Tag Archives: Palestine

Neighborhood News Digest – 09 January 2023

US to keep working with Bangladesh in different areas: Biden – New Age

United States president Joe Biden has said that his country acknowledges their enduring partnership with Dhaka and termed Bangladesh’s economic growth in the past 50 years as a ‘remarkable story’. ‘I hope our nations will continue to work on democratic governance, climate change, refugees, and maritime security. We are invested in your success and support the ability of all Bangladeshis to freely participate in and contribute to their country’s development,’ he said. Click here to read…

US National Security Council delegation visits Rohingya camps – Daily Star

Additional Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Shamsuddouza Nayan told our Cox’s Bazar staff correspondent that a 10-member delegation visited various Rohingya camps located in Ukhiya upazila. Click here to read…

10 lakh Bangladeshis get Indian visas in 8 months last year – TBS

Over 10 lakh Bangladeshis received Indian visas, including 2.73 lakh medical visas, in eight months last year (from January to November) for travelling to the neighbouring country, according to the data provided by the Indian High Commission, Dhaka. Click here to read…

India-Bangladesh pipeline: energy transport likely to start by Feb – Daily Star

The much-awaited 130-km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFPL) for cross-border transportation of energy is likely to start by February, Indian officials were quoted as saying. The Rs 337.08 crore pipeline will carry fuel from state-owned Numaligarh Refinery Ltd’s (NRL) marketing terminal at Siliguri in West Bengal to the Parbatipur depot of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC). Click here to read…

China lens on Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and India -Telegraph

Shedding some of the subtleties known for its diplomatic approach, China under President Xi Jinping has made a series of uncharacteristically candid comments and in-depth reportage seeking to alert Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim against foreign forces trying to use them as geostrategic pawns, while sternly warning India against the United States’ moves termed “China containment”. Click here to read…

What’s brewing in Bhutan? Japan eyes sake production after symposium in Thimphu – Mainichi

Following a symposium on sake in Bhutan in late October, which was presented by a brewer from this east Japan prefecture, the industry sees a bright future for the production of its famed beverage in the south Asian country. Click here to read…

Melting glaciers of Tibet may impact regional security in S Asia: Report – Business Standard

Melting glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau can result in excess water in some places and shortages in others, says a report in Hamrakura, adding that the melting of glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau could impact regional security. Click here to read…

Maldives ends first week of 2023 with 37,209 tourist arrivals – Raajje

Maldives has welcomed more than 37,000 tourists during the first week of 2023. Statistics publicized by the Ministry of Tourism shows that Maldives has welcomed, 37,209 tourists between 01 January 2023 and 07 January 2023. As such, 4,625 tourists were welcomed on 01 January, followed by 6,487 tourists on 02 January and 6,232 tourists on 03 January. Click here to read…

“Maldives will not stop advocating for the rights of Palestine” – Raajje

Maldives will not stop advocating for the rights of Palestine, says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maldives. The Ministry stated this in their statement made public, condemning the action of the Israeli National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on 03 January. Foreign Ministry’s statement went on to highlight that this action of the Israeli National Security Minister is against all the international laws and regulations and the agreements that have been signed. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s domestic fuel prices fall slightly – Mizzima

Domestic fuel prices in Myanmar were stable last week at around 2,100 kyat per liter and now it is learned that they fell slightly to below 2,000 kyat on 5 January. The fuel price fell by about 100 kyat per litre as per the reference price set by the Fuel Import, Storage and Distribution Supervisory Committee on 5 January. The reference petrol retail price for one week in Yangon starting from 5 January is 1,975 kyat per litre for 92 Ron and 2,045 kyat per litre for 95 Ron. Click here to read…

New hope for India-Myanmar transit Kaladan project with new consultant – New Indian Express

Hope of the completion of the last 109 km of Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport (KMMTT) project has been rekindled after IRCON was recently appointed at the Project Management Consultant (PMC). This ambitious project would link India and Myanmar via the Bay of Bengal. Click here to read…

ASEAN needs to look beyond Myanmar’s Five-Point Consensus – The Jakarta Post

Patience has its limits, even for ASEAN, famous or notorious, some argue, for its tardiness in taking action. The regional group must do something drastic soon in its dealing with Myanmar, the belligerent member which has defied its promise to end violence in the country. Failing that, the Myanmar issue is dragging the entire group down. Click here to read…

USDP chairperson meets 37 political parties in Naypyitaw – Mizzima

Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) chairperson Khin Yi held an informal meeting with 37 political parties on 5 January at the USDP headquarters in Naypyitaw. The pro-junta USDP chairperson Khin Yi had not yet held a meeting with other political organizations since he took over the party’s chairperson position, so he organized the meeting, said a central executive of the USDP. “One thing he [Khin Yi] said was to help the nation all around with the power of consolidation. This is his main point,” said National United Democratic (NUD) Party leader Sein Win, who attended the meeting. Click here to read…

UML set to govern 3 provinces, Maoists 1, 3 CMs to be rotated – Kathmandu Post

According to a leader present at the meeting, the ruling coalition has decided to divide the chief ministers of the seven provinces—Province 1, Gandaki and Lumbini going to the UML and Karnali to the Maoist Centre. The two parties will head governments in Bagmati and Sudurpaschim by turns. As per the deal, the Maoist Centre will lead the Bagmati government in the first half of the five years, while the UML will lead the Sudurpaschim government first. Click here to read…

Nepal says it’s making efforts to activate SAARC – Economic Times

Nepal on Sunday said it was making efforts to activate the eight-member regional grouping SAARC, which has not been very effective since 2016. Speaking at a meeting of the National Concern and Coordination Committee under the National Assembly, Secretary and spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bharat Raj Paudel said the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) could not be made effective due to the lack of consensus among all member states. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
India provides 75 buses to Sri Lanka to support public transport system – The Hindu

India has handed 75 passenger buses to Sri Lanka as part of its assistance towards strengthening public transport infrastructure in the cash-strapped country. As part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India has extended multi-pronged assistance to Sri Lanka to help the country tide over its worst economic and humanitarian crisis since its independence from Great Britain in 1948. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka to restart trade deal talks with India, China and Thailand, says official – DeccanHerald

Sri Lanka will restart negotiations on trade pacts with India, China and Thailand after a four-hear hiatus, an official said on Thursday, as the crisis-hit country races to seal deals to help it rebuild its economy. Click here to read…

