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US: Dozens of lawmakers renew push to halt Iran nuclear deal

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 19:06
US: Dozens of lawmakers renew push to halt Iran nuclear deal
Nearly 50 Senators and members of Congress introduce bill that would prevent lifting of sanctions on Iran
MEE staff Thu, 09/22/2022 - 20:06
US Senator Joni Ernst led the introduction of the Preventing Underhanded and Nefarious Iranian Supported Homicides Act.
US Senator Joni Ernst led the introduction of the Preventing Underhanded and Nefarious Iranian Supported Homicides Act (AFP/File photo)

Nearly 50 Republicans in the US Congress have renewed an effort to halt a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by preventing the Biden administration from lifting sanctions on Tehran.

Senators Joni Ernst and Congressman Mike Waltz, along with 25 Senate Republican and 20 House Republican co-sponsors, on Wednesday introduced the Preventing Underhanded and Nefarious Iranian Supported Homicides (Punish) Act.

If passed, the legislation would prevent the withdrawal of US sanctions on Iran until Secretary of State Antony Blinken certifies to Congress that Iran had not supported any attempts to kill US citizens or Iranians living in the country for at least five years.

Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses author, stabbed at New York event
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"It's hard to fathom that, after countless attacks on Americans, and multiple confirmed plots against U.S. officials, the Biden administration continues to cozy up to Iran in hopes of a mythical, so-called nuclear deal," Ernst said in a statement.

"President Biden should not provide a dime of sanctions relief to the largest state sponsor of terrorism, which is actively trying to kill U.S. officials and citizens, at home and abroad."

In August, author Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage during an event in New York, and police detained a 24-year-old named Hadi Mattar and charged him with attempted murder.

Several intelligence officials suggested that Matar had been in "direct contact" with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - an influential paramilitary body in the country - before the attack, according to VICE World News.

However, Iran denied any involvement in the attack on Rushdie, who had previously received a fatwa for his assassination by the former religious leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini.

Tehran has long distanced itself from former leader Ayatollah Khomeini's decree.

Last year, US police charged four people over a plot to kidnap prominent Iranian-American women's rights activist Masih Alinejad. Iran also denied any involvement in that case.

The US has also accused a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of plotting to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton.

"The Biden Administration has a duty to protect its citizens from the Iran Regime's proxies who have already carried out an attack on Salman Rushdie, plotted an assassination against former National Security Advisor John Bolton," Waltz said.

"Maximum pressure sanctions must be retained against the Iranian Regime."

Iran nuclear talks

The new bill is the latest congressional effort to prevent a return to the Iran nuclear deal.

After a year-and-a-half of indirect talks with Iran, a final draft agreement has been created by the European Union, but the talks have stalled as several sticking points continue to take hold.

In addition to Iran seeking a guarantee that the US would stick to the deal, Tehran has also called for an end to an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into three Iranian nuclear sites revolving around unexplained nuclear particles.

At the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attacked Washington's commitment to returning to the deal.

"Can we truly trust without guarantees and assurances that [the US] will this time live up to their commitment?" Raisi said, referring to the decision by the administration of Donald Trump to unilaterally withdraw from the deal in 2018.

On Thursday, the US issued a new set of sanctions on Iran, this time targeting their morality police, the heads of the army's ground forces, and Iran's minister of intelligence.

It held the morality police responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in custody last week after being arrested in Tehran for wearing "unsuitable attire". Amini's death has sparked widespread protests across the country on an unusually large scale.

Washington
Dozens of US lawmakers renew push to halt return to Iran nuclear deal

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid backs two-state solution

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 18:23
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid backs two-state solution
Lapid says backing an independent Palestinian state was 'right thing for Israel's security'
MEE staff Thu, 09/22/2022 - 19:23
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid gives a speech during the 77th session of the General Assembly at UN headquarters on September 22, 2022 in New York City (AFP)

Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid has thrown his support behind a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestine, in his speech to the 77th United Nations General Assembly.

“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy, and for the future of our children,” Lapid told delegates.

"Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two-state solution. I am one of them,” he said.

"Put down your weapons and prove that Hamas and Islamic Jihad is not going to take over the Palestinian state you want to create… and there will be peace," Lapid said.

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His comments come as many warn prospects for a two-state solution are shrinking as a result of illegal Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, the intended future home of a Palestinian state.

Tensions in the region have flared in recent weeks, with armed clashes breaking out between Palestinian security forces and protesters.

Israeli leaders have generally avoided references to the two-state solution at the General Assembly. Lapid made the remarks as he prepares to enter a close election with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Lapid went on to say that any agreement with the Palestinians over a two-state solution would be conditional: "That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times."

In his speech, Lapid also took aim at what he called "the anti-Israel movement", which he said "has been spreading lies for years in the media on college campuses and on social media" about Israel.

He challenged critics to "come and visit" the country, while praising steps by Middle Eastern and other Muslim-majority states to normalise ties with Israel. Lapid began his speech by referencing the Negev Summit, held in Israel in March with diplomats from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

Iran

Lapid went on to warn world leaders about engaging with Iran over its nuclear programme, accusing them of "choosing the easy option" in dealing with Tehran.

He called for countries to issue "a credible military threat" to the Islamic Republic "and then - and only then - to negotiate a longer and stronger deal with them", he said.

"It needs to be made clear to Iran that if it advances its nuclear programme, the world will not respond with words, but with military force," said the prime minister. "Every time a threat like that was put on the table in the past, Iran stopped and retreated."

Lapid reiterated Israel's position, that it would act against Iran regardless of talks between Tehran and Western powers.

"We will do whatever it takes," he said. "Iran will not get a nuclear weapon."

He accused Tehran's leadership of conducting an "orchestra of hate" against Jews, and said Iran's ideologues "hate and kill Muslims who think differently, like Salman Rushdie and Mahsa Amini".

The Israeli leader's reference to Amini, who died following her arrest by Iran's morality police last week after claims she had violated the country's dress code for women, comes as Iran is engulfed in some of the largest protests since 2019.

New York City

US: Rights group condemns congressman's attack on Muslim university officer

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 16:54
US: Rights group condemns congressman's attack on Muslim university officer
CAIR says Lee Zeldin's attack on CUNY diversity officer is 'vile, defamatory and Islamophobic'
MEE staff Thu, 09/22/2022 - 17:54
Zeldin
Zeldin has previously focused attention on Muslim leaders in the US (AFP/File photo)

New York Congressman Lee Zeldin has come under fire from a leading Muslim rights organisation after attacking the Muslim American official tapped to lead a probe into a complaint of antisemitism at a university in New York City.

Saly Abd Alla, a former civil rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) chapter in Minnesota, was chosen to lead an investigation into a complaint of antisemitism made by a CUNY Kingsborough Community College professor.

Abd Allah is the chief diversity officer at CUNY. After the news that she would be leading the investigation, Republican Councilperson Inna Vernikov accused her of being linked to antisemitism and terrorism.

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Zeldin, a Republican from New York and co-chair of the House Republicans' Israel Caucus, joined the attacks and said both the CUNY employee and CAIR were "pro-Hamas" and "antisemitic".

"CAIR’s leadership has a long history of spreading antisemitic conspiracies and pro-Hamas propaganda," Zeldin said.

CAIR National and its New York branch responded to Zeldin's statement, saying his "decision to launch a vile, defamatory and Islamophobic attack against a Muslim woman because she once worked for our civil rights organization is shameful".

"Mr. Zeldin, a poodle for Donald Trump with a history of smearing Muslim women, has reached a new low and sullied his office."

Zeldin has a history of attacking Muslim leaders in the US. In 2019, after prominent American imam Omar Suleiman delivered a prayer at the opening of a session at the US House of Representatives, Zeldin launched a scathing rebuke of the speech, followed by a flurry of articles that accused Suleiman of being "militantly anti-Semitic". 

At the time, Suleiman told MEE that the articles springing up in quick succession was "clearly part of an attempt to erase Muslim leaders from public life and also to keep deflecting from the real anti-Semitism of the right".

CUNY and BDS

Earlier this year, Vernikov, a Ukrainian-born Jewish Republican representing parts of Brooklyn, was able to block $50,000 in CUNY's funding after claiming that professors at its School of Law were engaging in antisemitism following a decision to support the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In a statement, Vernikov claimed CUNY, which enrolled more than 260,000 students in 2020, was rife with "antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment".

Students at the university condemned the decision, telling MEE they experienced no such antisemitism on campus, despite Vernikov's claims. The funding the councilwoman blocked had been due to go towards providing free legal services to the local community.

Zeldin himself introduced a bill in March this year targeting the BDS movement in the US. The bill, if passed, would bar US citizens and companies from providing information to foreign countries and international organisations that "have the effect of furthering" the boycott of Israel.

