Iraq Granted Delay in Gulf War Reparations

Article Brief

The Iraqi government has been granted an extension to pay the final installment of its war reparations to Kuwait. The reparations were mandated by the UN Security Council after the IRaqi government under Saddam Hussein destroyed Kuwaiti oil facilities during its invasion of the country in 1990. The current Iraqi government requested a one year extension in light of declining oil prices and revenue, as well as its ongoing battle against Da'esh.

Article Source: BBC Arabic

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Saudi Government Penalizing Buildings with Poor Insulation

Article Brief

The Saudi Center for Energy Efficiency has warned engineering firms about penalties for failing to comply with heat insulation regulations being implemented for buildings. Failure to comply could result in such offices being shut down for a period of two years.

Article Source: Al Sharq Al Awsat

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Arab League Backing Palestinian Efforts at UN

Article Brief

The Arab League is joining the surge of diplomatic activity being undertaken by the Palestinian Authority and its supporters to promote the country's further unilateral decisions to recognize the Palestinian state. The surge in activity has come as a backlash to the breakdown in multilateral peace negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian Authority, backed by the Arab League, has said that the resumption of negotiations with Israel requires real initiatives on Israel's part, including an end to settlement building, a release of prisoners (here, captives), and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

Article Source: Maan News

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Syrian Army Retakes Al Milah Farms

Article Brief

The Syrian Human Rights Observatory reported that Syrian government forces, aided by local and foreign militias, have retaken the Milah Farms outside of Aleppo. The advance helps the government cut off supply lines to opposition fighter in Syria. The "foreign militias" discussed is likely a reference to Hezbollah.

Article Source: BBC Arabic

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Saudi King Donates $35 Million to Curb Ebola

Article Brief

On December 11, Al Arabiya reported that Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud donated $35 million to help West African countries fight the Ebola virus via the Islamic Development Bank which will implement the plan.  The IDB will provide schools in the West African countries with thermal sensors and additional equipment to help early detection the virus.

Article Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian Minister Dies During Protest

Article Brief

On December 10, An Nahar reported that Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein died during a protest in the West Bank. According to media sources, an Israeli soldier grabbed Abu Ein by the throat and he later collapsed, dying on the way to the hospital. Available footage does not show Abu Ein acting violently in any way that would have solicited the soldier's response. Israel has stated that it will conduct a joint autopsy with Jordanian authorities and will investigate Abu Ein's death.

Article Source: An Nahar

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Qatar Walks GCC's Line on Egypt

Article Brief

The Qatari government went along with the language of the GCC’s closing statement at its most recent summit, a statement which included strong support for the Egyptian regime under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Relations between Qatar and the GCC, and even more so between Qatar and Egypt, had soured over the past year because of Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian regime has branded a terrorist organization. Qatar’s support for the statement is taken as another indication of a very recent warming of relations with the other members of the GCC. 

Article Source: BBC Arabic

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33 Arrested for Homosexual Acts in Egyptian Public Bath

Article Brief

Egyptian authorities have placed 33 men under arrest for lewd behavior, indecency, and perversion, an accusation taken to mean acts of homosexuality. The arrests were made at a public bathhouse, which are commonplace in Cairo. Egypt’s treatment of homosexuals has been heavily criticized by Western governments and human rights groups.

Article Source: BBC Arabic

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British Embassy in Cairo Suspends Services

Article Brief

On December 7, Al Sharq Al Awsat reported that the British Embassy in Cairo suspended operations and closed its doors to the public in light of security concerns. The UK Foreign Ministry had previously warned its citizens not to travel to the Sinai because of the activities of extremists in the region. No information was immediately available about specific threats.

Article Source: Al Sharq Al Awsat

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Bahraini Activist Jailed for Ripping Picture of King

Article Brief

On December 4, BBC Arabic reported that female Bahraini activist Zainab Khawajah was sentenced to three years in prison by a Bahraini court. Her crime was tearing up a picture of the king of the country. In Bahrain, on paper a constitutional monarchy, insulting the king is a crime punishable up to 7 years in prison.

