Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Kuwait tells Iranian embassy to cut staff after spy case

Kuwait has ordered Iran to reduce its embassy staff and close down its technical offices in the Gulf Arab state following a court case which implicated “Iranian parties” of involvement in a spy cell, state news agency KUNA said on Thursday. Last year Kuwait convicted 23 men – one Iranian and the rest Kuwaiti – of spying for Iran and Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah after a cache of guns and explosives were discovered in a raid of the so-called “Abdali cell” in 2015. In a case which stoked unusually severe tensions between the two OPEC members, Kuwait’s highest court changed some of the sentences last month. Iranian state television said Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry summoned Tehran’s ambassador and ordered the number of diplomats to be cut from 19 to four and the closure of the cultural and military missions.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-kuwait-iran-idUSKBN1A510U?il=0

Newsline: Germany summons Turkey’s ambassador over activists’ arrests

Germany’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin over the arrests of human rights activists, including German citizen Peter Steudtner. The Foreign Ministry issued a sharply worded statement. The German Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Berlin to protest the pre-trial detention of six human rights activists, particularly that of German citizen Peter Steudtner. “The Turkish government needs to immediately and directly hear the German government’s outrage and incomprehension as well as its crystal-clear expectations in the case of Peter Steudtner and, this time, without diplomatic niceties,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said. Schäfer said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had interrupted his summer vacation to attend government consultations over the Turkish court’s decision to jail Steudtner, a human rights trainer who was taken into custody earlier this month.

http://www.dw.com/en/germany-summons-turkish-ambassador-over-activists-arrests/a-39750214

Newsline: Russia’s embassy compound in Syria hit by mortar shells

The Russian embassy in Syria has been targeted by shelling from foreign-backed militants operating in the capital Damascus. Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that two shells were fired at the diplomatic mission. One of the projectiles hit the embassy compound, while the other fell nearby. Earlier this year, the Russian embassy compound in the Syrian capital was the target of a pair of mortar shelling launched “precisely” from the terrorists-controlled Jobar area, which lies a few kilometers northeast of Damascus. The attacks had no casualties but inflicted some material damage on the building.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/16/528677/Russian-embassy-hit-mortar-shells-Damascus-Syria

Newsline: Saudi Arabia’s Nairobi embassy in lease dispute

Real estate firm Plumcon East Africa has sued the Saudi Arabian embassy for backing out of a deal that was to see it lease seven high end apartments in Nairobi’s Arboretum area. Plumcon says it made specific repairs to the seven apartments in 2012 at the request of the Saudi Arabian Embassy which afterwards refused to take up the housing units. The firm now wants Justice Thuranira to order the embassy to pay it damages in an amount that the court shall deem fair for the loss of business. The Saudi Arabian embassy was to pay Sh17.7 million yearly for the seven apartments before it terminated the agreement. The Saudi Arabian embassy however says Plumcon delayed in completing the requested fittings in the apartments. The embassy says its staff were to occupy the apartments on November 26, 2011 but that the units were far from ready by then. Plumcon however insists that it finished all repairs early enough and attempted to hand over the keys to the Saudi Arabian embassy on November 24, 2011. The embassy however refused to accept the keys and terminated the lease agreement, the firm says. Saudi Arabia’s embassy has now filed an application to dismiss the suit, arguing that it enjoys diplomatic immunity hence cannot be sued.

http://www.nation.co.ke/business/Saudi-Arabia-embassy-lease-dispute/996-4014626-i4ylkq/index.html

Newsline: US lawmaker wants to block F-35 sales to Turkey over embassy brawl

A Democratic lawmaker from Rhode Island is seeking to block the U.S. sale of Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets to Turkey over an attack on protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington two months ago. Rep. David Cicilline, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has proposed the ban as an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the House Armed Services Committee last month. The House is expected to take up the bill and deal with amendments next week. Any approved amendments would then need House approval to join the bill, which would have to be reconciled with the Senate version after it passes the House.

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-lawmaker-wants-to-block-f-35-sales-to-turkey-over-embassy-brawl

Newsline: South Africa to downgrade embassy in Israel

The ANC national policy conference has adopted a policy recommendation made by the ANC in the Western Cape to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office in a bid to reduce diplomatic ties to Israel. On Tuesday, the NPC adopted the downgrade recommendation and it is set to be ratified in December at the ANC’s elective conference. The resolution on the downgrade reads: “The commission called for the downgrading of the SA Embassy in Israel to send a strong message about Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine and the continued human rights abuses against the peoples of Palestine”. The ANC Western Cape made the recommendation because it says Israel has continued to treat Palestine with violence instead of attempting to reach a peace agreement. The Palestinian government has backed a two-state solution which would mean that both Israel and Palestine are recognised as sovereign states. Israel, meanwhile, has refused to endorse a two-state solution. The ANC has also supported a two-state solution. While the ANC NPC has adopted the policy recommendation, the party’s national conference in December will still have to approve the resolution before it is final and government can implement it. The government will continue to have diplomatic relations with Israel, however, because the Israeli embassy in South Africa will continue to be active.

https://mg.co.za/article/2017-07-05-anc-to-downgrade-south-african-embassy-in-israel

Newsline: Indian Embassy will remain in Tel Aviv

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has affirmed India’s traditional support for the “two-state” solution between Israel and Palestine and that India will support all efforts for a resolution, including on the contentious issue of Jerusalem, which Israel has claimed in its entirety since 1967. In the clearest position of India’s stand on the Jerusalem question, the Prime Minister said the Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv would remain there at least until a “final status” agreement is reached between the two parties. “We believe in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully,” Mr. Modi said in an interview to Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-embassy-to-remain-in-tel-aviv/article19205560.ece