TIME Aviation

Airline Executives Visit Alpine Crash Site Where 150 Died

In this March 26, 2015 file photo, rescue workers work at site of the Germanwings crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France.
Laurent Cipriani—AP Rescue workers at the site of the Germanwings crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, on March 26, 2015

The heads of Lufthansa are taking a look at the crash site

(SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France) — The heads of Lufthansa and its low-cost airline Germanwings are visiting the site of the crash that killed 150 people amid mounting questions about the co-pilot and how much his employers knew about his mental health.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann touched down Wednesday by helicopter in Seyne-les-Alpes, near the ravine where the A320 jet shattered into thousands of pieces March 24.

Investigators believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane, and are trying to determine why.

Lufthansa said Tuesday that it knew he had suffered from an episode of “severe depression” before he finished his flight training at the German airline, but that he has passed all his medical checks since.

German prosecutors say Lubitz’s medical records from before he received his pilot’s license referred to “suicidal tendencies,” but visits to doctors since then showed no record of any suicidal tendencies or aggression against others.

The revelations intensify questions about how much Lufthansa and its insurers will pay in damages for the passengers who died — and about how thoroughly the aviation industry and government regulators screen pilots for psychological problems.

At the crash site Wednesday, authorities said they have finished collecting human remains from the site.

Investigators “will continue looking for bodies, but at the crash site there are no longer any visible remains,” said Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini.

Lt. Luc Poussel said all that’s left are “belongings and pieces of metal.”

Officials at France’s national criminal laboratory near Paris say it will take a few months for the painstaking identification process to be complete and for the remains to be returned to the families.

TIME Palestine

Palestinians Want Leverage on Israel in International Court

Palestine became the 123rd member of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday

(RAMALLAH) — The Palestinians formally joined the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, as part of a broader effort to put international pressure on Israel and exact a higher price for its occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state.

Beyond seeking war crimes charges against Israel at the court, the Palestinians want the U.N. Security Council to set a deadline for an Israeli troop withdrawal and hope for new momentum of a Palestinian-led international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The atmosphere seems ripe for international intervention after recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu startled the world with a pledge to voters, since withdrawn, that he would not allow a Palestinian state to be established.

But a legal and diplomatic showdown isn’t inevitable as aides say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas isn’t interested in an all-out confrontation with Israel. War crimes charges against Israel could be years away and Washington likely will soften any Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood.

Here is a look at what’s expected:

THE COURT
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki was meeting with court officials Wednesday, but it’s largely ceremonial.

Attempting to lower expectations among Palestinians of speedy court action, Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio Wednesday: “I don’t want to disappoint our people, but the ICC procedures are slow and long and might face lots of obstacles and challenges and might take years.”

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda already launched a preliminary review to determine if there are grounds for an investigation of possible war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — lands captured by Israel in 1967 and recognized by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 as the “state of Palestine.”

A senior Palestinian official said the Palestinians will wait for the outcome of that review — which can take months or years — before considering further action. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Palestinian strategy.

Earlier this year, the Palestinians accepted the court’s jurisdiction dating back to June 2014, to ensure that last summer’s Gaza war between Israel and the militant group Hamas will be included in any review.

The Palestinians suffered heavy civilian casualties in the war, prompting allegations by some rights groups that Israel committed war crimes. Hamas, which rules Gaza, is also exposed to war crimes charges because it fired rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilian areas.

Israel’s settlement construction, deemed illegal by much of the world, is also bound to be examined by the prosecutor. Since 1967, Israel has moved more than 550,000 of its civilians to occupied lands.

Palestine’s court membership could help shift focus to settlements as a legal and not just a political issue, said Alex Whiting, a former official in the international prosecutor’s office.

Israel and Palestine also will have to show that they are looking into possible war crimes on their own — a shield against ICC involvement if deemed credible. Israel says it’s investigating alleged violations by its troops in Gaza. Hamas is not investigating its actions, claiming rocket attacks were self-defense.

Israel vehemently opposes Palestinians joining the court. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said unilateral Palestinian moves are “absolutely counterproductive” and will make it harder to resume negotiations.

THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL

France is working on a Security Council resolution that would set the parameters for a Palestinian statehood deal. The draft would define the pre-1967 frontier as a reference point for border talks, designate Jerusalem as a capital of two states and call for a fair solution for Palestinian refugees.

