Middle East Live 07/11: Gaza bombs, Yemen Saleh protests

Middle East Live 07/11: Gaza bombs, Yemen Saleh protests
Al-Araby al-Jadeed's Middle East live blog
9 min read
07 November, 2014
16:55 GMT - UK Muslim Brotherhood

Time to wrap up our first live blog, hope you've enjoyed the updates and follow us again from Monday. In the meantime, keep checking back to our website, and the al-Araby al-Jadeed English twitter account. And mine, why not.

Before I leave, another shameless plug: here's an article I wrote on the future of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK. Enjoy.

"That's where the UK comes in. Windsor, site of Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth II’s royal residence, is a picturesque town just outside London. A ten minute drive from the castle’s imposing yellow-brick walls lives Muhammad Soudan. A senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, he was the foreign affairs secretary for the Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. He's also been sentenced, in absentia, to 12 years in prison by an Egyptian court, and is waiting to learn the outcome of four other cases brought against him – all charges he considers baseless."

16:25 GMT - Jerusalem an "apartheid" city:

That's according to British journalist Ben White, who wrote this piece for al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"Nir Barkat's open and united Jerusalem of high-tech start-ups, marathos and international tourism has become a fortress city of surveillance balloons, running battles and protest. In the face of Palestinian resistance, the mayor has shown that it does not take much for his Western media-friendly sound bites to be swept aside by a discourse - and policy - of repression."

15:55 GMT - Saleh waves to his adoring fans from his balcony:

The Yemen Times shared these photos of today's pro-Saleh protests in Yemen. It's now two hours since the (alleged) deadline for Saleh to leave Yemen (see 14:00 GMT). He hasn't left.


In Yemeni-Saudi romance related news, it appears that the Houthi takeover of Sanaa has led to a happy ending for one couple. Huda and Arafat, who rose to prominence after Huda ran away from her family in Saudi Arabia to join her one true love Arafat in Yemen last year, had been kept apart by the authorities. According to reports, the Houthis have decided that bringing couples together is part of their 'Death to America, Death to Israel' remit, and stormed into the building Huda was being kept in, and brought an imam to marry her to Arafat. Happily ever after.

15:49 GMT - Iraqi forces advance against IS:

Iraqi army officers say that they have retaken control of Baiji, in northern Iraq. IS have controlled the town for months, but the officers now say they control 70% of the town.

15:29 GMT - Egyptian student killed:

An 19 year old Egyptian student has been killed protesting against the government in Fayoum, 100 kilometres south of Cairo.

14:52 GMT - Dalwa, Saudi Arabia, buries its dead:

Photos of the funerals of 8 Shia killed as they commemorated Ashura on Monday (see 12:26):

Funeral attendees here raise Saudi flags, as well as signs attacking extremists, and a photo of a Saudi policeman killed in a shootout with the men suspected of conducting the attack:


This photo clearly shows the large crowds:


And this photo shows the victims:

Bill Law wrote a comment piece today for al-Araby al-Jadeed English on the arrested Saudi Shia leader, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

"And while most Saudis I know will quietly express some dismay at Nimr al-Nimr's sentence, none who live there, for perfectly understandable reasons, will come out publically and condemn an atrocious act that makes a mockery of justice.

Saudi Arabia has made it perfectly clear where the red line rests when it comes to criticism.

But does that mean the rest of us should remain silent?"

Read the rest here.

14:37 GMT - End of Iraqi de-baathification?

The relatively new Iraqi president, Fouad Masoum, has called for the country's de-baathification law to be repealed (Arabic). The law was introduced after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein and his Baath regime.

Masoum is trying to paint this as an attempt to move to reconcile Iraqis - many Baath officials who were removed from their posts post-2003 were Sunnis. And now IS happen to control many Sunni areas in Iraq. Iraqi Sunnis are in demand these days (and I'm sure the tribal leaders know it).
14:13 GMT - Aqsa protests:

Palestinians have taken to the streets after Friday prayers to protest the Israeli incursion into al-Aqsa mosque on Wednesday. Jewish extremists attempted to march to al-Aqsa on Thursday evening, but were prevented from entering what they refer to as Temple Mount by Israeli security forces. Here are some of today's protests:

Hebron -


Jerusalem -

14:00 GMT - Saleh deadline?

It's now 5pm in Sanaa - the deadline that Saleh claims the US gave him to leave Yemen. Or face the consequences.

The US have denied that they met with Saleh to ask him to leave. But they're quite clearly moving against him (see 13:02). As Peter Salisbury, a freelance journalist in Yemen, points out, now what?

