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

  • “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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 Iran 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. US-Iran relations stabilised in 2015 when Iran and the ... ► 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • “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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • “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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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