It would also bar the US from participating in boycotts, or requests for boycotts, of "a country which is friendly to the United States".

Middle East Eye reached out to Abd Alla for comment but did not receive a response by time of publication.

Rights group condemns US congressman's attack on Muslim university officer

US urges top UN court to dismiss Iran's frozen assets claim

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 15:01
US urges top UN court to dismiss Iran's frozen assets claim
Tehran accuses Washington of breaching 1955 treaty by allowing US courts to freeze $1.75bn in Iranian assets
MEE staff Thu, 09/22/2022 - 16:01
The ICJ is the United Nations' top court dealing with disputes between different countries.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague (Reuters/File photo)

The United States has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to dismiss a case by Iran which claims that Washington breached a treaty and allowed courts to freeze assets of Iranian companies.

"Iran's case should be dismissed in its entirety because of the principle of 'unclean hands'," Richard Visek, acting legal adviser at the US State Department, said on Wednesday, as the US set out its opening arguments in the case at The Hague.

In using the legal term "unclean hands", Visek argued that Tehran cannot complain about US courts confiscating assets because the actions that led to the asset freeze were the result of Iran's own illegal conduct.

UN General Assembly: Iran's Raisi questions US commitment to nuclear deal return
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Iran first brought the case against Washington in 2016, accusing it of breaching a 1955 friendship treaty by allowing American courts to freeze assets of Iranian companies, including $1.75bn from Iran's central bank which is now held in a Citibank account in New York.

The friendship treaty was signed decades before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The revolution led to the severing of US-Iranian relations and Washington eventually withdrew from the treaty in 2018.

In October 1983, a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with military-grade explosives attacked US Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American troops and 58 French soldiers. Iran has long denied being involved. However, in 2003 a US judge found Tehran responsible and a 2012 US law ordered Iran's central bank to hand over the frozen Iranian assets to the families of those killed in the Beirut bombing.

In 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled it had jurisdiction to hear the case, rejecting an argument from the US that its national security interests superseded the 1955 treaty.

"The freedom of navigation and commerce guaranteed by the treaty have been gravely breached," Tavakol Habibzadeh, head of international legal affairs for Iran, told the ICJ on Monday, as reported by the Associated Press.

Iran's case against the UK

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the UN's highest court dealing with disputes between countries.

While its rulings are binding, the court has no power to enforce them, and Washington and Tehran are among a number of countries to have disregarded its decisions in the past.

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Iran had previously brought up another case with the ICJ when it called on the United Kingdom to pay more than $500m in debt to Tehran from before the Iranian revolution.

Shortly before the 1979 overthrow of the shah, the British government struck an arms deal to sell more than 1,500 Chieftain tanks and 250 repair vehicles to Iran.

Iran paid £600m ($795m) for the tanks in advance, but having delivered only 185 tanks, Britain refused to deliver the remaining equipment when the shah was deposed.

The international court of arbitration in The Hague ordered Britain to pay the debt in 2001, a ruling upheld in 2009. However, the two countries have been locked in a prolonged legal battle in the British courts over the exact sum owed, and whether or not the UK should pay interest on it.

In 2017, Iran also filed a lawsuit at the ICJ demanding the court order the suspension of renewed US sanctions, which it says are devastating its economy.

US urges top UN court to dismiss Iran's frozen assets claim

AMEJA Awards: MEE shortlisted for Walid El-Gabry Memorial Award

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 14:52
AMEJA Awards: MEE shortlisted for Walid El-Gabry Memorial Award
MEE's story on Muslim survivors of domestic abuse has been shortlisted, the organisation's first nomination for a US-based award
MEE staff Thu, 09/22/2022 - 15:52
AMEJA is an organisation of professional journalists dedicated to supporting the community of Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African heritage journalists and providing voice to the communities from which they come (AMEJA Website)

The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) has shortlisted Middle East Eye for the 2022 AMEJA Awards.

"For the first time since its founding in 2005, the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) is launching a series of awards to highlight exceptional work by and about Arab and Middle Eastern communities."

MEE's reporting in July on Muslim women speaking out against domestic violence in the US sheds light on an underreported subject by highlighting the voices of survivors of abuse within the Muslim community. It is among 13 entries shortlisted for the Walid El-Gabry Memorial Award to "specifically recognize the work of an AMEJA member and will be voted on by AMEJA members".

The problem is men: Muslim women speak out against abuse in the US
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This will be the first award that MEE has been nominated for outside the UK and Europe. 

The memorial award is one of three awards on offer this year, the other two will be voted on by a jury panel consisting of: Mohamad Bazzi, director of NYU’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies; Leila Fadel, NPR Morning Edition Host; Kareem Fahim, Washington Post Middle East Bureau Chief; Ayman Mohyeldin, MSNBC Anchor; and Jason Rezaian, Washington Post Columnist and #544Days Podcast Host.

AMEJA is an association of professional journalists dedicated to supporting the community of Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African heritage journalists and providing voice to the communities from which they come.

Winners will be announced in late October.

Pegasus and other spyware threatens UN human rights work, chief warns

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 13:30
Pegasus and other spyware threatens UN human rights work, chief warns
United Nations secretary-general says digital surveillance has stopped human rights defenders from submitting information and made them more vulnerable to reprisal
Dania Akkad Thu, 09/22/2022 - 14:30
UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaks at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this week (AFP)

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, has warned of the serious threat spyware programmes like Pegasus pose to the UN's work on human rights in a damning report set to be debated next week.

Expanding digital surveillance by states and non-state actors has impacted the ability of civil society actors to submit information to the UN and has made them more vulnerable to intimidation and reprisal, Guterres cautions.

“United Nations actors have pointed to growing and concerning evidence of online surveillance, privacy intrusion, and cyberattacks by state and non-state actors of victims and civil society communications and activities,” the UN chief writes.

'I feel deep pain in knowing that malicious spyware has now been used against me'

- Ebtisam al-Saegh, Bahraini activist

“The lack of trust in the digital sphere among those sharing information and testimony with the United Nations on sensitive issues can discourage future cooperation.”

His findings are part of an annual report that monitors the challenges faced by those seeking to cooperate with the organisation and focuses on April 2021 to May 2022.

During this period, much of the UN’s work was conducted digitally in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, making threats of surveillance and spyware especially concerning.

In particular, he singles out the potential repercussions that Pegasus, the military-grade spyware made by the Israel-based NSO Group, has had for Palestinian, Bahraini, and Moroccan organisations and human rights defenders who have cooperated with the UN.

He notes that staff at three prominent Palestinian NGOs - Addameer, Al-Haq, and Bisan Center for Research and Development - were surveilled and had their phones hacked with Pegasus in 2021. The hacking came two weeks after the Israeli government had designated the organisations and three others as “terrorist associations”.

Israel did not respond to the allegations highlighted in the report.

Repercussions for cooperating with UN

In Bahrain, the report highlights two human rights defenders, Ebtisam al-Saegh and Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, in relation to spyware.

This January, investigators found that al-Saegh’s mobile phone had been hacked at least eight times between August and November 2019 with Pegasus. Alwadaei's mobile number was discovered on a leaked list of numbers identified as targets by NSO Group’s government clients between 2017 and 2019. 

Both have allegedly experienced earlier repercussions for their cooperation with the UN, Guterres notes.

'The UN should follow up by calling for greater scrutiny of surveillance technology and its misuse by states, coupled with improved regulation'

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Bird

As Middle East Eye has previously reported, al-Saegh, who is based in Bahrain, was detained in March 2017 for seven hours at Bahrain International Airport on her return from the UN Human Rights Council, where she spoke out about violations in the kingdom.

She was interrogated for five hours and had her passport and mobile phone confiscated.

A couple of months later, interrogators from Bahrain’s National Security Agency abused her physically and verbally, and sexually assaulted her at Muharraq police station. She was told that if she did not cease her activism she would be raped. 

“As someone who has been unable to heal from the torture and sexual assault experienced by Bahraini security due to the culture of impunity that allows my abusers to walk free, I feel deep pain in knowing that malicious spyware has now been used against me," al-Saegh told MEE.

Alwadaei, director of advocacy for the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), who lives in exile in London, and several of his relatives have faced reprisal, including arbitrary arrest and removal of citizenship, as a result of his continuous engagement with the UN, Guterres notes.

The Bahraini government, in response to the report, said that neither al-Saegh, nor Alwadaei and his family had been targeted because of their human rights activity or cooperation with the UN, but did not respond to the spyware allegations.

Pegasus spyware: Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar targeted
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In Morocco, Guterres reports on the case of veteran Sahrawi human rights defender Aminatou Haidar, who has allegedly faced threats, physical attacks, constant police monitoring, legal action, and online surveillance for her ongoing cooperation with the UN.

