Hundreds of inmates have escaped from two Iraqi prisons after gunmen stormed two jails near Baghdad.
Fighting raged for several hours after the jails - Abu Ghraib to the west of the capital and Taji to the north - came under attack.
Rami Ruhayem, the BBC's Arab affairs analyst, said it seemed that "suicide bombers opened the gates to the prison" and the attackers managed to "sustain hours of fighting" with security services.
Sharmine Narwani, a middle east expert at St Anthony's College, Oxford, told the Today programme's Justin Webb that this could lead to a regional war and explained the ongoing implications of the incident are widening the divide in international Iraqi support.
....Syria's new opposition chief Ahmad Jarba arrived in Paris on Tuesday for a two-day visit aimed at convincing France to boost its support for rebels battling Bashar al-Assad. Jarba, accompanied on the trip by Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief Selim Idriss and other opposition leaders, was to meet President Francois Hollande on Wednesday.
It was Jarba's first visit to France since he was elected head of the main opposition Syrian National Coalition on July 6th.
After France, Jarba was to head to New York for meetings at the United Nations. Britain said it had convened an informal meeting of the 15-nation Security Council, including Russia and China, with the opposition leadership on Friday.
French officials said talks were also being planned for the opposition with London and Berlin.
A French diplomatic source said Idriss was expected to press rebel demands for Western arms, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.....
....How times have changed. The recent ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, by the military in another popular uprising has shifted Al Jazeera’s standing in Egypt from golden child to pariah. While charges of pro-Morsi bias in coverage have been blamed for the network’s plunge in public opinion, the vehemence with which Al Jazeera has been reviled suggests a far deeper issue: the deep-seated animosity the Egyptian public has towards the Qatari government, which owns Al Jazeera....
....Influential Egyptian youth movement Tamarud said it backed an army call for mass rallies on Friday to give the military a mandate to confront street violence following its ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi this month.
"We call on the people to take to the streets on Friday to support their armed forces, which we support and are happy for it to play its role in confronting the violence and terrorism practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood," Tamarud leader Mahmoud Badr told Reuters....
Syria crisis: Only full-scale war can unseat Assad, says Iraqi minister. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not going to lose power unless there is foreign intervention amounting to a full-scale war, according to a leading Middle-East politician.
Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said with a united army in control of Damascus and the major Syrian cities, Assad “will survive for the foreseeable future”. Mr Zebari, pictured below, is one of the few leaders to be in touch with all parties in the Syrian civil war, including the government and various factions of the opposition, along with their foreign backers.
In an interview with The Independent he expressed pessimism about peace negotiations in Geneva proposed by the US and Russia, but said he believes that the best way forward may be a ceasefire policed by the UN prior to any agreement on a transitional government. He said: “I think it would be possible to do that with strong engagement by the UN to follow through and maybe some international peacekeepers.”
He was scornful of recent speculation about the possibility of a military coup in Damascus displacing Assad. He said “the idea of the army moving is a recent invention”, adding that it reminded him of abortive attempts by the CIA to organise the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, but that “this kind of regime is coup-proof”. Prime Minister David Cameron gave the impression in a recent speech that he thought that the Syrian army and security apparatus might be encouraged to move against the regime......
Saudi Arabia sentenced seven government critics to prison on June 24, 2013, for allegedly inciting protests and harming public order, largely by using Facebook. The Specialized Criminal Court sentenced the men, all from the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, to prison terms ranging from five to 10 years and barred them from travelling abroad for additional periods.
The European Union’s High Representative Catherine Ashton and EU member states’ representatives, who are meeting with their Gulf region counterparts in Bahrain on June 30, should condemn the convictions, Human Rights Watch said.....
.....Rebel forces seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad hope to receive arms from the United States as early as next month, after two key US congressional committees approved the weapons shipments, according to media reports.
"We think August is the date," The New York Times cited a Syrian opposition leader as saying in an email Monday night.
Russia and the United States have been at loggerheads over the Syria conflict, with Moscow rejecting Washington's insistence that any political resolution preclude Assad from remaining in power.
