Tag Archives: Doha

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – November 17, 2022

Envoys of Over 10 Countries Discuss Afghanistan at Moscow Format: Tolo News

Representatives and officials from more than 10 countries exchanged views on the Afghan situation in the “Moscow Format” meeting on Afghanistan that began on Wednesday. Click here to read…

Doha Office Says Gaining Recognition Takes Time: Tolo News

The Islamic Emirate’s Political Office in Qatar said it considers the recognition of the Islamic Emirate by the international community to be a process that will take time, and that efforts are ongoing to achieve recognition. Click here to read…

SIGAR Assesses Factors Behind the Collapse of Afghan Gov’t: The Khaama Press

The US Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a recent report assessed the underlying factors behind the collapse of former Afghan government in 2021, listing at least nine factors that led to Taliban’s regime in Afghanistan. Click here to read…

Russia’s Multilateral Talks on Afghanistan Opens without Taliban: The Khaama Press

Sputnik reported that there are 11 countries represented at this meeting, including Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. At a news conference in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the discussion will center on the military-political, socioeconomic, and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as well as coordinating measures to bolster regional security. Click here to read…

Lavrov’s Dhaka visit: Dhaka to focus on food, energy supply, Rohingya crisis – The Daily Star

Lavrov will visit Bangladesh to attend the 22nd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) meeting on November 23-24 to be held at Hotel InterContinental at the invitation of Bangladesh, the current chair of IORA. Lavrov, who happily accept the invitation, will also be meeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, officials have confirmed. International relations analysts said Russia faces global isolation. The UN General Assembly has adopted several resolutions since March this year demanding end to the war, territorial integrity of Ukraine and Russia’s reparation for the damages caused by attacks in Ukraine…Bangladesh has abstained from voting in two UNGA resolutions and voted for Ukraine in one…The US and European Union are Bangladesh’s major export destinations and they are supporting Bangladesh in the Rohingya crisis, politically and financially. Click here to read….

Bangladesh seeks Singaporean investment to become ‘connectivity hub’ – The Daily Star

Decribing Singapore as a “connectivity hub” for distribution of services as well as trade, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam yesterday shared the aspirations of Bangladesh to emerge as a facilitator of regional connectivity for the land locked countries and regions of South Asia. Highlighting the need for more investment in infrastructure development, including sea ports and air ports, he sought more Singaporean investments to facilitate Bangladesh’s transition as a regional connectivity and manufacturing hub. Click here to read…

Shahriar Alam: Dhaka, Tokyo relations to be strengthened through PM-level talks – Dhaka Tribune

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Wednesday expressed his optimism that Bangladesh-Japan relations would further be strengthened through the upcoming prime ministers-level meeting in Tokyo. The prime minister is scheduled to pay the official visit to Japan from November 29 to December 1 at the invitation of her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida. Click here to read…

Dhaka to warn diplomats against commenting on internal matters – Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh will warn diplomats stationed in Dhaka against making remarks on the country’s internal matters, Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque has said. “We will not tolerate any ambassador’s interference; they will be cautioned again,” the minister said while responding to questions from reporters in Meherpur on Wednesday morning. “Bangladesh is a sovereign nation; we liberated this country through a bloody war. We will not make any concessions when it comes to maintaining the dignity of our country.” The minister’s comments came in light of Japanese Ambassador Ito Naoki’s statement on Monday that he had heard about “ballot stuffing” and that some police officers had stuffed ballot boxes the night before the last general election, which was something he had never heard about happening in any other country. Click here to read…

RBI provides an additional currency swap facility of USD 200M to RMA – Kuensel online

RBI and RMA signed an agreement to extend the validity of the Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement signed on January 31, 2020 and also to provide additional swap support to Bhutan, yesterday. This agreement enables the RMA to avail an additional swap amount of up to USD 200M or equivalent in Nu 16.57B from the RBI. This support of USD 200M INR equivalent is in addition to the existing currency swap support of USD 200M INR equivalent extended by the RBI. This agreement was facilitated by the government of India at the request of the government of Bhutan. The agreement will be valid till June 30, 2023. Click here to read…