Choking on politics – The News International

The vicious cycle in Sri Lanka started with a ‘currency crisis’ followed by devaluation, hyperinflation, fuel shortages, food shortages, loadshedding, medicine shortages followed by violent street protests and then troop deployment. The three things that take place in a ‘normal’ state are: politics, a security policy and an economic policy. We have become an ‘abnormal’ state in the sense that the only thing that takes place in our country is politics. Click here to read…

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – November 30, 2022

Participants in Herat Security Dialogue Discuss Situation in Afghanistan: Tolo News

Participants at the 10th Herat Security Dialogue meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, emphasized the need to establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan that upholds women’s rights and prevents drug trafficking in Afghanistan. While speaking at the meeting, the special envoy of the European Union for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson, said that the EU will support women’s rights in Afghanistan. Click here to read…

India to Resume Projects in Afghanistan: MUDH: Tolo News

The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH) said that the Indian chargés d’affaires, Bharat Kumar, expressed his country’s interest in the improvement of relations and the resumption of Delhi’s projects in Afghanistan. Click here to read…

‘Country being exposed to confrontational politics’ – Daily Star

The BNP wants to hold the Dhaka rally in front of its Nayapaltan headquarters on December 10. But the government said the party must hold it at Suhrawardy Udyan, not Nayapaltan. Both the Awami League and the BNP are at loggerheads over the rally venue. The Daily Star talked with eminent political analyst Al Masud Hasanuzzaman, professor of Government and Politics at Jahangirnagar University, for an insight into the current situation. Click here to read…

India, Bangladesh establish contact as more Kuki-Chin refugees are expected to enter Mizoram – The Hindu

Ten days after the first batch of over 270 Kuki-Chin refugees crossed over to India fearing an attack from Bangladesh security forces, government officials estimate that 150 more refugees are expected to seek shelter in Mizoram in the next few days. A source said India and Bangladesh are aware of the unique seriousness of the issue and are in contact with each other. Click here to read…

From the third dimension ‘Tritio Matra’ to multiple dimensions – Dhaka Tribune

An uninitiated may be forgiven if she/he thought that the Bay of Bengal Conversation, a conference Mr Zillur Rahman, the anchor of Tritio Matra helped organize, was a grand gathering of the alumni of the Tritio Matra under the banner of Centre for Governance Studies, a think-tank. At first blush, that’s what it looked like. But what made it more than an alumni gathering was the participation of a bevy of high-quality international participantsClick here to read…

NRDCL to operate timber extraction based on demand in the eastern region – Kuensel Online

Of the six Forest Management Units (FMU) in the eastern region, NRDCL has temporarily suspended the operation of four – Rongmanchu in Lhuentse, Dongdechhu in Trashiyangtse, and Kharungla and Wamrong in Trashigang. Only Lingmethang in Mongar and Khengzor in Pemagatshel are operational. NRDCL officials said that hardwood extracted from those sites has market issue and the FMU committee meeting decided to temporarily stop operation. Click here to read…

‘Dosti gehri hai’: Maldives thanks India for USD 100 million assistance – OneIndia

Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid thanked India for timely and generous financial assistance of $100 million to Male to overcome ongoing economic challenges and said that ties between the countries enable mutual growth. Abdulla Shahid took to Twitter and wrote, “Thank you #India for the timely and generous financial assistance of US$100 million. It is truly the strength of our ties that enable mutual growth and cooperation reaffirming the Maldives-India Partnership.” Click here to read…

Pres. reiterates Maldives’ longstanding solidarity with the people of Palestine – Raajje

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has reiterated the longstanding solidarity of the Maldivian government and people, with the people of Palestine. He said this in a message sent to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Tuesday. The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is marked every year on 29 November since 1978. The President issues messages on the occasion each year, reaffirming Maldives’ commitment to the plight of the Palestinian people. Click here to read…

Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to share prior info on use of airspace near border – Prothomalo

Director General of Border Guard Bangladehttps://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/rakhine-truce-between-myanmar-junta-and-arakan-army-hanging-by-a-thread.htmlsh (BGB) Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed on Tuesday said BGB and Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) will not accept separatists’ activities along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. “BGB and BGP will not accept separatists’ activities along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. For this reason, the border guards of the two countries have agreed to start joint patrolling,” he said. Click here to read…

2 More Former NLD Lawmakers Jailed by Myanmar Junta – The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s junta sentenced two former MPs of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) to 26 years in prison on Monday. U Wai Lin Aung, who represented Myaungmya Township, and Dr. Pyae Phyo who represented Einme and Wakema, both in Ayeyarwady Region, were jailed by a district court in Myawaddy, Karen State, on Terrorism and Treason (Section 112) charges almost a year after being arrested. Click here to read…

World Bank-backed Yoma Bank Working With Myanmar military’s Mytel Network Operator – The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s Yoma Bank, part-backed by the World Bank, is providing banking services to Telecom International Myanmar Company Limited, the operator of the Myanmar military’s Mytel cell phone network, according to Justice for Myanmar (JFM). The activist group revealed that as of March 2022 Yoma Bank, which is affiliated to the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), held over US$10 million in a US dollar account for Telecom International Myanmar. Telecom International is a joint venture of the military’s Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) conglomerate. Click here to read…

Myanmar junta arms convoy from Indian border attacked – Mizzima

According to the Kalay People’s Defence Force (PDF) the Myanmar junta has been getting arms from India and transporting them from the border through Sagaing Region. According to the PDF, on 25 November a junta convoy carrying weapons from India travelled from Tamu Town, on the border with India in Sagaing Region, to Kalay, also in Sagaing. The arms convoy stayed overnight at the Ra-1 Prison Camp in Kalay City before continuing the next morning. Click here to read…

Inflation may continue into next year, central bank says – The Kathmandu Post

Inflation was recorded at 8.5 percent in October 2022 compared to 4.24 percent in the same month last year, according to Nepal Rastra Bank. The central bank stated in its first quarter review of the monetary policy that higher prices may continue into the months ahead. “Inflation may reach the highest single digit and last for around six months,” Prakash Kumar Shrestha, chief of the economic research department at the central bank, told the Post. Click here to read…

New House of Representatives to be less inclusive – The Kathmandu Post

With most Dalit, Janajati and women candiates across parties failing to win the first-past-the-post (FPTP) elections for the House of Representatives, the upcoming parliament is set to become less inclusive than the last one. As many as 35 Janajatis, eight women and only one Dalit have won parliament seats under the FPTP system of elections with almost all results from the November 20 elections already in. Click here to read…