Last year, the council rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding an end to Israeli occupation within three years. The U.S. opposed that draft, saying Palestinian statehood can only be achieved through negotiations, but didn’t have to use its veto.

French diplomats now say they are working on a new draft with their allies, including the U.S., to ensure broad support. A resolution could be introduced later this month.

The U.S. said after Netanyahu’s comments on Palestinian statehood that it would re-evaluate its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — a possible sign that Washington would no longer shield Israel in the Security Council.

Israel opposes imposed parameters for negotiations, but Palestinians are also skeptical.

They want internationally backed ground rules, after Netanyahu rejected the pre-1967 lines as a starting point. However, they also fear they’ll get a resolution that lacks enforceable deadlines and instead introduces the definition of Israel as a Jewish state. Abbas opposes such wording as a threat to the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees.

BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS

Organizers said they expect Netanyahu’s re-election will galvanize support for the 10-year-old Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

BDS activists promote different objectives, with some focusing on a boycott of the settlements and others saying everything Israeli must be shunned until Israel withdraws from occupied lands.

The movement has scored recent successes, including some European businesses and pension funds cutting investments or trade with Israeli firms connected to West Bank settlements.

Nahshon, the Israeli official, dismissed BDS campaigners as a small group driven by anti-Semitism and “a wish to destroy” Israel.

THE WAY FORWARD

Instead of a dramatic Israeli-Palestinian showdown, continued paralysis appears more likely.

Netanyahu and Abbas have signaled that they don’t want strained relations to break down.

Israel initially punished Abbas for seeking court membership, freezing monthly transfers of more than $100 million it collects for the Palestinians. Israel resumed the transfers after three months amid warnings that a continued freeze could bring down Abbas’ government.

Abbas has indicated he won’t end security coordination between his forces and Israeli troops in the West Bank that is aimed at shared foe Hamas.

Abbas also told senior PLO officials in March he remains committed to negotiations and would go along with the idea of an international peace conference, proposed by France, “despite low expectations.”

Laub reported from Amman, Jordan. Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem, Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Mike Corder at The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.

TIME portfolio

See the Places of Power at the Center of Canada’s Controversial Anti-Terror Law

Ottawa's core is occupied by the federal government, coloring its inhabitants' everyday experiences

Following last year’s attacks at Ottawa’s National War Memorial, Canada’s conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced a sweeping anti-terrorism act that would extend the powers of the country’s surveillance and policing bodies.

Civil liberties organizations, from Amnesty International to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, have opposed the draft legislation, calling for it to be withdrawn.

For local photographer Tony Fouhse, these events are just the latest to tarnish the idyllic image Ottawa’s tourism board has worked hard to showcase. Already between 2007 and 2010, Fouhse portrayed the capital’s narcotic addicts, forcing people to recognize that less fortunate ones shared their “hospitable” streets.

“Because I like doing things that stand in contrast to one another, I wondered who the opposite of drug users were,” he tells TIME. “They are the disempowered, so it made sense to look at the powerful. Ottawa being the country’s seat of government, I wondered how it manifested itself throughout the city,” explains the 61 year-old who has been working on the series Official Ottawa since 2013.

He drew up a list of places and people he felt embodied power: the Department of National Defense, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters, the residence of the Prime Minister, parliament, civil servants, official mascots. He walked through the city with his 4×5 camera to reveal the idiosyncrasies that exists when memory, heritage and authority congregate, like a non-descript sign pointing towards “war” – shorthand for the Canadian War Museum – or pastoral flower blossoms in front of the secret services’ offices. He tried different avenues to get in the Conservative Party building – to no avail, no one would grant him permission – until he realized, that his standing outside looking up at this monolith structure would be a far better portrait than a picture taken from the inside.

“The core of the city is occupied by the federal government and its associates,” he says. “It colors our everyday experiences in ways that we’re barely aware of. Most of the time, we’ll only consider our environment if it’s magnificent. Ottawa doesn’t have that. It’s not Rome or Paris. It’s not grandiose. It’s grey sensibleness,” remarks Fouhse who has been living in the city for the past three decades.

