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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Turkey detains 4 IS suspects in probe of US embassy threat

Turkish police detained four Islamic State suspects as part of an investigation into a possible attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the country’s state-run news agency reported on Monday. The arrests came as the embassy was closed on Monday over an unspecified security threat. The Anadolu Agency said police detained four Iraqi nationals in connection with the threat against the embassy. Security was high outside the U.S. embassy on Monday, and police searched pedestrians before allowing them to enter the street where the embassy and other buildings are located. The U.S. embassy said on its web page late on Sunday that the mission would be closed due to a security threat, and urged U.S. citizens to avoid the embassy as well as large crowds. It also advised citizens to “keep a low profile.” Embassy spokesman David Gainer said the mission would open on Tuesday but would not provide visa services or services to American citizens — in an apparent measure aimed at limiting visits and minimizing risks to the public.



Newsline: Jordan receives request from Israel to nominate new ambassador

Jordan said on Monday it received a letter from Israel nominating a new Israeli ambassador to the Kingdom, a government official said Monday. “We received a request from Israel nominating an Israeli ambassador to Amman. The request was sent to the concerned authorities seeking their opinion,” Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani told reporters. “The foreign ministry is taking necessary diplomatic measures in this regard,” the minister said during a press conference Monday. Jordanian officials have indicated recently that Jordan and Israel are going ahead with all preparations to reopen the Israeli embassy, prepare for the return of Israeli embassy staff to Amman and resume relations. Last month, Israel named a veteran diplomat to Jordan. The Israeli foreign ministry named Amir Weissbrod as the new ambassador. Weissbrod has reportedly worked as a diplomat in Amman and is an expert in Middle East affairs and Islamic movements. In January, Israel officially apologised for an incident in which an Israeli embassy guard killed two Jordanians, and the killing of Jordanian Judge Raed Zuaiter by Israeli troops in 2014, while crossing to the West Bank.


Newsline: North Korean Embassy in Cairo accused of military sales

Egypt has purchased North Korean weapons and allowed North Korean diplomats to use their Cairo embassy as a base for military sales across the region, American and United Nations officials say. Those transactions earned vital hard cash for North Korea, but they violated international sanctions and drew the ire of Egypt’s main military patron, the United States, which cut or suspended $291 million in military aid in August. Tensions may bubble up again in the coming weeks with the publication of a United Nations report that contains new information about the cargo of a rusty North Korean freighter intercepted off the coast of Egypt in 2016. The ship was carrying 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades worth an estimated $26 million. The report, due to be released this month, identifies the customer for the weapons as an arm of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Egypt’s main state weapons conglomerate.


Newsline: Turkish embassy in Berlin attacked, vandalized

Police closed off the street near the Turkish embassy in Berlin as part of an investigation into vandalization that left one of its walls splattered in red, green and yellow paint – the colors of the Kurdish flag. Four darkly dressed people threw paint bags at the embassy and then fled the scene under the cover of a smoke bomb, according to the guards. Barbed wire was also laid out on a path by the embassy, which is located across from Berlin’s Tiergarten park. A taxi driver witnessed fireworks or flares burning in the bushes. Germany is home to 3 million people of Turkish-origin, and about 750,000 ethnic Kurds.



Newsline: US Embassy move to Jerusalem expected to have long-term ramifications

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded US President Donald Trump as a “great friend” at Sunday’s cabinet meeting and said Washington’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem will have significant, long-term ramifications. “This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel and this is a historic moment for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said of Trump’s unexpected decision on Friday to move the embassy to Jerusalem in stages, beginning in May to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Trump in the White House for their fifth meeting since Trump took office in January 2017, and is expected to invite him to take part in the ceremony opening the embassy in May.



Newsline: Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt to return to Cairo after withdrawal

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour announced that the Sudanese ambassador to Egypt, Abdel-Mahmoud Abdel-Halim, will return to Cairo to resume his duties. This comes a month after Sudan recalled the ambassador ‘for consultation’, which was said to be due to disputes over the ownership of the Halayeb Triangle border area, and over the use of the water from the River Nile that passes through both territories. Talks between the foreign ministers of both countries were held in Cairo two weeks ago, followed by a meeting with both chiefs of intelligence who discussed bilateral relations and how they can cooperate on a number of regional issues.



Newsline: Israel Is Seeking a New Ambassador to UNESCO, Even Though It Said It’s Quitting UN Body

Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel would follow the lead of the United States and withdraw from membership in UNESCO over what was termed the organization’s continuing discrimination against Israel, the Foreign Ministry posted an internal ministry job notice for the position of ambassador to UNESCO. The job posting for ambassador to the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was issued in advance of the departure in September of the current Israeli ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen. Foreign Ministry officials said that since Israel’s resignation as a member of UNESCO will only take effect at the end of 2018 in any event, there will be a need for someone to take Shama-Hacohen’s place for the last several months of the year after his term ends and that following that, his replacement would focus only on representing Israel at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is also based in Paris. Other official sources said, however, that despite Israel’s announced departure from UNESCO, in practice, no final decision has been made over whether Israel would remain in the organization as an observer.