Erdogan says Turkey may block Sweden’s Nato membership bid

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested that Ankara may agree to Finland joining Nato, but not Sweden. He criticised Sweden’s refusal to extradite dozens of people allegedly tied to Kurdish militant groups and other critics of his government. “If you absolutely want to join Nato, you will return these terrorists to us,” said Mr Erdogan. His comments come days after Turkey suspended talks to accept the two Nordic nations as members. The move was prompted by a series of controversial protests in Stockholm, including one during which a copy of the Koran was burned. Swedish officials have condemned the … Continue reading Erdogan says Turkey may block Sweden’s Nato membership bid

US warship sails through Taiwan Strait

A US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland on Thursday, prompting criticism from Beijing. The US military said the USS Chung-Hoon’s transit showed the US commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. But a Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington said the voyage was to “flex muscles” and accused the US of “undermining peace and stability”. Tensions in the Taiwan Strait soared last year. China carried out its biggest ever military exercises around the island following a visit there by former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August. China claims Taiwan as part of its … Continue reading US warship sails through Taiwan Strait

Turkey will launch Syria ground operation after strikes – Erdogan

Turkey has said it is planning a ground operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), after four days of strikes in Syria and Iraq. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the strikes – which his defence minister claimed had “neutralised” 254 terrorists – were “only the beginning”. Turkey has blamed Kurdish groups for a recent deadly bomb attack in Istanbul. The YPG has denied involvement and said the strikes in north-east Syria have killed 30 civilians and 11 fighters. The US defence department said the Turkish attacks had “directly threatened the safety of US personnel” working in Syria … Continue reading Turkey will launch Syria ground operation after strikes – Erdogan

Turkey launch strikes at Kurdish military bases in Operation Claw-Sword

Turkey has launched air strikes on Kurdish targets in Iraq and Syria, a week after a bombing in Istanbul which it blames on Kurdish militants. The strikes, dubbed Operation Claw-Sword – hit Kurdish bases which were being used to launch attacks on Turkey, the defence ministry said. The banned Kurdish PKK group denies carrying out the Istanbul attack. A Syrian-Kurdish spokesperson said two villages populated with internally displaced people were hit. As the air strikes began, the Turkish defence ministry tweeted that the “hour of reckoning” had arrived, alongside a picture of a fighter plane taking off and footage of … Continue reading Turkey launch strikes at Kurdish military bases in Operation Claw-Sword

US President Joe Biden promises ‘no new Cold War’ with China

US President Joe Biden has promised there will be no “new Cold War” with China, following a conciliatory meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also said he did not believe China would invade Taiwan. It was the first in-person meeting between the two superpower leaders since Mr Biden took office. The pair also discussed North Korea and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the talks in Bali, a day before the G20 summit on the Indonesian island. Both said they opposed the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Mr Xi, who has been urged to talk down Vladimir Putin, reiterated … Continue reading US President Joe Biden promises ‘no new Cold War’ with China

Trudeau accuses China of ‘aggressive’ election interference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused China of attempting to interfere in the country’s elections. Mr Trudeau accused Beijing of playing “aggressive games” with democracies and of targeting Canadian institutions. It comes as local media report that Canadian intelligence identified a “clandestine network” of Beijing-backed candidates at recent elections. At least 11 candidates were supported by China in the 2019 federal elections, officials reportedly told Mr Trudeau. Citing unnamed intelligence officials, local broadcaster Global News reported that Beijing had directed funds to the candidates and that Chinese operatives had acted as campaign advisers to many candidates. In one case, … Continue reading Trudeau accuses China of ‘aggressive’ election interference

North Korea threatens US with ‘powerful measures’ as joint drills begin

North Korea has threatened the US with “powerful follow-up measures” if it does not stop conducting joint military drills with South Korea. Washington and Seoul on Monday began one of their largest combined military air drills, which will end on Friday. North Korea has also launched a series of missiles in recent weeks in response to the various drills. This follows intelligence reports that Pyongyang is preparing for its first nuclear weapon test since 2017. “If the US continuously persists in the grave military provocations, (North Korea) will take into account more powerful follow-up measures,” said North Korea’s foreign ministry … Continue reading North Korea threatens US with ‘powerful measures’ as joint drills begin

US makes Pacific Islands pledge in bid to counter China

The US has struck a partnership agreement with Pacific island nations amid concern in Washington over growing Chinese influence. It also announced $810m (£725m) in financial support and said it would recognise Niue and Cook Islands as sovereign states. Fourteen nations signed the deal including the Solomon Islands, after reports said its leader would not sign. The region has strategic importance as the gateway to Asia from the Pacific. Its location and its need for assistance, particularly to help it deal with the impact of climate change, has triggered a battle for influence – with China keen on playing a … Continue reading US makes Pacific Islands pledge in bid to counter China

Morocco express anger over Algerian football jersey design

Morocco’s culture ministry has accused Adidas of appropriating Moroccan culture in its new jerseys for Algeria’s football team. Adidas said the design was inspired by the Mechouar Palace in Algeria. However the geometric blue, teal and yellow design is a pattern called zellige, which is common in Moroccan mosaics, the ministry’s lawyer said. The neighbouring nations have a long history of tensions, as they continue to dispute Western Sahara. Lawyer Mourad Elajouti wrote on Facebook that he had issued a legal warning to Adidas, on behalf of Morocco’s Ministry of Culture. In a letter to the company’s chief executive Kasper Rorsted, Mr … Continue reading Morocco express anger over Algerian football jersey design

Kamala Harris arrives in S Korea day after North fires missiles

US vice president Kamala Harris arrived in South Korea a day after the North fired two short range ballistic missiles off its east coast. The launch, which breaches UN sanctions, comes as the US and South Korea hold joint naval drills in the waters around the Korean peninsula. South Korea and Japan officials have condemned the “provocations”. It’s the second launch this week and part of a record year of tests by Pyongyang. And the timing is crucial – during her visit to South Korea, Ms Harris will travel to the border and the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which … Continue reading Kamala Harris arrives in S Korea day after North fires missiles

Biden again says US would defend Taiwan if China attacks

US President Joe Biden has again said the US would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China. Asked in a CBS interview if US troops would defend the island, Mr Biden said: “Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack”. The remarks prompted the White House to clarify that US policy had not changed. Washington has long maintained a stance of “strategic ambiguity” – it does not commit to defending Taiwan, but also does not rule out the option. Taiwan is a self-ruled island off the coast of eastern China that Beijing claims as part of … Continue reading Biden again says US would defend Taiwan if China attacks

Russia covertly spent $300m to meddle abroad

Russia has covertly spent more than $300m (£260m) since 2014 to influence politicians in more than 24 countries, the US has alleged. The Department of State’s allegation is based on a declassified US intelligence assessment released on Tuesday. A senior official from President Joe Biden’s administration said: “We think this is just the tip of the iceberg.” Russia has not publicly commented on the issue. Moscow itself has repeatedly accused the US of meddling abroad. American intelligence “assesses that these are minimum figures and that Russia likely has transferred additional funds covertly in cases that have gone undetected”, said the … Continue reading Russia covertly spent $300m to meddle abroad