World

Javier Milei won’t stop insulting Pedro Sanchez’s wife

The Spanish ambassador in Buenos Aires was recalled to Madrid yesterday after Argentina’s president Javier Milei described the wife of Spain’s prime minister as ‘corrupt’. Today Spain’s foreign ministry summoned Argentina’s ambassador in Madrid to demand an apology.  Albares declared that unless Milei apologised, Spain’s government would ‘take any measures deemed necessary to defend our sovereignty’  Milei, who was speaking at a rally in Madrid, also mocked Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez for taking a five-day break last month in order to decide if he wanted to continue as prime minister. Even so, it seems something of an exaggeration for Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, to describe Milei’s words

The ICC’s desire to arrest Netanyahu is far from impartial

In a dramatic announcement, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, declared today that he has applied for arrest warrants to be issued for Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. He has applied for three more for the Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniya. On Hamas, Khan emphasised crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, taking hostages, rape and other sexual violence committed as part of a ‘widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Israel by Hamas and other armed groups’ as reasons for issuing the warrants. The chief prosecutor didn’t include alleged crimes perpetrated by Hamas again

Raisi’s successor is unlikely to end Iran’s western shadow war

Even before Tehran had formally announced the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, conspiracy theories as to whether foul play was to blame began coming in rapidly. Was Israel’s Mossad, the go-to organisation Iran likes to blame for almost any catastrophe that befalls the Islamic Republic, behind the helicopter crash? Was it the CIA, the same organisation which swept the Shah to power in a coup d’état in 1953? Or was it one of many internal enemies Raisi had managed to accumulate after his years in power? Raisi, after all, had no shortage of enemies both within and outside the regime. He was responsible for the mass executions of  an estimated

Ukraine

Lisa Haseldine

Zelensky feels the pressure as Russian offensive intensifies

Volodymyr Zelensky this morning cancelled all of his upcoming foreign trips. He was scheduled to travel to Madrid on Friday to meet King Felipe VI. The news was announced by the president’s press secretary, and comes as Ukrainian troops struggle to hold back a renewed offensive by Russia in the Kharkiv region. Recognising the urgency of the situation, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, who has been in Kyiv this week, said the US would provide another $2 billion (£1.6 billion) in funds on top of the $60 billion aid package signed off by Joe Biden earlier this month. The fighting in the Kharkiv region has been intensifying for

Gavin Mortimer

Draft dodgers are undermining Ukraine’s plea for help

Emmanuel Macron warned recently that Europe is in ‘mortal danger’. The French president said that Russia cannot be allowed to win its war with Ukraine. He reiterated the idea he first floated in February of sending soldiers to Ukraine, saying: ‘I’m not ruling anything out, because we are facing someone who is not ruling anything out.’ Macron’s comments come amid reports of an upsurge in draft dodgers in Ukraine. They are frightened because their government has launched a crackdown on men avoiding the draft. In November last year it was reported that as many as 650,000 Ukrainians of military age have left the country since the war began. ‘Some men paid

The US war aid might be too little, too late for Ukraine

At the last possible moment, after months of prevarication and with Russian troops on the brink of a major breakthrough in Ukraine, the US Congress last night voted to approve more than $61 billion (£50 billion) worth of military assistance for Kyiv. In a vote that a vocal minority of Republicans had desperately attempted to stop through procedural objections and threats to remove speaker Mike Johnson, 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans finally joined to support Ukraine. A majority of Republicans – 112 Congress members – voted against. The money comes at a critical moment in Ukraine’s war effort. With US aid stalled in Congress since last October and European allies

China

America

Europe

Georgia’s ‘foreign agent’ law protestors won’t go down quietly

Following the introduction this Tuesday of Georgia’s notorious ‘foreign agent’ law by the ruling party Georgian Dream, there has been widespread popular protest in the capital Tbilisi. The law, proposed last year but postponed in the face of public resistance, demands that any non-governmental organisation receiving more than 20 per cent of its funding from abroad must label itself an ‘agent of foreign influence’ or face fines and even imprisonment. While the government claims it’s simply a practical bid to create transparency in Georgian politics, critics, who call it the ‘Russian Law’, feel it’s a leap towards greater union with the Kremlin. They fear the legislation will simply be abused,

