Germany Purchases Israeli Arrow-3 Missile for 4 Bln Euros

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) 

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)
German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)
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Germany Purchases Israeli Arrow-3 Missile for 4 Bln Euros

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) 

German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)
German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP) German Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, right, receives his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant with military honors in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Sept. 28. 2023. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)

Germany on Thursday signed a letter of commitment with Israel to buy its Arrow-3 missile defense system.

This coincides with foreign and domestic criticism over Berlin’s pursuit to acquire the most advanced defense system.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius signed Israel’s largest-ever single defense contract worth roughly 4 billion euros.

The German government would pay from the €100 billion fund special fund Germany created to boost defense spending in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Gallant called the sale “a moving event for every Jew,” hinting at the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germany during World War 2.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “historic.”

“Seventy-five years ago, the Jewish people were ground to dust on the soil of Nazi Germany,” Netanyahu said. “Seventy-five years later, the Jewish state gives Germany — a different Germany — the tools to defend itself.”

Germany plans to start using Arrow in late 2025, with the system then being built up step by step. “We see from the daily Russian attacks on Ukraine how important air defense is in general,” Pistorius added.

The United States government on Thursday approved Israel’s request to export the co-developed Arrow 3 missile defense system to Germany. The Arrow system was developed and produced by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) in partnership with Boeing.

Die Welt website quoted Frank Sauer, senior researcher fellow at Bundeswehr University in Munich, as saying that the Arrow 3 system is “impressive” in a technical aspect, but it launches medium-range missiles outside the atmosphere. This makes it unsuitable for defense against cruise missile systems or Russian “Kinzhal” because these missiles remain in the atmosphere.

Frank Cohn, another military expert from Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, told the website that strategically, this contract has no significant benefit.

Cohn considered that it would have been better if this amount was invested in purchasing defense systems that could thwart Russian “Kinzhal” missiles or in updating the current Patriot system.

The deal makes sense only in the political terms, he added, hinting at the nature of the German-Israeli ties.

Last week, Pistorius and French Armies Minister Sebastien Lecornu showcased contradicting visions regarding the development of Europe defenses during a joint interview with “Le Monde” newspaper.



Angry French Farmers Storm into Agriculture Fair in Paris

French farmers scuffle with gendarmes (bottom) during a farmers' protest at the Porte Versailles exhibition center, prior to the opening of the 60th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture), in Paris, on February 24, 2024. (AFP)
French farmers scuffle with gendarmes (bottom) during a farmers' protest at the Porte Versailles exhibition center, prior to the opening of the 60th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture), in Paris, on February 24, 2024. (AFP)
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Angry French Farmers Storm into Agriculture Fair in Paris

French farmers scuffle with gendarmes (bottom) during a farmers' protest at the Porte Versailles exhibition center, prior to the opening of the 60th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture), in Paris, on February 24, 2024. (AFP)
French farmers scuffle with gendarmes (bottom) during a farmers' protest at the Porte Versailles exhibition center, prior to the opening of the 60th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture), in Paris, on February 24, 2024. (AFP)

A group of French farmers stormed into a major Paris farm fair on Saturday ahead of a planned visit by President Emmanuel Macron amid anger over costs, red tape and green regulations.

Facing dozens of police officers inside the trade fair, the farmers were shouting and booing, calling for the resignation of Macron and using expletives aimed at the French leader.

"This is our home!" they shouted, as lines of French CRS riot police sought to contain the demonstration. There were some clashes with demonstrators and the police arrested at least one of them, a Reuters witness saw.

Macron, who had breakfast with French farmers' union leaders, was scheduled to walk within the alleys of the trade fair afterwards.

"I'm saying this for all farmers: you're not helping any of your colleagues by smashing up stands, you're not helping any of your colleagues by making the show impossible, and in a way scaring families away from coming," Macron told reporters after his meeting with union leaders.

The Paris farm show - a major event in France, attracting around 600,000 visitors over nine days - was scheduled to open at 9 a.m. (0800 GMT). The doors were still closed at 0838 GMT, following the storming by angry farmers.

