Middle East

Xi ends state visit to UAE with raft of deals signed

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The United Arab Emirates on Saturday said it agreed to set up a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with China as President Xi Jinping wrapped up a three-day visit to the Gulf country. Al-Monitor AFP “The UAE and China have agreed to enhance cooperation in all fields to higher levels and forge overall strategic partnerships,” the official WAM news agency said. It said this would “contribute to cementing and intensifying cooperation, boost joint development and prosperity, which is consistent with the common ... Read More »

Hamas and Israel agree to Gaza ceasefire, says Hamas

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The Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip have said they reached an agreement with Israel to restore calm. DW It follows a day of deadly Israeli strikes after a soldier was killed along the border for the first time in years. The ceasefire agreement was reached early Saturday, a spokesman for Hamas said. “With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions,” Fawzi Barhoum told the Reuters ... Read More »

Losing Egypt to Russia Isn’t the Real Problem—but Collapse Is

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Cairo is no long a prize to be won, but a weak state in need of reform. Andrew Miller and Michele Dunne The National Interest While most attention regarding U.S.-Russian competition in the Middle East is concentrated on Syria and Iran, Russian president Vladimir Putin has quietly been trying to make inroads into Egypt. For instance, a recent article by Anna Borshchevskaya presents an alarming picture in which the United States is on the verge of losing Egypt to Russia. We have ... Read More »

Averting War in Gaza

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Israel and Hamas stand on the brink of another full-scale confrontation in Gaza. The only viable exit from the ongoing cycle of escalation is for international actors to use carrots and sticks to bring about intra-Palestinian reconciliation, thereby allowing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern the Gaza Strip. ICG What’s new?  What is new is that little is new: despite repeated claims that efforts are being made to address the situation in Gaza, Israel and Hamas once again are sliding ... Read More »

Lebanon: Same-Sex Relations Not Illegal

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Homosexuality Not an ‘Unnatural Offense,’ Appeals Court Rules (Beirut) – A district court of appeal in Lebanon issued a groundbreaking ruling on July 12, 2018, that consensual sex between people of the same sex is not unlawful, Human Rights Watch said. HRW The ruling follows similar judgments from lower courts that have declined to convict gay and transgender people of “sexual intercourse contrary to nature” in four separate rulings between 2007 and 2017. It is the first such ruling from ... Read More »

Israel passes controversial ‘Jewish nation-state law’, stripping Arabs of self-determination right

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Israel has passed a law to declare that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country, something members of the Arab minority have called racist and verging on apartheid. ABC The “nation-state” law, backed by the Government, passed by a vote of 62-55 and two abstentions in the 120-member Parliament after months of political argument. Some Arab politicians shouted and ripped up papers after the vote. “This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the ... Read More »

‘Collective punishment’: Israel blocks fuel shipment to Gaza

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Israel further tightens its blockade on the strip while rights group denounces measure as ‘morally depraved’. AlJazeera Israel has further tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip, preventing gas and fuel deliveries through its only commercial crossing with the Palestinian besieged enclave a week after Israeli authorities announced the closure of the crossing. The Kerem Shalom crossing, known to Palestinians as Karem Abu Salem, was shut down on July 9 and initially, only items deemed as “humanitarian” would be allowed to enter Gaza, ... Read More »

Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean Alliance

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Concrete steps over the past three years have set the foundations of an Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (EMA) comprising Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. John M. Nomikos BESA The convergence of the three nations is the natural outcome of close democratic similarities and a joint desire for stability and progress in a region tormented by perennial Middle East strife, radical Islamism, and the morphing of Turkey into a fundamentalist Islamic autocracy. The EMA is emerging at a time of increasing global instability. ... Read More »

Five human rights we should enjoy – while we still can

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In case warnings of impending fascism have merit, here’s a bucket list of rights to tick off Van Badham The Guardian Fascism is a political philosophy. It exalts the supposed supremacy of a particular national identity or racial group above individual freedoms, social equality and the collective social good. And these ideas seem frightfully trendy right now. I’m not saying that today’s Poland, America, Russia, Turkey or Hungary are fascist countries. I’m saying fascism seeks to establish an authoritarian government headed by ... Read More »

Can democracy vote itself out of existence?

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Look at the state of the world’s democratic nations, and it is easy to see why so many are concerned for the future of democracy. Manjeet Ramgotra The Conversation Leaders such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán have centralised political power by changing their countries’ constitutions, silencing dissent and controlling the media. Since 2016’s coup attempt in Turkey, Erdoğan’s government has used the subsequent state of emergency to incarcerate thousands without trial. Opposition politicians, judges, journalists ... Read More »

British report about Balkans: Russians, Chinese, Turks…

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Outside actors such as Russia, China and Turkey have filled a void created by EU neglect of the Western Balkans over the past decade. Source: B92 This is stated in the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee report, which adds that many of the witnesses it heard “suggested that, by contrast, Russian influence in the region is weak, not least because its economic presence is limited.” “Despite this, Russia is capable of exploiting the region’s problems and undermining its progress towards peace, ... Read More »

UAE accused of War Crimes over torture in Yemen prisons as Middle East conflict rages on

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AMNESTY International has called for a war crimes investigation after accusing the United Arab Emirates and its allied Yemeni forces of torturing detainees at prisons in the south of Yemen. Caitlin Doherty Sunday Express The UAE has been engaged in battle with the Houthi government in Yemen since they seized control in September 2014. They have been fighting the rebels in the capital Sana’a alongside Saudi Arabia, the US, and Yemeni allies. But an Amnesty International report released earlier this ... Read More »

Path of Blood: New documentary explores jihadi extremism, radicalisation and al-Qaeda’s target, Saudi Arabia

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Aimen Dean was just 19 when he pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden – until the brutal reality of mass murder led him to be flipped by the Qataris, and return to Afghanistan as a spy for MI6 Stephen Applebaum Independent In the years following 9/11, documentaries such as Restrepo and Armadillo gave us intimate and unflinching accounts of the daily lives of troops fighting the war in Afghanistan. Jonathan Hacker’s Path of Blood now offers a similar kind of insider’s eye ... Read More »

Voices of Idlib

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Humanitarian Fallout of Conflict ICG The Syrian war grinds lethally on, as regime forces move to recapture rebel-held areas. In our first-ever illustrated commentary, Crisis Group explores one holdout, Idlib, where three million Syrians – many already displaced – chafe at jihadist rule but dread the coming onslaught. Voices of Idlib… Read More »

Erdogan’s New Dynasty Makes Turkey Uninvestable

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The president has given investors every reason to turn away. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unfortunately is a man of his word. Marcus Ashworth Bloomberg He promised to take greater control of monetary policy during the election campaign, and he has wasted no time in doing so. He has snipped the last threads in Turkey’s safety net — and he has made his nation all but uninvestable. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek and Finance Minister Naci Agbal have both departed. They were the kinds ... Read More »

Israeli Crypto Startup Bancor Loses $13.5 Million to Hacking

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Bancor reported the incident in a tweet on Monday. A digital coin valued at $23.5 million was stolen, with Bancor eventually retrieving $10 million worth of its own coin, BNT Amarelle Wenkert C Tech On Monday, Israeli crypto coin trading platform Bancor announced in a tweet it had been the victim of a security breach which has resulted in the theft of $13.5 million in crypto coins, mostly Ethereum. The company said that no user wallets were compromised in the event. ... Read More »