Washington's newly appointed secretary of state landed in Riyadh Saturday on a tour of America's key Middle East allies, after vowing to bring some “swagger” back to US diplomacy. After attending NATO talks in Brussels, Mike Pompeo embarked on a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan to update friends on President Donald Trump's plans for the Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo was met on the tarmac in Riyadh by a sizeable Saudi Arabian delegation, including the kingdom's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, and US ambassador Khalid bin Salman -- brother of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Trump is widely expected to pull the United States out of the Iran accord next month, re-imposing sanctions against Tehran's nuclear program. Pompeo insists the president has not yet made the decision. The former CIA chief, who was sworn in as Trump's top diplomat on Thursday and set off within two hours for Brussels, will consult with leaders of Iran's main regional opponents … [Read more...] about Confident Pompeo makes Middle East diplomatic debut
As in previous years, in 2017, the highest terrorism and political violence risk ratings continued to be clustered in the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies’ report “African Militant Islamist Groups Again on the Rise”, violent and terrorist events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past year increased by 38% to account for 2,933 events compared to 2,117 in 2016. The recent map and highlights released by the centre states that this is a continuation of the upward trend observed in 2017, after a brief decline in 2016. However, the report indicates that there is not a single factor that can be pinpointed as the reason behind the surge in activity. Rather, it reflects increases associated with all major militant Islamist groups on the continent, including al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Islamic State group (IS), and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Most of the … [Read more...] about Terrorism remains key threat in Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa
People living in the Middle East during the Bronze Age rode donkeys long before horses were introduced to the region, a new archaeological find has suggested. Researchers uncovered evidence suggesting they were ridden as early as the third millennium BCE. Excavation in the courtyard of a house in the now abandoned village of Tell es-Safi in central Israel, found the remains of an ancient domesticated donkey whose teeth appeared to show evidence a bit had been used to control it. Read more Donkeys ‘beaten to death with hammers’ to make Chinese medicine Using microscopes to examine them, they found that enamel on its lower molars had been worn down where normally they would be even, and polished. A bit can be used to give riders more control over an animal’s direction, while a simple tether would allow it to be led, keep it from wandering. Radiocarbon dating suggested this animal had been … [Read more...] about Ancient people rode donkeys in Middle East long before horses were domesticated, new study suggests
The latest tour by US officials to the Middle East aims to build up support for Washington's yet-to-be-announced plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, much of which remains shrouded in secrecy. Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and top aide who was tasked last year with reviving the stalled peace process, and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt arrived in Jordan on Tuesday as part of a regional tour that also includes stops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel. Yet, with the US administration keeping mum until now about their plan and offering no details, questions are being raised about what Trump has dubbed the deal of the century. "I find it difficult to believe that their purported initiative has been under development for more than a year while nothing substantial has leaked about it," Mouin Rabbani, a Middle East analyst, told Al Jazeera. "In other words, there is no plan." Israeli policy over peace More than two decades of … [Read more...] about Can US plan for Middle East deliver peace?
US President Donald Trump's Middle East team has been visiting the region frequently, and the administration purports to be one step closer to announcing the details of its peace plan, also known as "the ultimate deal", after each visit. Last week Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and top aide who was tasked last year with reviving the stalled peace process, and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt embarked on yet another Middle East tour, visiting countries including Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. While the US administration continuously acts as if the big reveal is just around the corner, what these frequent visits really indicate is that the Trump team has not been able to gain the support it needs to announce its plan just yet. Kushner and Greenblatt's latest visit also aimed at securing political and financial support for the peace plan. However, it seems the visit has also not been successful, as no deal was announced and the US administration continues … [Read more...] about What is behind Jared Kushner’s latest Middle East tour?
Uber Technologies Inc. is in advanced discussions to buy Dubai-based rival Careem Networks FZ, a deal that would expand the ride-hailing giant’s operations in the Middle East, according to people familiar with the matter. The companies may announce a cash-and-shares transaction that values Careem at about $3 billion in the coming weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Negotiations are ongoing and no final agreements have been reached, the people said. Representatives for the companies declined to comment. San Francisco-based Uber is emphasizing growth, investing aggressively in food delivery, logistics, electric bikes and self-driving cars, as it prepares for a potential initial public offering this year. Uber and Careem held preliminary talks in July to combine their Middle Eastern ride-hailing services, hoping to resolve a costly rivalry in the region, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Careem, whose backers … [Read more...] about Uber is in advanced talks to buy Middle East rival Careem, sources say