Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Uzbek leader in intensive care after brain hemorrhage: daughter <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Uzbekistan&#39;s president Islam Karimov, who has built his authoritarian rule on warnings of a militant Islamist threat to the Central Asian region, suffered a brain hemorrhage on Saturday and is in stable condition in intensive care, his daughter said.<br /><br />The absence of a strong political opposition or free media means any eventual transition of power is likely to be decided within a close circle of Karimov&#39;s family and top officials.<br /><br />&quot;At the moment, it is too early to make any forecasts about his condition in the future,&quot; his daughter Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva wrote on her Instagram page on Monday. &quot;I will be grateful to everyone who will support my father with prayers.<br /><br />Karimov, 78, presents himself as a bulwark of stability in a country situated on the northern borders of Afghanistan, controlling vast reserves of gold, oil, gas and cotton, and criss-crossed, like the broader region, by ethnic fault lines.<br /><br />Interethnic tension and cultural differences &mdash; exacerbated by the often arbitrary drawing of boundaries in Soviet times &mdash; are rife in the mainly Muslim region where Western powers, Russia and China compete for influence.<br /><br />The government of Central Asia&#39;s most populous country, ruled by Karimov since it gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, said on Sunday he was undergoing hospital treatment, but gave no details.<br /><br /><strong>Succession</strong><br /><br />According to the constitution, Nigmatilla Yuldoshev, the chairman of the upper house of parliament, is supposed to take over if Karimov dies or is unfit to continue working as president, and elections must take place within three months.<br /><br />In reality, a successor might be picked much more quickly by the elite, as was the case in Turkmenistan, another Central Asian nation, whose authoritarian leader Saparmurat Niyazov died in 2006. In keeping with the Soviet tradition, his successor, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, headed the funeral commission.<br /><br />&ldquo;Karimov and his inner circle have managed to build such a system of state power in Uzbekistan which will remain functioning irrespective of the life or death of the first person,&rdquo; Russian political analyst Alexander Knyazev said.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is hard to say right now, which of the few scenarios is the most realistic one, but one thing is certain: there is no talk about his daughters, of course, and this won&rsquo;t be one person. This will be an attempt of collective rule.&rdquo;<br /><br />Karimov has no sons, who might have been regarded as heirs apparent in the patriarchal culture. His elder daughter, Gulnara, has not appeared in public since several media reported in 2014 that she had been placed under house arrest.<br /><br />Karimov&#39;s second daughter, Lola, is Uzbekistan&#39;s ambassador to Paris-based UNESCO.<br /><br />One potential contender is Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Prime Minister since 2003. Rustam Azimov, who leads the government&#39;s financial block, is another option, as well as Rustam Inoyatov, who runs the powerful SNB security service.<br /><br />The backing of security forces may ultimately decide who takes over from Karimov, although open confrontation could destabilize the nation and encourage other groups, such as Islamists, to interfere.<br /><br /><strong>Islamist threat</strong><br /><br />The latter have been trying to get a foothold in the Muslim nation of 32 million since the 1990s, when they established the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The group has fought alongside the Taliban and then pledged allegiance to Islamic State which is estimated to have hundreds of Uzbek fighters.<br /><br />As recently as in 2014, the IMU claimed responsibility for a raid on the Karachi airport in Pakistan in which dozens of people were killed.<br /><br />Karimov has been criticized by rights groups and some governments over his human rights record, but argues the country is at risk of becoming a conduit for Islamist militants from Afghanistan to Russia and western Europe.<br /><br />The Uzbek government has accused Islamists of being behind protests in the city of Andizhan where police and security forces fired into a crowd in 2005, killing 187 people, according to official reports.<br /><br />Despite the fallout from Andizhan, Karimov has with some success courted both the West and Russia as well as China, maintaining political and economic links with all.<br /><br />Karimov has been slow to implement market reforms and Uzbekistan&#39;s economy is still dominated by the state. The country has struggled to keep up, in terms of average incomes, with its neighbors such as oil exporter Kazakhstan and at least 2 million Uzbeks are estimated to be working abroad, mostly in Russia, to provide for their families.</p> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:00:00 +0000 Reuters 2472209 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/08/29/504802/uzbek.jpg Options sought as Merkel's radio silence complicates path to soft Brexit landing <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Triggering the procedure for Britain to exit the European Union is like turning off the engines on an airplane, a top European diplomat says: best only do it if you can see a landing strip. Otherwise, all parties risk a messy outcome.<br /><br />When Britain makes its exit move &mdash; by invoking Article 50 of the EU&#39;s Lisbon Treaty &mdash; it will set the clock running on a two-year deadline to leave the EU. Keen to avoid a crash landing, officials on both sides are scoping out how to proceed.