13:49 GMT - US out to get Baghdadi:

Islamic State's (formerly known as ISIS) leader, or caliph should you prefer, Abubakr al-Baghdadi doesn't appear in public very often. And he has reason to, he's made a lot of enemies.

Now, according to a report by al-Araby al-Jadeed's correspondent in Baghdad, Othman al-Mukhtar, the US will do to Baghdadi what they did to Bin Laden.

"A special forces team contains 16 officers, seven of which are already in Baghdad, according to an official close to the Iraqi army chief of staff."

For more, read the article here.

13:28 GMT - Fatah accuse Hamas of being behind Gaza bomb attacks:

How much longer will the Fatah-Hamas Palestinian unity government last? Fatah have accused their rivals of being behind several bomb attacks this morning against Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip. Hamas had earlier denied that they were responsible.

13:02 GMT - Documents seen by al-Araby al-Jadeed show US wants Saleh sanctions:

Well, while we're on the topic of sanctions, I thought you might want to see this article on US documents that show what they really think of Saleh. You can download the documents too, should you wish.

        The ... report on Yemen also alleges that Saleh has been using AQAP operatives to conduct assassinations against individuals.
- US 'Statement of the Case' against Saleh

On the topic of today's pro-Saleh protests, the pro-Houthi Sam FM aren't too happy:

12:45 GMT - US sanctions against Libya?

Reuters reports that, having got a taste for imposing sanctions on Middle Eastern figures/factions with their moves against Yemen's ex-president Saleh, the Obama administration is now considering imposing sanctions against Libyan factions.

Libya has two rival governments, and yesterday the supreme court decided that the internationally recognised parliament was illegitimate. Reuters says that US officials have declined to say who would be sanctioned. Maybe because they haven't worked it out themselves yet?

12:26 GMT - Eastern Saudi Shia funerals:

Here's a live feed of what appears to be the funerals of eight Saudi Shia who were killed  by gunmen as they were commemorating Ashura on Monday. Five of the eight victims were 18 or younger.

Two Saudi policemen and two suspects were killed the day after in a shootout. Large numbers are attending the funerals, with some raising pictures of the slain policemen.

12:10 GMT - What's al-Araby al-Jadeed?

Let's take a breather for a minute - and introduce you to al-Araby al-Jadeed English.

We're part of the al-Araby al-Jadeed network, and have a sister Arabic website and newspaper.

But why?

To give you an idea, al-Araby al-Jadeed is Arabic for 'the New Arab'. In 2011 the Arab world saw a movement for change take to the streets and bring down entrenched leaders. Yet, in the past few years, it's become quite clear that the counter-revolution is fighting back.

I'll pass you over to our publisher Azmi Bishara, and our editor-in-chief Lamis Andoni:

- Azmi Bishara: Who are the New Arabs? You. And us.

- Lamis Andoni: The New Arab's voice will be heard.

11:47 GMT - Palestinian homes to be razed on Netanyahu orders:

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the homes of Palestinians in Jerusalem who carried out attacks on Israelis to be demolished. There have been two cases in the past two weeks of Palestinian drivers ramming their vehicles into bystanders, killing four. Both Palestinian drivers were shot dead.

Tension is rising steadily in Jerusalem. Israeli security forces entering al-Aqsa mosque has led to an angry Palestinian response. Expect this order to add to that.

11:35 GMT - '40 killed' in Syria clashes:

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights has reported that 40 people were killed in clashes between Syrian regime forces and the opposition in Beit Tima, Damascus province, on Thursday. The rebels appear to be from the al-Nusra Front and other Islamist factions, said the London-0based opposition group.

Al-Nusra recently took over the Jabal al-Zawiya region in Idlib from another opposition group, Jamal Maarouf's SRF. They've also been targeted by US-led air strikes, which have targeted the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS) and Ahrar al-Sham, who were targeted for the first time on Thursday.

10:45 GMT - This morning's top news so far:

- 10 explosions hit Fatah members' houses and cars in Gaza. There are no reports of casualties at the moment, but the Palestinian prime minister has cancelled his visit to Gaza. Hamas has condemned the bomb attacks.

- Supporters of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh have taken to the streets in Sanaa to protest US moves to sanction him.  

- The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has appointed a new leader, Muhammed Hekmat Walid. The 70-year-old opthalmologist is the 12th leader of the Syrian Brotherhood.

10:29 GMT - Welcome to al-Araby al-Jadeed English's first ever live blog. We'll be tracking today's news from the Middle East and North Africa, and showcasing al-Araby al-Jadeed's original content, including features and comment from some of the region's best writers and top experts. This is a conversation, so please do get involved. Tweet @alaraby_en or me at @abubakrabdullah.