Tag Archives: UN General Assembly

West Asia Roundup: September 2022


Iran has been rattling on account of international sanctions, lack in progress on JCPOA Nuclear deal due to shifting goal posts, economic down turn even as it may have got some respite due to the Russia-Ukraine war in the context of accentuating energy crisis especially in Europe. But Tehran’s domestic scene remains charged and volatile in the aftermath of the death of a young Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police which held and allegedly tortured her due to inappropriate attire. Death to Dictator and public shearing of hair and burning of Hijab became symbols of resistance, identity and independence of women folk even as the Iranian society and even the leadership remain divided on the issue. The Government tried to pass it off the protests as the western devil’s plot and design to destabilize the country. But deep rooted problems from economy to freedom have compounded the situation much more and could be a watershed moment in the Iranian polity and society. Tehran even launched some preemptive strikes on Kurdish Iraqis accusing them of supporting protests.

Iran and Albania broke off diplomatic relations as Tehran was accused of cyber attacks on its security establishment. US imposed some more sanctions.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was appointed as the Prime Minister which is another step in his rise to be the King in due course as greater powers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia devolve upon him as a de facto ruler.

Egypt and Qatar ties have warmed up even more after the blockade was lifted at the Al Ula summit with MBS’s initiative. Doha is making significant investments in Egypt; hence the visit of President Abdel Fateh el Sisi to Doha acquired greater salience. Qatari Emir in his UN address like several other Arab leaders reiterated support for the Palestinian cause.

Israeli PM Yair Lapid and Turkish President met in New York and agreed to exchange Ambassadors as well as discussed cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean as Ankara offers transit to likely gas pipelines and flows from Israel to Europe. This was the first highest level exchange since 2008.

PM Yair Lapid during his UNGA address spoke of the two state solution to the Palestinian problem as the Israeli Defence Forces continued to pound targets in Palestine and Syria.

At the 77thUNGA, President Erdogan once again raked up the Kashmir issue “India and Pakistan, after having established their sovereignty and independence 75 years ago, they still haven’t established peace and solidarity between one another. This is much unfortunate. We hope and pray that a fair and permanent peace and prosperity will be established in Kashmir” was considered milder after his meeting with PM Modi at Samarkand. India discarded the comments that it does not take into cognisance such statements by irrelevant parties.

India seems to have changed its approach adopting tit for tat policy that was evident during EAM Dr Jaishankar’s meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA when he tweeted ‘”Met FM @MevlutCavusoglu of Turkiye on side-lines of #UNGA. Wide ranging conversation that covered the Ukraine conflict, food security, G20 processes, global order, NAM and Cyprus’. Cyprus has been hanging fire since 1974 Turkish invasion.

Dr Jaishankar among scores of his meetings also met the Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush and “appreciated her perspectives on the evolving situation in Libya.” The situation in Libya continues to be volatile.

I2U2 continues to focus on project delivery and closer engagement. I2U2 (India-Israel-UAE-USA) Sherpas met on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York on 20 September. The group expressed its commitment to deepening the economic partnership among the four countries. They took stock of the projects identified under I2U2: (i) setting up of food parks in India and (ii) hybrid Renewable Energy/battery storage project in Dwarka, Gujarat.

PM Modi met Iranian President Raisi on the side-lines of the SCO Summit (Sept 16) in Samarkand. Iran has just joined the SCO as full member. Apart from bilateral, regional, global and status of JCPOA negotiations, the two leaders reviewed the progress in the development of the Shahid Behesti terminal, Chabahar Port and underscored the importance of bilateral cooperation in the field of regional connectivity. Iran is hoping to resume its oil and gas supplies to India in the same manner that she is buying it from Russia. PM invited President Raisi to visit India.