<br /><br />Options include the &#39;neverland&#39; possibility of simply not invoking Article 50, trying back channel talks to sharpen Britain&#39;s sense of what scenarios are possible, and hopping from an interim outcome to a more permanent post-Brexit landing site.<br /><br />The first option is a non-starter for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe&#39;s most powerful leader and the first one Theresa May met after becoming British prime minister last month.<br /><br />&quot;The EU can&#39;t accept that,&quot; said a source close to Merkel, who has no desire to see Britain leave but has a pragmatic focus on holding the rest of bloc together, and does not believe Britain will hold a second referendum on its EU membership.<br /><br />Even if the British economy&#39;s resilience in the immediate aftermath of the country&#39;s June 23 vote to leave the EU eases the economic pressure on Britain to press ahead with Brexit, May herself has said &quot;Brexit means Brexit&quot;.<br /><br />She has, however, said Britain will not trigger the exit procedure this year.<br /><br />For the British government, the dilemma of when and how to make a Brexit landing is complicated by a refusal on the part of EU leaders, led by Merkel, to discuss potential outcomes until Britain invokes the exit procedure.<br /><br />&quot;We won&#39;t talk beforehand,&quot; said the source close to Merkel, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another German government official stressed the strict ban in Berlin on any pre-negotiating: &quot;We won&#39;t talk about substance.&quot;<br /><br />In the absence of formal pre-negotiations, the British government must work through the second option: peering through gaps in the clouds of European officialdom to try to work out what its post-Brexit &#39;landing&#39; options are.<br /><br />Such back channeling could help the British work out what is realistic in order to avoid EU negotiators balking at their position, and the clock running down on the two-year deadline.<br /><br />&quot;You can only nail it down if you are in the realm of the possible,&quot; said one European official.<br /><br /><strong>&#39;Special status&#39;</strong><br /><br />A likely trade-off between EU market access (which Britain would prefer) and the free movement of people (which is does not want) will probably leave a few achievable &#39;landing points&#39;, leaving British officials to try to identify these in informal meetings with cagey counterparts.<br /><br />Here, they may yet find a way forward. There have been indications from at least one government that there may be room for discussions, rather than negotiations, in advance of Britain triggering Article 50.<br /><br />German officials have also signaled they are ready to make some concessions to strike a deal with Britain. European Affairs Minister Michael Roth has held out the possibility of London achieving &quot;special status&quot; in its ties with the EU after Brexit.<br /><br />But European leaders do not want Britain to hold the bloc hostage by horse trading on the terms of an exit before it commits to leave. So even if British officials sharpen their sense of the kind of deal they can strike, they still face a tight timeframe to clinch a post-Brexit settlement with the EU.<br /><br />Behind the scenes, there has been a growing realization in Europe&#39;s capitals that the two-year window for negotiating Brexit is far too short.<br /><br />This raises the third option being mooted by some European officials: an interim framework for Britain&#39;s ties with the EU, based on an existing model similar to that of Norway or Switzerland.<br /><br />&quot;That might be a temporary solution,&quot; said one.<br /><br />Further talks could then result in another landing spot beyond the two-year negotiating window offered by Article 50.<br /><br />A spokeswoman for May said the prime minister and her government were going for a &quot;British deal&quot;, to get the best for the country.<br /><br />The trickiest area is the crunch trade-off between market access and the free movement of people, which is sacrosanct to EU leaders. &quot;The price on free movement for prosperity is high,&quot; the European official said.<br /><br />One option to reduce the flow of people to Britain is for it to firm up rules around benefits such that only people from other EU countries with a firm job offer can move to the UK.<br /><br />Merkel has cut May some breathing space to work out her negotiating position, resisting calls from Paris and Brussels &mdash; in the days immediately after the Brexit vote &mdash; for Britain to leave the EU &quot;as soon as possible&quot;.<br /><br />&quot;There was a lot of testosterone flying around in the days after the referendum. That&#39;s when Merkel is at her best,&quot; said one British official. &quot;She pulled it all back and said &#39;it&#39;s okay to take your time&#39;.&quot;<br /><br />But there is a limit to Merkel&#39;s patience. The source close to her said: &quot;It&#39;s in everyone&#39;s interests to have clarity.</p> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 08:49:00 +0000 Reuters 2472183 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/08/29/504802/merkel.jpg China wants a successful G20 but suspects West may derail agenda <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>China is hoping to cement its standing as a global power when it hosts leaders from the world&#39;s biggest economies this weekend, but suspects the West and its allies will try to deny Beijing what it sees as its rightful place on the international stage.