In a sign of tensions between French farmers and the government, Macron canceled a debate he wanted to hold at the fair on Saturday with farmers, food processors and retailers, after farmers unions said they would not take part.

Farmers have been protesting across Europe, calling for better income, less bureaucracy and denouncing unfair competition from cheap Ukrainian goods imported to help Kyiv's war effort.

Farmers' protests, which have spread across Europe, come as the far right, for which farmers represent a growing constituency, is expected to make gains in European Parliament elections in June.

French farmers earlier this month largely suspended protests that included blocking highways and dumping manure in front of public buildings after Prime Minister Gabriel Attal promised new measures worth 400 million euros ($433 million).

But protests resumed this week to put pressure on the government to provide more help and deliver on promises, ahead of the Paris farm show.


Many in Myanmar Consider Fleeing to Thailand to Escape Conscription into an Army they Despise

People queue to receive a token to apply for a visa outside the Royal Thai embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 February 2024. EPA/STRINGER
People queue to receive a token to apply for a visa outside the Royal Thai embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 February 2024. EPA/STRINGER
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Many in Myanmar Consider Fleeing to Thailand to Escape Conscription into an Army they Despise

People queue to receive a token to apply for a visa outside the Royal Thai embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 February 2024. EPA/STRINGER
People queue to receive a token to apply for a visa outside the Royal Thai embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 February 2024. EPA/STRINGER

