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Greece Defaults After Failing to Repay International Monetary Fund

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Greece Defaults After Failing to Repay International Monetary Fund

Greece was left alone, insolvent and almost bankrupt after five years of €240bn (£170bn) in European bailouts dried up and the country became the first in the EU to default on its creditors. The country failed to make a €1.5bn payment to the International Monetary Fund on time and has thrust the eurozone into an emergency.

The long-running debt debacle left Greece on the brink of financial collapse, worsening recent years of wrenching austerity, and represented a historic blow to a Europe committed to the irreversibility of its 16-year-old single currency.

The deadline on Greece’s bailout programmes, inaugurated in 2010, ended at midnight on Tuesday night, leaving the country without a financial lifeline.

In a sudden referendum called on creditors’ bailout terms which are formally no longer on the table, Greeks are to vote on Sunday on what EU leaders say is a choice between quitting or staying in the euro.

After a fortnight of non-stop brinkmanship at the highest level of EU leadership over how to resolve the impasse over Greece’s financial rescue, the leftwing Syriza government of the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, tabled surprise new proposals on Tuesday, demanding that the bailout be rolled over into a new two-year programme worth almost €30bn to Greece to be spent on servicing debt.

The demand included calls for a month of bridging finance to avoid the IMF default and for broader debt relief without mentioning Greek concessions in return for acceptance. It was promptly spurned by key creditors as too little too late.

“We won’t negotiate about anything new at all until a referendum, as planned, takes place,” said the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. “This evening the programme expires.”

The 19 finance ministers of the single currency bloc talked for merely an hour by teleconference on Tuesday evening and dismissed the last-minute brinkmanship from Tsipras.

But Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the committee, said the ministers would confer again on Wednesday and that Athens was expected to present further proposals on how to resolve the critical situation.

Tuesday’s rollercoaster of on-off negotiations marked the lowest of lows in the eurozone’s five-year sovereign debt saga. As the midnight bailout deadline approached, hope of striking a deal between the creditors and the radical leftists in Athens dissolved.

There will be no more IMF lending after the failure to repay the debt. And for the first time since 2010, Greece is bereft of a eurozone and European Central Bank package keeping it afloat.

The Greek government insisted on Tuesday the ballot meant Athens remained at the negotiating table, while rejecting the terms on offer. Eurozone leaders maintained that the vote was tantamount to a choice of whether or not to stay in the single currency.

After stunning fellow EU leaders last Saturday by calling the referendum, Tsipras delivered his last-minute bombshell by writing to eurozone leaders demanding a new, separate two-year bailout hours before the current arrangements lapsed.

Tsipras called the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on Monday evening, to explore a possible last-minute way out of the crisis after the Greeks abandoned talks with the eurozone late on Friday and called the referendum.

Tsipras was told he could accept the creditors’ slightly amended final offer from last Friday and that he would have to campaign for a yes vote in the referendum if he was serious about rescuing a bad situation. He has strongly recommended a no in the vote on Sunday.

“We see the referendum as part of the negotiation process, not in lieu of it. We look forward to greater flexibility in the days to come,” said Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s chief negotiator, as he listed several reasons why the terms from the so-called troika of the European commission, European Central Bank and IMF had to be spurned.

During a day of gambles, demands and standoffs , Tsipras’s aides remained in telephone contact with commission officials for most of Tuesday before the Greek leader delivered his final move.

He asked for bridging loans to get him through the IMF non-payment problem and for a new two-year programme covering almost €29bn in debt servicing costs as well as debt relief measures. There was nothing in his letter to Juncker, Klaus Regling, the head of the eurozone’s bailout fund, and Pierre Moscovici, the commissioner for monetary affairs, to indicate what his government was prepared to accept in return for a new deal.

Any such arrangement would come with tight strings attached. Tsipras has already rejected the creditors’ terms. If he wins his no vote, the Germans and others believe he has burnt his boats and bid farewell to the euro. If he loses to a large yes vote, however, eurozone leaders would be keen to strike a new deal but not with Tsipras, whom they do not trust to deliver.

