Middle East

  • IS claims responsibility for Afghan wedding attack that killed 63 people

    Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for an attack at a wedding in Afghanistan on Saturday (local time) which killed 63 people and wounded 182 more. A suicide bomber set off explosives during the celebrations at the Dubai City wedding hall in the Afghan capital of Kabul. As many as 1,000 people were in attendance, a witness estimated. One wounded survivor, Mohammad Aslim, still wore his bloodied clothes the day after the blast late Saturday. ... ► Read more

  • Iranian oil tanker released from Gibraltar

    An Iranian oil supertanker has been released by British authorities and is moving away from Gibraltar, according to local media and shipping data. British Royal Marines seized the Adrian Darya on 4 July over suspicions it was carrying oil to Syria via the Mediterranean Sea, in violation of European Union sanctions. Iran denied the ship was headed for Syria. Two weeks after the tanker was seized, Iran captured the Stena Impero, a British-flagged tanker in the ... ► Read more

  • Police and worshipers clash outside Israeli mosque

    Israeli police clashed with Muslim worshipers at a major holy site in Jerusalem during prayers on Sunday to mark the start of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha. Palestinian medics said at least 14 people were wounded in skirmishes with police at the site, which Muslims refer to as the Al-Aqsa Compound and Jews call the Temple Mount. Police said at least four officers were wounded and witnesses say at least two people were arrested. Officers ... ► Read more

  • Iran denounces proposal to deploy European fleet to Persian Gulf

    Iran denounced as “provocative” and “hostile” a British proposal for a European-led naval mission to escort tankers in the Persian Gulf amid soaring tensions over the seizure of ships. The condemnation on Sunday (local time) came as a Royal Navy warship arrived in the Gulf to accompany British-flagged vessels passing through the vital Strait of Hormuz. The HMS Duncan joined the Frigate HMS Montrose in the Gulf to defend freedom of navigation, Britain’s Ministry of ... ► Read more

  • “Wiped off the face of the earth”: Trump says he could win Afghan war “in 10 days”

    United States President Donald Trump says he could win the war in Afghanistan “in 10 days” if he wanted to, but that it would cost millions of lives. During a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday (local time), Mr Trump told reporters he “could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.” He said: “If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped ... ► Read more

  • New audio: British warship warned Iranian forces against seizing tanker

    A British warship radioed an Iranian patrol boat to warn against interfering with the Stena Impero as the oil tanker passed through the Strait of Hormuz, according to an audio recording released by a British maritime security firm. The audio, released by maritime security risk firm Dryad Global, revealed how the Royal Navy was unable to prevent the ship and its crew of 23 being seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces on Friday. Tehran’s decision ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 14 July – 20 July 2019

    Adani prosecuted over Carmichael mine report The Queensland Government is prosecuting mining company Adani for allegedly providing false and misleading information in its 2017–18 annual report to the Environment Department. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. “Defensive action”: US warship shoots down Iranian drone A United States amphibious assault ship has shot down an Iranian drone after the unmanned aircraft flew within 900 metres of the American warship, US President Donald Trump announced on ... ► Read more

  • “Defensive action”: US warship shoots down Iranian drone

    A United States amphibious assault ship has shot down an Iranian drone after the unmanned aircraft flew within 900 metres of the American warship, US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday (local time). The USS Boxer was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz when it took “defensive action” after the drone ignored “multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew”. “The drone was immediately destroyed,” Mr ... ► Read more

  • Rouhani: Iran “ready for talks” with US if sanctions lifted

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Tehran is ready to hold talks with Washington if the Trump Administration provides sanctions relief and returns to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In a televised speech on Sunday (local time), Mr Rouhani said for talks to take place Iran must be allowed to export the same amount of oil as it did prior to the United States’ controversial withdrawal from the multilateral JCPOA. “We have always ... ► Read more

  • Iran “tried to intercept a British tanker”, says UK Defence Ministry

    The Strait of Hormuz has once again become the scene of international scandal, with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) accusing Iran of trying to seize a British oil tanker. According to the MoD, the HMS Montrose — a British frigate which was shadowing the BP-owned tanker — was forced to position itself between the tanker and three Iranian boats. The boats, believed to belong to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), then dispersed and the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 30 June – 6 July 2019

    North Korea releases Australian detainee Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australian man Alek Sigley has been released from detention in North Korea and has left the country. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Senate passes Coalition tax cuts, Labor backs down The Senate has voted to pass the Coalition Government’s tax cuts, with Labor backing down after failing to secure changes to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More ... ► Read more

  • Trump warns Iran against nuclear threats

    United States President Donald Trump has cautioned Iran that issuing threats “can come back to bite you”, in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s vow to enrich as much uranium as “we want”. Mr Trump tweeted: Earlier this week, Iran exceeded the 300kg cap on its enriched uranium stockpile agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the breach on Monday (local time). “We can confirm ... ► Read more

  • Libya attack: UN says preliminary information indicates “war crime”

