violent demonstrations by pro-democracy activists, who first took to the streets to protest against a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, but evolved into a broader revolt against the way Hong Kong is administered by Beijing.
The pro-democracy protests continued this weekend, days after a high-profile activist, Joshua Wong, was banned from standing in local elections.
Police fired tear gas into crowds of demonstrators in the eastern suburb of Taikoo Shing, home to the Cityplaza where the knife attack occurred.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie also could not confirm President Donald Trump’s graphic description of Baghdadi whimpering and crying as he died.
“He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. You can deduce what kind of person it is based on that activity,” he told a news conference at the Pentagon.
“That would be my empirical observation of what he did. I’m not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds. I just can’t confirm that one way or another.”
He said four women – who were wearing suicide vests – and one man were killed at the compound.
Gen McKenzie said an unknown number of fighters also died after opening fire on US helicopters.
He added: “I want to make it clear that despite the high-pressure and high-profile nature of this assault that every effort was made to avoid civilian casualties and to protect children we suspected would be in the compound.”
He confirmed that Baghdadi had been identified through his DNA – adding that samples had been on file since the ISIS leader’s detention in an Iraqi prison in 2004.
Gen McKenzie said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains were flown back to a staging base for identification and were then buried at sea within 24 hours of his death “in accordance with the laws of armed conflict”.
At a recent event, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will “crush the heads” of Kurdish fighters if they do not withdraw from a planned safe zone area in northern Syria.
On October 17, Turkey agreed to suspend an offensive for five days to allow the Kurds to retreat from the area.
However, on October 19, both sides accused the other of violating the ceasefire.
Turkey views the Kurdish forces as terrorists and wants to create a “safe zone” buffer inside Syria.
Despite the temporary ceasefire, some sporadic violence has continued – particularly around the border town of Ras Al-Ain.
Speaking at an event in the central Turkish province of Kayseri on October 19, President Erdogan said that if Kurdish fighters did not withdraw by October 22 in the evening – as agreed in the ceasefire – “we will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists’ heads”.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to hold talks next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On October 19, he said that if those talks did not produce a solution, Turkey would “implement its own plans”.
Turkey’s defense ministry earlier accused Kurdish forces of carrying out 14 “provocative” attacks in the last 36 hours, mostly in Ras Al-Ain, but insisted Turkish forces were fully abiding by the agreement.
But the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey of violating the ceasefire.
They also accuse Turkish troops of failing to create a safe corridor for the evacuation of civilians and wounded people from the besieged town.
On October 19, the SDF urged US VP Mike Pence, who helped to broker the temporary ceasefire, to pressure Turkey to allow the passage of civilians.
The SDF said in a statement: “Despite the constant communication with the American side and the promise made by them to solve this problem, there has not been any tangible progress in this regard.”
The separatists were convicted of sedition over their role in an independence referendum in 2017, which Spain said was illegal.
Another three were found guilty of disobedience and fined, but not jailed. All 12 defendants denied the charges.
Joan Tardà, the former deputy leader of a pro-Catalan independence party, has called for peaceful protests.
He tweeted: “There is nothing more lethal to independence than the combination between a violent minority action on the street and an uncontrolled police force.”
On October 14, thousands of protesters blocked roads to Barcelona’s El Prat airport – a major transport hub.
More than 100 flights were canceled as demonstrators fought running battles with riot police at the terminal buildings.
Catalan nationalists have long complained that their region, which has a distinct history dating back almost 1,000 years, sends too much money to poorer parts of Spain, as taxes are controlled by Madrid.
The wealthy region in Spain’s north-east is home to about 7.5 million people, with their own language, parliament, flag and anthem.
In September, a march in Barcelona in support of Catalonia’s independence from Spain drew crowds of about 600,000 people – one of the lowest turnouts in the eight-year history of the annual rally.
In a recent interview, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir has said all options, including a military response, are open after attacks on two oil facilities, which it has blamed on Iran.
A US assessment claiming Iran was behind the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities was backed up by France, the UK, and Germany this week.
However, Iran has denied any involvement.
The Iran-aligned rebel Houthi movement in Yemen, which is fighting a Saudi-led coalition in the country’s civil war, has said it launched drones at the facilities.
Saudi officials say the range, scale and complexity of the attacks exceeded the capabilities of the Houthis.
Meanwhile, the US re-imposed economic sanctions against Iran last year after abandoning a 2015 nuclear deal, and in May said it would attempt to force all countries to stop buying Iranian oil and put pressure on Iran to negotiate a new nuclear accord.
On September 25, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the UN that the US wanted “a peaceful resolution with the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
He added: “In the end, it’ll be up to the Iranians to make that decision, or whether they’ll choose violence and hate.”