EAM Dr Jaishankar visited Saudi Arabia from August 10-12, to co-chair the inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC), established under the framework of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council, with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, HH Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. The two Ministers undertook a comprehensive review of the entire bilateral relationship and discussed the progress under the four Joint Working Groups of the PSSC Committee, namely i) Political & Consular; ii) Legal & Security; iii) Social & Cultural and iv) Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation. The meetings of these Groups and Senior Officials (at Secretary level) have been held over the past few months. Both sides also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest including their cooperation at the UN, G20 and GCC. He also called on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman apart from meeting Secretary General of GCC among others.

The 14th India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister of UAE H.H. Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on 01 September 2022. Both Ministers expressed happiness at the entry into force of the landmark Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 01 May 2022 and organization of various activities and events for the effective implementation of the Agreement. Both Ministers reiterated commitment to achieving the goal of USD 100 billion of bilateral trade in the next five years. They also positively assessed the investment partnership between both countries and the growth of UAE investments in India in diverse sectorsin accordance with the Vision Statement made by Pm Modi and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in February, 2022.

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Protest in Iran demanding Gender Justice

The death of a 22 year old Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini on 16 September after her arrest in Tehran by the infamous Morality Police has ignited number of protest throughout the Islamic Republic. Amini during her detention collapsed and fell into coma for three days. Amini’s family has claimed that she faced brutal punishment leading to the death. Iranian authorities in order to deflect criticism have claimed that she suffered from pre-existing conditions. The death has raised questions on Iran’s rigid laws over women’s public conduct including their clothing. Consequently, in response to the death, protest began on Amini’s hometown, Saqqez in Kurdistan province which spread throughout the country.

Iranian government has responded by imposing internet restrictions banning social media and clamping down on protests leading to around 100 deaths. Iran has blamed the US and Israel for igniting the protests calling it a conspiracy.

New US sanctions on Iran

The Joe Biden administration on 9 September imposed restrictions on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security after reports of cyber-attack in Albania targeting police computer systems. On 29 September, the US launched another round of sanctions promising to impose financial penalties on a regular basis and severely curbing Iranian oil and petro-chemical exports. The new sanctions have targeted ‘front companies’ involved in sale of Iranian petroleum and petro-chemical exports based in India, China, Hong Kong and the UAE. The sanctions entail freezing the assets of these sanctions in the US and prohibitions on the US citizens to carry out business. The US has linked the new sanctions to the failure of JCPOA talks due to continued differences over fundamental issues. Iran has continued to accelerate the nuclear programme including uranium enrichment. Iran at the same time has restarted talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over probe into man-made nuclear particles discovered at nuclear sites. Iran has denied the presence of nuclear particles claiming it as false information spread by Israel.

Iranian strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iranian forces on 28 September carried out missile and drone strikes at bases of a left wing armed opposition group called the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan or KDPI. The Iranian attacks in Koya located 60 km east of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan led to 13 deaths. The military action has been undertaken in the context of domestic protests following Mahsa Amini’s death. Iranian government has blamed the Iranian-Kurdish separatists of involvement in protests. IRGC has claimed that the operation will continue until threats are thwarted and terrorist group bases are destroyed.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appointed as Prime Minister

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) has been appointed as the new Prime Minister after cabinet reshuffles ordered by King Salman. The Crown Prince is already the de-facto leader of the state who earlier held portfolios such as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister. In terms of the current cabinet reshuffle, MBS’ younger brother, Khalid bin Salman was named as Defence Minister. Moreover, according to royal decree, the positions of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih were reaffirmed. The appointment of MBS as Prime Minister indicates the slow transition of power in the kingdom.

Parliamentary Election in Kuwait

On 20 September, election for the National Assembly was held in Kuwait. Earlier, on 2 August 2022, Kuwaiti Crown Prince Meshal al-Ahmad dissolved the parliament after months of in-fighting between the National Assembly and the government under Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah. The parliament also passed non-confidence votes on Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministers. The fresh election has led to defeat of several “pro-government” politicians. The Islamic Constitutional Movement affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Shiite bloc has managed to increase its share in the 50 seat assembly. Notably, 305 candidates participated in election as independents since political parties are banned from contesting polls. In terms of female participation, 22 women participated in the election and only two secured victory.

