Iran Reviewing US Response to EU's Nuclear-Deal Rescue Plan
Plus: Tunisian President Saied ratifies controversial constitution, northern section of Beirut port silos collapses, US airstrikes target Iran-backed militias in Syria, and much more.
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Before delving into the news of the week, I suggest reading my latest article on Middle East Eye.
I report the story of Rebirth Beirut, a Lebanese NGO that has started to light up the streets of Beirut, which has become a ghost city since the start of the economic crisis.
Iran reviewing US response to EU's nuclear-deal rescue plan
Iran said it's reviewing the Biden administration's response to an EU-drafted plan to rescue the 2015 nuclear accord, including US comments on amendments suggested by Tehran.
Diplomats want to strike an agreement that reinstates limits on Tehran's rapidly advancing nuclear program in exchange for lifting US sanctions on the Iranian economy, including oil exports.
The original accord collapsed after then-President Donald Trump abandoned it in 2018.
Exam fiasco exposes rot in Turkish bureaucracy
The recent cancellation of a standardized exam betrayed the extent of institutional failure and tampering in Turkey, directly affecting the lives of more than a million people.
The news broke after allegations that questions of the Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS) were leaked before it was conducted on July 31.
The scandal resulted in several officials' dismissals and the test's cancellation.
Turkey's Center for Assessment, Selection, and Placement (OSYM) denied the fraud claims circulating on social media.
However, the growing public outrage prompted Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to weigh in, announcing an investigation into the allegations on August 2.
Tunisian President Kais Saied ratifies the new controversial constitution
Tunisian President Kais Saied ratified a controversial new constitution that will give him unchecked powers during a ceremony at the presidential palace on Wednesday, August 17.
He added that a new electoral law will be drafted, and a constitutional court established soon "to preserve the constitution, and to protect the rights and freedoms that come with the new constitution."
But opponents have said the new constitution tips Tunisia back into the dictatorship it had before the revolution of 2011.
The constitution places the president in command of the army, allows him to appoint a government without parliamentary approval, and makes him virtually impossible to remove from office.
Northern part of damaged Beirut grain silos collapses
The northern section of the grain silos damaged two years ago by a blast at the Beirut port collapsed early on Tuesday, August 23, after warnings the structure was leaning too far to stay up.
The crash sent a cloud of brown-grey dust billowing over the waterfront. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Recently, a fire had been smoldering in the silos for weeks, which officials said was the result of summer heat igniting fermenting grain left rotting.
Part of the structure collapsed on July 31, and another section fell on August 4, the second anniversary of the blast.
The huge explosion at the port on August 4, 2020, killed more than 220 people and gutted the northern section of the grain silos, leaving wheat and corn spilling out in the sun.
US airstrikes target Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria
The U.S. military said early Wednesday it carried out airstrikes in eastern Syria that targeted areas used by militias backed by Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Opposition war monitor groups said the airstrikes targeted the Ayash Camp run by the Fatimiyoun group was made up of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan, killing between 10 and 24 people.
Deir Ez-Zor is a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields.
Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area and have often been the target of Israeli warplanes in previous strikes.
A few hours later, Syrian state media reported that two US bases in that part of Syria had been shelled by artillery.
No casualties were immediately reported.
Neither the US. nor Iran immediately confirmed the attack.
Yemeni southern separatists launch a military campaign in Abyan
Yemen's main southern separatist group said it had launched a military operation in Abyan province "to cleanse it of terrorist organizations," a move that would strengthen the UAE-backed faction's control in the south.
Yemen has been split by a seven-year-old war pitting a fractious coalition led by Saudi Arabia against the Iran-aligned Houthi group.
The Houthis largely hold the north, and the internationally recognized government is based in the south.
However, rivalries among Yemeni factions in the coalition resurfaced recently as southern forces backed by the United Arab Emirates expanded their reach, imperiling a new presidential council and further complicating international efforts to end the conflict.
Macron seeks warmer Algeria ties, but a gas deal is elusive
This week, French President Emmanuel Macron travels to Algeria, a former French colony and one of the world's largest gas producers.
But it's unlikely the French president will return with commitments for alternative supplies of liquefied natural gas.
According to French officials close to the president, the trip is not about replacing gas imports from Russia but about mending relations.
Furthermore, it's unlikely Algeria has an excess supply to offer France.
Cash-strapped Lebanese turn to online civil marriages
Civil marriage is prohibited in Lebanon and is only allowed to be registered as such if carried out abroad.
Religious authorities are the ones to regulate personal status affairs according to each sect's laws and regulations, and Civil marriage is still a taboo subject in Lebanon.
The economic crisis and delays in getting or renewing passports led some Lebanese couples to tie the knot in virtual civil ceremonies.
Qatar detains workers protesting late pay before World Cup
Qatar recently arrested at least 60 foreign workers who protested going months without pay and deported some of them, an advocacy group said, just three months before Doha hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The move comes as Qatar faces intense international scrutiny over its labor practices ahead of the tournament. Like other Gulf Arab nations, Qatar heavily relies on foreign labor.
Egypt hosts summit to defend "Arab unity"
The Egyptian city of El-Alamein hosted on Monday, August 22, a new Arab summit bringing together the leaders of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, and Iraq.
Representatives from these countries are expected to discuss the profound changes the region is undergoing in diplomatic, political, and social terms.
Egyptian leader Abdul Fattah al Sisi and Emirati President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held bilateral talks on Sunday before the five-party summit.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading Inshallah. Share this article and subscribe to be up to date about news from the Middle East every week. It's free.
My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.
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Cover photo: NBC News/Pool via Reuters