Articles by Middle East Monitor

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UAE backs counter-revolutions: Qatar’s envoy to Turkey

Qatar’s ambassador to Turkey has accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of supporting “counter-revolutions in the Arab world for restoring dictatorships”. In a statement issued on Saturday evening, Ambassador Salem Al-Shafi said: “The UAE and a number of allies have paid around $40 billion to consolidate the military coup in Egypt alone,” in reference to the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, in 2013. “We say that these countries have not learnt the lesson well,” he added. Blaming Qatar, using bright terms such as counterterrorism and attacking the moderates with a view to winning the West will not help protect them from the people. Al-Shafi denied accusations against Qatar of backing Islamists and extremists in the Middle […]


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Egypt, Palestine, Jordan call for a restart of peace talks

Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian foreign ministers on Saturday called for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at a press conference in Cairo. The main cause of instability in the region is the unresolved Palestinian crisis and the failure to observe the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, Egypt’s Sameh Shukri, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Palestine’s Riyad Al Maliki agreed. Sameh Shukri said that the ministers discussed a solution for the establishment of a Palestinian state with the capital of East Jerusalem. Palestine’s Riyad Al Maliki said: Israel’s settlement units will destroy efforts to complete the peace process based on a two-state solution Maliki also stressed that they are ready to fight any violation against Al-Aqsa Mosque. Read: Israel to reward Palestinians […]


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Qatar: Cutting defence ties with Turkey illegal

Qatar’s Ambassador to Ankara, said Saturday, cutting that country’s defense ties with Turkey is an ‘obvious intervention of internal affairs’. “This is against all international law and norms” said Salem bin Mubarak Al-Shafi in a written statement about the demand from fellow Arab countries to close the Turkish base, adding: The closure of this base and demanding that our defense relations with Turkey be interrupted would be an obvious intervention of our internal affairs, infringement of our sovereignty rights, and the assumption of tutelage over us Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June, and imposed a sea and land blockade while accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. The four states presented a […]


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3 Lebanese soldiers killed in landmine along border with Syria

Three Lebanese soldiers were killed and one was critically wounded on Sunday when their armoured vehicle hit a landmine on the Lebanese-Syrian border, a security source said. The area where the soldiers were killed was near a border stronghold close to the mountains of Arsal, where Shia Hezbollah militia recently forced Sunni Syrian militants to leave in a joint cross-border operation with the Syrian army, the source added. The Lebanese army had launched an offensive on Saturday against a Daesh enclave on the northeastern border with Syria. The Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah also announced an assault on the militants from the Syrian side of the frontier. An army spokesman said on Saturday that a third of the area in the […]


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Qatar to build World Cup stadium shaped like Arabian cap

Qatar will build a stadium shaped like an Arabian skull cap for the 2022 World Cup, organisers said on Sunday, as the Gulf state moves ahead with preparations for the tournament despite a diplomatic rift with its neighbours. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed sanctions on fellow US ally Qatar in June and cut all transport links with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism – a charge Doha denies. To get around the boycott, Qatar has flown in food from Turkey and Iran and chartered ships via Oman to bring in construction materials needed for World Cup projects. Timeline: Arab rift with Qatar The tournament is the centrepiece of a strategy to project Qatar onto […]


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Syria’s Assad says war still not won but West’s plots foiled

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that while his country had foiled Western designs to topple him, his army had not won Syria’s war and the fight was continuing to crush a six-year old insurgency. In an televised address, Assad said that even though there were signs of victory after six-and-a-half years of civil war, the “battle continues, and where we go later and it becomes possible to talk about victory…that’s a different matter”. He did not elaborate on that point. However, he said the assistance extended by stalwart allies Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement had enabled the army to make battlefield gains and reduce the burden of war. He added: Their direct support – politically, economically and […]


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Iran parliament clears oil, foreign ministers for Rouhani’s new cabinet

The Iranian parliament voted on Sunday to keep the oil and foreign ministers, two of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani’s key members of cabinet, in their posts. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh has been credited with the boost in Iran’s crude output since many global sanctions were lifted last year and with a multi-billion-dollar deal with France’s Total to develop South Pars, the world’s largest gas field. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was Iran’s lead negotiator in the landmark 2015 agreement in which Western powers agreed to rescind sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its disputed nuclear programme. “The most important duty of our foreign minister is to stand by the nuclear agreement and not allow America to […]


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‘Fight until the last breath’: Iraq starts offensive to take back Tal Afar from Daesh

Iraqi security forces launched on Sunday an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar, their next objective in the US-backed campaign to defeat Daesh militants, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said. “You either surrender, or die,” Abadi said in a televised speech announcing the offensive, addressing the militants. A longtime stronghold of Daesh, Tal Afar, 50 miles (80 km) west of Mosul, was cut off from the rest of the Daesh-held territory in June. The city is surrounded by Iraqi government troops and Shia volunteers in the south, and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the north. About 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in the city, according to US and Iraqi military commanders. Read: 40,000 troops preparing to take Iraqi town from […]


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Syrian army pounds rebel areas near Damascus after Russian brokered truce

Syrian jets and artillery struck rebel-held eastern Damascus suburbs on Saturday a day after a Russian sponsored ceasefire with a rebel group agreed a halt of fighting in the last opposition enclave in the capital, rebels and witnesses said. The Russian defence ministry said on Friday it had reached a ceasefire that took effect at 21.00 hrs Moscow time (1800 GMT) with Failaq al Rahman, the main Free Syrian Army (FSA) group fending off a two-month widescale Syrian army offensive in Jobar district and nearby town of Ain Tarma. A spokesman for Failaq al Rahman said both Jobar, which lies some 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the Old City wall, and nearby Ain Tarma on the edge of Eastern […]


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Israel’s Netanyahu to discuss Middle East with Putin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss the Middle East with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet in the Russian resort of Sochi next week, his office said on Saturday. Israel is concerned Iran is trying to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria, accusing it of, among other things, building a missile factory in Syria. Netanyahu said in a speech last week that Israel was watching developments and would act against any threat. Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest backer and has provided militia fighters to help him. Russia, also Assad’s ally, is seen as holding the balance of power in achieving a deal on Syria’s future. Read: Israel’s new occupation zone in Syria Israeli […]