The Middle East today

* A Saudi newspaper is reporting that an Egyptian man has been sentenced to six years in prison on charges of spying for Iran, attempting to disturb public order, violating the kingdom’s labor laws and communicating with a sorcerer to bewitch his employer.

 

*After a 30-minute meeting with Saudi King Salman, Kerry was to focus on the conflict in Yemen with UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Britain’s Middle East undersecretary Tobias Ellwood, and his Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterparts.

 

*Turkey on Thursday said it had “every right” to intervene if Syrian Kurdish militia do not withdraw east of the Euphrates River in Syria, as promised by the United States.

 

*A U.N. investigation has established that President Bashar Assad’s forces carried out at least two chemical attacks in Syria and that Islamic State jihadists used mustard gas as a weapon, according to a report seen by Agence France Presse on Wednesday.

The panel was able to identify the perpetrators of three chemical attacks carried out in 2014 and 2015, but was unable to draw conclusions in the other six cases that it has been investigating over the past year.

*Russia’s foreign ministry expressed deep concern on Wednesday at Turkey’s military operation in Syria, warning of rising tension over Ankara’s targeting of Kurdish militia fighters at the border.

“We are deeply concerned at what is happening in the Syrian-Turkish border area,” the ministry said in a statement.

Turkey’s air and ground operation risks “further degeneration of the situation in the conflict zone,” Moscow warned.

*The United States on Tuesday reiterated its recommendation that Americans in Gaza leave the territory controlled by Hamas, which Washington calls a terrorist group, “as soon as possible.”

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