Middle East & North Africa

Turkey: Erdogan says new measures needed as COVID-19 cases rise

ISTANBUL, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said the government had to boost the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as the daily infected cases in the country have been on the rise for the last month.

Authorities recently limited the number of passengers in public transport and imposed new restrictions on bars, restaurants, and cafes across the country. Weddings and other ceremonies in Istanbul's Bosphorus Strait, as well as open-air concerts and other festivals in the city, were also banned.

Palestine: Gaza violence flares after Israel signs deals with Gulf states

GAZA, Sept 18 (NNN-AGENCIES) — There has been a fresh round of violence between Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel, after a ceremony in Washington at which Israel and two Gulf Arab states normalised their relations.

Militants fired two rockets into Israel on Tuesday night. One hit the coastal city of Ashdod, wounding two men.

Another barrage of 13 rockets was launched before dawn on Wednesday.

In retaliation, the Israeli military bombed sites in Gaza it said belonged to the Palestinian group Hamas.

France's Macron calls Lebanese president about cabinet formation

BEIRUT (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron called Lebanon’s president on Friday to discuss the need to press on with efforts to form a new government, seeking to give new momentum to an initiative by Paris that aims to pull the Middle East nation out of crisis.

France has been leaning on Lebanon’s sectarian politicians to name a cabinet swiftly and embark on reforms to get the country out of the worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

But the process has been bogged down by a dispute over the allocation of ministries in the new cabinet.

Libya's Haftar to announce end of oil blockade, source close to him says

TUNIS (Reuters) - A source close to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar said on Friday that Haftar would shortly announce the lifting of his forces’ blockade on Libyan oil exports, which has been in place since January.

However, Libya’s National Oil Corporation said overnight it would not lift force majeure on exports until oil facilities were demilitarised.

Israel expands economic safety net to deal with upcoming full nationwide lockdown

JERUSALEM, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) - Israel expanded its COVID-19 national economic safety net program ahead of the full nationwide closure that will begin on Friday, the Prime Minister's Office and Finance Ministry said in a joint statement on Thursday night.

The new expansion plan, decided by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz, is intended to provide a dedicated response to the businesses affected by the closure, which will last for at least three weeks.

Israel rabbis issue statement supporting Israeli terrorist convicted of murdering Pelestinian family

18 Sep 2020; MEMO: A group of Israeli rabbis from across the religious Zionist spectrum have issued a statement in support of Amiram Ben Uliel, the Jewish-Israeli terrorist sentenced on Monday to three life sentences for the murder of 18-month-old baby Ali Dawabsheh and his parents, Saad and Riham, on 31 July 2015.

Saudi oil exports down 62%

18 Sep 2020; MEMO: Saudi Arabia’s oil exports declined 62 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, the state-run Saudi General Authority for Statistics announced yesterday.

In an official statement, the authority said that the kingdom’s oil exports amounted to some 74.8 billion riyals ($19.9 billion) during the second quarter of this year.

Crude exports from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, have continued to decline as global demand dropped as a result of the novel coronavirus.

Syria slams US over Trump’s desire to assassinate Assad

18 Sep 2020; MEMO: The Syrian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday slammed US President Donald Trump for saying he wanted to assassinate regime President Bashar Al-Assad a few years ago, Sana news agency reported.

Earlier on Tuesday Trump acknowledged that he wanted to assassinate Al-Assad for using chemical weapons in 2017.

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