Brendan O’Neill

The troubling reaction to the shooting of Robert Fico

Just imagine if, following the killing of Jo Cox, some right-wing media outlet had said: ‘Well, she was a divisive figure, and very pro-Remain, so it’s not surprising something like this happened.’ We’d be horrified, right? We would have looked upon such low commentary as excuse-making for murder, as a borderline justification for an utterly unjust act of violence against an MP, a mother and democracy itself. It is hands down the most disturbing thing I’ve heard on a news channel Well, something not dissimilar to this imagined scenario happened for real yesterday – and we need to talk about it. It was on Sky News. They were discussing the

The assassination attempt on Robert Fico will change Slovakia for ever

Slovakia’s prime minister Robert Fico is fighting for his life in hospital after being shot several times. While it is impossible to fully flesh out the consequences of today’s assassination attempt, it is safe to say that the event is a dramatic game changer for Slovak, and potentially for Central European, politics. During a meet and greet with the public following a cabinet meeting in the small mining town of Handlová, a man reportedly shouted at Fico, ‘Rob, come here,’ before shooting at him three or four times aiming at his chest and abdomen. The prime minister fell on the ground before being taken by his protection officers to the car and

Brendan O’Neill

Salman Rushdie has exposed the great lie of a ‘Free Palestine’

This is what people must mean by the phrase ‘adults in the room’. After seven months of left-wing hotheads damning Israel as the source of every ill in the Middle East – if not the world – finally we have a cool, still voice venturing an alternative take. Perhaps, the voice says, Hamas is the problem. And perhaps those who call themselves progressive should think twice before making excuses for such a ‘fascist’ movement that would have them up against a wall quicker than you could say ‘Free Palestine’. Finally, wisdom cuts through the noise. When it comes to radical Islam, this man knows whereof he speaks It’s Salman Rushdie.

Why the death of Ebrahim Raisi both matters, and doesn’t

Not only does the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in a helicopter crash in the fog and mountains in northern Iran, necessitate an election within 50 days, it has also removed the likely front-runner to replace Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.  Anyone hoping for a revolution will probably be disappointed Raisi was an attractive candidate because, as much as Khamenei himself was thrust into the role in 1989 due to his supposed weakness, a lack of a power base and a generally malleable profile, Raisi presented similarly: a loyal yes man unlikely to rock the boat and inclined to do as told. In a power transition from Khamenei to post-Khamenei, watched

Jake Wallis Simons

Ebrahim Raisi’s successor could be worse

It is doubtful that Ebrahim Raisi, the ‘butcher of Tehran’, would have experienced a moral epiphany had he been shown in life the reaction that his demise would evoke from his own people. So it goes with fanatics, especially one who presided over the murder of thousands of political opponents by bundling them into forklift trucks and hanging them from cranes. Nevertheless, the jubilation affirms – as if it was needed – that the Iranian people have no truck with the Iranian regime. His death leaves an opening in the competition for power Let’s set aside the fact that the EU responded to the crash by offering its Copernicus rapid

Iran’s president and foreign minister killed in helicopter crash

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi and the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian have been killed in a helicopter crash in north-western Iran, according to the country’s state media. The news that Raisi – second only to the country’s supreme leader in the power structure – and Amir-Abdollahian – a critical and influential figure in the ruling circle – have died could not have come at a trickier and potentially more dangerous time. Iran is already facing huge challenges politically and economically, and the supreme leader, the font of all power and authority, is in poor health. It can ill afford to lose its president and foreign minister. This is a moment

Benny Gantz’s resignation threat has Netanyahu in a bind

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet is at risk of falling apart as the country’s defence establishment turns on him. Last night, Benny Gantz, leader of the National Unity party and a member of Netanyahu’s coalition, issued the Prime Minister with an ultimatum. In an extremely critical speech, Gantz blamed Netanyahu for letting personal interests interfere with decisions of national security and allowing a group of extremists to take the helm. Gantz’s ultimatum includes six demands: the return of the hostages held by Hamas; the destruction of Hamas and the demilitarisation of Gaza; replacing Hamas’s rule with an alternative government; allowing civilians from Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, who

