Weekly bite-sized News on the MENA 💧🗞

Hey guys! This newsletter provides weekly bite-sized news on the Middle East and North Africa 🌍. Think you can’t keep up to date in under 5 minutes per week? See for yourself: here are this week’s NewsDrops💧👇🏻:

🇹🇳 10 years after Tunisia’s 2011 protests, the economic situation 💰 is still wanting: anger over economic hardship has led to protests 🪧 erupting in several Tunisian cities over the weekend. According to witnesses in Sousse, security forces 🪖 resorted to tear gas to stop the protesters who have been on the streets for days and more than 600 people were arrested 🚔.

🇮🇷Iran / US 🇺🇸:

  1. The survival of… the one who has the coolest weapons 💣. Within the context of renewed tensions with the U.S. and the recent anniversary of the assassination of General Suleimani, Iran has been making itself heard. This week, the IRCG tested long range missiles and drones ✈ against artificial targets in the North Indian Ocean 🌊, marking its fourth military drill this year. Then, the US flew B-25 bombers over the region (again 🙄). In response, Iran’s army conducted the fifth military drill in two weeks 🪖.
  2. Sanctions : finding it tough to keep track? That’s because it is. However, we certainly could not expect Trump to leave office 🏛 without having one more go at Iran 🥊: the US imposed sanctions on Iran, UAE and China-based companies doing business 💼 with the country. In addition, Iran’s Marine Industries Organization, Aerospace Industries Organization and the Iran Aviation Industries Organization have been blacklisted ❌.
  3. But WAIT ⚠️, this time Iran imposed sanctions of their own: Iran’s foreign ministry blacklisted Trump and nine other officials 👨🏻‍💼, including a travel ban ✈️ and the freezing of any financial assets 🏦 they may hold in the country.

🇵🇸 President Mahmud Abbas announced Palestine’s first elections in 15 years: legislative elections will be held on the 22nd of May, whilst presidential elections will take place on the 31st of July 📆. Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are set to take part in them. However, it is yet to be seen whether Palestinians in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem will be able to vote due to Israel’s ban on all PA activity in the city 🌆.

👉🏻 What’s the big deal? 🤔 The last presidential elections (2005) and parliamentary elections (2006) were respectively won by Abbas (leader of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)) and Hamas. All subsequent attempts at elections failed due to the widened political rift which led to Hamas’ seizure of Gaza in 2007.

🇮🇱🇵🇸 At last, Israel has decided to give the COVID-19 vaccine 💉 to Palestinians: despite having vaccinated more than 1.5m citizens in less than three weeks, Israel’s vaccine programme excluded ⚠️ the Palestinians. However, this week, the Israeli health ministry approved the shipment of 5,000 units of the Russian coronavirus vaccine 💉, Sputnik V, to the Palestinian Authority.

🇸🇾 Three Syrian businessmen were linked to the firm that purchased the explosives 💣 which caused August 2020 Beirut port ⛴ explosion: the firm, called Savaro Limited, is registered at the same UK address as other companies directed by Syrian businessmen 💼 George Haswani and brothers Imad and Mudalal Khuri. The three men also have close ties with the Syrian government 🏛, who may have bought the explosives to use at the peak of the civil war.

🇨🇭🇱🇧 Swiss authorities launched a money-laundering and embezzlement investigation into the Banque du Liban (BDL) 🏦: about $400m in money transfers have been allegedly tied to the bank’s governor, Riad Salamé. However, the news 🗞 is still extremely fresh, so you might see a more comprehensive update in your next NewsDrops 💧.

🇱🇾 Libyan officials from the rival LNA and GNA governments met to discuss the final draft for the 2021 national budget. In addition, the country’s Advisory Committee agreed 🤝 on a mechanism to choose the transitional government set to lead the country until the 24 December elections.

👉🏻 So how is this going to happen? The Committee includes 18 members and is part of the 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, representing all three regions of Libya. Each region’s electoral college will name a representative to a 3-member presidential council. The prime minister, who will need at least 70% of the votes 🗳 to be nominated, will be chosen by the 75-member forum.

🇶🇦🇮🇷 My friend’s friend is… not my friend? Qatar urged the Gulf nations to enter into a dialogue with Iran, offering to broker negotiations. However, there has been no sign of such intention. In fact, 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince 👑 made it clear in the recent GCC summit that the rapprochement with Qatar was a means to confront 👊🏻 ‘‘threats posed by the Iranian regime’s …. plans for sabotage and destruction.”

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Weekly bite-sized news on the Middle East and North Africa

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MENA NewsDrops

MENA NewsDrops

Weekly bite-sized news on the Middle East and North Africa

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