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Archive for Middle East

Newsline: At least 20 shots fired at Saudi embassy in The Hague

Shots have been fired at the Saudi embassy on the Koninginnegracht in the centre of The Hague, according to local media reports, but police say it is too early to give more information. Reports suggest the building was hit at least 20 times and that dozens of casings litter the ground. (https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/11/at-least-20-shots-fired-at-saudi-embassy-in-the-hague-no-one-hurt/) Police were alerted to the shooting shortly before 6am. No-one so far has been reported hurt. Around 6 AM we received a report that multiple shots were fired at the building of the Saudi Arabia embassy on the #Koninginnegracht in #TheHague. No one was injured. We are currently conducting research. Witnesses who have information are requested to call 0900-8844. — Politie Eenheid Den Haag (@POL_DenHaag) November 12, 2020 According to local broadcaster Omroep West, bullet holes can be seen clearly in several windows. Police and forensic teams are now at the embassy and part of the street has been sealed off while the investigation gets underway.

Newsline: Abbas to ask Biden to move US embassy to Tel Aviv

Following President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the US elections, the Palestinian Authority is reportedly planning on asking him to immediately move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, i24 news reported, citing Israel Hayom. (https://www.jpost.com/us-elections/abbas-to-ask-biden-to-move-us-embassy-to-tel-aviv-report-648471) The reports cited a Palestinian Authority senior adviser named Nabil Shaath, who told the Hebrew-language newspaper that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been covertly communicating with the president-elect in an effort to go back on many of President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policies, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Newsline: Former U.S. Ambassador Warns Trump Might Ditch NATO, ‘Turning America’s Back’ on Israel

A second term for U.S. President Donald Trump would threaten the future of NATO, embolden Russia’s role in the Middle East and put Israel in a tough situation, says former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, ahead of the 2020 election. Shapiro told Haaretz that “NATO would be unlikely to survive a second Trump term,” noting that the 45th president has expressed interest in the past in withdrawing the United States from the influential alliance, which has served as a deterring force against Russia ever since the days of the Cold War. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-ex-u-s-ambassador-warns-trump-might-ditch-nato-turning-america-s-back-on-israel-1.9275008) According to Shapiro, the impact of such a withdrawal would “embolden an aggressive Russia, and its appetite would not be limited to European targets, but would also extend deeper into the Middle East.” Two of Trump’s former senior advisers – his former chief of staff, retired General John Kelly, and his former National Security Adviser John Bolton – have stated that Trump expressed interest in pulling out of NATO.

Newsline: Polish Ambassador to Israel Fires Two Employees for Protesting Polish Abortion Ban

Poland’s ambassador to Israel fired two employees of the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv for protesting increased restrictions on abortions in Poland. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-polish-ambassador-to-israel-fires-two-employees-for-protesting-polish-abortion-law-1.9278765) The two employees carried signs decrying the right-wing, conservative Polish ruling party, called Law and Justice (PiS), in response to a court ruling in Poland last week that abortion, even in cases of fetal defects, is illegal. The employees carried signs against the PiS ruling party, apparently crossing a line in their ‘misuse of religion and ethnicity’.

Newsline: Saudi man arrested in Jeddah after knife attack on guard at French consulate

A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on Thursday, local police said. A statement from the Mecca region’s police said the guard suffered “minor injuries” and that “legal action” was being taken against the perpetrator. The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger. “The French Embassy strongly condemns this attack against a diplomatic outpost which nothing could justify,” it said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-security-saudi/saudi-man-arrested-in-jeddah-after-knife-attack-on-guard-at-french-consulate-idUSKBN27E1QB) The attack occurred after a knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu Akbar” beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the French city of Nice earlier in the day. Nice’s mayor described the attack as terrorism. France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of a school teacher by a man of Chechen origin. The attacker had said he wanted to punish the teacher for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson. Since Samuel Paty’s killing, French officials have reasserted the right to display the cartoons as a matter of free expression, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the teacher. That has stirred anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing French President Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda. Saudi Arabia on Tuesday condemned cartoons offending the Prophet Mohammad, but held back from echoing calls by other Muslim states for action against images of the Prophet being shown in France.

