News Report on the Middle East 15 – 31 May

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Palestine

  • Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and US President Joe Biden held a phone call. In this telephone conversation between the two leaders, US President Biden said he was worried about civilian deaths and refrained from condemning Israel and said that Hamas should stop the rockets fired.
  • In addition, while the two leaders shared their concerns regarding civilian casualties, Biden stated that economic and humanitarian aid to Palestinians will continue. Additionally, President Biden stated that the best way to resolve the Palestinian issue is the two-state solution, and that this is the only viable way to a permanent solution.

Resource: İbicioğlu S, Baykan D. (2021). ‘Filistin Devlet Başkanı Abbas, ABD Başkanı Biden ile görüştü’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/filistin-devlet-baskani-abbas-abd-baskani-biden-ile-gorustu/2242603 (accessed 15.05.2021)

  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made some statements at the third meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the crisis between Israel and Palestine and the air strikes on Gaza.
  • UN Secretary General Guterres said that the only way out of the crisis is to hold two-state solution negotiations based on UN resolutions, international law and all agreements on this issue, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

Resource: Yürük, B. (2021). ‘BM’den İsrail ve Filistin’e iki devletli çözüm için müzakerelere dönme çağrısı’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/bmden-israil-ve-filistine-iki-devletli-cozum-icin-muzakerelere-donme-cagrisi/2243525 (accessed 16.05.2021)

  • A ceasefire agreement was reached between Israel and Hamas. The ceasefire agreement, which was reached after the attacks and civilian casualties that have been continuing since May 10, entered into force on May 21 at 02:00.
  • Palestinian youth celebrated the ceasefire agreement, which was also welcomed by the international community.

Resource: Başer, H. (2021). ‘İsrail ile Hamas arasında varılan ateşkes anlaşması yürürlüğe girdi’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/israil-ile-hamas-arasinda-varilan-ateskes-anlasmasi-yururluge-girdi/2249466 (accessed 21.05.2021)

  • The UN Security Council has declared that both sides must stick to the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. The UN Security Council also expressed its appreciation for Egypt, regional actors, the UN and the Middle East Quartet, who contributed to the ceasefire agreement.
  • The UN Security Council announced that it supported UN Secretary-General Guterres’ call for support from the international community for the region to recover and rebuild as soon as possible. In addition, the UN Security Council stressed that it supports the two-state solution and that the ceasefire should be maintained.

Resource: Çopur H, Yürük, B. (2021). ‘BM Güvenlik Konseyi’nden İsrail ve Hamas’a ‘ateşkese bağlı kalınması’ çağrısı’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/bm-guvenlik-konseyinden-israil-ve-hamasa-ateskese-bagli-kalinmasi-cagrisi/2251282 (accessed 22.05.2021)

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Israel

  • US Secretary of State Blinken visited Israel. Following the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Blinken, the two sides made statements.
  • While expressing his gratitude to the United States for supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made statements regarding Iran. Expressing that he hopes that the ongoing nuclear talks of the USA with Iran will not result in a return to JCPOA, Netanyahu stated that if the contrary to his hopes, the legitimacy of Iran’s nuclear weapons will be provided.
  • US Secretary of State Blinken emphasized that they fully support Israel’s right to self-defense in the face of rockets launched by Hamas that harm Israeli civilians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his gratitude to Blinken for the support given by the United States to the two-state solution. Blinken, on the other hand, promised financial and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority for the reconstruction of the region after the events in the Gaza Strip, and warned that this aid should not go to Hamas.

Resource: Bicom.org. (2021). ‘Top US and UK diplomats visit Israel’ https://www.bicom.org.uk/news/top-us-and-uk-diplomats-visit-israel/ (accessed 26.05.2021)

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has decided to launch an investigation into Israel’s actions in Operation Guardian of the Walls. The relevant investigation will be about the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza, Jerusalem, inside Israel and the West Bank.
  • With this decision, it was called for the first time to establish a permanent ‘Commission of Inquiry’ for Israel’s actions. Twenty-four countries supported the resolution, nine countries opposed, and fourteen abstained. The relevant decision was met with reaction in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that this decision was a disgraceful decision and could encourage terrorist organizations around the world by making international law ridiculous.

Resource: Bicom.org. (2021). ‘Israel slams biased UN Human Rights Council’ (accessed 28.05.2021)

Egypt

  • Egypt’s official news agency MENA announced that a ceasefire has been reached between Israel and Hamas.
  • In addition, it was stated that Cairo will send two security delegations to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories to monitor the implementation of ceasefire procedures between the two sides and to negotiate stability measures to be taken for the future.

Resources: Aydi Y, İbicioğlu S. (2021). ‘Mısır, Hamas ve İsrail arasındaki ateşkesin ardından bölgeye güvenlik heyetleri gönderecek’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/misir-hamas-ve-israil-arasindaki-ateskesin-ardindan-bolgeye-guvenlik-heyetleri-gonderecek/2249416 (accessed 22.05.2021)

Iran

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that in the ongoing nuclear deal negotiations in Vienna, an agreement was reached on lifting the main sanctions, and negotiations on some details are continuing.
  • In addition, Rohani said, “We are talking about some small details. They agreed to lift sanctions on oil, petrochemicals, shipping, insurance, central bank and all banks. We took the basic and big step and the main agreement was reached. We continue to talk about some issues to reach a final agreement.”.

