MENA Monitor Articles
Lebanon has been mired in an economic and political crisis since 2019. The World Bank Lebanon Economic Monitor (LEM) published on June 1 ranked the Lebanese crisis among the top ten most severe global collapses since the mid-19th century.
Tensions between the Afar and Issa tribes date back decades. Issa, supported by the Somali government, wises to become a part of the Sitti Zone, which is a region of Somalia. During the 2014 meeting held in Awash with the then Somali president, a document was signed recognizing the three kebeles (administrative districts) as special areas of the Afar region. However, the agreement was contested by the Issa leader, which led to the resumption of the conflict and the demand for affiliation to the Sitti Zone in the Somali region in 2018.
The ongoing war in Syria is nothing like the revolution that took place 10 years ago. Parts of the country’s territory are controlled by the armed forces of Russia, Turkey, the USA, the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, jihadists and Afghan, Pakistani, Lebanese and Iraqi mercenaries. An agreement between President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents seems impossible to reach. In the perspective of the next few years, the war will continue and the price for the actions of foreign troops in the country will be borne by the Syrian people.
Between January 2020 and April 2021, prices of basic commodities in Lebanon increased by 350%. Taking into account the last two years, the increase amounts to 700%. The value of GDP decreased by about 40% from $55 billion in 2018 to $33 billion in 2020. On July 6, Prime Minister Hassan Diab appealed to the international community and the UN to provide help and prevent a humanitarian disaster and collapse of the country’s economy.
Taliban fighters have taken control of a key district in western Afghanistan where an important border crossing with Iran is situated. Recently the group has been claiming significant victories in key locations across the country. Taliban have captured areas bordering five countries – Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China, and Pakistan. Foreign troops are ending their 20-year-long military intervention while the country’s internal security continues to deteriorate.
The recent parliamentary elections showed nearly all the peculiarities of the Iranian political system, which will shape the domestic political scene for a long time.
Iranian Principlists are a very heterogeneous party. The division into radicals and pragmatists is quite general. Within each of these blocs are parties and groups with conflicting interests, competing for influence and resources. The rift between them is also becoming more pronounced. This is particularly true of the increasingly clericalized radical wing. Repeated attempts to unite before elections have always failed. Moreover, they have never managed to unite around a single presidential candidate.
Initially, the post-revolutionary political parties were formed on the basis of groups fighting against the monarchy. Their members and founders had often stayed in imperial prisons, were the victims of the secret police (SAVAK), etc. Nowadays, parties are more elite organizations with a limited number of members and wavering supporters. Party coalitions have so far been ephemeral and formed on an ad hoc basis, before certain elections. In the Iranian political reality, the point of reference is not the parties but specific individuals and groups formed around them.
When describing Iranian politics, it is impossible to ignore one of its most controversial elements – the Guardian Council. The 12-member Council is a team of lawyers – half of its members include clergy who specialize in religious law and who are, of course, appointed by the rahbar. The other half are specialists in “secular” law, nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council and appointed by the Majlis.
Iran, due of its central position in the Middle East, its conflict with the US and Israel, as well as the constant emotions fueled by its aggressive rhetoric, is a frequent subject of analyses and news reports. Unfortunately, in this case, quantity does not go hand in hand with quality. Much of the discussion on Iran in the media is dominated by the “Twitter journalism” and press releases.
Recently, the world’s media have been abuzz with reports of yet another escalation of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. One of the longest and most complex ongoing conflicts around the globe has once again manifested its presence to the public. Since May 10, thousands of rockets have already been launched from the Gaza Strip at Tel Aviv, among other targets. Israel immediately responded to Palestinian rocket fire. Hundreds of civilians have already lost their lives from the clashes. What factors have led to the renewed escalation of the conflict?
On Thursday, August 13, 2020, the world heard about an agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The event has been dubbed the “Abraham Accord,” and while this is not the first time Israel has entered into official diplomatic ties with an Arab country, it is still a breakthrough in many ways.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Chinese companies assisted Riyadh in the construction of an extraction facility for uranium yellowcake, which in a highly enriched state can be used to develop nuclear weapons.
Since the US implemented the policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, media reports predicting the imminent bankruptcy of the country have become more frequent. The sanctions have put Iran into recessions, but despite the alarmist and highly biased media materials, the economic situation in Iran is not dramatic and does not threaten the collapse of the regime.