Middle East and North Africa Headlines

  • Italy releases Tunisian fishermen held on suspicion of smuggling migrants

    Supporters say the six have rescued hundreds of people from the sea in recent years Judges in Palermo have ordered the immediate release of six Tunisian fishermen who were arrested by the Italian police on suspicion of enabling the smuggling of migrants. The men were captured at sea early in September after their trawler released a small vessel it had been towing with 14 migrants onboard, 24 miles (37km) from the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Continue reading...

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  • Elite Iranian soldiers killed in attack on military parade

    At least eight dead after two gunmen open fire on Revolutionary Guard in Ahvaz Gunmen have attacked a military parade in the south-west Iranian city of Ahvaz, killing at least eight members of the Revolutionary Guard and wounding 20 people, state media said. The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the wounded included a woman and a child but did not elaborate. Continue reading...

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  • Build a wall across the Sahara? That's crazy – but someone still did it

    Since Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 it has built a 2,700km desert barrier keeping independence-seeking Sahrawis out of the resource-rich west Donald Trump was widely ridiculed earlier this week for suggesting that Spain emulate his $25bn dream for the US-Mexico border and “build a wall” across the Sahara desert. Related: Donald Trump urged Spain to 'build the wall' – across the Sahara Continue reading...

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  • If ending Syria’s war means accepting Assad and Russia have won, so be it

    Western governments bear partial responsibility for prolonging this savage conflict. They must now push for peace Just when it seems the Syrian war cannot get more complex, it does. In the skies above the Mediterranean, Syrian missiles shoot down an allied Russian surveillance plane after mistaking it for an Israeli bomber. In the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Russian and Turkish presidents produce a plan for Turkey to use its control of part of Idlib province to disarm the worst jihadi...

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  • 'We work with tear gas around us': developing video games in a war zone

    Game creators from Syria and Palestine share what it’s like to live in a conflict-ridden area, conveying their experiences through video games Video game development is a tougher job than people might think, with the pervasiveness of working practices like crunch prompting a global movement towards unionisation. But for Rasheed Abueideh, a Palestinian software engineer who makes games in his spare time, there are additional challenges. “Living here in Ramallah, or in Gaza, it’s difficult. Any...

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  • Israelis experience Palestinian home life in virtual reality

    ‘The under-layer is very tragic,’ says artist whose living rooms expose deep divide An art exhibition in Jerusalem that gives Israelis the chance to experience a Palestinian family’s living room – by wearing virtual reality goggles – has laid bare the entrenched separation of two societies that live side by side but, increasingly, worlds apart. The Israel Museum, where the exhibition is being held, is less than two miles from Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem where thousands of Palestinians live....

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  • Foreign Office warns dual nationals not to go to Iran

    Advice reflects frustration at Tehran’s handling of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case The British Foreign Office has warned all UK/Iranian dual nationals not to travel to Iran unless they have an urgent reason to do so. The advice reflects the frustration of the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, at the way in which the Iranians are treating dual-national consular cases, including the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Continue reading...

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  • 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen

    Save the Children warns of ‘starvation on an unprecedented scale’ as conflict disrupts food supplies More than five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the ongoing war causes food and fuel prices to soar across the country, charity Save the Children has warned. Disruption to supplies coming through the embattled Red Sea port of Hodeida could “cause starvation on an unprecedented scale”, the British-based NGO said in a new report. Continue reading...

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  • Citizens remain wary of Russia but Idlib truce better than bombing

    Surprise initiative welcome respite for Syrian opposition and people of the province Relieved locals and rebel groups in Idlib have been trying to unpick details of an eleventh-hour truce that excludes much of the northern Syrian province from a Russian-led attack for at least one month and sets up a buffer zone intended to shield 3 million civilians. The surprise initiative, brokered by Turkey and Russia on Monday, assuages fears of an immediate widespread humanitarian catastrophe and sets the...

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  • Preventing Palestine review: a fine history of Israel's negation of a nation

    Seth Anziska is fired by personal transformation and intellectual rigour – but never lapses into propaganda This splendid book by a young American Jewish scholar is the product of an early emotional and intellectual transformation. Related: Palestinians still live under apartheid in Israel, 25 years after the Oslo accord | Avi Shlaim Continue reading...

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  • Russia loses contact with military aircraft over Syria

    Defence ministry say the aircraft was carrying 14 servicemen Russia’s defence ministry has said it has lost contact with an IL-20 aircraft with 14 servicemen on board near Syria’s Hmeimim airbase, Syrian state-run Ikhbariya TV reported late on Monday. Syrian state media said earlier on Monday missiles were fired from the sea at several locations in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, but were intercepted by air defences. Continue reading...

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  • US to slash refugee admissions to historic low of 30,000, Pompeo confirms

    Victory for White House hardliners as secretary of state Pompeo says US will cut number of refugees by 15,000 next year The US will allow no more than 30,000 refugees into the country in the coming year, down by a third from last year’s cap, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has announced. The latest cut reflects a victory by White House hardliners on immigration over both the state department and the Pentagon. When Donald Trump took office the ceiling on refugees the US was prepared to...

