Turkish official urges Saudi Arabia to drop demands against Qatar

A senior Turkish official in an interview broadcast on Wednesday called on Saudi Arabia to drop 13 demands it and other Arab states had made of Qatar, saying they represent an infringement on its sovereignty. Speaking in an interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel ahead of a visit next week by President Tayyip Erdogan to the Gulf, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also issued a veiled warning to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying that conflicts breed conflict and the outcome may be unpredictable. Read More: Qatar to sue countries imposing blockade Turkey has sided with Qatar in the crisis which began last month when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Doha, accusing it of supporting […]

Merkel urges Iraq to probe alleged human rights abuses in Mosul

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to investigate alleged human rights abuses that occurred during military operations to regain control of the city of Mosul from Daesh militants. Merkel telephoned al-Abadi to congratulate him on the victory of US-backed Iraqi forces in Mosul, calling it a “big step forward in the fight against Islamic State (Daesh),” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. The German leader also encouraged Abadi to investigate claims of human rights abuses that emerged after the military operations, Seibert said. “Such human rights abuses must be prevented in the future,” Seibert said. Amnesty International last week said that tactics used by Iraqi forces and their US-led coalition allies in […]

Trump ends CIA arms support for anti-Assad Syria rebels

The Trump administration has decided to halt the CIA’s covert program to equip and train certain rebel groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, two US officials said, a move sought by Assad ally Russia. The US decision, said one of the officials, is part of an effort by the administration to improve relations with Russia, which along with Iranian-supported groups has largely succeeded in preserving Assad’s government in the six-year-civil war. The CIA program began in 2013 as part of efforts by the administration of then-President Barack Obama to overthrow Assad, but produced little success, said the officials, both of whom are familiar with the program and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Washington Post was […]

Addiction and intrigue: Inside the Saudi palace coup

On Tuesday 20 June Mohammed bin Nayef, a powerful figure in Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus for the past two decades and the next in line to the throne, was summoned to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the fourth floor of the royal palace in Mecca. There, according to a source close to MbN, as he is known, the king ordered him to step aside in favour of the king’s favourite son, Mohammed bin Salman. The reason: an addiction to painkilling drugs was clouding MbN’s judgment. “The king came to meet MbN and they were alone in the room. He told him: ‘I want you to step down, you didn’t listen to the advice to get treatment for your addiction […]

After Saudi skirt woman’s brief arrest, many lament double standard

After Saudi police briefly arrested a woman who appeared in an online video wearing an “indecent” skirt and crop top, many Saudis sprang to her defence on social media on Wednesday. Read More: Saudi police arrest woman for skirt video Many Twitter users referred to a visit last month by President Donald Trump whose wife, Melania, and daughter Ivanka were widely praised by Saudi commentators for their elegance despite eschewing veils and wearing stylish dresses. This Saudi woman was arrested for wearing a skirt in public. pic.twitter.com/NzIrI1noih — Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 19, 2017 The Saudi woman, identified as Model Khulood, appeared on a Snapchat clip strolling through an empty mudbrick village alleyway, wearing a short skirt and a top […]

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Commander: US should move bases away if it pursues sanctions

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday Washington should move its bases and avoid “miscalculations” over new sanctions against Tehran, Iranian agencies reported. The Trump administration imposed the new sanctions on Tuesday over Iran’s ballistic missile programme and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any positive contributions coming from the 2015 nuclear accord. Iran says its programme to develop ballistic missiles is defensive and does not violate the nuclear accord. “If the United States wants to pursue sanctions against Iran’s defences and the Guards, then it has to move its regional bases to a distance of about 1,000 km (620 miles) around Iran and be aware that it would pay a high price for any […]

Israel passes bill aimed at preventing division of Jerusalem

A bill aimed at preventing any future divisions of Jerusalem, by requiring a two-third majority in Israel’s parliament in order to do so, passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset today. The bill, titled “Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel”, passed with 58 Members of Knesset (MKs) voting in favour, 48 voting against, and one MK abstaining from the vote, according to a statement released by the government body. The bill aims to mend Israel’s Basic Law on Jerusalem to necessitate the approval of 80 of the 120 Knesset members to make any changes to the law, instead of the regular majority vote. According to the statement, the proposal explains that the bill has a “security purpose”. “Since the […]

Hamas-Israel prisoner swap talks ongoing

Israel is reportedly willing to release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners, mostly women, children and parliamentarians who have been detained without charge, in return for a video showing three Israeli citizens held by Hamas in Gaza are alive. Hamas has rejected the proposal, calling instead for the 55 Palestinians who were rearrested after the prisoner swap of Gilad Shalit to be released, and information on other prisoners held by occupying forces. Three Israeli soldiers were detained during operations in the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel also seeks the release of the bodies of two soldiers who were killed during the assault in 2014. Despite Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week denying that the government was in contact with Hamas, […]