At a time when most media outlets are looking for the sentimental and the sensational, Fouhse’s images are oddly quiet; dull moments frozen in time, unremarkable frigid monuments exalted on film. Yet, a sinister tension prevails. Now, in the aftermath of the October shootings and ahead of a vote that may see Canada beef up its national security apparatus, his photos strike as foreboding.

“If you pay attention to the peripheral, you might notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise,” he says. “What you’re doing in that case, is trying to go behind, beyond the public image to see what lurks in the shadows.”

Fouhse wants to compel others to do the same; to, in his own words, “take a step back and to the left.” He intends to share his offbeat view of Canada’s capital through a free newspaper-like publication, for which he is raising funds via Kickstarter. He hopes that people waiting for their turn at the dentist or going about their daily commute might stumble upon it, pick it up and be nudged to look at their surroundings a little differently.

Official Ottawa is too quiet to be an act of civil disobedience,” he says. “In fact, I’m not even sure that art can have that power nowadays. It’s more of a social service announcement, an antidote to the tax-funded Harper-distributed propaganda.”

Tony Fouhse is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Ottawa, Canada.

Laurence Butet-Roch is a freelance writer, photo editor and photographer based in Toronto, Canada. She is a member of the Boreal Collective.

TIME Aging

The World’s Oldest Person Has Died in Japan

The World's Oldest Person Celebrated Ahead Of Turning 117
Buddhika Weerasinghe—Getty Images Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman, poses for a photo on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 4, 2015, in Osaka, Japan

Misao Okawa was 117 years old

The world’s oldest person, who celebrated her 117th birthday less than a month ago, died early Wednesday in Osaka, Japan.

Staff at Misao Okawa’s nursing home said she died of heart failure, the Associated Press reported. She reportedly lost her appetite 10 days ago, and breathed her last with her grandson and carers beside her.

“She went so peacefully, as if she had just fallen asleep,” said Tomohiro Okada, an official at the home. “We miss her a lot.”

Born on March 5, 1898, Okawa was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 as the world’s oldest person. Okawa, who had two daughters and a son with her late husband, is survived by four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

[AP]

TIME Military

U.S. Resumes Weapons Flow to Egypt

An Egyptian Air Force F-16 fighter jet flies low over thousands of anti-government protesters gathered at Tahrir square in Cairo
Yannis Behrakis / Reuters A U.S.-built Egyptian F-16 flies low over thousands of anti-government protesters in Tahrir square in Cairo in January 2011.

But the White House announcement wasn't only about weapons

President Obama on Tuesday lifted his nearly two-year ban on shipping American weapons to Egypt, a restriction imposed after its military kicked out its elected government in 2013.

Obama relayed news of the move in a telephone call to Egyptian President (and former Army general) Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. It will allow for the shipment of 12 F-16 aircraft, 20 Harpoon missiles and up to 125 M-1 Abrams tank upgrades. The White House added that the Administration will continue to ask Congress to approve $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.

CRSU.S. aid to Egypt is overwhelmingly for new weapons, designated “FMF” (“Foreign Military Financing”).

The resumption of arms shipments to Egypt is in keeping with the growth of U.S. arms sales abroad. Major American weapons exports grew by 23% between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on March 16. “The USA has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool,” Aude Fleurant, of SIPRI, said when the group released its annual arms-sales accounting. “But in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the U.S. arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing U.S. military expenditure.”

The White House announcement wasn’t only about weapons. “President Obama also reiterated U.S. concerns about Egypt’s continued imprisonment of non-violent activists and mass trials,” it said in a statement. And, as the Administration drafts proposed legislation to resume military aid to Egypt, it “will not make the so-called ‘democracy certification’ in that legislation,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

In other words, Egypt remains little more than a military junta now wearing civilian clothes, and the White House won’t pretend otherwise.

All this is what diplomats call a return to the status quo ante—the way things were before. Obama is eager to defeat the militants of Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, defeat Islamic fundamentalist uprisings in Libya and Yemen and tamp down Iran’s ambitions—nuclear and otherwise. If he, and the U.S. government, have to cozy up to coup-plotters to achieve that goal, that’s realpolitik.

Cairo has recently suggested it may send ground troops into Yemen to bolster air strikes being carried out there by Saudi Arabia against the Iranian-backed Houthis rebels. Obama is now willing to resume the arms flow to Egypt in hopes of improving relations between the two nations as they join with other countries in a bid to restore stability to the war-racked region.

