A Strategic Hit against Iran
On Thursday, three Hezbollah-related measures were passed without opposition by the US House of Representatives. The sanctions are seen as a US effort to hit at Iran without jeopardizing the nuclear deal.
The first measure passed on Wednesday and seeks to sanction any entities found to be supporting Hezbollah; the second sanction is directed at both Hezbollah and Iran for allegedly using civilians as human shields, while the third measure was a resolution that urges the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a “terrorist organisation”.
The international community is expected not to jump onto the US bandwagon as Hezbollah remains a critical part of Lebanon’s fragmented government, and enjoys widespread support for the social welfare it provides.
King of Morocco Adopts Swift Measures
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI dismissed ministers and top officials on Tuesday for failing to improve the economic situation in restive regions plagued by protests.
Mass protests, part of the Hirak movement, broke out in the Rif region last year, triggered by the death of a fishmonger whose product was confiscated by the police. Residents in Rif were furious over the state of corruption and development delays. Political protests are rare in Morocco.
A “Moderate Islam” for Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said during the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh that he would “return” the country to “moderate Islam that is open to all religions” and “eradicate promoters of extremist thoughts”.
Salman’s remarks come one month after the conservative kingdom made the unprecedented move to allow women to drive. The policy change was met with criticism from conservative factions in the country, and this latest move is likely to rile hardline conservatives in the Gulf country.
At the same event, Salman unveiled an ambitious $500 million plan to create a new city from scratch on Saudi’s Red Sea coast – one that relies on renewable energy and is staffed mainly by robots. The new project comes as the kingdom seeks to diversify its economy away from oil.
New Qatari Bill Protects Foreign Workers
The Qatari cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft bill that would set up a support fund for the Gulf state’s two million foreign workers. The “Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund” ensures that overdue wages are paid.
In addition to the support fund, the government also introduced a minimum wage for its foreign workforce and signed 36 bilateral treaties with countries from which Qatar receives most of its labour migrants.
Just last year, the Qatari government introduced changes to its Kefala work sponsorship system by making it easier for foreign workers to switch jobs and to leave the country.
Former Turkish Interior Minister Announces New Party to Challenge Erdogan
On Wednesday, ex-Turkish nationalist political and former minister, Meral Akenser, registered “Iyi Parti” or “Good Party” in Ankara. Last April, the 61-year-old Akenser failed to block Erdogan’s expansion of presidential powers in a referendum.
The new party is expected to be one of Erdogan’s AK Party’s greatest opponents in the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2019.
According to a polling company, the Iyi Party enjoys 5% of voter support at the moment. However, analysts expect the new party to erode the support bases of the dominant AK Party, the nationalist MHP Party, and the secularist CHP Party.