In March 2022, forensic evidence from an investigation reportedly showed that Haidar’s mobile phones were targeted and intercepted by Pegasus in October and November 2021.

"I also blame the NSO Group, which I consider to be a company that profits from human rights violations with espionage technology provided to authoritarian countries such as Morocco," Haidar told MEE in March.

Guterres also writes that the UN received information that Claude Mangin-Asfari, the wife of imprisoned Sahrawi human rights defender Ennaama Asfari, and her husband’s lawyer were targeted with Pegasus in 2021.    

'The price human rights defenders pay'

In a response to the report’s allegations, Moroccan authorities categorically denied that Haidar, Mangin-Asfari, or her husband’s lawyer were hacked with Pegasus, and also said that they categorically rejected that Haidar had been subject to constant police surveillance or physical violence during the reporting period.

Alwadaei said the report reveals "the price human rights defenders pay for cooperating with the UN" and the extent to which repressive goverments will go to intimidate activists.

"This important recognition by the UN secretary-general on governments’ misuse of Pegasus spyware is an important step. The UN should follow up by calling for greater scrutiny of surveillance technology and its misuse by states, coupled with improved regulation," he said.

"As someone named in this report who has been targeted by the Bahraini government, the state’s response fails to even acknowledge their use of surveillance technology against human rights activists. This should not go unchallenged by the UN.”

The report is scheduled to be debated on 29 September at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Turkey is looking at alternatives to Russian Mir card system

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 13:30
Turkey is looking at alternatives to Russian Mir card system
Erdogan says Turkey has been forced to evaluate its stance on Russian payment system following US sanctions
Ragip Soylu Thu, 09/22/2022 - 14:30
A Russian ruble coin and the Russian Mir payment system logo on a bank card in Moscow (AFP)

Turkey is looking at possible alternatives to the Russian payment system Mir following US sanctions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a group of journalists in New York on Thursday.

The US Treasury Department last week sanctioned top Mir executives and warned third-party facilitators that they also might be subjected to sanctions over concerns relating to illicit trade and funds.

Isbank and Denizbank, two of the five Turkish banks that process Mir, this week suspended the administering of payments over the system following the decision.

Erdogan said the US decision on the Mir system was out of the ordinary.

“My ministers are holding talks on the alternatives, we are looking into the alternatives,” he said. 

The president also said he would hold a top-level economic meeting on Friday to discuss the issue and make a final decision on Mir. The meeting is also expected to focus on bilateral Turkish-Russian economic engagement and investments as well as other domestic financial issues.

Russia-Ukraine war: Major prisoner swap following Turkey and Saudi mediation
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After Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, the US and several European countries placed severe sanctions on Moscow and excluded Russia from the Swift global payments system.

Mir is the Russian equivalent of Visa or Mastercard, and is accepted in South Korea, Cuba, some former Soviet states, and soon Iran.

The head of Russia's National Card Payments System said earlier on Thursday that Mir bank cards continued to work in Turkey, despite the two banks suspending them. 

Turkey continues to walk a fine line over the war in Ukraine.

Even though Ankara closed the Bosphorus strait to the Black Sea and declared the Russian assault an “illegal and unjust war”, it still enjoys good ties with Moscow and has not joined the US, UK, and EU in imposing sanctions.

Last week, some hotels in Turkey stopped accepting Russian credit cards using the Mir payment system over concerns they could be exposed to US sanctions as a result. 

Several sources in the tourism industry confirmed to Middle East Eye that some hotel chains stopped using the Mir system independently, but most hotels were still processing the payments.

Ankara

Iranian press review: Reformist politicians demand removal of 'morality police'

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 13:24
Iranian press review: Reformist politicians demand removal of 'morality police'
Meanwhile, Tehran and Moscow increase economic cooperation, and engineers boost refineries in Venezuela
MEE correspondent Thu, 09/22/2022 - 14:24
Mahsa Amini on the front cover of the Arman Meli newspaper (screenshot)

Legislators urge 'morality police' shut down

Reformist politicians have publicly demanded the elimination of Iran's "morality police", known as Gasht-e Ershad, while protests continue in Iranian cities following the death of Mahsa Amini.

Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died in hospital after being arrested in Tehran last week by the special police unit that monitors women's clothing and looks out for "bad hijab".

Since her death, which many have blamed on police abuse, reformist media outlets have openly criticised the restrictive laws that mandate women wearing headscarves, breaking an unwritten taboo on discussing the subject.

Since June, conservative President Ebrahim Raisi's administration has implemented restrictive measures on women's dress.

Mahsa Amini: Iran shuts down internet as death toll from 'bad hijab' protests rises
Read More »

On Tuesday, Shargh and Etemad daily, two leading reformist newspapers, demanded on their front pages the removal of the police branch responsible for implementing sharia laws related to women's hijab.

Under the headline "the demand for shutting off Gasht-e Ershad", Etemad published an open letter by a former legislator, Elias Hazrati, in which he urged President Raisi to end the Islamic morality police operations.

"I demand that you, commandingly, order the removal of Gasht-e Ershad to heal the pain of millions of Iranians," he wrote.

"According to many lawyers, the formation of this police branch has no legal basis."

Meanwhile, in a speech to the country's parliament, Behzad Rahimi, a legislator from the Kurdish city of Saqqez, Amini's hometown, denounced the police for the harsh methods of dealing with what authorities considered inappropriate hijab.

"Gasht-e Ershad has always been a source of stress for our women," ISNA news agency quoted Rahimi. "Gasht-e Ershad squashes human dignity, and we must respect the public demands, urging a revision in [their activities]."

At the same time that ordinary Iranians and reformist politicians have voiced their anger against the Islamic "morality police", conservative outlets labelled the anti-hijab protests as a "disorder" organised by "foreign enemies".

"The sad incident of [Amini's death] has opened the way for the anti-revolutionary and separatist forces to implement their ominous scenarios," the state-owned Iran daily wrote.

65 Russian companies to sign deals with Iran

A 100-member Russian delegation of business people entered Iran on Monday to sign commercial and cooperation agreements with Iranian firms to boost economic ties between the two countries.

The Tasnim news agency reported that the Russian delegation represented 65 companies, active in telecommunication systems, energy, food and agricultural industry, aquaculture, medicines and recycling.

Tasnim wrote that Russia had organised 10 other business delegations to Iran to increase trade volume between Moscow and Tehran.

In August, the two countries began trading in their currencies under the Russian Central Bank's Mir system instead of using the American dollar.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Russia has increased its backing to sanctions-hit Iran, vowing to support the country's outdated industry and troubled economy. During the past decade, Iran's oil and gas industries, as well as critical infrastructure, have been severely damaged under sanctions imposed by the US.

Iran boosts Venezuelan refinery's productivity

Fars news reported that collaborations between Iran and Venezuela had borne fruit, and according to one unnamed source the capacity of one oil refinery in Venezuela had increased fivefold, from 10,000 to 15,000 barrels per day to 55,000 to 90,000.

The source did not provide any detail about the particular refinery in Venezuela, or since when Iran had been assisting its ally in Latin America to increase petrochemical production.

Venezuela and Iran sign 20-year cooperation deal during Maduro visit
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"This refinery is also a client of Iran's oil. And the oil exports have increased to other refineries [in Venezuela] along with exporting technical support and knowledge," the source was quoted as saying.

Hadi Beiginejad, a member of the energy commission in Iran's parliament, said that based on new contracts, Iran had helped Venezuela to repair and maintain its outdated refineries. In return, Caracas would buy Iran's oil to be processed in those refineries.

"Our oil sales have been limited, but we can sell other products from oil. So buying shares or investing in other countries' refineries is highly important for us," Beiginejad was quoted as saying.

In August, officials revealed that Tehran had increased its oil exports by investing in "cross-country refineries" in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Venezuela.

Due to US sanctions on Iran's oil, gas and petrochemical exports, Tehran has invested in the oil industries of friendly countries to sell its products to those refineries, labelled by officials as "cross-country refineries".

*Iranian press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye. 

Iranian press review: Iran's reformist politicians demand removal of morality police

Facebook and Instagram violated Palestinian rights during Gaza war, internal report finds

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 12:37
Facebook and Instagram violated Palestinian rights during Gaza war, internal report finds
Study commissioned by parent group Meta finds policies in May 2021 restricted Palestinians' freedom of expression
MEE staff Thu, 09/22/2022 - 13:37
The Facebook and Instagram apps are seen on the screen of an iPhone (AFP)
The report attributed Facebook and Instagram's 'unintentional bias' to a lack of staff expertise (AFP)

Facebook and Instagram’s policies during Israeli attacks on Gaza last year harmed the fundamental human rights of Palestinians, according to a report commissioned by the platforms’ parent company, Meta. 

