Iran FM met Rand Paul to feel out possible US-Iran talks

The Iranian crisis continues with both the Iranians and the US trading insults. It looks as if war between the parties could be any day, particularly if either side makes a mistake, but this time it might happen. However, a settlement concerning the dispute might just be negotiated. Republican Senator Rand Paul (pictured) has made overtures to the ...
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Will Erdogan risk an operation in Syria?

One of the issues that continues to recur is what Turkey will do about Syria. Will it invade or not? I've often thought about and I assume that it will, someday, especially stop the Kurds. That assumption may not be correct. I know Kurds who live in New Zealand, having escaped from Iran and Iraq, and I know Kurds from the Middle East. All they want...
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Israel Has Almost as Many Religious Restrictions as Iran, Pew Report Finds

I've been thinking a lot recently about religion and how it affects relationships and society. Just recently I've been made to feel inferior to a "religious" person even though I have paid for all of life's essentials- accommodation, food and transport. Clearly, however he is more superior because he is "religious". Is it not much the same in Iran?...
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Israel discretely increases number of entry permits for Gaza workers

An increasing number of Gazans are entering into Israel each day to work, 2000 in fact. This number has just been improved by the Israeli government despite the fact that it is an election year and the right-wing is desperate to keep the fact that Hamas, seemingly, is being rewarded, quiet. Moving from Palestine to Israel is difficult - I've done i...
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NZ Super Fund partners with Russell Group and Lockwood Property Group to invest in New Zealand tourism assets

New Zealand has been in the news a lot recently. Latterly, it was the International Cricket World Cup and before that the shootings at the Christchurch mosque, during which 51 people were killed. Now, I'll put in a media release about which there will not be a lot of media coverage. Joint statement from NZ Super Fund, Russell Group and Lockwood Pro...
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The UAE, China and Iran: trade partners and cryptocurrencies

The UAE has always had its best interests at heart when it negotiated trade deals. It has done deals with various countries and companies in Africa, in Asia, in Europe and the US as well as with Australia and NZ too. I wrote about all these deals during my time with Khaleej Times. So I was not surprised to learn that the UAE is getting closer to Ch...
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Houthis taking battle to Saudis with upgraded weapons cache

The four-year war in Yemen continues, with no end in sight. The Houthis are increasingly attacking Saudi Arabia, although these attacks are not new. Is it something to do with Iran? A friend you lives in Jeddah says that such attacks have become commonplace, a fact that Saudi doesn't like to acknowledge. Maybe if the attacks  become "normal" o...
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Dubai: Princess Haya's flight to UK threatens diplomatic crisis

The gloss is coming off Dubai, finally. It might appear to be a progressive city and a city of modernity but the royal family, led by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is innately conservative. The gloss started to come off last year when the ruler's daughter, Princess Latifa, was returned to Dubai after being captured at s...
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Trump critics rethink US policy toward Saudi Arabia

I've never been a fan of Saudi Arabia, even when I lived in the Gulf. Under the auspices of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, I am even less keen on the country. Saudi Arabia, like the UAE, is not all it appears and although both countries criticize the West they are desperate for its approval, from the US in particular. So. it was with great pleas...
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Israel can attack Syria at any time without cost

In the Middle East, there seems to be double standards in play when it comes to Israel. Israel seems to act with immunity while other Arab countries, and Iran as well, are expected to adhere to greater standards, being called liers and worse if they do not. The latest is Israel airstrikes on military sites in Syria (a street in Damascas Syria, pict...
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Forget GDP — New Zealand is prioritizing gross national well-being

One of the issues that has been prioritized by the New Zealand Government is measuring if people are leading a better life. This has been done (30 May) by introducing a "Well Being Budget" instead of the traditional GDP-focused one. Is this the best way to measure the economic health of a nation? Certainly, Bhutan thinks so given that it was the fi...
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Three more Abraaj executives face US fraud charges

Coping with developing countries and regions is not easy for someone from the West who is likely to be accustomed to things running more smoothly than in the country he/she may be in. I'm in Vietnam currently and although it is different from the Middle East there are similarities- both have centralized government and in both cases some things func...
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A letter from Haaretz newspaper

The Middle East is a hotbed of news. There is Iran,1,000 more US troops being sent to the region, Syria, Palestine and, of course, Israel. It seems unlikely that Palestine and Israel will reach an agreement any time soon. On that score, I have been reading Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper to get the latest news from Israel. Here is what the publisher ...
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US sending 1,000 troops to Middle East as Iran tensions mount

Tensions are rising in the Middle East, especially between Iran and the US and the other Gulf countries. It's hard to know who to believe, what media to believe in particular, when you are not there to assess actions for yourself. I know that when I lived in the UAE a great deal of activity went on in the Strait of Hormuz that went unrecorded, or a...
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Jordan's King Abdullah is facing new risks- from his own friends

There is much going on in the Middle East, from the Gulf countries, Iran, Yemen, Syria and Jordan. Jordan has been forgotten in the turmoil that is the Middle East, often seen as the haven of stability. How wrong is that analysis. A few years ago when I has working with someone in Jordan there was concern then that the government was corrupt, must ...
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Saudi summit mask Gulf divisions

Saudi Arabia is good at summitry. It has hosted three summits in the last few days, with the main goal of confronting Iran. The results didn't necessarily go according to plan. Al Monitor's Bruce Riedel explains why. Saudi Arabia's King Salman hosted three summits last week in an impressive display of the kingdom's convening power. The Saudis ...
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Israel Will Not Be Governed by Jewish Law

Israel is having another election in September after prime minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu, failed to form a government. Since then, he has refused to adopted strict Jewish Law, perhaps rightly so. This is what one of Israel's papers, Haaretz said on the matter. Israel Will Not Be Governed by Jewish Law, Netanyahu Tweets After Political Ally's Re...
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Israel in Uncharted Territory as Netanyahu Fails to Form a Coalition

Israel is in a mess, as is the whole Middle East. And most of the world for that matter. After failing to form a government with former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, from the Yisrael Beitenu party, whose support in the talks became vital, fresh elections have been called for September 17. Some analysts think this may scupper President Trump's...
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US Bahrain conference premature

The US-Bahrain conference that will be held at the June, at the behest of US President Trump, is another example of how the West thinks about the Middle East- or doesn't. Even though most Gulf states and Israel and Palestine have been invited most will not show up. As the author, Yossi Beilin, says, " there is hardly any connection between what the...
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Iraq, Oman, Germany step up shuttle diplomacy

There's a feeling that a war between the US and Iran is inevitable. But is it? According to this analysis, it is not. Iraq, Oman and Germany this week all indicated they'd be willing to engage both sides. But Iraq has said it will side with Iran and that US economic sanctions are unnecessary. Iran vs. US: From Talk of War to Talk of Talk Iraq, Oman...
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