    The United Nations has said an airstrike on a detention centre in Libya’s capital Tripoli could be a war crime and is calling for an investigation. The number of people killed by the airstrike continues to rise, with some reports putting the death toll as high as 80. At least 130 people are understood to have been injured. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: Meanwhile, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations ... ► Read more

  • Dubai ruler’s wife reportedly seeks asylum in UK

    The wife of Dubai’s ruler has reportedly fled the United Arab Emirates with their young son and daughter and sought asylum in London. According to the BBC, Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein is said to be “afraid for her life”, while a person close to the family told The New York Times that she fled to Britain several months ago and was seeking a divorce. It follows the departure from Dubai of one of her husband’s daughters last year. ... ► Read more

  • At least 35 killed in airstrike on Libyan detention centre

    An air attack late on Tuesday (local time) hit a detention centre for mainly African migrants in the Tajoura suburb of the Libya’s capital Tripoli, killing dozens, according to health and emergency officials. “Health officials said they have picked up at least 35 bodies so far, and more bodies could be under the rubble,” said Al Jazeera‘s Mahmoud Abdel Wahed, reporting from Tripoli. Mr Wahed said that the centre housed about 150 migrants from different ... ► Read more

  • Iran breaches enriched uranium limit, sparks global concern

    Iran has exceeded the 300kg cap on its enriched uranium stockpile agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the breach on Monday (local time). “We can confirm that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the Board of Governors that the Agency verified on 1 July that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded [the deal’s limit],” an IAEA spokesman said in a statement. The IAEA’s confirmation came ... ► Read more

  • ABC investigation: Australian mother tells of horrors in Syrian detention camp

    An ABC investigative report published on Monday has revealed horrifying claims made by an Australian woman living in a Syrian detention camp. The woman, who has lived at Syria’s notorious al-Hawl refugee camp since 2014, made several claims in an open letter to family regarding the treatment of women, children and Australians at the camp. In the letter acquired by the ABC last week, the woman made a desperate plea to the Australian Government and ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 23 June – 29 June 2019

    Government to push ahead with tax cuts despite Labor reservations The Morrison Government is planning to follow through with its tax cut plan despite Labor not giving full support. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Rouhani says White House “afflicted by mental retardation”, Trump threatens “obliteration” United States President Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate parts of Iran after the Middle Eastern country’s President said the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”. See ... ► Read more

  • US wants Australia to join anti-Iran coalition

    The United States wants Australia to impose further sanctions on Iran, but US President Donald Trump has not asked Australia to commit to joining potential military action against the country. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said support for military action “wasn’t sought” during his meeting with Mr Trump at the G20 Summit in Japan, adding that “at this stage I think those issues are a bit premature.” “We would deal with any requests from an ally ... ► Read more

  • Rouhani says White House “afflicted by mental retardation”, Trump threatens “obliteration”

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate parts of Iran after the Middle Eastern country’s President said the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”. Mr Trump announced fresh sanctions against Iran on Monday (local time) as part of the White House’s response to Iran’s downing of a US drone last week. The new sanctions, which are largely symbolic, target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well ... ► Read more

  • Trump announces new “hard hitting” sanctions targeting Iran’s Supreme Leader

    United States President Donald Trump announced fresh sanctions against Iran on Monday (local time) as part of the White House’s response to Iran’s downing of a US drone last week. The new sanctions target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, as well as military officials. Mr Trump told reporters the punitive measures will deny the Iranian Supreme Leader, his office “and many others” access to financial instruments. “Today’s actions follow a ... ► Read more

  • How Iran’s Revolutionary Guard became so powerful

    The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was founded as an ideological custodian of Iran’s 1979 revolution. Charged with defending the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats, the corps has gained an outsized role in executing Iran’s foreign policy and wields control over vast segments of the economy. The IRGC’s ties to nonstate armed groups in the region, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, help Iran compensate for its relatively weak conventional military forces. Answering directly to the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 16 June – 22 June 2019

    “Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.” See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Tory leadership: Johnson and Hunt last men standing Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have emerged as the final two candidates that will be put ... ► Read more

  • “Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing

    United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.” Washington claims the high altitude surveillance drone was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday when it was shot down, but Tehran alleges the aircraft ventured into Iranian airspace over its coastal Hormozgan Province. “Iran made ... ► Read more

  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it shot down US drone

    Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has said it shot down a United States drone on Thursday — a move that, if confirmed, will surely further exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington. The alleged downing follows the US Military’s allegation that Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. Washington blames Iran for the attack on the ships, which Tehran denies. ... ► Read more

  • Confused about Iran? Here’s an explainer

    Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared in recent months to what appears to be near boiling point. The two countries have been at loggerheads for decades, with Washington accusing the oil-rich country of destabilising the Middle East by backing extremist groups and attempting to develop a nuclear arsenal, and Tehran accusing the US of imperialism and trying to provoke another conflict in the region. But US-Iran relations stabilised in 2015 when Iran ... ► Read more

