Archive for Middle East
A top Tehran official says the Yemeni government is responsible for the abduction of an Iranian diplomat last year. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian criticized the Yemeni government’s inaction on Nour Ahmad Nikbakht’s arrest, adding the kidnapped Iranian diplomat is now being held in a security prison of the Yemeni government. He, however, said that received updates from Sana’a are in contradiction with what Yemeni authorities have told Iran about the abducted diplomat. Iran will pursue efforts to secure the diplomat’s release, the official said, reiterating that Nikbakht is in good health. Nikbakht was on his way to work from his home in the diplomatic quarter of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on July 21, 2013 when unidentified gunmen blocked the road, forced him out of his vehicle and abducted him. He has been detained in Yemen for more than a year.
An Ankara court on Tuesday dismissed a request filed for the cancelation of the release of a Kuwaiti Embassy driver who, with a group of Kuwaiti diplomats, beat up a Turkish pilot last week. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office objected to a decision by the Ankara 4th Criminal Court of Peace to release Salahaddin A., a driver for the Kuwaiti Embassy, who removed Lt. Col. Hakan Karakuş from his car and, along with Kuwaiti diplomats, beat him up. The chief prosecutor’s office also demanded the arrest of the embassy driver. The lawyer for the driver requested that his client be kept under police monitoring. Both requests were reportedly rejected by an Ankara court. According to reports circulating in the Turkish media, a number of Kuwaiti diplomats who were traveling in a vehicle with diplomatic plates got out of the car in the middle of traffic and removed Lt. Col. Hakan Karakuş, an F-16 pilot working with NATO, from his car and beat him up in front of his wife in Ankara last week. Kuwaiti Ambassador to Turkey Abdullah Abdulaziz al-Duwaikh threatened Ankara, saying that deporting Almohaid prior to a court ruling would negatively affect Kuwaiti’s investments in Turkey.
Reconnaissance planes at the ready, France’s president said there was “no time to lose” in the global push to combat extremists from the Islamic State group, minus the two countries who share most of Iraq’s borders. French reconnaissance jets were prepared to take off Monday, a French official said. An American official said several Arab countries had offered to conduct airstrikes. “The terrorist threat is global and the response must be global,” French President Francois Hollande said, opening an international conference Monday intended to come up with a global strategy against the group. “There is no time to lose.” Muslim-majority countries are considered vital to any operation to prevent the militants from gaining more territory in Iraq and Syria. Western officials have made clear they consider Syrian President Bashar Assad part of the problem, and U.S. officials opposed France’s attempt to invite Iran. France’s foreign minister acknowledged that a number of the countries at the table Monday had “very probably” financed Islamic State’s advances, and Iraq’s president appeared ambivalent about Arab participation, saying his country needed the support of its neighbors — but not necessarily their fighter jets or soldiers. In an interview on Sunday with The Associated Press in Paris, Iraq’s President Fouad Massoum — a Kurd, whose role in the government is largely ceremonial — expressed regret that Iran was not attending. He also seemed lukewarm to the possible participation Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in airstrikes in Iraqi territory.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced that it appointed its first female ambassador to an Arab state, with seven out of 12 of its new appointments being women. Einat Shlain, a Foreign Ministry employee of 22 years, will take up her post as ambaddasor to Jordan in 10 months, Haaretz reported. She served in Amman at the beginning of her diplomatic career, as well as in Israel’s embassy in Washington. She currently heads the international division of the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic research center. Female ambassadors were also appointed to France, Romania, Bulgaria, Belgium, Cyprus and China. New ambassadors were set to take up their positions in Spain, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Slovakia and Ireland.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry says the kingdom plans to reopen its embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad once the situation improves in Iraq. Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said on Saturday that the decision was made following a meeting between Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah earlier this year, English-language newspaper Arab News reported. “Prince Saud has assured al-Jaafari that the Saudi Embassy would be reopened in Baghdad,” he added. Nugali further noted that Riyadh has not given any time frame for the embassy’s reopening. Saudi Arabia needs to resolve “technical, administrative and security” issues before it can re-establish the mission and assign an ambassador, the senior Saudi official stated. The Saudi government, which has not dispatched an ambassador to Baghdad since 1990, named a non-resident ambassador, Fahd bin Abdul Mohsen al-Zaid, to the Iraqi capital in March 2012. Senior Iraqi officials have blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some Persian Gulf Arab states for the growing terrorism in their country.
An ancient Egyptian coffin lid being sold at auction in Cambridgeshire should be withdrawn from sale and repatriated to Egypt, embassy officials in London have said. They are furious at the refusal of Willingham Auctions to withdraw the partial sarcophagus, which dates back thousands of years. It was discovered by auctioneer Stephen Drake during a clearance of a house in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, last month. The property was the home of the big game hunter and journalist Captain “Tiger” Sarll, who is thought to have found the coffin lid in Africa and had it shipped back to Britain. He died in 1977, and his widow continued to live there until her death in 2005. The two-metre artifact is an ancient Egyptian Ptolemaic coffin top made for “Hor, son of Wenennefer” and dating back to around 330 years BC, according to an initial assessment by Egyptologists at Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. An Egyptian embassy official told The Independent that sellers or owners of Egyptian antiquities “should have proper provenance and an export licence”. The Ministry of Antiquity in Cairo has instructed them to try to prevent the sale from going ahead, they added. “We tried to encourage the auction house to convince the family that we are keen to repatriate it to its country of origin. We wanted them to give it up voluntarily but unfortunately they refused.” Earlier this week, the Egyptian Embassy, London, reported the proposed sale to Scotland Yard, but it is understood that the police are powerless to act since it is a civil matter, not a criminal one. Auctioneer Stephen Drake was unrepentant: “Legally we are allowed to sell it; the vendor wants us to sell it for them, we are acting on their behalf.” He added: “While being sympathetic to the Egyptian embassy, it’s not our decision to put it into sale. The Egyptian government are welcome to bid for it.” But the Egyptian Embassy official ruled out such a move, as that would simply be “encouraging more people to loot items and put them on sale”.
Kuwait has denied claims that embassy staff beat a Turkish air force pilot in a road rage incident in Ankara. The country’s ambassador to Turkey, Abdullah Al-Duwaikh, denied allegations that Major Hakan Karakus was attacked in front of his wife and baby. The pilot, who had recently returned to Ankara from a NATO exercise, claimed he was taking his six-day-old infant to hospital to be vaccinated on Thursday when he was nearly involved in an accident with a Kuwaiti diplomat’s car in an upmarket district of the capital. Four men got out of the Kuwaiti car and allegedly attacked him. It is said that passersby had to intervene to prevent the officer, who was treated in hospital for his injuries, being more seriously hurt. “It is opposite of what you heard,” said Al-Duwaikh. “There were not four guys in the car, there were just our diplomat and his driver.” Al-Duwaikh claimed the diplomat was going to the bank when Major Karakus blocked his car’s path. “The bank’s security camera, security personnel and workers there are witnesses,” the ambassador said. “He kicked the diplomat’s car, there are pictures, so security told our diplomat not to leave the bank.” Al-Duwaikh also said the accused diplomat did not touch Major Karakus, accusing the flyer of involvement in blackmail. Turkish media reported that the pilot had filed a criminal complaint.