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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Egyptian diplomat leads race to be UNESCO head

An Egyptian diplomat is among the favorites to be the next head of UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency. Moushira Khattab, 73, a former minister of family and population and a leading activist for women’s and children’s rights, is one of four Arab candidates. The others are Vera El-Khoury from Lebanon, Saleh Mahdi Al-Hasnawi from Iraq and former Qatari Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Kawari. If Khattab wins, she would be the first person from Africa to lead UNESCO in its 72-year history. She is a former assistant minister of foreign affairs and ambassador to South Africa, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.



Newsline: ‘Batman’ game removes image of murdered Russian diplomat after online outcry

Gamers reacted with vitriol after a new chapter of Telltale Games’ Batman: The Enemy Within appeared to feature a likeness of the dead body of Andrei Karlov. In December 2016 Karlov was assassinated by a 22-year-old police officer at the opening ceremony of an exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, where he was serving as the Russian diplomat, following which a photo of his dead body went viral. Telltale Games have since responded to the incident, saying in a statement to Gamasutra: “An update to the game has been submitted this morning that will be removing the image across all platforms. We regret this incident occurred, and we are taking appropriate action internally to ensure that we continue to maintain our high standards in Production and Quality Assurance.”


Newsline: US embassy cancels invitation of Turkish columnist over newspaper’s report

Daily Sabah and its sister newspaper Sabah’s columnist Hilal Kaplan said Friday that the U.S. embassy cancelled her invitation to a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Ankara John Bass over Sabah’s headline about one of its employees’ suspected links to the Gülenist Group (FETÖ). Kaplan said on her Twitter account that an embassy official informed her about the cancelation, saying the Sabah story about the detention of the suspect was the reason for the decision, not her journalistic work. Criticizing the embassy for revoking her press credentials and “excluding somebody who has not even written the mentioned story,” Kaplan said that ‘from now on’ the U.S. has “no right to blame” President Erdoğan on such matters.


Newsline: Fatal embassy shooting casts long shadow over Israel-Jordan ties

The relationship — typically low-key, but strategically important — has been “hit hard” on all levels by the July 23 shooting, next to the Israeli Embassy complex in Jordan in which the Israeli guard also killed his middle-aged Jordanian landlord. Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which says the guard acted in self-defense after the teen attacked him with a screw driver, declined comment on potential damage to the relationship. A multi-million-dollar energy deal remains on track, with natural gas to start flowing from Israel to Jordan by early 2020. But other endeavors have suffered. The third phase of a program to employ Jordanians in Israeli hotels — which would have raised the number of workers from 1,000 to 1,500 — is on hold, said Shabtai Shay, head of hotel association in Israel’s Red Sea resort of Eilat. A conference on water and energy cooperation, scheduled for October in Jordan with the participation of Cabinet ministers from both countries, has been put off. A sustained breakdown in communications on sharing water and energy sources, a national security interest for both countries, could have “terrible implications.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been assigned much of the blame for the diplomatic crisis, because of his handling of the shooting aftermath.


Newsline: US consulate staff arrested for espionage in Turkey

A U.S. Consulate General staff who allegedly kept in touch with Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ)-linked suspects, including former prosecutor Zekeriya Öz was detained Saturday and arrested by the court Wednesday as part of an Istanbul-based investigation, reports said. Identified with initials M.T., the suspect worked as a contact officer at the consulate general and made contacts with FETÖ-linked former police chiefs, Anadolu Agency reported. M.T. was detained for espionage and destruction of the constitutional order, as part of the FETÖ probe and had phone calls with Öz on a regular basis, reports said. Zekeriya Öz, who is believed to be in Europe after he fled Turkey, faces life terms.


Newsline: Embassy official says Paris motorbike explosion did not appear to target Jordan

A motorbike explosion outside the Jordanian military attache’s office in western Paris did not appear to intentionally target Jordan, an embassy official said on Wednesday. A police source said a motorbike had exploded in front of the building, but the reasons for the explosion remained unclear. “A motorbike exploded in front of the building where the military attache’s office is. The police are investigating,” an embassy official said. “It doesn’t seem to be an intentional act that targets Jordan.”


Newsline: Egypt’s militants claim attack targeting Myanmar embassy

Egyptian militant group Hasm claimed responsibility on Sunday for a small explosion at Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo, saying it was in retaliation for that country’s military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. Egypt’s interior ministry has not commented on Saturday’s blast, which residents and media initially reported as probably the result of a faulty gas pipeline. Two security sources told Reuters that traces of explosives had been found at the scene. “This bombing serves as a warning to the embassy of murderers, killers of women and children in the Muslim Rakhine State, and in solidarity with the sons of this weakened Muslim population,” Hasm said in its statement. Myanmar’s government spokesman urged citizens abroad to be careful. “Pls take care Myanmar nationals around the world,” the spokesman, Zaw Htay, said on his Twitter feed. The latest wave of violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State began on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts and an army camp, killing about 12 people. The Myanmar military response has sent more than 410,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, escaping what they and rights monitors say is a campaign aimed at driving the Muslim population out of the majority-Buddhist country.