Supporters of Iraq's al-Sadr leave Green Zone after violence
Plus: 32 people dead following violent clashes in Libya, Saudi woman jailed for 45 years for social media posts, Iran sends military drones to Russia, and much more.
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Supporters of Iraq's al-Sadr leave Green Zone after violence
Iraqi supporters of Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr have withdrawn from Baghdad's high-security Green Zone after deadly violence rocked the Iraqi capital.
The move came on Tuesday, August 30, after al-Sadr called on his supporters to retreat and demanded an end to fighting between rival Shiite forces and the army that left 30 dead and hundreds wounded.
The unrest began on Monday, August 29, when al-Sadr announced he would resign from politics.
His supporters stormed the Green Zone, once the stronghold of the United States military, now home to Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies.
Al-Sadr's decision to quit politics came after weeks of protests by his supporters in the wake of a political crisis that has left the country without a new government, prime minister, or president for months.
On Monday, clashes raged between al-Sadr's supporters and the army and men of the Hashd al-Shaabi, former Tehran-backed paramilitaries integrated into the Iraqi forces.
On Tuesday, medics updated the toll of al-Sadr supporters killed to 30, with some 570 others injured, some with bullet wounds, and others suffering from tear gas inhalation.
A mass funeral was held on Tuesday in Najaf, a Shia holy city, for some of the protesters killed in Baghdad.
Iraq's government has been deadlocked since al-Sadr's party won the largest share of seats in October parliamentary elections but not enough to secure a majority government, unleashing months of infighting between different Shia factions.
Al-Sadr refused to negotiate with his Iran-backed Shia rivals, and his withdrawal on Monday catapulted Iraq into political uncertainty.
At least 32 people dead following violent clashes between rival militias in the Libyan capital of Tripoli
At least 32 people have died, and 159 have been injured in violent clashes between rival Libyan militias across the country's capital of Tripoli, according to an update from the country's Ministry of Health.
Intense fighting erupted in the capital on Saturday, August 27, as rival factions exchanged intense gunfire and several loud explosions resounded across the city.
Pictures and videos circulating on social media show the extent of the clashes, with dozens of buildings, including residential ones, destroyed and several cars smashed and burned.
Libya has been split between warring factions since 2014, following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Moammar Gadhafi.
The country's interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, the head of the UN-backed Government of National Unity (GNU), is based in Tripoli in the western part of Libya.
The parliament in Tobruk in the east of the country is the seat of a rival government led by Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha.
Bashagha has been trying to enter and take over Tripoli as he claims the GNU is illegal and should step aside.
The GNU has refused, and claimed power should be handed peacefully through elections, not force.
The municipality of Tripoli held both the UN-recognized Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army responsible for the deteriorating situation in the capital.
Iran seeks stronger U.S. guarantees for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal
Iran needs stronger guarantees from the United States for the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal, its foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Wednesday, August 31.
After 16 months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on August 8 that the EU had laid down a final offer to overcome an impasse for the revival of the agreement.
Amirabdollahian said Tehran was carefully reviewing Washington's response to the text, which was conveyed to Iran last week by the EU as coordinator of the nuclear talks.
During months of talks with Washington in Vienna, Tehran demanded U.S. assurances that no future American president would abandon the deal as former U.S. President Donald Trump did in 2018.
However, U.S. President Joe Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.
Saudi woman jailed for 45 years for social media posts
A terrorism court convicted Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani of "using the internet to tear the social fabric" and "violating public order by using social media."
Little is known about her other than that she criticized Saudi leaders.
Another woman was jailed for 34 years over her Twitter activity on August 9.
Several other female activists have reportedly been detained in relation to social media posts since last year.
The first shipment of Iranian military drones arrives in Russia
Iran delivered to Russia the first batch of two types of military drones this month as part of a larger order totaling hundreds of aerial war machines, according to an Iranian adviser to the government and two U.S. administration officials who were not authorized to speak on the record.
Iran has officially said that it would not provide either side of the conflict with military equipment but has confirmed that a drone deal with Russia was part of a military agreement that predated the invasion of Ukraine.
Over several days in August, Russian transport aircraft loaded the drone equipment at an airfield in Iran and subsequently flew to Russia, according to the two U.S. officials.
But the first shipments of Iranian-supplied drones, the American officials said, have had mechanical and technical problems.
World Cup fever spreads from Qatar in tourism boom
Qatar is gearing up for a World Cup tourism boom as the tiny Gulf state prepares to welcome more than a million soccer fans.
However, an accommodation squeeze and low tolerance for alcohol and partying in the conservative Muslim nation mean tens of thousands of fans will base themselves in nearby countries for the monthlong tournament.
Match-day flights from major Middle Eastern cities will shuttle spectators to games, benefiting airlines, hotels, and hospitality venues across nations, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.
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My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
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Cover photo: Middle East Eye/AFP