- China quietly launches probe of foreign non-government outfits: media
China has quietly begun a probe into the operations of foreign non-government bodies in the country, to prepare for tighter regulations in future, as part of a security drive ordered by a new national panel headed by President Xi Jinping. Non-government organizations have mushroomed in China in recent years, and can have a confrontational relationship with the government, especially if they work with sensitive groups, such as sex workers or drug addicts. Many foreign NGOs also operate in China, though they have traditionally registered as businesses as the approval process is easier. While the government requires all NGOs in China to register with it, the process is often difficult, driving many Chinese and foreign NGOs to operate under the radar.
- Ex-Kuwait PM ready to face coup, graft claims probe
Former Kuwaiti premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah said Tuesday he was ready to face a probe over alleged coup plot and corruption that rocked the oil-rich Gulf state. A senior member of the ruling family who left office in November 2011 after nearly six years in office, he and former parliament speaker Jassem al-Khorafi were accused in a lawsuit filed Monday of major corruption and of plotting a coup. "Sheikh Nasser is prepared to answer all the points stated in a lawsuit with complete transparency and clarity," his lawyer, Emad al-Saif, said in a statement. The suit was filed by Sheikh Ahmad Fahad al-Sabah, another senior ruling family member.
- Turkey evacuates consulate in Iraq's Basra
Turkey evacuated its consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday, less than a week after its mission in the northern city of Mosul was overrun by militants who seized diplomats, soldiers and children. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on his Twitter account that the Basra staff had been evacuated to Kuwait due to an increased security risk. A foreign ministry official said the 18 staff, including the consul general, would return to Turkey. Insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other Sunni militants have swept through towns in the Tigris valley north of Baghdad in recent days.
- Kuwait attorney asked to probe coup claim, graft scandals
Kuwait's premier and a senior royal filed two separate lawsuits to the attorney general on Monday demanding an investigation into allegations of a coup plot and a huge corruption case. The country was shaken two months ago after news surfaced about videotapes allegedly showing former senior officials plotting a coup against the government. Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah sent a letter to the attorney general to investigate "allegations of money laundering, abuse of public funds and dealing with Israel," made during a television interview, acting Justice Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah told state news agency KUNA. The accusations were made by Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, on Saturday.
- Egypt's new government adds investment minister, other changes
By Stephen Kalin CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb appointed veteran banker Ashraf Salman as investment minister on Monday in a limited cabinet reshuffle that also replaced the foreign and international cooperation ministers. Former ambassador to Washington Sameh Shukri was appointed foreign minister while Naglaa El Ahwany, a university professor who last served as the head of Mehleb's office, was named minister for international cooperation, the state-run news website al-Ahram said. Newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi re-appointed Mehleb as prime minister last week and asked him to form a government. Keeping the cabinet largely intact could allow Sisi to implement quickly the types of reform urged by the United Arab Emirates, which along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait gave billions of dollars in aid after Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was ousted by the army last July.
- Kuwait urged to end labour sponsorship system
A Kuwaiti human rights organisation on Sunday urged the Gulf state to fulfil pledges to abolish the sponsorship system for foreign labour and to end the arbitrary deportation of expatriates. In a report on human rights in the oil-rich emirate, the Kuwait Society for Human Rights also called for measures to end abuse of thousands of domestic workers and for a final resolution to the plight of more than 100,000 stateless people. The group said that Kuwait pledged several years ago to end the sponsor system which is likened to slavery and common in Gulf states, but so far nothing has been done.
- Kuwait top court jails activist over insulting emir
Kuwait's supreme court on Sunday upheld a two-year jail sentence handed to an opposition online activist for writing tweets deemed offensive to the Gulf state's ruler. Hejab al-Hajeri, a student of law in his early 20s, said on his Twitter account after the ruling that his "determination is bigger than their jail". Hajeri was handed the jail term by the emirate's lower court in April last year after it deemed that comments he made on his Twitter social network account were critical of the emir. The appeals court upheld the sentence six months later.
- Iraq militant push shrinks scope for Saudi-Iran detente
By William Maclean DUBAI (Reuters) - This week's advance by Sunni insurgents in Iraq provides a powerful argument for why Iran and Saudi Arabia should bury their Cold War-style feud, but is nonetheless likely to set back detente between the Gulf's dominant Sunni and Shi'ite powers. After decades of often overt Saudi-Iranian hostility that polarized the Middle East - and three years of proxy war in Syria - the Sunni monarchy and Shi'ite revolutionary state had gingerly begun in recent months to explore ways to reach out. Saudi Arabia announced in May it had invited Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to make a rare visit. Early this month, the emir of Kuwait - a Sunni monarch and close Saudi ally - made the first visit to Iran by a Kuwaiti head of state since the 1979 Iranian revolution.
- U.S. quietly moves detainees out of secretive Afghanistan prison
By Missy Ryan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration has quietly repatriated a dozen detainees from a small U.S. military prison in Afghanistan, moving a modest step closer toward winding down the United States' controversial post-9/11 detainee system. President Barack Obama, in a letter to Congress released on Thursday, informed U.S. lawmakers that about 38 non-Afghan prisoners remained at the Parwan detention center outside of Kabul, down from around 50 a few months ago. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a Frenchman, a Kuwaiti and 10 Pakistani prisoners were sent back to their respective home countries at the end of May. The remaining detainees include Yemeni, Tunisian and more Pakistani nationals, and a Russian who the United States is also considering trying in a military or civilian court. The transfers, which are not publicly disclosed, underscore the challenges the Obama administration faces in shutting down Parwan and the larger U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been widely criticized by human rights groups since being populated in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
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