Middle East and North Africa Headlines

  • Record 68.5 million people fleeing war or persecution worldwide

    As data shows one in every 110 people is displaced, UN special envoy Angelina Jolie warns of ‘terrible human consequences’ of Syria’s aid shortfall The number of people forced to flee their homes rose to a record high in 2017, with 16.2 million people newly displaced around the world. The figure includes people who have been displaced for the first time, and those who have been forced from their homes multiple times. The figure of 68.5 million displaced people – 3 million higher than the total...

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  • Antisemitism is well-defined already

    The IHRA definition has government backing and is fast becoming the standard non-legal guide as to what constitutes antisemitism, writes Dave Rich The academics and others who suggest a new definition of antisemitism (Letters, 16 June) ignore the existence of a perfectly good definition of antisemitism, adopted by the 31-member-state International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in May 2016. This definition has since been adopted or endorsed by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, over...

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  • Israel indicts former cabinet minister on Iran spying charges

    Gonen Segev allegedly met Iranian ‘operators’ in hotels and apartments around world Israel has arrested and indicted a former government minister on charges of spying for Iran, the country’s internal security services have said. Gonen Segev, who worked as energy and infrastructure minister in the 1990s, “was recruited and acted as an agent on behalf of Iranian intelligence”, police and the Israel Security Agency, better known as the Shin Bet, said in a statement on Monday. Continue reading...

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  • Yemen crisis: Saudi coalition demands Houthis' unconditional withdrawal

    UN’s hopes of negotiating ceasefire and handover of vital port of Hodeidah appear dashed The UN’s hopes of negotiating a ceasefire with Houthi rebels in the vital port of Hodeidah in Yemen appear to have been dashed after the Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government said it would only accept the rebels’ unconditional withdrawal from the area. The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has been in the country seeking a deal whereby the port, currently under Houthi control, is...

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  • Scientists scramble to stop bananas being killed off

    British firm races to produce bananas resistant to fungus sweeping global plantations A British company has joined the race to develop a banana variety resistant to diseases and climatic changes that threaten to disrupt the availability of the country’s favourite fruit – or even kill it off altogether. The UK alone consumes more than 5bn bananas a year, while the fruit is a staple food in many poor countries and accounts for an export industry worth $13bn (£9.8bn) a year. Continue reading...

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  • The Guardian view on Yemen: our complicity lies bare

    Even if the UK warned against attacking the vital port of Hodeidah, we bear responsibility for the horrors of this war The fig leaves covered little to start with, and withered long ago. Now the excuses for our role in Yemen’s misery have fallen away entirely. The assault on Hodeidah by the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition can only deepen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis; 70% of the country’s imports pass through the port. Britain and France urged Saudi Arabia not to launch the attack, but...

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  • EU inaction over Mediterranean migrants is criminal

    Frederic Penard of SOS Mediterranee urges EU member states to adopt immediately an adequate and common response plan to the ongoing crisis in the Med The extraordinary support we have received from European civil society since we were first refused a port of safety for the 630 people who were stranded on the Aquarius shows that citizens are wiser than their leaders (Report, 13 June). By showing their attachment to human life and dignity first, they contrast with the European heads of state and...

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  • UN in advanced talks to take over besieged Yemen port

    Saudi-led forces have threatened military force to take Hodeidah port from rebels Talks are at an advanced stage for the United Nations to take over the administration of the vital port of Hodeidah under siege from a Saudi-led coalition, the UN humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande said on Sunday. The Red Sea port is the main distribution point for commercial and humanitarian supplies into Yemen. Continue reading...

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  • Opec: Saudis keen to pump more oil but cartel's other members not sold

    At the meeting Vienna, Opec members will debate whether to lift the 18-month-old production cap to stabilize prices As the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) prepares to meet on June 22, its members are looking at a very different world than just a few years ago. The massive oil supply glut – and rock bottom prices – is gone. The global economy is stronger, fossil-fuel energy demand is at a record high, and the nuclear deal that allowed Iran, an Opec member, to start selling...

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  • The Saudi Arabian women driving forward

    Next Sunday, women in Saudi Arabia will at last be allowed to drive, potentially transforming millions of lives. But the change has been overshadowed by the arrest of many of the activists who campaigned for decades against the ban Enaam Alaswad has only risked getting behind the wheel of a car in Saudi Arabia once, sparked by the frustration of watching her driver try and fail, repeatedly, to squeeze into a tight parking space on the baking, dusty streets of her seaside hometown, Jeddah. “I...

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  • The Observer view on migrants dying because Europe is pandering to populism

    The plight of rescue ship Aquarius highlights the horrific consequences of failed migration policies The plight of Aquarius, the rescue ship carrying 629 migrants, stands as a potent reminder of the dire failings of European migration policy. No matter that the ship carried seven pregnant women and more than a hundred unaccompanied children rescued at sea as they tried to make the desperate, dangerous crossing from Libya to Italy. First Italy, then Malta, refused the ship entry to their ports....

