Sham Jaff
Last updated: 30 March, 2014

Did you miss Mideast news this past week? Not to worry, here are the top stories.

A leading Israeli politician is accused of sexual assault and Assad launches oddly named Syrian airline. This and much more in this week's news roundup by Sham Jaff.

The international mediator on Syria said a resumption of peace talks in Geneva between Damascus and the opposition was currently “out of the question.” Humanitarian access to Syrians continues to be “extremely challenging,” a month after the world body demanded a lifting of sieges and bombardments of residential areas.

As the Syrian conflict took centre stage at an Arab summit in Kuwait, a Syrian refugee mother of four, desperate to receive food aid, set herself on fire at a UN registration centre in the Lebanese city of Tripoli.

As we reported last week, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to death on Monday after just two hearings, in the largest mass sentencing in the country’s modern history. The death penalties highlight Egypt’s massive legal war on the Islamist opposition, with thousands in prison and hundreds more convicted in mass trials.

Israeli Energy Minister Silvan Shalom, tipped as a possible presidential candidate, has been accused of sexual assault by a former female employee, Israeli media reported.

Egypt’s Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ended months of speculations Wednesday by announcing he would run for the presidency, has emerged as a nationalist icon in the mould of the country’s first modern military ruler, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

And a lot has been happening in Saudi Arabia too. “Since 13 years, my daughters Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher are being held captive,” said a former wife of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and appealed to US President Barack Obama on Thursday for help in the case. She says her four daughters are being held in a royal palace. On the very same day, Saudi Arabia’s 90-year-old King Abdullah appointed his half-brother Moqren, 69, as the next heir to the throne.

On a more lighthearted note…

A collection of 29 golden coins from the Byzantine era was found in Egypt’s Luxor area this week. Preliminary studies dated the coins to be from the fifth and sixth centuries AD.

Haitham Abu Akrab has produced an Egyptian version of amateur filmmaker Tatia Pilieva’s video showing 20 strangers kissing.

Amid Syria’s ongoing war woes, the upcoming launch of a new Syrian airline “Kinda” has attracted a wave of criticism over the regime’s apparent ability to weather the three-year conflict. Social media users poked fun at the name “Kinda”. Kinda hilarious!