Russia has also said that U.S. military aid to Syrian rebels may lead to further escalation of violence in the country and that such support could lead to extreme Islamist elements in the Syrian opposition seizing power in the country......
....A Saudi Arabian activist and journalist has been banned from travelling abroad.
In a message on Twitter, Iman al-Qahtani said she had been stopped from flying to Istanbul. Only then, she said, was she told of her travel ban.
Ms Qahtani has been outspoken in her support for fellow human rights campaigners in the Arabian kingdom.
Saudi officials were said to have been unhappy with her reporting. In April, she said she would stop tweeting to protect her family from reprisals.
In a brief, dramatic tweet, she told her followers she was doing it for her mother's sake.
There were reports Ms Qahtani had been coming under pressure from the security services over her reporting of the trials of two leading Saudi human rights activists, Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid...........
Rebels target civilian areas to induce cease-fire. Mainly Sunni Syrian opposition rebels in Homs have adopted a new strategy, firing grad missiles into Alawite residential neighborhoods, in an attempt to sow discord between loyal civilians and pro-government militia groups there. The new strategy, according to residents and opposition activists, is being used to prompt Alawite civilians to pressure pro-government and loyalist militia groups to adopt a cease-fire following a blistering two week siege on the rebels in the neighborhoods of Khaldieh and Bab Houd.
While Free Syrian Army representatives and fighters were reluctant to admit the tactic, residents and other FSA and opposition activists have tacitly admitted the new strategy is being used as a desperate attempt to ease the siege on Khaldieh after negotiations for a cease-fire failed.
Government shelling and bombardment of Khaldieh – a rebel stronghold that has been the center of a fierce government campaign – abruptly stopped in recent days without explanation...........
As clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi leave nine people dead, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry has expressed concerns about the bloodshed.
For the first time, the Gulf country is also questioning the ongoing detention of Morsi, who was taken into custody by army officials on July 3.....
Turkey’s Kurdish phobia resurfaces. A Turkey that was flying high at the time with ambitious plans for the Middle East under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) may have started off trying to shape the new Syria on the basis of democratic arguments. Given the AKP’s understanding of democracy as majoritarian rule, and the realities of Syria’s demography, this meant in effect that Ankara was banking on a Sunni majority government that would be friendly to Turkey.
With developments following the Arab Spring, it became clearer over time that what really lay in the AKP’s hearts was to see the emergence of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Syria. This would have completed the circle for Ankara as the brotherhood gradually came to power across the Middle East and North Africa. President Bashar al-Assad, however, proved to have much more resilience than expected by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, not to mention their team of advisers.
Developments in the Middle East did not shape up as expected either, and the Egyptian coup has dealt a serious blow, not just to the brotherhood, but also to the AKP’s “vision” for the region. Erdoğan and Davutoğlu are fighting now to keep this vision alive but are alone in this endeavor, having been cold-shouldered also by the region’s established Sunni order, which is supporting the interim government in Egypt.
In short, the AKP now faces the possibility that al-Assad and his Baathist cronies may be around for longer than expected. Meanwhile, Ankara’s backing of Islamist groups that are not only fighting al-Assad’s forces, but were also expected to keep the Syrian Kurds at bay, is also proving to have been a miscalculation. The result is that Turkey’s “Kurdish phobia” has resurfaced with the victory in northern Syria of the Democratic Union of Party (PYD) against al-Qaeda-related groups.......
AND lastly a HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
From satirical site PanArabiaEnquirer:
Royal baby to be named Qatar Airways after landmark sponsorship deal. Following what advertising executives have described as a “landmark deal”, representatives for the gas-rich Gulf state of Qatar this morning confirmed that they had signed with the British royal family an arrangement that will see Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first child named Qatar Airways.
According to Buckingham Palace sources, the 10-year contract – rumoured to be worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” – almost crashed when a Qatari envoy accidentally asked William “which wife was it?”
As part of the deal and in a break from royal tradition, Qatar Airways Windsor will be formerly revealed to the public by a proclamation displayed at the entrance to London’s Harrods department store.