Japan, Bhutan sign technical cooperation project on digital health – Kuensel online

To improve healthcare services, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) signed a record of discussions in Thimphu for implementation of the project “Strengthening government capacity for using digital technology and data” yesterday. Representatives from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) and the Ministry of Health (MoH), which will implement the project, attended the signing ceremony. Click here to read…

Bhutan at risk of dropping to Tier 3 of Trafficking in Persons Report – Kuensel online

Since 2020 Bhutan was ranked on Tier 2 Watch List in the Trafficking in Persons Report. This means that the country is not fully compliant but making significant efforts to be compliant to eliminate the severe forms, nature and scope of trafficking. The ranking also risks the country losing loans or aid from multinational financial institutions, according to Home Minister Ugyen Dorji who introduced the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) to the members of the National Council (NC) on November 14. Click here to read…

New type of drug smuggled into Maldives – The Edition

Maldives Customs Service seized a new type of drug smuggled into Maldives. Customs found the drug; methorphan while inspecting a box posted through courier from Bahrain. Officials claim that after finding a suspicious substances within the package, they conducted a more thorough investigation. The substance found inside the package were inspected on September 17 and had tested positive for Methorphan, according to Customs. Click here to read…

Myanmar releases ex-U.K. ambassador, Australian aide to Suu Kyi from prison

Myanmar’s junta released four foreign prisoners including an Australian aide to Aung San Suu Kyi and a former British ambassador to the Southeast Asian country, according to state media, in what authorities described as an amnesty to mark a national holiday on Thursday. The military government, which took power in a 2021 coup that deposed Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government, will free Australian economist Sean Turnell, Briton Vicky Bowman, Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota and American Kyaw Htay Oo, the state-run MRTV News channel said. The four will reportedly be deported. Click here to read…

Detained Japanese documentary-maker to return from Myanmar, sources say – Japan Times

A Japanese documentary filmmaker detained in July in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, was set to return to Japan Thursday after being released, according to sources familiar with the matter. Toru Kubota was sentenced last month to a total of 10 years in prison for violating the immigration law and for sedition and electronic communications-related violations. Click here to read…

Myanmar Will Not Hold an ‘Election’ in August 2023 – The Irrawaddy

An election is understood to mean “a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position.” Myanmar’s junta has claimed it will organize an ‘election’ for August 2023. Don’t call it what it isn’t. The junta’s event, whatever it is and looks like, will in no way be an election. If analysts, media, and diplomats use the term ‘election’, the onus is on them to justify and prove why and how exactly it wasn’t legitimate when in fact it wasn’t even what happened. Click here to read…

Vice President Harris Heads to Asia, Will Discuss Myanmar, South China Sea Disputes – VOA News

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris heads to Thailand this week to promote U.S. economic interests at a regional summit and discuss concerns over an ongoing military crackdown in Myanmar. Harris will deliver remarks at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a gathering that includes 21 members who push for increasing economic integration and prosperity. Click here to read…

B’desh intelligence officer shot dead by Rohingya drug smugglers on Myanmar border – Hindu Post

An Bangladesh Air Force officer, working at the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), was killed in a gunfight with drug traffickers along the Myanmar border in Bandarban’s Naikkhyangchhari, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said on Tuesday. RAB constable Sohail Barua, who was injured in the firing, has been admitted to the Neurosurgery Department of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital DMCH and has already undergone head surgery, he added. Click here to read…

Exports may fall slightly after LDC graduation, report says – The Kathmandu Post

Nepal will be stepping into uncharted territory after it is inducted into the company of middle-income developing countries in 2026, and exporters are beginning to worry about the higher tariffs and stricter rules of origin provisions that will follow. Being a least developed country (LDC) meant Nepal got preferential treatment; but after 2026, it will have to hold its own. And the thought disconcerts many. Click here to read…

Nepal closes Uttarakhand border for three days ahead of polls – Times Now

The Nepal-India border will be closed for three days in advance of the federal and provincial assembly elections in the Himalayan nation on November 20. A meeting of Nepalese and Indian security officials in Rupandehi on Saturday decided to beef up border security and seal the border for three days beginning November 18Click here to read…

