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Middle East

Hamas leader calls for ‘new intifada in the face of Israel’

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Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has called for a new uprising against Israel following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a speech in Gaza Thursday, Reuters reports.

Anti-US protests erupted almost immediately after Trump’s declaration Wednesday, with Palestinians first to take to the streets, calling for three days of rage against the move.

World leaders expressed serious concern over the decision and its potential to destabilize the region.

The decision has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked Trump, and said he be believes “many” other nations will follow suit in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pope Francis said he could not “remain silent” and spoke of his “great anxiety” surrounding the decision, while the EU voiced “serious concern.”

“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,”Francis said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

“Jerusalem is a unique city,” he added, “sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.”

Middle East

Saudi Arabia warns possible floods in Mecca

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Riyadh, Aug 20 (IANS) Saudi Meteorology Authority announced on Sunday of the possibility of floods in Mecca because of medium to heavy thundery rain, the Al Akhbariya reported.

The authority forecasted that the unstable weather that covers Mecca, Minna and Arafat would continue this night. The rain occurs while around two million pilgrims are residing in Minna in tents to mark the Day of Tarwiyah ritual.

No warning was issued concerning the safety of pilgrims who will leave for Arafat area by the dawn of Monday.

Al Arabiya’s images and videos on social media showed the Kaaba’s Kiswa, an embroidered cloth that wraps around Islam’s most sacred site, being moved out of place due to the high winds in Mecca on Sunday evening.

Hajj season is being managed in Saudi with tight security and high safety standards to ensure the wellbeing of pilgrims.

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Erdogan warns US risks losing Turkey as strategic partner

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Ankara, Aug 12 (IANS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned the US that it risked losing a “strategic partner” due to demands made by the US government that Turkey release an American pastor who was arrested on terrorism charges.

“We only bow before God. It is wrong to try to punish Turkey for a priest who is here. I am addressing the US once again: it is a pity that you chose a pastor over your strategic partner in NATO. We will only do what justice demands,” Efe quoted Erdogan as saying during a rally in the northern province of Ordu.

Turkish authorities are seeking a 20-year prison sentence for US pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested two years ago and is accused of being linked to the PKK Kurdish guerrilla organization and to cleric Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the US and whom Ankara blames for the failed coup against Erdogan in 2016.

Last week, the US government imposed economic sanctions against two Turkish ministers involved in Brunson’s arrest.

In addition, US President Donald Trump announced on Friday he would increase tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum by up to 50 and 20 percent, respectively, at a time when Turkey’s lira is at an all-time low.

Ankara has ruled out releasing Brunson, although he was granted house arrest in July.

A delegation from Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign affairs travelled this week to the US to attempt, to no avail, to reduce tensions between the two countries.

Regarding the situation of the Turkish currency, Erdogan once again called on his fellow citizens to back the lira, which depreciated 18 percent on Friday, by selling their dollars and euros.

“If you have dollars under your pillow, take them out. If you have euros, do the same. Take them immediately to the banks and convert them into liras. By doing this, we fight for our independence and our future,” Erdogan told his supporters.

For his part, the speaker of the Turkish parliament, Binali Yildirim, said Saturday via Twitter that US sanctions “are now turning into a global economic war”.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, also said Saturday that Washington risked losing Ankara as an ally if US policies against Turkey continued.

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Iran rejects talks with US over ‘erratic policies’

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Tehran, Aug 9 (IANS) Iran has again ruled out any negotiation with the US, accusing it of pursuing “erratic policies” in dealing with the Islamic republic.

“The Americans have never acted with sincerity, and President Donald Trump’s move and remarks to invite Iran for talks were merely a propaganda stunt,” the state TV quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Wednesday after the cabinet meeting, Xinhua reported.

“The main reason behind this is that Trump does not care about either the Iranian people or international obligations,” he added.

The US president has taken a hostile approach toward the Iranian nation by reimposing sanctions, Zarif noted.

“We had two years of intensive negotiations with the Americans and the Iran nuclear agreement was the result of these talks, but the Trump administration withdrew from it,” he said

“How can the United States be trusted?” the Iranian minister warned.

Last month, Trump announced his readiness for an “unconditional” meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over the existing issues between the two countries.

However, Trump on Monday signed an executive order re-imposing sanctions on Iran to exert “maximum economic pressure” on the Islamic republic.

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