  • Israeli First Lady convicted of misusing state funds

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara has admitted to misusing state funds. Mrs Netanyahu was accused of spending US$99,300 ($145,000) on restaurant-cooked meals while falsely claiming there were no cooks available at the prime ministerial residence. She dodged goal-time by taking a plea deal which reduced a fraud charge to a lesser offence. The Israeli First Lady will need to pay the state 45,000 shekels ($18,000) in reimbursement and a 10,000 shekel ($4000) fine. ... ► Read more

  • AFP raids ABC offices in Ultimo

    The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are raiding the ABC’s office in Sydney over a 2017 investigative series into Australia’s clandestine operations in Afghanistan. The series is based on classified files acquired by journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, which detailed “incidents of troops killing unarmed men and children”. According to the ABC, the AFP’s search warrant names Mr Oakes, Mr Clark and the public broadcaster’s Director of News Gaven Morris. The raid comes a day ... ► Read more

  • Iraqi court sentences three French IS members to death

    An Iraqi court sentenced three French nationals to death on Sunday, after finding them guilty of joining Islamic State (IS). Thousands of suspected IS members are being tried in Iraqi courts, including hundreds of foreigners arrested as the militant organisation’s strongholds collapse throughout the country. Kévin Gonot, Léonard Lopez and Salim Machou were extradited to Iraq in February and were among the 14 French nationals included in a group of 280 detainees handed over by ... ► Read more

  • Iranian FM dismisses Trump’s “genocidal taunts”

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has called recent threats made by United States President Donald Trump “genocidal taunts”, and cautioned him against making future threats. Amid a flare up in tensions between Washington and Tehran, Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday (local time): Referring to US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “B_Team”, Mr Zarif wrote on Twitter on Monday: Relations between the ... ► Read more

  • 16 tourists injured in bomb blast near Giza pyramids

    An explosion targeting a tourist bus has injured at least 17 people near the pyramids at Giza in Egypt on Sunday. Most suffered minor injuries while three have been treated in hospital. The explosive device detonated close to the fence of the Grand Egyptian Museum as the bus was passing. A witness said he heard a “very loud explosion” while in traffic near the site of the blast. According to state broadcaster Nile News TV, ... ► Read more

  • Boiling point: US withdraws all “non-emergency” personnel from Iraq, Iran warns of “full-scale” war

    Tensions between Washington and Tehran are nearing boiling point, with the US ordering the withdrawal of all “non-emergency employees” and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander warning “full-scale confrontation” is possible. “Ensuring the safety of US Government personnel and citizens is our highest priority … and we want to reduce the risk of harm,” a US State Department spokesman said of the withdrawal on Wednesday (local time). Following the US’ announcement, the Commander-in-Chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary ... ► Read more

  • Israeli and Palestinian officials reach truce after weekend of violence

    Israeli and Palestinian officials have reached a ceasefire following three days of violence in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. Four Israeli civilians and at least 19 Palestinians, half of whom were civilians, were killed. Fighting began after a sniper from the Islamic Jihad militant organisation shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers. Hamas official Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudri was killed by Israel in a targeted strike. The United States has backed Israel’s response, while Iran ... ► Read more

  • Turkish nationals banned from Anzac Day Gallipoli dawn service

    The Turkish Government has announced a ban on Turkish nationals attending the Anzac Day dawn service on the Gallipoli peninsula. Turkish nationals, including bus drivers and tour guides, will be barred from the peninsula during the dawn service amid heightened security fears. Australian Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester defended the ban. “It’s not actually unprecedented for the Turkish authorities to recommend that Turkish nationals not attend the service, it’s happened in previous years,” Mr Chester ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Arabia beheads 37 people after “sham trial”

    The Saudi Arabian regime beheaded 37 citizens on Tuesday (local time) in a mass execution for alleged terrorism-related offences. Most of those killed were minority Shiites, however, in one case, Saudi authorities publicly pinned the executed body and severed head of a convicted Sunni extremist to a pole as a warning to others. Ali al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident who runs the Gulf Institute in Washington, identified 34 of those executed as Shiites, based on the ... ► Read more

  • Trump vetoes resolution to end US involvement in Yemen

    United States President Donald Trump has vetoed a resolution passed by Congress to end US military support of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Yemeni Civil War. Although the veto was expected, legislators have viewed the passing of the war powers resolution as a milestone for the re-assertion of Congress’s war-making authority. In making the second veto of his presidency, Mr Trump criticised Congress, highlighting tensions between the President and lawmakers who seek to reel in ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 April – 13 April 2019

    2019 election: Australians to vote on 18 May Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 18 May as the date of the 2019 federal election, giving parties just over five weeks to sell their plans for the nation. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its ... ► Read more