French President Emmanuel Macron had attempted to broker an historic meeting between President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
However, President Rouhani told delegates at the UN that he refused to meet President Trump while Iran’s punishing economic sanctions were in place. He cast doubt on US intentions, referring to Mike Pompeo’s boast last year that it had imposed “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran.
He said: “How can someone believe them when the silent killing of a great nation, and pressure on the lives of 83 million Iranians, especially women and children, are welcomed by American government officials?
“The Iranian nation will never, ever forget and forgive these crimes and these criminals.”
President Rouhani also dismissed the idea of a photo with President Trump, who has staged several photo opportunities with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – including one apparently spontaneous handshake in the Korean peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Saudi Arabia has announced it will respond with “necessary measures” to attacks on two oil facilities as it reiterated the accusation that Iran was behind them.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said the weapons used were Iranian and vowed to release the full findings of the investigation.
However, Iran denies involvement in the attacks.
Earlier, a senior Iranian military official said Iran was ready to destroy any aggressor after the US announced it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have said they were responsible for the drone and missile strikes on September 14 that affected the global oil supply.
Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since President Donald Trump abandoned a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities last year and reinstated sanctions.
Speaking to reporters in Riyadh, Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was in consultation with its allies and would take necessary and suitable measures after its investigation was complete, without giving details of possible actions.
The Saudi minister repeated that the strikes targeting the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field had come from the north and not from Yemen but did not give a specific location, and urged the international community to take a stand.
He said: “The kingdom calls upon the international community to assume its responsibility in condemning those that stand behind this act, and to take a firm and clear position against this reckless behavior that threatens the global economy.”
The Saudi defense ministry showed off on September 18 what it said were the remains of drones and cruise missiles proving Iranian involvement.
The US has also accused Iran of being behind the attacks, and unnamed senior officials have told US media that the evidence suggests the strikes originated in the south of Iran.
On September 20, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the US would send a yet-to-be-decided number of troops to Saudi Arabia to boost the country’s air and missile defenses.
President Donald Trump then announced new sanctions against Iran, focusing on the country’s central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, while signaling that he wanted to avoid military conflict.
President Trump said in a brief statement issued by the White House: “Hamza Bin Laden, the high-ranking al-Qaeda member and son of Osama Bin Laden, was killed in a United States counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.
“The loss of Hamza Bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group.”
The statement did not specify the timing of the operation.
As recently as February, the US government had offered $1million for information leading to Hamza Bin Laden’s capture.
Hamza Bin Laden was seen as an emerging leader of al-Qaeda. It was reported in August that he had been killed in a military operation in the last two years and the US government was involved, but the exact date and time were unclear.
Demonstrators took to the streets in the Wan Chai district, many joining a Christian march, while others protested in the Causeway Bay shopping district in the pouring rain. Many carried umbrellas and wore face masks.
On the 13th weekend of protests, demonstrators – chanting “stand with Hong Kong” and “fight for freedom” – gathered outside government offices, the local headquarters of China’s People’s Liberation Army and the city’s parliament, known as the Legislative Council.
In the Admiralty district, some demonstrators threw fire bombs towards officers. Earlier, protesters marched near the official residence of embattled leader Carrie Lam, who is the focal point of much of the anger.
Police had erected barriers around key buildings and road blocks, and fired tear gas and jets of blue-dyed water from the water cannon. The colored liquid is traditionally used to make it easier for police to identify protesters.
The recent demonstrations have been characterized as leaderless.
On August 30, police had appealed to members of the public to cut ties with “violent protesters” and had warned people not to take part in the banned march.
Police made a number of arrests on August 31.
During a 24-hour police crackdown, at least three activists – including prominent 23-year-old campaigner Joshua Wong – and three lawmakers were detained.
Joshua Wong, who first rose to prominence as the poster boy of a protest movement that swept Hong Kong in 2014, was released on bail after being charged over the protests which have rocked the territory since June.
Hong Kong is part of China, but enjoys “special freedoms”. Those are set to expire in 2047, and many in Hong Kong do not want to become “another Chinese city”.
Beijing has repeatedly condemned the protesters and described their actions as “close to terrorism”. The protests have frequently escalated into violence between police and activists, with injuries on both sides.
Activists are increasingly concerned that China might use military force to intervene.
On August 29, Beijing moved a new batch of troops into Hong Kong, a move Chinese state media described as a routine annual rotation.
Protesters initially gathered in Mong Kok, a Hong Kong district where violent clashes took place during pro-democracy protests in 2014.