<br /><br />Ensuring that this does not happen will be one of President Xi Jinping&#39;s priorities, and a key mark of how successful China will judge the G20 summit to be.<br /><br />Beijing wants to use the Sept 4-5 meeting in the tourist hub of Hangzhou to lay out a broad strategy for global growth, but talks are likely to be overshadowed by arguments over everything from territorial disputes to protectionism, diplomats said.<br /><br />&quot;From where China sits, it looks like the Americans are trying to encircle them,&quot; said a senior Western envoy, describing conversations with Chinese officials ahead of G20 as being dominated by the South China Sea row and an advanced U.S. anti-missile system to be deployed in South Korea.<br /><br />In recent months, China has been incensed by a ruling against its claims in the South China Sea by an international court, a case initiated by Manila but blamed by Beijing on Washington.<br /><br />While China wants to make sure its highest profile event of the year goes off successfully, Xi will be under pressure at home to ensure he is strong in the face of challenges to his authority on issues like the South China Sea, going by reports in state media.<br /><br />China has already made clear it does not want such matters overshadowing the meeting, which will be attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and other world leaders.<br /><br />State media has given great play to the idea that G20 is for China to show leadership in shaping global governance rules and forging ahead with sustainable global growth, with the official People&#39;s Daily saying this could be one of the G20&#39;s most fruitful ever get-togethers.<br /><br />&quot;Let&#39;s make cooperation ever higher,&quot; it wrote in a commentary last week.<br /><br />But the state-run Study Times wrote in mid-August that Western countries were trying to deliberately exclude a rising China and deny it a proper voice on the world stage with schemes like the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.<br /><br />&quot;Trying to get back their right to global governance, they are forging a new &#39;sacred alliance&#39;, striving to establish new rules,&quot; the influential paper, published twice a week by the Central Party School, wrote in a G20 commentary.<br /><br />&quot;These new rules will exclude China.&quot;<br /><br /><strong>Angered by Britain, Australia</strong><br /><br />Overseas, China has been angered by questions raised by Britain and Australia over strategic Chinese investments in their countries, saying it smacks of protectionism and paranoia.<br /><br />Australia has blocked the A$10 billion ($7.7 billion) sale of the country&#39;s biggest energy grid to Chinese bidders, while Britain has delayed a $24 billion Chinese-invested nuclear project.<br /><br />But Western officials have their own concerns about access for their companies in China and are increasingly not afraid to talk about it.<br /><br />Joerg Wuttke, the President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said there has been a change in tone as European officials having been expressing more dissatisfaction with China&#39;s overcapacity problems and a lack of reciprocal market access for European companies. &quot;It has reached the point where people are not afraid to speak up any more. They feel like they have to be tougher in front of their own constituencies,&quot; Wuttke told Reuters.<br /><br />A European official involved in trade issues with China expressed exasperation at China&#39;s attitude on protectionism.<br /><br />&quot;The Chinese would shut you down at once if you said you wanted to buy one of their grids. You wouldn&#39;t get to the end of the sentence,&quot; the official added.<br /><br />None of this will make for plain sailing at G20.<br /><br />&quot;China is angry with almost everyone at the moment,&quot; said a second Beijing-based Western diplomat familiar with the summit.<br /><br />To be sure, China does want G20 to go smoothly, said a third Western diplomat.<br /><br />&quot;It&#39;s very important from the stance of national pride,&quot; said the diplomat, pointing out it was not uncommon for G20s to be hijacked by issues other than economics.<br /><br />&quot;It&#39;s a minefield for China.&quot;<br /><br /><strong>Japan worries</strong><br /><br />Then there is Japan, a country with which China has been embroiled in disputes for much of the last decade over their wartime past and a spat over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.<br /><br />Last week, China&#39;s top diplomat called on Japan to be &quot;constructive&quot; at G20, with the deeper fear in Beijing that Japan is angling to become involved in the South China Sea dispute as well, at the behest of its ally the United States.<br /><br />Wang Youming, the head of the developing countries program at the Foreign Ministry-backed China Institute of International Studies, wrote in the widely-read Chinese tabloid the Global Times that the closer G20 got, the more Japan was trying to cause trouble.<br /><br />&quot;Japan is getting entangled in the South and East China Sea issues, cozying up to the Philippines, and urging China to respect the result of the so-called &#39;arbitration&#39; case,&quot; Wang wrote.<br /><br />&quot;Japan is up to its old tricks, and it&#39;s hard not to think they are trying to mess things up.&quot;</p> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 08:04:00 +0000 Reuters 2472175 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/08/29/504802/hangzhou.jpg Italy grieves as state funeral is held for quake victims <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span id="article-text"><span class="article-prime">Weeping relatives hugged each other and reached out to touch the simple wooden coffins at a state funeral on Saturday for some of the 291 people killed in an earthquake this week.