Middle East and North Africa Headlines

  • Turkey high-speed train crashes into bridge, killing 4

    A high-speed train has crashed near the Turkish capital Ankara killing at least four people and leaving dozens more injured, according to the city's governor Vasip Sahin. Holding a press conference at the site of the crash, Sahin said 43 people had been injured in the crash which took place at around 6.30 a.m. local time, Thursday. The train derailed and crashed into an overpass in Ankara's Marsandiz station, causing part of the bridge to collapse onto two carriages, state news agency Anadolu...

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  • Pompeo urges UN to ban Iranian missile tests

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to prohibit Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests, warning member nations that a failure to hold Tehran accountable could yield dramatic consequences. But while allies echoed some of Pompeo's concerns, the divide between the US and nations remaining in the Iran nuclear deal was abundantly clear yet again. Pompeo again claimed that Tehran has increased its ballistic missile activity since the Iran nuclear...

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  • US warns Turkey not to attack Syria

    The US called on Turkey to not follow through on threats to attack US-backed forces in Syria Wednesday, an incursion the Pentagon warned could threaten US personnel and derail the fight against ISIS. "Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern. We would find any such actions unacceptable," Commander Sean Robertson, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, told CNN. "We believe this dialogue...

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  • Turkey primed to start offensive against US-backed Kurds in Syria

    President Erdoğan’s planned attack on militias he sees as terrorists risks row with Trump The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said that Turkey will launch a military operation against the Kurds in northern Syria within days, in a decision that could signal a shift in Turkish-US relations and have far-reaching consequences for Syria’s future. Long frustrated by US support for Kurdish militias Turkey views as terrorists, Erdoğan has threatened to push deeper into north-eastern Syria...

    the Guardian
  • House Republicans move to gut resolution on war in Yemen

    House Republicans quietly moved Tuesday to give GOP leadership more power to block a resolution that would pull back US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, an effort that would give cover to the White House, which is strongly opposed to the plan. The GOP-led House Rules Committee, in an unusual step in its final days in power, discreetly tucked a provision into an unrelated measure that would no longer consider the Yemen plan a "privileged" resolution during this Congress. If the measure...

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  • Senate to vote on Yemen amid growing skepticism over US-Saudi alliance

    Vote on whether to limit US military of Saudi-led coalition fighting in a war thought to have killed many tens of thousands of civilians The Senate is due to vote on Wednesday on whether to cut US military support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, amid deepening scepticism over the Trump administration’s alliance with Riyadh. Independent senator Bernie Sanders has said he is determined to move ahead with the resolution after a Republican revolt on 28 November, driven in part by...

    the Guardian
  • US condemns 10 countries for religious freedom violations

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday announced the US has deemed 10 countries guilty of severe religious freedom violations. The nations -- China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar (also known as Burma), North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan -- were categorized "Countries of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. They were found to have engaged or tolerated "systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom." "In...

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  • Corker to introduce resolution condemning Saudi crown prince

    Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker plans to offer a measure as soon as Tuesday to rebuke Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the first formal response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and an implicit rebuke of President Donald Trump's handling of the killing. The Senate could vote to approve the measure immediately if all senators give consent and allow it to proceed, aides said. The resolution is stronger than a non-binding measure and would have to be approved by both chambers...

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  • Nick Cave: cultural boycott of Israel is 'cowardly and shameful'

    Musician says boycott is ‘partly the reason I am playing Israel – to stand against those who shame and silence musicians’ Nick Cave has elaborated on his stance regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, calling the cultural boycott of Israel “cowardly and shameful”. Cave played a pair of concerts in Tel Aviv in November 2017 with his band the Bad Seeds, and received criticism from artists who oppose Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and refuse to perform in the country. Writing on...

    the Guardian
  • Iran sentences three human rights lawyers to prison, reports say

    Trio face lengthy terms for opposing the ruling system amid accusations of ‘propaganda’ Iran has sentenced two human rights lawyers to six years in prison and a third to 13 years, according to newspaper reports. The Arman daily said Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi and Arash Keikhosravi were sentenced to five years in prison for taking part in an “illegal gathering” and one year for “propaganda” against the ruling system. It added that they could appeal against the verdict. Continue reading

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  • 'Yemenis are left so poor they kill themselves before the hunger does'

    As peace talks to end war in Yemen continue, three local aid workers from the Norwegian Refugee Council describe its devastating impact More than 10,000 people in Yemen have been killed and 3 million forced to flee their homes as a result of almost four years of fighting. An estimated 22 million people are now in need of aid and up to 13 million face starvation. As talks to end the conflict continue in Sweden, three Yemeni aid workers from the Norwegian Refugee Council talk of the physical and...

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  • Egypt bans sale of yellow vests in fear of gilets jaunes copycat protests

    Authorities clamp down on retailers in run-up to anniversary of 2011 uprising Egyptian authorities have quietly introduced restrictions on the sale of yellow reflective vests, fearing opponents might attempt to copy French gilets jaunes protesters during next month’s anniversary of the 2011 popular uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Security officials and retailers said industrial safety equipment dealers have been instructed not to sell yellow vests to walk-in buyers and to...