After nearly 40 years of such aid, the record is not reassuring. “Since the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, the United States has provided Egypt with large amounts of military assistance,” the Congressional Research Service reported earlier this month. “U.S. policy makers have routinely justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and on sustaining the treaty—principles that are supposed to be mutually reinforcing.”

TIME Iraq

Iraqi Forces Take Control of Tikrit From ISIS

Shiite fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units celebrate after seizing the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit from the Islamic State (IS) group on March 31, 2015.
AFP/Getty Images Shiite fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units celebrate after seizing the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit from the Islamic State (IS) group on March 31, 2015.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the "liberation of Tikrit" and congratulated Iraqi security forces on their "historic milestone"

Iraqi forces battled Islamic State militants holed up in downtown Tikrit, going house to house Tuesday in search of snipers and booby traps, and the prime minister said security forces had reached the heart of the city.

In a statement on Twitter, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the “liberation of Tikrit” and congratulated Iraqi security forces on their “historic milestone.” But an official statement from his office said the troops “hoisted the Iraqi flag” over the Salahuddin provincial headquarters in Tikrit and are moving to control the entire city.

Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, the commander of the Salahuddin operation, said his forces fighting from the west were still 300 meters (325 yards) from the center of Tikrit.

Extremists from the Islamic State group seized Saddam Hussein’s hometown last summer during its lightning advance across northern and western Iraq. The battle for Tikrit is seen as a key step toward eventually driving the militants out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city that is farther north.

Street-by-street fighting raged into the afternoon, and estimates differed widely on how much of this strategic city on the banks of the Tigris River that Iraqi forces held. Army Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati said at least 75 percent of Tikrit had been recaptured. Ammar Hikmat, deputy governor of Salahuddin province, said more than 40 percent was under Iraqi control.

“Our security forces are now pushing forward toward the presidential complex and have already entered parts of it,” Hikmat said. “I think the whole city will be retaken within the coming 24 hours.”

An Associated Press reporter embedded with Iraqi security forces saw soldiers surround the iconic presidential palace, and they also surrounded the provincial government headquarters. Soldiers worked to detonate bombs remotely, while federal police went house to house looking to arrest militants or identify booby traps that may slow the offensive.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim said at least 40 militants were killed Tuesday, and Iraqi forces dismantled 300 roadside bombs. He said the federal police, backed by allied militias, were able to clear the government compound, the Tikrit provincial council headquarters, its security headquarters and the presidential palace.

The leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, a collaborative force made up mostly of Shiite militias, also said his fighters had rejoined the Tikrit operation, less than a week after announcing a boycott over U.S. involvement.

Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis told the AP that his fighters participated in the southern offensive and would be joining the offensive on the northern and western fronts shortly.

Iranian military advisers have been providing significant support since the offensive began March 2, arming and training the Iraqi Shiite militias, which have played a prominent role on the battlefield. Militiamen make up more than two-thirds of the force fighting in Tikrit against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

But the operation stalled until U.S. forces joined the offensive by launching airstrikes March 25. Since then, Iraqi allied forces have moved in on the city, although they have been slowed by snipers and hidden bombs. The Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said coalition forces conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq since Monday morning, including one in Tikrit which hit multiple IS buildings.

The Iraqi military has struggled to recover from its collapse against the Islamic State group in June, when commanders disappeared in the face of the extremists’ advance. Pleas for more ammunition went unanswered, and in some cases, soldiers stripped off their uniforms and ran.

Recapturing Tikrit would be the biggest win so far for Baghdad’s Shiite-led government. The city is about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad and lies on the road connecting the capital to Mosul. Retaking it will help Iraqi forces have a major supply link for any future operation against Mosul.

U.S. military officials have said a coordinated mission to retake Mosul likely will begin in April or May and involve up to 25,000 Iraqi troops. But the Americans have cautioned that if the Iraqis are not ready, the offensive could be delayed.

“The focus remains to drive ISIL out of Iraq,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force.

“We have struck at ISIL’s command and control, supply lines, fighters and leaders, and military and economic infrastructure and resources,” he added. “We have debilitated ISIL’s oil producing, processing and transportation infrastructure. … It will take time, but we will succeed in our mission.”