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  • Russia and Turkey to set up Idlib buffer zone to protect civilians

    Plan lessens risk of humanitarian disaster affecting 3 million people in last major Syrian rebel enclave The immediate risk of a humanitarian disaster in the last major Syrian rebel enclave of Idlib appears to have been averted by a joint Russian-Turkish plan to set up a demilitarised zone as a buffer between the Syrian army and the rebels. The plan was agreed on Monday by Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at a bilateral summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi....

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  • How the French state was corrupted by its use of torture in Algeria conflict

    Gillian Dalley on Pierre Vidal-Naquet’s book that described the extent to which the police and army used torture as a matter of routine Your report (France admits to torture during Algerian conflict, 14 September) says allegations of torture being used systematically by the French government during the Algerian war of independence were previously “shrouded in secrecy and denials”. However hard the French government of the day tried to hide these facts, in 1963, within a year of independence,...

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  • Is compassion fatigue inevitable in an age of 24-hour news? – podcast

    We have never been more aware of the appalling events that occur around the world every day. But in the face of so much horror, is there a danger that we become numb to the headlines – and does it matter if we do? Read the text version hereSubscribe via Audioboom, iTunes, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Acast & Sticher and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter Continue reading...

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  • Kiarostami to Panahi: photographs by Iranian film-makers – in pictures

    Despite facing censorship, house arrest and exile, directors such as Jafar Panahi and the late Abbas Kiarostami kept Iran at the forefront of world cinema. Here is a selection of their photographs, alongside those of compatriots Nasser Taghvai, Kamran Shirdel, Majid Barzegar, Ebrahim Golestan and cinematographer Seifollah Samadian. The exhibition Time Lapse is at CAMA, London, until 2 October. Continue reading...

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  • The Guardian view on Egyptian repression: democracy is a mirage

    The mass trial of survivors of a massacre of pro-democracy protesters shames Egypt. Western powers should understand how autocracy is eating away at the Arab nation In democracies governed by the rule of law, it is the perpetrators of a massacre who are tried for murder. In Egypt, it is the survivors who are tried – and in some cases sentenced to death. In democracies governed by the rule of law, trials are fair and prompt; in Egypt the survivors of a massacre can be detained for five years...

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  • Israeli missiles strike near Damascus airport, says Syrian state media

    A Syrian military source claims its activated air defences shot down some of the missiles An Israeli missile attack targeted the Syrian capital’s airport late Saturday, activating air defences which shot down some of the projectiles, state news agency SANA reported. “Our air defences responded to an Israeli missile attack on Damascus International Airport and shot down a number of hostile missiles,” said a military source, quoted by SANA. Continue reading...

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  • US has no plan for Middle East peace, says senior Palestinian

    Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says US is trying to change terms of reference: ‘I don’t think they will ever introduce a plan’ The US will not present its long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace any time soon and is instead trying to unilaterally change the terms of reference for any future proposal, a senior Palestinian official said on Saturday. Related: Palestinians still live under apartheid in Israel, 25 years after the Oslo accord | Avi Shlaim Continue reading...

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  • 'I'm ill, I need my son': one refugee family's battle to be reunited

    Leyla Al Jabiri has cancer but immigration rules are stopping her son coming to the UK to help Leyla Al Jabiri lies frail in a single bed at home in Sheffield, battered by the effects of months of chemotherapy. Continue reading...

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  • Iranian comedies thrive at box office as audiences look to lift gloom

    Filmgoers flock to screens in newly built shopping centres, as critics warn that other genres are being sidelined As they rose to their feet for the national anthem, the mood among the crowd was sombre. Iran’s leading film festival, usually seven days of red carpet premieres and gong-giving, was forgoing the glamour of the silver screen as the country outside suffered the chill of economic hardship. The organisers had months earlier said the festival would match the downcast mood of a country...

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  • Eurovision 2019 to be held in Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem

    Organisers confirm host city after controversy over Israel’s demand it take place in Jerusalem The Eurovision song contest has announced next year’s competition will be held in Tel Aviv, clearing up some of the political controversy surrounding Israel’s hosting of the 2019 competition. The Israeli government had initially insisted on holding the event in Jerusalem. But following a backlash over the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a subsequent fear of boycotts, the government...

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  • Palestinians still live under apartheid in Israel, 25 years after the Oslo accord

    Benjamin Netanyahu remains determined to create a nation-state for Jews, rather than a Jewish democratic state Twenty-five years ago today the Oslo accord was signed by Israel’s prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat in the Rose Garden of the White House, with Bill Clinton acting as an enthusiastic master of ceremonies. Despite its many shortcomings, the accord represented a historic compromise between the Jewish and the Palestinian national liberation movements, and it...

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  • Spain to proceed with Saudi bomb deal days after halting it

    Ministers had said €9m sale would be called off over concerns about use in Yemen The Spanish government has confirmed it will proceed with the sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, days after saying the €9.2m (£8.2m) deal had been halted amid apparent concerns over the use of such weapons in the war in Yemen. Josep Borrell, the foreign minister, announced the U-turn on Thursday, saying the government had reviewed the contract and felt it had to be honoured. Continue reading...

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