A new rescue package would take time to negotiate with no guarantees of a successful conclusion. An agreement on more loans for Greece would need to pass through several eurozone parliaments, including the Bundestag in Berlin where it would get a rough ride.

Juncker earlier told Tsipras that a last-minute deal was possible if Athens agreed to sign up to the creditors’ proposals presented last Friday. The commission president also dangled the prospects of debt relief for Greece and a €35bn “new start for jobs and growth” programme.

That appeared to be old wine in new bottles. The €35bn is unlikely to be new money while the debt relief suggestion is the revival of a conditional offer to the previous Greek government from 2012.

In the past five months, Tsipras has persistently blocked agreement on the current bailout which would have released €7.2bn in return for meeting fiscal targets, spending cuts, and tax rises. He has aimed to get the current programme dropped and wrapped into a new one involving debt relief.

Since the weekend eurozone leaders desperate to avoid the blame for the departure of the first country from the currency have been declaring that the door remains open to more talks. Tsipras’s gambit on Tuesday tested the credibility of that pledge. But it appeared that it came too late.

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

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International

Syria al-Qaeda Leader Attacked, Unsure of His Survival

An air strike struck Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in the Syrian province of Idlib on Sunday, based on unconfirmed reports.

The Egyptian is second-in-command to overall al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to BBC News.

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An air strike struck Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in the Syrian province of Idlib on Sunday, based on unconfirmed reports.

The Egyptian is second-in-command to overall al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to BBC News.

Syrian opposition forces, the Local Co-ordination Committees, posted a photo of the car which was targeted for the attack, as stated by them.

Car with roof shattered is shown in photo taken from Syrian opposition activists

The car, in the town of al-Mastuma, was targeted by “international coalition aircraft”, the group said.

Additionally, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that an al-Qaeda official was killed in a strike, but did not confirm it was Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.

The Egyptian, whose real name is Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al-Rahman, was reportedly released from custody by Iran in 2015 as part of a prisoner swap.

Last year, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was reported to have given his blessing to a decision by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, to cut formal ties with the global jihadist network.

The Syrian jihadist with ties broken with al-Qaeda had renamed its name to Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, as reported by CNN.

According to Ahmad Hasan Abu al Khayr al-Masri, al-Qaeda has embraced the split. The man Masri would replace as an upranking to No. 2 of the leadership position in the terror group, is al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri expressed his opinion on the split in a supportive manner and called for infighting between jihadist groups to end.

Although Jabhat Fateh al-Sham was no longer linked to an external entity, the U.S. still kept it on its list of foreign terrorist groups and continued to target air strikes.

Therefore, in January, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham dissolved itself and formed an alliance with four smaller Syrian jihadist groups called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The move seemed to deem an attempt by the group to distance itself from al-Qaeda.

Tahrir al-Sham as since then fought rebel groups for control of the Idlib province in Syria, implying that it was them who had instigated suicide bombs on Saturday against the military in the government-controlled city of Homs.

Although the death of Abu al-Khayr al-Masri is uncertain, the Guardian has stated that he has been killed based off of what jihadists are stating.

The immediate circumstances of Masri’s death were unclear. Video online showed a tan four-door Kia sedan destroyed at a roadside with a large hole in its canopy but its windscreen mostly intact. The location of the attack was unusually far west for a US drone strike.

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International

Honor Killings are Never Justifiable, Not Ever or Anywhere!

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I have decided to shed some light on some insights about honor killings, amidst one that occurred in my parents’ home country, Pakistan, yesterday. An upcoming supermodel by the name of Qandeel Baloch was killed by her brother in Multan, Paksitan while her parents were in their bedroom, asleep. The model was allegedly there to visit family or for other reasons. The brother who strangled her to death, reportedly after he drugged her, was interviewed and showed no remorse for his wrongdoing. Of course, what he did is inexcusable in all ways and is unsurpassable as a violation and a wrongdoing!