 

TIME Aviation

3 Charts Showing How Airlines Put a Price on Crash Victims’ Lives

The Germanwings victims' families could seek additional compensation

 

While investigators probe why Germanwings Flight 9525’s co-pilot apparently deliberately crashed an airliner in the French Alps last week, the most difficult question falls in the hands of the airline and victims’ families: How much money is each of the lives lost worth?

Germanwings’ parent airline, Lufthansa, will soon offer each family a sum of money to compensate for the deaths of the plane’s 150 passengers and crew in hopes the case will be settled. But since prosecutors believe the airline failed to adequately assess co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s mental state — which early investigations suggest may partly explain his motives — some families may be more inclined to seek greater compensation in court.

Among the factors that will affect any settlement amount will be the country where cases are litigated. Settlements are partly determined by the victims’ wages, age and life expectancy, all of which differ from country to country. Since Germanwings’ passengers were nationals of over 15 countries — mostly Germans and Spaniards, with three Americans, Argentines, Brits and Kazakhs — their settlements could vary because of those metrics. See the chart above for a look at how aviation disaster settlements can vary by victims’ nationality.

The highest average settlements are in the U.S. (estimated $4.5 million), several times greater than European averages, according to estimates by James Healy-Pratt, head of the aviation department at Stewarts Law in London. Meanwhile, average settlements in China (estimated $500,000), for example, indicate how settlements in Asia tend to be lower than those in Western nations.

“The uneven values on the loss of lives of different nationalities in an air disaster has always been a problem to explain to families,” says Healy-Pratt. “Especially so given the shared and similar experience of the last minutes of Germanwings.”

Though Germanwings may never disclose the value of its compensation offer, the Germanwings victims’ families are guaranteed around $170,000 each under an international agreement called the Montreal Convention. Signed in 1999, the Montreal Convention requires an airline to pay that amount as a minimum liability regardless of fault if it is based in one of the 100-some countries that have ratified the treaty, Germany among them. (The Convention does not govern minimum compensation for crew members.) Though the treaty states an airline is not liable for any amount over the minimum if it can prove it was not negligent, the burden of proving zero fault is “next to impossible to meet,” meaning settlements can be unlimited, according to a report by the Danko Law Firm in California.

But some countries — such as Russia and Indonesia — have ratified only the older Warsaw Convention, which the Montreal Convention was intended to replace. Signed in 1929, the Warsaw Convention has two fundamental differences from the newer document: It sets a far lower minimum liability ($8,300), and it states an airline is not liable for any amount over the minimum if it can prove it took all possible steps to avoid the accident. That’s much easier to do. As a result, the Warsaw Convention’s outdated rules have concerned families so much that when Indonesia-based carrier AirAsia saw Flight 8501 crash last December, the airline’s CEO promised he would not “hide behind any convention,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

In the map below, the countries under the Montreal Convention appear in green, and the countries still under the Warsaw Convention appear in red:

 

Meanwhile, some countries have ratified neither treaty and instead rely on national regulations. In Taiwan, for example — the home base of TransAsia, which had two crashes in the last year — there is a minimum liability of about $100,000, according to the Taipei Times.

Still, what most airlines have in common, regardless of international treaties, is a policy of immediate compensation. But similar to settlements, these initial payments, too, can vary by country: Germanwings, for example, announced last week it would pay $54,000 to victims’ families to cover immediate expenses, while TransAsia paid about $38,000 after the caught-on-video crash of Flight 235 in February. “Some unification in this process is needed,” a U.S. Senate report wrote in 2003.

Compared with other carriers in high-profile disasters, Germanwings has been relatively generous with its initial payment, though these advance payments are often a way for airlines to rehabilitate their public images. While the Germanwings investigation deepens, here’s a look at the compensation process for other high-profile air disasters:

Read more: Germanwings Co-Pilot Informed Flight School of Depressive Episode

TIME Iran

Iran Nuclear Talks Miss Self-Imposed Deadline

Secretary Kerry sits with German, Chinese, European Union, French, British, and Russian colleagues ahead of the negotiations with Iranian officials to discuss the terms of the new agreement on Iran's Nuclear Program in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 31, 2015.
Demotix/Corbis Secretary of State John Kerry sits with German, Chinese, European Union, French, British, and Russian colleagues ahead of the negotiations with Iranian officials to discuss the terms of the new agreement on Iran's Nuclear Program in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 31, 2015.

