China to provide naval escort to Chinese ships in the Gulf
The Telegraph, Times, Independent and Reuters report that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned that a war between Iran and the US would be “the mother of all wars”, as Tehran announced joint naval patrols with Russia. “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace; war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” he said. “A strait for a strait. It can’t be that the Strait of Hormuz is free for you and the Strait of Gibraltar is not free for us.” An Iranian navy commander said that the drills would take place later this year after both countries signed an agreement. Although Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi gave no details about the area where the drills would be held, in late July he said that manoeuvres could take place in the Strait of Hormuz.
Reuters reports that police have recommended the indictment of Israel’s deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman on suspicion of attempting to bolster the case of a former Australian school principal pleading mental illness as an argument against extradition to face sexual assault charges. State prosecutors will now decide whether to accept the police findings and charge the deputy minister, who has denied any wrongdoing. Australia has been pressing Israel to extradite Malka Leifer after accusations against her surfaced.
Reuters reports that China may escort Chinese commercial vessels in the Gulf under a US proposal for a maritime coalition to secure oil shipping lanes, its envoy to the UAE said on Tuesday. “If there happens to be a very unsafe situation we will consider having our navy escort our commercial vessels,” Ambassador Ni Jian told Reuters in Abu Dhabi. “We are studying the US proposal on Gulf escort arrangements,” China’s embassy later said in a text message.
The Telegraph, Times, Independent and Reuters report that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Turkey would “eliminate” the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria “very soon”. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in southern Turkey. “Turkey has the right to eliminate all threats against its national security,” Erdogan said. “God willing, we will carry the process started with Afrin and Jarablus (previous offensives into Syria) to the next stage very soon.” US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has said that unilateral action by Turkey would be unacceptable. “What we’re going to do is prevent unilateral incursions that would upset, again, these mutual interests,” he said.
Reuters reports that Iran has asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to push back against the US after it imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, describing the move as a “a dangerous precedent.” In a letter to Guterres, Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi accused the US of a “brazen violation of the fundamental principles of international law” and urged the international community to condemn US behaviour. “Coercing nations into complying with the United States’ illegal demands threatens multilateralism, as the foundation of international relations, and sets a dangerous precedent, paving the way for those who aspire to rather divide, not unite, nations,” he wrote.
The Times reports that a Qatari bank allegedly transferred large sums of money to a jihadist terrorist group in Syria, according to a claim issued at the High Court. Two wealthy brothers are alleged in the claim to have used accounts at Doha Bank to channel extensive funds to the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, during the Syrian civil war. The Times revealed this week that a Qatari-controlled British bank, Al Rayan, was providing financial services to numerous Islamist-linked UK organisations, including a charity that is a designated terrorist entity in America.
The Times reports that a Qatari sheikh threatened to kill his security chief who defied his request to murder two people and helped to free another who was being held captive, a lawsuit in the US alleges. Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani dismissed Matthew Pittard after he “refused to engage in criminal activity”, according to legal documents filed in a district court in Florida. The documents claim that a second plaintiff, Matthew Allende, scaled an 18ft wall to escape his employer’s compound in Qatar after he was allegedly threatened at gunpoint.
The Independent reports that British police are investigating Shamima Begum, despite the government’s decision to remove her UK citizenship. Scotland Yard is attempting to seize unpublished notes made by journalists who interviewed the former ISIS member in Syria. The Metropolitan Police has applied for a judge to force three media companies to hand over their material after they refused voluntary requests. A production order, under the Terrorism Act, requires officers to prove the material is “sought for the purposes of a terrorist investigation” and is of “substantial value” and that seizure is in the public interest.
Reuters reports that Yemen’s southern separatists have accused an Islamist party of complicity in last week’s attack on Aden, the seat of government, exposing rifts in the Saudi-backed coalition battling the Iran-backed Houthi movement. The separatists and Islamist party are united in their wider war on the Houthis, but have rival agendas for Yemen, and frictions between them over Thursday’s attack could destabilise the southern port city that is the coalition’s sole stronghold.
Reuters reports that Libya’s internationally recognised government has allocated 40m Libyan dinars (£23.5 million) for its defence ministry, it said on Tuesday, stepping up spending to fend off an eastern offensive as the war enters its fifth month. The government also granted each of its soldiers 3,000 dinars as a reward for fighting the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) force of Khalifa Haftar, which started in April a campaign to take Tripoli in western Libya.
