Middle East

  • 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

  • UN rights chief urges Saudi Arabia to handover Khashoggi’s body, calls for international investigation

    United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for international experts to take part in an independent investigation into the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, with access to evidence and witnesses. “For an investigation to be carried out free of any appearance of political considerations, the involvement of international experts, with full access to evidence and witnesses, would be highly desirable,” Ms Bachelet said in a statement. She also urged Saudi Arabia to reveal ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Crown Prince calls Khashoggi killing “heinous”, vows “justice”

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed to bring Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s killers to justice during an address to international investors at a major conference in Riyadh on Wednesday (local time). Prince Mohammed assured investors Mr Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul would not derail the kingdom’s reform agenda. “We will prove to the world that the two governments (Saudi and Turkish) are cooperating to punish any criminal, any culprit and at the ... ► Read more

  • Jamal Khashoggi’s son shakes hands with Crown Prince in photo op

    Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with family members of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh on Tuesday. The Saudi rulers met with Mr Khashoggi’s son Salah and brother Sahel at the royal palace as part of a high-profile economic forum which was boycotted by many Western powers, including Australia. According to Saudi state news agency SPA, King Salman and Prince Mohammed offered their condolences to the family of the Saudi journalist. ... ► Read more

  • Footage: alleged Saudi operative walked out of consulate in Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes

    On the day Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a man walked out of the building apparently wearing his clothes, according to surveillance footage acquired by CNN. The new footage emerged amid reports that a top aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ran the interrogation of Mr Khashoggi via a Skype call. The CCTV footage has put ever-increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia to clarify what happened ... ► Read more

  • UK, Germany, France issue joint statement condemning Jamal Khashoggi killing

    The UK, France and Germany have denounced the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, demanding urgent clarification from Saudi Arabia over his death. A joint statement said the explanation that Mr Khashoggi died after a “fist fight” in the consulate in Istanbul needed “to be backed by facts to be considered credible”. United States President Donald Trump earlier said he was “not satisfied” with the account, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed ... ► Read more

  • Canberra believes Labor state government behind ASIO Jerusalem advice leak

    The Australian Federal Police is investigating the leaking of a classified ASIO briefing that warned any move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could provoke unrest and violence in Palestinian territories. According to Fairfax Media, the Federal Government believes a state Labor government leaked the briefing to The Guardian. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament on Thursday ASIO “as a matter of routine practice provides this advice to Commonwealth and state governments on ... ► Read more

  • Pompeo listened to recording of Khashoggi murder

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has heard an alleged audio recording of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a senior Turkish official has told ABC News. Speaking exclusively and on condition of anonymity to the American broadcaster, the official claimed the recording was played in meetings in Turkey on Wednesday (local time), and that Mr Pompeo was given a transcript. Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi was killed and ... ► Read more

  • PM considering recognising Jerusalem as Israel capital

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly said he is open to moving Australia’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem following talks with Dave Sharma, Liberal candidate in this weekend’s Wentworth by-election and former ambassador to Israel. According to the ABC, nearly 13% of voters in Wentworth are Jewish and the Government needs to win the seat to retain its one-seat majority in the Lower House. Speaking at a forum in Bondi on Monday, ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Arabia vows to retaliate if punitive measures made against it

    Saudi Arabia has issued a stark warning that any attempts to punish it over the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be met with “greater action”. The warning follows calls from Britain, France and Germany for a “credible investigation to establish the truth”. Riyadh has come under diplomatic pressure after Mr Khashoggi, a self-exiled critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and has not been seen ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Arabia silent as evidence of journalist murder mounts

    Turkish media has published images of an alleged 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” and footage of suspicious movements at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul following journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance a week ago. It comes as The New York Times reports that highly placed Turkish security sources told the publication that Mr Khashoggi was killed within hours of entering the consulate by a special hit squad on the orders of the Saudi royal court, and that his ... ► Read more

  • Evidence that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, Turkish officials claim