Thwel, a 25-year-old schoolteacher, saw very few options left to her after Myanmar’s military announced it is implementing conscription to fill its ranks.
“As a person living in this country, I only have two options: to go abroad illegally or die here,” Thwel told The Associated Press by phone while traveling to a border area to try crossing into Thailand with a small group of like-minded people.
Some observers believe a mass exodus of young talent is taking place and could become a social problem, with their exit heightening the instability that followed the military takeover that now amounts to a civil war.
Thwel, whose home in Myanmar’s southern Mon state is the scene of occasional combat between the army and resistance forces, spoke on condition she be called by only one name as protection from the military authorities. Like many professionals, she joined the Civil Disobedience Movement that was formed to oppose military rule after the army’s 2021 seizure of power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Since then, the army's manpower has been stretched thin by increasing pressure from surprisingly durable pro-democracy resistance forces and ethnic minority armed organizations,
Over the past four months, opposition groups scored significant victories and seized strategically important territory in northern Shan state where Myanmar borders China, and in Rakhine state in the west.
On Feb. 10, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, chair of Myanmar’s ruling military council, ordered the 2010 conscription law be activated to replenish the ranks that have been depleted by the struggle to quash a nationwide pro-democracy insurgency. All healthy men ages 18-35 and women 18-27 are required to register for two years of military service.
Evading conscription is punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine.
Of Myanmar's 56 million people, about 14 million — 6.3 million men and 7.7 million women — are eligible for military service, according to Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, the spokesperson for the military government. The government will draft 60,000 people a year, with an initial batch of 5,000 to be called up soon after the traditional Thingyan New Year celebration in mid-April, he said.
After an uproar over the initial announcement, Zaw Min Tun said there is no plan to call women into military service yet — meaning schoolteacher Thwel might actually be in the clear for the time being.
But many people are actively looking for ways to escape.
The street in front of Thailand’s embassy in Yangon has been filled with visa applicants queued up to get numbered appointment tickets. Overwhelmed, the embassy announced it would accept only 400 visa appointments per day, and they must be made online. According to the Thai Foreign Ministry, some 7,000 Myanmar nationals have applied for visas, Thailand’s Bangkok Post newspaper reported Thursday.
Each day at the state passport office in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, 4,000-5000 people were lining up to get one of the 200-250 daily appointment tickets. Two women died and one was injured after they fell into a ditch in a pre-dawn rush to get a coveted early place in line.
A 32-year-old news translator from Yangon said he made a snap decision to leave the country after the conscription announcement, and flew to Thailand a few days later. Like almost all persons willing to discuss their plans, he spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of the legal consequences.
He said he was very concerned because serving in the military is like entering a labyrinth with no way back out, giving the example of his uncle, who joined the army for a five-year enlistment but was not allowed to leave for more than 40 years.
A 26-year-old journalist who has been working covertly in Mandalay, said the conscription law made his situation untenable. He also spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of the legal consequences; more than 150 journalists were arrested after the army sized power, and more than one-third remain locked up, according to the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders.
“I tried my best to stay inside the country in the past few years while other journalists were fleeing abroad or to areas controlled by ethnic minority armed groups," he said. "But, this time, we can’t hide anywhere. We can’t stay out of sight. There is no choice.”
He is also planning to flee to Thailand.
The Institute for Strategy and Policy, an independent think tank, said conscription could trigger a mass exodus, more widespread violations of human rights and increase corruption and extortion at all levels. It anticipates that young people close to areas where armed conflict is active could join the ethnic minority armed forces and pro-democracy resistance groups.
There were around 160,000 soldiers before the army takeover, the institute said, and there are now fewer than 100,000 due to casualties, desertions and defection.
Like schoolteacher Thwel, a 35-year old doctor from Yangon had joined the Civil Disobedience Movement. He was consequently restricted from treating patients, since activist medical workers are boycotting government hospitals, while private clinics and hospitals risk closure if they hire them. They are also blacklisted by immigration authorities, making them unable to get passports to legally leave the country.
Professionals such as medical doctors and engineers face a higher age limit for conscription — 45 for men and 35 for women — and their term of service is three years.
"For me, the announcement of the law was the impetus to make a decision to go abroad,” said the doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for his safety.
The doctor said he was exploring the best ways flee abroad or to border areas controlled by the ethnic armed groups.
Ethnic resistance groups such as the Arakan Army from Rakhine state and the Shan State Progress Party have invited people to take refuge in territory they control. The Karen National Union in Kayin state in the southeast has similarly promised help.
Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government, the leading political body of the pro-democracy resistance, declared that the public is not required to comply with the conscription law, urging them instead to intensify their participation in the fight against army rule.
The Yangon region branch of its armed wing, the People’s Defense Force, announced a recruitment drive and said they received about 1,000 online applications within 12 hours.
More than 1,000 working-age Myanmar nationals are believed to be crossing into Thailand every day since conscription was announced, said Moe Kyaw of the Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association-Thailand, an aid association for Myanmar migrant workers.
“It is not a good sign that human resources and intellectuals leave a country,” he said.
He echoed other aid workers in predicting that with new waves of people entering Thailand, generally illegally, there will be increased human trafficking and related crimes, and there will be friction as the new entrants compete for jobs with as many as 3 million already employed Myanmar migrant workers.


White House Escalates Criticism of US House Speaker

US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson (AFP)
US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson (AFP)
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White House Escalates Criticism of US House Speaker

US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson (AFP)
US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson (AFP)

The White House escalated its criticism of Republican US House Speaker Mike Johnson on Friday, accusing him of benefitting Iran and Russia by not putting a national security bill that gives aid to Ukraine up for a vote.
Iran has provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, six sources told Reuters this week, deepening the military cooperation between the two US-sanctioned countries.
Iran is “actively enabling Russia's war in Ukraine and its attacks against Ukrainian cities,” deputy press secretary and senior communications adviser Andrew Bates said in a memo viewed by Reuters.
“President Biden is standing up to Iran. But where is Speaker Johnson's supposed commitment not to 'appease Iran' in all this? Nowhere. Instead, his inaction is benefiting Putin and the Ayatollah,” the memo says.
Top Biden administration officials spent last weekend in Europe trying to soothe jitters over the prospect of US military aid to Ukraine ending, assuring counterparts from Paris, Berlin and Kyiv as the war enters its third year that Washington will somehow come through.
The Senate last week approved a $95 billion bill providing assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan by an overwhelming 70-30 vote, with 22 Republicans joining most Democrats in voting in favor.
But Johnson sent the House home for a two-week recess without bringing the measure up for a vote, saying “we're not going to be forced into action by the Senate.”
Johnson says any package of international military and humanitarian assistance must also include measures to address security at the US border with Mexico after Republicans blocked a version of the bill that provided for the biggest overhaul of US immigration policy in decades.
Many senators and White House officials believe the bill would pass the House with bipartisan support if Johnson would allow the chamber to vote.