BBC News reports that a group of MPs has called for “strong leadership” from the UK to better safeguard aid and healthcare workers from harm. In 2018, there were 126 deaths as a result of violence against aid workers, according to figures cited by the International Development Committee. Chairman Stephen Twigg MP said “a growing trend of attacks” was putting humanitarian efforts at risk. The committee’s report cites figures from the Aid Worker Security Database, which recorded 221 separate incidents of violence against aid workers in 2018, resulting in 126 deaths and 143 injuries.
Reuters reports that businesswomen in Afghanistan are adamant that there will be no going back to the days of repression under the Taliban, and the progress women have made over the past 18 years will not be reversed. Talks between the Islamists and US to end the war make it likely that any pact would allow the Taliban to return to some role in government.
The Independent reports that King Salman of Saudi Arabia has invited survivors and victims’ relatives of the Christchurch massacre to be his guests during the hajj, the holy Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. King Salman is paying for the airfare, accommodation and travel costs, a bill that will run to over £1m, for the predominantly Muslim vicitims of the shooting.
In the Times, Roger Boyes argues that Sudanese protesters “want equality, not the replacement of one set of hard men by another”.
In the Financial Times, David Gardner argues that “sanctioning Iran’s foreign minister is futile – and worrying”: “The Trump administration has probably blocked the best path back to mediation”.
In the Times, Sir John Jenkins argues that “Islamism is not Islam, it’s socially and politically bad”: “We have seen over the past 30 years in the UK the normalisation of Islamist discourse, which closes down discussion, among those who claim to represent a dynamic and highly diverse population of British Muslims. This has been partly the product of past Saudi funding. Now Qatar is taking over this role”.
In the Israeli media, Maariv reports that the Shin Bet said it prevented a plot by Hamas members from Hebron to carry out a bomb attack in Jerusalem. A statement from the Shin Bet said: “The operatives in the West Bank were instructed to carry out kidnappings, shootings and stabbings, purchase weaponry, and find and recruit additional operatives for terrorist activities. The Hamas terror group is not queasy about the tools it uses and takes advantage of young people from the West Bank, harming them and their families, in order to advance terrorist activities.”
Haaretz reports on a visit by the Blue and White leadership to the Gaza border. Party leader Benny Gantz said: “We do not intend to let deterrence continue to be eroded; we do not intend to allow this model of another round and another round and another [incendiary] kite and another missiles and another thing to continue. The next time something happens here, we will make sure that it’s the final round…To the heads of Hamas, I recommend being totally quiet – not a balloon, not a rocket, not a kite. None, nada, nothing.”
Kan Radio reports that the European Union condemned Israel for approving the construction of homes in the West Bank. The EU statement said: “Israeli authorities have approved the construction of 2,000 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.” The statement also referred to the Cabinet’s approval last week of 715 housing units for Palestinians in Area C saying: “The Palestinian population living in Area C continues to face repeated confiscations, demolitions, displacements and land expropriation, while almost all of their submitted master plans and building permits for Palestinian development remain unapproved. The EU will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”
Haaretz, Maariv and Yediot Ahronot report that the police recommended Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman be indicted for bribery, fraud, breach of trust and suborning perjury. The main focus of their investigation is Litzman’s role in the Malka Leifer case. Leifer lives in Israel but was indicted by Australian prosecutors for serious sexual offences against dozens of female students while she was a teacher there in the 1980s. In 2014, Australian authorities submitted a request for her extradition to Israel. The Israeli court requested a psychiatric evaluation before agreeing to her extradition and Litzman allegedly became involved, meeting with a number of district psychiatrists subordinate to him and requested that each of them provide an evaluation that would prevent the extradition. The second case is connected to a delicatessen close to Litzman’s home. Health inspections found traces of salmonella bacteria, which pose a serious danger to public health and a court order was issued to close the establishment. When Litzman became aware of this, he allegedly gave orders to postpone implementation of the ruling.
Maariv adds that the State Attorney’s Office is examining a number of other cases. The Police have recommended charging Likud MK David Bitan with 12 counts of bribery, charging Interior Minister Aryeh Deri with fraud and breach of trust and Likud MK Haim Katz with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Kan Radio reports that the Israeli communications satellite, Amos-17, was launched successfully last night from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The satellite is designed to provide communications services primarily to Africa.