Gulf in the News – February 18, 2014

Khamenei: Nuclear talks will ‘lead nowhere’

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Iran’s top decision-maker Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday his country’s nuclear talks with world powers will “lead nowhere,” pouring cold water on the negotiations.  Iran is due to resume talks on Tuesday in Vienna with the P5+1 major powers — Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany — aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord on its controversial nuclear program.  After a decade of failure and rising tensions, US President Barack Obama has put the chances of an agreement at “50-50,” while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has predicted “difficult” discussions.

Iraqi MP wants estuary agreement annulled – All articles ‘in favor of Kuwait’

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

An Iraqi lawmaker made an appeal to her country’s supreme court to reject an agreement that the Iraqi government signed with Kuwait for regulating navigation at the joint Khor Abdullah. The narrow strip of water separates Kuwait’s Boubyan and Warba islands from Iraqi lands, and the agreement was signed in the aftermath of Kuwait’s decision to build a strategic port on its largest island.

FSA sacks chief over battleground failings

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The Free Syrian Army has sacked its military chief after the Western-backed rebels suffered battlefield setbacks, amid signs the warring parties are escalating the fighting that has already killed more than 140,000 people.  Activists warned Monday that regime troops are preparing a ground offensive against the town of Yabrud, the last rebel stronghold in the strategic Qalamoun region near Lebanon’s border, after days of aerial bombardments.  On the diplomatic front, US Secretary of State John Kerry slammed Russia on Monday for “enabling” Syria’s President Bashar Assad to stay in power, after Geneva peace talks broke off without result at the weekend.

Egypt terror group threatens to attack tourists

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al Maqdis has told tourists to leave Egypt and threatened to attack anyone who stays in the country after a deadline of February 20.   The Sinai-based group, which claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed two South Korean tourists and an Egyptian on Sunday, made the statement on an affiliated Twitter account.

Abbas signals flexibility on Palestinian refugees

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The Palestinian president on Sunday reassured a group of young Israeli activists visiting his West Bank compound that he has no intention of flooding Israel with Palestinian refugees — his most ambitious attempt yet to directly influence Israeli public opinion over the heads of a largely hard-line Israeli leadership.  President Mahmoud Abbas made a series of conciliatory statements on some of the most sensitive issues in peace talks, including alleged Palestinian incitement against Israel and recognition of Jewish suffering in the Holocaust, as he sought to rally support for US-backed peace efforts.