World View: Austria Votes to Close Border with Italy to Slow Refugees

A barbed wire fence is erected at a border crossing between Austria and Slovenia at Spielfeld, Austria in December 2015

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Female suicide bomber attacks Bursa in northwestern Turkey
  • Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees

Female suicide bomber attacks Bursa in northwestern Turkey

Suicide bomber blew herself up near Bursa's 14th century Ottoman Empire Grand Mosque
Suicide bomber blew herself up near Bursa’s 14th century Ottoman Empire Grand Mosque

A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Turkish city of Bursa on Wednesday, wounding 13 people. Reports indicate that the bomber was a 25-year-old woman.

Turkey has been suffering from a string of terrorist attacks on large cities, including Ankara and Istanbul. The attacks have been perpetrated both by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and also by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

As I reported yesterday, the PKK has promised to escalate its war against the government of Turkey. Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded that “Turkey will be saved soon from this terrorism problem completely,” presumably by military action against the PKK.

However, as yet, no one has claimed credit for Wednesday’s suicide attack on Bursa.

Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Today, it is a large commercial city, but still is built around the mosques, mausoleums and other sites from its Ottoman ancestry. The bombing took place near Bursa’s historic Grand Mosque, built between 1396-99. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and AFP and Bursa’s Grand Mosque

Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees

Austria’s Parliament on Wednesday voted a set of harsh regulations to stem the flow of migrants crossing the border from Italy.

According to the law:

  • Austria will build a 370 meter fence on its border with Italy at Brenner Pass, the principal route through the Alps mountain range where traffic passes between the two countries. Construction on some fences has already begun.
  • There is a fast-track admissibility procedure for asylum seekers. Border police will example asylum applications solely for the purposes of determining whether individuals can be returned to the neighboring country from which they came. Even refugees from Syria can be denied asylum. A decision to accept or reject the asylum request can be made within an hour. Only people who argue successfully that their lives would be in danger or that they face a real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment in a neighboring country, or who have a nuclear family member already in Austria, will be allowed to formally apply for asylum. People can be detained at the border for up to 14 days.
  • At any time, the government can declare a six-month “state of emergency” if the number of migrants suddenly rises enough to “endanger national security.” Border authorities will then only grant access to refugees facing safety threats in a neighboring transit country or whose relatives are already in Austria. Some groups including minors and pregnant women will however be exempt from the rule.

It is thought that the Parliament passed the law in response to an overwhelming victory by the far-right Freedom Party in the first round of Austria’s presidential elections on Sunday.

Human Rights Watch is denouncing the new laws as “a blow to the rights of asylum seekers.”

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi posted a statement saying:

The possibility of closing the Brenner Pass is blatantly against European rules, as well as against history, against logic and against the future.

There are large refugee camps in Greece on the border with Macedonia, and in Calais, France, near to entrance to the Euro tunnel to Britain. As migrants enter Italy after crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, we may eventually see a large camp of migrants on Italy’s border with Austria. The Local (Austria) and Guardian (London) and France 24 and The Local (Italy) and Breitbart News

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bursa, Turkey, Grand Mosque, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Ahmet Davutoglu, Austria, Brenner Pass, Italy, Matteo Renzi
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