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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Venezuelan Envoy Slams Guaido’s Plans to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

The Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has made a grave mistake in relation to the Arab world by announcing his readiness to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, Venezuelan Ambassador to Amman Omar Vielma Osuna said. “An illegitimate government headed by Guaido is now formed. And they have committed an unforgivable mistake by saying that they would open an embassy in Jerusalem. The Arab world revolted against this idea,” the ambassador said. (https://sputniknews.com/latam/201903151073258802-venezuela-embassy-jerusalem/) According to Osuna, Venezuela’s new economic model is aimed at showing the United States that Caracas, together with its partners in the Arab world, is able to stand up to the US economy. “The new economic model of Venezuela implies working with gold, metals and other products, so we want to change the economic policies in the world and show the world that we, together with our colleagues in the Arab region, can resist the US economy,” the ambassador added. Last month, Guaido announced plans to restore ties with Israel and did not rule relocating the embassy as a move to normalize bilateral relations frozen by Caracas in 2009 over Gaza killings.

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Newsline: Jamal Khashoggi’s body likely burned in large oven at Saudi consulate residence in Istanbul

The body of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was likely burned in a large oven at the Saudi consul general’s residence in Istanbul, an Al Jazeera investigation revealed. New details of the writer’s murder by a Saudi assassination team were reported in a documentary by Al Jazeera Arabic that aired on Mar. 10. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/jamal-khashoggi-body-burned-large-oven-saudi-home-190304011823218.html) Turkish authorities monitored the burning of the outdoor furnace from outside the premises as bags believed to be containing Khashoggi’s body parts were transferred to the Saudi consul’s home after he was killed inside the consulate a few hundred metres away. Al Jazeera interviewed a worker who constructed the furnace who stated it was built according to specifications from the Saudi consul. It had to be deep and withstand temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius – hot enough to melt metal. Large quantities of barbeque meat were grilled in the oven after the killing in order to cover up the cremation of the Saudi writer’s body, Turkish authorities reported. The burning of Khashoggi’s body took place over a period of three days, Turkish officials said. Turkish investigators also found traces of Khashoggi’s blood on the walls of the Saudi consul’s office after removing paint that the assassination team applied after killing the Washington Post columnist on October 2.

Newsline: Turkey to open Consulate in Lahore

Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul on Mar. 13 said that his country would open a consulate in Lahore to facilitate the business community. He said that a number of Turkish companies were already working in Pakistan and there was potential further increase trade volume between the two countries. (https://nation.com.pk/14-Mar-2019/turkey-to-open-consulate-in-lahore-envoy) Those holding visas of the European countries, the United Kingdom and the United States could easily get e-visa of Turkey, he added.

Newsline: Turkish foreign ministry summons Belgium ambassador in Ankara

Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned Belgium’s ambassador in Ankara on Monday over a Belgian judicial decision it said had blocked prosecution of people with alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a foreign ministry official said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-belgium/turkish-foreign-ministry-summons-belgium-ambassador-in-ankara-idUSKBN1QS1JL) The ministry last week described the decision by the Belgian Chamber of Indictment unacceptable and said Belgium was expected “to act in line with (its) counter-terrorism responsibilities”.

Newsline: South Africa to Downgrade Israel Embassy Status

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country is planning to downgrade the status of its embassy in the occupied territories, in response to Israel’s violation of Palestinians’ rights. Speaking to the parliament in Cape Town, Ramaphosa said South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was working on implementing a decision by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to lower diplomatic ties with Israel. “The South African government remains seized with the modalities of downgrading the South African Embassy in Israel and we will communicate once the cabinet has fully finalized on this matter,” he said. (http://imemc.org/article/south-africa-to-downgrade-israel-embassy-status/) The South African president further noted that the decision to downgrade the embassy in the occupied lands is driven by Israel’s violations of the rights of the Palestinians and the regime’ failure to enter negotiations on the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. PNN further reports that, last May, South Africa withdrew its ambassador to Tel Aviv in protest at Israel’s deadly crackdown on anti-occupation rallies in the Gaza Strip. South Africa established close ties with the Israeli regime during the apartheid era, but after the collapse of the discriminatory system, the African country began to lean towards Palestine.

Newsline: US Embassy Staffers Shut Them Out of Saudi Meetings

Officials and staffers in the U.S. embassy in Riyadh said they were not read in on the details of Jared Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia or the meetings he held with members of the country’s royal court last week, according to three sources with knowledge of the trip. And that’s causing concern not only in the embassy but also among members of Congress. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/embassy-staffers-say-jared-kushner-shut-them-out-of-saudi-meetings) On his trip to the Middle East, Kushner stopped in Riyadh. While there, he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman to discuss U.S.-Saudi cooperation, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and economic investment in the region, according to the White House. But no one from the embassy in Riyadh was in the meetings, according to those same sources. The State Department did have a senior official in attendance, but he was not part of the State Department team in Saudi. He is a senior member of the department focused on Iran, according to a source with direct knowledge of the official’s presence in Riyadh.

Newsline: Saudi’s top diplomat says ‘too early’ to reopen Syria embassy

Saudi Arabia has ruled out reopening the kingdom’s embassy in Syria, saying it is “too early” to restore diplomatic ties with President Bashar al-Assad’s government. The comments were made on Mar. 4 by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir, who also said Saudi authorities would not take part in any reconstruction efforts in Syria without progress on a political process to end the country’s eight-year-old war. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/saudi-foreign-minister-early-reopen-syria-embassy-190304184023059.html) “The kingdom has always been keen on the integrity of the Syrian territory and the political solution,” al-Jubeir told a joint press conference with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.