Shape up, or ship out’—why Nepal’s young politicians are challenging an ageing establishment – The Print

The current crop of top leaders is quite exceptional in that each has allied with their opponent in the past. Chances are that if neither the Nepali Congress-led coalition—led by Sher Bahadur Deuba and Maoist politician Pushpa Kamal Dahal, or Prachanda—nor the United Marxist Leninist (UML) party of K.P. Oli and Madhesi leader Upendra Yadav’s grouping get a majority, then one or the other weak link in any of the chains may snap and new chains may be created. Click here to read…

Default risk soars amid political turmoil, delay in IMF talks: Dawn

The country’s default risk as measured by five-year credit-default swaps (CDS) — insurance contracts that protect an investor against a default — rose sharply overnight amid political turmoil and uncertainty about talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Click here to read…

Pakistan floods ‘10th costliest disaster’ in a decade: Dawn

THE calamitous Pakistan floods of 2022 were the tenth most expensive climate disaster to have buffeted a nation over the last decade, according to risk modelling firm RMS. The floods inflicted an estimated loss of $3 billion on the country, caused over 1,700 deaths and displaced eight million people. Click here to read…

PTI ‘steps back’ from next COAS appointment issue: The Express Tribune

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Wednesday indicated that his party has now taken a ‘hands-off’ approach to the imminent appointment of a new army chief, saying that it has “taken a step back” on the matter. Click here to read…

Govt lambastes Imran for selling Toshakhana gifts: The Express Tribune

As PTI chief Imran Khan faces fresh allegations of unlawfully selling state gifts, volley after volley of statements from the ruling coalition called out the former prime minister for the abuse of Toshakhana, hinting that criminal proceedings would be initiated as per the Election Commission of Pakistan’s order. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka abstains from UN vote seeking Russian reparations to Ukraine – Daily Mirror

Sri Lanka abstained in the UN General Assembly on a draft resolution calling for Russia to be held accountable for violations of international law by its invasion of Ukraine and requiring Moscow to pay reparations to Kyiv for damages, loss and injury resulting from the war. The draft resolution, ‘Furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine’, introduced by Ukraine was adopted Monday in the 193-member UN General Assembly by a recorded vote of 94 in favour, 14 against and 73 abstentions, including by India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Those voting against the resolution were Belarus, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia and SyriaClick here to read…

President directs immediate implementation of FTA with Singapore – Daily FT

President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday instructed the relevant officials to implement the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) immediately. He issued these instructions during the discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat on the implementation of the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. The existing problems in this regard were discussed at length and the President highlighted the need to provide quick solutions to all the existing problems. Click here to read…

Special Envoy of South Korean Foreign Minister pays courtesy call on Speaker – Daily News

Special Envoy of South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Han Dongman and his delegation paid a courtesy call on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana on Tuesday. Dongman whilst thanking the Speaker for being a host during the visit of South Korea’s National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-Seug, extended an invitation to him to visit South Korea in 2023. During the cordial discussion between them focusing on several matters of mutual interests, the Speaker expressed the intentions of the Government to encourage electric cars and renewable energy sources as a policy. Dongman acknowledging that the world is heading towards renewable energy and environmentally friendly methods stated that the two nations could look into future prospects on the matter in future. Further discussions also looked at future investment opportunities and increasing the quota for Sri Lankans who wish to be employed in South Korea. Click here to read…

West Asia Roundup -August 2021


Fast moving events in Afghanistan captured the regional and global attention as US forces withdrew in an unprecedented manner shortening their own timelines ceding space to Taliban as the Afghan national forces crumbled. Taliban entered Kabul on August 15. While Doha talks between US and Taliban and Afghan government and other international stakeholders continued in various formats, Qatar along with Pakistan emerged as major interlocutors. Qatari special envoy visited India to invite them to join the extended Troika meetings, as the future course was being discussed, much against the Pakistani opposition. For extensive evacuations also Qatar played a stellar role which was acknowledged by the US and other western countries. It also is hosting the western missions including that of US as they temporarily moved out of Kabul to Doha.