    Turkish officials claim to have concrete evidence that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to collect papers for his upcoming wedding. Mr Khashoggi has not been seen since since Tuesday last week when he entered the consulate. Despite Saudi officials saying he left shortly afterwards, his fiancée, who was waiting outside, said he never came out. The 59-year-old contributor to The Washington Post was once close to ... ► Read more

  • Russia and Turkey agree to create demilitarised zone around Idlib

    The presidents of Russia and Turkey have agreed to establish a demilitarised zone separating rebels and Government forces in Syria’s Idlib province. At a summit in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Monday (local time), Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the province a demilitarised zone, in an attempt to halt the Syrian Government’s attacks on the region, which is currently held by rebel forces. As part of ... ► Read more

  • “Spare no effort” to protect civilians in Idlib, UN Secretary-General says

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to “spare no effort to find solutions that protect civilians” in the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib. Mr Guterres said it was “absolutely essential” to avoid full-scale conflict in Idlib province, which “would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict.” Idlib is the last major rebel-held stronghold in Syria and home to some 3.5 million people, at least ... ► Read more

  • Syria and Russia to ‘wipe out terrorists’ in Idlib

    The Syrian and Russian governments have signalled an all-out offensive to retake the last rebel-held Syrian province may be launched in the near future. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the majority of Syria had been “freed of terrorists”, save for Idlib, a northeastern province bordering Turkey, according to Al Jazeera. “What we need to do now is to wipe out those terrorist groups which ... ► Read more

  • ‘If they have their dollars, we have our God’: Erdogan doubles down on rift with US

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has doubled down on the detention of an American pastor which sparked diplomatic fallout with the US, saying Ankara will not bow before those who set up their “own order by exploiting the world” and make Turkey their “strategic target”. “They were not able to make us collapse and they will never be,” Mr Erdogan told supporters on Saturday (local time). “If they have their dollars, we have our God.” While ... ► Read more

  • Pompeo announces Iran Action Group

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Thursday (local time) the launch of a new Iran policy team following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from multinational nuclear deal with Tehran. The Iran Action Group (IAG), headed by State Department director Brian Hook, aims to develop strategies to combat “the Iranian threat”. Mr Hook, as the IAG Special Representative for Iran, told reporters the group’s focus will be on monitoring the effect of Iranian policy on ... ► Read more

  • 48 dead in Kabul education centre suicide bombing

    A suicide bombing at an education centre in Kabul has killed 48 people and left 67 injured, according to Afghan officials. Police say a suicide bomber entered the centre while tuition was taking place and detonated his bomb belt at about 4:00 pm (local time) on Wednesday afternoon. “We can confirm the attack was caused by a suicide bomber on foot,” police spokesperson Hashmat Stanikzai said. “The bomber detonated himself inside the education centre.” Many ... ► Read more

  • Canada-Saudi row: what exactly happened?

    Canada and Saudi Arabia have had a severe diplomatic falling out and for two fairly major global players, there has been a considerably small amount of coverage. So what exactly caused the rapid deterioration in the relationship between one of the West’s most prominent countries and a major Middle Eastern power? The tweet Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland urged Saudi authorities to release civil rights activists facing up to 20 years imprisonment in a tweet ... ► Read more

  • Syria: 39 killed in Idlib blast including 12 children

    An explosion at a weapons depot housed in a residential building in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on Sunday (local time) has killed at least 39 people including a dozen children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The blast reportedly occurred in the northwest town of Sarmada near the Turkish border. The cause of the explosion, which resulted in the collapse of two buildings, remains unknown. SOHR said one of the five-storey residential buildings’ ... ► Read more

  • Saudi airstrike hits school bus killing at least 29 children

    A Saudi-coalition airstrike on a market in the Houthi stronghold of Saada on Thursday (local time) has killed up to 29 children after a school bus was targeted in the attack, the Red Cross has reported. A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition said the attack, which left dozens of civilians injured, was a “legitimate military action” against Houthi rebels and was carried out under the impression the targeted bus was carrying militants. The spokesperson also ... ► Read more

  • Source: Israel and Hamas reach ceasefire agreement amid escalating hostilities

    Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement late on Thursday (local time) evening amid an intense 24-hour period of hostilities, according to a diplomatic source that had knowledge of the negotiations. The ceasefire was expected to go into effect at midnight, the source said. Egypt and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has backed the agreement, with both parties leading efforts toward the negotiations. Both have repeatedly called for peace ... ► Read more

