BREAKING NEWS

17 Turkish soldiers wounded in PKK attack 
 
EU sanctions 16 Syrians for chemical weapons attacks 
 
Jordan soldier sentenced to life for murder of three US trainers 
 

ON THE GROUND


US intelligence officials accuse UAE of Qatar hack

US intelligence officials blamed the United Arab Emirates for the hack on Qatar’s state-run media sites last May. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the intelligence officials discovered new information last week indicating that senior members of the UAE government discussed implementing the hack on May 23. Qatar’s news agencies were hacked on May 24 with posts falsely attributed to Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani praising Iran, Israel and Hamas. The hacks prompted the UAE, Saudi ArabiaBahrain and Egypt to enact an embargo and blockade on the Gulf country. The UAE ambassador to the United StatesYousef al-Otaibadenied that the UAE was behind the hack, referring to The Washington Post report as “false.”

 

Thousands of public servants dismissed in Turkey

Turkey dismissed 7,395 public sector workers over the weekend by emergency decree while reinstating 312 workers to their posts. The decree stated those dismissed were “linked to terror organizations or groups determined to have been acting against the state’s national security.”

Saturday marked the anniversary of last year’s coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prompting the president to declare July 15 a holiday called “Democracy and National Unity Day.” Erdogan also recorded a voice message commemorating the holiday that cellphone users heard when placing a call. Meanwhile, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu criticized Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency for “not providing sufficient information” about the failed coup. Kilicdaroglu questioned the refusal of national intelligence head Hakan Fidan and Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar to testify before a parliamentary commission created to investigate the thwarted coup.

 

Man killed in Egyptian police campaign to remove squatters

Clashes erupted on Sunday as Egyptian security forces arrived at Warraq island in Cairo to disperse impoverished squatters in a government campaign to recover state-owned lands. Government sources and witnesses said one man was killed while 19 civilians and 31 policemen were wounded in the clashes. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched a campaign to remove all squatters from state property and land last May. Egypt’s Interior Ministry said protesters on the Nile island fired bird shots and threw stones at the police, who responded by firing tear gas.

 

Muslim leaders object to additional security measures on Temple Mount

Heads of the Islamic Waqf, the guardians of Islamic holy sites, objected on Sunday to Israel’s new security measures at the Temple Mount following last week’s attack on three police officers. Israeli police have installed metal detector gates at the complex, prompting the Waqf leaders to refuse to join a tour of the compound with Israeli officials and demand the metal detectors’ removal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday evening that the new security measures will stay in place in order to avoid another attack at the contested holy site, emphasizing that he objects changing the status quo there. The compound was reopened on Sunday after police closed it on Friday in the wake of the attack.

 

Iran jails president’s brother, US citizen 

Hossein Fereydoun, the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, was detained on Saturday after failing to post bail on "financial charges.” While Iranian authorities have not clarified the precise charges, Fereydoun has been implicated in a recent scandal involving inflated salaries.

Meanwhile, Iranian media on Sunday reported that Xiyue Wang, a US citizen of Chinese descent, has been handed a 10-year sentence for espionage. Wang is a doctoral researcher at Princeton University.

 

Netanyahu opposes Syrian cease-fire agreement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came out against a Syria cease-fire agreement between the United States and Russia during remarks in Paris on Sunday. The deal keeps Iran-backed Hezbollah forces about 12 miles from Israel’s northern border but Israel fears that Iran will use the agreement as a pretext to establish naval and aerial bases in the rest of Syria.

 

Turkey to develop missile defense systems with France and Italy

Hoping to fend off Turkey’s developing defense cooperation with Russia, fellow NATO allies France and Italy signed an agreement with Turkey to develop its national missile defense systems on Saturday. Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik announced Turkish companies will work with the Italian-French consortium Eurosam. The announcement comes after Ankara and Moscow agreed to the purchase of a Russian missile defense system last week. 

 

Egypt destroys weapons convoy from Libya

Egypt’s military said Sunday that its warplanes had destroyed a convoy of 15 vehicles loaded with weapons and explosives attempting to enter Egypt from Libya. Col. Tamer al-Refaei said the strikes resulted from intelligence indicating “criminal elements” were about to enter Egypt. Last month, the military destroyed another convoy of weapons getting ready to cross into Egypt. The army has been conducting operations in the desert area on its western border with Libya to prevent smuggling and infiltration attempts as the country faces an Islamist insurgency.

 

Shelling hits Russian embassy in Damascus

Two shells hit the Russian Embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday, causing material damage, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported. Mortar shells from the rebel-held Jobar suburb of Damascus had previously targeted the embassy in February. 

Meanwhile, at least six civilians were wounded when a bomb went off early Sunday near a hospital in the rebel-held city of Idlib, in northwest Syria.

 

THE WASHINGTON CONNECTION


Iraqi delegation seeks security assistance from Washington

An Iraqi delegation arrived in Washington on Sunday to seek more US security assistance. The delegation includes representatives from the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s National Security Council, the counterterrorism bureau, the army, the Interior Ministry and representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government. "This visit is a great sign of the friendship between the two countries and demonstrates the extent of the commitment of the United States of backing a federal, democratic, united and prosperous Iraq," the US Embassy in Baghdad said in a brief statement.

 

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