Egyptian activist Ramy Essam
© Noujaim Films
Egyptian activist Ramy Essam
Last updated: January 19, 2014

This week's top news stories

Sham Jaff presents Your Middle East’s weekly news check up, summarizing key events from the past seven days.

Following Tehran’s promise to roll back parts of its nuclear work in exchange for the release of billions of dollars in frozen assets and limited relief from sanctions, tomorrow, on January 20, Iran will for the first time start eliminating its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.

As the Syrian humanitarian crisis worsens, the UN is seeking a whopping $6.5 billion (4.7 billion euros) to aid Syrians affected by war. This is the largest appeal ever in its history for a single humanitarian emergency. Half of the Syrian population, nearly 9.3 million individuals urgently need humanitarian aid.

Israel's ongoing settlement construction is damaging efforts to reach a negotiated peace agreement with Palestine, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier said on Monday.

Egyptian voters have approved a new constitution by 98.1 percent, the elections chief said Saturday, in what the government declared a popular endorsement of the army's overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Many Egyptians are voting “to prove that what happened was not a coup”.

As Tunisians celebrated the third anniversary of the overthrow of dictatorship on Tuesday, a new constitution is still in the making.

Saudi Arabia has suspended a SMS programme that notifies the male guardians of female relatives, who may only travel abroad with their permission, once the women leave the country. Previously strongly criticized by women rights activists, the suspension of the programme is widely welcomed.

On a more lighthearted note…

As the list of nominees for the 2014 Oscars was announced, Egyptian documentary “The Square” has been nominated for the Oscars – covering the aftermath and personal experiences felt by Egyptians after the 2011 uprising.

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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