Newsline: Turkey summons French charge d’affaires over caricatures in Charlie Hebdo weekly

Turkey summoned the French charge d’affaires on Wednesday over caricatures published in Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, a statement by Turkish foreign ministry said. The cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo showed Erdogan sitting in a white T-shirt and underpants, holding a canned drink along with a woman wearing an Islamic hijab. Turkish officials described it as a “disgusting effort”. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-security-turkey-summons/turkey-summons-french-charge-daffaires-over-caricatures-in-charlie-hebdo-weekly-idUSKBN27D2RK) France and Turkey have been at loggerheads over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, after a teacher who had shown pupils the cartoons in a lesson on freedom of speech was beheaded in France this month. Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet as blasphemy.

Newsline: Trump supporters rally at US embassy in Jerusalem

A convoy of cars decorated with American flags and Trump 2020 banners drove from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, holding a rally outside the US Embassy in support of the American president ahead of next week’s election. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-supporters-rally-at-us-embassy-in-jerusalem/) Some two dozen vehicles joined the procession, which was organized by Republicans Overseas Israel. While Jews in the United States are expected to vote overwhelmingly for Democrat Joe Biden, Donald Trump is a popular figure in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described him as the “greatest friend” Israel has ever had in the White House.

Newsline: Iran blacklists U.S. ambassador in Iraq, reciprocating U.S. move

Iran blacklisted the U.S. ambassador in Iraq and two other diplomats, following a similar move by the United States against Iran’s envoy to Baghdad, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said. Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter that ambassador Matthew Tueller “has had a central role in coordinating terrorist acts in Iraq & beyond” including the assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad in January. (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-blacklists-u-ambassador-iraq-115646897.html) Tehran’s move, which allows the seizure of assets within Iran of sanctioned individuals, is symbolic and unlikely to have any impact on the U.S. diplomats. On Thursday, the United States blacklisted Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, saying he has for years overseen the training and support of Iraqi militia groups responsible for attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

Newsline: France recalls envoy after Turkey scolds Macron over Muslims

France recalled its ambassador after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed mental help over his attitude towards Muslims. “Outrage and insult are not a method,” Macron’s office said. The French leader this month declared war on “Islamist separatism”, which he believes is taking over some Muslim communities in France. France has since been shaken by the beheading of a teacher by an Islamist radical, avenging the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression. “What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level,” Erdogan said in a speech in the central Turkish city of Kayseri. Turkey and France are both members of the NATO military alliance, but have been at odds over issues including Syria and Libya, maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. “France has gathered its European partners, who share France’s demand that Turkey puts a stop to its dangerous adventures in the Mediterranean and in the region,” the statement from Macron’s office said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-france-macron/france-recalls-envoy-after-turkey-scolds-macron-over-muslims-idUSKBN2790JY) Erdogan has two months to respond or face measures, it added, noting the absence of a condolence message from Turkey’s leader after the history teacher’s death last week.

Newsline: Ethiopia summons U.S. ambassador over Trump comments in dam dispute

Ethiopia on Saturday summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from President Donald Trump over their dispute about the filling and operation of a massive hydropower dam. Trump called on Friday for an agreement between the countries, but added it was a dangerous situation and that Cairo could end up “blowing up that dam”. Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew summoned U.S. Ambassador to Addis Ababa Mike Raynor to seek clarifications on the comments. “The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting U.S. president neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in international law governing interstate relations,” Gedu’s ministry said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-ethiopia/ethiopia-summons-us-ambassador-over-trump-comments-in-dam-dispute-idUSKBN2790C0) Trump made the comments during a call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok following Sudan and Israel’s announcement to normalise ties. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in a bitter dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which remains unresolved although the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July. Trump said on Friday he had brokered an agreement to resolve the issue but that Ethiopia had broken the pact, forcing him to cut funds, adding: “They will never see that money unless they adhere to the agreement … You can’t blame Egypt for being a little upset.” He said he had also urged Egypt to resolve the dispute.