  • Israel election: Netanyahu secures fifth term

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli election, with allied religious-rightist parties set to hand him a parliamentary majority and his main rival Benny Gantz conceding defeat. With over 99% of votes counted, Mr Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party will form a coalition government to secure 65 seats of Israel’s 120 seat Knesset (Parliament). The results will deliver Mr Netanyahu a record fifth term in the top job and come despite the 69-year-old being investigated ... ► Read more

  • Israel election: Both Netanyahu and Gantz claim victory

    Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have claimed victory in Israel’s general election, with exit polls showing no clear winner. Mr Gantz, a centrist and former military chief, was projected to win between 36 and 37 seats, while right-wing Prime Minister Netanyahu was expected to take between 33 and 36 seats. Two exit polls indicate that right-wing parties allied to Mr Netanyahu had a greater chance of forming a coalition government. ... ► Read more

  • US labels Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorist organisation

    United States President Donald Trump has taken the controversial step of designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. The IRGC was established after the 1979 revolution and, according to the Constitution of Iran, protects the country’s Islamic Republic. But Mr Trump has accused the IRGC as being the terrorist wing of the Iranian Government. “The IRGC is the Iranian Government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” ... ► Read more

  • Erdogan’s party to lose Turkey’s biggest cities in local elections

    Turkey’s ruling party has lost mayoral elections in the country’s largest three cities — Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir — in a stunning election setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to unofficial results published by state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday (local time). The official results will be released after the country’s election board looks into objections filed by political parties, who have three days to file complaints. Anadolu’s unofficial data shows Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate Ekrem ... ► Read more

  • Iran, Arab world condemn US’ Golan Heights recognition

    United States President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights has united Washington’s Gulf Arab allies and regional foe Iran in condemnation. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait criticised Monday’s (local time) move to recognise Israel’s 1981 annexation and said the territory was occupied Arab land. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi said it was an impediment to peace. Iran echoed the comments, describing Mr Trump’s decision as unprecedented ... ► Read more

  • Egypt brokers Gaza-Israel ceasfire, says Hamas

    Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, says it has reached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel after an exchange of fire on Monday. “Egyptian efforts succeeded with a ceasefire between the occupation and the resistance factions,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said. Israel has yet to comment. The reported truce comes shortly after multiple rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Monday evening, according to a joint statement issued by Gaza’s armed groups, in response ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 March – 23 March 2019

    Coalition wins NSW election, minority government possible Gladys Berejiklian and the Coalition have been returned by the people of NSW for a third term in office, winning 46 of the 47 seats required for majority government so far. See the ABC’s coverage of this story here. EU agrees Brexit delay plan All 27 European Union leaders have backed a Brexit delay plan that gives the United Kingdom two options — pass Prime Minister Theresa May’s ... ► Read more

  • Erdogan’s Christchurch comments “taken out of context”

    The senior spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the leader was “unfortunately taken out of context” in comments in which he appeared to threaten violence to Australians and New Zealanders after the Christchurch massacre. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist, was charged with murder after a lone gunman opened fire in attacks on the two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people. In a campaign rally ahead of local elections on 31 ... ► Read more

  • “Very offended”: PM to summon Turkish ambassador over Erdogan’s ANZAC comments

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will summon Turkey’s ambassador today after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mocked the Gallipoli campaign and threatened Australian and New Zealand citizens. Mr Erdogan said the terror attacks in Christchurch last Friday were part of a wider attack on Turkey and indicative of global anti-Muslim sentiment. The Turkish President took aim at the Anzacs’ participation in the Gallipoli campaign, threatening that Australians and New Zealanders with anti-Islam sentiment who visit Turkey ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 March – 16 March 2019

    49 killed in NZ mosque shootings Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Major parties launch NSW election campaigns On Sunday the New South Wales branches of the Liberal and Labor parties officially launched their election campaigns, two weeks ahead of the 23 March polling date. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. George Pell ... ► Read more

  • Israeli warplanes bomb gaza

    Explosions were heard in the Gaza Strip early Friday and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli planes bombed two Hamas security positions. The Israeli military said it was attacking “terror sites” in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were launched from the enclave at the Tel Aviv area. The attacks were taking place in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, about 25km south of Gaza City. An OPMagazine contact in Khan Younis said the bombing ... ► Read more

  • PM says Australian IS members will not return home

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated that his government will not allow Australian Islamic State members to return to the country. In response to pleas for help from an Australian woman trapped with her two children in a refugee camp for IS families, Mr Morrison declared that he would not put Australians at risk by helping home-grown extremists to return from the Middle East. The woman is being held at a refugee camp in north-east ... ► Read more

  • Australia, EU and others suspend 737 MAX 8s following Ethiopian Airlines crash

    Australia, the European Union and other jurisdictions have indefinitely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner from their airspace, following a second fatal crash within five months. On Sunday a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 crew and passengers on board. Investigators are looking for similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of a Lion Air MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia, killing ... ► Read more