The study, which was carried out by consultancy Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), was obtained by The Intercept, ahead of its publication later this week. 

In May 2021, Meta was widely accused of censorship and bias during Israel’s assault on Gaza, which killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children. In Israel, 13 people were killed by Palestinian rockets, including two children.

“Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact… on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred,” the report said. 

Middle East Eye reported last year that concerns had been raised about deleted social media content and account suspensions in relation to the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, where an Israeli crackdown on protests against forcible evictions sparked the escalation in violence.  

According to the report, Meta deleted Arabic content related to last year’s violence at a much greater rate than Hebrew-language posts. This was found among posts reviewed by both automated services and employees. 

Israel-Palestine: How social media was used and abused
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BSR attributed the difference in treatment to a lack of expertise. It concluded that Meta lacked staff who understood other cultures, languages and histories - despite having over 70,000 employees and $24bn in cash reserves. 

“Potentially violating Arabic content may not have been routed to content reviewers who speak or understand the specific dialect of the content,” the report stated.

During the outbreak of violence, Palestinian and Arab social media users revived an old Arabic font in an attempt to beat Facebook’s algorithm and express their support for Palestine. 

'Unintentional bias'

The BSR report fell short of accusing Meta of deliberate bias, pointing instead to “unintentional bias” leading to “different human rights impacts on Palestinian and Arabic-speaking users”.

It found that Meta’s Dangerous Individuals and Organisations policy, referred to in the report as the DOI, which prevents its users from praising or representing a number of groups, focused mainly on Muslim entities and therefore disproportionately impacted Palestinians. 

“Meta’s DOI policy and the list are more likely to impact Palestinian and Arabic-speaking users, both based upon Meta’s interpretation of legal obligations, and in error,” it said. 

“Palestinians are more likely to violate Meta’s DOI policy because of the presence of Hamas as a governing entity in Gaza and political candidates affiliated with designated organisations.”

The study concluded with 21 non-binding recommendations, which included increasing staff capacity to analyse Arabic posts and reforming the Dangerous Individuals and Organisations policy. 

Meta vaguely committed to implementing 20 of the recommendations, according to The Intercept. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its response to the report will be included when the document is published in full.

In a footnote to the response seen by The Intercept, it said: “Meta’s publication of this response should not be construed as an admission, agreement with, or acceptance of any of the findings, conclusions, opinions or viewpoints identified by BSR, nor should the implementation of any suggested reforms be taken as admission of wrongdoing.”

Facebook and Instagram violated Palestinian rights during Gaza war, internal report finds

Turkey may give citizenship to descendants of Greek-Turks, Erdogan says

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 11:41
Turkey may give citizenship to descendants of Greek-Turks, Erdogan says
Erdogan's remarks came in response to Greek foreign minister's claims that the Greek population in Istanbul has significantly dwindled
Ragip Soylu Thu, 09/22/2022 - 12:41
Ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox world, leads the Easter ceremony at St George Church in Istanbul on 19 April 2020 (AFP)

Ankara may consider opening the path to citizenship to descendants of Greeks who were Turkish nationals, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

During an interview with local journalists, Erdogan said that his government has never tried to decrease the number of Greek-Turkish citizens in Turkey, despite claims by Athens.

He added that he had once visited the Turkish islands of Bozcaada and Gokceada and spoke to the minority of Turkish citizens of Greek descent living there.

“I asked them about their children, and one of them said her children were living in the US,” Erdogan said. “We could have given the [Turkish] citizenship to that child if he or she did not have one."

Erdogan made the remarks in response to the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who said on Tuesday that the Greek population in Istanbul has dropped from 100,000 to less than 5,000 in the last decades, and demanded an explanation from Ankara.

Erdogan also said that his government provided citizenship to non-Turkish members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate to allow them to maintain their institutional framework.

'The door is always open'

The Ecumenical Patriarch is elected by a group of bishops called the Holy Synod, whose members have to be Turkish citizens under Turkish law. 

Turkey-Greece tensions: A clash of nationalisms
Read More »

“Our door is always open. We would give them citizenship. We have never exiled any Greek from our homeland,” Erdogan said.

He added that Greeks, on the other hand, have been mistreating the Turkish minority living in Western Thrace, denying them the right to elect their own religious clergy.

“We don’t appoint the priests in Turkey,” he stressed. 

A classified Turkish National Security Council decision made on 17 March 1964 aimed to “Turkify'' the Bozcaada and Gokceada islands through policies that included banning education in Greek and closing Greek schools as a retaliation to the Cypriot government that was pressuring the Turkish community in Cyprus back then.

Thousands of Greeks left Gokceada in the late 1960s following policies that scared locals. At the time, inmates staying at a local open prison in Gokceada were allowed to roam the island and harass the Greek-Turkish population, leading to their immigration to Europe and elsewhere.

Even though the Greek migrants have retained Turkish citizenship, their descendants are not entitled to it.

Tensions between Turkey and Greece have been running high since the spring due to a number of issues, ranging from disputed territorial waters and airspace disagreements to Athens pushing back against refugees.

Ankara

Israel: PM Truss considering relocation of British embassy to Jerusalem

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 11:38
Israel: PM Truss considering relocation of British embassy to Jerusalem
The move would break with Britain's decades-old policy on Israel-Palestine and defy international law
MEE staff Thu, 09/22/2022 - 12:38
British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid hold a bilateral meeting as they attend the 77th U.N. General Assembly, in New York, 21 September 2022 (Reuters)
British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid hold a bilateral meeting as they attend the 77th UN General Assembly, in New York, on 21 September 2022 (Reuters)

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has told her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid that she is considering moving the British embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, a move that would break Britain’s long-standing policy on Israel-Palestine.

During the meeting on Wednesday in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Truss informed Lapid “about her review of the current location of the British Embassy in Israel,” according to a statement put out by the prime minister's office.

During the Tory leadership contest, Truss, then foreign secretary, made similar comments in a letter to an influential lobby group, the Conservative Friends of Israel, saying she was inclined to relocate the embassy to the contested city of Jerusalem.

"I understand the importance and sensitivity of the location of the British Embassy in Israel," Truss said at the time.

In her letter, the foreign minister also promised to “cement” Britain’s ties with Israel by expediting a Free Trade Agreement being drafted by the government. 

Boosting bilateral cooperation

In their meeting on Wednesday, Truss and Lapid discussed boosting bilateral cooperation, including in the fields of defence, cyber security, trade, and green technology.

They also agreed to set up teams to negotiate the free-trade agreement as quickly as possible.

Liz Truss and the Middle East: Where new UK PM stands on key issues
Read More »

Britain has long maintained its embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv, even after Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital, as part of a longstanding policy that the city's final status should be decided following negotiations.

In 1967 Israel occupied and annexed the eastern part of the city of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state, in a move that has never been recognised by the international community.

If the British Embassy is moved, Truss would be following in the footsteps of former US President Donald Trump who, in defiance of international law, moved the American embassy to Jerusalem in 2017, a move that formally recognised Israel's sovereignty over the city.

Truss had also previously vowed a further crackdown on the international boycott movement, backing a bill to prevent public bodies, including local councils, from joining the BDS campaign to divest funds from Israel for its illegal activities in the occupied territories.

Mahsa Amini: Iran shuts down internet as death toll from 'bad hijab' protests rises

Thu, 09/22/2022 - 10:01
Mahsa Amini: Iran shuts down internet as death toll from 'bad hijab' protests rises
At least 11 people have reportedly died as anger over death of 22-year old Kurdish woman continues to mount
MEE correspondent Thu, 09/22/2022 - 11:01
A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran on September 21, 2022, shows Iranian demonstrators burning a rubbish bin in the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini (AFP)
Iranian demonstrators burning a rubbish bin in the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini in a picture obtained on 21 September 2022 (AFP)

The Iranian government cut off internet access across the country on Wednesday evening as the death toll during protests against the death of Mahsa Amini reportedly rose to at least 11.

Demonstrations have grown across the country as anger mounts at the law imposing headscarves on women and the "morality police" used to enforce it.

Videos have shown women burning headscarves and protesters brawling with police. Seven protesters have been killed, according to Iranian officials, though others have suggested the figure is higher.

Elderly Iranian woman takes off her headscarf and chants, “Death to Khamenei” in Rasht, the capital of Gilan province. #Mahsa_Amini pic.twitter.com/RRYNwHFY26

— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) September 22, 2022

Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died in hospital after being arrested in Tehran last week by the special police unit that monitors women's clothing and looks out for "bad hijab".

