Catalonia declares independence, Madrid votes to strip autonomy

The Catalan government voted on Friday to declare independence from Spain, following a referendum earlier this month. The decision came as over 2000 pro-indpendence supporters gathered outside the regional parliament in Barcelona. “Catalonia is and will be a land of freedom. In times of difficulty and in times of celebration. Now more than ever”, the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont tweeted. Madrid responded within an hour however by voting to strip Catalonia of its autonomy and impose direct rule, the first time such a decision has been taken since the 1970s. France, Britain, Germany and the...

Kurdistan calls on international community to denounce Iraq's military offensive

Kurdish Peshmerga forces continued to fight against Iraqi security forces into Thursday, reports Rudaw news. Iraqi forces alongside Shiite paramilitary forces attached the Kurdish Peshmerga on several fronts. Commenting on the developments during the day the Kurdish Region Security Council called on the international communtiy to denoucne Iraq's actions, stating, “Frontline reporting confirms Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed PMF continue to use U.S. weapons given to Iraq for the anti-ISIL campaign, including Humvees, Armoured Personnel Carriers and Badger infantry vehicles. This is a blatant...

Kurdistan offers to 'freeze' independence results in favour of ceasefire and talks

The Kurdistan Regional Government offered to ‘freeze’ the independence referendum results in favour of a ceasefire and talks with Baghdad reports BBC News. The Kurdistan Regional Government condemned the Iraqi Security force’s offensive on Kurdish regions, stating “Continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life. The KRG went on to call of ran immediate ceasefire and offered to “freeze the result of the referendum” and “start an open dialogue” with the government in Baghdad “on the basis of the...

US discusses accountability measures and targeted sanctions for Myanmar

The United States is discussing accountability measures to hold Myanmar’s military leadership responsible for the ongoing rights violations against the Rohingya community and will consider targeted sanctions. In a statement released Wednesday, the state department said, “We express our gravest concern with recent events in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the violent, traumatic abuses Rohingya and other communities have endured. It is imperative that any individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes be held accountable. We are exploring...

Rome says open to discussion as northern regions vote for greater autonomy

Rome said it was ready to hold discussion with the regions of Lombardy and Veneto, after Italians in the northern regions voted overwhelmingly in favour of greater autonomy at a referendum held over the weekend. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said he was open to negotiations on how Lombardy and Veneto "wanted to proceed", Reuters reported. “Here we are talking about how to make Italy work better. We are not calling into question Italy and its unity,” Mr Gentiloni was quoted by the news wire as saying. “We are ready (to grant greater powers) within the limits fixed by our laws and by...

Two of Kurdistan's main political parties call for unconditional talks

Two of Kurdistan’s main political parties announced their willingness to enter into unconditional talks with Baghdad centred around the Iraqi constitution, reports Rudaw news. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) called for Baghdad to enter into unconditional following a meeting with 30 other parties in the Kurdistan Region on Sunday. Condemning Iraq’s military offensive on Kurdish regions in a statement released after the meeting, the parties said, “We have always been wanting to have dialogue, but the Iraqi side has chosen a military logic. We...

Two Italian regions vote on greater autonomy

Residents of Lombardy and Veneto in Italy voted in a non-binding referendum this weekend over the question of greater financial autonomy to the regions. The local party, Lega Nord, which was openly calling for independence for Northern Italy creating a new state of 'Padania' hopes to secure a better financial agreement with Rome. Lega Nord argues the taxes collected in the Northern regions are wasted by Rome and not directed back to the regions. See here and here .

Catalonia defiant against Madrid's plans of direct rule 

The Catalan government remained defiant on Sunday, stating it would not accept Madrid's plan of direct rule. Almost a half a million Catalans came out in protest the day before, demonstrating against the suspension of autonomy following Catalonia's referendum on independence. "The Spanish government was acting against the democratic will of the Catalans after refusing all offers of dialogue," the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont said. Meanwhile, Spain's foreign minister rejected accusations of a 'coup' by Madrid. "If anyone has attempted a coup, it is the Catalan regional government," Mr...

Iraq court orders arrest of Kurdistan vice president

Iraq’s highest court has ordered the arrest of the vice-president of Kurdistan Kosrat Rasul for calling Iraqi troops deployed in Kirkuk “occupying forces,” reports the BBC. The Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq labelled Mr Rasul’s remarks as an incitement to violence. The vice president of the Kurdistan Region made the comments after Iraqi troops took over oil fields and the main governance building in the city of Kirkuk earlier this week. On Friday Iraqi forces seized another town from Kurdish Peshmerga forces. An intense firefight on Friday saw Iraqi forces take the town of Altun Kupri,...

Spain holds meeting to decide on invoking direct rule over Catalonia

Spain is holding a special cabinet meeting to approve measures that will allow its government to take direct control of the semi-autonomous region of Catalonia. Spanish prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to make a statement later today outlining whether Spain will invoke Article 155 of its constitution, which allows the government to use “necessary measures” to take over powers of a regional authority. The measurse could involve the detention of several Catalonian political leaders. See more here.

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