Two new forces enter federal parliament as national parties – The Kathmandu Post

Rabi Lamichhane’s Rastriya Swatantra Party and CK Raut’s Janamat Party make the cut after the election results pour in. Four months ago, media personality Rabi Lamichhane-led Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) made a foray in Nepali politics. Registered on July 1, the party didn’t just win seven seats under the first-past-the-post elections to the House of Representatives, but also has safely crossed the threshold to qualify as a national party. Click here to read…

Economy facing strong headwinds, warns key private sector body- The Kathmandu Post

The private sector, on Tuesday, warned that the ongoing “economic crisis” could deepen if the government failed to manage it properly. They alleged that even the first quarterly review of monetary policy had failed to cheer the economy as many of the concerns raised by the business community remained unaddressed. The hotel industry, issuing a separate press statement, alleged that the government was being indifferent towards the investors. Click here to read…

New COAS Gen Asim takes reins: The Express Tribune

General Sayed Asim Munir on Tuesday took charge as the 17th Army chief of Pakistan at a ceremony held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The change of command ceremony took place after a gap of six years, as General Qamar Javed Bajwa, now retired, was given a three-year extension in 2019. Click here to read…

Washington pledges support for Islamabad’s anti-TTP efforts: Dawn

The United States and Pakistan have a shared interest in combating threats to regional security, such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Washington will support the Pakistan government’s efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms, a State Department spokesperson told Dawn on Tuesday. Click here to read…

At least two killed, 22 injured including police in Quetta blast:The Express Tribune

At least two people, including a minor, were killed and 23 were injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) targetted a passing police truck in Quetta’s Belili area. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
‘Chinese debt trap’ China welcomes SL foreign minister’s remarks – Daily Mirror

China welcomes Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Sabry’s rebuttal of the narrative of the so-called Chinese “debt trap” in Sri Lanka, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Monday. The spokesperson reiterated that China’s assistance to Sri Lanka never comes with any political strings attached, and China never seeks any selfish political gains from its investment and financing in Sri Lanka.
“China fully relates to the difficulties and challenges faced by Sri Lanka and supports relevant financial institutions in discussing with Sri Lanka and properly resolving them. We have all along provided support to Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic development as long as our ability permits,” he saidClick here to read…

New Army Chief of Staff – Daily News

Major General C. D. Weerasuriya RWP RSP ndu, the present Deputy Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army has been appointed as the new Chief of Staff of the Army. Major General C.D Weerasuriya RWP RSP ndu yesterday afternoon (29) received the letter of appointment as 61st Chief of Staff of the Army from Army Commander Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, at the Commander’s office. He, who has served as the Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force before he took office as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army on June 16, 2022, has also held many key appointments in the Army. He is also the Colonel of the Regiment, Sri Lanka Light Infantry and Mechanized Infantry Regiment. Click here to read…

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – November 29, 2022

Hina holds political talks with Afghan govt today – Dawn

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will pay a one-day visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday (today) to hold a political dialogue with the Afghan interim government. Bilateral relations, including cooperation in areas of education, trade and investment, regional connectivity, people-to-people contacts and matters related to regional security will come under discussion, the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a press release on Monday. Click here to read…

Taliban calls on Iranian investors to invest in Afghanistan – Mehr News Agency

Speaking in a meeting with a group of Iranian investors, held at the venue of the ministry on Monday, regarding the way of investment in Afghanistan, he urged Iranian traders and merchants to make investments in Afghanistan in line with strengthening bilateral relations in relevant fields. During the meeting, Azizi pointed out that the Taliban has paved suitable ways for foreign investment in Afghanistan, adding that Afghanistan is home to large mines and this country has created great opportunities and facilitated the investment of foreign companies as well. Click here to read…

The MoD Says it Has Repaired 60 Helicopters, Fixed-Wing Aircraft – Tolo News

The Islamic Emirate’s Ministry of Defense said that maintenance teams of the Afghan air force have so far repaired more than sixty helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that were rendered unusable by technical issues. According to the Ministry of Defense’s spokesman, among sixty repaired aircraft, three transport aircraft (Two An-32s and one An-26) have also been repaired and are now ready to fly. Click here to read…

PM Hasina urges to take effective actions to restore rights of Palestinian people – Dhaka Tribune

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the international community to work together for effective and decisive actions and step up the efforts to restore the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people to live in safety, stability, and dignity in a sovereign homeland. She came up with the call on Monday on the occasion of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The prime minister issued a message marking the day. “On the solemn occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, Bangladesh joins the international community in reaffirming its unwavering support towards the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people of self-determination and establishment of the State of Palestine based on a two-state solution with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its Capital,” she said in the message. Click here to read…

BNP to announce plans to oust government on December 10 – The Daily Star

BNP will announce a set of programmes during its December 10 rally to ensure that the government steps down, said BNP Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain yesterday. He made the remarks while addressing a roundtable titled “Strengthening Democracy in Bangladesh and the Role of International Community”, held at Jatiya Press Club. Mosharraf said, “The government will see a mass uprising and united movement. It will be ousted from power soon.” He said BNP has already observed eight successful, peaceful divisional movements to “save the people of Bangladesh and protect the country from Awami League’s misrule”.Click here to read…

Tokyo, Dhaka should enhance security co-op – The Daily Star

Japan is the largest bilateral development partner of Bangladesh. It has provided about $27 billion in grants and loans to Bangladesh since 1971. Japan is currently implementing some of the major infrastructure projects. The two countries are willing to elevate the relations to a strategic level during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Japan. Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Ito Naoki, shared his views with Porimol Palma of The Daily Star. Click here to read…

Space science and Bhutan’s future – Kuensel Online

On Saturday, November 26, the Indian Space Research Organisation launched nine satellites, including an earth observation satellite (EOS-06) in multiple orbits. The mission was hugely successful. For Bhutan, the achievement carried a special significance because the collaboration between the two friendly nations sent ISRO Nano Satellite-2 into the space. Click here to read…

EU integral to Maldives’ development: Foreign Minister

The European Union (EU) is an integral development partner of the Maldives, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid stated last Wednesday at the commencement of the sixth annual Maldives-EU Policy Dialogue. Minister Shahid said that Maldives and the EU have maintained a solid relationship since diplomatic ties were established in 1993. He acknowledged the EU’s continued assistance to the Maldives, and thanked them for their support over the last 29-years. Click here to read…

“Maldives committed to address global environmental agenda through development of informed policies” – Raajje

Vice President Faisal Naseem has reiterated the commitment of the Maldivian government to address the global environmental agenda through the development of informed policies on nitrogen management in the archipelago nation. The Vice President made this remark while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the “South Asian Nitrogen Hub” (SANH) meeting in the Maldives. Click here to read…

