Bahrain Hunts down Opposition
Bahrain has charged the leader of the Al-Wefaq party – its main opposition – for colluding with Qatar to damage Bahrain’s “prestige and interests”. The Gulf state also accused its political opponents of providing confidential information to Qatar and meeting with officials from the Hezbollah.
Al-Wefaq was shut down last year, after being accused of “undermining the state, spreading sectarianism, and having connections to terrorist activities” – charges that the party firmly rejects.
Hamas Relinquishes Gaza
Following last month’s reconciliation agreement, Hamas has handed over control of five border crossings between Gaza and both Israel and Egypt to its political rival, the Fatah Party of the Palestinian Authority.
The Egyptian-brokered accord brings an end to a 10-year bitter dispute between Hamas and Fatah. The move is the most significant implementation of the 11 October reconciliation agreement that Palestinians hope will ease economic sanctions from Israel.
Syrian Opposition Defies Russian Diplomacy
On Wednesday, the official Syrian opposition stated it would not attend peace talks organised by Russia in the city of Sochi, arguing that the Sochi conference would merely be a “meeting between the [Assad’s] regime and the [Russian] regime”.
The Sochi conference is an effort by Russia to bypass the UN’s Geneva process, which has been stalled for over a year largely due to disagreements over whether Assad’s removal from power should be made a precondition for discussions on political transition.
Mixed Emotions amidst Balfour Centenary
British and Israeli leaders, Prime Minister Theresa May and Benjamin Netanyahu will commemorate the Balfour Declaration’s centenary this Thursday in London. The event is expected to be met with protests in London and the Palestinian Territories, while celebrations are expected in Israel.
The Balfour Declaration endorsed the establishment of a Jewish national home in the Middle East and subsequently led to the creation of Israel and an unending conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Isolate "Number One Enemy"
At a meeting in Tehran this Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Russian President Vladimir Putin that they should boost cooperation to isolate the U.S. and to help bring stability to the region.
Iran and Russia are primary allies to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, while the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni-Arab states demand that Assad be removed from power. Together with Iran, Russia has reclaimed large swathes of territories from Syrian rebels as well as the Islamic State.
Moscow has become an increasingly important ally for Iran in the latter’s escalating confrontation with the U.S., after Trump called for the de-certification of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
On Thursday, Khamenei said in a televised speech that the U.S. is Iran’s “number one enemy”.