A group of demonstrators briefly blocked access to the Cross Harbour Tunnel, causing traffic chaos, while others set up make-shift barricades on shopping streets.
As the demonstrations dragged into the night, protesters gathered outside the police station in Tsim Sha Tsui district. Officers then fired tear gas at the activists.
The South China Morning Post published a police statement saying the “radical” group had set fires nearby and had thrown bricks into the building.
The march comes after a group of civil servants – ordered to be politically neutral – joined demonstrations in their thousands on August 2.
The rally followed the publication of an anonymous letter on Facebook complaining about “extreme oppression” and listing five key demands – the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; waiving charges against those arrested; an end to descriptions of protests as “rioting”; an independent inquiry into the unrest; and resuming political reforms.
Supporters of Hong Kong’s police force also gathered earlier for a rally in Victoria Park.
Some unions and organizations have reportedly already agreed to take part in the strike planned for August 5. There are also further demonstrations planned for August 4.
Six days ago, North Korea fired two short range missiles, one of which travelled about 425 miles and the other 268 miles.
That launch was the first since President Trump and Kim Jong-un held an impromptu meeting in June at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to restarted denuclearization talks.
North Korea has recently again voiced anger over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event which the allies have refused to cancel but have scaled back significantly.
One analyst said more missile tests could be expected.
North Korea called the drills a “violation of the spirit” of the joint statement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un at their first face-to-face talks in Singapore last year.
Pyongyang had warned the exercises could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.
On July 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he hoped these talks could start “very soon”, but that there were no further summits planned.
Last year, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Tear gas has been fired by Hong Kong riot police at an unauthorized protest held by tens of thousands of people to condemn an attack by armed masked men last week.
As a small group of protesters refused to disperse in the northern district of Yuen Long, police fired rubber bullets.
The protest took place where pro-democracy protesters had been attacked by suspected triad gang members.
Police have been accused of turning a blind eye and colluding with the attackers, claims they deny.
There were seven weeks of anti-government and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong sparked by a controversial bill that would have enabled extraditions to mainland China.
The government has since halted the legislation but protesters have demanded its complete withdrawal, as well as an inquiry into police violence, democratic reform, and that Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam resign.
The July 27 rally had been banned by the police, a highly unusual move in the territory, where protests are usually allowed.
Police say they refused permission because they feared violent clashes between protesters and residents.
The march was planned as a response to last Sunday’s attack, in which about 100 men descended on Yuen Long’s metro station, beating protesters – as well as passersby and journalists – with wooden and metal sticks.
The attack left 45 people injured and was widely blamed on triad gang members. They appeared to target those wearing black, the color people had been told to wear for the protest.
Triads are known to be active in Yuen Long – located in a rural northern district in Hong Kong, near mainland China – and many local villagers have also expressed opposition to the pro-democracy protests.
Tens of thousands defied the police ban and approached Yuen Long on July 27, marching down some of the main roads.
Police observed and filmed the start of the protest, and riot police could be seen on standby.
They said some protesters were holding iron poles and shields, and “even removing fences from roads”.
Some protesters also surrounded and vandalized a police vehicle, “causing danger to the life of the police officers on board”, they said.
Shortly after 17:00 local time, police began firing several rounds of tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
The protesters – most wearing masks and hard hats – threw projectiles and swore at police – but also parted to allow ambulances to go through.
Later in the evening, in an attempt to clear several hundred demonstrators, police fired rubber bullets, injuring at least nine people, according to the AFP news agency.
Protesters have been demanding an independent inquiry into police violence, saying police used excessive force in several anti-extradition bill and pro-democracy protests.
Demonstrators and pro-democracy legislators have alleged that the authorities – including the police and pro-government legislators – had advance knowledge of the attack.
Police say suggestions that they colluded with criminal gangs were a “smear”, and that 12 people have so far been arrested, including nine men with links to triads.
There have also been growing tensions between protesters and pro-Beijing groups.
Earlier this week, pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho’s office was ransacked, and his parents’ graves were vandalized.
Junius Ho had come under criticism after video footage showed him shaking hands with white-shirted men on July 27 shortly before the attacks.
He said he did not know about the attack, but defended the men, saying they were simply “defending their home and people”.
The missile launch also comes after anger from North Korea over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event. North Korea warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.
About 29,000 US soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.
In 2018, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.
North Korea also continues to demonstrate its abilities to develop new weapons despite strict economic sanctions. Earlier this week Kim Jong-un inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.
In May, Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch, its first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.
President Trump responded then by saying he believed Kim Jong-un would not do anything that could jeopardize his country’s path towards better relations.
Donald Trump tweeted that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me”.