  • Hundreds of IS fighters surrender in Baghouz, Syria

    Hundreds of Islamic State (IS) fighters have surrendered or been captured during evacuations of Baghouz, the last of the IS-held territory in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia has the Baghouz enclave under siege, but slowed its assaults to allow civilians to evacuate. According to the SDF, among the 2,000 evacuees on Wednesday were hundreds of IS fighters who surrendered, while some 400 others were captured trying to escape. Approximately 6,500 people were evacuated ... ► Read more

  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to the country’s Attorney-General. Mr Netanyahu is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and given favours to improve his press coverage. Among the allegations is that he accepted expensive gifts including cigars, champagne and jewellery from Israeli-born film producer Arnon Milchan in return for assistance with an American visa. The Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, says ... ► Read more

  • “Peace gesture”: Pakistan to release caputred Indian pilot

    Pakistan will release a captured Indian pilot as a “peace gesture” on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said. Mr Khan revealed the decision in the National Assesmbly, saying that Pakistan was focused on de-escalation. “As a peace gesture we are releasing the Indian pilot tomorrow,” Mr Khan told Pakistani lawmakers in the National Assembly on Thursday. He also repeated his call for the de-escalation of the situation, saying that Pakistan and India “have to ... ► Read more

  • Iranian FM resigns abruptly

    Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, an ally of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, unexpectedly announced he was stepping down in a social media post on Monday (local time). “I sincerely apologise for the inability to continue serving and for all the shortcomings during my service. I thank the Iranian nation and officials,” the 59-year-old diplomat wrote on Instagram. “Be happy and worthy,” he added. However, the withdrawal would only become valid if accepted by the ... ► Read more

  • Personae non grata — how ISIS members are being stripped of their citizenship and potentially left stateless

    Neil Prakash, Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana share a lot in common. All three were born in western countries. They all left their home countries to join Islamic State. And they have all now been stripped of their citizenships. Mr Prakash was born in Melbourne, Australia. He converted to Islam in 2012 and left for Syria in 2013. Ms Begum was born in the United Kingdom and flew to Syria with two friends in 2015, ... ► Read more

  • UK strips ISIS teen of British citizenship

    The United Kingdom has cancelled the citizenship of a London teenager who left Britain to join Islamic State (IS), according to her family’s lawyer. Shamima Begum left Britain four years ago, when she was 15, to join the fundamentalist terrorist organisation. Ms Begum was found in a refugee camp in Syria by The Times newspaper this month. Now 19, Ms Begum recently gave birth to a baby boy, and wants to return to the UK. She says ... ► Read more

  • Accused Melbourne child abuser Malka Leifer refused bail by Israeli court

    The Jerusalem District Court in Israel has denied bail to former Melbourne school principal and accused child sexual abuser Malka Leifer, who is fighting against extradition to Australia. Ms Leifer has been charged with 74 counts of child sexual abuse relating to allegations that she abused female students at the Jewish orthodox Adass Israel school in Melbourne. Judge Ram Wingrad ruled that she should remain in custody, ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled for 6 ... ► Read more

  • Merkel rejects US demand for withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the United States’ demands that its European allies withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, defending the use of multilateral instruments to ease geopolitical tensions. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Dr Merkel said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains the best way of containing Iran’s nuclear programme, reaffirming Germany’s commitment to the agreement despite the US’ withdrawal. “I see [Iran’s] ballistic missile programme, I see Iran ... ► Read more

  • Polish PM calls off Israel visit after Netanyahu’s holocaust collaboration comment

    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has cancelled a high-level visit to Israel after Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Poles collaborated with the Nazis”. Mr Netanyahu’s comment sparked outrage in Poland, which suffered the murders of millions of both Jewish and ethnic Poles during Nazi occupation. The Israeli Prime Minister’s office has said Mr Netanyahu was “misquoted” by Haaretz, the oldest and one of the most-read newspapers in Israel. “Netanyahu spoke of Poles and not ... ► Read more

  • “Left only with bones”: starving 12-year-old sobering reminder of Yemen’s desolation

    Displaced by war, starving and living under a tree, 12-year-old Fatima Qoba weighed just 10kg when she was carried into a Yemeni malnutrition clinic. “All the fat reserves in her body have been used up, she is left only with bones,” said Makiah al-Aslami, a doctor and head of the clinic in northwest Yemen. “She has the most extreme form of malnutrition.” Qoba’s slide into starvation is typical of what is happening in much of ... ► Read more

  • Hakeem al-Araibi on Melbourne-bound flight after extradition case dismissed

    Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is headed home after his extradition case — instigated by an Interpol Red Notice issued by his native Bahrain — was dismissed by the Thai Attorney-General. Mr al-Araibi boarded a Thai Airways flight a little after midnight (local time) and is expected to land in Melbourne at about 1:00pm, where a crowd of supporters, including the Pascoe Vale Football Club and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster, will be waiting to meet him. ... ► Read more

  • Australia rejects Thailand’s claim it issued Interpol Red Notice against refugee footballer