Kuwait’s democratic institutions are fairly active as compared to other Gulf States. The political stability in the country is dependent on cooperation between the government and parliament. In case of stalemates, the Emir often resorts to cabinet reshuffles and dissolution of the parliament.

Egyptian President’s Visit to Doha

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Qatar on 13 and 14 September and met with Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Earlier in June, Qatari Emir had visited Egypt indicating sign of warming ties. Egypt had joined Saudi Arabia to impose economic blockade on Qatar in 2017 for their alleged support towards terrorist groups and close ties with Iran. Domestically within Egypt, Qatar had backed the Muslim Brotherhood led government that ruled the state briefly between 2012 and 2013. Doha was critical of the military coup led by El-Sisi that banned Muslim Brotherhood and led to mass arrests and deaths of its supporters. Qatar based news channel, Al Qaeda has been highly critical of Egyptian government’s harsh treatment of civil society members, human rights activists, opposition figures etc. and number of its journalists have been languishing in Egyptian jails for years.

The recent bonhomie has occurred after Saudi Arabia lifted the blockade in 2021. In the background of Russia-Ukraine war, Qatar has helped Egypt to overcome the food crisis and in March 2022, it pledged to invest around US$ 5 billion. Qatar Energy also announced agreement with ExxonMobil to acquire 40 percent stake in gas exploration block in Mediterranean Sea. During the current visit, both states signed three MOUs including close cooperation between their respective sovereign wealth funds.

Israeli airstrikes in Syria

Israeli forces on 6 September carried out airstrike on Aleppo Airport damaging the runway and putting it out of service. IDF had earlier attacked the airport on 31 August partially damaging the facility. The Israeli raids destroyed the warehouses belonging to Iran backed fighters. Syrian Transport Ministry after the 6 September attack was forced to divert all flights from Aleppo to the international airport in Damascus.

Israel has carried out number of attacks in areas under the control of Bashar Al Assad government. Israel has refused to divulge details about these operations. It however acknowledged that strikes have been conducted against Iran allied fighters including Hezbollah.

Israeli Raids in West Bank

Israeli forces have carried out number of military raids in occupied West Bank in September 2022. On 6 September, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) blew up an apartment in Jenin belonging to the family of Raed Hazem, responsible for killing three Israelis in April 2022. In Nablus, two Palestinians were killed on 24 and 25 September. Israeli forces also shot dead one Palestinian and 16 others. Israeli forces on 28 September killed four Palestinians and injured 44 others during a military raid on a refugee camp in Jenin. Reportedly, three out of the four casualties were members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

The death of a seven year old Palestinian child on 29 September has re-ignited public uproar about the treatment by Israeli forces towards Palestinians. The Palestinian boy, Rayan Suleiman was chased by Israeli soldiers while walking home from school. Suleiman during the chase suffered from cardiac arrest leading to his death. The European Union (EU) expressed shock over the death and the US State Department called for investigation. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has ruled out use of violence arguing that only one officer went to Suleiman’s house after spotting children throwing stones. Palestinians came out in large numbers throughout West Bank condemning Israel’s military tactics. There were also reports of confrontation between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Tequa.

Turkey and Israeli leaders meeting since 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid held discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 20 September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. It was the first high level meeting since 2008. The relationship had nosedived after 2008-2009 Israel Gaza war and 2010 attack by Israeli forces on Turkish flotilla carrying humanitarian aid towards Gaza. President Erdogan has regularly utilized the subject of Palestinian suffering to increase his domestic and regional legitimacy. Turkey also had been vocal in condemning Israeli actions in West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Turkey eventually agreed to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel in August 2022. During the meeting in New York, both leaders discussed about energy cooperation, intelligence sharing and Russia-Ukraine war. Israel also appointed Irit Lillian as the new Ambassador to Turkey on 20 September 2022.