The State Department said there were still "several difficult issues" to negotiate

Nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers will miss the negotiators’ self-imposed Tuesday night deadline to produce the outline of an agreement and will be extended by at least a day, the United States said.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said enough progress had been made to warrant an extension, although there still were “several difficult issues” to bridge. Secretary of State John Kerry who had planned to leave the talks on Tuesday will remain until Wednesday, she said.

Diplomats said China’s foreign minister had left the talks to return to Beijing and would be represented by his deputy. U.S. officials said they were prepared to continue to negotiate into Wednesday if it could lead to a framework accord.

An Iranian negotiator, meanwhile, said his team could stay “as long as necessary” to clear the remaining hurdles.

In Washington, White House press secretary Josh Earnest suggested that talks meant to produce an outline that would allow the sides to continue negotiations until the June 30 final deadline had not bridged all gaps. But he said that the sides were working to produce a text with few specifics, accompanied by documents outlining areas where further talks were needed.

“If it’s necessary — and, when I say if it’s necessary I mean if it’s midnight and a deal has not been reached but the conversations continue to be productive — we’ll be prepared to continue the talks into tomorrow,” he told reporters. “If we are making progress toward the finish line, than we should keep going.”

Officials said earlier Tuesday they hoped to wrap up the talks by the deadline with a joint general statement agreeing to start a new phase of negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program. That statement would be accompanied by more detailed documents that would include technical information on understandings of steps required on all sides to resolve outstanding concerns.

Those documents would allow the sides to claim that the new phase of talks is not simply a continuation of negotiations that have already been twice extended since an interim agreement between Iran and the so-called P5+1 nations — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — was concluded in November 2013.

President Barack Obama and other leaders have said they are not interested in a third extension.

After six-days of intense negotiations in the Swiss town of Lausanne, though, obstacles remained on uranium enrichment, where stockpiles of enriched uranium should be stored, limits on Iran’s nuclear research and development and the timing and scope of sanctions among other issues, according to negotiators.

If the parties agree only to a broad framework that leaves key details unresolved, Obama can expect stiff opposition from members of Congress who want to move forward with newIran sanctions legislation. Lawmakers had agreed to hold off on such a measure through March while the parties negotiated.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu renewed his severe criticism of the unfolding deal, saying it would leave intact much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, including underground research facilities, a plutonium reactor and advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium.

The U.S. says any final deal will stretch the time Iran would need to make a nuclear weapon from several months to a year. But Netanyahu said Washington initially promised “years” to a breakout time.

“In our estimate, it will be reduced to perhaps a year, most likely much less than that,” he said.

The softening of the language from a framework “agreement” to a framework “understanding” appeared due in part to opposition to a two-stage agreement from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Earlier this year, he demanded only one deal that nails down specifics and does not permit the other side to “make things difficult” by giving it wiggle room on interpretations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who had left Lausanne on Monday, returned to the talks on Tuesday, saying that he believed prospects for an agreement were “good.”

Kerry and others, including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have said the sides have made some progress. Other officials have said Iran is considering demands for further cuts to its uranium enrichment program but pushing back on how long it must limit technology it could use to make atomic arms.

Officials in Lausanne said the sides were advancing on limits to aspects of Iran’s program to enrich uranium, which can be used to make the core of a nuclear warhead.

Uranium enrichment has been the chief concern for more than a decade. But Western officials say the main obstacles to a deal are no longer enrichment-related.

Tehran says it wants to enrich only for energy, science, industry and medicine. But many countries fear Iran could use the technology to make weapons-grade uranium.

 

TIME Egpyt

Obama to Release Military Aid for Egypt

U.S. officials say the aid is necessary for national security

President Barack Obama is releasing military aid to Egypt that was suspended after the 2013 coup in that country.

The White House says Obama is lifting the hold on sending F-16 fighter jets, tanks and other material to Egypt. The U.S. has been weighing whether to lift the hold to help combat the extremist threat spilling over from Libya and in the Sinai Peninsula.

But the White House says it is not issuing a certification that Egypt has made progress toward democracy. Instead, the U.S. is maintaining that the aid is in the interest of U.S. national security.