    The Australian Embassy in Thailand has rejected a claim by the Thai Government that Canberra issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Mr al-Araibi, who is wanted in his native Bahrain, was arrested by Thai authorities in November 2018 while on his honeymoon. The Thai Government said Mr al-Araibi was arrested at the request of the Australian Government, claiming that Australia alerted Thai authorities to the footballer’s travel. The Australian Embassy ... ► Read more

  • Trump: Islamic State will be eradicated from Syria, Iraq next week

    United States President Donald Trump has said the White House is poised to make an announcement next week that all territory formerly controlled by Islamic State (IS/ISIS) in Syria will be reclaimed. “The United States military, our coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” he said at the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS ministerial on Wednesday (local time). “It should ... ► Read more

  • Pope Francis makes historic visit to Abu Dhabi

    Leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis has landed in Abu Dhabi for a historic three-day visit to the Arabian Peninsula. Upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Pope was greeted by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and then Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif University and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders. Ahead ... ► Read more

  • Australian planes involved in 2017 airstrike that killed up to 35 Iraqi civilians

    Australian Defence Force (ADF) officials have confirmed that two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter jets were involved in a 2017 airstrike that killed up to 35 Iraqi civilians. In June 2017, at the height of the battle to retake the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi security forces encountered seven Islamic State (IS) fighters and called in a Coalition airstrike. Two RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets were among the jets deployed, and both dropped GPS-guided bombs ... ► Read more

  • “Time is running out”: Hakeem al-Araibi’s wife sends pleas for help to Canada, New Zealand

    The wife of Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has written to the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand in a desperate bid for help over her husband’s detention in Thailand. In letters reported by The Guardian, she urged the Canadian and New Zealand leaders to act, warning that a decision to return him to Bahrain could mean “possible death”. Mr al-Araibi’s wife, who did not want to be named, cited the recent case of ... ► Read more

  • Woman found dead in Melbourne reportedly Israeli student

    The woman found dead just metres from a Melbourne tram stop on Wednesday morning was reportedly an international student studying in Australia. Israeli media said the woman was aged in her 20s, and that the Israeli consulate in Australia was now arranging for the victim’s body to be returned to her family. Police are expected to further canvass nearby streets on Thursday in a bid to determine how she died, and what led to her ... ► Read more

  • 15 dead after military cargo plane crashes in Iran

    A military cargo plane carrying meat from Kyrgyzstan has crashed near the Iranian capital of Tehran, resulting in 15 deaths according to Iranian officials. The Boeing 707 was attempting to land at Fath airport in Karaj, 40 kilometres west of Tehran, when it came off the runway and broke through a wall separating the airport from a residential area, becoming engulfed in fire. Of the 16 people on board, only a flight engineer was found ... ► Read more

  • Turks and Kurds ask Russia for help amid fears US withdrawal from Syria could cause further destablisation

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Moscow this month to discuss the effects of the United States’ planned withdrawal from Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Syrian Kurds have also approached Russia for assistance in the hope that a deal can be brokered to avert the threat of a Turkish attack. Both Turkey and the Kurds have been allies of the US in the American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War, but US President ... ► Read more

  • Alqunun declared refugee by UNHCR clearing way for Australia to offer asylum

    The UN refugee agency has referred the case of a Saudi woman claiming asylum to Australia for consideration. 18-year-old Rahaf Alqunun flew into Thailand from Kuwait, saying she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam. But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport ... ► Read more

  • Thai authorities: Rahaf Alqunun will not be returned to Saudi Arabia

    Thai authorities have assured the UNHCR that 18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Alqunun will not be deported back to Saudi Arabia. Ms Alqunun renounced Islam and fled her country in hope of seeking asylum in Australia. She says if she returns to Saudi Arabia her traditionalist family will kill her. OPMagazine understands UNHCR has made contact with Ms Alqunun and that she is now in the custody of Thai immigration officials. The Thai Government initially blocked ... ► Read more

  • Saudi asylum seeker en-route to Australia detained in Bangkok

    An 18-year-old Saudi woman on her way to seek asylum in Australia has been detained in an airport hotel in Bangkok. Rahaf Alqunun arrived in Bangkok from Kuwait for a connecting flight to Australia, however she claims that upon arriving in the Thai capital a Saudi diplomat met her and forcibly confiscated her passport. Ms Alqunun alleges she is currently being detained in an airport hotel and is being watched by men from the Saudi ... ► Read more

  • Trump: USS Cole attack mastermind killed in airstrike

    The al-Qaeda militant behind the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000 has been killed in an airstrike, United States President Donald Trump announced on Sunday (local time). Jamal al-Badawi was accused of leading the attack on the US destroyer, which claimed the lives of 17 American sailors and injured at least 40 others. It took place as the USS Cole was refuelling in the port of Aden. Mr Trump said the US “military has ... ► Read more

  • Turkey builds up military presence on Syrian border

    Turkey began reinforcing its positions on both sides of its border with Syria on Sunday (local time), according to Reuters, as Ankara and Washington agreed to coordinate a US withdrawal from Syria. The heightened military activity comes two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would postpone a planned military operation on Kurdish YPG militia east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria following the US decision to pull out. He also said Turkey ... ► Read more

