Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Suspect nabbed for killing of Turkish diplomat in Iraq

Turkish security forces on Jan. 21 nabbed a suspect allegedly linked to an armed attack that killed a Turkish diplomat in northern Iraq last July. He was arrested in a joint operation by the provincial police forces and the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT) in the southeastern border province of Şırnak as he attempted to cross to Turkey. (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-nabs-suspect-over-killing-of-turkish-diplomat-in-erbil-151279) On July 17, Osman Köse, who was serving at Turkey’s Consulate General in Erbil, was killed in an armed attack at a restaurant. Apart from the diplomat, two Iraqi nationals sitting at a nearby table were also killed. In August, Turkish forces neutralized two PKK/YPG terrorists, who plotted the armed attack.

Newsline: Ex-Italian diplomat sentenced for smuggling Egyptian artefacts

A Cairo criminal court sentenced a former honorary Italian consul to 15 years in jail in absentia for smuggling antiquities out of the country, a judicial source said. Ladislav Otakar Skakal, Italy’s former honorary consul in Luxor, attempted to smuggle 21,855 artefacts from various historical eras in 2017, according to the prosecutor general. These included over 21,000 golden coins, 151 miniature figurines, five mummy masks, 11 pottery vessels, three ceramic tiles dating to the Islamic period and a wooden sarcophagus. Italian police found the sizeable loot in a diplomatic shipping container heading from the port city of Alexandria to Salerno in Italy in 2017. (https://www.thelocal.it/20200122/italian-diplomat-sentenced-for-smuggling-egyptian-artefacts) Skakal’s trial, along with other accomplices, began in September last year. Prosecutors found that the antiquities were smuggled with the aid of Raouf Ghali, the brother of former Hosni Mubarak-era finance minister Youssef Ghali. A verdict is expected next month for Skakal’s alleged Egyptian accomplices. Egypt managed to retrieve the stolen antiquities in cooperation with Italian authorities in 2018. It also requested that Interpol issue a red notice against the disgraced diplomat.

Newsline: Three rockets fall near US embassy in Iraq

Three rockets have fallen inside Baghdad’s Green Zone on Tuesday morning, close to the US embassy. A BBC reporter said alarms were sounding in the US embassy complex and speakers were telling those inside to take shelter. Iraqi police told Reuters that three Katyusha rockets fell inside the Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign missions. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/20/three-rockets-fall-us-embassy-iraq-baghdad) The rockets were launched from the Zafaraniyah district outside Baghdad, the sources said, adding that two rockets landed near the US embassy.

Newsline: Turkey summons Egyptian diplomat

Turkey summoned a senior Egyptian diplomat to protest what it said was a raid by Egyptian security forces on the Cairo office of Turkey’s state-run news agency, in which four people were detained. The Anadolu news agency said the four employees, including one Turkish national, had been taken to an undisclosed location after the raid. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the move, which it described as “an act of violence” against Anadolu. It later said that it also summoned the Egyptian charge d’affaires over the matter. “This act of violence against Anadolu not only shows the Egyptian leadership’s hostile stance toward the freedom of the press, but also once again shows its grave conditions on democracy and transparency,” the ministry said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-security/turkey-says-egyptian-security-forces-raid-news-agency-in-cairo-idUSKBN1ZE1U5) It called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release the detained Anadolu personnel.

Newsline: Poland evacuates its ambassador from Iraq

Following Iran’s attack on two U.S. bases in Iraq, Poland evacuated its ambassador in Iraq, according to Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, local media reported. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/poland-evacuates-its-ambassador-from-iraq/1696661) Czaputowicz told Radio ZET that Beata Peksa, the Polish ambassador to Iraq, has been evacuated and returned to Poland It was also reported that the evacuation took place at the request of British diplomats, because the Polish embassy is located in the international zone of the British embassy’s premises.

Newsline: Iraqi foreign ministry will summon Tehran envoy over strikes

Iraq’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it rejected Iran’s missile attack on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops and would summon Tehran’s ambassador in Baghdad to convey its protest. “The foreign ministry rejects these attacks and considers them a violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” it said in a statement. “It stresses that Iraq is an independent state and that its internal security is its priority. We will not allow it to become a battlefield. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-diplomacy/iraqi-foreign-ministry-will-summon-tehran-envoy-over-strikes-statement-idUSKBN1Z72CJ) “The foreign ministry will summon the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassador and convey this to him.”

Newsline: U.S. accuses Russia, China of blocking U.N. statement on Baghdad embassy attack

The United States accused Russia and China on Monday of blocking a U.N. Security Council statement underscoring the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises after a Dec. 31 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Such statements by the 15-member Security Council have to be agreed on by consensus. The U.S. mission to the United Nations said 27 countries spoke out against the attack on the Baghdad embassy “in stark contrast to the United Nations Security Council’s silence due to two permanent members – Russia and China – not allowing a statement to proceed.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-un-usa/us-accuses-russia-china-of-blocking-un-statement-on-baghdad-embassy-attack-idUSKBN1Z51I5) The U.N. ambassadors of Russia and China both dismissed the U.S. accusation on Monday, saying they condemn any attacks on diplomatic premises around the world. Militiamen and their supporters protesting deadly U.S. air strikes on Iraq hurled stones and torched a security post at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31. U.S. President Donald Trump blamed Iran for “orchestrating” the attack on the embassy. On Friday, Iran’s most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport, an attack that carried U.S.-Iranian hostilities into uncharted waters. Russia and China said any statement by the U.N. Security Council on the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad should also include the latest developments.