Julie Burchill

How anti-Semitism breeds on university campuses

It’s often said that anti-Semitism is a shape-shifter, seen best in the way that the right-wing have painted the Jews as rootless revolutionaries and the left-wing have portrayed them as rapacious capitalists. It’s also grimly notable that – unlike prejudice against many other ethnic groups – it’s been equally appealing to the young and the old, the over-privileged and the under-privileged, the educated and the uneducated. But we’re now at the weird point where the young, over-privileged, educated are the drivers of anti-Semitism on the campuses of this country. Jew hatred in academia is nothing new Jew hatred in academia is nothing new. The first book burnings in Nazi Germany

Bibi’s plan for a post-war Gaza

Sharp differences within Israel’s governing coalition have emerged into the open in recent days. On the face of it, the dispute centres on preferred post-war arrangements in Gaza. But the rival stances also reflect underlying, contrasting views concerning the conduct and aims of Israel’s now eight-month long military campaign in the Gaza Strip.   The divisions have begun to receive attention in recent days because of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s public statement criticising the government for ‘indecision,’ regarding the ‘day after’ in Gaza. But the dispute is not new. Gallant has for months been advocating in cabinet for a plan his ministry has developed, concerning how Gaza will be governed after

Are we heading for a new Cold War in Antarctica?

Russia’s reported discovery of 510 billion barrels of oil in Antarctica has led to warnings of a new ‘Cold War’ of sorts. ‘Russia could rip up a decades-old treaty and claim oil-rich Antarctic land,’ Yahoo News told its readers. The Daily Telegraph said ‘Russia (has) sparked fears of an oil grab in British Antarctic territory’. Russia is a major polar player The reaction to the find – which was made in evidence submitted to the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee – suggested there was potential for conflict. Some of this alleged oil is thought to be in the Weddell Sea, a remote body of water that happens to be

Why Geert Wilders won’t be the next leader of the Netherlands

‘A new wind will blow through our country,’ said Geert Wilders, as he declared that his anti-Islam, anti-immigration Party for Freedom (PVV) would enter government for the first time in history. Late on Wednesday night, Wilders announced that the PVV will join with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the New Social Contract party (NSC) and the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) to form a highly unusual right-wing coalition. Although Wilders’s party gained the most votes in the 2023 election, he will not be the next Dutch prime minister. Still it is a remarkable change of circumstances for the Netherlands’ longest-standing MP, who stood on a manifesto calling for a ban on Islamic schools,

Gavin Mortimer

Why Beijing’s nickname for France’s president is ‘Macaron’

Five people have now been killed and scores wounded in the New Caledonia insurgency as Emmanuel Macron struggles to restore order on the Pacific island. There was a fourth night on disorder on Thursday, despite the state of emergency in place and the presence on troops on the streets. Military reinforcements from France are expected in the next few hours. Louis Le Franc, the French High Commissioner, told reporters he hopes their arrival will enable them to regain control of those areas in the hands of the rebels. So far the insurgents have caused more than €200 million (£172 million) worth of damage by burning and attacking the island’s infrastructure.

Lisa Haseldine

Putin can’t hide how dependent he is on Beijing

Vladimir Putin has arrived in China for a two-day state visit, the first since the start of his fifth term as president. The trip began in Beijing, where Putin met with Chinese premier Xi Jinping for the first of several talks. There remained a distinct sense that once again Putin has come to Beijing with begging bowl in hand  The meeting began with the effusive pleasantries that have become a standard part of any interaction between the two leaders. Putin called Xi a ‘dear friend’ once again and said he had chosen to make his first post-inauguration trip abroad to China to return a favour, after Xi travelled to Russia

