Five stories you may have missed during the Palestinian protests


Turkey's currency is in more trouble, Iran is talking nuclear deals with Europe and Saudi says it is stopping Houthi missiles.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Queen Elizabeth during his visit to London (AFP)
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Last update: 
Wednesday 16 May 2018 8:13 UTC

The fatal shooting of scores of Palestinian protesters has dominated news headlines worldwide since Monday morning (for the latest updates, see Middle East Eye's live coverage). Here are five key stories from the Middle East and North Africa which you may have missed in the meantime.

Turkey’s currency plummets

A change office staff shows Turkish liras in his hand on in December 2016 in Istanbul (AFP)

Turkey's lira slid to a record low on Tuesday, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he plans to take greater control of the economy following next month's elections.

Erdogan's told Bloomberg Television in London on Tuesday that while Turkey's central bank was independent, it would not be able to ignore signals from the head of the executive once the new presidential system of government is introduced after the June vote.

"I will take the responsibility as the indisputable head of the executive in respect of the steps to be taken and decisions on these issues," Erdogan said.

Opinion surveys currently tip Erdogan to become president with enhanced powers. He called the snap presidential and parliamentary votes for 24 June, citing an "urgent" need to switch to an executive presidential system to cure the "diseases" of the old political system.

But after his comments on Tuesday, the lira hit a fresh record low of 4.3990 against the dollar, bringing its losses this year to more than 13 percent.

It is now less than half its value against the currency compared to five years ago. Meanwhile yields on 10-year government bonds briefly touched their highest in at least eight years.


Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Houthi rebels have been fighting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since early 2015 (Reuters)

Saudi air defences have intercepted a ballistic missile fired into the kingdom from Houthi territory in neighbouring Yemen, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said on Tuesday.

Debris landed in residential areas of Jizan, a coastal city near the border with Yemen, without causing casualties, said spokesman Turki al-Maliki.

Houthi rebels’ news outlet Al-Masirah said that a “Badr 1” ballistic missile had been fired at the King Faisal military base in Jizan.

The Houthis have intensified their attacks against Saudi Arabia in recent months. Another rebel missile, which targeted Jizan on Monday according to Maliki, landed in a desert area.

Maliki said the Houthis had fired 138 ballistic missiles at the kingdom since the rebels started using them to target Saudi.


Iran 'on the right track' to save nuclear deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits a nuclear site in April 2018 (Iranian presidency/AFP)

Tehran has begun talks with European powers in Brussels to try and save the nuclear deal following the withdrawal by the United States last week.

Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini ahead of evening talks with his counterparts from the UK, France and Germany.

Afterwards Zarif gave an upbeat assessment of what he called a "good and constructive" meeting about the  Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA as it is known.

"I believe we're on the right track to move forward in order to ensure that interests of all the JCPOA remaining participants, particularly Iran, will be preserved and guaranteed," he told reporters.

Tehran has warned it is prepared to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe can provide solid guarantees that it can maintain the economic benefits it gained from the nuclear deal.

"The European signatories should make up for the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and guarantee our rights," the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, told state TV. "If they cannot do that, we are ready to take our nuclear programme to a level stronger than before the JCPOA."

The EU is keen to preserve the deal and has highlighted repeated UN inspections verifying the Islamic republic's compliance. Maja Kocijancic, Mogherini's spokeswoman, told AFP: "We must do our utmost to preserve it."


Sadrist-Communist alliance set for victory

Iraqi men celebrate during the general election in Baghdad (AFP)

The final results of Iraq's election named the Sairoun Alliance, backed by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi Communist Party, as the party with the most votes.

Saturday's election was the first since the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group, but the turnout fell far short of previous elections with only 44.52 percent of registered voters participating.

Reports indicate that Sairoun won the national popular vote with more than 1.3 million votes, gaining 54 seats in parliament out of a total of 329.

However, Sairoun is not certain to form the next government, but will have to negotiate a coalition to secure a parliamentary majority. 

In a statement, Sadr expressed a willingness to work with a number of parties - among those he named were al-Hikma, al-Wataniya, and the Kurdish parties Gorran and New Generation. No mention was made of the State of Law Coalition or Fatah Coalition, two groups heavily aligned with Iran.


Gaddafi supporters back Haftar 

Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar (Reuters)

Military and political supporters of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi pledged their support to General Khalifa Haftar during a recent two-day meeting in Benghazi, online news site Arabi21 reports.

It was the first meeting of the leaders since the 2011 uprisings that eventually ended Gaddafi's four-decade rule. 

Those gathered were among armed forces who have been supporting Haftar's Operation Dignity - a military campaign to battle rival groups launched by the general in May 2014.

They praised Haftar's efforts to combat "terrorism" in eastern Libya.