Tehran police said in a statement on Thursday that, while in custody, Amini had "suddenly suffered from a heart problem" and was "immediately taken to hospital". On Friday it was announced that she had died there.

While the police said there had been no "physical contact" between Amini and the officers, campaigners and family members said she had been tortured while in custody. Prominent lawyer Saeed Dehghan said Amini had received fractures to her skull and described her death as "murder".

//-->

State media reported that street rallies had spread to 15 cities by Wednesday.

Police fired tear gas on crowds and made arrests, while videos appeared to show them beating demonstrators with clubs and firing live ammunition.

Activists have chanted "death to the dictator" and the Kurdish slogan "women, life, freedom" while clashing with security forces.

Internet block

On Wednesday, in an apparent bid to clamp down on the protesters, Iranians were cut off from the internet.

First Instagram was blocked, then WhatsApp. At around 10 pm, the local internet, known as National Internet, replaced the global internet, which meant Iranians could only access locally-based servers.

"In such a situation, the internet is shut down to prevent people from communicating with each other - this is not a new thing and the regime has used this dirty method to suppress protests," a political journalist in Bushehr, in southern Iran, told Middle East Eye anonymously.

'It is very difficult because my daughter is worried about me in France and I am also worried here that I cannot tell her about myself'

- Iranian mother

"This move even disrupts the process of sending videos, photos, and news from Iran to the world."

The closure of the internet has increased anxiety among many activists and relatives who fear a prelude to an even fiercer crackdown.

"In a situation where every family has at least one child outside of Iran these days, cutting off the internet makes families unable to be aware of each other," a 51-year-old woman in Tehran told MEE.

"It is very difficult because my daughter is worried about me in France and I am also worried here that I cannot tell her about myself."

The Iranian government has made some attempts to try and quell anger over the death of Amini.

President Ebrahim Raisi, who since his election last year has tightened enforcement of the headscarf law, reportedly spoke with Amini's family by phone on Sunday.

"Your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel that this incident happened to one of my loved ones. Please accept my condolences," state media reported him as saying.

//-->

According to Iranian media, four members of the security forces have died so far.

The reports said three militia members were stabbed or shot after being "mobilised to deal with rioters" in Mashhad in the northeast, Qazvin in the centre, and Tabriz in the northwest. A fourth member of the security forces was also reportedly killed in the southern city of Shiraz.

'Basic rights'

In an address to the UN General Assembly, US President Joe Biden said he stood in solidarity with Iranian women.

"Today we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights," Biden told the assembly.

A number of other foreign officials also called on Iran to respond to the demonstrations.

Mahsa Amini: Iran's raging protests draw sympathy from all corners of society
Read More »

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that "the Iranian leadership should notice that the people are unhappy with the direction that they have taken," while French President Emmanuel Macron said he asked Raisi in a meeting on Tuesday to show "respect for women's rights".

The sheer scale of the protests is unprecedented since the 1979 revolution that eventually saw the Islamic Republic brought to power.

In 2019, more than 300 protesters and bystanders were killed by authorities during anti-government demonstrations, according to rights groups.

While previous demonstations have focused on widespread poverty, corruption, and unemployment - problems exacerbated by US-imposed sanctions - the death of Amiri has also managed to galvanise a reaction from all sections of society.

"I’m seeing women who are never even political or neutral about the hijab disturbed by what happened to Mahsa because it could have happened to literally anyone," Mahsa Alimardani, an internet researcher focusing on freedom of expression and access to information online in Iran, told MEE.

"I am seeing calls to remove the mandatory hijab and disband the morality police en masse. There has never been a more unanimous call for removing this infrastructure and law for enforcing mandatory hijab."

Iran shuts down internet as death toll from Mahsa Amini 'bad hijab' protests rises

UN: Libya appeals for help, Lebanon commits to solving economic crisis

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 22:07
UN: Libya appeals for help, Lebanon commits to solving economic crisis
Middle Eastern leaders from Iran, Libya and Lebanon speak during the second day of the UN General Assembly debate
MEE staff Wed, 09/21/2022 - 23:07
Libya's President Mohamed Younis Menfi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on 21 September 2022.
Libya's President Mohamed Younis Menfi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on 21 September 2022 (AFP)

On the second day of the 77th United Nations General Assembly debate, the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis continued to dominate world leaders' agendas.

Still, the leaders of countries in the Middle East spoke out about the crises taking place in their own countries.

Libya called on the United Nations to continue its commitment to help solve its political dilemma, Iran stressed a need to return to the nuclear deal and lift sanctions, and Lebanon stated its commitment to ensuring it finds a solution to the country's economic collapse.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi worked to portray his country as a victim of oppression and spoke out against unilateralism, pointing the finger at the United States.

"Whereas unilateralism has been the tool that has been used to hold many countries back on a selective basis, America cannot accept that certain countries have the right to stand on their own two feet," Raisi said.

In addition to outlining the remaining issues his country has with the stalled nuclear negotiations, Raisi also took his time at the podium to bring up the US killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020.

UN General Assembly: Iran's Raisi questions US commitment to nuclear deal return
Read More »

Soleimani, the top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force, was responsible ​​for Iran's clandestine overseas operations and was often seen on battlefields guiding Iraqi Shia groups in the war against Islamic State (IS) group.

A 2020 US strike destroyed a convoy carrying Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy leader of Iraq's Hashd al-Shaabi, a coalition of pro-Iranian armed groups.

Raisi said that Iran would pursue a tribunal to bring those who were responsible for his death to justice.

"The proper pursuit of justice in the face of a crime that the American president admitted to having put his signature on, will not be abandoned. We will pursue through a fair tribunal to bring to justice those who martyred our beloved General Qassem Soleimani," he said.

Libya looks to the UN for help

The head of Libya's presidential council, Mohamed Menfi, spoke for Libya at the UN on Wednesday, where he urged the UN to aid in bridging the country's political divisions.

"We still expect an active role of the United Nations through the new leadership of our UN Mission in our country," Menfi said.

"We call on the continuation of the mission in favour of national inclusive reconciliation that will allow us to overcome the current impasse. This impasse has opened the way for individual initiatives that risk undermining or the political progress achieved thanks to the political dialogue."

Late last month, fighting erupted in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, when rival factions exchanged intense gunfire and several loud explosions rang out across the city. More than 30 people were killed as a result of the clashes.

The oil-rich country has been wracked by conflict and political strife since a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The current standoff pits the Government of National Unity, led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, against the administration of Fathi Bashagha, based in the country's east.

Tensions have been brewing since December after Libya failed to hold elections, with Dbeibah  - who was selected in an interim capacity to lead a UN-backed political transition - insisting he would only hand over power to an elected government.

In response, Bashagha has spent months trying to install his government in Tripoli.

Bashagha, backed by eastern-based military strongman Khalifa Haftar, attempted to enter Tripoli in May, leading to a shootout and his departure from the city. Since then, however, a series of deals have brought realignments of some armed factions within the main coalitions facing off around Tripoli.

Lebanon's economic crisis

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati spoke on Wednesday about the country's continued economic collapse, saying that his government has been working in a number of ways to mitigate the situation, including signing a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"The road ahead of Lebanon is still arduous, long and full of difficulties. Before we get out of this crisis, we are working with all our minds and determination to overcome it successfully," Mikati said.

Lebanon is in the third year of a financial meltdown that has left an estimated 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Since the onset of the crisis in 2019, commercial banks in Lebanon have frozen depositors out of their savings and restricted access to their accounts as part of informal capital controls.

The World Bank has said may the situation may be one of the three worst economic crises of modern times.

'The road ahead of Lebanon is still arduous, long and full of difficulties'

- Najib Mikati, Lebanese prime minister

An August report from the World Bank described the economic situation as Lebanese authorities operating a giant Ponzi scheme that has "caused unprecedented social and economic pain" over the past three decades.

The report is the second time this year that the World Bank has lambasted Lebanon's ruling elite. In January, the body accused them of "orchestrating" the country's catastrophic economic meltdown through their exploitative grip on resources.

Worth more than $2bn, Mikati was himself implicated in the 2021 data leak known as the Pandora Papers. It was shown that he is the owner of a company created in Panama then used to buy property worth more than $10m in Monaco. Mikati's M1 Group is linked to two companies based in the British Virgin Islands, which were used to buy offices in central London. 

Mikati, who previously responded to the Pandora Papers revelation and said his family wealth was obtained through legal means, said on Wednesday that his government is working on "developing laws that ensure absolute transparency and combat the scourge of corruption".

