Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for February 12, 2012

Newsline: Syria expels ambassadors of Tunisia, Libya

Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday that Damascus has given the ambassadors of Libya and Tunisia 72 hours to leave Syria. The Syrian embassy in Qatar was also closed, and Syrian ambassadors to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have also been called back, Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said. The expulsion of diplomatic missions of Libya and Tunisia came apparently in retaliation to similar actions taken against Syrian diplomats in those countries. Tunisia was the first Arab country to announce the decision to expel Syria’s ambassador and to cut relations with the Syrian government. Libyan Foreign Ministry on Thursday announced its decision to expel Syria’s charge d’affaires and his staff, adding that it expects all Syrian diplomats to leave the country within the next 72 hours. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have also decided to withdraw their ambassadors in Syria, and in the meantime demand Syrian ambassadors in the Gulf countries to leave, according to a GCC statement issued earlier this month.



Newsline: Embassy makes contact with journalist held in Egypt

Federal government officials have made contact with an Australian journalist arrested in Egypt and are seeking more information from local police on what charges he may face. Egyptian authorities arrested Austin Mackell, 28, from New South Wales, US student Derek Ludovici and local translator Aliya Alwi in the industrial city of Mahalla al-Kobra overnight. Security officials have accused them of trying to pay people to join a strike marking the first anniversary of Hosni Mubarak’s ouster as the country’s president. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade today said it had been in contact with Mr Mackell. “Consular officials from the Australian Embassy in Cairo have spoken to the man,” a DFAT spokesperson said. “He has confirmed he is being treated appropriately by local police authorities and that he intends to engage a legal representative.” Embassy officials are now seeking advice from Egyptian police on possible charges arising from the arrest, the spokesperson said. Ms Alwi posted details of the ordeal on her Twitter account, writing that she and Mr Mackell were being transported to a military intelligence office in the nearby city of Tanta. The trio apparently first believed the police were trying to protect them after they experienced some aggression from locals. “Our car got rocked and beaten against the glass, got called a whore and all sorts of things. Police escorted us to station,” Ms Alwi wrote.


Newsline: Iran ambassador accuses the West of double-standard approach on Arab uprisings

Iran’s Ambassador to Germany Ali Reza Sheikh Attar lambasted the West for double-standard on the Arab uprisings. Speaking at an international symposium on the Islamic Awakening in the Arab world in Berlin, Sheikh Attar stressed that the western double-standard was the ‘worst way’ in dealing with the popular Arab revolutions. Citing statistics to substantiate his argument, Iran’s chief diplomat in Germany said 86 times more people were killed in the uprising in Bahrain than in Egypt, if one takes into account the population size of both Arab countries. Sheikh Attar lashed out at the West for its silence on Bahrain, saying this was a clear case of western double-standard. Iran’s envoy warned that people in the Middle East would ultimately lose their trust in the West because of its regional double standard policy. He also exposed the West’s double-standard on Syria, saying the West was openly interfering in the affairs of that country, even though the West had always advocated non-interference in Egypt and Tunisia.