An apparent gas explosion in a Turkish restaurant in Qatar's capital of Doha killed nine people Thursday. Thirty-two others were wounded, three of them critically. Initial reports indicate that a burst gas cylinder was likely to blame for the blast at the Istanbul Restaurant, which is adjacent to a gas station near Doha's Landmark Mall. It is not yet clear if the explosion was accidental. The interior ministry said it will hold a press conference to offer more information about the incident.
The U.S. State Department has accused the Syrian government of retaliating against the opposition's delegates to the Geneva peace talks by arresting their relatives. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, "The United States is outraged by reports that the Assad regime has arrested family members of the Syrian Opposition Coalition delegation to the Geneva II peace talks, designated delegates as terrorists and seized delegates' assets." She continued calling on the government to immediately release those who had been "unfairly arrested." Meanwhile, the Syrian government has agreed to a new timetable to remove its chemical weapons arsenal by April after failing to meet a February 5 deadline. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported on Wednesday that Syria had delivered a significant shipment of mustard gas to the port of Latakia to be exported and destroyed. Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the OPCW, said the step was "encouraging" but that "Much work nonetheless remains to be done."
- Amnesty International has released a report accusing Israel of using excessive violence in the West Bank meanwhile Israeli forces killed a wanted Palestinian man who barricaded himself in his home.
- Turkey's science watchdog has come under an inquiry over leaked audio recordings as Prime Minister Erdogan is targeted by a second recording, giving his son business advice.
- The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency planned a report in 2013 on Iran that might have revealed more information on its suspected nuclear weapons program, but held off as international relations with Tehran thawed.
- U.S. President Obama plans to press Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, during his visit to the White House Monday, to agree to a framework for a conclusive round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
- The U.N. Security Council has approved a resolution authorizing sanctions on anyone in Yemen who acts to derail the country's political transition or commits human rights violations.
Arguments and Analysis
'Yemen: Conflict Alert' (International Crisis Group)
"To date, President Abdo Robo Mansour Hadi has chosen, shrewdly, to remain neutral and to avoid military action that almost certainly would complicate the situation and worsen the violence. He instead has supported presidential committees that belatedly have negotiated ceasefires, first in Dammaj and more recently in Arhab and Hashid (in Amran governorate). However, these are tenuous and by their nature limited. A comprehensive peace requires that each side realise some key demands: for the Huthis, the right to peacefully propagate their religious ideas, mobilise supporters and engage in political activity; for their opponents, that Huthis relinquish heavy weapons to the state and advance their agenda only through peaceful party politics.
Both sets of demands are desirable in and of themselves and conform to the results of the national dialogue. Yet, achieving them will be far from simple: it will require the design of and commitment to a plan of action and an oversight mechanism that are linked to political power sharing and security sector reform at the national level."
'What really happened on the day more than 900 people died in Egypt' (Louisa Loveluck, Global Post)
"The events of Aug. 14, 2013 ruptured Egypt's post-revolutionary politics. They marked the end for prospects of reconciliation between the embattled and intransigent Muslim Brotherhood and the increasingly repressive military-backed authorities that pushed Morsi from power.
The Egyptian authorities have yet to establish a public record of what occurred that day. The prosecutor's office has not prosecuted a single member of the security services for excessive and unjustified use of lethal force."
--Mary Casey & Cortni Kerr