Smuggling from Myanmar, Assam govt’s curbs hit arecanut trade in NE states – Dajji World

Due to large-scale smuggling from Myanmar and Assam government’s restrictions, arecanut farmers in the northeastern states, especially Mizoram and Tripura, are affected a lot and are seeking central intervention. The illicit trade of arecanut, which is also known as betel nut or ‘supari’, is on the rise with the security forces, including the Assam Rifles, often seizing thousands of tonnes of the product, along with drugs, exotic animals and other goods smuggled in from Myanmar. Click here to read…

Journalist held by Myanmar urges Japan to pressure junta – The News

A Japanese journalist released from Myanmar in a prisoner amnesty called on Monday for Tokyo to put more pressure on the junta and accept refugees fleeing the Southeast Asian country. Toru Kubota spent three-and-a-half months in prison after being detained near an anti-government rally in Yangon in July along with two Myanmar citizens. Thousands of people have been jailed during a bloody crackdown on dissent in Myanmar since a military coup in February 2021. Click here to read…

Informal ceasefire with Myanmar military ‘not permanent’ solution, Arakan Army says – Myanmar Now

The Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) agreed to a temporary truce last week following months of hostilities in Rakhine State, according to a representative of the ethnic armed organisation. The informal ceasefire was brokered by Nippon Foundation chair Yohei Sasakawa, AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha said at an online press conference on Monday, adding that it went into effect on November 24. Click here to read…

ASEAN’s Myanmar Headache Changes Hands – The Diplomat

Post-coup Myanmar has become something of a “Brahma’s head” for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Member states poke and prod for a year during their respective chairmanships, hoping for some progress on the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) peace plan, inevitably shrug their shoulders in dismay, and then pass the burden on. Brunei did so in 2021, as did Cambodia this year. Soon it will be the turn of Indonesia in 2023. Major powers have stayed away from the morass, deflecting the headache back onto ASEAN by emphasizing its centrality and responsibility for dealing with the group’s perennial black sheep. Click here to read…

Red flags in Delhi over China’s push for role in Nepal, Bangladesh projects – Hindustan Times

China First Highway Engineering was not among the five companies that qualified to bid for the Kathmandu Terai-Madhesh Expressway project and was included at a later stage. A range of activities by China in the neighbourhood, from pushing for a role in a major project to manage Bangladesh’s Teesta river to deploying surveillance ships in regional waters and taking on a crucial road project in Nepal, have raised concerns in New Delhi against the backdrop of the dragging border standoff. Click here to read…

Another big blow to Oli in Nepal elections, Nepali Congress can form government in all 7 states- News Day Express

Former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has suffered another major setback in Nepal. Like the federal government of Nepal, KP Oli’s party is heading towards defeat in the provinces as well. The Nepali Congress-led coalition is inching towards a majority in all 7 provinces. Analysts say that if the Nepali Congress-led coalition forms the government at the center, then the government of the same coalition can be formed in the provinces as well under the package deal. Click here to read…

Re-polling at 10 voting centres in Dolakha on Thursday – The Kathmandu Post

The Election Commission has decided to conduct re-polls at ten voting centres in Dolakha on Thursday. The commission decided to hold re-polls stating that the voting process was not conducted in a free, fair and fearless environment at the polling centres on November 20. Click here to read…

UML leading PR vote count with 2,550,372 votes – Khabarhub

Out of over 9.3 million votes counted so far under the proportional representation, the CPN (UML) is leading with 2,550,372 votes. The Nepali Congress is following with 2,415,834. Similarly, the Rastriya Swatantra Party has got 1,065,612, the CPN (Maoist Center) 1,078,448, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party 547,011 and the Janata Samajwadi Party 336,096. The Janamat Party and the CPN (Unified Socialist) are struggling to cross the threshold with 277,136 and 255,807 votes respectively.-owned power utility is increasing high-voltage power connections to industrial units. Click here to read…

TTP ends ceasefire with government, orders its militants to ‘carry out attacks in entire country’ – Dawn

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Monday called off the ceasefire agreed with the government in June and ordered its militants to stage attacks across the country, according to a statement from the group. “As military operations are ongoing against mujahideen in different areas […] so it is imperative for you to carry out attacks wherever you can in the entire country,” the statement, which is available with Dawn.com, said while addressing its militantsClick here to read…

BSF shoots down drone along India-Pakistan border in Amritsar – The Tribune

The Border Security Force has shot down a drone that sneaked into the Indian side from Pakistan in Punjab’s Amritsar district, officials said on Tuesday. The BSF personnel fired at the drone on Monday night after they noticed it entering the Indian territory near Chaharpur village, around 40 km north of Amritsar city, they saidClick here to read…

Pakistan, IMF begin online talks on $7 billion loan review – Financial Express

Pakistan reserves stood at $7.8 billion as of Nov. 18, barely enough to cover imports for a month. The Pakistan Stock Exchange fell around 2% on Monday, its first day of trading after the central bank unexpectedly hiked its key policy rate to 16% last week. ARY News reported on Monday that the IMF had asked Pakistan to reduce expenses before talks on the ninth review. Pakistan secured a $6 billion bailout in 2019 that was topped up with another $1 billion earlier this year. The IMF’s board approved the seventh and eight reviews in August, allowing the release of more than $1.1 billion. The ninth review has been pending since September. The IMF told Reuters last week that finalisation of a recovery plan from the floods was essential to support discussions, along with continued financial support from multilateral and bilateral partners. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
India’s Constitution Day celebrations in Sri Lanka – Daily News

India’s ‘Constitution Day’ was observed through a series of events organised by the High Commission of India, Colombo on November 26, 2022. The special day marked the adoption of the Indian Constitution on November 26, 1949. More than 200 schoolchildren from different parts of Sri Lanka enthusiastically participated in the Children’s Art Competition organised on Saturday. Themes of the competition such as ‘Incredible India’ and ‘Fundamental Duties’ were closely linked to India and her Constitution which helped the young and creative students from Sri Lanka develop a closer understanding of their civilizational partner, India. Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay who was the Chief Guest at the Competition, complimented families and teachers of the children for nurturing the talents of the next generation by encouraging them to participate in such competitions. Click here to read…

Senior military officers meet High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda – Daily News