  • Israel unhappy with Australia’s West Jerusalem recognition

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s formal recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has sparked outrage from all sides, including Israel itself. The Israeli Government has shown displeasure at Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem, with a senior Israeli minister urging Canberra to “fix the mistake”. Prime Minister Morrison on Saturday officially recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, adding that if a two-state solution is implemented, East Jerusalem would be recognised as the Palestinian capital. ... ► Read more

  • Cabinet plans to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

    The Morrison Government will formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after a cabinet meeting but it won’t be announced until the COAG meeting on Wednesday, according to The Australian. Citing sources, The Australian reports that the decision will be ratified by the cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday after the national security committee approved it on Monday night. However, the Australian embassy won’t be moved from Tel Aviv just yet. Instead a consular office will be ... ► Read more

  • Israeli police recommend Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud

    Israeli police have said their investigation has found sufficient evidence for bribery and fraud charges to be brought against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, in a third corruption case against the leader. Authorities on Sunday alleged Netanyahu awarded regulatory favours to Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications group, in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife on Bezeq’s subsidiary news website, Walla. Prime Minister Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. “These recommendations were determined ... ► Read more

  • US Senate advances resolution to end support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen

    Support is growing in the US Senate for a resolution aimed at limiting Washington’s involvement in the war in Yemen. The Senate voted 63-37 on Wednesday (local time) to advance the resolution, which, if passed, would end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s war. The advancement sets the stage for a possible final vote on the measure in coming days. The Trump Administration has threatened to veto the resolution if it passes ... ► Read more

  • AFP investigating soldiers over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan

    Allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan are now the subject of a Federal Police investigation. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement it received a referral in June and had launched its own investigation. It follows an inquiry led by New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Paul Brereton, who is assisting the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to investigate the actions of Special Forces soldiers during the ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Prince says CIA isn’t credible

    A senior Saudi prince has cast doubt upon the reported CIA finding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the agency could not be counted on to reach a credible conclusion. “The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior member of the royal family, told journalists in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (local time). “The examples ... ► Read more

  • UK PhD student sentenced to life in UAE after spy charge

    A British PhD student has been sentenced to life in prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for spying. Matthew Hedges, 31, of Durham University, has said he is innocent, and that he had been researching the country’s security strategy. Prosecutors allege he admitted the charges in an Abu Dhabi court, which found him guilty of “spying for or on behalf of” the UK Government. British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK was urgently ... ► Read more

  • The US-Saudi alliance shows justice is only worthwhile when it’s convenient

    Donald Trump has released a statement defending the US’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite admitting that “it could very well be that [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] had knowledge” of the plan to murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In the statement, Trump said it would be foolish to break ties with Saudi Arabia, because of the US$450 billion the kingdom plans to invest in the United States — US$110 billion of which will go to American defence ... ► Read more

  • Trump defends US-Saudi relationship despite Khashoggi murder

    US President Donald Trump has strongly defended ties with Saudi Arabia despite international condemnation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The kingdom is a “steadfast partner” that has agreed to invest “a record amount of money” in the US, Mr Trump said in a statement. The President acknowledged Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “could very well” have known about Mr Khashoggi’s murder. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added. ... ► Read more

  • “America first!”: read Donald Trump’s statement on Saudi Arabia

    Below is US President Donald Trump’s full statement on relations with Saudi Arabia and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia The world is a very dangerous place! The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up ... ► Read more

  • TurkStream: Putin, Erdogan mark completion of offshore stage

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have marked the completion of the offshore phase of a gas pipeline underneath the Black Sea, the latest sign of growing cooperation between Moscow and Ankara. Speaking at the November 19 ceremony in Istanbul, Mr Erdogan said the TurkStream pipeline will carry 31.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Turkey each year when operational, and will send at least half of the amount ... ► Read more

  • Cabinet divided over Israel embassy policy

    Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has said that keeping the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv is “like Israel saying that they intend to put their embassy in Sydney and pretend that Canberra isn’t our capital”, as Cabinet remains publicly divided on the issue. Last month Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested that his government is considering relocating the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which has been claimed by Israel as its capital since its occupation in ... ► Read more

  • Trump: “no reason” to hear Khashoggi murder recording

    In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News Sunday, US President Donald Trump said there is “no reason” for him to listen to an audio recording of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Mr Trump confirmed his government is in possession of the recording sourced by Turkey, adding that he doesn’t “want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape”. The President said the briefing he received on the recording ... ► Read more

  • Moving Australian embassy to Jerusalem could increase terror attacks, warn Indonesia and Malaysia

    Indonesian and Malaysian politicians have warned that moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could result in increased Islamist terror attacks against Australians. Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated in October 2018 that the Australian Government is considering relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to the de facto capital Jerusalem, although Jerusalem is not recognised by the United Nations. The potential policy change has caused concern regarding Australia’s relationship with Muslim-majority nations, ... ► Read more

