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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Top US diplomat Pompeo tells Saudi crown prince Khashoggi killers to be held accountable

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday (Nov 11) the US will hold accountable all those involved in the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist, in a telephone call that also took in the conflict in Yemen. The killing of Mr Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul and the war in Yemen, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine, are two of the main sources of strain in the decades-old alliance between Washington and Riyadh. Crown Prince Mohammed is controversially linked to both: he has played a direct role in overseeing Saudi Arabia’s Yemen intervention and has also been accused of orchestrating the Oct 2 murder of Mr Khashoggi, who was a US resident. “The Secretary emphasised that the United States will hold all of those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable, and that Saudi Arabia must do the same,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. The top US diplomat has previously said Mr Khashoggi’s killing “violates the norms of international law”, and that the US was reviewing possible sanctions on individuals identified as having been involved. Upping the pressure on Saudi Arabia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey had shared recordings related to Mr Khashoggi’s murder with Riyadh, Washington and other capitals, without giving details of their specific contents. After repeated denials, Saudi Arabia finally admitted the 59-year-old journalist had been murdered at its diplomatic mission in what it termed a “rogue” operation. Ankara has been demanding, to date without success, the extradition of those involved in the killing.



Newsline: Turkey shares tapes from consulate with Saudi Arabia, UK and others

Turkey has shared recordings related to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Saudi Arabia, the UK, US and other countries. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also repeated his belief that Saudi Arabia knows who is responsible for the October 2 killing and must disclose them. “We gave them the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, the French, to the British, to all of them,” Mr Erdogan said before departing for Paris to attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. “They [Saudi officials] also listened to the conversations and they know. There is no need to distort this. They know for certain who among the 15 is the killer or are the killers,” he said. He was referring to an alleged 15-member assassination squad that Turkey believes was sent to kill Mr Khashoggi at the consulate where he had arrived to obtain papers to marry his Turkish fiancee.


Newsline: UAE to reopen its embassy in Syria

The United Arab Emirates is preparing to re-open its embassy in the Syrian capital after six years of closure. According to media reports, Abu Dhabi has ordered full maintenance works to its Syrian embassy to be ready for opening within the next two weeks. The same reports added that other GCC states are considering restoring diplomatic ties with Damascus. Most countries have closed its embassies and consulates since the uprising – which later turned into a bloody war – swept the country in 2011. With the exception of Oman, GCC states closed its Syrian embassies in 2012.


Newsline: Turkey inaugurates embassy in Laos

Turkey inaugurated its embassy in the capital of Lao People’s Democratic Republic. “Through this embassy, this mission, we serve for the interest of both countries Laos and Turkey,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at the opening ceremony in the Southeast Asian country. Cavusoglu, who is currently in a two-day visit to capital Vientiane, is the first foreign minister who pays a visit to Laos from Turkey. Turkey has now embassies in all Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries with the inauguration of Laos embassy, the minister added. “For us this region, ASEAN region and Asia are so important. With this embassy, now we have reached 240 missions, including the consulate missions, in all over the world,” Cavusoglu said. He added Turkey wants to increase the number to 269 in two years.


Newsline: Egypt postpones Brazil visit after Bolsonaro promises Israel embassy move

Egypt has postponed a visit by Brazil’s top diplomat, Brazil’s foreign ministry said on Monday, in a move that two diplomatic sources said was due to the President-elect’s vow to relocate the South American country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira was set to fly to Cairo for a Nov. 8-11 visit, during which he was to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Egypt’s foreign ministry postponed Nunes Ferreira’s trip, citing problems with senior officials’ agendas, the foreign ministry said on Monday. But the foreign ministry sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said no new date has been proposed, signaling Egypt’s discontent with Jair Bolsonaro’s proposal. Egypt’s embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bolsonaro’s promise to relocate Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv follows a similar move by U.S. President Donald Trump in May, after he recognized the city as the capital of Israel. Palestinians also claim as their political capital.


Newsline: Saudi experts spent six days cleaning consulate after Khashoggi killing

Nine days after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s Istanbul on Oct. 2, a chemist and toxicologist were sent to Istanbul to get rid of the body and eliminate evidence, Turkish daily Sabah reported on Monday. Chemist Ahmed Abdulaziz Aljanobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya Al Zahrani were part of an 11-member delegation from Saudi Arabia that that entered Turkey via Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport on Oct. 11 as part of the joint investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi. According to intelligence information received by Sabah, Aljanobi and Zahrani visited the Saudi consulate from Oct. 12 until Oct. 17 as a part of the so-called investigation team, and also worked to eliminate evidence at the residence of the Saudi consul-general. The 11-member team left Turkey on Oct. 20. It is believed that the duo engaged first in search activities before wiping the crime scenes clean. Turkey was only granted permission to search the Saudi consulate on Oct. 15, which it carried out for two consecutive days, and the search of the residence was conducted on Oct. 17. Sabah reported that the chemist and toxicology expert carried out their work at the consulate and residence until Oct. 17. But the investigation teams found a blood sample during the search. And a sample was taken from the wall. That means the Saudis couldn’t completely eliminate all evidence, said retired murder detective Savaş Kurtbaba.


Newsline: Turkish prosecutor says Khashoggi was strangled upon entering Saudi consulate

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated killing, and his body was dismembered before being disposed of, a top Turkish prosecutor said. A statement from chief Istanbul prosecutor Irfan Fidan’s office also said that discussions with Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb have yielded no “concrete results” despite “good-willed efforts” by Turkey to uncover the truth. The statement is the first public confirmation by a Turkish official that Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered after he entered the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2 to collect paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.