Senior military officers from the Sri Lanka Army, Navy, and Air Force following the 62nd National Defence Course at the National Defence College (NDC) in New Delhi, paid a courtesy call on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda at the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi. These senior officers, Brigadier UKDDP Udugama, Commodore MDK Wijewardana and Group Captain WPAH Perera highlighted the significance of the content of the National Defence Course conducted by India’s apex institution for the study and practice of National Security and Strategy during the interaction with the High Commissioner. Defence Adviser-Sri Lanka High Commission, India Cmdr. Rohan Joseph also joined the discussion. Established in 1960, the NDC is dedicated to the intellectual development and strategic enculturation of selected senior officers of the Armed Forces and Civilian Government Services of India and those from foreign countries, for higher leadership positions and responsibilities. Click here to read…

Why Sri Lanka needs an Enhanced Naval Fleet – Daily Star
The global maritime domain and the role of naval power in peacetime have changed significantly in recent decades. With the sea as the area of operations naval forces are an essential instrument for the State not only in war, but in peacetime as well. In comparison to the Army and Air Force, naval forces are useful to the State outside a war context as they provide prosperity to the State through the protection of shipping lanes and civilian vesselsClick here to read…

West Asia Round up-July 2022


After 19 months into his Presidency the US Administration decided that President Joe Biden embark on a ‘mending fences’ visit to West Asia including Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia to interact bilaterally and regionally with GCC++ leaders in Jeddah at the Security and Development Summit . While Khashoggi’s assassination and Biden’s berating of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his election campaign were the bitter pills both sides decided to swallow. Saudi Arabia and the US will cooperate on a range of future industries including 5G networks, enhanced cyber security, and space exploration, in addition to public health for which several agreements were signed.

Russia-Ukraine war was the backdrop as higher energy production to ease supply constraints especially to Europe remained a priority. So did update on the status of negotiations on the Iranian Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) while assuring its Gulf and Middle East partners of USA’s continued support and interest in their security. He said ‘USA was not going anywhere’. Biden also made greater efforts to persuade the Saudi’s to near- normalize ties with Tel Aviv even as Riyadh opened up its airspace for all airlines including El AL. Saudi FM, however, clarified that no normalization possible until the two state solution with Palestine is reached and opening of the air space was not a precursor either.

Biden also attended the I2U2 Summit leaders from India, Israel and UAE; it is considered to be a techno-economic extension of the Abraham Accords. It was agreed by all four sides to expedite the mutually beneficial projects in the six designated areas to begin with. This QUAD in once year with the appointed Sherpas and experts at beck and call as well as PPP enterprise seems to have achieved much more in less than a year including a Virtual Summit of leaders.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz claimed that Israel could use Abraham Accords and normalization of relations with Arab countries to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and develop confidence building measures. Even Biden asked Palestinian President Abbas to cooperate but the Palestinians feel that the Abraham Accords are a mechanism to bypass their cause. Meanwhile, interim Israeli PM Yair Lapid met with Jordanian King Abdullah II to discuss the regional situation as Israeli leadership was getting ready for an eventual confrontation with Iran if the various reports are to be believed.

One of the outcomes of the Biden visit was that U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of C-17 aircraft sustainment and related equipment to the United Arab Emirates for an estimated cost of $980.4 million, according to Pentagon.

Saudi Crown Prince visited France and held discussions in a more charming manner with Macron. Saudi Arabia and France agreed to boost cooperation on renewable energy including solar, wind and clean hydrogen following the guidelines of the Paris Climate Accords. France -UAE also signed an Energy Cooperation Deal.

As the Russia -US contest via Kiev continues, Tehran hosted Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan under the Astana Format on Syria. President Ebrahim Raisi reiterated “We stress the importance of implementing the previous agreements among the guarantor states – Russia, Iran and Turkey- on Syria and announce our support for the political resolution in the country along with combating terrorism till eliminating it completely”. He however beseeched his Turkish counterpart not to attack on Northern Syrians as this will embolden the terrorist groups. Erdogan and Raisi also co-chaired the 7th Meeting of the Türkiye-Iran High Level Cooperation Council.

Prime Minister Modi virtually participated in the I2 U2 Summit

A trilateral meeting of focal points of France, India and UAE was held in which the three sides exchanged perspectives on the Indo-Pacific region and explored the potential areas of trilateral cooperation including Maritime Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Blue Economy, Regional Connectivity, Cooperation in Multilateral Fora, Energy and Food Security, Innovation and Startups, Supply Chain Resilience and Cultural and People-to-People Cooperation. They also discussed the next steps to be taken for furthering trilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
India strongly condemned the recent killings in the Zakho district of Dohuk Governatorate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which is a clear violation of the country’s sovereignty and a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra spoke with Dr. Ali Bagheri Kani, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran and discussed various elements of bilateral relations including progress on the Chabahar Port. Foreign Secretary underscored India’s commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Iran in addressing shared opportunities and challenges. Both sides also discussed international and regional issues including Afghanistan as per MEA.

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US President’s visit to Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia

US President Joe Biden made his first trip to the West Asian region after coming to power. In Israel, he called himself as a fellow Zionist and claimed that the connection between US and Israel is bone deep. Biden during his two days stay in Jerusalem met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden’s interactions and speeches were largely concentrated to his personal ties and bilateral relations with minimal reference to solving Israel-Palestine conflict. He however expressed support for two-state solution without referring to Palestinians by name. Moreover, any discussion on new US initiated peace plan was muted. Biden briefly met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and discussed about economic incentives. Joe Biden administration is keen to re-open its consulate in East Jerusalem.

In Saudi Arabia, Biden met with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman indicating re-acceptance of the controversial leader after his involvement in killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The US through the visit is seeking to solidify the alliance against Iran. Biden during his interaction with nine Arab leaders assured that the US will not de-prioritise the region that could expand the influence of Russia, China and Iran.

Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to France

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the last week of July met with French President Emmanuel Macron. The visit is seen as a diplomatic rehabilitation of the Saudi Crown Prince who became infamous for his role in killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The efforts by France and other western states to court Saudi Arabia should be seen in the context of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict; slow progress to revive the nuclear deal with Iran and the recent visit by the US President Joe Biden to Jeddah. The western states are seeking to reset engagement with Saudi Arabia to counter the rising regional influence of Iran, Russia and China. Emmanuel Macron’s office dismissing criticism to meet the controversial Saudi leader argued that meeting is important at a time of global energy and food crisis. Macron’s office assured that the subject of human rights would be raised. Macron during his meeting requested Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to help in bringing down crude oil prices. Saudi Arabia is seen as integral for the diversification of energy supplies for European states. Both leaders expressed the need for ending Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as intensify cooperation to ease the effects in Europe. In case of Yemen, the French President appreciated the efforts by Saudi Arabia to find a political, global and inclusive solution under UN and hoped that the truce continues.

