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Road sign in honour of slain journalist Khashoggi temporarily put up by protesters in front of White House after his death (AFP/file photo)

A member of the Washington, DC City Council introduced legislation that would see slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi honoured with a road in the US capital named after him.

Councilmember Brooke Pinto introduced the legislation on Thursday, calling Khashoggi, who was a resident of the district, “a fierce advocate for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law”.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia and columnist for the Washington Post and Middle East Eye, was killed by Saudi agents on 2 October 2018 after entering the kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul.

The road set to be named in his honour — Jamal Khashoggi Way — runs right in front of Saudi Arabia’s embassy, so that “everyone who visits the Saudi embassy will be reminded of Mr Khashoggi’s courage”, Pinto said in a news release on Thursday. …

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launches ‘The Line’ as part of the multi-billion dollar Neom megacity project (Screenshot)

Saudi Arabia has launched an ambitious plan to construct a zero-carbon city built in a 170km straight line, the first major construction project for the $500bn futuristic megacity Neom.

On Sunday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched “The Line”, which forms part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy to diversify its economy and move away from its reliance on oil.

The Line will have no cars or roads and will be populated by one million residents from around the world.

“Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of pollution […] one million people every year due to traffic accidents?” HRH the Crown Prince questions as he introduces @NEOM’s THE LINE.

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While bin Salman may feel the cuts will ingratiate himself with the US, they may not be universally welcomed in Washington (AFP)

Saudi Arabia has pledged additional, voluntary oil output cuts of one million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March as part of a deal under which most Opec+ producers will hold production steady in the face of new coronavirus lockdowns.

The surprising move, which boosted Brent oil prices by almost 5 percent to above $53 per barrel, will benefit struggling shale producers in the United States, who need higher prices to make their businesses viable.

Two Opec+ members, Russia and Kazakhstan, will also be allowed to bump up their output by a combined 75,000 bpd in February and a further 75,000 bpd in March. …

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The aftermath of an explosion in Yemen (AFP/FILE)

Five women were killed when a shell hit a wedding venue in Yemen’s Hodeidah city on New Year’s Day, officials said on Saturday.

The government and the Houthi movement have blamed each other for the blast in the port city, which came just two days after at least 26 people were killed in explosions that rocked the airport of the southern city of Aden as members of a newly formed government got off a plane from Saudi Arabia.

The wedding hall was near Hodeidah’s airport, a front line between the warring sides, on the edge of the rebel Houthi-held city.

“The explosion struck at the entrance to a complex of several wedding halls,” a witness told AFP, as a party was being held for a newly married Houthi supporter. …

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Dozens of female activists protested in Taiz city demanding women be given positions in the cabinet (MEE)

The swearing in of a new government in Yemen on Saturday has caused controversy and protests after no women were included in the 24-member cabinet, a situation that has not arisen for 20 years.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi swore in the new government, which was formed following a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia last year, in Riyadh, where he is living.

The government is the first cabinet in which ministries are divided between the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) and Yemen’s internationally recognised government.

Yemen has been mired in conflict since a Saudi-led coalition intervened there in March 2015 to restore the government removed from power in the capital Sanaa by Houthi rebels in late 2014. …

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Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested in May 2018 alongside at least a dozen other women activists (AFP/File photo)

Saudi Arabia’s state prosecutor is seeking the maximum possible jail sentence — 20 years behind bars — for women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, her sister Lina confirmed.

Hathloul, 31, is being tried in the kingdom’s notorious terrorism court. In a hearing on Wednesday, the judge said a verdict and possible sentence for Hathloul’s case may come as early as Monday, the Guardian reported, based on a copy of the prosecution’s indictment provided by the activist’s sister.

‘They say she is a terrorist — in reality, she is a humanitarian, an activist and a woman who simply wants a better, fairer world’

- Lina al-Hathloul, sister of Loujain al-Hathloul

Things became more complicated later on Wednesday, as Hathloul’s parents, who act as her legal team, were summoned via text to Riyadh’s criminal court on Thursday morning, Lina said on Twitter. …

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Last month, the Houthis said they struck a plant operated by Saudi Aramco Jeddah with a Quds-2 missile (AFP)

An explosion rocked a Singapore-flagged oil tanker off the Saudi port city of Jeddah on Monday, the vessel’s owner said, in the latest in a series of attacks on energy infrastructure in the kingdom.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast on the tanker BW Rhine, but it comes as Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen step up cross-border attacks against Saudi targets in retaliation for a five-year military campaign led by Riyadh.

“BW Rhine has been hit from an external source whilst discharging at Jeddah… causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard,” its owner, Singapore-based shipping company Hafnia, said in a statement. …

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Pakistan’s army chief was snubbed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he was sent to apologise for its foreign minister’s criticism (Reuters)

Pakistan’s government last month claimed a victory at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation annual summit in Niger, announcing that the 57-member Muslim bloc had supported a resolution condemning India over its rescinding of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.

In a statement on the final day of the summit on 28 November, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said OIC states had agreed unanimously to reaffirm their “strong support for the Kashmir cause”.

The resolution “rejected the illegal and unilateral actions by India” since it revoked Article 370 of its constitution which granted the disputed region its own constitution and the right to make its own laws. …

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Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg, left, poses for a picture with Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family (Supplied)

Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, on Monday took a stake of around 50 percent in Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem, whose fans are known for racist chants against Arabs and Muslims.

The deal was sealed for a 300m shekel (almost $92m) investment over a 10-year period, and was brokered by Naum Koen, a Ukrainian-born Israeli businessman based in the United Arab Emirates.

The first reports of a potential deal appeared in September, just days before the UAE, Bahrain and Israel signed an agreement normalising ties in Washington.

Beitar’s owner Moshe Hogeg travelled to Dubai on 3 December along with the club’s CEO Moni Brosh and chairman Eli Ohana, hoping to ink a deal before the end of the year. …

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The US Pentagon said Wagner had deployed 2,000 mercenaries in Libya to prop up Haftar’s attempt to take control of Tripoli (AFP)

The United States has accused its ally the UAE of funding Russian mercenaries in Libya accused of human rights abuses and breaking an international arms embargo.

In a rare rebuke of its ally, the US Pentagon said the United Arab Emirates provided “air strike and logistics support” to the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian military contractor, and other forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar.

“The DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency] assessed that the United Arab Emirates may provide some financing for the group’s operations,” a counterterrorism report authored by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) added.

The report refers to Wagner as a Russian Ministry of Defence proxy. …


Middle East Eye

Your eye on the ground. Independent Middle East and North Africa news

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