Erstwhile benefactors of Taliban, the Saudi Arabia and UAE were not enthusiastic this time after their experience with the terrorist entity in the wake of 9/11 attacks and Taliban’s refusal to handover Osama bin Laden. However, the Saudis played it down by acknowledging as the wishes of the people which should be respected. “The kingdom stands with the choices that the Afghan people make without interference” was stated by Saudi MFA.
Iran, also pushing for an inclusive government with Hazaras and Shias, is hoping to revive its advantage in Afghanistan as Taliban was veering towards a Pashtun Sunni government broadly on the Iranian model. They started providing fuel supplies at the request of Taliban as they braced for refugees. UAE and Qatar started providing assistance and relief supplies on humanitarian considerations as they helped transit desperate evacuees. Turkey and Qatar also assisted in repairs and running of Kabul airport as long as there security was assured. Geo politics in the region is on full display among regional and global actors especially Russia and China and Saudi Arabia and Iran and Turkey. OIC also called for a meeting to discuss Afghanistan and asked for the new government to ensure that country should not be used for any terrorist activities.

After former President Rivlin’s visit, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet visited US on his first official visit and met President Biden who had cold shouldered Netanyahu in the early days of his Presidency. While Israeli defence and security cooperation were main agendas, Biden Administration was categorical in their pursuit of JCPOA talks with Iran in larger regional context. .

Iraq tried to retrieve its regional role under PM Kadhimi as it plays cupid between Riyadh and Tehran. He hosted a landmark Baghdad Cooperation and Partnership conference which witnessed the participation of nine countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Iran, and Turkey. Syria was not invited. Three regional countries – Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar – were represented. French President Macron was also a key participant conveying their continued interest in the region. France also urged Iran to return to JCPOA talks.

Iraq is scheduled to hold its general elections in October as the domestic politics goes through a churn.

As African Union granted observer status to Israel and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited Rabat, the Algerians severed ties with Morocco for latter’s hostile actions including support to separatist groups during the disastrous wild fires in Algeria.

At the invitation of the Government of Iran, External Affairs Minister visited Iran on August 5-6, 2021 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the President Ayatollah Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi on August 5. He met several leaders during the visit. Dr Jai Shankar was also the first foreign leader to have met the President-elect Raisi when the two sides agreed to collaborate more extensively on bilateral and regional issues.

More Details;
Naftali Bennet’s visit to the White House

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet met with US President Joe Biden on 27 August in order to boost the strategic partnership in the post-Benjamin Netanyahu political context. Biden stressed that his government is committed to strengthening bilateral relations that would benefit citizens of both states such as Israel’s inclusion in the Visa Waiver programme. In terms of regional challenges, Biden assured US support towards Israel’s security and right to self-defence. Both states discussed the challenges emerging from Iran’s nuclear programme and its regional actions. Biden expressed his commitment to ensure that Iran does not attain nuclear weapon. Biden also welcomed Israel’s growing engagement with Arab states and the wider Muslim world. Both states also discussed on efforts to advance peace with Palestinians and widening their economic opportunities.

Israel’s strikes in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza

The situation in Israel’s northern border escalated after Hezbollah launched series of rocket attacks in early August. Israel in response conducted series of air strikes in southern Lebanon. Israel has suggested that it is unwilling to launch a full-fledged war but it would not shy away from all out confrontation in case of escalation by Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s actions are connected to the wider conflict in the region centring on Iran. The Lebanese government has condemned Israel’s escalation. In southern Syria near Quneitra, Israel carried out missile attacks on bases operated by Iran-backed fighters.

Israeli flights carried out air raids in Gaza on 7 August after Hamas operatives launched incendiary balloons towards Israeli population areas and agricultural farms. Palestinians have launched these balloons to protest against the road and sea blockades imposed by Israel and allow goods and aid to reach the territory. Israeli aircrafts in late August resumed air strikes destroying weapons production facilities in Khan Younis, tunnel entrance in Jabalya and rocket launch sites in Shujaiya after few balloons caused fire within Israel. Israel also shot down a rocket using Iron Dome missile defence system launched from Gaza. Besides air strikes, Israeli forces wounded atleast 41 Palestinians during protests to protest against the blockade.