The Saudi Crown Prince prior to reaching France made a stop in Greece and met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on 26 July. Saudi Arabia and Greece signed agreement on renewable energy. Both leaders also talked about expanding engagement in security and promote investments. Earlier in May 2022, both states agreed to set up a joint venture to build a data cable i.e. East to Med Data Corridor which will be built by MENA HUB owned by Saudi Arabia’s STC and Greek firm, TTSA.

Protest in Iraq

The supporters of influential Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr entered the highly secure Green Zone on multiple occasions in July 2022. The protestors stormed the parliament building to prevent MPs from electing Mohammad al-Sudani who was nominated by Al-Sadr’s opponents as Prime Minister. The supporters of the Sadrist Movement also set up tents to prepare for a long sit-in at the parliament. The Sadrists are demanding fresh election to resolve the political stalemate.
Notably, during the October 2021 election, none of the political groups managed to win majority. Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement secured the highest number of seats winning 73 out of 329 seats. The Sadrist Movement’s political platform is based on Iraqi nationalism and opposition to foreign interference from the US as well as Iran. Al-Fatah alliance that includes Iran supported Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) managed to secure only 17 seats. The Sadrist Movement led coalition Saving the Homeland coalition that includes Al-Siyada or Sovereign Alliance and Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) failed to form the government. Eventually on 13 June, MPs from the Sadrist movement resigned deepening the political chaos. It led to coordination Framework becoming the largest bloc in parliament. However, there was no agreement on appointing a new Prime Minister, President and cabinet.

Iran-Taliban Clashes

Iranian forces during clashes with Taliban killed one fighter in Kong district of Nimroz province on 31 July. According to Taliban sources, Iranian forces initiated the attack which has been denied by the Iranian government. Tasnim news agency and Iran’s state run IRNA claimed that Taliban forces entered Iranian territory in Hirmand in Sistan and Balochistan province and tried to raise their own flag. Iranian government defended the military action by suggesting that Taliban fighters had mistaken a wall constructed within Iranian territory to prevent smugglers. Taliban fighters despite repeated explanations by Iranian government have considered the wall as the borderline. Earlier in 2021, similar border incident had occurred due to the confusion over the border.

Iran’s relation with Taliban has been difficult due to harassment and persecution of Shiite Hazara community. Tehran has refused to officially recognise the Taliban that took control over Kabul in August 2021 until it is willing to accommodate other political factions and form an “inclusive” government.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s meeting with Jordanian King in Amman

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid visited Jordan on 27 July and met with Jordanian King Abdullah II. King Abdullah II mentioned that Palestinians should be part of US sponsored regional economic projects necessary for stability in the region. Jordan has urged Israel to include Palestinians in water for energy deals between both states which could be financed by Gulf States. Historically, Jordan-Israel ties were marked by hostility and both states fought wars in 1947 and 1967. During the 1967 war, Israeli forces captured West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordanian control. Jordan eventually signed peace treaty with Israel in 1994 in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord. Despite the peace treaty, the subject of Palestine continues to weigh on their bilateral relations. King Abdullah II during the current meeting stressed that Palestinian statehood and comprehensive and lasting peace is essential for reaching lasting peace. Moreover, he asked Israelis to honour the religious sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque and maintain calm in occupied East Jerusalem. On bilateral level, both states discussed about increasing economic projects in water, energy, food security and transport sectors. Amman also asked Tel Aviv to relax its grip on the flow of Jordanian exports to the occupied West Bank. Both sides also discussed about US President Joe Biden’s initiative to further normalise Israel-Arab relations to build a front against Iran.

Iran arrests Mossad Spies

Iranian police on 28 July arrested five spies allegedly linked to Israel’s external intelligence agency, Mossad. Iranian authorities did not reveal the nationality of those arrested and hinted that arrested individuals had received training for armed operations and sabotage. The individuals were reportedly given pledges from Mossad including financial promises to gather information about strategic sites from Iranian territory. Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office that oversees Mossad has refused to comment on the reported arrests. Israel in the recent months has carried out number of killings of Iranian military officials and scientists. Israel on official level did not confirm or deny their actions. Earlier on 24 July, Iranian intelligence forces arrested members of an Israeli cell who were planning to cause explosion in Isfahan. These individuals reportedly entered the state through Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Isfahan hosts some of the prominent nuclear facilities including Natanz that was targeted in 2020 and 2021.

Clash in Syria

On 26 and 27 July, clashes between local armed fighters and gangs aligned with the government security forces led to 17 deaths in the Druze majority province of Sweida in Syria. Reportedly, ten government loyalists from the Falhout faction and seven local fighters were killed. Moreover, at least 40 people were injured during the clashes. The latest violence was triggered after the abduction of two people close to local armed groups. Bashar Al Assad since 2011 has been facing domestic discontent backed by external powers to overthrow his rule. Assad however managed to retain his power due to military assistance from Russia and Iran. Assad backed fighters have gained significant ground in recent years and ordinary Syrians have complained about arbitrary detentions, roadblocks and kidnappings for ransom by these fighters. The two day long clashes finally subsided after local fighters surrounded the village headquarters of the pro-Damascus faction. The abducted locals were finally released after the violence.

Grain Silos in Beirut Port Damaged Again

Part of grain silos at Beirut port collapsed after week long fire caused by summer heat burning the grains. The northern block of the silos feel out on 31 July. The General Director of the Beirut Port Silos, Assad Haddad assured that the situation was under control. The Civil Defence Department however warned that other parts of the silos’ northern block were at high risk. The explosion at the port on 4 August 2020 had rocked the state killing 200 and injuring more than 6000 people.

The recent fire has raised criticism about the government’s ineffectiveness to manage the grain silos and overall incompetence in governance. In the aftermath of the August 20202 blast, the investigation by Lebanese authorities revealed that senior government and security officials were aware of the presence of dangerous material including ammonium nitrate stored at the port. However, none of officials have been convicted and the investigation was suspended after the implicated officials brought legal challenges against the judge who was leading the investigation.