On July 6, North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA said that Alek Sigley had “on numerous occasions transferred information, including photographs and analysis that he gathered while travelling to every corner of Pyongyang using his status as an international student”.
Alek Sigley had done this “upon request by anti-DPRK [North Korea] news outlets such as NK news”, KCNA added.
The North Korean government decided to deport him on humanitarian grounds after he “honestly admitted that he had been spying… and repeatedly asked for our forgiveness for infringing on our sovereignty”, it said.
North Korea often accuses foreigners detained in its country of espionage or “hostile acts”.
In a statement, NK News, a website specializing in North Korean news and analysis, said it appreciated “the DPRK’s decision to promptly release Sigley on humanitarian grounds”.
The website said it had published six articles from Alek Sigley which showed “vignettes of ordinary daily life in the capital”.“The six articles Alek published represent the full extent of his work with us and the idea that those columns, published transparently under his name between January and April 2019, are ‘anti-state’ in nature is a misrepresentation which we reject.”
With no time for the all-important backroom diplomacy, it was expected to be largely a photo opportunity. However, the dramatic meeting will be seen as a sign of their ongoing commitment to the denuclearization talks.
Negotiations with North Korea, to try to convince it to abandon its controversial nuclear program, reached a peak last year when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un had a historic meeting in Singapore.
They both committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, but without clarifying what that meant.
It was hoped their second meeting, in Hanoi in February 2019, would make some concrete agreement about North Korea handing over its nuclear program in exchange for some of the tight sanctions against it being lifted.
Hwever, those talks ended with no deal, as they failed to agree on the pace at which sanctions should be eased. Since then the negotiations have stalled, though Kim Jong-un and President Trump have exchanged letters recently.
The DMZ, which runs about 2.5 miles wide and 155 miles long, has divided the peninsula since the Korean War ended in 1953.
Though that area, by definition, has no military installations or personnel, beyond it lies one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.
The Joint Security Area (JSA) located at the Panmunjom village straddles the Military Demarcation Line and is where all negotiations between the two Koreas are held.
Tourists can also go to the JSA when relations between North Korea and South Korea – still technically at war – allow it. No US sitting US president has been inside it. Bill Clinton once described it as the “scariest place on Earth”.
In 2018, the US unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activities.
“Iran can NEVER have nuclear weapons,” President Trump said in his tweets on the aborted strikes – also revealing that increased economic sanctions against Iran were “added last night”.
The US has now asked the UN Security Council to meet on June 24 to discuss Iran, Reuters reports.
In its initial report, The New York Times said that as late as 19:00 local time on June 20, US military and diplomatic officials had still expected the strikes to take place on agreed targets, including Iranian radar and missile batteries.
However, President Trump refuted this report on June 21, telling NBC that no planes were in the air.
The strikes had been set to take place just before dawn on June 21 to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to civilians, the New York Times report added.
Tweeting on June 21, President Trump said three sites had been targeted.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press quoted a US official as saying the strikes had been recommended by the Pentagon and had been among options presented to senior administration officials.
According to the New York Times, top Pentagon officials warned a military response could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for US forces in the region.
The operation was called off after President Trump spent most of day on June 20 discussing Iran with his national security advisers and congressional leaders, AP reports.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton had pushed for a hard-line stance, but congressional leaders urged caution, the agency says.
Separately, Reuters quoted two Iranian officials as saying Tehran had received a message from President Trump through Oman overnight warning about an imminent US attack.
That report was later denied by a spokesman for Iran’s National Security Council, who said there was no truth to it and no message was sent.
In the US, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said America had no appetite for war with Iran, while the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden, called President Trump’s Iran strategy a “self-inflicted disaster”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said a war would be a “catastrophe with unpredictable consequences”.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint.
On June 20, the FAA issued an emergency order prohibiting US airlines from operating in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace nearby in response.
Airlines from other countries, as KLM, Emirates, British Airways and Qantas, have also said they will re-route their flights to avoid parts of Iran.
Turkey has been threatened with sanctions by the EU if it continues “illegal drilling” in waters near Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
The warning came at an EU summit in Brussels.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Turkey’s actions “totally unacceptable”.
On June 20, Turkey launched the Yavuz, a second drilling ship for natural gas and oil prospecting off Cyprus.
The Republic of Cyprus is an EU member, but the breakaway north is pro-Turkey.
The European Council called on Turkey to “show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such actions”.
The statement said: “The European Council endorses the invitation to the [EU] Commission and the EEAS [EU foreign affairs service] to submit options for appropriate measures without delay, including targeted measures.”
The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey, and is internationally isolated.
Turkey said it was drilling inside its continental shelf, complying with international law.
A Turkish drilling ship, the Fatih, had been anchored west of Cyprus since early May and had begun drilling, the Reuters reported.