US 'encouraging' Saudi Arabia to engage with Iran, top diplomat tells MEE

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 20:59
US 'encouraging' Saudi Arabia to engage with Iran, top diplomat tells MEE
Saudi Arabia 'very keen to see benefit' from talks with Iran, US envoy to Yemen Timothy Lenderking tells MEE
Sean Mathews Wed, 09/21/2022 - 21:59
US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking
US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking speaks during a conference on Yemen's devastating war hosted by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in the Saudi capital Riyadh on March 30, 2022 (MEE)

The United States is 'encouraging' Saudi Arabia to keep channels of communication open with Iran, Timothy Lenderking, the US special envoy to Yemen, told Middle East Eye, as the US and UN push to extend a fragile truce in the war-torn country.

Riyadh and Tehran launched direct talks in Iraq last year in a bid to repair relations that had frayed over conflicts such as in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is the main backer of the internationally recognised government, and where Iran has supported the Houthi rebels with arms and training.

"We talk to the Saudis regularly about those conversations," Lenderking told MEE on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

'The UAE and Iran have channels and we hope that among the issues discussed in those channels there is the possibility of more constructive engagement from the Iranian side on Yemen'

- Timothy Lenderking, US special envoy for Yemen

"[The] Saudis are very keen to see benefit from Iran for Yemen and for their security from those conversations, so we encourage Saudi Arabia to keep those channels open," he added.

Yemen descended into civil war in 2014 after the Iran-aligned Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognised government to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh and a coalition of regional allies, chiefly the UAE, intervened in March 2015 to push the Houthis back. The fighting devolved into a proxy conflict with the Houthis shooting missiles and drones as far as Dubai and the Saudi-led coalition launching thousands of air strikes in Yemen, with many targeting civilian infrastructure.

A truce in the civil war, first announced in April, has brought much-needed respite from fighting, but is set to expire on 2 October. The deadline comes at an uncertain time for the region, with talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal largely stalled.

Iran tensions

Tensions between the US and Iran have been on the rise. In August, the US destroyed ammunition and logistics bunkers in northeast Syria it claimed were used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Washington said the move was in response to attacks in Syria by Iran-backed militias.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Lenderking said talks on Yemen and the nuclear deal were occurring on "separate tracks". He also indicated a gap between Iran's rhetoric and its actions in Yemen.

"We would like to see their [Iran's] nice words met with actual implementation," he told reporters. "That is to support a political process, to move away from arming, training the Houthis."

Middle East Eye reached out to Iran's UN mission but didn’t receive a reply by time of publication.

As in Vienna, where the US has had to negotiate on the nuclear deal via European powers, Washington has relied on regional partners to communicate with Tehran as it looks to extend the truce.

UN General Assembly: Iran's Raisi questions US commitment to nuclear deal return
Read More »

"We do not have any dialogue directly with Iranians on any issue, and so we don't have any direct contact with them on Yemen," Lenderking said. "But many countries do, and we talk to those many countries and we pass messages to those many countries as well."

While some regional states, such as Israel, have lauded the near-collapse of nuclear talks, others appear to be hedging their bets and have moved to re-engage with Tehran. This summer, the UAE and Kuwait reappointed their ambassadors to the Islamic Republic.

The UAE supports Yemeni militias that have been crucial in pushing back Houthi advances in the key provinces of Marib and Shabwa. Earlier this year, the Emirates were targeted by a string of long-range drone attacks claimed by the Houthis.

Lenderking told MEE that the US welcomed Emirati and Iranian talks on Yemen.

"The UAE and Iran have channels and we hope that among the issues discussed in those channels there is the possibility of more constructive engagement from the Iranian side on Yemen," he said.

Envoy slams 'escalatory' military parade 

Diplomats are preparing for the final push to extend the Yemen truce. This week in New York, the chairman of Yemen's presidential leadership council met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Lenderking said there was strong support in the region for an extension to the truce.

"What we are hearing are verbal commitments to upholding the truce and affirmations of the political process," he said.

"Any party that would choose to take up arms at this point when the benefits of the truce have been revealed is significantly out of step not only with the international community, but with the Yemeni people."

There have been flare-ups in fighting. Last month, Yemen's internationally recognised government accused the Houthis of conducting an attack on the besieged city of Taiz in which 10 people were killed. The Houthis' refusal to lift their blockade of the city has been a key obstacle to truce negotiations.

Did Israel attack a Houthi camp in Yemen during the Gaza fighting?
Read More »

The UN Security Council also condemned a Houthi military parade in the key port city of Hodeidah in September. Lenderking told MEE the military display was "escalatory".

"Military parades like we have seen in Yemen, hosted by the Houthis, are definitely not consistent with the truce," he added.

Yet, the truce has been relatively succesful, bringing a much needed respite from fighting that, according to the United Nations, was likely to have claimed the lives of 377,000 people by the end of 2021. 

According to the United Nations, more than two-thirds of Yemen's 30 million people rely on humanitarian aid to survive. The truce led to a 60 percent drop in civilian casualties, with most now occurring as a result of landmines and unexploded ordnance, the UN has said.

The number of displaced people has been reduced by half. International flights have resumed in a limited capacity from Sanaa and fuel shipments to the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah have increased.

New York City

US: Rashida Tlaib calls for Abu Akleh killing probe, calls out colleagues backing Israel

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 17:43
US: Rashida Tlaib calls for Abu Akleh killing probe, calls out colleagues backing Israel
In seminar on Tuesday, Tlaib said it was 'nothing short of outrageous that our government continues to refuse to hold Israel accountable for these killings'
MEE staff Wed, 09/21/2022 - 18:43
Representative Rashida Tlaib speaking at a press conference calling for the expansion of the Supreme Court, on 18 July 2022 in Washington DC (AFP)

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is continuing to push for an investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, calling out "progressive" lawmakers by saying that they could not call themselves progressives if they continued to back Israel.

In an online advocacy seminar held on Tuesday by Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action), and co-sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Tlaib, the congresswoman representing Michigan since 2019, said: “I want you all to know that among progressives, it has become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values, yet back Israel’s apartheid government.”

“We will continue to push back and not accept this idea that you are progressive, except for Palestine, any longer,” she continued.

Burying bad news: US condemned over report on Shireen Abu Akleh's killing
Read More »

In her five-minute speech, Tlaib called out the lack of investigation by the US into the murder of Abu Akleh. 

Abu Akleh was shot dead by Israeli snipers while reporting on a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin in May 2022. Her family has called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to investigate the murder. On Tuesday, lawyers representing the family of Abu Akleh asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a new investigation into her killing.

On Wednesday, previously unseen footage put together by Forensic Architecture and Al-Haq's Forensic Architecture Investigation Unit revealed new evidence concluding that she was killed deliberately by Israeli forces.

The investigation builds on findings from other investigations, including the UN one, which concluded that Israeli forces fired the fatal bullet that killed Abu Akleh.

At the online seminar, Tlaib said that Abu Akleh’s case had "opened the eyes of many of my colleagues and countless decent people around the world to the brutal reality of living under apartheid Israel. It’s nothing short of outrageous that our government continues to refuse to hold Israel accountable for these killings”.

She added that she would continue to push for a fully transparent investigation, and demand full accountability for Abu Akleh’s murder. 

Outspoken

Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, has been one of the most outspoken politicians on the killing, calling for US aid to Israel to be restricted.

In May, she held a moment of silence on the floor of the House of Representatives and called for a US probe into the killing, rather than relying on Israel to investigate its own actions.

“I don't have to tell you all that our struggle for justice is not an easy one. The Palestinian people are fighting against occupation, apartheid and political exploitation at every single turn,” she said during the seminar.

“We all know that international laws and human rights meant to protect the oppressed are ignored when it comes to the apartheid government of Israel.

"While they expand settlements, Palestinian rights are systematically denied and apartheid and oppression remain the laws of the land.”

UN General Assembly: Iran's Raisi questions US commitment to nuclear deal return

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 16:15
UN General Assembly: Iran's Raisi questions US commitment to nuclear deal return
Iranian president stresses need for guarantee that US won't leave deal in the future, and criticises IAEA inspections of Iranian nuclear sites
MEE staff Wed, 09/21/2022 - 17:15
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City, US, 21 September 2022.
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City, 21 September 2022 (Reuters)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attacked the United States' commitment to returning to the 2015 nuclear deal at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, blaming the stalemate in talks on Washington's unilateral 2018 move to leave the deal.

Raisi spoke about efforts to return to the nuclear agreement at the tail end of his speech and stressed the need for a guarantee that the US would not leave the deal again - one of the major sticking points in the negotiations.

"Our wish is only one thing: commitment, observance of commitments," Raisi said.

"Can we truly trust without guarantees and assurances that [the US] will this time live up to their commitment?"

UN General Assembly: Which Middle East leaders are speaking, and when?
Read More »

The Iranian president said the issue of Iran seeking guarantees was based "on lived experience", referring to the previous US withdrawal from the nuclear deal - in which Tehran curbed its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

In 2018, former US President Donald Trump walked away from the deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Subsequently, after leaving the accord, the Trump administration reimposed those sanctions and more under what it called its "maximum pressure" policy.