West Asia – Review- June, 2021


As the US decided to withdraw some of its defence equipment like Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia and some other countries, it conducted Falcon Claws 4 joint exercises with Saudi land forces. It also retaliated against Hezbollah and Iraqi militia groups justifying that the US military targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one in Iraq in response to drone attacks by the militia against US personnel and facilities in Iraq. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed “We took necessary, appropriate, deliberate action that is designed to limit the risk of escalation, but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message”. Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran in a statement named four members of the Kataib Sayyed al-Shuhada faction who were killed in the attack on the Syria-Iraq border. They vowed to retaliate. Iraq’s government, wary of getting dragged into a US-Iran conflict, condemned the strikes on its territory and said it would “study all legal options” to prevent such action being repeated. Syria called the strikes a “flagrant violation of the sanctity of Syrian and Iraqi lands.” However, observers believe that these actions could have been taken within the knowledge of the Iraqi establishment. Iraq’s military issued a condemnation of the US strikes. US forces came under fire after the attacks.

On June 28-29, US and Italy organised an anti-ISIS Coalition conference which was attended by a large number of countries from the region including Saudi and Qatari and Israeli foreign ministers and the Arab League. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stressed “we must not ignore the fact that the organization is still a threat. This demands that all sides continue efforts and coordination to contain and eliminate ISIS completely.” On the sidelines of the meeting, Prince Faisal met with United Nations envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen, and his counterparts from the Netherlands, Sigrid Kaag; France, Jean-Yves Le Drian; Libya, Najla al-Mangoush; Iraq, Dr. Fuad Hussein; and Jordan, Ayman al-Safadi and Joseph Borrel of EU.

Palestinian Authority faced continuous demonstrations pursuant to the death of a video blogger and activist Nizar Banat in police custody. Officials in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the Fatah party accused the Gaza-ruling Hamas of plotting chaos in the West Bank and a coup against the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Hamas has felt emboldened after the recent Gaza-Israel war.
President Sisi, who brokered peace between Israel and Hamas spoke to the new Israeli Pm Naftali bennet urging that reconstruction of Gaza should be the priority along with finding a permanent solution for the Israel-Palestine issue. Bennet thanked Egypt for help find two missing Israeli soldiers since 2014 Gaza and wants them back as a precondition. However, it allowed passage of relief material as well as fuel supplies. Egypt and Qatar have pledged $500 million each for reconstruction in Gaza, where two-thirds of 2 million residents are dependent on aid.

Arch enemies Iran and Israel had new leadership. While Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party could not muster enough seats the “Coalition for Change” with eight political parties across the spectrum led by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet formed the government with a margin of only one seat (61 to 59) in the parliament. Netanyahu, who after his recent show of strength in the Israel -Hamas war hoped for the 5th election in two years, vowed to return to power. While Bennet became the new PM for half the term Yair Lapid became the new Foreign Minister as Benny Gantz retained his portfolio of defence ministry. First the Arab “Ra’am” Party supported the government in Israel and cut a deal to look after the interests of the Israeli Arabs and hopefully act as mediator with the Palestinians who are facing their own leadership crisis.

On the other hand the Iranians had a preconceived outcome as the ultra-conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, head of judiciary and closer to Ayatollah, won the Presidential election by 62% votes. Economy, unemployment and spiralling inflation as well as the pandemic will be the main priority for him when he takes over in mid-August. Meanwhile, he extended his full support to the resumption of the JCPOA nuclear deal and Vienna talks. Obviously Israel is unhappy with his election and the US efforts to re-join the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) without addressing the issues of Iranian missiles and proxy militias across the region.

After his visit to Rome and meeting with Bahraini counterpart as well as Secy Blinken and others, Israeli FM Lapid visited UAE for inaugurating their Embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai while carrying forward the dialogue and to address some of the concerns regarding the Palestinian conflict with his counterpart.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that the Palestinian Authority have submitted a 30 items list to the Biden Administration for reviving the Peace deal with Israel. But whether those will be acceptable to Tel Aviv is a big question apart from how far US is willing to get involved, although Washington has agreed to restore its consulate in Jerusalem for maintaining relations with Ramallah.

The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq met in Baghdad to discuss the developments in the region from Israel-Palestine conflict to economic cooperation. This was their 4th meeting. First Trilateral Summit was held in Cairo in March 2019. This was also the first visit by an Egyptian President to Iraq since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 when ties broke between Egypt and Iraq. In February, the two countries had signed 12 MoUs including Iraq supplying 12 mn barrels of light crude in 2021. Jordanian FM Safadi said that Iraq must be isolated from regional interventions referring to Iranian influence. US welcomed this Arab Alliance that might help in security and economic cooperation and stability in the region. Meanwhile, Egypt has agreed to supply 700 MW of electricity to Iraq to tide over the immediate crisis.

Sudan was approved for debt relief of $2.5 bn by IMF as US sanctions had been lifted.

75 Libyan delegates met in Geneva under the aegis of UNSMIL to discuss and iron out differences over the December 24 elections. The Berlin II process also began to address security issues and to ensure steady movement forward. Holding elections and removal of foreign forces, militias and mercenaries were fundamental to the success of stability in Libya.

Post rapprochement between Qatar and Saudi led Quartet at Al Ula Summit, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani received the credentials of the new Saudi Ambassador to Doha, Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan. Likewise, Egypt has appointed a veteran diplomat, Amr el-Sherbini previously, ambassador at large at the Egyptian foreign ministry. Normalisation of Qatar’s relations with UAE and Bahrain are still moving at a slow pace.

PM Modi congratulated both Prime Minister Bennet and President elect Ebrahim Raisi hoping for continued good relations with both the countries.

Dr S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister visited Kuwait and held discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues with their leadership. In Rome he also met his Saudi counterpart among others. He also chaired a meeting with the Heads of Missions in the Gulf region and asked them to explore possibilities of early and smoother return of Indian work force which had to be evacuated under ‘Vande Bharat” missions due to pandemic and economic downturn.

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Hardliner Ebrahim Raisi emerges winner in Iranian Presidential Race

The current Chief Justice, Ebrahim Raisi appeared as the clear winner in the Presidential election held on 18 June securing 61.95 percent of total votes. The presidential election held on 18 June 2021 saw the lowest turnout at 48.8 percent since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Interestingly, the no vote option received more votes than the first runner up, Mohsen Rezaei followed by the only moderate candidate; Abdolnasswer Hemmati.1 Raisi would join office in August 2021.

Raisi’s victory has consolidated the gains for the conservative faction that already controls the parliament. He enjoys good relationship with the clerical hierarchy, intelligence, security forces and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Critics have expressed concerns over possibility of renewed social oppression including arrests of journalists and activists and further curbs in the already restricted cyber space. Amnesty International has called for investigation for crime against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance against Raisi during his long tenure within the judiciary.

