Middle East

Bahrain opposition leaders get life term over Qatar spying case

The verdict against three senior members of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq movement comes months after their acquittal. Al Jazeera Bahrain’s appeals court has sentenced three senior members of the country’s opposition movement to life in prison over charges of spying for neighbouring Qatar, according to a statement from the public prosecutor. The verdict against Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed al-Wefaq movement, as well as Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad came on Sunday, months after their acquittal by the… Sultan ... Read More »

The Arab Winter Is Coming

Gulf states are asserting themselves more than ever, and that’s a problem for the U.S. Hassan Hassan The Atlantic Three years ago, then Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter attributed Iran’s growing dominance to its being “in the game, on the ground.” He urged its regional rivals to do the same, thus expressing a widely shared sentiment in policy circles at the time: Arab Gulf states need to rely less on the U.S. and play a greater role in their neighborhood. ... Read More »

Asia Bibi blasphemy case: Husband pleads for asylum

The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after eight years on death row has pleaded for asylum from the UK, US or Canada. BBC Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, said they were in great danger in Pakistan. The Supreme Court overturned Asia Bibi’s conviction on Wednesday, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence. Her acquittal sparked violent protests, and the government has now agreed to try to stop her leaving the country. On Saturday, ... Read More »

Greek islanders to receive inaugural John McCain Prize for refugee crisis response

The people of the Greek island of Lesvos are poised to receive the inaugural John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service for their response to the refugee crisis, Politico has reported. ekathimerini According to its daily briefing, the American news site said that the announcement was made by Cindy McCain, the widow of the respected US statesman who died on August 25. The award will reportedly be bestowed on the residents of the Aegean island that has been on ... Read More »

The Illogic of the U.S. Sanctions Snapback on Iran

The Trump administration believes that ratcheting up economic pressure on Iran will compel the Islamic Republic to curtail its disruptive Middle East policies. IGG History suggests otherwise. Both Washington and Tehran should step off their current escalatory path. What’s new?  A 40-year analysis of Iran’s economic performance and regional policy reveals little to no correlation between the two, as Tehran has continued to pursue policies it deems central to its national security no matter its… Why does it matter?  The ... Read More »

Israel settlers dump sewage on Palestinian school in Qalqiliya

Israeli settlers dumped their sewage on a Palestinian school in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqilia yesterday. MEMo The Azzun Beit Amin School playground was flooded with sewage for the second time in two months as a result of the settlers’ actions. Principal Alaa Marabeh said it would take more than ten days for the sewage water to dry and this has caused a foul smell to spread across the school building and risks damaging the students’ health. ... Read More »

Regional Risks of Rising U.S.-Iran Rivalry

The U.S. is pursuing a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran that includes the re-imposition of key energy and banking sanctions. Naysan Rafati ICG With Tehran refusing to capitulate over its nuclear program or regional policies, the U.S.-Iran rivalry could escalate across the region. The re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran’s banking and energy sectors on 5 November is a key element of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive ... Read More »

Jerusalem embassy move ‘could land Australia in the International Court of Justice’

A top international law expert has warned Australia could face legal action in The Hague if it went ahead with moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubles down on the… David Wroe The Age The Palestinian Authority has already filed a suit with the International Court of Justice against the United States after President Donald Trump shifted his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, whose territorial status remains unresolved in the… Don Rothwell, a professor of international law ... Read More »

Thousands of Syrians stuck in the Rukban camp risk starvation

Tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in a desert camp near the Jordanian border are at risk of starvation amid dwindling supplies and the approach of winter, while regional powers trade blame over who… BEIRUT – The Associated Press Hurriyet Desperately needed aid deliveries to the besieged Rukban camp have repeatedly failed or been postponed, including a U.N. convoy which was supposed to go in on Oct. 25 but has now been… The camp is home to around 45,000 people, many of them women and children, who ... Read More »

Despite PR duress, Saudi $6bn to Pakistan comes with strings

Saudi Arabia’s crisis over Khashoggi murder is Imran Khan’s gain, but Pakistan may still be expected to up military cooperation with the kingdom. Suddaf Chaudry Asia Times Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan returned home this week from Saudi Arabia with a pledge of $6 billion in loans. Khan was likely able to secure the deal with fewer strings than a previous rejected offer, due to enormous international scrutiny on the kingdom in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi murder. But ... Read More »

Bahrain says ‘Arab NATO’ to be formed by next year

The alliance aims to include six Gulf countries and Egypt, though Saudi-led blockade on Qatar remains an obstacle. Al Jazeera Bahrain‘s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has said a planned Gulf security alliance, expected to include Egypt, will be formed by next year. At a security summit in capital Manama on Saturday, Khalifa said the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), an initiative pushed by US President Donald Trump to confront Iran, will help the Gulf remain “a… “It (MESA) is an alliance ... Read More »

Assyrian Journalist Betrayed By the Indifference of the West Over Syria

Hasakah, Syria — Souleman Yusph, a Christian journalist and researcher specialising in minority issues, hails from Qamishli, a town in the Kurdish-controlled north-eastern region of Syria. AINA He spoke to AsiaNews about his disappointment vis-à-vis the indifference of the West, especially the United States, who could exert pressure to defend Christians in Syria but instead shows that it does not care about them and their future. He also expressed fear of ending up again in the crosshairs of Kurdish authorities ... Read More »

Lack of trust between EU and Britain emerging as issue in backstop talks

London Letter: Fears Britain could seek to use Border issue for trade deal leverage Denis Staunton The Irish Times This was supposed to be “hell week” for Theresa May after mutinous Brexiteers foretold her political assassination in grisly metaphors in last Sunday’s papers. But after surviving a Brexit statement in the House of Commons on Monday, a fiery cabinet meeting on Tuesday and an appearance before the 1922 Committee on Wednesday, the prime minister ends the week in a… But May still ... Read More »

Trump administration plants US flag in Armenia

A visit by National Security Advisor John Bolton made clear that the past practice of looking the other way as Armenia deepened ties with Iran is over. Richard Giragosian Asia Times For the small country of Armenia, the past several months have marked an impressive emergence on the world stage. In a first-ever visit by a German leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Armenia in late August, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, joining other ... Read More »

Israel’s Netanyahu meets Sultan Qaboos in surprise trip to Oman

Visit by Israeli prime minister forms part of policy of ‘deepening’ ties with the states of the region, statement says. Al Jazeera Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made an unannounced trip to Oman, according to his office, in an apparent sign of warming ties between the two countries. Netanyahu and his wife Sara were joined by Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen, who has reportedly been responsible for clandestine talks with Gulf Arab governments, and… The Israeli delegation reportedly flew to Oman ... Read More »

Don’t Mention The War In Wentworth: Dr Peter Slezak

The furore over the Morrison government’s ‘riffing’ on moving Australia’s embassy in Israel has distracted from the even greater crimes being perpetrated against Palestinians. Dr Peter Slezak explains New Matilda Despite the storm of local and international condemnation, Prime Minister Morrison’s willingness to consider moving Australia’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem is a significant public relations win in the larger political scheme of things. Whether or not the harshest criticisms of the proposal are warranted, the furore over the embassy issue has ... Read More »