Middle-east

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Iranian investments in Egyptian media likely to anger Saudi Arabia

The Egyptian authorities will allow Iranian investments in local media projects, it has been reported. The move is likely to put a further strain on relations between Cairo and Riyadh. The government is initiating moves for Iranian investments in a bid “to pressure Saudi Arabia and improve relations with Tehran,” according to The New Arab. Iranian funding will apparently be driven into anti-Saudi media projects and led by well-known media figures. Though the investments will not be used to generate hostility towards Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries that is likely to strain relations even more, they will be used to influence public opinion in accordance with government regulations. An Egyptian official met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif […]


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Russia, Turkey, Iran discuss dividing Syria into zones of influence

Russia, Turkey and Iran have been discussing a draft plan that would see Syria being divided into informal zones of regional influence, Reuters reported sources as saying. According to the deal, the Syrian regime led by President Bashar Al-Assad would remain in his post until the next presidential election in 2021 when he will be replaced with a less polarising candidate from his own Alawite minority. The sources said that “such a deal, which would allow regional autonomy within a federal structure controlled by Al-Assad’s Alawite sect, is in its infancy, subject to change and would need the buy-in of Al-Assad and the rebels and, eventually, the Gulf states and the United States”. Under the deal, Al-Assad’s power and control […]


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Algeria introduces tax increases with 2017 Finance Law

Algeria has officially adopted the budget set by the 2017 Finance Law that will see taxes raised in a bid to make up for the fall in revenues in the oil sector, officials confirmed yesterday. The budget, which was signed into law by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, will be based on the oil price of $50 per barrel; oil is Algeria’s main source of income. Taxes are set to rise on goods such as alcohol and tobacco, as well as petrol-based products and property. The budget cuts and increases will hope to create an income of $51 billion with a spending allowance of $63 billion. They will also allow $14 billion to be spent on welfare, including subsidies on basic products […]


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Egypt is opening the Rafah Crossing, but does this signal the easing of the siege?

The Egyptian authorities have recently opened the Rafah Crossing several times within a very short period. Rafah is the main gateway to the world for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, so is Egypt attempting to ease the ten-year-old Israeli-led and internationally backed siege? After a few years of opening the crossing for just a day or so every three or four months, over the past month Egypt has opened it on about 20 days. Moreover, it has invited Gaza residents, including academics, traders, tribal leaders and journalists to meet their Egyptian counterparts and discuss issues related to easing the blockade. This week, several Palestinian and Egyptian sources confirmed that the Rafah Crossing has been open for commercial commodities, mainly […]


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BREAKING: Russia announces nationwide Syria ceasefire deal

A ceasefire deal in Syria will come into effect at midnight local time tonight, the Russian foreign ministry has announced. Turkey and Russia will oversee the implementation of the ceasefire deal, with the Turkish foreign ministry also confirming that Ankara and Moscow would act as the “guarantors” of the ceasefire. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Lavrov said seven opposition groups had signed the ceasefire deal, with these groups holding command over more than 60,000 opposition fighters. According to the terms of the deal, all those groups that have not signed the ceasefire deal, he said, will be deemed as “terrorist groups”. The Syrian regime’s state news agency Sana confirmed that the Syrian government’s military leadership had agreed to a total ceasefire […]


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Only 46 per cent of pledges to rebuild Gaza received

The Palestinian Authority (PA) received only 46 per cent of the money that had been pledged to rebuild the Gaza Strip after the Israeli war on the coastal enclave in 2014, official documents revealed yesterday. In the wake of the Israeli war, Cairo hosted a conference for donor countries who pledged $5.082 billion for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including $3.507 billion to rebuild Gaza. “Rebuilding Gaza is going very slowly,” the document, which was prepared by a PA committee together with the World Bank, showed. According to the report, the reason of the slowness is Israel’s delay in approving the quantities and kinds of construction materials necessary for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, in addition to […]


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Sudan national dialogue body adjourns meeting until Monday

The Supreme Mechanism to follow up on national dialogue in Sudan has postponed its meetings scheduled to be held yesterday. It will now take place next Monday, at which time its future programme will be on the agenda. Senior political sources in the opposition People’s Congress Party told Quds Press that some differences still exist on issues related to public freedoms which should be amended in the constitution before the committee resumes its meetings. According to the anonymous sources, the issues under discussion include freedoms, the security services and negotiations, as well as the judiciary and the Constitutional Court. “There are positive signs to extending the parliament for another three weeks,” they said, “which means that there is a will […]


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Brotherhood leader complains of abuse inside Egyptian prison

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie has complained of harassment inside prison, raising objections to his mistreatment because he “has never offended or abused anyone along his life,” Anadolu reported yesterday. The complaint came during Badie’s hearing along with 682 other Brotherhood leaders and members. During his dialogue with the court, Badie said: “I do not care about chanting against me, but insulting my mother and father or spitting at me inside the prison, this is not acceptable.” He asked the court to stop the prisoners abusing him. Omar Swedan, one of the judges, asked Badie whether he could identify any of the offenders, but he replied: “It was harassment from a group.” The judge then ignored his request but Badie, 72, […]


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Palestinian National Council summit ‘must’ follow internal discussions, insists Islamic Jihad

A number of Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad, said on Wednesday that the summit of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) must be preceded by internal discussions, Quds Press has reported. The purpose of the discussions, said Islamic Jihad, is to reform the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The group noted that this would have “national results that concern all Palestinians.” In a media statement, it said that the call for having a meeting of the PNC without conducting internal discussions to agree on the mechanisms that match the national vision to get out of the current political crisis, is a “retention of the same policies which caused the political crisis” in the first place. The group noted that there was an […]


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Iraq announces “Phase 2” of Mosul Op against Daesh

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) began the second phase of their offensive against Daesh militants in Mosul today, pushing into some eastern districts where the battle has been in deadlock for nearly a month. Thousands of federal police who redeployed from Mosul’s southern outskirts two weeks ago also pushed into a handful of southeastern districts, state television reported. “This is the second phase of the operation to liberate Mosul conducted by the special forces, the federal police and us on this front,” General Najm Al-Jibouri, a senior army commander, told Reuters in a village just north of Mosul. Since the offensive to capture Mosul began nine weeks ago, counterterrorism forces have captured only a handful of districts, whilst maintaining a […]