West Asia Round Up – September 2021


Afghanistan and emergence of Taliban on the centre stage remained a key concern and priority for the international community and major actors and which was equally reflected in the West Asian leaders’ interventions at the UNGA apart from their own regional and bilateral challenges.

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli PM Naftali Bennett claimed that Tehran had in recent years taken “a major leap forward” in its nuclear production capacity and ability to enrich weapons-grade uranium. “Iran’s nuclear weapon programme is at a critical point; all red lines have been crossed”. Iran on its part asked Tel Aviv to stop clandestine attacks on its nuclear facilities.

While US said that the window for Iran to return to JCPOA negotiations was fast closing the French officials asked Iran to return to talks with world powers over its 2015 nuclear deal to avoid a diplomatic escalation that could jeopardize the negotiations. The official also said Iran could not set new conditions before returning to the talks in Vienna as the terms on the table were clear.

Meanwhile, Tehran demanded US to unfreeze $10 bn for it to meet its exigencies as a goodwill gesture. Iranian officials said nuclear agreement “is no longer at the top of the regime’s priorities,” explaining that the Supreme National Security Council will determine the composition of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team. However, it is expected that the teams will return to negotiating table sooner that later.

According to the Director-General of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organisation (TPO)’s Office of Arabian and African Countries, Farzad Piltan, the Islamic Republic’s five Arab trade partners are Iraq with about $5.3 billion worth of exports, followed by the UAE with about $3.7 billion, Oman with exports worth $244 million, followed by Kuwait and Qatar. Piltan said China was Iran’s top export destination.

Iran also joined SCO as a full member

As the Jordan’s King Abdullah II in nearly a decade had his first telephone call with President Assad, mediated by Iraqi PM, Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria on Wednesday in a boost for the struggling economies of both countries. The move follows a push by Arab states to rehabilitate Syria, which they have shunned during its decade-long civil war. UAE was one of the first to re-establish ties with Damascus.

Sudan had a failed coup

Foreign Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud visited India and met his counterpart Dr S Jaishankar as well as called on PM. This is the first ministerial visit from Saudi Arabia to India since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both Ministers discussed all issues related to their bilateral relationship and regional and international issues of mutual interest. They reviewed the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Council Agreement signed between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in October 2019. They expressed satisfaction at the meetings held under the Agreement and progress achieved. Both sides discussed further steps to strengthen their partnership in trade, investment, energy, defence, security, culture, consular issues, health care and human resources.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on September 3. Both leaders discussed regional issues of common concern. They agreed that there is no place for terrorism and extremism in the world and stressed the importance of international community standing together against such forces. PM conveyed his best wishes for the Expo 2020 starting October 1 in Dubai in which Indian Pavilion and presence will be remarkable. Later, United Arab Emirates and India have commenced their discussions on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which was announced during the visit of (Sept 27) of Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, who met India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry; Minister of Civil Aviation; Minister of Electronics and Information Technology; and Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance, where the potential for deepening ties in trade, investment, technology and aviation were discussed.

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Interventions by West Asian Leaders during Annual General Debate at UN General Assembly