  • US bill sanctions Saudi military over Khashoggi killing, Yemen

    A bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation on Thursday (local time) seeking to strike back at Saudi Arabia over the death of a Saudi journalist at a consulate in Turkey and for its role in the devastating war in Yemen. If the bill were to be passed, it would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit US refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. It also ... ► Read more

  • Morrison Government downplays Israel embassy move amid tensions with Indonesia

    The Government is reportedly downplaying the chances it will go through with a proposal to move Australia’s embassy in Israel in its private conversations with Indonesian ministers. Canberra is still trying to finalise a highly anticipated trade deal with Indonesia, ideally this year, but is facing a backlash from Jakarta over its announcement it would “consider” a shift in Middle East policy. Fairfax Media reports the Australian side have told Indonesian ministers in Singapore, where ... ► Read more

  • Gaza Strip: Egypt brokers ceasefire following severe escalation

    Palestinian groups in the besieged Gaza Strip say they have agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel to end the worst violent escalation between the two sides in years. A statement by Palestinian groups in Gaza said: “Egypt’s efforts have been able to achieve a ceasefire between the resistance and the Zionist enemy. The resistance will respect this declaration as long as the Zionist enemy respects it.” The announcement set off celebrations in Gaza City ... ► Read more

  • Gaza Strip: three Palestinians killed in Israeli air raids

    At least three Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip, according to health officials, in the latest escalation less than 24 hours after a deadly covert Israeli operation in the besieged enclave. Hamas, the group administering the Strip, said one of Monday’s air attacks destroyed the building of its television station. There was no immediate word of any casualties in the strike on Al-Aqsa TV, which reportedly took place after ... ► Read more

  • Gaza officials: 7 killed in Israeli raid

    Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a clandestine raid targeting a Hamas commander and air strikes that provided cover for the commandos to escape back into Israel by car, according to Gaza officials. The Israeli incursion and air attacks drew rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled enclave late on Sunday. A senior official of Hamas, the group administering the Gaza Strip, said the Israeli special forces team infiltrated an area near the ... ► Read more

  • “I’m suffocating”: Jamal Khashoggi’s last words, according to Turkish media

    The head of investigations at the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper has told Qatar’s Al Jazeera that Jamal Khashoggi’s last words were “I’m suffocating … Take this bag off my head, I’m claustrophobic”, according to an audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist at the Washington  Post, suffocated to death while a plastic bag covered his head, Nazif Karaman told Al Jazeera. Mr Karaman said the murder ... ► Read more

  • Yemen crisis: peace talks delayed to end of year

    The United Nation’s envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is no longer aiming to convene the country’s warring parties for peace talks this month and will instead try to bring them together by the end of the year, according to a UN spokesperson. Addressing reporters on Thursday (local time), UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said Mr Griffiths’ goal was to hold consultations before the end of the year. “There is always different challenges to bringing the parties ... ► Read more

  • Over 200 mass graves of IS victims found in Iraq

    More than 200 mass graves have been uncovered in Iraq in areas formerly controlled by so-called Islamic State militants, according to the United Nations. The graves contain the remains of thousands of people, believed to be the victims of the radical Sunni group, who between June and December 2014, overran large swathes of northern Iraq and declared it part of their so-called caliphate. The dead include women, children, the elderly and disabled, as well as ... ► Read more

  • Europe to continue trading with Iran despite US re-imposition of sanctions

    United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that the US will exert “relentless” pressure on Iran unless it changes its “revolutionary course”. His comments came hours after the Trump Administration restored all pre-2015 nuclear deal sanctions targeting core parts of Iran’s economy. Speaking to reporters, Mr Pompeo said: “The Iranian regime has a choice: it can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlaw course of action and act like a normal country, ... ► Read more

  • Six members of Afghan Invictus Games team may seek asylum in Australia

    Six members of Afghanistan’s Invictus Games team did not board their return flight home from Sydney last Sunday, and are believed to be planning to seek asylum in Australia. A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs did not confirm whether any applications for asylum have been received from the team members, but told SBS News: “The Invictus Games competitors and officials may remain lawfully in Australia until the expiry of their visas. Their visas ... ► Read more

  • Turkey: Khashoggi strangled immediately after entering consulate

    Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his body dismembered just moments later, the city’s chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday (local time). “In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, for marriage formalities,” the statement said. “The victim’s body ... ► Read more

  • Erdogan advisor: Greece would suffer “catastrophe” in 3-4 hours if it wages war with Turkey

    An advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a strong warning to Greece, saying it “will end up in a catastrophe” within hours if it decides to wage war on Ankara. Speaking on Turkish television, Yigit Bulut said: “Greece will end up in a catastrophe within three to four hours if it wages a war against Turkey.” #Greece will totally end up in a catastrophe within three to four hours if it wages ... ► Read more