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  • 'We could smell the boat approaching': the grim truth on animal exports

    Broken bones and other injuries are common for sheep and cattle held on ships for weeks in cramped pens. Photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur tracked the 22,000 arrivals on one boat in Israel’s Haifa port Hundreds of thousands of live animals are transported each year on ships from Australia and Europe to the Middle East. The route from Australia to Israel is particularly long – the journey is three weeks at sea, where cattle and sheep are often kept in cramped pens for the duration. It’s estimated...

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  • Baghdad reopens fortified Green Zone a year after Isis ousted from Iraq

    Area that has been home to foreign embassies and key ministries has been inaccessible to most Iraqis since 2003 US-led invasion Iraq has begun removing cement walls from areas surrounding its capital’s most fortified enclave, opening parts of the so-called Green Zone to traffic in a symbolic move coinciding with nationwide celebrations to mark the anniversary of the country’s costly victory over Islamic State. The partial reopening of parts of the high-security area is intended to portray...

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  • House Democrats may probe Kushner ties to Saudi crown prince

    Rep. Eliot Engel, who is poised to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee, plans to conduct a thorough review of US policy towards Saudi Arabia -- and that could include Jared Kushner's ties to the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, according to a Democratic aide. Engel is "committed to conducting a top-to-bottom review of US policy towards Saudi Arabia and that includes what has driven the US response to the Jamal Khashoggi murder," the aide said, referring to the October killing of The...

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  • Yemen peace talks: UN says Hodeidah should be under joint control

    Proposal suggests Yemeni government and Houthis run flashpoint port with UN supervision The United Nations has proposed what would be a major breakthrough in the Yemen peace talks taking place in Sweden. It has suggested the flashpoint Yemeni port of Hodeidah should be brought under the joint UN-supervised control of Houthi rebel fighters and the UN-backed government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Continue reading

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  • Indifference to sexual violence eats away at us all, say Nobel pair

    We’re putting commerce before victims, argue Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad Nobel laureates Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have called on the world to protect victims of wartime sexual violence as they angrily criticised indifference to the plight of women and children in conflict in their peace prize acceptance speeches. Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist and world expert on rape in conflict, and Murad, a Yazidi activist and survivor of Isis sexual slavery, said victims were sometimes valued...

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  • Egypt frees British student arrested on spying charge

    Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem was held after he took photo of military helicopter by accident A 19-year-old Briton has been freed in Egypt after he was accused of spying when he took a photo of a military helicopter, according to his family. Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem was reportedly detained at Alexandria airport in late November, after accidentally photographing the aircraft when he took a picture out of the plane window as his flight landed. His family said he was charged with “collecting information...

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  • Washington Post: US contests climate language at summit

    The United States sided with Russia and Saudi Arabia over the weekend at a global climate summit to contest language supporting a landmark climate report, The Washington Post reports. Arguments erupted at the summit on Saturday night, the Post reports, and the US joined a proposal to weaken a reference to the report put out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says governments around the world must take "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of...

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  • Jamal Khashoggi murder: Saudi Arabia refuses to extradite suspects to Turkey

    Kingdom rejects demands to arrest former Saudi intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and former royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has rejected demands to extradite suspects connected to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as sought by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “We do not extradite our citizens,” Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh at the end of a summit of Gulf Cooperation Council states. Continue reading

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  • Khashoggi's last words disclosed in transcript, source says

    "I can't breathe." These were the final words uttered by Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi hit squad at the country's consulate in Istanbul, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist. The source, who has read a translated transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi's painful last moments, said it was clear that the killing on October 2 was no botched rendition attempt, but the execution of a premeditated plan to murder...

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  • The moment that forever changed my perspective on Anzac mythology

    The Surafend massacre shows that the core business of good history must always be the preservation of memory One winter’s morning a decade ago while in the late stages of archival research for a book about the Australian Light Horse in the Middle East during the first world war, I came across a file that would forever alter my perspective on Anzac mythology. In the Australian War Memorial that morning I read an anodyne description of a voice file – a recording of Private Edward “Ted” Harold...

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  • Gulf divisions widen as Qatar accused of 'snubbing' meeting

    Qatar criticised for sending junior minister to annual meeting of Gulf states Divisions among Gulf states were exposed when countries allied to Saudi Arabia rounded on Qatar for snubbing the annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting by sending a relatively junior foreign minister to Riyadh. Qatar is enduring a 20-month economic, diplomatic and political boycott by Saudi, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain that has soured relations and led to bitter rhetorical war. Continue reading

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  • US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge

    Move shocks delegates at UN conference as ministers fly in for final week of climate talks The US and Russia have thrown climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5C. After a heated two-and-a-half-hour debate on Saturday night, the backwards step by the four major oil producers shocked delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice as ministers flew in for the final week of...

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