Palestine’s Abbas Tightens Noose on Social Media Dissent
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority is escalating his clampdown on journalists and media in a bid to silence opposition.
This follows from an “electronic crimes” law, which was introduced, without public debate, by presidential decree in July. In the vaguely worded edict, anyone found guilty of disturbing “social harmony”, or “contempt of religion” faces heavy fines, arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and up to 15 years of hard labour.
Abbas’ increasingly authoritarian stance has also been fuelled by his power struggles with Hamas and his chief Fatah rival, Mohammed Dahlan.
Amid Economic Blockade, Qatar Establishes Direct Trade Route to Pakistan
Three months after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt imposed a land, air, and sea blockade on Doha, the Gulf state seeks new, alternative trade routes to access Asian markets – this time, the fastest direct route between Doha and Karachi. Previously, Pakistan-bound shipments were docked at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port.
Qatar’s rerouting efforts and diversification of sources of food supplies have, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), protected its economy against sanctions imposed by its neighbours
Syrian Army Claims to Have Broken Three-Year ISIL Siege
According to state media, Syrian government forces and allied troops have finally broken a three-year siege imposed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the eastern city of Deir Az Zor.
ISIL has been suffering a series of strategic and symbolic defeats.
Turkey to Send Aid to Myanmar’s Rohingya
On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey will provide 10,000 tonnes of aid to help Rohingyas who have fled violence in Myanmar.
Erdoğan has called on world leaders, as well as leaders from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to do more to find a solution.
Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, accompanied by Erdoğan’s wife and son, is currently in Bangladesh for talks and visits to refugee camps. According to United Nations estimates, Bangladesh currently hosts a total of 233,000 refugees.
Israel Strikes Syrian Site Linked to Chemical Weapons
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Israel has struck a Scientific Studies and Research Centre facility, which the U.S. describes as Syria’s manufacturer of chemical weapons.
In addition, an adjacent military centre that used to store rockets, and where Iranian and Hezbollah personnel were sighted, was also hit. Israel has in the past struck shipments of weapons believed to be bound for Iranian-backed Hezbollah.