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  • A win against England would put Arab spring in Tunisia's step

    National side to play in the World Cup for first time since jasmine revolution Taher Lwati sat outside a toyshop on one of the quiet avenues that crisscross central Tunis, soaking up the warm evening air and ruminating on the chances of an unlikely footballing victory. “The national team comes above all else. I’ve been following the sport for years and, really, I just want to see Tunisia get through to the next round before I die,” said Lwati, 63. To do that, the side will have to prove their...

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  • US expected to quit UN human rights panel over perceived anti-Israel bias

    Sources say attempts at reform have failed to satisfy US, which claims the council is stacked with opponents of Israel Talks over how to reform the United Nations human rights council have failed to meet US demands, activists and diplomats said, suggesting the Trump administration will quit the panel, whose session opens on Monday. Related: The two-state solution is dead. Palestine needs a new UN mandate | Mark Seddon Continue reading...

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  • The 20 photographs of the week

    The eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala, demonstrations in Gaza and Nicaragua, a rescued raccoon in St Louis, and Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup – the week captured by the world’s best photojournalists Continue reading...

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  • Yemen attack: hundreds killed as rebels' grip on Hodeidah airport loosens

    Airport push marks third day of campaign to drive out rebels from vital Red Sea port as death toll rises Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni fighters backing the country’s government have taken control of the airport of a crucial rebel-held port, according to Yemen’s military media office. The death toll climbed to at least 280 by the fourth day of the campaign on Saturday aimed at driving out the Iranian-backed Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, from the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. It is the entry...

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  • Australia rules out moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem

    Julie Bishop will not follow US lead, despite pressure from her party to do so Australia will not be following Donald Trump’s lead and moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Julie Bishop has said, despite strong support from the party’s base. The Liberal party’s youth arm had called on the government to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s legislative capital, and to suspend all aid to Palestine “until it terminates its ‘Martyr’s fund”. Continue reading...

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  • We must define antisemitism to fight it effectively

    A group of prominent academics and other figures call for clarity about what constitutes antisemitism There are disturbing signs round the world that age-old prejudices against Jews are reviving once more. We need to be clear in recognising them, and resolute in dealing with them. A precondition for fighting antisemitism effectively is clarity about what it is, and what it is not. Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice or hostility against us because we are Jews. It is a form of racism. It...

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  • Bullets and bandages: the artist healing the wounds of Beirut

    Mari Meen Halsøy’s work, on show in London, responds to the city’s scarred buildings The old buildings of Beirut still carry holes left by bullets and shells during 15 years of civil war in Lebanon, and many of its people have matching psychological wounds. A Norwegian artist, exhibiting in the UK for the first time, is attempting to heal both through her work. The project, installed by Mari Meen Halsøy at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, north-east London, recreates the wall of a...

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  • What is the current state of the migration crisis in Europe?

    Three years since the peak of the crisis, here is how things stand as tensions rise again Three years after Europe’s biggest influx of migrants and refugees since the second world war, tensions between EU member states over how to handle irregular immigration from outside the bloc – mainly from the Middle East and Africa – are rising again. Continue reading...

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  • Palestinian forces accused of 'vicious' response to protests

    Amnesty says one of its staff at peaceful rally against Abbas’s Gaza sanctions was tortured Palestinian authorities launched a “vicious crackdown” on peaceful demonstrators this week including the arbitrary detention and torture of an Amnesty International staff member, the rights group has said. Laith Abu Zeyad had been monitoring a rare rally in the West Bank demanding that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, ease punitive economic measures in Gaza, the isolated enclave run by his...

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  • The two-state solution is dead. Palestine needs a new UN mandate

    Israel’s disregard for civilian lives is clear. The occupied territories need proper UN protection The UN general assembly has condemned Israel for using “excessive force” against unarmed civilian demonstrators in Gaza. The draft resolution was adopted on Wednesday by 120 votes to eight, with 45 abstentions. The opposing states included the US, which had vetoed a similar resolution at the security council a few days earlier. Related: Mother of shot Gaza medic: ‘She thought the white coat would...

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  • UN rejects plan to demand immediate ceasefire in Yemen port

    UN impasse means Saudi-UAE coalition can continue direct attack on Hodeidah port The UN security council has rejected a move to demand an immediate end to the fighting around the strategic Yemeni port of Hodeidah despite warnings from aid agencies that an attack could jeopardise vital aid to a country on the brink of famine. The 15-strong body failed to agree to a statement calling on forces led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to implement a ceasefire, with the US and UK both voicing...

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  • Repression in Iran is getting worse: Trump must share the blame

    Since the US reneged on the nuclear deal, hardliners are tightening their grip – as the arrest of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh shows The arbitrary arrest and jailing of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a leading Iranian human rights lawyer, is a crude act of state aggression against a courageous individual, and another heavy blow to the rule of law in Iran. It comes amid an intensifying judicial crackdown on dissent, in particular on women protesters who refuse to wear the hijab in public. This, in turn,...

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  • Israel is about to destroy this Palestinian village. Will Britain step in?

    Israel is poised to demolish Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank – an act that could be a war crime. But Britain could save it Israel is intent on destroying the homes of the 173 Palestinians who live in the small shepherding community of Khan al-Ahmar, along with the school that serves 150 children from the area. Last month, Israel’s high court of justice removed the last obstacle to this barbaric act of demolishing an entire community in order to forcibly transfer its residents and take over their...

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