British Union of Journalists Condemns Iran for Trials against Journalists in Absentia

Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) demanded on Friday action against Iran after documents revealed secret trials of journalists working for Persian language media abroad. (BBC)
Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) demanded on Friday action against Iran after documents revealed secret trials of journalists working for Persian language media abroad. (BBC)
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British Union of Journalists Condemns Iran for Trials against Journalists in Absentia

Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) demanded on Friday action against Iran after documents revealed secret trials of journalists working for Persian language media abroad. (BBC)
Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) demanded on Friday action against Iran after documents revealed secret trials of journalists working for Persian language media abroad. (BBC)

Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) demanded on Friday action against Iran after documents revealed secret trials of journalists working for Persian language media abroad.

In a statement, NUJ said Iran has sentenced ten journalists affiliated with BBC Persian in London, along with others associated with Iran International, Manoto TV, Gem TV, Voice of America, and Prague-based Radio Farda (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).

“Journalists were tried and convicted in absentia, and no one was even aware that the secret proceedings had taken place,” the Union noted.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “This is yet more evidence of the all-out war on Iranian journalists inside the country and abroad by the Iranian government.”

She said it was deeply shocking that a state can act in this abhorrent way, putting journalists and their families in real danger in a flagrant abuse of press freedom.

Stanistreet affirmed that the Union we will be contacting the UK’s government and the UN and “ask that the wider international community speak out against this outrageous weaponizing of journalists.”

“Particularly worrying is the use by the regime of red notices through Interpol which can inhibit the movement of these journalists, as they travel abroad for work or to meet with family in third countries,” she added.

The secret trials were revealed after the hacking group, Edalat-e Ali, published a database of Tehran Judiciary's criminal cases, which includes some details of three million public and secret cases.

None of those “convicted” journalists knew about this case until the documents were hacked and published which showed they were tried in absentia, without legal representation or access to the indictment, according to NUJ.

Earlier this week, on the eve of the launch of campaigning for Iran’s legislative elections, hackers from Edalat-e Ali announced they confiscated millions of files and documents after breaching the servers of the Iranian judiciary.

Weeks prior, the group had hacked the website of the Iranian parliament.

Edalat-e Ali had previously hacked the surveillance cameras of Iranian prisons, as well as government websites, including the website of the Iranian President.


European Leaders Arrive in Kyiv as Ukraine Marks 2 Years since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

Ukrainian servicemen operate a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Gepard near the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, Ukraine, 22 February 2024 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/IGOR TKACHENKO
Ukrainian servicemen operate a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Gepard near the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, Ukraine, 22 February 2024 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/IGOR TKACHENKO
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European Leaders Arrive in Kyiv as Ukraine Marks 2 Years since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

Ukrainian servicemen operate a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Gepard near the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, Ukraine, 22 February 2024 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/IGOR TKACHENKO
Ukrainian servicemen operate a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Gepard near the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, Ukraine, 22 February 2024 amid the Russian invasion. EPA/IGOR TKACHENKO

Western leaders descended on Kyiv Saturday to mark the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled overnight to Kyiv by train along with Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

They arrived shortly after a Russian drone attack struck a residential building in the southern city of Odesa, killing at least one person. Three women also sustained severe burns in the attack Friday evening on a residential building, regional Governor Oleh Kiper said on his social media account. Rescue services are still combing rubble looking for survivors.

The foreign leaders are in Ukraine to express solidarity as Ukrainian forces run low on ammunition and weaponry and Western aid hangs in the balance.

