Category Archives: MidEast

Israelis Barred From Saudi Chess Tournament Demand Action From World Chess Body

Israelis were denied visas for Riyadh tournament last year and are being supported by The Lawfare Project. Letter to international chess body seeks assurances against anti-Israeli discrimination in chess

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

Two Israeli nationals are requesting that the international chess governing body—the Fédération lnternationale des Échecs (FIDE)—guarantee non-discrimination after they were prevented from taking part in a chess tournament in Saudi Arabia last year because of their nationality. Israeli chess grandmaster Ilya Smirin and former spokesperson for the Israeli Chess Federation Lior Aizenberg have written to FIDE requesting financial compensation and seeking assurances that it will not allow host countries to perpetrate such discrimination against Israelis again. Smirin and Aizenberg are being supported in their action by The Lawfare Project, a U.S.-based think tank and litigation fund that fights anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli discrimination around the world.

Saudi Arabia denied visas to seven Israeli chess players in December 2017, preventing them from competing in the World Blitz & Rapid Championships in Riyadh. Lawyers wrote to FIDE on behalf of the Israeli players on October 1. The letter made clear that their “inability to participate in this Tournament was due to FIDE’s failure to secure entry visas to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Israeli nationals and, correspondingly, its failure to guarantee their equal treatment and to protect them against discrimination on the basis of their nationality.”

The letter cited official FIDE policies that it “rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of gender” and stipulate that FIDE-sanctioned events may, according to Article 1.2 of the FIDE Statutes, “be hosted only by Federations where free access is generally assured to representatives of all Federations.”

The letter further requested that FIDE take several concrete actions to prevent exclusion of Israelis from Saudi-hosted tournaments in 2018 and 2019, as well as from the 2019 World Schools Chess Championship in Tunisia, and pays to Mr. Aizenberg and Mr. Smirin a fair compensation for their non-participation in the December 2017 tournament.

“We will not stand idly by as Israelis are subjected to a gross double standard and are illegally discriminated against solely because of their nationality,” said Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project. “Together with our partners in the legal community, we are making clear to international bodies such as FIDE that it is their duty to prevent such discrimination. We have every confidence that FIDE will do the right thing and ensure that chess is for all.”
About the Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit

Constraining Iran’s Nuclear Program

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

Iran cannot be trusted to have vital constraints on its nuclear program lifted. The United States is committed to ensuring that Iran never comes close to possessing a nuclear weapon.

Starting today, all nuclear cooperation with Iran, except for the limited activities for which waivers are being granted, will be sanctionable. This includes:

Re-designating the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and 23 of its subsidiaries.

Placing new limits on Iran’s nuclear program significantly beyond current restrictions. Iran will not be able to pursue any new nuclear facilities with foreign assistance, including power reactors or hot cell facilities currently allowed under the JCPOA.

Involvement in the expansion of Iran’s nuclear capabilities beyond current limits will also be subject to sanctions.

We are not issuing waivers for any new civil nuclear projects. We are only permitting the continuation for a temporary period of certain ongoing projects that impede Iran’s ability to reconstitute its weapons program and that lock in the nuclear status quo until we can secure a stronger deal that fully and firmly addresses all of our concerns.

We are specifically permitting nonproliferation projects at Arak, Bushehr, and Fordow to continue under the strictest scrutiny to ensure transparency and maintain constraints on Iran.

Permitting these specific activities to continue is an interim measure that preserves oversight of Iran’s civil nuclear program. It enables the United States and our partners to reduce the proliferation risks at Arak, maintain safe oversight of operations at Bushehr, limit Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites such as Fordow for proliferation-sensitive purposes. This oversight enhances our ability to constrain Iran’s program and keep pressure on the regime while we pursue a new, stronger deal.

Each of the waivers we are granting is conditional on the cooperation of the various stakeholders. If we determine at any time that the work conducted pursuant to these waivers is anything other than what we have authorized or that Iran has reneged on its commitments, we reserve the right to modify or revoke the waivers immediately.

Foreign Secretary Commits To Action In UN Security Council On Yemen

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced today (Monday 5 November) that the UK is discussing with UN Security Council partners what more the Council can do to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced today (Monday 5 November) that the UK is discussing with UN Security Council partners what more the Council can do to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and step up support for the work of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

The Foreign Secretary discussed this step with the UN Special Envoy and they agreed that the time was right for the Council to act to bolster the UN led process.

As the Minister for the Middle East, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister made clear last week, a nationwide ceasefire will only have an effect on the ground if it is underpinned by a political deal between the conflict parties. The action the UK takes forward at the UN Security Council will help towards that goal, ensuring that a full ceasefire, when it comes, is fully implemented.

Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said:

For too long in the Yemen conflict both sides have believed a military solution is possible with catastrophic consequences for the people. Now for the first time there appears to be a window in which both sides can be encouraged to come to the table, stop the killing and find a political solution that is the only long term way out of disaster.

The UK will use all its influence to push for such an approach. I met UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths on Tuesday, and there is a small but real chance that a cessation of hostilities could alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people. This must be the first priority as we seek to put in place a longer term solution.

FCO Statement On The Sentencing Of Sheikh Ali Salman In Bahrain

FCO Minister Alistair Burt very concerned by the life sentence handed down by the Appeals Court of Bahrain today to Sheikh Ali Salman

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said:

I am very concerned about the life sentence handed down by the Appeals Court of Bahrain today to Sheikh Ali Salman, in addition to the sentence he is currently serving. I understand that Sheikh Ali Salman now has the right of appeal against this latest sentence.

The UK continues to encourage the Government of Bahrain to deliver on its international and domestic human rights commitments.

U.S. Condemns Deadly Attack In Egypt

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The Department of State condemns today’s deadly attack on a bus heading towards a Coptic Christian monastery in Upper Egypt. We extend our condolences to the families of these innocent victims. We remain steadfast in our support of Egypt’s efforts to combat terrorism and violence against religious communities.

« Older Entries