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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: German Embassy diplomat confirmed killed in Beirut blast

The official’s death is the first confirmed Germany fatality following Tuesday’s explosion. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confirmed that she was killed in her home and said the foreign ministry was in ‘deep mourning.’ A German diplomat was killed in Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut, marking the first death of a German citizen due to the blast. “Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “A member of our embassy in Beirut has been killed in the aftermath of the explosion in her home. All employees of the Federal Foreign Office are in deep grieving for their colleague.” (https://www.dw.com/en/german-embassy-diplomat-confirmed-killed-in-beirut-blast/a-54464915) “I would like to thank everyone who, like our late colleague, takes great personal risks around the world every day in serving our country,” added Maas.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Beirut says American citizen killed in blast

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut says at least one American citizen was killed and several more were injured in Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut’s port. “We offer our sincerest condolences to their loved ones and are working to provide the affected U.S. citizens and their families all possible consular assistance. We are working closely with local authorities to determine if any additional U.S. citizens were affected,” the embassy said in a statement. (https://www.news8000.com/the-latest-american-citizen-killed-in-blast-embassy-says/) The embassy said all of its employees are safe and accounted for.

Newsline: Wife of Dutch ambassador seriously injured in Beirut blast

he wife of the Dutch ambassador to Lebanon was seriously injured by a huge blast that took place in Beirut’s port on Tuesday, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-security-blast-netherlands/wife-of-dutch-ambassador-seriously-injured-in-beirut-blast-ministry-idUSKCN2511FJ) A spokesman said she had been admitted to hospital. He said the blast had caused extensive damage to the Dutch embassy, also wounding four other people connected to it.

Newsline: Australian Embassy building damaged in Beirut blast

At least one Australian was killed, and the Australian Embassy building has been “significantly compromised,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Two Filipino citizens also died from the explosion, and eight others are injured, said a statement from the Philippine Embassy in Beirut. Eleven other Filipino seafarers are still missing. (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/05/middleeast/beirut-blast-explainer-intl-hnk/index.html) One Japanese citizen, one Indonesian, and six Turkish citizens were also injured, according to authorities from the three countries.

Newsline: Israel approves raft of new envoys, including controversial ambassador to UK

Israel has confirmed half a dozen new ambassadors and consul-generals, including envoys to countries that will have a large impact on the Israeli government’s policies, security and development programmes. Among the appointments is Tzipi Hotovely, a right-wing religious nationalist, who is being made ambassador to the United Kingdom after a stint at the settlement affairs ministry. (https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-approves-raft-new-envoys-including-controversial-ambassador-uk) Hotovely, a rising power in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, is known for her Jewish supremacist views and disregard for the two-state solution. She is openly Islamophobic and supports the full annexation of the occupied West Bank. Her appointment comes as the British and Israeli governments are at odds over Israel’s now delayed plans to annex parts of the West Bank. When news she would be arriving in London broke last month, a petition was set up asking the UK’s Foreign Office to reject her nomination. It has now been signed by 1,800 members of Britain’s Jewish community.

Newsline: Stunning ancient site discovered near US embassy in Jerusalem

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered a stunning ancient site near the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The discovery was made in Arnona, the affluent neighborhood in southern Jerusalem where the embassy is located. In a statement emailed to Fox News, the Israel Antiquities Authority said that archaeologists discovered “an unusually large structure” built of concentric walls. Some 120 jar handles were also found bearing seal impressions with ancient Hebrew script. (https://www.foxnews.com/science/ancient-site-discovered-near-us-embassy-jerusalem) In ancient times, a seal stamp, or bulla, was used to authenticate documents or items. Many of the handles have the inscription “LMLK,” (to the king), along with the name of an ancient city, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Other inscriptions have the names of senior officials or wealthy people from the First Temple period between 960 BCE and 586 BCE. The site is believed to be a storage facility from the time of the ancient Judean kings Hezekiah and Menashe.

