What We Know About The Istanbul Explosion
Plus: The Middle East at the G20, FBI launch investigation on the killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Iran issues first death sentence over protests, and more.
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What we know about the Istanbul explosion
An explosion killed at least six people and wounded several dozen in Istanbul on Sunday, November 13.
The explosion occurred on Istiklal Avenue, a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants leading to the iconic Taksim Square.
Police have arrested a suspected attacker, Ahlam Albashir, a Syrian national, for allegedly planting the bomb. The official's initial findings indicate that Kurdish fighters were responsible for the deadly attack.
The Turkish interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, said early on Monday, November 14, the attack was planned in a Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria, blaming militants from the PKK and the People's Defence Units (YPG).
However, the PKK denied responsibility for the attack.
The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union and has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984.
The YPG, espousing the same ideology as the PKK, has established control over swathes of northern Syria since the war began there in 2011.
The attack has brought national security back on the political agenda.
It comes seven months before an election in which Erdogan hopes to extend his 20 years in power despite Turkey's deep economic troubles.
FBI opens investigation into the killing of Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh
The U.S. Justice Department recently informed the Israeli Justice Ministry that the FBI opened an investigation into the death of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli officials said Monday, November 14.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the FBI decision "a grave mistake" and said Israel would refuse to cooperate.
The Biden administration said in early July that Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional Israeli fire.
However, a ballistics test of the bullet fragment removed from her body was "inconclusive."
Investigations by several news organizations found that it was likely that an Israeli soldier fired the fatal shot.
A probe conducted by the UN human rights body came to a similar conclusion.
Iran issues first death sentence over protests
Iran has issued a first death sentence over protests that have mounted a fierce challenge to four decades of hardline clerical rule.
Rights groups warn that a wave of executions may follow as leaders try to end nearly two months of sustained nationwide dissent.
The execution was ordered for an unidentified person for allegedly setting fire to a government building.
It followed 272 of Iran's 290 lawmakers voting earlier this month to implement the death penalty for serious crimes against the state and repeated demands by some officials to take a harder line against unrest that shows little sign of abating.
Iran is believed to execute more people annually than any other country except China.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials behind the violent repression of protests across Iran have been hit with new European sanctions.
On Monday, November 14, the EU flagged sanctions against 29 people and three organizations. The list included prominent members of the Revolutionary Guards who have spearheaded the crackdown.
The Middle East at G20 Summit
Saudi Arabia and Turkey participated in the 2022 G20 Bali summit held in Bali on November 15 and 16, while the UAE was invited as a guest.
The G20, or Group of Twenty, is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world's major developed and emerging economies.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud traveled to Indonesia, leading the Kingdom's delegation, and stressed the importance of the decisions reached at the G20 summit.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed bilateral relations, including trade and security issues, on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Bali.
Biden offered his condolences for those who died in a bomb attack in Istanbul and told Erdogan that his administration would continue to support Turkey in its bid to procure F-16 fighter jets.
However, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Monday, November 14, rejected the condolences the U.S. offered following this weekend's deadly attack in Istanbul and accused Washington of complicity. Although The U.S. also considers the PKK a terrorist group, Washington worked closely with the Kurdish SDF in the successful campaign against ISIS in Syria.
President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Tuesday, November 15. The leaders discussed bilateral ties between their two countries, as well as topics of mutual interest, including those on the agenda for G20 talks.
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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