  • Syrian President’s wife Asma al-Assad diagnosed with breast cancer

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Syria’s official state news agency reported on Wednesday (local time). Asma al-Assad, the British-born first lady of Syria, is currently being treated for early stage breast cancer at a military hospital in Damascus. The Syrian President tweeted a photo of him sitting along his wife as she received treatment, saying, “With strength and confidence and faith, lady Asma al-Assad starts the first stage of ... ► Read more

  • Global trade war escalates as US threatens sanctions against trading with Iran and increases Chinese tariffs

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to impose trade sanctions on countries that continue to trade with Iran, after the US reimposed sanctions on the Middle Eastern country this week. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” President Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday (local time). “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!” The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ... ► Read more

  • Canadian ambassador expelled as relations with Saudi Arabia rapidly deteriorate

    Canadian ambassador Denis Horak has been expelled from Saudi Arabia after Canada called for the release of human rights activists. Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists. — Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018 Saudi Arabia has also frozen all trade with Canada and its state airline ... ► Read more

  • Rouhani on new sanctions: US ‘psychological warfare’ illogical

    On Monday (local time), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the United States’ plan to re-impose sanctions an attempt at “psychological warfare” that “doesn’t make sense”. During an interview on state television Mr Rouhani said: “If you’re an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife.” It is Mr Rouhani’s first response to US President Donald Trump’s ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Turkish officials over jailed pastor

    The United States Government has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers over the ongoing detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Mr Brunson has been held in custody for almost two years over alleged links to political groups. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US Government believes Mr Brunson is “a victim of unfair and unjust detention”, adding that the Government has “seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong.” ... ► Read more

  • Trump’s offer to meet with Rouhani rebuked on both sides

    US President Donald Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been shot down both from within his own administration and senior figures in Iran. In a joint news conference with Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Mr Trump said that he would be willing to meet with the Iranian President. “I’ll meet with anybody,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with meeting.” When he was asked whether the meeting would include preconditions, he replied ... ► Read more

  • Qatar bid team accused of sabotaging rival bids for 2022 FIFA World Cup

    Allegations of a “black-ops” campaign by Qatar’s bid team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup have sparked controversy as accusations of extensive sabotage emerge. The Qatar bid team is accused of using ex-CIA connections and public relations firms to run a fabricated propaganda campaign against rival US and Australian bid teams. The scandal emerged after a confidential source provided documents to The Times (UK), detailing how the Qatar bid team undermined support for hosting the ... ► Read more

  • Trump willing to meet Iranian President Rouhani at any time and without conditions

    US President Donald Trump said on Monday (local time) that he is willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “anytime” and without preconditions, despite appearing to threaten the country with war just days earlier. “They want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want,” President Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want ... ► Read more

  • Over 200 Syrians killed in deadliest IS attacks

    Over 200 people have been killed in a spate of bombings claimed by fundamentalist terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) in Syria’s southeast on Wednesday (local time). IS fighters were engaged in gunfire with Syrian Government forces just outside Sweida, a government-held city, when the blasts occured. IS factions have been pushed back into the country’s southeast since international forces joined the Syrian conflict in 2014, reducing the occupied areas, though not the carnage. “It’s the ... ► Read more

  • ABC report claiming US ready to bomb Iran dismissed by PM

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that there is “no reason” to believe that US President Donald Trump is preparing to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, dismissing it as just “speculation”. An ABC report published on Friday claimed senior ministers within the Turnbull Government believed the US was prepared to bomb Iran as soon as next month and that Australia was providing intelligence on potential targets. The report cited a senior security source saying Australian defence ... ► Read more

  • Pakistan: more than 30 killed in election day bombing

    A suicide bombing in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, killed at least 31 people and left 35 wounded as Pakistani voters turned out for the country’s general election on Wednesday. There are concerns that the death toll could rise, as several of those injured are in a critical condition, said hospital official Dr Jaffar Kakar. Abdul Haleem, a witness waiting to cast his ballot, said a motorcycle drove into the crowd moments before the ... ► Read more

  • Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet

    Israel has fired two US-made Patriot missiles at a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet, intercepting the aircraft after it allegedly entered two kilometres into Israeli-controlled airspace, the Israeli military said on Tuesday. “It was shot down and it crashed … most likely in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. The fate of the pilot still unknown, however reports have circulated that he is now deceased. Israel and ... ► Read more

  • Kuwaiti Insta-influencer upset migrant workers allowed four days off a month

    Kuwaiti beauty blogger Sondos Alqattan has received criticism for her comments regarding the rights of Filipino migrants to have one day off a week. Kuwait’s new Kafala system provides one day off work a week for Filipino migrant workers, a change that sparked racist comments from the 27-year-old social media influencer. The system, which sponsors unskilled workers in much of the Middle East, has been under fire from the Human Rights Watch and the international ... ► Read more

  • UK will not oppose death penalty if alleged IS members are extradited

    In a letter leaked to The Telegraph, Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he would not seek any assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty if two alleged Islamic State members are extradited to the United States. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, of west London, were captured in Syria in January. In a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister, Downing Street said it is the “long-standing position of the government ... ► Read more

  • World Court orders provisional measures in UAE-Qatar expulsion dispute

    The International Court of Justice ordered provisional measures to prevent Qataris from being expelled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday. Qatar alleges that on 5 June 2017 the UAE implemented a policy of expelling all Qataris from the country within 14 days and denying entry to all Qataris, and that this policy violates the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In its order, the Court ruled that ... ► Read more

  • Israel evacuates White Helmets from Syria

    Israel has evacuated members of the Syria Civil Defence group, commonly known as the “White Helmets”, from a war zone in south-eastern Syria. Around 422 volunteers belonging to the group were taken to Jordan through the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight, an operation that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said was prompted by a request from the United States, the United Kingdom, and several European nations. The White Helmets are a volunteer workforce that conducts urban ... ► Read more

  • Pakistan: general election candidate killed in suicide bombing

    Ikramullah Gandapur, a candidate in Pakistan’s general election, was killed in a suicide bombing when his convoy was attacked in the northern town of Dera Ismail Khan on Sunday. Gandapur’s driver was also killed and three others badly injured when the 9 kg bomb tore through his vehicle as he returned home from a political meeting. His death is the latest in a series of deadly attacks that have marred the election process, with voters ... ► Read more

  • Trump to Rouhani: Never threaten the US again or suffer consequences

    US President Donald Trump has directly addressed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a fiery tweet which promised “consequences the likes of which few have ever suffered before” if Iran ever threatens the US. Mr Trump tweeted: To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS ... ► Read more

  • Turkish court rejects Australia’s extradition request of Neil Prakash

    A Turkish court has rejected Australia’s request to extradite notorious Islamic State (IS) terrorist Neil Prakash in a ruling that could see the terrorist released from prison unless Turkey decides to prosecute him. The decision of the Kilis Criminal Court in southern Turkey comes just two months after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected the extradition of the self-confessed Melbourne-born IS member to happen “within months.” Since he was captured in October 2016 while ... ► Read more

  • US says it’s ready for direct dialogue with Afghan Taliban

    The United States says it is prepared to enter into peaceful negotiation with the Afghan Taliban, following a promising three day ceasefire last month. Only days ago, Taliban delegates refused Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s proposal for peace talks, demanding that international forces leave Afghanistan. At the insistence of US President Donald Trump, the US military has fast-tracked the talks following the Taliban’s rejection of President Ghani’s peace talks. It is hoped that direct dialogue between ... ► Read more

  • Pakistan: death toll rises to 149 following Mastung attack

    A suicide attack at an election rally in southwestern Pakistan on Friday afternoon has left almost 150 dead in one of Pakistan’s bloodiest attacks. The attack took place in Drigarh in the Mastung district of the Balochistan province, killing at least 149 people and wounding 189 others, police officials said on Sunday. A suicide bomber detonated at a Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) election rally in the third-deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history, and the third fatal ... ► Read more