Turkey FM heads to Doha as UN ‘alarmed’ by Gulf crisis

14 Jun

The search for a diplomatic solution to the Gulf crisis intensified Wednesday as Turkey’s top diplomat headed to Qatar while the UN voiced fears over growing humanitarian concerns in the region.Mevlut Cavusoglu, foreign minister of one of Qatar’s stron…

Lebanon agrees new election law, sets vote for 2018

14 Jun

Lebanon’s government announced a new election law after a cabinet session Wednesday, ending months of tense discussions and paving the way for the first parliamentary elections in nine years.The deal comes after a stalemate that has seen the country’s …

Qatar Airways says service ‘unaffected’ by Gulf ban

14 Jun

Qatar Airways said on Wednesday that it was largely unaffected by the decision of several Arab countries to ban the Doha-based carrier from using their airspace.”Qatar Airways’ global operations continue to run smoothly, with the vast majority of our n…

UN rights chief ‘alarmed’ by impact of Gulf crisis

14 Jun

The UN human rights chief said Wednesday he was alarmed by the possible impact of the diplomatic isolation of Qatar, warning it could lead to widespread suffering among ordinary people. “I am alarmed about the possible impact on many people’s human rig…

Israeli minister backs closing Al-Jazeera bureau

14 Jun

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that he was in favour of closing the offices of Qatari channel Al-Jazeera, after several Arab states did so.”There is no reason for Al-Jazeera to continue to transmit from Israel,” he told publi…

UN says Gazans being held hostage to Palestinian feud

14 Jun

The United Nations said Wednesday that Gazans were being held hostage to Palestinian political infighting, warning that longer blackouts triggered by president Mahmud Abbas threatened a “total collapse” of basic services.Gazans currently receive only t…

UN decries ‘staggering loss of civilian life’ in Raqa

14 Jun

United Nations war crimes investigators expressed alarm Wednesday at the “staggering” number of civilian deaths as US-backed forces battle to oust the Islamic State group from its Syrian stronghold Raqa.”In areas controlled by extremist factions, we ar…

Tunisia extends 2015 state of emergency

14 Jun

Tunisia has extended for another four months a state of emergency in place since a 2015 jihadist attack, the president’s office announced on Wednesday.”President Beji Caid Essebsi decided on Wednesday to extend the state of emergency for four months st…

Rights group warns US-led force on white phosphorus use

14 Jun

The Human Rights Watch organisation on Wednesday urged the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq to protect civilians from the effects of white phosphorus.The statement comes after several instances in which the US-led coa…

US says ‘worst behind us’ in Qatar crisis

13 Jun

Progress has been made towards resolving the crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors after senior US officials met leading players in the standoff, the State Department said Tuesday.”I would characterize the mood and the approach to that as being o…

Qatar risks FIFA action in Emir T-shirt protest

13 Jun

Qatar’s national team could face disciplinary action from FIFA after players warmed up for a World Cup qualifier against South Korea Tuesday in T-shirts showing support for the country’s emir.The players prepared for the crucial game in Doha wearing wh…

Mine blast kills Saudi soldier on Yemen border

13 Jun

A Saudi border guard died Tuesday in a landmine blast along the frontier with Yemen, the interior ministry said.The mine exploded during a patrol in the kingdom’s southwestern Jazan district, a ministry statement said.More than 130 soldiers and civilia…

Garbage dumped in sea off Lebanon sparks outrage

13 Jun

A “mountain of garbage” dumped at sea off Beirut under a deal between the government and a company has sparked outrage in Lebanon, two years after mass protests over a waste crisis.For the past 10 days, civil society groups have shared images of trucks…

‘Green police’ to battle Tunisia trash scourge

13 Jun

Tunisia on Tuesday launched a special “green police” unit aimed at dealing with the proliferation of waste, a scourge that has worsened dramatically since the 2011 revolution.”May God help you — it’s a very difficult mission,” Prime Minister Youssef C…

Rights group slams ‘absurd’ Ramadan penalty in Tunisia

13 Jun

Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday dismissed as “absurd” the jailing in Tunisia of people who fail to observe the Ramadan fast.There is no law against eating or drinking in public during Ramadan, but every year the issue comes to the fore in…

Saudis killed in car blast ‘wanted’ for police murders

13 Jun

Two Saudi suspects killed when their car exploded in a mainly Shiite district of the kingdom were wanted for murdering police officers, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.DNA testing identified Fadil al-Hamada and Mohammed al-Suwaimil, both Saudis, …