“More than ever we stand firmly by Ukraine. Financially, economically, militarily, morally. Until the country is finally free,” von der Leyen said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, after she arrived in Kyiv.

Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the Group of Seven leading economies, announced that the group's heads of state and government will meet virtually on Saturday, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy participating as well, and would adopt a joint statement on Ukraine.

Under Meloni, Italy has been a strong supporter of Ukraine. Saturday’s virtual meeting marks the first top-level G7 gathering of the Italian presidency; G7 heads of state and government are expected to meet in person in southern Puglia in June for their annual summit.

A somber mood hangs over Ukraine as the war against Russia enters its third year and Kyiv's troops face mounting challenges on the front line amid dwindling ammunition supplies and personnel challenges. Its troops recently withdrew from the strategic eastern city of Avdiivka, handing Moscow one of its biggest victories.

Earlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired top military commander Valerii Zaluzhnyi, replacing him with Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, marking the most significant shakeup of top brass since the full-scale invasion.

Russia still controls roughly a quarter of the country after Ukraine failed to make any major breakthroughs with its summertime counteroffensive. Meanwhile, millions of Ukrainians continue to live in precarious circumstances in the crossfire of battles, and many others face constant struggles under Russian occupation. Most are waiting for a Ukrainian liberation that hasn't come.

Foreign officials are expected to descend on the capital to meet with Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials and express their continued support for the country as it fights Moscow's troops and prepares for European Union membership.

In the US Congress, Republicans have stalled $60 billion in military aid for Kyiv, desperately needed in the short term. The EU recently approved a 50 billion-euro (about $54 billion) aid package for Ukraine meant to support Ukraine's economy, despite resistance from Hungary.

US President Joe Biden tied the loss of the defensive stronghold of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region after months of grueling battles to the stalled US aid.  

Fears have since spiked that Ukrainian forces will face similar difficulties across other parts of the 1000-kilometer (620-mile) front line as they come under mounting pressure from Russian assaults.


Iran Denies Providing Ballistic Missiles to Russia

Iranian ballistic missiles are displayed during the ceremony of joining the Armed Forces, in Tehran, Iran, August 22, 2023. Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via Reuters
Iranian ballistic missiles are displayed during the ceremony of joining the Armed Forces, in Tehran, Iran, August 22, 2023. Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via Reuters
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Iran Denies Providing Ballistic Missiles to Russia

Iranian ballistic missiles are displayed during the ceremony of joining the Armed Forces, in Tehran, Iran, August 22, 2023. Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via Reuters
Iranian ballistic missiles are displayed during the ceremony of joining the Armed Forces, in Tehran, Iran, August 22, 2023. Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via Reuters

Iran denied on Friday that it had provided ballistic missiles to Russia, after the United States said there would be a severe international response to any such move.

Earlier this week Reuters, citing six sources, reported that Iran had provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic weapons to Russia, deepening military cooperation between the two US-sanctioned nations.

The Biden administration warned Iran on Thursday of a "swift and severe" response from the international community if Tehran had provided ballistic missiles to Russia.

"Despite no legal restrictions on ballistic missile sales, Iran is morally obligated to refrain from weapon transactions during the Russia-Ukraine conflict to prevent fueling the war," Iran's mission to the United Nations said on the X platform.

"(That) is rooted in Iran's adherence to international law and the UN Charter," it added.

UN Security Council restrictions on Iran's export of some missiles, drones and other technologies expired in October.

However, the United States and the European Union retained sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program amid concerns over exports of weapons to its proxies in the Middle East and to Russia.

Iran initially denied supplying drones to Russia but months later said it had provided a small number before Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.