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during his speech at UN General Assembly mentioned that the foreign policy priorities of the Kingdom are peace, security, stability, supporting dialogue and peaceful solutions. The state is keen to set up conditions for development and achieve the aspirations of people for a better future in the region. Saudi Arabia insisted that it would remain the top international donor contributing US$ 800 million to poorer states to combat COVID-19 crisis. The King mentioned the importance of keeping the region free of weapons of mass destruction by supporting international efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear weaponization programme. He brought up the subject of extremism and expressed its commitment to thwart religion-based violence. On Yemen, he blamed the Houthis for rejecting the peace initiatives offered by the UN to peacefully resolve the conflict.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani speaking at the UN General Assembly urged the international community to engage with the Taliban. He stated that boycotting Taliban would only lead to polarisation and reactions. According to him, there is urgent need for support to the Afghan people during this critical juncture and separate between humanitarian aid and political differences. He mentioned that it is Qatar’s humanitarian duty to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan and push for preserving tangible gains. His speech did not touch upon the conditions of women under Taliban rule.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar called for ending armed conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya. He opined for respecting the sovereignty of Arab states and reaching comprehensive political solutions under the ambit of the UN that remains the only way to end crises in the region. The Foreign Minister insisted that the UAE would utilise its relationship with Israel to stimulate economic growth and advance prosperity and stability for the people in the region. The UAE stressed that the normalisation would eventually benefit the Palestinians who have denounced the agreement. The UAE with regard to Iran stated that any future agreement between the Islamic Republic and world powers on the nuclear programme should involve the states in the region.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government under Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was represented by Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak at the UN General Assembly. He expressed support for the UN led peace process and pointed to Iran’s backing for the Houthis as part of the problem. With regard to COVID-19 crisis, Mubarak pressed on the need for more vaccines arguing that roughly 1 million doses it received is insufficient to vaccinate even the most vulnerable portions of the population.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaking at the UN called the US presence in the West Asian region as lack of rationality and detrimental to oppressed people from Palestine, Syria, Yemen to Afghanistan as well as the US taxpayers. The US sanctions according to Raisi is a new way of war with the nations of the world and a crime against humanity especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Raisi noted that despite sanctions, Tehran Research Reactor has succeeded in producing radiopharmaceuticals for treating cancer patients and developed its own COVID-19 vaccines. Raisi reminded the danger of terrorism and identified the root causes such as identity and economy. He called Israel as the organiser of the biggest state terrorism and suggested holding referendum with participation of all Palestinians of all religions and ethnicities including Muslims, Christians and Jews. Raisi assured that nuclear weapons have no place in its defence and deterrence policy suggesting that production and stockpiling of atomic weapons are forbidden in Iran by religious decree.

Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister Fayssal Mekdad during his speech on 27 September reaffirmed the state’s commitment to combat terrorism and restoring security and stability. He mentioned that the state is safe for the refugees to return and all relevant institutions are working towards that goal. He blamed the western states for their hypocritical attitude of pretending to care about the Syrians while extracting benefit from their suffering. He called for stopping cross border aid mechanism from Turkey. Mekdad argued that the US and Turkey while occupying its territories are looting its natural resources.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his speech talked about a more just world for both Turks and Muslims living in the US. He stressed on the possibility of a fairer world to accomplish its goal through cooperation, solidarity and humanity. With regard to Afghanistan, he pointed towards the failure and indifference of the US and asked who would pay the price for their irresponsible behaviour. Erdogan mentioned that his government is ready to engage with Afghanistan if Taliban is willing to form an inclusive government.

Erdogan’s speech at the UN raised eyebrows in India after he mentioned Turkey’s stance to solve the ongoing problem in Kashmir for 74 years through dialogue between parties and within the framework of relevant UN resolutions.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet during his first speech at the UN General Assembly called Israel as a lighthouse in a stormy sea and a beacon of democracy that is diverse by design, innovative by nature and eager to contribute to the world. He identified the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and polarisation as the biggest threat to Israel as well as rest of the world that has weakened public trust in institutions. He elaborated Israel’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis. He mentioned that the state is surrounded by Hezbollah, Shiite militias, Islamic Jihad and Hamas that are backed and funded by Iran. He called by global efforts to halt Iran’s plans to dominate the region through its proxies. He recalled the role of the current Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in killing around 5000 political activists in 1988. Bennett expressed concerns over Iran’s progress in developing its nuclear R&D, production capacity and uranium enrichment levels.

Israeli Prime Minister reiterated that his government would not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and hinted that it would do whatever is necessary to halt the nuclear programme. Bennet pushed US President Joe Biden to harden stance against Iran’s nuclear programme and its regional policy.

