Kel’s to seek fourth term

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

next year could see a far-right politi­cian be­come pres­i­dent of France.

Do­mes­ti­cally, the na­tion­al­ist Al­ter­ative for Ger­many, or AfD, could prove to be one of the big­gest stum­bling blocks to her re-elec­tion. The pop­ulist party, which is now rep­re­sented in 10 state par­lia­ments, has ag­gres­sively cam­paigned against Merkel de­ci­sion to wel­come an es­ti­mated 890,000 mi­grants into the Ger­many last year and in elec­tions in the eastern state of Meck­len­burg-West­ern Pomera­nia ear­lier this year, Merkel’s party, the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union, came in third be­hind the Al­liance for Ger­many. Ac­cord­ing to re­cent polls, the AfD would win around 10 per­cent of the vote if gen­eral elec­tions were to be held now.

Merkel, the old­est of three chil­dren and the daugh­ter of a Protes­tant pas­tor, en­tered pol­i­tics in her mid-30s af­ter work­ing as a physi­cist be­hind the Iron Cur­tain. She served as min­is­ter for women and fam­i­lies in Kohl’s first post-re­uni­fi­ca­tion Cabi­net in the 1990s and then also as an en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter.

In the be­gin­ning of her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, she was of­ten un­der­es­ti­mated by her mostly male, Catholic, West Ger­man party com­pan­ions who some­times re­ferred to her con­de­scend­ingly as “Kohl’s girl.” But in the end, she elim­i­nated her ri­vals with lots of tac­ti­cal skill and sheer luck to make it all the way to the top in 2005.

In Ger­many, Merkel is some­times re­ferred to as “Mutti,” or “mom,” de­spite be­ing known for a prag­matic, ra­tio­nal style of gov­ern­ing.

While Merkel of­ten ap­pears re­served and even stiff in pub­lic, she has tried in past cam­paigns to show a more hu­man side. She opened up about her fa­vorite pas­times out­side pol­i­tics, which in­clude bak­ing plum cake for her hus­band, the pub­lic­ity-shy chem­istry pro­fes­sor Joachim Sauer, and spend­ing week­ends at a lit­tle cabin out­side Ber­lin.

If Merkel wins and serves out a fourth term, she wouldn’t just equal Kohl’s record ten­ure but over­take con­ser­va­tive icon Konrad Ade­nauer, who served just over 14 years as chan­cel­lor from 1949-1963.

“I can see how Merkel has this per­sonal am­bi­tion to show the peo­ple that she, who used to be such an out­sider when she first en­tered pol­i­tics as an East Ger­man and a woman, made it all the way,” Gero Neuge­bauer, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at Ber­lin’s Free Univer­sity, said.

A date has not yet been set for the elec­tion, but they will take place some­time be­tween Au­gust 23 and Oc­to­ber 22.