Somalia Will Defend Itself if Ethiopia Seals ‘Illegal’ Port Deal, President Says 

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses the media inside his office in Mogadishu, Somalia February 21, 2024. (Reuters)
Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses the media inside his office in Mogadishu, Somalia February 21, 2024. (Reuters)
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Somalia Will Defend Itself if Ethiopia Seals ‘Illegal’ Port Deal, President Says 

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses the media inside his office in Mogadishu, Somalia February 21, 2024. (Reuters)
Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses the media inside his office in Mogadishu, Somalia February 21, 2024. (Reuters)

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said his country would "defend itself" if Ethiopia goes ahead with a deal to set up a naval base in the breakaway region of Somaliland and possibly recognize the territory as an independent state.

Landlocked Ethiopia agreed a memorandum of understanding on Jan. 1 to lease 20 km (12 miles) of coastline in Somaliland - a territory that Somalia says it owns, even though the northern region has enjoyed effective autonomy since 1991.

Ethiopia said it wants to set up a naval base there and offered possible recognition of Somaliland in exchange - prompting a defiant response from Somalia and fears the deal could further destabilize the Horn of Africa.

"If Ethiopia insists, Somalia will resist and will refuse," Mohamud told Reuters on Tuesday in an interview at the heavily fortified presidential palace in Mogadishu.

"If they come into the country, Somalia will do everything that it can to defend itself."

He did not go into further detail on what action Somalia might take. The Horn of Africa has experienced repeated conflicts, feeding humanitarian crises in areas prone to drought. Neighboring Ethiopia and Somalia fought over territory in 1977-1978 and 1982.

Mohamud said he would only agree to discuss the matter with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when the government in Addis Ababa renounces its intention "to take part of our country".

Ethiopia's government spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Abiy has previously said Ethiopia has no plans to start a conflict with Somalia and is merely trying to address its need for sea access.

Mohamud said he was not considering kicking out the nearly 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers stationed in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting militants from al Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

Analysts and diplomats fear a withdrawal of Ethiopian troops would further destabilize Somalia, where al Shabaab attacks have killed thousands of civilians and soldiers since 2006.

Somalia and several Western countries, including the United States, which regularly carries out strikes against militants in Somalia, have said Ethiopia's port deal has boosted al Shabaab's recruitment efforts.

Mohamud said his government's estimates showed al Shabaab had recruited between 6,000 and 8,000 new fighters in January alone.

Analysts and diplomats interviewed by Reuters were skeptical of that number, estimating the number of new recruits in the hundreds.


British-born Woman who Joined ISIS Loses Appeal over Citizenship Removal

(FILES) Renu, eldest sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London, on February 22, 2015. (Photo by LAURA LEAN / POOL / AFP)
(FILES) Renu, eldest sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London, on February 22, 2015. (Photo by LAURA LEAN / POOL / AFP)
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British-born Woman who Joined ISIS Loses Appeal over Citizenship Removal

(FILES) Renu, eldest sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London, on February 22, 2015. (Photo by LAURA LEAN / POOL / AFP)
(FILES) Renu, eldest sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London, on February 22, 2015. (Photo by LAURA LEAN / POOL / AFP)

A British-born woman who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join ISIS lost her latest appeal on Friday over the removal of her British citizenship.
The British government took away Shamima Begum's citizenship on national security grounds in 2019, shortly after she was found in a detention camp in Syria.
Begum, now 24, argued the decision was unlawful, in part because British officials failed to properly consider whether she was a victim of trafficking, an argument that was rejected by a lower court in February 2023.
The Court of Appeal in London rejected her appeal on Friday following an appeal in October.
Judge Sue Carr said: "It could be argued that the decision in Ms. Begum's case was harsh. It could also be argued that Ms. Begum is the author of her own misfortune.
"But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view. Our only task is to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful.
"We have concluded it was not and the appeal is dismissed."


Putin Says 95% of Russia’s Nuclear Forces Have Been Modernized 

In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik late on February 22, 2024, Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers an address on Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Kremlin in Moscow. (AFP)
In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik late on February 22, 2024, Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers an address on Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Kremlin in Moscow. (AFP)
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Putin Says 95% of Russia’s Nuclear Forces Have Been Modernized 

In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik late on February 22, 2024, Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers an address on Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Kremlin in Moscow. (AFP)
In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik late on February 22, 2024, Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers an address on Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Kremlin in Moscow. (AFP)

President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that 95% of Russia's strategic nuclear forces had been modernized and that the Air Force had just taken delivery of four new supersonic nuclear-capable bombers.