Gavin Mortimer

France is spiralling out of control

The cold-blooded execution of two prison guards at a Normandy motorway toll on Tuesday has shocked France. It is for many commentators and politicians incontrovertible evidence of the ‘Mexicanisation’ of the Republic. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has told the escaped prisoner and his accomplices that they will be hunted down and punished, but it better be done quickly. With every passing hour that they remain at liberty it reinforces the image of a state that, in the words of Senator Bruno Retailleau, ‘has lost control’. Other politicians are talking of a ‘war’. Eric Zemmour told an interviewer the country was engaged in ‘a civil war’, while Francois-Xavier Bellamy of the

Gangs of Tehran: how Iran takes out its enemies abroad

‘It was Friday afternoon, around 2.45. I came out of the house and was going towards the car on the driver’s side,’ Pouria Zeraati says casually. Zeraati – a presenter at the London-based TV station, Iran International – is recounting what was probably an Iranian state-sponsored attack. ‘I was approached by a man who pretended to be someone asking for £3. The second man then approached. They held me strong, very firmly, and the first person stabbed me in my leg.’ The Iranian regime is reshaping the murder-for-hire market in the US and parts of Europe Zeraati is talking on his first day back at work since he was knifed

Max Jeffery

Ahmad Massoud: ‘I’m 100% sure I can topple the Taliban’

It’s fighting season in Afghanistan again. When the Americans were in charge, after the poppy fields had been harvested in late spring, and the madrassas in Pakistan that supplied the Taliban with fanatical soldiers had finished for the term, the Islamists kicked off the fighting. Between 2001 and 2021, around 200,000 people died, including 453 Britons. Now an insurgent group called the National Resistance Front (NRF) are starting the annual springtime assaults, this time against the Taliban government. ‘The Taliban do not possess the support of the mass of the people. We do’ ‘In the past 31 days, we have staged 31 attacks on Taliban, only in Kabul,’ Ahmad Massoud,

Freddy Gray

Veep show: who will Trump pick for his running mate?

We are in the fifth week of Donald Trump’s ‘hush money’ trial and the real scandal is that it’s all so intensely boring. Sex, porn-star witnesses, shady lawyers, a president in the dock – the headlines are a tabloid dream. The crux of the case, however, is a bunch of tedious charges to do with tax reporting and accountancy. Who wants to read about that?   Trump is ‘not looking for an heir because that would be Macbeth or King Lear, a bloodbath’ Trump adores the attention, naturally. As the greatest showman of the 21st century he understands that we, the people, need fresh drama and new characters. That’s why, while

Portrait of the Week: Natalie Elphicke defects, wages rise and Switzerland takes Eurovision

Home The parliamentary Labour party shook itself uneasily after Natalie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, crossed the floor of the Commons and joined it, because she found the Conservatives too left wing. Monty Panesar, the former England cricketer, left George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain a week after being announced as a parliamentary candidate. Some Liberal Democrat party members complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission about the deselection as a candidate for Sutton and Cheam of David Campanale, an Anglican. The Commons voted by 170 to 169 for MPs arrested for serious sexual or violent offences to be banned from attending parliament. The government bruited plans to stop

Gavin Mortimer

The Normandy prisoner escape shines a light on France’s criminal underworld

‘Sometimes when we turn on the television we get the impression that nothing’s going well in France,’ Emmanuel Macron said on Monday. ‘I don’t think it’s true.’ France’s president has developed a knack of being overtaken by events – and so it has proved once again. A huge manhunt is underway after two prison guards were shot dead near Rouen in Normandy. The security officers were gunned down as they transferred a prisoner, described by police sources as a notorious drugs smuggler nicknamed ‘The Fly’, whose real name is Mohamed A. Two vehicles blocked the prison van on the A154 motorway and, as the prisoner was sprung, two of the guards

Javier Milei is torn between the West and China

Javier Milei pledged to ‘make Argentina great again’ when he took to the stage in February at the CPAC meeting of right-wing thinkers in the United States. The Argentine president is a self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist who, like Donald Trump, rose to prominence promising to deliver shockwaves to his country. The first six months of Milei’s presidential term have been notable for the sudden domestic reforms he has enacted – cutting government ministries, devaluing the peso and slashing subsidies – but he has also found himself at the heart of tensions between the world’s two great powers, America and China. On this, he is acting uncharacteristically carefully. Ending economic cooperation with China