Iraqi forces push on against IS in eastern Mo­sul

Iraqi troops ad­vanced against Is­lamic State fight­ers to­ward the cen­ter of Mo­sul on Sun­day, but were slowed down by sniper fire and sui­cide bomb­ings as well as con­cern over the safety of civil­ians in a city that is home to more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple. A few hun­dred civil­ians emerged from rub­ble-strewn front-line neigh­bor­hoods in search of safer ground, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren, some of them car­ry­ing bags or small suit­cases. Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi told The As­so­ci­ated Press that his spe­cial forces were search­ing homes in ar­eas re­taken from IS, look­ing for mil­i­tants and ve­hi­cles rigged with ex­plo­sives. Troops in those ar­eas con­tinue to be hit by mor­tar and sniper fire, he said. Another Iraqi army com­man­der, Brig. Gen. Haider Fad­hil, said four civil­ians were killed and another four wounded when a sui­cide car bomb ex­ploded be­fore it could reach the troops it was tar­get­ing late Satur­day. The troops laid siege Sun­day to the Al-Zo­hour neigh­bor­hood, about eight kilo­me­ters (five miles) from the city cen­ter. The ar­rival of the troops at the neigh­bor­hood’s fringes prompted hun­dreds of civil­ians to emerge from their homes wav­ing white flags. “The big­gest hin­drance to us is the civil­ians, whose pres­ence is slow­ing us down,” al-Aridi said. “We are sol­diers who are not trained to carry out hu­man­i­tar­ian tasks.” The Iraqi mil­i­tary be­gan the cam­paign one month ago to re­take Mo­sul, Iraq’s sec­ond largest city and the ex­trem­ist group’s last ma­jor ur­ban bas­tion in the coun­try. Most gains have been made by the spe­cial forces op­er­at­ing in the sec­tion of Mo­sul east of the Ti­gris river. Other forces are ad­vanc­ing on the city from dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, and the U.S.-led coali­tion is pro­vid­ing airstrikes and other sup­port. IS cap­tured Mo­sul in the sum­mer of 2014 as part of a blitz that placed nearly a third of Iraq un­der their con­trol. Iraqi troops, fed­eral po­lice and al­lied Shi­ite and Sunni mili­tias have over the past year pushed IS mil­i­tants from most of the vast Sunni prov­ince of An­bar, west of Bagh­dad, and ar­eas to the north and east of the Iraqi cap­i­tal. Army troops have ar­rived on the out­skirts of Tal Afar, west of Mo­sul, to re­in­force state-sanc­tioned Shi­ite mili­tias, who have cap­tured the town’s air­port and are pre­par­ing to re­take the town, ac­cord­ing to two se­nior mili­tia of­fi­cials. They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to brief the me­dia. Prior to its cap­ture by IS, Shi­ites con­sti­tuted the ma­jor­ity of Tal Afar’s es­ti­mated 200,000 res­i­dents. Hu­man Rights Watch said in a re­port Sun­day that Sunni mili­ti­a­men fight­ing along­side the Iraqi mil­i­tary de­tained and beat 22 men from vil­lages near Mo­sul and re­cruited 10 chil­dren from dis­placed camps in the area to join the fight against IS. “The Iraqi au­thor­i­ties should in­ves­ti­gate any al­leged acts of tor­ture and cruel and inhuman treat­ment in cus­tody and charge those re­spon­si­ble for war crimes, in­clud­ing any­one with com­mand re­spon­si­bil­ity who should have known about the crimes and failed to take all rea­son­able mea­sures to pre­vent them,” said the New York-based ad­vo­cacy group. “The U.S. should press the Iraqi gov­ern­ment to en­sure that the troops they are sup­port­ing don’t have fight­ers un­der 18 in their ranks,” said Lama Fakih, HRW’s deputy Mid­dle East di­rec­tor. In Bagh­dad, four sep­a­rate bomb at­tacks tar­geted com­mer­cial ar­eas on Sun­day, killing at least 10 civil­ians and wound­ing 34, ac­cord­ing to po­lice and health of­fi­cials, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to brief the me­dia. Bagh­dad has for more than a decade been the scene of near daily bomb at­tacks blamed on IS and other Sunni mil­i­tants. There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for any of Sun­day’s at­tacks.

Trea­sury chief: Brexit un­cer­tainty could drag on econ­omy

Bri­tain’s Trea­sury chief says the econ­omy could face a slow­down be­cause of the un­cer­tainty caused by the U.K.’s de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union. Philip Ham­mond said Sun­day that “we’re go­ing to have an un­prece­dented level of un­cer­tainty, and that’s one of the fac­tors caus­ing many com­men­ta­tors to pre­dict that there will be a slow­ing of eco­nomic growth.” Ham­mond told ITV tele­vi­sion that “we just have to plan to ac­com­mo­date it.” Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s gov­ern­ment says it will trig­ger for­mal exit talks with the EU by March 31, but won’t give away its ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion be­fore­hand. That has led to eco­nomic jit­ters, as well as spec­u­la­tion and lob­by­ing by those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, as well as those who fa­vor a de­ci­sive break.

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