On the nuclear issue, the Iranian delegation made some progress to renew the JCPOA with the US. Raisi has supported the nuclear deal however, sceptics have raised concern that the new president could complicate the possible US return to the nuclear deal. The US during the talks has insisted on extending the dialogue not only on nuclear issue but also on missile programme and IRGC’s activities in the region. The new Iranian President is not likely to concede to the new demands. Meanwhile, Joe Biden administration on 10 June lifted sanctions on three former Iranian oil executives and two companies indicating US’ willingness to carry forward dialogue.

In second week of June, it was widely reported that an Iranian destroyer, Sahand and intelligence gathering vessel, Makran are sailing in the Atlantic Ocean. Iran’s Deputy Army chief, Habibollah Sayyari called the expedition as navy’s longest and most challenging voyage. Iran is hoping that it would improve its navy’s seafaring capacity and provide long term durability in facing unfavourable weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean. The goal of the mission is inconclusive however, the US officials have concluded that the vessel may be headed to Venezuela.

Anti-Netanyahu coalition takes control over Israel

Israel since 2019 has witnessed four elections to form a stable government. Due to the fracture in the right wing coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu despite receiving highest number of seats failed to present a stable government. Netanyahu after third election in 2020 managed to form a unity government with Benny Gantz led Kahol Lavan. The unity government eventually dissolved in December 2020 leading to fourth election in March 2021. The new government led by Naftali Bennet was formed after weeks of negotiations among right wing, centrist, leftist and an Arab party to replace Netanyahu. Bennet after serving as the Prime Minister for two years would be succeeded by Yair Lapid. The uneasy coalition is highly fragile and Netanyahu is likely to use the fissures to weaken the government.

In early June, Isaac Herzog, the former leader of the Labour party has been elected as the new President by 87 votes in the 120 member Knesset. Herzog is the son of former President Chaim Herzog. He is expected to hold office for a single seven year term starting on 9 July.

Israel-Palestine issue

Israeli air force conducted series of airstrikes at several locations in Gaza on 16 June reportedly targeting Hamas meeting sites. The air raids since the ceasefire with Hamas in May were carried out in response to incendiary balloons being launched by Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinians have condemned the provocative rally carried out by Israeli ultra-nationalists in East Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs” and “May your village burn” on 15 June to celebrate the Israeli takeover of the whole city after 1967 Arab-Israel war.

The parade and its prior approval was a difficult challenge for Prime Minister Naftali Bennet who has promised a pragmatic approach currently presiding over a delicate, diverse coalition government. Despite warnings about renewed escalation, Bennett went ahead with approving the rally in order to consolidate his right-wing support base. The leader of the United Arab List, Mansour Abbas who is currently a coalition partner in the Bennet led government called the rally as “an attempt to set the region on fire for political aims,” and undermine the new government.

Notably, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the racist slogans on Twitter calling it “a disgrace to the Israeli people,” adding, “The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable.”

Defence Minister Benny Gantz met with the military chief of staff, the police commissioner and other senior security officials highlighting the need to avoid friction and protect the personal safety of both Jews and Arabs. The Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, called the march an “aggression against our people.” The Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned the march as “unacceptable diluting the efforts to reduce friction between Israel and the Palestinians.

Moreover, according a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, around 53 percent of Palestinians have favoured Hamas as the most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people and only 14 percent has expressed preference for Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas’ 11 days conflict with Israeli forces in May has contributed to its increase in popularity.

In other news, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has halted “intelligence mapping” or the practice of conducting night time raids in Palestinian homes in the West Bank to derive information about the residents. IDF came under intense pressure by Israeli civil society and human rights groups i.e. Yesh Din; Physicians for Human Rights Israel and Breaking the Silence. The activist groups published a detailed report concluding arbitrary invasions of private Palestinian homes does not serve any strategic purpose and only leads to oppression and intimidation of the Palestinian population causing deep psychological trauma.

US’ UN Ambassador assures Humanitarian Relief to Syrian Refugees

The US Ambassador to Turkey, Linda Thomas-Greenfield during her visit to Turkey between 2 and 4 June, has announced that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing US$ 240 million to support humanitarian efforts for Syrian refugees settled in Turkey. The US has reportedly spent around US$ 13 billion in humanitarian relief for Syrian refugees in the last ten years. She met with UN agencies and NGO partners to provide-life saving assistance to millions.

The Ambassador met with senior Turkish leaders to discuss opportunities to strengthen bilateral ties, collectively address global challenges; upgrade the level of cooperation on Syria including management of refugees. The US recognised the crucial role of Turkey to facilitate cross border assistance and providing refugees.

Peace talks fail between Sudanese Government and Rebel Group

The transitional government in mid-June failed to accomplish the peace deal with the rebel group, Sudan Popular Liberation Movement – North led by Abdel-Aziz al Hilu. The government and PLM – N on 15 June shut down the negotiations and agreed to discuss the disputed points at a later date. Reportedly, only four out of 19 points remain unresolved. The group is demanding secular constitution; disbanding militias erected during Omar Al Bashir’s tenure and reforms in military. The government has been negotiating with the rebel group since the last two years and recently signed a declaration of principles entailing roadmap for talks. The current talks are mediated by South Sudan. PLM-N operates in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces and threatened to call for self-determination in the areas under their control in case the demands remain unfulfilled.

In other news, Sudanese transitional government has indicated that it will review the agreement with Russia to establish a naval base. The naval base would hold up to 300 Russian troops and host up to four navy ships including nuclear powered vessels in Port Sudan. Russia had committed to provide weapons, military equipment and training, Sudan concluded the agreement during the presidency of Oman Al-Bashir. The deal was never ratified by the parliament.

Spain Reopens Embassy in Tripoli

Spain in early June reopened its embassy in Libya’s capital, Tripoli after a gap of seven years. The decision was made after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez held discussion with Libyan Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. Spain has agreed to start the authorisation process to expedite visas to improve mobility between both states. The Spanish Prime Minister expressed hope that it would pave the way for cooperation and benefit the Libyan political process.

Turkish President’s visit to Azerbaijan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 15 June visited Azerbaijan and met with President, Ilham Aliyev in the historic city of Shusha. Shusha is an important cultural centre for Azerbaijan which came under Armenian control in 1992. Azerbaijan recaptured the strategic city in November 2020 during the six weeks conflict with Armenia. Turkey was crucial military ally for Azerbaijan supplying weapons and UAVs.

Both leaders signed declaration in order to deepen relations in several areas including security. Erdogan became the first foreign leader to visit Shusha. Turkey promised to set up a consulate in the city extending support for Azerbaijan’s control over city and other areas in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.