Israel, New Zealand restore ties after settlements row

13 Jun

Israel and New Zealand will restore ties after a row over Wellington’s backing of a UN resolution in December condemning Israeli settlement building, a statement said Tuesday.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his New Zealand counterpart Bil…

Qatar crisis turns hostile on social media

13 Jun

The diplomatic crisis surrounding Qatar and other Gulf countries has remained a peaceful one for now, but open warfare has been declared in the media — both traditional and social.Since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and allies abrupt…

Netanyahu says does not want ‘escalation’ in Gaza

13 Jun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he was not seeking an “escalation” in the Gaza Strip after his government moved to reduce electricity supplies to the Hamas-run enclave.Israel’s security cabinet decided on Sunday to reduce the dai…

Egypt parliament committee passes Saudi islands deal

13 Jun

A controversial agreement for Cairo to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia passed an Egyptian parliamentary committee Tuesday, setting the stage for a vote in the house.Parliament’s legislative committee agreed the treaty after heated debate,…

Turkey’s Erdogan slams ‘inhumane’ isolation of Qatar

13 Jun

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday slammed the economic and political isolation of Qatar as inhumane and contrary to Islamic values after key Gulf states broke off ties with Ankara’s ally.”Taking action to isolate a country in all areas …

Einstein letters on quantum theory and God to be auctioned

13 Jun

Letters from Albert Einstein giving colleagues his thoughts on physics, God and Israel in the 1950s go under the hammer at a Jerusalem auction house on June 20.The website of Winners auction house describes five signed letters written in English betwee…

Saudi curbs access to Qatar-linked sports broadcaster

13 Jun

Saudi Arabia has called time out on new subscriptions to Qatar-linked satellite television network beIn Sports, a major broadcaster of international football across the region.The measure is the latest move against Qatar, after the Gulf kingdom and its…

Gaza Strip in peril as Hamas marks decade in power

13 Jun

Hamas this week marks 10 years since taking power in Gaza with the Palestinian enclave at risk of conflict and facing electricity blackouts, poverty and Israel’s blockade, analysts and officials say.The situation is likely to be further complicated by …

Journey to statehood still long for Iraq Kurds

13 Jun

Many Iraqi Kurds hailed last week’s announcement of a September referendum on independence as historic, but major obstacles will remain on the path to statehood after an expected landslide “yes”.The autonomous region is still at war with the Islamic St…

US immigration sweep targets Iraqi Christians in Detroit

13 Jun

Iraqi Christians in the US are expressing alarm over the arrests of Chaldean immigrants in the Detroit area for deportation back to the war-torn nation, where they could face persecution.A number of Chaldeans, part of an ancient Christian minority in I…

US sanctions IS members accused of making chemical arms

12 Jun

The United States on Monday slapped financial sanctions on two suspected Islamic State militants accused of manufacturing chemical weapons, the Treasury Department announced.It was the first time the Treasury Department had imposed sanctions on an IS m…

HRW warns Lebanon against bringing back death penalty

12 Jun

Human Rights Watch has urged Lebanon to respect its moratorium on the death penalty after calls for its reinstatement following the murder of a young student that shocked the country.Capital punishment is legal in Lebanon, but there has been an effecti…

Egypt blocks more internet sites

12 Jun

Egypt, under fire for muzzling freedom of expression, has blocked access to around 60 news websites and service providers since the end of May, rights groups and media figures said Monday.Back in May, around 20 websites based in Qatar and in Egypt were…

Israel to reduce Gaza power, feeding fears of unrest

12 Jun

Israel will reduce electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip after funding cuts by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, an Israeli minister said Monday, worsening an already severe shortage in the Hamas-run enclave.The move has raised fears of a new upsurg…

Naval coalition warns of risks for ships off Yemen

12 Jun

An international naval coalition said Monday it will step up its presence near a strategic shipping lane off Yemen as it warned of risks for boats transiting through the area.The Bab el-Mandab Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, is …

Saudi carrier seeks to poach Qatar Airways crews

12 Jun

A Saudi Arabian airline on Monday tweeted a warm welcome to pilots and staff from Qatar Airways whom it hopes to poach after the kingdom severed air links with Doha.On Twitter early Monday, budget carrier flynas said it “welcomes the Saudi employees wo…