In West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian woman after she allegedly attempted to attack with a knife. Palestinians in the recent years have carried out stabbing attacks, shooting and car ramming as forms of violent protests against Israeli military occupation in the West Bank.

Israeli Foreign Minister visits Morocco

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on 12 August visited Morocco and met with the top leadership. Lapid inaugurated Israeli Liaison office in Rabat and both sides agreed to establish embassies within two months. Morocco enjoyed cordial relations with Israel since 1993 Oslo Accords. The relations cooled off in 2000 after the Al Aqsa Intifada. In 2020, Morocco joined the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan to normalise relations with Israel. Morocco after normalising ties with the Jewish state has managed to secure recognition from the US over its control of Western Sahara.

During Yair Lapid’s visit, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita emphasised on rapid return of direct and serious negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia executes Shiite man accused of armed rebellion

The Saudi authorities on 3 August executed one person, Ahmed bin Saeed bin Ali al-Janabi who was charged with armed rebellion and protesting against the state in the Shiite populated eastern region of Qatif. Al Janabi had reportedly opened fire at several security points in Qatif. He also participated in smuggling weapons, riots and protests which are classified as terrorist acts undermining social fabric and cohesion. The restive eastern region with substantial Shiite population on several occasions has voiced opposition against Saudi government’s coercive policies and despite abundance of oil resources, the area is relatively underdeveloped. There have been number of violent protests in Qatif since the 2011 Arab Spring protesting against Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory policies.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia in early August announced arrest of 207 government employees from number of ministries on charges of corruption, fraud and abuse of authority. The arrests backed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were conducted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission called Nazaha. The anti-corruption purge was initiated by the Crown Prince in late 2017 in order to consolidate power by targeting more than 300 princes, public figures and businessmen. The kingdom acquired around US$ 106 billion in assets for the purge. In April 2021, the authorities arrested 176 officials from different public sectors on allegations of corruption.

US Ambassador’s meeting with Khalifa Haftar

The US Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland held meeting with self-styled head of the Libyan National Army and leader of the Tobruk based rival government, Khalifa Haftar on 11 August. Haftar has challenged the legitimacy of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and carried out a series of military campaigns against GNA. The country continues to remain under turmoil and after international mediation, the rival sides have agreed to parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2021. In the recent past, the political process has suffered setback due to impasse between Haftar and the Tripoli based government over promotions of security officials without consulting or getting approval from the Presidential Council.

The meeting between Norland and Haftar is part of the US effort to support the political process in Libya. The US ambassador suggested the need to accept difficult compromises necessary for establishing constitutional basis and legal framework prior to December elections.

Bashar Al Assad announces new cabinet after re-election

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad appointed a new government on 10 August. The cabinet positions in defence, interior and foreign affairs ministries remained unchanged. Prime Minister Hussein Arnous maintained his current position. Assad appointed new faces in information, internal trade and consumer protection. There are three women in the 29 member cabinet. In May 2021, Assad won election for 4th term with 95 percent of votes which has been called as illegitimate by the western states and Syrian opposition groups. Syria is facing major economic crisis which has further deteriorated due turmoil in Lebanon. Reportedly, around 80 percent of Syrian population live under property.

In northern Syria, Kurd led Syrian Democratic Forces clashed with Turkey backed Syrian forces killing five and wounding 15 on 18 August. Turkey’s strategic interest in Syria is based on maintaining military control over north-western Syria to block forces under Bashar Al Assad; thwart further inflow of refugees and contain the influence of Kurdish groups.

Iraq retrieves stolen artifacts

Iraq’s Culture Ministry on 3 August received over 17,000 looted ancient artifacts from the US, Japan, Netherlands and Italy. The majority of artifacts date back to 4000 years to ancient Mesopotamia. These items were looted by smugglers after the 2003 US invasion. The recovery that was made possible through months of discussion between the US and Iraqi embassy and has been called as the largest in Iraq’s history. Iraq’s efforts have been backed by the UN.