Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: Indian embassy in Qatar receives 2792 complaints

The Indian embassy in Doha has received 2,792 complaints so far this year. In the previous years, 3,385 (2012) and 3,558 (2013) complaints were received by the labour and community welfare section. Ambassador Sanjiv Arora and other senior officials assured the complainants of further follow-up with the local authorities and necessary action. According to the embassy, 85 Indian nationals are currently serving varied sentences in the Central Prison and another 143, who are awaiting repatriation, are housed at the Deportation Centre. On the basis of the requests received from the Qatari authorities for travel documents for detainees at the Deportation Centre, the embassy has issued 28 emergency certificates (ECs) so far this month. The mission facilitated the repatriation of 64 Indian nationals from the Deportation Centre till now.


Newsline: US orders evacuation of embassy staff in Yemen

The US State Department ordered some of its diplomats and other government workers at the US embassy in Yemen to leave the country because of deteriorating security amid unrest and sectarian clashes that have left Shia rebels in control of the capital. “The Department of State ordered a temporary reduction in the number of US government personnel in Yemen,” the department said in a statement. “We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution and in response to recent political developments and the changing, unpredictable security situation in Yemen.” A separate travel warning for US citizens said the step was taken “due to the continued civil unrest and the potential for military escalation.” It said the embassy in Sana’a would remain open with a majority of staff remaining and that the relocation of staff would be temporary.


Newsline: Palestine to Open Embassy in Bolivia

Palestine will open an embassy in La Paz, Bolivia, according to the president of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas. “We will never forget the decisions made by Morales during the Israeli aggression against the Palestine people. We are honored and pleased with the close relationship we maintain with Bolivia,” said Abbas, after meeting with Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, in New York City. “We want to develop that relationship and I believe we are going to be speaking about a new Palestinian embassy in La Paz very soon,” added Abbas. Morales was one of the several heads of state that denounced the recent Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed -mostly civilians- and called it a “genocide.” As part of the measures taken against the Israeli government, Bolivia declared Israel “a terrorist state” and now requests visas from all Israelis who try to enter Bolivia. In 2009, Bolivia broke its diplomatic relations with Israel due to Operation Cast Lead against Gaza Strip, in which more than 1,000 Palestinians were killed.


Newsline: French Consular Staff Busted for Visa Scam

Ties between France and the Kurdistan Region have never been stronger as evidenced by President Francois Hollande’s recent historic visit to Erbil and Paris’ military support of the Kurds. Yet amid flourishing diplomacy, the French consulate in Erbil is facing its biggest scandal yet: a corruption ring that allegedly involved a high-level diplomat. Employees at the French consulate in Erbil are facing charges of corruption that involved scamming Iraqis by pressing them to pay thousands of dollars for visas and embassy appointments. “It’s true, consular employees were redirecting applicants to travel agencies who would charge them ridiculous prices for appointments and visas,” Alain Guépratte, the French consul-general to the Kurdistan Region told Rudaw. Guépratte said he did not have sufficient evidence to call in French inspectors until late February. Deputy Consul-General Ludovic Francelle has been suspended for one year pending a criminal tribunal ahead of a trial. The Foreign Ministry would not comment on his exact role in the scam. Meanwhile, two Kurdish employees have been fired charging huge premiums on visas that should only cost €60. French media reported that some Iraqis paid $600 for an initial appointment and $800-$1,700 for a visa. They also paid for the agent to fill out an application. Generally, those wanting an appointment immediately would have to pay more. The European Union visa is one of the most coveted and difficult visas for Iraqis to obtain. Although they have an easier time traveling internationally now than in the past, it still can be difficult for Iraqis and other citizens of poor, war-torn countries such as Syria to obtain visas from western and Arab countries that fear they might seek asylum. Following an investigation by the Kurdish intelligence service, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) officials reported that people may have been paying upwards of $10,000.


Newsline: Saudi Arabia diplomats rack up the most unpaid traffic fines in Australia

Saudi Arabians posted to their embassy in Canberra appear to flout official requests to pay traffic and parking fines. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade data shows staff at Middle Eastern missions rack up most of the overdue fines among the capital’s diplomatic community. Saudis attached to the nation’s embassy had amassed 125 outstanding infringement notices as of March, far more than any other country’s diplomatic corps. The Saudi tally was followed by Russia’s (49 fines), Jordan’s (35) and Kuwait’s (27). Some fines had gone unpaid for more than 15 months. Yet Saudi ambassador Nabil Al Saleh made it clear the practice of ignoring traffic and parking infringements was against his wishes. Most nations, including Australia, tell their envoys to pay such fines, deferring to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations’ request that posted officials “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state”.


Newsline: Freed Turkey’s consul-general recalls 101 days of ISIL captivity

Turkey’s consul-general in Mosul, who was freed after Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants held him captivity for 101 days, resisted demands from the militants to make a statement in front of cameras even though they had put a gun to his head more than once. In brief remarks to journalists after his arrival at Ankara’s Esenboğa airport from the Şanlıurfa province on the border with Syria, Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz said it was not an easy task to “fly your flag” in a violence-hit place like Mosul. “I am proud of what I have gone through for my country,” he said. Yılmaz also said he never fell into despair, asserting that “people who have faith” do not despair. One of the other 45 Turkish hostages told the media that the consul-general had resisted ISIL demands to make a statement in front of a camera and added that the militants had even held a gun to the consul general’s head two or three times. “They wanted to film us and take photographs of us, but he said, ‘Shoot me, I will not let you degrade the honor of my country’,” the hostage told CNN Türk aboard a plane that took the hostages from Şanlıurfa to Ankara.


Newsline: Iran claims Yemen is responsible for abduction of diplomat

A top Tehran official says the Yemeni government is responsible for the abduction of an Iranian diplomat last year. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian criticized the Yemeni government’s inaction on Nour Ahmad Nikbakht’s arrest, adding the kidnapped Iranian diplomat is now being held in a security prison of the Yemeni government. He, however, said that received updates from Sana’a are in contradiction with what Yemeni authorities have told Iran about the abducted diplomat. Iran will pursue efforts to secure the diplomat’s release, the official said, reiterating that Nikbakht is in good health. Nikbakht was on his way to work from his home in the diplomatic quarter of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on July 21, 2013 when unidentified gunmen blocked the road, forced him out of his vehicle and abducted him. He has been detained in Yemen for more than a year.