Putin made the comments in a statement released to coincide with Russia's annual Defender of the Fatherland Day, which celebrates the army, a day after he flew on a modernized Tu-160M nuclear-capable strategic bomber.

The Russian leader praised soldiers fighting in Ukraine in what he called a "special military operation", hailing them as heroes battling for "truth and justice."

But he devoted much of his speech to what he said were the achievements of the military-industrial complex.

His message: that Russia's nuclear triad - its strategic land, sea and air nuclear capabilities - were up to date, being constantly modernized, and in good order.

"Incorporating our real combat experience, we will continue to strengthen the Armed Forces in every possible way, including ongoing re-equipping and modernization efforts," Putin said.

"Today, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the strategic nuclear forces has already reached 95 percent, while the naval component of the 'nuclear triad' is at almost 100 percent," he added.


Armenia Freezes Participation in Russia-Led Security Bloc 

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends a joint press conference with French president (not seen) as part of a meeting on the sidelines of ceremony to admit Missak Manouchian and his resistance comrades to the Pantheon, in Paris, France, 21 February 2024. (EPA)
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends a joint press conference with French president (not seen) as part of a meeting on the sidelines of ceremony to admit Missak Manouchian and his resistance comrades to the Pantheon, in Paris, France, 21 February 2024. (EPA)
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Armenia Freezes Participation in Russia-Led Security Bloc 

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends a joint press conference with French president (not seen) as part of a meeting on the sidelines of ceremony to admit Missak Manouchian and his resistance comrades to the Pantheon, in Paris, France, 21 February 2024. (EPA)
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends a joint press conference with French president (not seen) as part of a meeting on the sidelines of ceremony to admit Missak Manouchian and his resistance comrades to the Pantheon, in Paris, France, 21 February 2024. (EPA)

Armenia has frozen its participation in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) because the pact had failed the country, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

Pashinyan also said Azerbaijan, with which Armenia has fought two wars over the past three decades, was not adhering to the principles needed to clinch a long-term peace treaty, and suggested Azerbaijan was preparing to launch another attack.

Pashinyan told France 24 television that the CSTO pact, dominated by Russia, had failed Armenia.

"The Collective Security Treaty has not fulfilled its objectives as far as Armenia is concerned, particularly in 2021 and 2022. And we could not let that happen without taking notice," Pashinyan said through an interpreter.

"We have now in practical terms frozen our participation in this treaty. As for what comes next, we shall have to see."

He said there was no discussion for the moment of closing a Russian base in Armenia. That was subject to different treaties.

Pashinyan has in recent months expressed discontent with Armenia's longstanding ties with Russia and said Armenia could no longer rely on Russia to ensure its defense needs. He had suggested its membership of the CSTO was under review.

Other ex-Soviet members of the CSTO include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Azerbaijan recovered swathes of territory in 2020 in the second war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians but internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Last year, Azerbaijan's military took control of the territory, prompting most of its residents to leave for Armenia.

In his remarks, Pashinyan said prospects for clinching a long-term peace treaty were hurt by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's statements which Armenia interpreted as laying claim to large parts of Armenian territory.

"If the principles of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders are not recognized by Azerbaijan, it is simply not possible," he told France 24.

"Azerbaijan is using the situation to feed its rhetoric. That leads one to think that Azerbaijan is getting ready for a new attack on Armenia."

Key elements in securing a treaty are demarcation of borders and the establishment of regional transport corridors often through the territory of each others' territory.

Aliyev has also raised the issue of determining control of ethnic enclaves on both sides of the border.

Pashinyan and Aliyev have discussed moves towards a peace treaty at several meetings, including discussions last week at the Munich Security Conference.