Baloch’s brother, who took her life, was embarrassed by his sister’s career as a supermodel and was aghast at her actions in this profession. This, however, can never justify the fact that he felt he had to end her life. Not only in this culture, mostly and especially in Pakistan’s rural areas, is this prevalent. It happens in other areas of the world and this is not attributable to Pakistanis or any type of Muslim or the religion itself, Islam. Anyway, surely you can recall the incident that was reported on television a few years ago. A man killed his daughter by running her over with a car, as well as her attempts to kill her boyfriend and his mother. He killed her because she had a boyfriend.

Oppressing women is not taught in any culture or religion, and is inexcusable in any way. A woman has the right to live however she pleases, at least I genuinely believe in this, and she should not have to fear for her life.

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Turkish Military Attempts to Overthrow President

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted to the nation Saturday that his government is in charge following a coup attempt brought a night of explosions, air battles, gunfire and unrest across the capital and left at least 90 dead, 1,154 people wounded and more than 1,000 military personnel detained.

In a press conference at Ataturk Airport, Erdogan said the architects of the coup attempt would “pay a heavy price” and vowed he would “not surrender this country to intruders.”

A senior Turkish official told the Associated Press that 1,563 military personnel have been detained in the coup attempt.

A Turkish lawmaker contacted by Reuters said he and his colleagues were hiding in special shelters in the bowels of the parliament building after at least three explosions near the complex in the capital, Ankara. Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman told the Associated Press a bomb hit one corner of a public relations building inside the parliament complex, injuring some police officers.

Elsewhere, troops also fired in the air to disperse a growing crowd of government supporters at the Taksim monument in Istanbul as military helicopters flew overhead. A nearby mosque made an anti-coup announcement over its loudspeakers.

Erdogan insisted that the coup attempt wouldn’t succeed.

“They have pointed the people’s guns against the people. The president, whom 52 percent of the people brought to power, is in charge,” he said. “This government brought to power by the people, is in charge. They won’t succeed as long as we stand against them by risking everything.”

In his TV address, Erdogan blamed the attack on supporters of Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan has long accused the cleric and his supporters of attempting to overthrow the government. The cleric lives in exile in Pennsylvania and promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Turkey’s allies, fellow NATO member nations and world leaders swiftly reacted Friday to an attempted coup Friday night, which could spur immense implications, not only in the Middle East, but also in the West.

“The United States views with gravest concern events unfolding in Turkey,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.

He said the State Department was “monitoring a fluid situation,” and “emphasized the United States’ absolute support for Turkey’s democratically-elected, civilian government and democratic institutions.”

The U.S. State Department urged U.S. citizens in Turkey to shelter in place during the attempted coup.

President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation. “The president and secretary agreed that all parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” a White House statement said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote in a tweet that he spoke with the Turkish foreign minister. “I call for calm, restraint & full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and constitution,” Stoltenberg wrote, without saying what actions, if any, NATO would take. Turkey joined NATO in 1952.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm as the world body sought to clarify the situation, said a U.N. spokesman.

“The Secretary-General is closely following developments in Turkey. He is aware of the reports of a coup attempt in the country. The United Nations is seeking to clarify the situation on the ground and appeals for calm,” said spokesman Farhan Haq.

Britain’s government was also monitoring the turmoil. “We are concerned by events unfolding in Ankara and Istanbul. Our Embassy is monitoring the situation closely,” a British foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also said he was “very concerned.”

The foreign minister of Turkey’s neighbor to the east said he was “deeply concerned about the crisis in Turkey.”

“Stability, democracy & safety of Turkish people are paramount. Unity & prudence are imperative,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet.

Slovakia, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, said on Saturday it was following the events unfolding in Turkey with serious concern, and was coordinating appropriate reaction with EU partners.

“Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has been in intensive contact all evening with EU high foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini and other European colleagues,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“He has also been in contact with partners in the Turkish government with the aim to clarify the situation in Turkey and discuss steps that the EU should take with the aim to maintain and support democracy and stability in the country.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was “in constant contact with EU delegation in Ankara and Brussels from Mongolia.” She called for “restraint and respect for democratic institutions.”

The Kremlin said it was gravely concerned. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that President Vladimir Putin was being kept constantly updated on the situation in Turkey.

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