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By Lucy Williamson



image captionFrance has so far refused to consider any change to existing fishing arrangements

In a cramped cabin, with the green waters of the Channel bobbing and tipping outside, Laurent Merlin listens to messages from Dutch and Belgian fishermen crackling over the radio.

Sharing their positions helps avoid any clashes – a technique that works better at sea than at summits.

With less than three months to go until Britain leaves the EU single market, fishing has become a key sticking point in negotiating a trade deal to replace it. Especially when it comes to access for EU fishermen in UK waters.

European leaders are due to meet on Thursday to try to find a way forward.

image captionMost of the crabs and lobsters caught by this French boat come from UK waters

Laurent Merlin is based in Boulogne-sur-Mer, a city at the heart of France’s fishing industry.

His grandfather used to fish in the waters off Scotland, while his father fished in the Channel.

‘We might decide to flex our muscles’

Today, three-quarters of Laurent’s own crabs and lobsters come from British fishing grounds. He’s worried that the ebb and flow of post-Brexit trade negotiations could sink boats like his if they’re denied access.

“If we can’t enter British waters, it’s practically the end of our profession,” he said.

A quarter of France’s national catch comes from Britain’s fish-rich waters. In northern ports like Boulogne-sur-Mer, fishermen are dependent on them.

“If there’s no deal, we’re going to ask that the French get the French waters,” Mr Merlin explained. “That the Belgians go back to Belgium, and the Dutch as well. Because if all those boats get kicked out and come here [to French fishing grounds], it’ll be unbearable.”

The UK is said to have suggested changing the way its fish stocks are allocated, and tapering off EU catches there over three years.

‘Fishermen are for no deal’

France has so far refused any change to the current arrangements, saying it won’t abandon its fishermen. “No deal is better than a bad deal,” the government says.

Annaïg Le Meur is a Brittany MP from President Emmanuel Macron’s party. “I think the fishermen are for no deal,” she told me. “They are afraid, and when people are afraid they choose either yes or no, not the solutions in between.”

But talk to fishermen in Boulogne, and many say they would accept a compromise on their British quotas, rather than lose access completely.

Stéphane Pinto, the deputy head of the regional fishing committee in Boulogne, told me: “It would be a lot more acceptable to have 80% of the catch in British waters than nothing at all.”

What about 60% of the catch?

“Errrr…. that’s not viable,” he said. “But with some sort of financial compensation? Maybe.”

image captionThree-quarters of Britain’s catch is sold to the EU

The EU’s chief negotiator has pleaded with leaders for some wriggle room on fishing that would allow the two sides to find a compromise.

Why Macron appears hard line

France has said it will not consider fishing separately from the rest of the deal. A source at the Elysée Palace said the country would not negotiate over fishing rights “like carpet merchants” without assessing the overall package.

Some fishermen fear they will be sacrificed for British agreement on other key issues, like state aid.

“We do want to trust the UK,” Clément Beaune, France’s Europe minister said. “[But] what we have seen in the last weeks regarding the withdrawal agreement is extremely worrying. There will be no agreement on future relations if we don’t have full confidence on respect of the withdrawal agreement.”

Despite the French government’s tough line, many here believe a deal on fishing is possible. So why does President Emmanuel Macron seem more hard line than the fishermen themselves?

Journalist John Lichfield has covered the EU fishing industry, from France and Brussels, for more than 30 years. He says there are high political stakes for Mr Macron in the northern part of France.

“The north of France around Boulogne is hugely important for the presidential election in 2022,” he says. “The regional president..

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US slaps sanctions on Iran’s envoy to Iraq, citing links to Quds Force & militia groups





Washington has added the Iranian ambassador to Iraq to its sanctions blacklist, claiming he works for an elite military unit it has deemed a terrorist cell, as well as three groups it accused of “sowing discord” in the 2020 race.

Sanctions were announced for Ambassador Iraj Masjedi on Thursday, with the US Treasury Department deeming him a “long-running threat to Iraqi security” and citing his alleged role in training militia groups in Iraq with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – designated a terrorist organization by the US last year.

“In his decades of service with the group, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq,” the department said in a statement, adding that the envoy “has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit” of the IRGC and its external wing, the Quds Force.

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Masjedi was appointed ambassador in 2017, after serving in the IRGC for some 35 years. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, he later worked as a close adviser to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US assassination strike in January. Following Soleimani’s death, Masjedi took on some of his former duties in overseeing Iraq’s Shia militia groups – known as the Popular Mobilization Forces – who have played a salient role in beating back the Islamic State.

Though President Donald Trump has unleashed a barrage of sanctions on the Islamic Republic since taking office, including on Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, penalties for diplomats are somewhat rare, more often targeting military officials.

In Thursday’s sanctions announcement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also accused Tehran of a “destabilizing foreign agenda,” including attempts to “influence US elections,” beating the drum on an increasingly common talking point from the Trump administration.

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Iran issues diplomatic protest over ‘absurd’ accusation of US election meddling

In the same spirit, on Thursday Washington also imposed penalties on five Iranian entities it said had tried to “influence elections in the United States,” though produced no evidence to support the charge. One day prior, US intelligence officials also claimed Iran was behind a “spoof email” campaign designed to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” adding to a flurry of similar assertions of foreign influence operations by not only Iran, but Russia and China as well.

