Last updated: March 9, 2014

Keep up to speed, check out this week's top news stories from the Middle East!

From restrictive marriage laws in Iraq to energy drinks in Saudi Arabia, Sham Jaff brings you the top news stories from the past seven days.

As Syria has surrendered nearly a third of its chemical arsenal (but still lagging behind on international obligations), UN chief Ban Ki-moon wants peace talks to continue. But Mokhtar Lamani, head of Brahimi’s Damascus office, quit and the rebel Free Syrian Army has confirmed the appointment of its new chief.

On International Women’s Day Lebanese women organized a rally for the approval of the country’s first law against domestic violence and Iraqi women demonstrated against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers.

Meanwhile in Egypt, interim president Mansour issued a presidential election law to set the stage for the election (and paving the way for Sisi to run) this spring. The Muslim Brotherhood is now considered a terrorist group (Hamas, too).

Not far from Egypt, the construction of new West Bank settlements doubled in 2013, which continues to be a major obstacle to peace talks with the Palestinians.

While energy drinks have been banned in Saudi Arabia, Palestinians take matters into their own hands to make the local juice ‘Ardy’ (Arabic for ‘my land’).

On a more lighthearted note…

For International Women's Day, UNDP leader and former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark picked seven women who are leading positive change all over the world – among them is Zahra' Langhi, co-founder of the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace.

The viral trend of “Happy” videos caused by hip-hop artist and producer Pharrell Williams’ song with the same name has hit Tunisian Star Wars location Tatooine, check it out

Sham Jaff
Sham Jaff is a passionate student of Political Science and Middle East Studies in the heart of Bavaria, Germany. Read more from her on the blog http://beautiful-absurdity.com/.
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