Middle east and North Africa
Stories about major developments, and analysis regarding the various situations in the MENA region. Our writers Zoie Brauser and Jared Shadeed produce weekly. Our section editor is Zein Nasser.
When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced his bid for presidency on January 19, experts agreed that his re-election was essentially guaranteed. From November to January, over five people, such as Egyptian lawyer Khaled Ali and Colonel Ahmed Konsowa, announced and then withdrew plans to run for president. Konsowa was detained by the army and then convicted of “expressing political opinions as a serving military.” Konsowa’s plight reflects the control that Sisi has over the elections and his increasing crackdown on opposition within Egypt.
Many people currently living in Iraq continue to face various socio-political, socio-economic, and psychological challenges.
In the past two weeks alone, 700 people have died in Syria’s eastern Ghouta and at least 2,000 are injured. The death toll in these past weeks reflects increased violence in the region, and is indicative of ineffective, or perhaps underfunded, relief efforts. According to the U.N., only a little more than half of the $4.6 billion required to meet the needs of Syrians in 2017 was received. This year, $3.5 billion is required and only about 5 percent has been received.
Eight months into an air, sea, and land blockade on Qatar, the Qatari government is calling for more cooperation and agreement between Arab states. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain initially severed ties with and imposed the blockade on Qatar, citing links to terrorist organizations, however it was primarily because of Qatar’s close ties with Saudi Arabia’s rival, Iran, that had induced the blockade.
As the multi-faceted conflict continues to spiral in Yemen, new developments illustrate the degree to which the situation remains largely irreconcilable. Most recently, Yemeni Transportation Minister Saleh al-Gabwani expressed his disapproval of actions taken by forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Specifically, al-Gabwani condemned UAE-backed troops for preventing his convoy from inaugurating a new port at Bahlaf, which is currently occupied by UAE forces. Furthermore, the minister alleged that members of these forces relayed how their orders came directly from the Emiratis, presumably using the term to refer to leaders in the UAE.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a suspect in two criminal investigations, locally referred to as “Case 1000” and “Case 2000.” As of February 23rd, the Israeli police said that there was “sufficient evidence” to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu on criminal charges in both of the cases. And as of Tuesday, one of his closest advisers was accused of attempting to bribe a judge into dropping a criminal investigation involving Netanyahu’s wife.
Turkey has continued to feel increasingly uneasy with the presence of the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) in Afrin, a Syrian town near the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey particularly fears the group as it views the YPG as part of a broader, more existential threat to regional stability.
After former president Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011, Libya descended into a state of violence that has persisted even after several efforts to bring conflicting groups together.
With its alleged home base in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which is adjacent to both Israel and the Gaza Strip, a militant group currently known as Wilayat Sinai (WS) and Islamic State–Sinai Province (IS-IP) continues to perpetrate terrorist attacks with far-reaching consequences.
Since 1938, just six years after the country’s formation, Saudi Arabia has had what Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called a “dangerous addiction to oil.”
As the last significant rebel stronghold in Syria, Idlib province has come regarded as a major focal point of the ongoing Syrian conflict by the media and various national governments. Importantly, there is an array of rebel factions, which include Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Nasr, Liwa al-Haq, Ansar al-Din and Nour al-Din al-Zinki, currently based in the province.
Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has waged war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. While the coalition has remained relatively united thus far, recent developments prove that the initial arrangement of nations and groups siding with the Saudis against the Houthis is not inalterable. Notably, members of the Yemeni separatist movement, colloquially known as al-Hirak, made significant gains in Aden, a southern port city that was blockaded by the Saudis at one point.
Yemen’s Civil War has claimed more than 9,245 lives since March 2015; over 50% of those people were civilians. The UN has called the situation in Yemen the “world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.” As of Sunday, matters appear to have worsened, as members of the Saudi-led coalition began fighting one another in the city of Aden. The government has been temporarily seated in Aden since the Houthis, the Yemeni rebels, took over the capital, Sanaa, in 2015.
Rockets loaded with chlorine gas hit Eastern Ghouta early Monday morning. The attack killed at least 20, and more than 13 people suffered suffocation, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. This isn’t the first time Eastern Ghouta, a rebel stronghold near Damascus, has been hit by chemical weapons. On August 21, 2013, the stronghold was targeted by sarin nerve agents, killing around 1,400 people.
President Donald Trump sent out a tweet on January 2, essentially relaying that U.S. aid to Palestine should no longer be considered a given. The president particularly emphasized that the U.S. government pays out “hundred[s] of millions of dollars” to Palestine. He, additionally, suggested that the refusal of Palestinian leadership to actively engage in peace talks with Israel is an equitable justification for withholding U.S. aid.
Since 1949, UNRWA has provided education, infrastructure, and health and social services to displaced Palestinian refugees and their descendants throughout the Levant.
The United States’ announcement to support a U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led force in northern Syria was met with strong disapproval from the Syrian and Turkish governments. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad promised to crush the new force, while Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “strangle it before it’s even born.”
On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze after a degrading encounter with Tunisian authorities. The horrific tragedy spoke volumes about the way in which corruption, economic issues, and repression have been affecting the Tunisian public.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has deployed forces into the Idlib Governorate. The northwestern province, which once garnered significant archaeological intrigue and supported a thriving agricultural industry, now functions as a terminal stronghold for the Syrian rebels.
Iranian protesters took to the streets with anti-government chants in the largest government opposition movement since the 2009 Green Movement, when millions joined together in response to fraudulent elections.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made an official statement at a security conference in Tehran on January 8, relaying his belief that the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were responsible for the protests and increasing unrest currently plaguing Iran.
If, after Saturday’s emergency meeting, the Arab League balks at levying significant sanctions against Israel and/or the United States, then the Palestinians should, if they do not already, feel wholly alone in their struggle against Israeli intrigue.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital represents a reversal of decades of American foreign policy.
Turkey has revived dialogue on the 2016 coup attempt, bringing new accusations to the table. Particularly, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office publicly accused Graham Fuller, an ex-CIA analyst, of playing a role in the July 2016 coup attempt.
If Sisi truly wants to eliminate terrorism in the Sinai, then he should stop alienating a sizable portion of his population that lives amongst Egypt’s enemies.
Boundaries between politics and sports blurred on Saturday when Iranian wrestler Ali Reza Karimi threw a match to avoid wrestling an Israeli in the next round.
Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been engaged in an interminable conflict with Houthi forces and their allies, in Yemen. The coalition includes nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt, and is supported by nations such as the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the United States.
Since the imposition of an air, land, and sea blockade, Qatar continues to be resilient despite hardships. Saudi Arabia initially spearheaded the embargo, and was later joined by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, along with several other nations that have downgraded ties since the onset of the diplomatic crisis in June 2017.
On November 3, Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate, launched an attack on loyalist forces in Khader, a small village in the Syrian-controlled section of the Golan Heights. While the conflict itself did not seem particularly noteworthy in the context of the ongoing disaster in Syria, the skirmish drew an immediate response from the country’s neutral southern neighbor.
Three years after proposed amendments to Iraq’s Personal Status Law were knocked down, a new set of amendments has removed clauses that would have legalized rape within marriage and prevented women from leaving the house without their husband’s permission— but the clause which would allow girls to be married off at as early as age nine remains.