20 Aug 2018 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy

NPWJ press release

No Peace Without Justice mourns the passing of Kofi Annan and celebrates his contribution to the cause of human rights and the rule of law
Brussels-Rome, 18 Aug 2018

No Peace Without Justice mourns with great sadness the passing of Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Laureate who dedicated much of his life to the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law worldwide. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends, and to his many colleagues and friends around the world.

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Britain to axe funding for scheme supporting Syrian opposition
The Guardian, 20 Aug 2018

The UK government is to end funding to a scheme to support the Syrian opposition, deeming the programmes now too risky to operate as the final rebel-held areas face imminent attack from Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Funding to support the operations of the Free Syria police force is set to come to an end in September, with government sources conceding the Access to Justice and Community Service (Ajacs) programme had become too difficult to deliver.

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What may unfold in Syria's Idlib and why is a 'bloodbath' likely?
Aljazeera, 19 Aug 2018

Just weeks after scoring a major military victory in the south, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad appears set to fully open a new, more complex, front in the country's war - now in its eighth year. The key northwestern Idlib province is the Syrian opposition's last major bastion in the country. It is currently home to nearly three million people, half of whom are internally displaced, and encloses what was once a major commercial highway linking Syria to Turkey and Jordan.

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Iraq Supreme Court ratifies result of May vote
Aljazeera, 19 Aug 2018

Iraq's Supreme Court has ratified the results of the country's May parliamentary election, setting in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the top parties to form a coalition government.

A nationwide recount of votes showed on August 10 that populist Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr retained his lead, positioning him to play a central role in the government negotiations.

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UN chief: 1 option to protect Palestinians is a new force
Associated Press, 18 Aug 2018

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a new report that options to protect Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation range from establishing an armed military or police force to deploying civilian observers or beefing up the U.N. presence on the ground. The U.N. chief stressed in the report circulated Friday evening that every option would require the cooperation of Israelis and Palestinians, “a sustained cessation of hostilities and additional resources.” But the prospect of getting Israel’s consent, especially for a U.N. or non-U.N. armed force, remains highly unlikely.

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Israel: No criminal action in deadly Gaza 2014 war incident
The Washington Post, 15 Aug 2018

The Israeli military said on Wednesday its investigation into one of the bloodiest incidents of the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip found no criminal wrongdoing by Israeli forces and there were no grounds to prosecute any troops. The announcement drew condemnations from Palestinians and human rights advocates, who accused the military of a whitewash.

The investigation focused on an Aug. 1, 2014, battle in the southern Gaza town of Rafah that erupted after an Israeli military officer was feared abducted by Palestinian militants during a cease-fire. Over 110 Palestinians were killed in daylong fighting, and Palestinian witnesses had complained of heavy and indiscriminate shelling by Israeli forces.

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