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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: South Africa “holding back” ambassador to Israel

South Africa will not reinstate its ambassador to Israel that it withdrew on May 14 amid the heightened violence that resulted in the death of some 60 Gazans on the day the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem, officially recognizing the city as Israel’s capital despite tremendous resistance from Palestinians as well as internationally. “I’m very glad that I recalled the ambassador, because we could have not been in the situation that we are at now. It’s been a violation that has been going on for a long time, and we can’t be looking away,” International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says. South Africa’s foreign minister said the withdrawal was indefinite due to the situation in Gaza. Some 140 Palestinians have been killed since March 30, of which 50 have been identified as Hamas members. “We are holding back on our ambassador until we are certain that we are making headway. For us this is an unacceptable situation, completely unacceptable.” South Africa originally withdrew its ambassador in protests of what it called Israel’s “latest act of violent aggression” against civilians protesting peacefully in the Gaza Strip.



Newsline: Turkey to reopen consulates in Mosul, Basra soon

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the preparations are underway to reopen Turkish consulates in Mosul and Basra in Iraq, which were closed after Daesh attacked in 2014. Çavuşoğlu confirmed that they have started examining the area to build new consulates in the cities of Basra and Mosul. “Presumably, we will first open the Basra Consulate then Mosul after finding a proper place,” he said. Accordingly, Turkey plans to assign two new consul generals to the consulates to re-strengthen relations with Iraqi authorities. The decision to reopen the consulates indicates that the Daesh threat in the area has been weakening. Meanwhile, security in Iraq has recovered relatively, and there is now the chance to ensure security across the country, according to local experts. Daesh took over the Turkish Consulate in Mosul in June 11, 2014, and held captive 49 consulate personnel and their families, including Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Öztürk Yılmaz, who was then the consul general to Mosul. The hostages were safely returned to Turkey after 101 days of captivity.


Newsline: Slovakia declares it will move its embassy to Jerusalem

“Slovakia is on its way to relocating its embassy to Jerusalem,” head of the Slovak National Council Andrej Danko told President Reuven Rivlin. The visiting delegation of Slovak lawmakers announced the Eastern European country would open a cultural center in the Israeli capital. The move, when it materializes, would mark a break from European Union policy on Jerusalem. Slovakia would join the Czech Republic and Bulgaria as the other European Union member states to expand their diplomatic presence in the city since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The visiting lawmakers did not give a time frame for when the new cultural center would be opened. The decision, made by Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, came after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called on Bratislava’s government to follow the Czech Republic in opening an honorary consulate in the city.


Newsline: Israel’s embassy in Ireland stalled Dublin office works over security concerns

Israel’s embassy in Ireland has stated that a planned redevelopment of Carrisbrook House in Dublin 4 “could be a significant threat to the security and privacy” of its operation. Israel’s Dublin-based embassy, which is currently housed on the fifth floor of Carrisbrook House, has put a block on the plans for the building after it lodged an appeal against a decision by Dublin council which gave Spectre (Carrisbrook) Ltd the green light to revamp the office block. Previously, the IDA’s €1 million a year expenditure on lease payments on the largely-empty Carrisbrook House came under the political spotlight.


Newsline: France appoints Iran ambassador as Syria envoy

The current French ambassador to Iran Francois Senemaud has been named as President Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for Syria. The appointment was announced at the weekly cabinet meeting. Senemaud, 61, is expected to leave Tehran in August, Benjamin Griveaux, the government spokesman, told a weekly news briefing and added that France is “not reopening” its embassy. In 2012, France closed its embassy in Syria without formally breaking off diplomatic relations. Franck Gellet, 54, who has just been appointed as French ambassador to Qatar, was working as French envoy to Syria since 2014.


Newsline: Iraq denies reports about shelling of U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

Iraqi authorities denied on Sunday that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad came under a mortar attack by Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militias in response to last week’s airstrikes on Iraqi-Syrian borders, which left scores of the pro-Iran fighters dead and injured. Ghaleb al-Zamali, a member of Baghdad provincial council’s security committee, told Basnews website that “reports about the shelling of the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone, Baghdad, are inaccurate. No bombardments were reported against the the U.S. Embassy or elsewhere.” Al-Zamali accused some parties “of attempting to spread rumors for political purposes,” stressing that the situation in Baghdad is stable and there is no security tension. Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces said on Monday that up to 34 fighters its members were killed and wounded Sunday after the U.S.-led international coalition targeted a military outpost in the Syrian city of Albu Kamal.


Newsline: Bulgaria to put ‘honorary consulate,’ not embassy, in Jerusalem

Bulgaria will, “as a first step,” open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem that will not only deal with Bulgarian interests in the capital, but throughout the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. Netanyahu made this announcement at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, saying he discussed the matter on Saturday night during a phone call with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who was in the country earlier this month. “I told him this is a welcome step, which I very much hope will lead quickly to the opening of Bulgaria’s official and full embassy in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. Diplomatic sources, however, said that the move has little real significance. The Czech Republic made a similar move last month, naming businessman Dan Propper as its honorary consul in Jerusalem. Bulgaria’s Embassy is currently located in Tel Aviv.