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The Middle East Today

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IRAN

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may seek a return to the nuclear deal before his protégé Ebrahim Raisi becomes president in August. It would secure sanctions relief but also allow the new administration to maintain its anti-western stance.

Iran's sole nuclear power plant has undergone an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown, the first time such an event has been reported. An official from the state electric company said that the Bushehr plant shutdown began on Saturday and would last "for three to four days".

The family of Shokrollah Jebeli, an 83-year-old who has been held in Iran's Evin jail for 17 months without trial, have called for his immediate release after he received substandard medical treatment for a series of health problems. The father of three previously suffered a stroke but was returned to the prison after hospital treatment on the same day.

IRAQ

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced that Brussels will send election observers to Iraq to monitor October's polls, as Europe seeks to ensure stability in the country.

UK military commanders said Britain's newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has taken on the "lion's share" of operations against ISIS in Iraq. Commodore Steve Moorhouse said the Eastern Mediterranean had become more "congested and contested" because of Russia's military presence in Syria.

The mother of prominent Iraqi human rights activist Ihab Al Wazni, who was murdered near his home last month, held a sit-in protest outside Karbala's court demanding justice. His death sparked outrage over the authorities' failure to protect civilians and provide them with basic public services.

Four years after Mosul's Al Nuri Mosque was blown up by ISIS, the Iraqi government, the UN, the UAE and the EU remain committed to efforts to restore the city's identity and cultural heritage.

GAZA

One month after a ceasefire ended the 11-day conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza that devastated the Palestinian enclave, reconstruction has not even started and tensions remain high. More than 2,000 homes were destroyed and thousands more damaged in the fighting, which claimed the lives of 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, and tens of thousands of people have been left uprooted, according to Gaza's Ministry of Public Works. Meanwhile, unexploded bombs are still killing those who survived the initial Israeli bombardment, humanitarian organisations and engineering teams say.

Israel allowed exports from Gaza to leave the Palestinian enclave yesterday for the first time since last month's hostilities began. Lorries loaded with clothes drove through the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza, Rami Abu Alreesh, general manager of trade at the territory's Finance Ministry, told The National.

AFGHANISTAN

The latest UN report shows the Taliban contesting or controlling an estimated 50 to 70 per cent of territory outside urban centres, with the government calling the losses "tactical retreats", as the Afghan military struggle to fend off militant attacks.

ETHIOPIA

Elections billed by Ethiopia's Prime Minister as the country's "first attempt at a free and fair election" took place yesterday but voting was delayed in some areas and cancelled in the restive Tigray region.

UAE

The UAE was the world's 15th-biggest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020, ranking one place above the UK and seven places higher than the prior year, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

LIBYA

Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, is to attend a Berlin summit on resolving Libya's political divisions tomorrow as the country's factions look to hold unified elections for a new leadership by the end of 2021.

Ninety Egyptian migrants have been released from a detention centre in Tripoli through the co-operation of Egyptian and Libyan authorities. They had been held since Friday on illegal immigration charges.

EGYPT

Egypt's president yesterday reassured Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Cairo's support against any attempts to breach the southern European nation's sovereignty. Mr El Sisi's assurance is significant given the ongoing tensions between Greece and Turkey as well as Cairo's recent engagement with Ankara to improve bilateral relations while maintaining its close ties with Greece and its ally Cyprus.

JORDAN

King Abdullah's former confidant, Bassem Awadallah, faced a secret trial yesterday accused of sedition and plotting incitement acts against the regime. Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a distant cousin of the king, is on trial on similar charges. Mr Awadallah's lawyer said both defendants pleaded not guilty.

SAUDI ARABIA

The withdrawal of US military assets from Saudi Arabia will not affect the kingdom's defensive capabilities, said coalition spokesperson Gen Turki Al Maliki. "We have a strong understanding with our allies about the threat in the region. We do have the capability to defend our country."

SYRIA

Syrian government forces and rebels exchanged shellfire in north-western Syria last night, killing at least 10 people, most of them in rebel-held areas, state media reported.

A UN Security Council resolution on the supply of aid through Bab Al Hawa, the border crossing through which most foreign relief enters Syria, expires on July 10. The council has not yet voted to extend it. About four million people in Syria may face being cut off from vital UN aid, and many already endure hunger and rely on the global organisation for even the most basic sanitation.

LEBANON

Lebanon's military interrogated prominent student activist Karim Safieddine after he took part in a university protest, a move rights defenders say is a worrying attempt to stifle dissent.

 
 

CORONAVIRUS LATEST

The WHO says it is in discussions with companies and institutions to set up the first technology transfer centre for coronavirus vaccines in South Africa.

UAE residents stranded in India rushed to book tickets to return to Dubai after authorities in the emirate said flights from the country would resume on June 23.

Long Covid symptoms: UAE residents tell of perfume that smells like sewage.

LIVE BLOG

Follow our live blog for the latest coronavirus news from the region and beyond.

GLOBAL CASE NUMBERS

Cases: 179,554,219

Deaths: 3,888,850

Recovered: 164,259,684

As of 06:00 GMT

 
 

PLUS …

After President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to Azerbaijan last week, where he promoted a plan to build a rail link and declared that "a new middle corridor will be opened that everyone can benefit from, from East to West," David Lepeska asks: with Turkey's sun rising in the East, does that mean it is setting in the West?

The National's editorial team explains why foreign investment in the Gulf is still rising – unlike in much of the rest of the world.

AND …

Cairo's Egyptian Museum celebrates World Music Day with a special display of artefacts.

Mona Farag 
Arab Affairs Editor

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