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US elections and the Middle East: Five stories you may have missed

Conflict continues between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Turkey economic crisis worsens and Athens finally gets a mosque
Joe Biden (left) and Donald Trump (right) have dominated global headlines, as the US presidential election reached its climax (AFP)

The US presidential election, in which Democrat candidate Joe Biden defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump, has dominated world politics since polls closed last Tuesday.

But what has been happening across the Middle East and North Africa that you may have missed?


1. Azerbaijan, Armenia 'near ceasefire deal'

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An Armenian soldier fires artillery during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces (AFP)

Azerbaijan and Armenia are close to striking a meaningful ceasefire deal over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding regions, Turkish sources have told Middle East Eye. The deal would mean Armenia cedes a large chunk of territory, which it has occupied since 1992.

The sources, speaking to Middle East Eye on condition of anonymity, said that the rapid progress of Azerbaijani forces on the ground had pushed Armenia to consider the Russian mediation plan, which is backed by Turkey, to stop the conflict.

On Sunday, Azerbaijan announced it had captured Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh's second-largest city, a claim Armenia denied. At least 1,000 people, possibly up to 5,000, have been killed since fighting broke out on 27 September.

Read:  EXCLUSIVE: Azerbaijan, Armenia 'near ceasefire deal' on Nagorno-Karabakh


2. Israel makes 41 Palestinian children homeless

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Palestinian children playing next to their demolished home in the Bedouin village of Khirbet Humsa, 4 November (MEE/Akram el-Waara)

Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin hamlet of Khirbet Humsa, which is home to 74 Palestinians, including 41 children, on Tuesday. Eleven families in the northern Jordan Valley were left to sleep under the open sky, with nothing but a small tarpaulin for cover. 

“We were about to have lunch when bulldozers suddenly arrived, at 11 in the morning. Military jeeps and soldiers, they surrounded us,” Aisha Abu Awad, 56, told Middle East Eye as she cradled her three-month-old granddaughter Hadeel.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of timing the demolition for election day in the United States, when the world was distracted.

The Israeli authorities have said that the tents had been built in a firing zone and that they were adhering to “operational considerations”.

Read: Israel makes 41 Palestinian children homeless as world watches US election


3. Turkey's finance minister Berat Albayrak quits

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Albayrak's resignation comes a day after president Erdogan fired Turkey's central bank governor (AFP)

Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has resigned, citing deterioration of his health. Albayrak, who had been in the position since July 2018, said in an Instagram post on Sunday that he was going to spend more time with his family after five years of government service.

Albayrak is married to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's daughter. He has also deleted his Twitter account.

Albayrak's resignation comes a day after Erdogan sacked and replaced the central bank governor with former finance minister Naci Agbal following weeks of depreciation of the lira against the US dollar.

Read: Turkey's finance minister resigns after Erdogan replaces central bank governor 


4. Abu Dhabi royal okay for Derby County football takeover

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Former England and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney joined Derby County in January, instantly becoming team captain (AFP/File photo)

A senior Abu Dhabi royal is set to buy the Derby County football club, after the English Football League (EFL) approved a takeover bid. 

The team, who play in the second-tier Championship League, will be acquired by Derventio Holdings (UK), which is ultimately controlled by Bin Zayed International, owned by Sheikh Khaled bin Saquer Zayed al-Nayhan. Sheikh Khaled is a cousin of Sheikh Mansour, the United Arab Emirates deputy prime minister and Manchester City owner. 

Derby County said on Friday that the club's current owner, Mel Morris, had been in discussions with Derventio since May over a prospective takeover. "These talks progressed to the point where a deal has, in principle, been agreed between the two parties," it said in a statement.

Read:  Abu Dhabi royal given green light for Derby County football club takeover


5. Athens opens first mosque since the 19th century

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The mosque is in the neighbourhood of Votanikos, not far from the centre of Athens (MEE/Demetrios Ioannou)

The first official mosque in Athens since the 19th century has opened in the neighbourhood of Votanikos, not far from the centre of the Greek capital.

Until recently, the city, which last had a mosque when Greece was still under Ottoman occupation, has been the only European capital without one.

Athens and the surrounding Attica region are home to some 200,000 Muslims, according to the Muslim Association of Greece. The new mosque can host 366 people, although due to Covid-19 restrictions it welcomed only five people to its first prayers on Monday.

"This happiness cannot be described with words,” said Ashir Haider, a member of the mosque's administrative board.

Read: Athens's first mosque since the 19th century is 'a dream come true'