Iran had continued to keep its commitments to the nuclear deal, but a year later began to reduce those commitments after continued US pressure.

When Biden came into office last year, his administration entered indirect negotiations to return to the agreement. After a year-and-a-half of indirect talks with Iran, a final draft agreement has been created by the European Union, but several sticking points continue to exist.

Later in his speech on Wednesday, Raisi boasted Iran had been able to bear the brunt of the US sanctions and if no return to the nuclear agreement were finalised, "we will continue on that path steadfastly at the same time".

Continued stalemate

US President Joe Biden spoke later in the day, issuing only a passing remark regarding Washington's efforts on the nuclear negotiations. His 30-minute speech was primarily focused on Russia's war in Ukraine.

"While the United States is prepared for a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action if Iran steps up to its obligations, the United States is clear we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," Biden said, in a comment more generally on the state of nuclear proliferation around the world.

"I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome."

Iran has repeatedly stated it is not seeking to create a nuclear weapon and its programme is solely for peaceful, civilian purposes. Raisi emphasised this point by raising the fact that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa, an Islamic ruling, prohibiting the production or use of any weapons of mass destruction.

US says Iran not 'a willing partner' in nuclear talks
Read More »

In addition to Iran seeking a guarantee that the US would stick to the deal, Tehran has also called for an end to an inquiry by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into three Iranian nuclear sites revolving around unexplained nuclear particles.

"In a framework where only two percent of the nuclear activities of the world are taking place in Iran, Iran has been the subject of 35 percent of nuclear inspections," Raisi said at the UN lectern on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Raisi held a face-to-face talk with French President Emmanuel Macron, the first such meeting with a western leader since Raisi was elected last year.

France on Monday said there would not be a better offer for Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

"The ball is now in Iran's court, which has to say whether it accepts the conditions that have been set formally by the Americans and Europeans," Macron told reporters after meeting Raisi.

He added that western countries would not pressure the IAEA to close its probes.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that he did not expect a breakthrough during this week's meetings at the UN.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell issued a similar sentiment, saying he saw little chance of progress at the UN General Assembly.

Ukraine war: Russia releases 10 foreign prisoners following Saudi mediation

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 16:07
Ukraine war: Russia releases 10 foreign prisoners following Saudi mediation
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly mediated the release of American, British, Swedish, Croatian and Moroccan nationals
MEE staff Wed, 09/21/2022 - 17:07
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on 29 June 2019 (AFP)

Russia on Wednesday released 10 prisoners of war captured in Ukraine following a mediation by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a Saudi official said.

A plane landed in Saudi Arabia carrying two American, five British, one Swedish, one Croatian and one Moroccan nationals, the official said, according to Reuters.

The Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement the prisoners’ release was part of a prisoner exchange process between Russia and Ukraine.

The statement credited the success of the mediation to the crown prince's “continued commitment to humanitarian initiatives towards the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and continued engagement with relevant countries”.

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The ministry said that Saudi authorities in Russia arranged the prisoners’ transfer to the kingdom and are facilitating their return to their respective countries. 

Russia and Ukraine are engaged in ongoing efforts to secure a prisoner swap. On Tuesday, the warring sides agreed to exchange 200 prisoners in one of the largest swaps of the seven-month war. There are no details on how many prisoners will be released from each side.

The prisoner release comes as Moscow significantly escalates its war on Ukraine, with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordering Russia's first military mobilisation since World War Two.

With Russia's invasion of Ukraine flagging, and Ukrainian forces staging a breakthrough counteroffensive in recent weeks, Putin had signed a decree on partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists, triggering fear that some men who are qualified to serve won’t be allowed to leave the country. 

Russians fearful of being conscripted have purchased all direct flights between Moscow and Istanbul for the next three days. 

Russia releases 10 foreigners captured in Ukraine following Saudi mediation

Pro-Israel group spent $350,000 to foil Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's re-election

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 15:44
Pro-Israel group spent $350,000 to foil Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's re-election
United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, wanted to prevent Omar winning her primary. But its efforts failed
MEE staff Wed, 09/21/2022 - 16:44
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar listens to speakers during an event on Capitol Hill on 20 July 2022 in Washington DC (AFP)
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar listens to speakers during an event on Capitol Hill on 20 July 2022 in Washington DC (AFP)

A pro-Israeli group contributed $350,000 to a separate organisation created to boost a top Democratic primary challenger to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Just days before the Minnesota primary, the United Democracy Project (UDP), a super PAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), sent money to a new super PAC called Make a Difference MN-05 in an effort to cost Omar re-election, Jewish Insider reported. But its efforts to do so failed.

Omar, representative for Minnesota's fifth congressional district since 2019, has been an outspoken critic of Israel and the military aid it receives from the US.

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Last year, in response to the violence in Sheikh Jarrah, occupied East Jerusalem, she said: “We provide $3.8bn in military aid to the Israeli government a year, without any accountability. As we speak, the Israeli military plans to force over 500 Palestinians from their homes. We must make sure that no US tax dollars are used to fund this violence.”

Since the UDP contributed money to a separate account, it was not required to disclose its spending until after the primaries. The money went to Don Samuels, a former city councilman, who lost by 2,500 votes. 

Jewish Insider reported that after the election, Samuels expressed his frustration that pro-Israel groups had not supported his campaign. 

“I know that there were people I called and that were called on my behalf to say, ‘We need your help, we need your endorsement, we need your dollars, we need your support’,” Samuels told Jewish Insider last month.

“They said it very clear: ‘We’re not going to invest in this’.”

BDS movement

The UDP also contributed $350,000 to another super PAC opposing Yuh-Line Niou, a member of the NY State Assembly, who had been vocal about supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

In an email exchange with Jewish Insider, she wrote: “I believe in the right to protest as a fundamental tenet of western democracy, so I do support BDS.”

'I believe in the right to protest as a fundamental tenet of western democracy, so I do support BDS'

- Yuh-Line Niou, NY State Assembly member

“People think that the BDS movement is in some way antisemitic, but I don’t think that it is,” she added. “I think that it’s making sure that people can have the right to be able to have free speech."

This money from the UDP was contributed to New York Progressives, a group that was launched in the final weeks of the race and spent more than $400,000 casting Niou as “reckless”, Jewish Insider reported. She lost to Dan Goldman. 

The UDP was launched by Aipac in January and since then has spent millions of dollars in races across the US.

In August, American billionaire Robert Kraft's holding company donated $1m to Aipac's super PAC, according to records from the Federal Election Commission.

The super PAC has also received a $2m donation from WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, as well as other smaller but sizable amounts from Republican donors Paul Singer and Bernie Marcus, investment manager Jonathon Jacobson and Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban.

Syria: Fifa delegation's visit condemned by displaced footballers

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 14:26
Syria: Fifa delegation's visit condemned by displaced footballers
Governing body to explore holding international friendlies in war-torn country, despite missing athletes and stadiums destroyed by Assad's forces
Harun al-Aswad Wed, 09/21/2022 - 15:26
A shrapnel riddled track is seen during a football match between local teams al-Sadd and Rashid at a stadium in Raqa, the Islamic State group's former Syrian capital on 16 April 2018 (AFP)
A shrapnel riddled track is seen during a football match between local teams al-Sadd and Rashid at a stadium in Raqa, the Islamic State group's former Syrian capital on 16 April 2018 (AFP)

When protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011, Samer al-Kurdi, a footballer for Al-Karamah in the central city of Homs, did not know he would lose everything.

Kurdi left Al-Karamah, which translates to ‘dignity’, to join the demonstrations and demand dignity. 

Abd al-Basset al-Sarout, the club’s goalkeeper, joined him in trading crowds of fans in the stands for crowds of protesters in the streets of Homs.

Dozens of footballers retired from the sport, angry at the violent crackdown on protesters by Assad’s forces, which descended into a grinding civil war, devastating the lives of those in Homs and across Syria.

Attacks by the Syrian authorities and its allies displaced millions in the north of the country, including Kurdi and Sarout. The latter was killed in 2018.

//--> //--> //-->

Kurdi still remembers how the football stadiums he loved were destroyed, as pro-Assad forces used tanks and missile launchers to target opposition-controlled areas. 

Syria has not been allowed to host international matches in those stadiums for the past decade due to the ongoing war.

But that may be set to change after football’s governing body Fifa recently announced it would carry out a new “security assessment”, sparking uproar among activists and former athletes. 

Fifa sends delegation despite sanctions

Earlier this month, Fifa said in a statement that it planned to send a joint delegation with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to the Syrian capital Damascus to explore the possibility of holding international friendlies in the country. 

