BREAKING NEWS

Trump expected to renew Iran oil sanctions waiver
 
Iraq’s parliament votes to dismiss Kirkuk governor
 
World marathon body excludes Israel race over West Bank portions
 

ON THE GROUND


Turkey deploys reinforcements to Syrian border

Turkey has sent reinforcements to a stretch of the border with Syria controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). The deployment to the Kilis area, which faces the mainly Kurdish enclave of Afrin across the border, included howitzers, armored vehicles and military personnel. Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that Ankara is considering a military operation into Afrin against the PYD as part of efforts to curb Kurdish gains in Syria.

 

Tunisia passes amnesty law for corrupt officials of former regime

Tunisia’s parliament approved a controversial amnesty law on Wednesday that pardons officials accused of corruption under the rule of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Parliament passed the law with 117 votes after opposition deputies walked out of the session in protest. Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside parliament to protest the return of the former authoritarian regime.  

 

Qatar's emir visits Turkey in first foreign trip since Gulf crisis

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, arrives in Turkey today on his first trip abroad since a Saudi-led bloc of Arab nations cut diplomatic ties with his country and moved to isolate it in June. He is scheduled to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the evening, only two days after his foreign minister traveled to Ankara. The emir’s trip coincides with a four-day visit by Kuwaiti Prime Minister Jaber Al Mubarak Al Hamad Al Sabah, whose nation is mediating the Gulf crisis. In his meeting with Erdogan on Wednesday, Sabah reportedly delivered a written message from the emir of Kuwait touching on the crisis.

 

Islamic State convoy reaches Deir ez-Zor 

A convoy of 17 buses carrying about 300 Islamic State (IS) fighters and 300 of their relatives arrived in eastern Syria on Wednesday after US-led coalition airstrikes had left them stranded in the desert for weeks. “To ensure safe de-confliction of efforts to defeat [IS], coalition surveillance aircraft departed the adjacent airspace at the request of Russian officials during their assault on Deir ez-Zor," the coalition said in a statement. Lebanon’s Hezbollah negotiated the evacuation deal in August to retrieve a Hezbollah prisoner and the remains of nine Lebanese soldiers captured in 2014.

 

Putin meets with Lebanese leader Hariri

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Sochi on Wednesday for talks about economic and military ties. Hariri told Russian state television that Beirut was interested in buying more military equipment from Russia and that Russian energy companies were competing to start drilling off Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast. 

Putin also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday to discuss Syria and the nuclear deal, arguing that "all sides should adhere to it.” US President Donald Trump is reportedly considering declaring that Iran is not in compliance with the deal despite the International Atomic Energy Agency’s findings to the contrary. Trump must renew an oil sanctions waiver for Iran today in order to remain in compliance with the deal.

 

Italian ambassador returns to Cairo 

Italy’s new ambassador to EgyptGiampaolo Cantini, arrived in Cairo on Wednesday, more than a year after his predecessor was recalled over the murder of Italian student Giulio RegeniEgyptian security forces have been accused of abducting the student and torturing him to death. Meanwhile, a prosecutor is detaining Egyptian lawyer Ibrahim Metwaly, who is representing Regeni’s family. Metwaly was detained at the Cairo airport while en route to Geneva to attend a United Nations conference on enforced disappearances.

 

Israeli Labor Party votes on expanding chairman's powers 

Members of Israel’s Labor Party are expected to vote today on sweeping proposals to change the party’s constitution in order to give newly elected chairman Avi Gabbay unprecedented levels of power. The proposals are designed to enlarge Gabbay’s responsibilities within the party apparatus and would allow him to personally select four candidates for slots on Labor’s next Knesset list. 

 

Seven killed in Sinai shootout

Two Egyptian soldiers and five jihadis were killed in a shootout on Wednesday that followed a failed suicide attack on a military checkpoint in North Sinai, according to the Egyptian military. The incident outside Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip comes just two days after 18 police officers were killed in an attack claimed by the Islamic State in the provincial capital of el-Arish.

 

Sixth round of Syria talks begin in Astana 

Diplomats from RussiaIran and Turkey are convening in Astana, Kazakhstan, today to discuss the Syria crisis with hopes of finally securing an agreement on a fourth de-escalation zone in Idlib province. The United States is also sending an observer mission while Bashar al-Assad's government and opposition groups have also sent their own delegations.

 

THE WASHINGTON CONNECTION


Tillerson arrives in London for Libya talks 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in London today for talks on the war in Libya and North Korea. Tillerson will discuss the situation in Libya with officials from the UN, ItalyEgypt and the United Arab Emirates. The United States and Italy support the UN-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, while Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are more supportive of military strongman Khalifa Hifter. However, Brian Hook, a State Department official, said that all sides agree on the need to hold elections in 2018.

 

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