18 killed in Iraq protests
BBC News, the Guardian, Telegraph and Reuters report that a curfew is in effect in Baghdad after a second day of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces. The restrictions will remain in place until further notice. Curfews had already been declared in three other cities as protests over lack of jobs, poor services and corruption escalated. Reuters reports that 11 people were killed during protests overnight in two southern Iraqi cities, including a policeman, raising the death toll to 18 since anti-government protests turned violent two days ago. In the Independent, Patrick Cockburn argues that the deadly army crackdown on anti-corruption protests risks turmoil in Iraq.
BBC News, the Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Mail report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a series of final hearings before a decision is made on whether to charge him with corruption. His lawyers will try to persuade the attorney general not to proceed with indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing. The attorney general is expected to reach a final decision by December.
The Financial Times, Guardian and Reuters reports that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has stated that Iran believed the path was open for negotiations over its nuclear activities and regional policies. A French initiative to update the JCPOA could provide an acceptable base to restart talks, provided that the US showed it was willing to “move toward” lifting sanctions. Rouhani has told his cabinet that while the country had been ready to end its stand-off with the US, President Trump was not prepared to make public an apparent private offer to lift sanctions.
Reuters reports that Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh sought to defuse tensions with Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, calling his counterpart in Riyadh “a friend” and saying Tehran was committed to stability in the region.
Reuters reports that more than 20 ships carrying around one million tonnes of grain are stuck outside Iranian ports as US sanctions create payment problems and hamper the country’s efforts to import vital commodities.
The Telegraph reports that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has accused Iran of using her and her daughter as politicians’ “playthings” in an open letter released from her prison cell in Tehran. The British-Iranian charity worker released the letter in Farsi appealing for Iran to free her and end her “bitter” separation from her daughter. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, confirmed the letter was genuine.
BBC News, the Times, Daily Mail and Reuters report that a vigil has been held in Istanbul for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered there one year ago today. Jeff Bezos described Jamal Khashoggi’s ordeal at the hands of his murderers as unimaginable. His fiancée Hatice Cengiz told the vigil she was still seeking justice. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denied being involved in the killing, but a UN expert has called for him to be investigated.
Reuters reports that UN rapporteur for extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard has called for Saud al-Qahtani, a key adviser to MBS, to be put in the dock.
In the Times, Helen Rumbelow interviews Kamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz: “I know it’s not my fault, but he went because of me”.
In the Independent, Richard Hall interviews Kamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz who said: “I have a huge responsibility”.
In the Guardian, Anna Stavrianakis argues that the UK stance on the Khashoggi murder is betrayed by its unlawful arms sales to Saudi Arabia: “The UK government’s continued loyalty to Saudi Arabia is causing its ‘rigorous and robust’ arms export control regime to descend into tatters”.
In the Financial Times, Roula Khalaf argues that a year after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, the talk of ‘mistakes’ is cheap: “Campaign to burnish Saudi crown prince’s image will fail while repression and war continue”.
In the Independent, Negar Mortazavi examines how the murder of Jamal Khashoggi made the US reassess its relationship with Saudi Arabia: “The Saudi Crown Prince’s failure to wholly rehabilitate his image continues to threaten the long-time alliance between his country and the United States”.
In the Independent, Richard Hall examines Saudi Arabia’s “PR machine and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi”: “Saudi Arabia built a PR army to sell Mohammed bin Salman’s reform agenda. And then it helped him rebuild his image after the journalist’s murder”.
The Times reports that President Sisi of Egypt has shown signs of softening his harsh grip on the country after protests that prompted talk of splits within the regime. Pro-regime politicians have hinted that a change of course is on the way, despite the arrest of an estimated 2,800 people, including prominent opposition leaders, academics and activists in the past two weeks.
Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia is expected to hike its prices for all crude grades it sells to Asia in November after the 14 September attacks on its oil facilities led to a spike in Middle East benchmarks last month.
BBC News, the Times and Daily Mail report that a Cypriot court has heard that a group of Israeli men were heard discussing a young British woman in an “aggressive way” on the night she said they gang raped her in Ayia Napa. The 19-year-old, who cannot be named, is charged with causing public mischief for allegedly making a false claim of being attacked in a hotel in July. If found guilty, she could face jail.
Reuters reports that an Israeli court has ordered Malka Leifer, who is suspected of sexual assault, and who Australia is seeking to extradite, to be released from prison and placed under house arrest.
In the Times, Anthony Loyd reports that the wives of IS fighters currently run Al-Hawl camp: “So-called morality police are engaged in a violent bid to impose Isis control over a camp of 68,000 mostly women and children, remnants of the collapsed caliphate”.
In the Financial Times, David Gardner argues that Syria is witnessing a violent demographic re-engineering: “The Assad regime is trying to ensure a Sunni-majority population cannot be recreated”.
In the Financial Times, Chloe Cornish examines the individuals “making a fortune” from the Syrian conflict: “How a few profiteers made millions picking clean the carcass of the country’s economy”.
In the Independent, Donald Macintyre examines how Israel’s permit regime “throws lives into disarray”: “The West Bank is where Israel’s right wing is focusing its annexation ambitions, and it’s tempting to believe that the primary reason for their fear that Gazans will settle there is a demographic rather than a security one”.
Netanyahu to meet Lieberman
- All the Israeli media report that Benjamin Netanyahu will meet this morning with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. Kan News reports that Lieberman repeated his demand that his party would only join a unity government with Blue and White and Likud, and would not join any other government. Maariv speculates that Netanyahu is willing to appoint Lieberman deputy prime minister and compromise on religion and state policies.
Netanyahu hearing lasts 11 hours
- All the Israeli media report the first day of Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-trial hearing and the confident statements from Netanyahu’s lawyer’s who said the legal team presented long and detailed arguments supported by a great deal of evidence that contradicts the allegations against the Prime Minister. According to Yediot Ahronot, the defence’s strategy is to show there is no direct evidence that proves the Prime Minister had a relationship of bribery with Shaul Elovitch, who held controlling shares in Bezeq and Walla, and to get the bribery charge dropped.
22nd Knesset to be sworn in today
- All the Israeli media report that the 22nd Knesset will be sworn in today and that the Likud and Blue and White have agreed on temporary chairs for Knesset committees. Likud will control the House Committee that determines Knesset procedures, United Torah Judaism will chair the Finance Committee and Blue and White will chair the Foreign Affairs and Defence committees.
PFLP leader recovers in hospital
- A leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who is a suspect in a murder case and was admitted to hospital after being interrogated by the Shin Bet is recovering in hospital and is out of the critical condition he was in two days ago. Samer Mina Salim Arbid, 44, is, suspected of being the ringleader of the cell responsible for the 23 August bombing near a West Bank spring that killed an Israeli teenager. Rejecting an appeal to have him released, a military judge ruled that he should be ready “in the coming days” to resume interrogations.