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Coronavirus crisis ‘could help ease Gulf tensions’ – UAE

Countries in the Gulf region - Iran and the six Gulf Arab states - will emerge "weaker, poorer and damaged" from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the UAE's Minister of State, Dr Anwar Gargash. Speaking to the BBC from Abu Dhabi, he said the answer was for the whole region to try to de-escalate its tensions. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the wealthiest countries in the world, made early preparations for the onset of the pandem..

Israeli convicted of West Bank arson attack that killed three Palestinians

An Israeli court has convicted a Jewish settler of murdering three members of a Palestinian family in a 2015 arson attack in the occupied West Bank. Judges found Amiram Ben Uliel threw a firebomb into a home in the village of Duma, killing Saad and Riham Dawabsha and their 18-month-old son Ali. Ali's brother Ahmed, who was then four, suffered severe injuries but survived. Ben Uliel was also found guilty of attempted murder, but was acquitte..

Israel swears in unity government after long political crisis

Israel has sworn in a unity government after the longest political crisis in the country's history, and amid the coronavirus pandemic. Under a power-sharing deal agreed in April, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu will serve for another 18 months. His centrist rival Benny Gantz will serve as deputy PM, before taking over. The two men have agreed to press ahead with a controversial plan to annex part of the occupied West Bank - a process that ..

Coronavirus: Lebanon begins ‘total’ shutdown as cases increase

Media playback is unsupported on your device Lebanon has begun a "total" lockdown for four days, following a rise in the number of coronavirus cases. The government had been easing restrictions imposed two months ago to try to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Shops, restaurants and hair salons had been allowed to re-open. But they now have to close again. The efforts to fight the coronavirus have had a crushing impact on the economy, which was ..

Saudi Arabia: Just how deep are its troubles?

Once famous for being tax-free, Saudi Arabia has announced it is trebling its Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 15% and cancelling the monthly living subsidy from next month. The moves come as global oil prices have crashed down to less than half what they were a year ago, slashing government revenues by 22% and putting major projects on hold. Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, has already seen its net profit fall by 25% in the first quarter o..

Iran navy ‘friendly fire’ incident kills 19 sailors in Gulf of Oman

Media playback is unsupported on your device Nineteen sailors have been killed and 15 others injured in an accident involving Iranian naval vessels in the Gulf of Oman, Iran's navy has said. Iranian media reported that the support ship Konarak was hit by a new anti-ship missile being tested by the frigate Jamaran during an exercise on Sunday. The Konarak had been putting targets out in the water and remained too close to one, according to t..

New Iraq prime minister after five months of deadlock

Iraq's parliament has approved a new government, ending months of deadlock as the country battles an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. Former intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the third man to be nominated to replace Adel Abdul Mahdi since November, was sworn in as prime minister after Wednesday night's vote. "The security, stability and blossoming of Iraq is our path," he tweeted. However, Mr Kadhimi will not start his..

Wagner, shadowy Russian military group, ‘fighting in Libya’

Hundreds of mercenaries from Russia's shadowy Wagner Group are operating in Libya, a leaked UN report says. They have been supporting renegade general Khalifa Haftar's battle against the Tripoli-based government, it says. Since 2014, Libya has been split between areas controlled by the sides. Wagner is believed to have been involved in conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere. The Russian government denies any state involvement in the ..

Egypt says jailed filmmaker who mocked Sisi died from alcohol poisoning

Egypt has said alcohol poisoning caused the death in prison of filmmaker Shady Habash, who was detained after he made a music video mocking the president. Habash, 24, died in Cairo's Tora prison at the weekend after drinking hand sanitiser he had mistaken for water, according to the public prosecutor. The sanitiser was given to inmates to reduce the spread Covid-19, he said. Human rights activists have alleged that Habash's death was th..

Coronavirus: Yemen medics braced for ‘unspeakable’ crisis

Yemen's health system is in a state of collapse - leaving it unlikely to be able to cope with an outbreak of coronavirus. Dr Shalal Hasel is a hardworking official from the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance in the Yemeni province of Lahj. Usually his job focuses on dealing with outbreaks of cholera but now he's working round the clock to make sure Yemen is preparing properly for Covid-19. Although - at 30 - he's young and ..

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