Turkey is a candidate for EU membership but its negotiations are currently frozen. The EU Commission has said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has backtracked on pledges to improve justice and the rule of law. The Turkish government has purged state institutions since an abortive coup attempt against Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras said the threatened EU measures “are against companies and individuals, a possible EU accession process freeze and measures with significant economic consequences”.
He said at Brussels summit: “These will take place unless Turkey stops its illegal operations inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.”
Turkey – a key NATO partner for the West – has extensive trade ties with the EU and has not yet been hit with EU sanctions, unlike Russia.
The US has also threatened Turkey with sanctions if President Erdogan goes ahead with a deal to buy S-400 air defense missiles from Russia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for “unprovoked attacks” on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13.
The US had made its assessment based on intelligence about the type of weapons used, he said.
Dozens of crew members were rescued after the explosions at the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair, owned by Norway.
Both Iran and the US said they evacuated the crew.
“It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks,” the secretary of state said at a news conference in Washington.
“This is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise need to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”
“This is only the latest in the series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests.
“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Mike Pompeo said.
The blasts in one of the world’s busiest oil routes comes a month after four oil tankers were attacked off the United Arab Emirates.
No group or country has admitted the incident in May, which also caused no casualties.
The US at the time blamed Iran – but Tehran denied the accusations.
Oil prices jumped as much as 4% after the incident.
The Gulf of Oman lies at one end of the strategic Strait of Hormuz – a vital shipping lane through which hundreds of millions of dollars of oil pass.
The Norwegian Maritime Authority said that the Front Altair had been had been “attacked”, and that there were three blasts on board.
Wu I-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan’s CPC Corp oil refiner, which chartered the Front Altair, said it was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha and was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, although this has not been confirmed.
Other unverified reports suggested a mine attack.
The ship’s owner, Frontline, said the vessel was on fire – but denied reports in Iranian media that it had sunk.
The operator of the Kokuka Courageous, BSM Ship Management, said its crew abandoned ship and were rescued by a passing vessel.
The tanker was carrying methanol and was not in danger of sinking, a spokesman said.
It is currently located about 80 miles from Fujairah in the UAE and 16 miles from Iran. The cargo remains intact.
The US has given Turkey an ultimatum to choose between buying US fighter jets and Russian anti-aircraft missile systems by the end of July.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan set out the deadline in a letter to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.
Turkey, Patrick Shanahan said, could not have both America’s F-35 advanced fighter jets and Russia’s S-400 systems.
The two NATO allies have been locked in a row over the S-400 for months.
The US argues that the Russian systems are both incompatible with NATO defense systems and pose a security threat, and wants Turkey to buy its Patriot anti-aircraft systems instead.
Turkey, which has been pursuing an increasingly independent defense policy, has signed up to buying 100 F-35s, and has invested heavily in the F-35 program, with Turkish companies producing 937 of the plane’s parts.
Patrick Shanahan says in his letter that the US is “disappointed” to hear that Turkish personnel have been sent to Russia to train on the S-400.
“Turkey will not receive the F-35 if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400,” he writes.
“You still have the option to change course on the S-400.”
The military promised a transition to civilian rule but protesters had maintained a sit-in in Khartoum until security forces swept in on June 3 and opened fire.
The whereabouts of Mohamed Esmat are also not clear.
On June 5, the SPLM-N said its deputy head, Yasir Arman, was arrested at his house in Khartoum. He had returned from exile following the downfall of Omar al-Bashir.
Mohamed Esmat and Ismail Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella organization of opposition figures, protest leaders and rebel groups.
Khalid Omar Yousef, an opposition alliance leader, told Reuters after Mohamed Esmat’s arrest: “This amounts to a practical response from the military council that effectively rejects the Ethiopian prime minister’s mediation effort.”
The TMC has not yet commented on the arrests.
According to opposition activists, a feared paramilitary unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), killed 108 people in the crackdown, with at least 40 bodies pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum on June 4.
However, officials put the figure at 46. The leader of the RSF claims rogue elements and drug dealers were behind the violence.
The RSF, formerly known as the Janjaweed militia, gained notoriety for brutal atrocities in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003.
On June 6, the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership “with immediate effect” and warned of further action if power was not transferred to a civilian authority.
The chairman of the African Union commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for an “immediate and transparent” investigation into the killings.
In his visit to Khartoum on June 7, Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed urged both sides to exercise “bravery” and try to agree steps towards democracy.
Reports said Abiy Ahmed had proposed setting up a transitional council comprised of eight civilians and seven military officers with a rotating presidency. It is not known how the proposal was received.