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The Levant

Unaoil bribed its way into Iraqi market

Two former managers of Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil have been convicted in Britain of bribing Iraqi officials to clinch lucrative oil projects as the war-ravaged country tried to boost exports after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. A London jury found British-Lebanese Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former Iraq territory manager, …

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Israeli courts reject Amnesty plea against spy software

An Israeli court has dismissed Amnesty International’s legal bid to stop NSO Group from exporting surveillance software, saying the rights organization did not prove NSO’s technology had been used to spy on its members. Amnesty alleged that governments around the world have used the Israeli company’s cellphone-hacking software, Pegasus, to …

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Locusts, latest problem threatening famine-striken Yemen

Locust swarms have swept over farms in central, southern and eastern parts of Yemen, ravaging crops and stoking fears of food insecurity. Residents and farmers in the provinces of Marib, Hadramout, Mahra and Abyan said that billions of locusts had invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring important seasonal crops such …

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More Houthi drones, missiles intercepted

Yemen’s Saudi-Led coalition said on Monday it intercepted and destroyed four missiles and six explosive drones launched overnight by Houthi forces towards the kingdom. Cross-border attacks by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement have escalated since late May when a truce prompted by the novel coronavirus expired. In late June, missiles reached …

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Sectarian tensions mount in Lebanon amidst financial crisis

Lebanon’s top Christian cleric stepped up criticism of the Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah and its allies without naming them on Sunday, saying Lebanese rejected being isolated from their allies and driven into decline. Lebanon is suffering a financial meltdown which marks the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-90 …

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Sudan okays alcohol, and bans FMG

Sudan will permit non-Muslims to consume alcohol and strengthen women’s rights, including banning female genital mutilation (FGM), its justice minister said late on Saturday, in a reversal of almost four decades of hardline Islamist policies. About 3% of Sudan’s population is non-Muslim, according to the United Nations. Alcoholic drinks have …

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UN succeeds in renewing Syria crossborder aid

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday approved aid deliveries to Syria through one border crossing from Turkey, a day after its authorization for the six-year-long humanitarian operation ended, leaving millions of Syrian civilians in limbo. The United Nations describes the aid delivered from Turkey as a “lifeline” for Syrians …

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New explosions rock Iran in energy sector

A gas explosion shook a residential building in Iran’s capital Tehran on Saturday, injuring one person, the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted the city fire department as saying. Several gas cylinders kept in a basement blew up, damaging the building and injuring a resident, a fire department spokesman told ISNA. …

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Ghosn trial meeting new deadlocks in US

A U.S. judge said on Friday two Massachusetts men pose too great of a risk of flight to be released on bail given “spectacular” allegations that they helped orchestrate former Nissan Motor Co Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan. U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell said U.S. Army Special Forces veteran …

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Germany charges official of spying for Egypt

A member of staff at the German government press office suspected of working for Egyptian intelligence did not have access to sensitive information, a German government spokeswoman said on Friday. The case was mentioned in the BfV domestic intelligence agency’s 385-page annual report, published on Thursday. The report said unspecified …

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Court supports Hagia Sophia decision, Pompeo objects

President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia open to Muslim prayer as a mosque on Friday after a top court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal. Erdogan made his announcement just an hour after the court ruling was revealed, brushing aside …

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Palestinians mourn slain hero in West Bank

Hundreds of people gathered in the occupied West Bank on Friday for the funeral of a Palestinian man shot by Israeli soldiers a day earlier. Israel’s army said troops opened fire after the Palestinian and another man started throwing fire bombs at a guard post near the town of Nablus. …

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Lebanese PM on war path with AUB

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab is suing the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he worked for 35 years as an academic, a spokesman for Diab said, in a dispute over his exit package from the financially struggling institution. AUB, which has been hit hard by Lebanon’s economic meltdown, declined …

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US Supreme Court rejects Trump immunity bid

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday firmly rejected President Donald Trump’s arguments for sweeping presidential immunity and ruled that a New York prosecutor can obtain his financial records but prevented – at least for now – Democratic-led House of Representatives committees from getting similar documents. The twin 7-2 rulings authored …

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Top ministers booted out of Sudanese cabinet

Sudan’s prime minister replaced the finance, foreign, energy and health ministers and three other senior cabinet post-holders on Thursday as part of a sweeping reshuffle, the government said. Authorities had said a reshuffle was coming, but few had expected the exit of Ibrahim al-Badawi, who as finance minister led efforts …

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Explosive boats detonated by Saudi Yemen coalition

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen said it destroyed two explosive-laden boats in the Red Sea, Saudi state TV reported on Thursday. The two remotely controlled boats were threatening navigation, the coalition said. They were destroyed south of the Yemeni port of Salif, it added. …

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Flour mills to be privatised in Saudi

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had completed the first batch of its flour milling sector privatisation, according to a statement by the state grain buyer and privatisation centre. The long-awaited flour mills sale was one of the first privatisations the kingdom planned as part of a wide-reaching overhaul of …

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Turkish soldiers killed by Kurds on Syrian border

A bomb attack by the Kurdish YPG militia killed six people and wounded 11 on Tuesday in the northeastern Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the Turkish border, the Turkish Defence Ministry said. The Arab town, from which Turkish-backed forces last October pushed out the YPG militia in a major …

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Saudi now enjoys wold’s largest camel hospital

Qassim Gov. Prince Faisal bin Mishaal on Sunday inaugurated the world’s biggest camel hospital in Buraidah. The Salam Veterinary Hospital will also have a modern research facility to diagnose diseases related to camels. The governor said the project worth SR100 million is a national achievement and it will help enhance …

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Gunmen kill Iraqi political figure

Gunmen in Baghdad shot dead a well-known former government advisor and political analyst near his home on Monday in a rare high-profile killing in the Iraqi capital, government officials, police sources and medics said. The government officials described the killing of Hisham al-Hashemi, who had written about politics, Islamic State …

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UN designates Soleimani assassination as murder

The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Monday. The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests …

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US supreme court banning robotic calls

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld and strengthened a law banning the broadly unpopular but ubiquitous telemarketing practice known as robocalls, striking down an exemption to the measure that had allowed automated calls for collection of certain money owed to the government. The court’s 7-2 ruling, written by conservative …

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