Tag Archives: Saudi

Neighborhood News Digest – 10 February 2023

Putin Says Afghan Humanitarian Condition Has ‘Deteriorated’ – Tolo News

Russian President Vladmir Putin pointed out that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan had deteriorated, with “four million” Afghans needing urgent emergency assistance. The fifth multilateral meeting of security envoys was held on Wednesday in Moscow. The meeting lasted for two days. Click here to read…

ISIL-K threatened to launch terrorist attacks against Indian embassy in Afghanistan: UN report – India Today

The ISIL-K have threatened to launch terrorist attacks against the embassies of India, Iran and China in Afghanistan and by targeting them, the terror group sought to undermine the relationship between the Taliban and the UN member states in the Central and South Asia region, according to a UN report. Click here to read…

$40 million in cash as humanitarian aid reaches Afghanistan – India Blooms

A fresh batch of $40 million in cash as humanitarian aid reached the cash-strapped and war-torn Afghanistan on Wednesday, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), the country’s central bank, said in a statement on Thursday. This is the second batch of cash as humanitarian aid arrived in Afghanistan since Jan. 14 as part of the international community’s support to help the economically impoverished country to enhance its foreign exchange reserve. Click here to read…

India-Russia to implement Strategic Partnership as country remains an important stakeholder in Afghanistan: NSA – Financial Express

Ahead of the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in the first week of March, NSA Ajit Doval is on a two day visit to Moscow and called on President Vladimir Putin. He also participated in the 5th Multilateral Meeting of Secretaries of Security Councils/National Security Advisers on Afghanistan, he also called on President Vladimir Putin. Click here to read…

PM seeks more Japanese investment in various sectors in Bangladesh – New Age

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday called upon the Japanese investors to come up with robust investment in Bangladesh’s various sectors as Japan Bank for International Cooperation governor Nobumitsu Hayashi paid a courtesy call on her. ‘Japan is a trusted partner of Bangladesh,’ PM’s speechwriter M Nazrul Islam quoted her as saying while briefing the newsmen after the meeting at the premier’s official Ganabhaban residence in the city. Click here to read…

Saudi businesses interested to invest in Bangladesh – TBS

The businesses of Saudi Arabia is very much interested to invest in Bangladesh as a high-profile delegation of the Kingdom, led by Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman Al-Saud, would take part in the Bangladesh Business Summit in March next. Click here to read…

Sugar exports at 2.7 mn tonnes in FY23 so far; Bangladesh top market: AISTA – Business Standard

India has exported 27.83 lakh tonnes of sugar till February 9 of the ongoing 2022-23 marketing year, with Bangladesh and Indonesia being the top markets, trade body AISTA said on Thursday. The sugar marketing year runs from October to September. The government has allowed export of 60 lakh tonnes till May of the 2022-23 marketing year. According to AISTA, mills have exported a total of 27,83,536 tonnes of sugar from October 1, 2022 to February 9 this year. Click here to read…

RMA revises foreign exchange quota to limit misuse – Kuensel

To curb the thriving informal foreign exchange market, the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), has revised the foreign exchange quota from February 6 this year. An official from the authority said that their study found an increase in the drawings of convertible currencies (USD) and Indian Rupee (INR) by travellers abroad. “The authority is doubtful of the misuse of the quota.” Click here to read…

Indo-Bhutan relationship touching new heights – The Sentinel

India and Bhutan’s relationship is climbing to a new height as New Delhi has been proactively supporting Bhutan in its efforts to establish a digital infrastructure, The Bhutan Live reported. On January 31, the Indian government announced its help for the development of Bhutan’s third international internet gateway. Click here to read…

The Maldives: geopolitics of Chinese tourism – Lowy Institute

As 2023 kicks off with China reopening its borders, the Maldives is holding its breath in anticipation of a returning influx of Chinese tourists. But 2023 is also a presidential election year and like any other country, the Maldives is not immune to geopolitics. With a presidential election set for September, Maldivian candidates need to balance the economy and Beijing. Click here to read…

Anwar urges Thailand to step up on Myanmar crisis – Jakarta Post

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim asked Thailand on Thursday to play a bigger role in bringing stability to coup-hit Myanmar, as diplomatic efforts to bring peace there flounder. Anwar held his first bilateral meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha since the former won office late last year. The Thai government has faced international criticism for maintaining normalised ties with Myanmar’s junta and for downplaying alleged atrocities in its neighbour since the country was plunged into chaos following a putsch two years ago. “There’s very little we can do except to continue this so-called constructive engagement with the Myanmar junta,” Anwar told reporters. Click here to read…

