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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Lawyer for German embassy in Ankara arrested

Turkish authorities took the lawyer into custody, Germany’s Foreign Ministry confirmed. The man, from Turkey, had been assisting the embassy in Ankara by looking into the cases of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Germany, according to news magazine Der Spiegel, which first broke the story. A German diplomatic source told Agence France-Presse that the lawyer had provided “internationally customary and, in our view, indisputably acceptable support.” (https://www.dw.com/en/lawyer-for-german-embassy-in-ankara-arrested/a-51341528) “His detention is incomprehensible to us,” they added. The diplomatic source said Germany was “intensively engaging to clear up the allegations and free him from custody.” The lawyer, who Der Spiegel says has been accused of espionage, cannot receive consular assistance from Germany because he is a Turkish citizen.

Newsline: Bahraini dissident says embassy staff in London tried to kill him

A Bahraini dissident has filed a formal complaint with police in the United Kingdom, claiming that staff at the Bahraini embassy in London tried to murder him. Moosa Mohammed climbed to the top of the embassy in July to protest against the imminent executions of two anti-government activists in Bahrain. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/bahraini-dissident-embassy-staff-kill-191120070419148.html) He says staff tried to push him off the roof then began the process of trying to kill him inside.

Newsline: U.S. embassy in Lebanon denies funding “revolution bus”

The U.S. embassy in Lebanon denied rumors about the embassy standing behind the financing of a “revolution bus” in Lebanon amid nationwide protests against the ruling political class. The embassy tweeted that it has nothing to do with the revolution bus while “the embassy supports the Lebanese people in their peaceful demonstrations and expressions of national unity.” (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-11/17/c_138560852.htm) The revolution bus aimed at traveling from north to south of Lebanon on Sunday through the main sites of the month-long demonstrations in Lebanon to convey a message of peace and that protesters from all regions are united against the political ruling class. A group of people had accused the bus of being funded by foreign powers and hence prevented it from entering the city of Sidon, south of Lebanon, creating tension in the area.

Newsline: Finland reopens Iraq embassy after hiatus of nearly 30yrs

Finland says it is reopening its embassy in Iraq and sending an ambassador to Baghdad after a hiatus of nearly 30 years to re-establish bilateral ties, help in the country’s reconstruction and boost trade. Repatriating thousands of Iraqis who are staying illegally in Finland after rejection of their asylum applications remains a thorny issue between the countries. Some 20,000 Iraqi migrants arrived in Finland in 2015. Finnish Ambassador Vesa Hakkinen told The Associated Press on Thursday, a day before taking up his new post, that the Nordic country and EU member ceased its diplomatic presence in Iraq in the wake of the Gulf War in January 1991. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/finland-reopens-iraq-embassy-after-hiatus-of-nearly-30yrs/2019/11/14/46808c2a-06d1-11ea-9118-25d6bd37dfb1_story.html) Finland’s embassy will have an initial staff of four and be located in a Baghdad building that also houses the Swedish embassy.

Newsline: Iraq nurse raised weapons-related concerns with Australian ambassador

A former nurse at the Australian Embassy in Iraq told the ambassador about careless weapons handling and alcohol abuse by security contractors before a bodyguard’s death, an inquest has heard. The only witness to the death was a security contractor, Sun McKay, who allegedly regularly drank a cocktail of vodka, Redbull, cough mixture and Valium while playing with weapons. The man who died, Christopher Betts, 34, was also a private security contractor with the United Resources Group at the Baghdad embassy when he shot himself in the head on May 12, 2016, the Brisbane Coroners Court was told. Australian Federal Police found his gunshot wound was self-inflicted but could not determine if it was misadventure or suicide. He died about 2.30am after a night of drinking in the embassy living quarters with Mr McKay. Former URG nurse and ex-NSW police officer Tanya Ferrai told the inquest she became so concerned about URG’s poor management and culture she raised it with the company’s chief executive and eventually the ambassador. (https://7news.com.au/news/crime/embassy-shooting-witness-changed-his-story-c-544138) She alleged medical and security records were altered or deleted, mental health screening was inadequate, and contractors were using drugs and alcohol, which was forbidden.

Newsline: Three killed as Iraq protesters attack Iran consulate in Karbala

At least three Iraqi protesters have been killed during an attack on the Iranian consulate in the Shia holy city of Karbala, according to security sources and a monitor. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/iraqi-protesters-attack-iran-consulate-karbala-191103232545555.html) Demonstrators reportedly scaled the concrete barriers surrounding the building. They hung Iraqi flags and spray-painted “Karbala is free, Iran out, out!” on them, in a sign of increasing anger among some demonstrators against Tehran’s perceived interference in Iraqi politics.

Newsline: Lebanon taxi driver sentenced to death over murder of UK embassy worker

A man convicted of the rape and murder of a British embassy worker in Lebanon has been sentenced to death, the country’s state-owned National News Agency reported. In December 2017, a taxi driver picked Rebecca Dykes up from a Beirut bar and drove her to a mountainside motorway where he sexually assaulted and strangled her with a rope. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/01/middleeast/rebecca-dykes-uk-embassy-lebanon-murder-intl-gbr/index.html) Dykes was an employee at the UK Department of International Development at the British embassy in Beirut. She was last seen leaving a bar named “Demo” off of the Gemmayze Street, a popular nightlife spot in the Lebanese capital, the source said. Her body was found in a ditch along a mountain highway near the outskirts of the city.