Tehran has rejected the allegations, lodging a formal complaint on Thursday with the Swiss ambassador in Iran – who has acted as a mediator for US-Iranian diplomacy – to protest charges it called “baseless.” A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, Alireza Miryousefi, has also dismissed the claims as “absurd” and “dangerous,” scorching Washington for “desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections.”

Assertions of foreign election-meddling have come to dominate the US political scene since the 2016 presidential race, originating with an elaborate conspiracy theory that then-candidate Trump worked with Moscow to tip the scales in his favor through a combination of hacking and social media trolls. Though the Trump-Russia narrative has been largely discredited after a sweeping special counsel probe failed to substantia

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11 arrested at anti-Covid lockdown protest in Dublin, police violently clash with demonstrators (VIDEOS)





More than 100 demonstrators protesting ramped-up Covid-19 lockdown restrictions clashed with police in Dublin, with 11 being arrested and an investigation launched into the organizers of the event.

Nine of the people arrested have been charged with public order offenses, as the protest breaks lockdown restrictions, which only allow citizens to leave their homes for essential trips.

Law enforcement attempted to block a crowd at Grafton Street and ordered the demonstrators to disperse as they were “in breach to public health regulations.”

A small group managed to break through a wall of officers deployed to the area and video shows batons being used to stop the protesters and force them to the ground where they were handcuffed.

Protesters were pushed and told to leave the street as they cursed at officers wrestling with demonstrators who refused to disperse. 

Vans were also parked on the street to help block the marching crowd and prevent a sit-down protest. 

The clashe

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Tanzania’s Tundu Lissu: Surviving an assassination attempt to run for president





By BBC News Swahili

Dar es Salaam


image copyrightGetty Images

To his supporters, Tundu Lissu is brave and fearless. The fact that he is running for president of Tanzania three years after surviving an attempt on his life is testimony to his determination.

He was shot several times by gunmen, who have yet to be identified, near his home in the capital, Dodoma, and underwent more than 20 operations in Kenya and Belgium in order to recover.

Flying back into the country in July, after treatment abroad, he was greeted at the airport by his backers as a returning hero.

At a time when some in Tanzania feel that their freedom to speak out is being curtailed, Mr Lissu’s frank style has been very appealing and in August he comfortably beat off two challengers to secure the presidential nomination for the opposition Chadema party.

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The 52-year-old lawyer first became an MP for Chadema in 2010 for a constituency near his birth place in Singida, 320km (200 miles) north-west of Dodoma.

He quickly established himself as an outspoken voice and a fierce critic of the government and later President John Magufuli after he was elected in 2015.

Arrested for sedition

In March 2017, he was detained for “uttering words intended to wound religious feelings, raise discontent and ill-will for unlawful purposes”.

Then in July of that year he was arrested on charges of sedition after claiming that a government-owned plane had been seized in Canada over an unpaid debt of $38m (£29m).

His boldness has endeared him to neutrals as well as supporters of some other opposition parties.

But he will also need to restore faith in his own party. In the wake of Chadema’s 2015 defeat, many of its MPs and leaders, including losing presidential candidate Edward Lowassa, joined the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

Mr Lissu needs to convince Chadema’s members that he is a different type of politician and will not be using the election as a bargaining chip with the CCM leadership.

On the campaign trail, he has been true to his reputation of being outspoken. Though one of the main criticisms levelled against all opposition politicians has been that they focus on attacking Mr Magufuli and his government rather than selling their policies.

At the end of September, Mr Lissu was summoned to the electoral commission’s ethics committee after reportedly saying that President Magufuli was colluding with election officials to rig the vote. The opposition candidate was accused of fomenting chaos.

Then a week later he was suspended from campaigning for seven days after the electoral commission said that he had uttered seditious statements during one of his rallies.

Tundu Lissu

Getty Images

The regime is getting scared and therefore they are pulling out all the stops… in their capacity to fight my campaign”

Chadema has also said its party offices in the north of the country were attacked.

“The regime is getting scared and therefore they are pulling out all the stops, using all instruments of power in their capacity to fight my campaign,” Mr Lissu told the Reuters news agency.

His stance has certainly caught the attention of the young urban population, and he has told BBC News Swahili that if he were to win, in his first 100 days he would:

  • Raise salaries in the public sector
  • Free those he considered political prisoners
  • Compensate those who have been “hurt” by the government
  • And re-start the constitution review process.

But it is not clear whether he will be able to make any serious inroads into the rural strongholds of CCM, which has been in power since its formation in 1977.

CCM was a successor to the Tanganyika African National Union, which governed Tanzania from 1961 to 1977.

There are 13 other candidates challenging the incumbent, with former Foreign Minister Bernard Membe one of the most high-profile of the others.

Expelled from the ruling party

The 66-year-old is contesting the presidential election for the ACT Wazalendo party, but his candidacy has been hampered by the fact that his party leader, Zitto Kabwe, and chairman, Seif Sharif Hamad, have endorsed Mr Lissu.

image copyrightEPA

image captionBernard Membe is a former foreign minister and an experienced politician

They believe that he has a b

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