</span></span></p><p><span id="article-text">Amongst the 35 coffins laid out in a sports hall were small caskets holding the bodies of an 18-month-old baby and a nine-year-old girl, two of the 21 children who are known to have died when the quake hit central Italy early on Wednesday.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;Don&#39;t be afraid to bewail your suffering, we have seen so much suffering. But I ask you not to lose your courage,&quot; Bishop Giovanni D&#39;Ercole said in a homily in the hall, which was packed with grieving families and top politicians.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;Only together can we rebuild our houses and churches. Above all, together we can give life back to our communities,&quot; he said, speaking in front of a dusty crucifix salvaged from one of the dozens of churches devastated by the quake.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Even as the funeral Mass was being held, rescuers kept searching through the rubble of the worst-hit town, Amatrice, but acknowledged they had little hope of finding more survivors from Italy&#39;s worst earthquake in seven years.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Nine more bodies were recovered from the town on Saturday, including three pulled overnight from the crumpled Hotel Roma, bringing the death toll in Amatrice alone to 230 residents and tourists.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Authorities said 387 people were still in hospital, with one patient dying of his injuries during the day. </span></p><p><span id="article-text">One of the last people to be plucked alive from the debris was a girl called Giorgia, who turned four on Saturday. Her sister Giulia&#39;s small coffin lay in the center of the sports hall for the funeral Mass.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;Hello little one,&quot; said a handwritten note left on her coffin by one of the rescue team that retrieved her body. </span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;I am sorry that we arrived late. You had already stopped breathing, but I want you to know up there that we did all we could to get you out of there.&quot; </span></p><p><strong><span id="article-text"><span class="article-subtitle">Investigation </span></span></strong></p><p><span id="article-text">Relatives of the dead sat on chairs next to the coffins or knelt on the floor, their arms resting on the caskets, which were covered in flowers. One man, his legs covered in cuts, sat in a wheelchair, his head bowed. Some of the mourners clutched framed photos of their loved ones.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">As the names of the dead were read out, hundreds of people outside the sweltering sports hall broke into prolonged applause in a sign of solidarity with the families.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi lingered after the service had ended to talk to the ranks of mourners.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;We will decide all together how to get going again. But don&#39;t give up, that is crucial,&quot; Renzi told one youth.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Authorities have released the names of 181 victims. The youngest was five months old, the oldest 93. Six Romanians, three Britons, a Spanish woman, a Canadian and an Albanian died in the calamity. </span></p><p><span id="article-text">Most of the buildings in the quake zone had no anti-seismic protection, but even some of those that did, including a school in Amatrice that was renovated in 2012, fell apart.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Magistrates have opened an investigation into some of the incidents, including the collapse of a belltower in the town of Accumoli, which smashed through the roof of an adjacent building killing a family of four.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;What happened cannot just be considered fate,&quot; said prosecutor Giuseppe Saieva, who is leading the probe. &quot;If these buildings had been constructed like they are in Japan then they would not have collapsed,&quot; he told la Repubblica newspaper.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Renzi has promised to rebuild the shattered communities and the mayor of Amatrice urged the government to learn the lessons of painfully slow post-quake reconstructions of the past.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;What we need is a reconstruction in record time. It is a great opportunity for politicians to show extraordinary commitment,&quot; mayor Sergio Pirozzi told president Mattarella.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Survivors in some of the worst-hit areas feared that their little hamlets, sparsely populated outside the holiday months, would become ghost towns unless the flattened Amatrice was swiftly rebuilt.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">&quot;That&#39;s where the grocery stores, shops and restaurants were, and these little villages depended on it,&quot; said Eduardo Nibi, 31, whose family has roots in the badly-damaged hamlet of San Lorenzo e Flaviano.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Aftershocks continued to rattle the area overnight, the strongest measuring 4.2. The Italian geological institute said more than 1,350 aftershocks had hit Italy&#39;s central mountains since Wednesday&#39;s pre-dawn 6.2-magnitude quake.</span></p><p><span id="article-text">Italy sits on two faultlines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. Almost 30 people died in earthquakes in northern Italy in 2012 and more than 300 in the city of L&#39;Aquila in 2009.</span></p> Sun, 28 Aug 2016 08:14:00 +0000 Reuters 2472164 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/08/28/505021/mass_italian_funeral.jpg