The U.S. had to do one or the other to unblock the aid. The funds were suspended 21 months ago when the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

 

TIME Nigeria

Muhammadu Buhari Wins Nigeria’s Presidency in Stunning Upset

Nigerian Presidential Elections
Anadolu Agency—Getty Images Mohammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party All Progressives Congress, speaks to the press as he arrives for registration at Gidan Niyam Sakin Yara polling station in Daura district of Katsina, Nigeria, on March 28, 2015

Winning may be just the easy part in a country plagued by insurgency, corruption and economic malaise

In a radical reversal of fortune, presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari has proved that the fourth run is the charm when it comes to being elected President of Nigeria. In an election plagued by technical mishaps, Buhari has sealed victory over incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by little more than 2 million votes in the tightest race the country has seen since the end of military rule in 1999.

Jonathan called Buhari to concede victory on Tuesday evening and if the transition goes smoothly — not a given considering Nigeria’s dark legacy of postelection violence — the onetime military dictator, 72, will be making history as the first opposition candidate to unseat an incumbent since the country gained independence from Britain in 1960.

These hard-won successes will be nothing compared with what is in store for the President-elect, however, from the falling price of oil, economic stagnation, entrenched corruption, a radical Islamist insurgency in the north and the possible resurrection of a southern rebellion. But his biggest challenge yet may be one familiar to any presidential challenger who unexpectedly finds himself a victor in a brutal campaign for change: managing expectations.

“Nigeria is in a situation where we have to get it right, right away,” says banker Henry Farotade by phone from Lagos. “We can’t afford to waste time. We are hoping Buhari will do like Obama when he came in after Bush, and turn things around.”

The spokesman for Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party, Lai Mohammad, says that the President-to-be is more than ready for the charge. Speaking by phone from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, as the final vote tallies rolled in, Mohammad could barely contain his joy. With precision he listed the next steps, from an acceptance speech to how Buhari would deal with ethnic and religious rifts brought on by the grueling campaign. “We are ready. We are going to take Nigeria in a new direction, and we are going to start by healing old wounds. This is no time for a honeymoon, this is a time for nation building.”

Buhari’s success at the polls on Tuesday comes 30 years after he was knocked from his post as military head of state in a 1985 coup. A born-again democrat who has pursued the presidency in every election since 2003, Buhari campaigned on a platform of zero tolerance for corruption and a commitment to wiping out the Boko Haram insurgent group that has killed and kidnapped thousands in the past year.

But for all the international attention Boko Haram has garnered, the threat of a renewed insurgency in the oil-rich south may prove far more devastating for Nigeria’s economic stability, and a far greater challenge for a Muslim from the north who represents everything that the southern insurgents fought against throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, as they sought a greater share of the country’s oil wealth. A temporary truce agreement is up for renewal later this year, and it is not certain that the southern insurrectionists will be willing to work with Buhari.

“There has been a lot of muttering in the south that they will not tolerate a Buhari victory, that they would suspend oil supplies and would kick out northern-owned businesses,” says Ryan Cummings, chief Africa analyst for the Johannesburg-based Red24 risk consultancy. “So the core issue facing Buhari is that he could have an insurgency in the northeast, and in the south as well.” For Elizabeth Donnelly, assistant head of the Africa program at the London-based policy institute Chatham House, the first step for Buhari will have to be “a real charm offensive” in the south, to ensure that southerners know he will be protecting their interests as much as those of his traditional northern constituents.

Nigeria can expect in Buhari a radically different leader from Jonathan, says Donnelly. Given his military background, Buhari is likely to maintain the regional alliance against Boko Haram and keep up a strong military campaign. But he may have troubles on economic issues, where he has little demonstrable experience. “What it really comes down to is whether or not Buhari can devolve economic decisionmaking to the right people.”

For Farotade, the banker in Lagos, what matters most is that Nigerians have proved that they can actually kick a sitting President out of power. “It’s an ecstatic feeling. It means we are gradually coming of age as a real democracy. This is the accountability we have been waiting for.” Though he has high hopes for Buhari, he is confident that if Buhari fails, there will be repercussions. “If Buhari doesn’t deliver, all we have to do is wait till 2019, and we will vote him out.”

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