Archive for Middle East
The Saudi Arabian embassy in Paris has issued a statement carried on Saudi state media confirming that a car owned by a Saudi citizen was forced to stop on the way to the airport and stolen, but denied media reports that the vehicle was affiliated to the embassy and was carrying money and sensitive documents. Reuters claimed that armed gunmen ambushed a Saudi prince’s convoy on the outskirts of Paris on Sunday evening, making off with a large amount of cash and some private documents in what police said looked like a raid by well-informed attackers. The Saudi convoy of about a dozen cars had been heading for the small Le Bourget airport north of the city along the major A1 highway with the prince, whose name was not revealed. According to a police official about eight masked attackers with guns, driving in two BMW cars, forced one of the cars in the convoy to stop near the Porte de la Chapelle exit junction on the northern edge of the capital at around 2100 (1900 GMT).
Police have detained a man who opened fire on the Turkish Embassy in central Moscow on Monday morning, ITAR-Tass reported. The man, who fired two shots from a double-barreled hunting rifle at an embassy sign depicting the Turkish flag, was immediately detained by police officers guarding the embassy. No one was harmed in the incident, according to ITAR-Tass. Moskovsky Komsomolets identified the shooter as a 43-year-old Armenian businessman. The police had not commented on the identity of the shooter by the time of publication. While the shooter’s motives remain unclear, the strained relations between Turkey and Armenia over the recent exacerbation of tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh — a region that lies within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders but is populated by a large majority of Armenians — circulated Monday in the Russian press as a potential motive for the act. Rallies have also previously been held at and near Turkish embassies and consulates in Russia by representatives of the country’s extensive Armenian diaspora calling for Turkey to recognize as genocide the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman authorities in 1915 in what is modern-day Turkey. ITAR-Tass reported that police have opened a hooliganism case against the man, who currently remains in police custody. If charged and convicted, he faces up to five years in prison under Russian law.
Gunmen armed with assault weapons ambushed a car from Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Paris, stealing 250,000 euros ($334,000) in cash, a police union official said. The assault occurred late yesterday near the Paris city limits as a convoy of vehicles from the embassy headed to Le Bourget airport, said Rocco Contento, a representative of Unite SGP Police. A Saudi prince was in one of the vehicles, he said. The airport, seven kilometers (4.3 miles) north of Paris, serves business aircraft. “They must have been informed about the schedule,” he said. The assault was “very well organized” because no shots were fired and no one was hurt, he said. Spokespeople for the police in Paris didn’t immediately return calls for comment. The Saudi embassy didn’t immediately respond to requests for a comment. No one was injured in the attack, which occurred between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. as the vehicles entered the A1 highway in Paris’s 18th district, said Contento, who got his information from the police unit that responded to the attack. The last car in the convoy, a Mercedes minivan with only a driver inside, was hijacked by eight hooded gunmen in two BMWs, he said. The attackers stole the minivan with the driver and released him later, Contento said. They also took sensitive documents, he said. The vehicle was later found burned, Contento said. The prince continued to the airport and caught his plane, the union official said.
An anonymous caller alerted authorities to an alleged explosive device at the Israeli Embassy in Paseo Colón. Authorities responded immediately to the scene, but were unable to locate any bomb or explosive device. Embassy personnel were allowed to go back to work after authorities gave the all clear. Costa Rica’s government has also been critical of recent Israeli operations in Gaza. Authorities have not yet identified any suspects in Friday’s bomb threat, but have reason to take such threats seriously. In 1992, a suicide bombing attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killed 29 civilians and injured 242.
The US State Department says it has relocated some of its staff members from the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil and the capital Baghdad amid an offensive by militants. A “limited number of staff members” had been relocated from both the Irbil and Baghdad consulates, the State Department said. The decision came as the violence increased in Irbil which was followed by targeted US airstrikes in the north of the country. The notice announcing “the departure of some staff from the consulate general in Irbil” added the members were transferred “to the consulate general in Basra (southern Iraq) and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman,” Jordan. However, the US Embassy and Consulate General will continue to operate. “The Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Irbil remain open and operating,” the notice stated. The Embassy cannot take effective measures when it comes to situations where US citizens encounter problems including arrests, according to the notice. “The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which US citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited,” the memo said.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations slammed its members for “their complicity in allowing organizations like Hamas to continue to exist in the Middle East.” Ron Prosor spoke at a special General Assembly session on Gaza. “This institution was founded to stand for truth, for justice, and for moral clarity. This is no longer the case,” he told the delegates. Prosor spoke after the Palestinian Authority’s UN ambassador, Riyah Mansour, accused Israel of violating international law during its 29-day operation in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the current cease-fire “has come at a price that is almost too much to bear. The massive death and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world.” Ban called for a negotiated political settlement between the two sides. He acknowledged that weapons had been discovered stored in what he called “abandoned” UN buildings and that there were reports that Hamas rockets had been fired from near UN properties.
Demonstrators in Jordan have called on the government to shut down the Israeli embassy in condemnation of its military aggression against the Gaza Strip. Chanting anti-Israel slogans, the protesters called on the Jordanian government to revoke the 1994 peace treaty with the Tel Aviv regime. The demonstrators also called for an end to the aggression against Gaza. The protest was organized by Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood activists. The event was the biggest in the country since the beginning of the Israeli offensive on July 8. Similar protests were also held in other Jordanian cities following the Friday prayers. The demonstrations came as the Israeli military resumed pounding Gaza after a three-day ceasefire ended on Friday. At least five Palestinians, including two children, lost their lives in the latest Israeli airstrikes targeting the northern and southern parts of the besieged Palestinian territory. Nearly 400,000 Palestinian children are in immediate need of psychological help due to the “catastrophic and tragic impact” of war, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).