It followed a meeting two weeks ago between Fifa President Gianni Infantino and Syrian Football Association (SFA) President Salah Edeen Ramadan in Doha, in which they discussed developing football infrastructure in the war-torn nation.

The plan comes despite the Syrian government and its officials still being under widespread western sanctions for their involvement in human rights violations against civilians, including athletes. 

fifa gianni infantino syrian football association president salah edeen ramadan
Fifa President Gianni Infantino and Syrian Football Association President Salah Edeen Ramadan during a meeting in Doha in September (Fifa)

//--> //--> //-->

“From March 2011 to September 2022, 199 civilian athletes, including two children, were killed by pro-Assad forces,” the France-based Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) told MEE.

“At least 497 athletes [were] arrested in the same period including 11 children and 5 women,” it added. “207 athletes remain detained and forcibly disappeared." 

“Fifa wants to reconcile with the Syrian regime, which killed and arrested footballers, imprisoned them and destroyed their stadiums”

- Abdul Karim al-Halabi, ex-footballer

Fifa did not directly answer MEE's questions about whether its plan violated western sanctions, and whether it would investigate the fate of missing players. “Any further updates will be communicated in due course,” the governing body said. 

Peter Stano, the lead spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy at the European Commission, told MEE: “the EU sanctions which are still in place are targeted against the Assad regime and his supporters with the aim to prevent them from receiving financial funds and political recognition. The EU sanctions are binding for EU citizens and EU companies.” 

Stano added that organising sports events was not prohibited, as long as the financial proceeds did not go to the Assad regime or individuals sanctioned by the EU. 

The US Treasury, which has also sanctioned Damascus, did not respond to a request for comment.

'Incredibly problematic'

A sports journalist in Damascus told MEE that the proposal would have tangible results, helping both Syria and Fifa’s image in helping a war-ravaged country.

“Syrian teams need financial support... to improve their stadiums, to be able to suffice themselves and their footballers,” he said.

Fifa says that with its delegation, it aims to send a message of 'hope' to the Syrian people. But for Fadel Abdul Ghany, the chairman and founder of the SNHR, that would be better served by the governing body meeting the families of detained footballers. 

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“Fifa could put pressure on the Syrian authorities to release the detained footballers and prevent the arrest of athletes because of their political orientation,” he told MEE. “Syrian security controls footballers, and only allows Assad loyalists to be among the sports teams.” 

The joint delegation will be the first in Syria since 2012. The national team still competes in international matches but is unable to host home games. 

Critics view a reversal of the ban as an attempt by Assad's government to rehabilitate itself following years of isolation and sanctions.

“This is an incredibly problematic move on the part of Fifa as it basically sends a message, loud and clear, that it deems Syria safe enough, a notion that continues to be disproved with every indiscriminate attack and every new case of arrest and enforced disappearance,” Hiba Zayadin, a senior researcher on Syria at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told MEE. 

“Fifa’s plans to support the SFA in rebuilding football infrastructure also ignores research conducted on the Syrian government’s [co-option] of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction funding to fund its human rights abuses.” 

'Violating human values' 

For Abdul Karim al-Halabi, a displaced activist and former footballer for Al-Ittihad in Aleppo, it is not a matter of violating international sanctions, but of "violating human values".

“FIFA understands that pro-Assad forces have used al-Hamdaniya Stadium and Aleppo Stadium to bomb children in the eastern Aleppo neighbourhoods, yet it now wants to repair these stadiums,” he told MEE.

//--> //--> //-->

Syrian government forces also used the Abbasiyyin Stadium in Damascus to bomb neighbourhoods in eastern Ghouta, according to local activists.  

aleppo stadium citadel general view
Aleppo's historic citadel and the municipal stadium as smoke billows in the background during fighting between Syrian regime forces and rebel fighters on 3 December 2016 (AFP)

//--> //--> //-->

“Al-Bassel Stadium in the Baba Omar neighbourhood of Homs was a tank barracks and the municipal stadium adjacent to the Military Security Branch in Homs was turned into a detention centre,” Kurdi said.

Stadiums on the Syrian coast were turned from government detention centres to sheep farms, local media has reported.

“Fifa wants to reconcile with the Syrian regime, which killed and arrested footballers, imprisoned them, and destroyed their stadiums,” Halabi said.

//--> //--> //-->

“Damascus is using all means to end its political isolation, including football, although it’s failing in managing matters, including dealing with footballers,” Kurdi added.

He was referencing sporting authorities expelling ex-footballer Firas al-Khatib, under allegations of violating its values. Khatib met Assad in 2017 when he returned to the Syrian national team after leaving Al-Karamah in 2012 and spending years in exile. 

"The Syrian Football Association is just a political face of Assad, and the FIFA plan is a betrayal of the footballers who were arrested and killed, and the other players who stood against injustice," Kurdi said.

Paris
‘Betrayal’: Fifa delegation to Syria condemned by displaced footballers

Shireen Abu Akleh: New probe finds Israeli forces deliberately killed journalist

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 13:51
Shireen Abu Akleh: New probe finds Israeli forces deliberately killed journalist
Unseen footage put together by forensic experts finds that Israeli soldiers deliberately killed the Palestinian-American Al Jazeera senior correspondent and stopped civilians from trying to help
Elis Gjevori Wed, 09/21/2022 - 14:51
A mural depicting slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is illuminated with headlights on a street in the Arab town of Umm Al-Fahm on 5 September 2022 (AFP)
A mural depicting slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is illuminated with headlights on a street in the Arab town of Umm Al-Fahm on 5 September 2022 (AFP)

A new forensic investigation has concluded that an Israeli sniper would have seen that Shireen Abu Akleh was a member of the press when she was shot and killed. 

The Israeli military killed the Palestinian-American journalist in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. 

Previously unseen footage put together by Forensic Architecture and Al-Haq's Forensic Architecture Investigation Unit reveals new evidence that builds on findings by other investigations, including the UN findings, which concluded that Israeli forces fired the fatal bullet that killed Abu Akleh. 

"Shireen and her colleagues were deliberately and repeatedly targeted," the new forensic analysis concluded.  

"Our analysis of the shots' impact points confirms their close proximity to one another, indicating precise and careful aim. All shots were fired above the shoulders, revealing an intent to kill," the team behind the investigation found. 

'Visual analysis, sound analysis, and witness testimony all confirm that there were NO other persons present between the journalists and the convoy of military vehicles at the time of the incident'

- Forensic Investigation findings

The independent report also contradicts and casts doubt on the Israeli investigation, which was conducted by the army, and concluded that "it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit Ms Abu Akleh."

The Israeli army also added that while there was a "high possibility" that the Al Jazeera correspondent may have been accidentally hit by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the target was "armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers".

In their latest forensic analysis, the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and the UK-based forensic agency have debunked the Israeli narrative. 

"Visual analysis, sound analysis, and witness testimony all confirm that there were NO other persons present between the journalists and the convoy of military vehicles at the time of the incident," the report said. 

The shots were fired from the side of an Israeli military vehicle by a marksman and "no other shots in any of the footage analysed came from the vicinity of the journalists".

Even as a civilian on the scene attempted to give aid to Abu Akleh, the audio and video analysis found that the Israeli forces shot at him, thus "deliberately" denying medical attention to Abu Akleh. 

ICC probe

The latest investigation is likely to add more pressure on Israel to come clean about its actions in the killing of a journalist. 

Israeli claims that they were returning fire or that there were Palestinian fighters in between the soldiers and Abu Akleh have now been thoroughly disproved by the latest investigation. 

The new report was presented in The Hague, the seat of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Lawyers representing the family of Abu Akleh have asked the ICC to open a new investigation into her killing.

Shireen Abu Akleh: Family of slain journalist accuses Biden of 'betrayal' after US probe
Read More »

"Israel's failure to carry out an effective investigation into the killing of Shireen amounts to a shielding of perpetrators and highlights the need for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to expedite the investigation into the situation in Palestine," said Susan Power, Al-Haq's head of legal research and advocacy.

Speaking in front of the ICC in The Hague on Tuesday, Abu Akleh's brother Anton said the family has spent four months pursuing justice and accountability for her killing and expressed disappointment that the US has failed to launch an investigation.

"That is the bare minimum a government as powerful and influential as that of the United States should strive for on behalf of their own citizen," he said. 

He said despite numerous investigations that have concluded that his sister was killed by an Israeli soldier, US and ICC investigations are needed "to hold Israel accountable".

"Shireen was also a proud Palestinian who was killed in cold blood by an Israel soldier. It seems that the reason her case has not been a priority for the US government is because of who she was and who she was killed by."

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