Article Source: BBC Arabic

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Al Qaeda Target's Iranian Ambassador's House in Yemen

Article Brief

On December 3, Al Arabiya reported that Al Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for an attack on the Iranian ambassador's house in Sanaa. The ambassador was not there at the time, but casualties were inflicted, including on Iranians, reports say. Al Qaeda has been waging a campaign against Shiite Houthi militants who recently took over much of the capital city and who are widely believed to be sponsored by Iran.

Article Source: Al Arabiya

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Iraq and Kurdistan Reach Oil Deal

Article Brief

On December 2, Al Hurra reported that the Iraqi and Kurdistan governments reached an agreement on an oil deal and a budget. According to media reports, the Kurdistan government has agreed to export 300,000 barrels of oil daily from Kirkuk. In return, the Iraqi government has agreed to give the Kurdish militia known as the Peshmerga $1 billion to aid in their fight against ISIS and allocate 17 percent of its budget to Kurdistan. The agreement is expected to enter into force next year.

Article Source: Al Hurra

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Female Saudi Activist Tries to Drive Across Saudi-UAE Border

Article Brief

On December 1, BBC Arabic reported that a female Saudi activist attempted to drive across the Saudi-UAE border, testing Saudi Arabia's effective ban on women driving. The activist, Lujain Hadhlul, who tried to document her experience on social media, contended that her UAE driver's license is valid across the GCC; the Saudi Interior Ministry does not give out drivers licenses to women. At the time this article was posted, Hadhlul's tweets had stopped and there were reports that she had been arrested.

Article Source: BBC Arabic

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50,000 Nonexistent Soldiers on Payroll

Article Brief

On November 30, Al Arabiya reported that the Iraqi government has revealed that it has found 50,000 cases of soldiers receiving salaries for military service without performing any of their duties. The salaries are then split with battalion and other commanders. The revelation comes as a part of the new government's effort to clean up corruption, which is particularly rampant in its security forces.

Article Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian Advisor Confident of a Future Thriving Economy

Article Brief

On November 25, Palestinian news agency Maan reported that Dr. Jawad Naji, an economics advisor to the Palestinian prime minister, that he believes the future Palestinian economy could be ranked 132 in the world. Naji expressed that the Palestinian economy could take great strides towards improvement despite the restrictions imposed by Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Article Source: Maan

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Tripoli, Lebanon Among Poorest Mediterranean Cities

Article Brief

On November 25, An Nahar reported Tripoli, Lebanon's recent economic struggles. The city, commonly referred to the capital of the North (of Lebanon), has traditionally been known for its old markets and soap industry, is now in disrepair. Much of the cities problems stem from sectarian tension and sporadic violence between Allawites and Sunnis, a situation exacerbated by the fighting in Syria.

Article Source: An Nahar

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Israel Approves "Jewish State" Bill

Article Brief

Israel's cabinet has approved a bill that would change the definition the state in Israeli law from "a Jewish and democratic state" to "a nation state for the Jewish people." While Israeli officials have assured that the shift would not affect the equal citizenship status of Palestinian Israelis, many fear it would serve to increase racial tension in the country. Others worry that the change undermines democracy in the country.

Article Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE Seeks to Invest in Kurdistan

Article Brief

On November 20, Al Sharq Al Awsat reported that despite the ongoing fighting in Iraq, the UAE is looking to invest in numerous projects in Iraqi Kurdistan. A representative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce stressed the strong relations between the UAE and the region and said he hoped the end to the current situation would lead to a rebirth of the Kurdistan economy.

Article Source: Al Sharq Al Awsat

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Syrian Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

Article Brief

Among the million plus refugees from Syria that have poured into Lebanon has been a substantial - approximately 44,000 - number of Palestinians. These Palestinians, the descendants of Palestinian refugees from Israel-Palestine, most of whom were living in the Syrian camp of Yarmouk, have now joined Lebanon's own population of Palestinian immigrants. Officials, NGOs, and the UN are struggling to accommodate the population.

Article Source:An Nahar

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Iraqi Forces Claim to Retake Beiji Refinery

Article Brief

On November 18, Al Sharq Al Awsat reported that Iraqi forces have recaptured the Beiji oil refinery in a significant step in the fight against ISIS. The victory represents an important achievement for Iraqi security forces and also deprives ISIS of oil resources.

Article Source: Al Sharq Al Awsat

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