Austrian veteran skier Goergl retires

12 Jun

Austrian skier Elisabeth Goergl, the oldest woman to win a World Cup race, announced her retirement on Monday aged 36.”Thank you to everyone who always rooted for me, I hope I gave you lots of beautiful moments,” Goergl said in a video posted on social…

Singapore mother arrested for offering to marry IS fighter

12 Jun

A 22-year-old Singaporean woman who was planning to go to Syria with her child and marry an Islamic State fighter has been detained without trial, the city-state’s interior ministry said Monday.Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, who worked at a community…

Soldier, 3 assailants dead in Qaeda attack on Yemen army

12 Jun

A soldier was killed and two others were wounded in an Al-Qaeda attack Monday on a checkpoint in Yemen’s Hadramawt province that also left three assailants dead, the army said. “A soldier was martyred and two soldiers were wounded in an attack by Al-Qa…

Gaza power shortage to worsen as Israel reduces supply

12 Jun

Israel will reduce electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip after funding cuts by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, a minister said Monday, worsening an already severe shortage in the Hamas-run enclave.The security cabinet decided Sunday to reduce the …

Qatar Central Bank says operating normally despite crisis

12 Jun

Qatar’s Central Bank said on Monday banking transactions at home and abroad were continuing normally despite the diplomatic crisis which has seen several Gulf countries sever ties with the emirate.In a statement released on the state-run Qatar News Age…

Qatar opens channels with Oman ports amid Gulf crisis

12 Jun

Qatar Monday announced it had launched direct shipping services to ports in Oman, a move that bypasses a Gulf “blockade” on a country largely dependent on food imports.Qatar’s port authority announced the launch of two new services from Hamad Port to O…

Price of Saudi cigarettes doubles as first tax hits

11 Jun

The price of a pack of cigarettes doubled for Saudi Arabian smokers on Sunday under first-time tax measures to help the kingdom cope with a drop in oil revenues.Residents of the world’s biggest oil exporter long enjoyed a tax-free and heavily subsidise…

Kuwait gives jihadist life for attack on US troops

11 Jun

A Kuwaiti court on Sunday sentenced a professed member of the Islamic State group to life in prison for an attack on US troops in the emirate last year.Egyptian Ibrahim Suleiman in October rammed his truck into a vehicle carrying three US soldiers, in …

Jordan kills five approaching border from Syria

11 Jun

Jordanian border guards have killed five people as they approached the country’s border from war-torn Syria, the army said on Sunday.An army statement said that in an incident in the previous 72 hours, nine cars had first approached the border from At-…

Netanyahu urges UN to dismantle its Palestinian aid agency

11 Jun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Sunday for the United Nations to shut down its Palestinian refugee aid agency, saying it was responsible for incitement against the Jewish state.Netanyahu said he raised the issue during the visit in rec…

Israel plans most settlement homes since 1992: minister

11 Jun

Israel has so far this year advanced its highest number of settlement projects since 1992, the defence minister said Sunday, despite warnings such plans will further cloud chances of a two-state solution.Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman made the comm…

Israeli court awards Netanyahus $32,500 in libel case

11 Jun

An Israeli court Sunday awarded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife $32,500 in a libel case over a journalist’s claim she kicked him out of the car during a row.Court documents said writer Igal Sarna was ordered to pay 60,000 shekels ($17,00…

Iran has sent five planes of food to Qatar: airline

11 Jun

Iran has sent five planes of food to Qatar, Iran’s national carrier told AFP on Sunday, days after Gulf countries cut off air and other transport links to the emirate.”So far five planes carrying perishable food items such as fruit and vegetables have …

Iraqi girl reunited with family 3 years after IS abduction

10 Jun

The Ashti camp in Iraq’s northern city of Arbil on Saturday celebrated the return of a girl whose abduction by jihadists three years ago sent shockwaves through her Christian community.Joy filled the prefab unit that is now the home of six-year-old Chr…

Iraq paramilitaries make fresh progress west of Mosul

10 Jun

Iraq’s paramilitary Hashed al-Shaabi forces said Saturday that they had retaken all areas west of Mosul from the Islamic State group except the town of Tal Afar.The umbrella organisation, which is dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias, has been figh…

Syria army says it holds fifth of key desert territory

10 Jun

Syrian pro-government forces now hold more than a fifth of the country’s strategic desert, the army said Saturday, after reaching the eastern border with Iraq for the first time since 2015.The desert, known as the “Badiya”, extends over some 90,000 squ…