Algeria’s Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra during his speech called for holding referendum on self-determination for the disputed Western Sahara region. He assured support for the rights of the Sahrawi people and urged the UN to assume their legal responsibilities and guarantee their inalienable rights.

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi during his speech tried to dispel fear about the political developments in the North African state. President Kais Saied in July 2021 suspended the parliament and consolidated political control. Jerandi argued that the state is facing deeply rooted political polarisation, corruption, socio-economic and health crisis which forced the President to take measures. He argued that the chronic problems facing the state has weakened the democratic process, state institutions and judicial system. The Foreign Minister assured that Saied’s efforts would put the state back on the right path towards democracy. In case of Libya, Tunisia suggested that it is willing to provide support to complete the political track and meet their political and electoral obligations.

Developments in Yemen

In South Yemen, protests erupted in Aden and Hadramawt governorates in mid-September over deteriorating living conditions, widespread poverty and power cuts. The protest turned violent following which security forces fired live ammunition towards protestors killing two in Aden and one died in Mukalla. There were several instances of stone pelting, road blockades and arson by protestors in Khour Maksour, Crater and Sheikh Othman districts.

The street protests have been supported by the Southern Transitional Council (STC) that has called for bigger demonstrations against Abdrabbuh Hadi government. The power-sharing deal between Hadi government and STC brokered by Saudi Arabia has reached a fragile state in the current period.

In northern Yemen, Houthi forces has re-launched offensive in Al Bayda governorate and succeeded in taking key strategic sites in Bayhan district in neighbouring Shabwah governorate. Houthi forces succeeded in claiming control over Ain, Bayhan, Usaylan districts in the Shabwah governorate. In Marib governorate, clashes were reported by Houthis and Hadi government’s forces.

Syrian Conflict

In North West Syria, the Islamist group Ansar Abu Bakr Al Saddiq Brigade attacked a Turkish armoured vehicle using IED on the Bennsh Idlib road killing three Turkish soldiers. At the same time, Russian warplanes conducted airstrikes against Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS) locations in Idlib, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama. In separate attacks, HTS killed Syrian and Russian soldiers. On 14 September, three Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) fighters were killed in drone strike.

Israel Palestine Conflict

On 6 September, six Palestinian prisoners including one former leader of Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and five Islamic Jihad members escaped from Israel’s Gilboa prison. The escape was seen as a major security and intelligence failure. The prisoners dug a hole in the floor of their bathroom leading to a hollow space underneath the prison and reached the outer wall. According to Shin Bet, the prisoners were picked up in a car. The jail-break was seen as a major embarrassment for the Israeli security establishment.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called it a grave incident requiring an across-the-board effort by the security forces. Israeli security forces by 19 September had captured all six prisoners. The last two prisoners were arrested from Jenin. Palestinians in Jenin clashed with Israeli troops and threw stones and explosives at the troops. In other parts of West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians took out marches in support of the prisoners.

Notably, after the first two prisoners were arrested on 11 September, at least one rocket was launched towards Israel which was intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system. Israeli fighter jets conducted retaliatory strikes on Hamas positions in Gaza. There was no reported loss of lives.

Israeli Embassy opens in Bahrain

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited Manama on 30 September to inaugurate its embassy. Incidentally, Bahraini air carrier Gulf Air flight made its maiden flight to Israel the same day. Foreign Minister Lapid met with King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa to discuss avenues to further deepen the relations. Bahrain along with the UAE, Sudan and Morocco normalised relations with Israel in 2020. Bahrain considers Iran as an existential threat and engagement with Israel including in the sphere of security could help the Gulf state to ward off Iran’s overtures.

School teachers protest in Iran

School teachers in Iran protested throughout the state in the first week of September demanding better working conditions, better salaries and government action to stop high rates of inflation. Teachers are demanding implementation of a new law for ranking teachers based on their qualifications that would reciprocate in their salary scales. The law has already been passed by the parliament’s education committee. The approval process of the law has been slow likely because it could create a new financial obligation for the Iranian government.