Newsline: Former Kyrgyz Diplomat Implicated In Customs-Fraud Case Freed From Custody

A former Kyrgyz diplomat mentioned in investigations into the high-profile killing in Istanbul of a Chinese citizen of Uyghur origin, whose statements to reporters led to a corruption scandal that shook the country in November, has been fined and released from custody. A spokeswoman for Bishkek’s Birinchi Mai district court, Aizada Momunova, told RFE/RL that the former consul-general in Istanbul, Erkin Sopokov, was ordered to pay 300,000 soms ($3,920) but given no jail time. (https://www.rferl.org/a/former-kyrgyz-diplomat-implicated-in-customs-fraud-case-freed-from-custody/30745565.html) There was no official announcement about Sopokov’s verdict and sentence at the time. The court’s website said on July 24 that Sopokov made a deal with investigators and pleaded guilty to abuse of office and illegal enrichment. No more details were provided. Sopokov was fired from his post in Istanbul and arrested following the assassination of Aierken Saimaiti, a Chinese national of Uyghur ethnicity, who was shot dead at an Istanbul cafe in November. Investigators revealed that Saimaiti used a vehicle with diplomatic license plates that belonged to Sopokov. Sopokov was accused of illegally lending his Range Rover to Saimaiti and other individuals, illegally earning $200,000 and misusing government-provided benefits.

Newsline: Turkey to open embassy in Togo

Turkey will open an embassy in the West African country of Togo, the Turkish foreign minister announced. After meeting with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe in the capital Lome, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will further develop its bilateral relations with Togo. He said during the meeting, the sides talked about how to improve relations and when the new embassy will be opened. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/turkey-to-open-embassy-in-togo-foreign-minister/1916792) Since 2003, Turkey and dozens of African countries have mutually opened embassies. Cavusoglu added that the sides also talked about organizing flights to Togo by Turkish Airlines (THY) as well as cooperation on security and education. Cavusoglu arrived in Togo Monday as the first stop on a three-nation West African tour, to be followed by Niger and Equatorial Guinea.

Newsline: Lebanon’s Hezbollah files official complaint against US envoy

The military arm of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has filed a formal complaint against the US Ambassador Dorothy Shea following comments she made in a recent interview. Secretary-General of the Iranian-backed Shia militia Hasan Nasrallah had warned the group’s parliamentary bloc would make the move during a recent speech. According to local media reports, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc Mohammed Raad made the formal complaint to the Foreign Ministry during a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassif Hitti, saying afterwards: “We asked Minister Hitti to take the measures that he sees appropriate to rein in the US ambassador’s behaviour, statements and meddling in our domestic affairs… the ambassador must stop interfering in our internal affairs and she must stop the rhetoric that incites the Lebanese”. “We consider that respecting diplomatic rules and norms would reflect positively on the reputation of the ambassador and those whom she represents,” Raad was quoted as saying by Lebanese daily Naharnet. (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200714-hezbollah-files-official-complaint-against-us-envoy/) The formal complaint comes after US Ambassador Shea appeared on the Saudi-owned news channel Al-Hadath at the end of June saying the US has “grave concerns about the role of Hezbollah” which “is destabilising the country and jeopardizing Lebanon’s economic recovery”. Following the comments, Judge Mohammed Mazeh, who is based in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, a Hezbollah stronghold, banned local media, as well as foreign journalists working in the country, from reporting the comments for a year. The ruling garnered widespread criticism including from several Lebanese news channels that broadcast interviews with the US ambassador after the ban had been issued, in a show of defiance. Mazeh was referred to a judicial inspection board over his issuing of the ban but later resigned.

Newsline: US diplomats leaving Saudi Arabia as coronavirus cases surge

As countries around the world prepare to battle a looming second wave of coronavirus infections, many United States diplomats are following hundreds of US citizens repatriated over the past few months. Dozens of US diplomats, along with their families, have left Saudi Arabia as the kingdom struggles to contain the outbreak, just weeks after it reopened its economy, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. More are expected to fly out in the coming weeks, officials familiar with the plan told the WSJ, after the US State Department approved the voluntary departure of “non-emergency personnel”. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/diplomats-leaving-saudi-coronavirus-cases-surge-report-200705104720757.html) Despite Saudi Arabia’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus early on, the number of the cases in the country has surged past 200,000 – up 110,000 from May – according to figures published by the Johns Hopkins University. More than 1,800 people there have died.