Myanmar Junta: Rohingya Repatriations Planned – Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s junta says it is working to bring back Rohingya refugees who fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh following the military’s supposed counter-insurgency operations in 2017.Junta leaders, including International Cooperation Minister U Ko Ko Hlaing, Border Affairs Minister Lieutenant General Tun Tun Naung, Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Dr. Thet Thet Khaing and Immigration and Population Minister U Myint Kyaing, visited Maungdaw on the Bangladesh border on Sunday and instructed the authorities to prepare transit camps for repatriation. Click here to read…

10 Myanmar migrant workers arrested in Manipur, India – BN

Regional police arrested 10 Myanmar nationals in Churachandpur District in the Indian state of Manipur. Manipur police arrested Myanmar handloom workers in Vaal area of New Lanka on February 5th. “Last night, the Manipur police raided the handloom factory and arrested about 10 people. Now, no one dares to stay in their own homes and hide in the forest,” said a Myanmar handloom worker in Manipur. Click here to read…

Indian foreign secretary visiting Nepal on Monday – The Kathmandu Post

After two back-to-back visits from the United States in a short span of time, it now appears to be New Delhi’s turn to engage with the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government. Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra is arriving in Kathmandu on Monday on a three-day official visit at the invitation of Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal. Click here to read…

‘Political instability’: Nepal PM ‘Prachanda’ rules out review of Constitution – India Today

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” on Thursday ruled out the review of the country’s Constitution, warning that such a move may lead to “political instability.” Prachanda made these comments at an event organised here to present the preliminary findings of a study on electoral reforms in Nepal. Click here to read…

Biden now invites PM Prachanda for conference amid growing US-China rivalry in Nepal – India Narrative

The United States has invited Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda to the Summit for Democracy to be hosted by President Joe Biden in late March. Samantha Power, administrator of the USAID, who paid a visit to Kathmandu on Tuesday and Wednesday, told a media briefing that Prachanda has been invited to the second Summit for Democracy which is taking place on March 29 and 30 both virtually and physically. Click here to read…

Pakistan, IMF fail to reach staff-level pact on bailout package: Report – Hindustan Times

The deadlock persists between Pakistan and International Monetary Fund as the two sides have failed to reach the staff-level agreement to unlock the USD 1.1 billion loan tranche after 10 days of “tough” talks, The News International reported. The development comes as negotiations, which took place between IMF and Pakistan from January 31 to February 9, concluded in Islamabad. The IMF’s mission had arrived in Islamabad to hold talks with Pakistani authorities. Click here to read…

Pakistan Skips Russia-hosted Multilateral Talks on Afghanistan – VOA News

Pakistan confirmed Thursday that it skipped this week’s Russia-hosted multilateral consultations on Afghanistan, suggesting there are other forums in which it can more effectively contribute to the Afghan peace process. Regional countries, including China, India, Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan were invited to Wednesday’s security adviser-level meeting in Moscow. Click here to read…

Fuel stations across Pakistan run dry as hoarding, black market sale takes over: Report – Times Now News

Only a few days back, reports of long ques at fuel stations in Pakistan came out indicating how fast the country’s economy was taking a tumble, and to make matter worse, fuel stations in the country are now reportedly shutting down after running out of fuel. Click here to read…

A safe decision? Pakistan to give travel passes to nationality holders in Afghanistan – Firstpost

Authorities in Pakistan’s North Waziristan have announced to issue special cards to Pakistani nationality holders staying in the border areas of Afghanistan in order to facilitate their hassle-free cross-border movement. This comes amid reports of massive spike in terror activities and smuggling of millions of dollars into Afghanistan from Pakistan on a daily basis. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
IMF Insists on Creditor Assurances to Unlock $2.9 Billion Sri Lanka Bailout – Bloomberg

The International Monetary Fund said its approval for a $2.9 billion loan to bail out crisis-riddled Sri Lanka will depend on the island nation securing assurances on debt relief from its bilateral creditors. “Sri Lanka continues to engage with official bilateral creditors to obtain financing assurances and also continues to advance domestic reforms,” an IMF spokesperson said in a statement on the progress of its Extended Fund Facility to the South Asian nation. Click here to read…

In final stages of negotiations with IMF on bailout package: Sri Lanka President Wickremesinghe – The Print

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday said Sri Lanka was in the final stages of negotiations with the IMF on the much-awaited USD 2.9 billion bailout package that could help the debt-trapped island nation recover from the unprecedented economic crisis. Wickremesinghe also said that his government was having “direct discussions” with Beijing to restructure the country’s debts with China. Click here to read…

Japan asks Sri Lanka to make efforts to regain trust of Japanese companies – Daily Mirror

Japan stressed the need for Sri Lanka to make efforts to regain the trust of Japanese companies and to resolve the issues and concerns of Japanese companies in Sri Lanka for revitalization of their economic activities in Sri Lanka, according to the Japanese embassy in Colombo. Japanese State Minister of Foreign Affairs Takei Shunsuke who was in Sri Lanka to attend the Independence Day celebration made this point when he had talks with Foreign Minister Ali SabryClick 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.