Resources: Kurşun, M. (2021). ‘Ruhani Viyana’da ana yaptırımların kaldırılmasıyla ilgili anlaşmaya varıldığını söyledi’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/ruhani-viyanada-ana-yaptirimlarin-kaldirilmasiyla-ilgili-anlasmaya-varildigini-soyledi/2248377 (accessed 20.05.2021)

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese President Xi Jinping evaluated bilateral and regional relations and the nuclear agreement in their telephone conversation.
  • At the meeting, Rouhani praised China’s stance on the nuclear deal and pointed out the importance of continuing cooperation between the two countries within the framework of the nuclear agreement on the Arak Water Reactor.
  • Stating that the 50-year-old relations between China and Iran have developed further, Rouhani stated that the 25-year Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement signed is of strategic importance for the future of bilateral relations.

Resource: Kurşun, M. (2021). ‘İran Cumhurbaşkanı Ruhani ile Çin Devlet Başkanı Şi ‘nükleer anlaşmayı’ görüştü’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/iran-cumhurbaskani-ruhani-ile-cin-devlet-baskani-si-nukleer-anlasmayi-gorustu/2252633 (accessed 24.05.2021)

  • Among the candidates who will participate in the presidential elections to be held in June in Iran, 5 of the 7 candidates approved by the Guardian Council of the Constitution are conservative and 2 are known for their reformist identity.
  • President of the Judiciary İbrahim Reisi, known for his conservative identities, former Revolutionary Guards Army General Commander and General Secretary of the Council for the Diagnosis of the Benefit of Order Muhsin Rızai, former National Security Supreme Council Secretary General and Nuclear Chief Negotiator Said Celili, Deputy Emir Hüseyin Kadızade Hashemi and former Deputy Ali Rıza Zakani, received permission from the council for candidacy.
  • Among the names known for his reformist identity, former Vice President and former Governor of Isfahan Muhsin Mihralizade and Central Bank Governor Abdunnasır Himmeti were allowed to run.

Resource: Ahıskalı, M. (2021). ‘İran’da 13. dönem cumhurbaşkanlığı seçimlerinde yarışacak 7 aday belli oldu’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/iranda-13-donem-cumhurbaskanligi-secimlerinde-yarisacak-7-aday-belli-oldu/2253637 (accessed 25.05.2021)

Syria

  • The controversial presidential election in Syria resulted in the victory of current President Bashar al-Assad. According to the official news agency of the Assad regime, SANA, the current President Bashar Assad won the election with 95.1 percent of the votes.
  • Debates continue around the Syrian opposition and internationally around the political and moral legitimacy of the election, as well as its effects on the sustainability of the regime.
  • Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad defended the regime’s election “thousands of times better than the US elections”, defying the United Nations (UN), which rejected the elections, and the international community.
  • There were similar reactions from other countries to the elections, which Turkey openly opposed. The US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK opposed the election with a joint written statement. In the joint statement, the relevant countries said “As the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US, we clearly state that the presidential elections in Syria on May 26 will not be free and fair. We reject the decision to hold these elections, it is outside the framework of the UN Security Council resolution 2254 of the Assad regime.”

Resource: Osman, M. (2021). ‘Esed’in tartışmalı seçimi: Etkileri ve yansımaları’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/analiz/esedin-tartismali-secimi-etkileri-ve-yansimalari/2257418 (accessed 28.05.2021)

Lebanon

  • Lebanese Foreign Minister Wehbe presented his resignation after his remarks against the Gulf countries.
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) requested an official apology from Lebanese Foreign Minister Serbil Wahbe for his statements regarding Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) called the Lebanese ambassadors in the country to the Foreign Ministries and gave them an official protest note.

Resource: Tüfekçi Gülay, Z. (2021). ‘Lübnan Dışişleri Bakanı Vehbe, Körfez ülkelerine yönelik tepki çeken sözlerinin ardından istifasını sundu’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/lubnan-disisleri-bakani-vehbe-korfez-ulkelerine-yonelik-tepki-ceken-sozlerinin-ardindan-istifasini-sundu/2246714 (accessed 19.05.2021)

Libya

  • US Deputy Undersecretary of State Joey Hood and newly appointed Libya Special Representative Richard Norland visited Libya and conveyed to Libyan leaders that they support the election to be held in the country in December.
  • It was stated that during the talks, with an inclusive negotiation led by Libyans, common interests including ending the conflicts and the necessity of the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement made on 23rd of October 2020 were discussed.
  • It stands out as the highest level visit from the USA to Libya since 2014. It was noted that two US officials met with Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dibeybe, Foreign Minister Necla el-Menguş, Presidential Council Chairman Muhammed el-Menfi and National Supreme Election Board Chairman Imad es-Saih.

Resource: İleri, K. (2021). ‘ABD’den Libya’ya 2014’ten bu yana en üst düzey ziyaret https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/abdden-libyaya-2014ten-bu-yana-en-ust-duzey-ziyaret/2246099 (accessed 18.05.2021)

  • Joey Hood, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, urged the parties in Libya to fully implement the ceasefire and stated that all foreign powers and mercenaries should withdraw from Libya.
  • Libyan Foreign Minister Menguş stated that they agreed with the United States that the foreign presence in Libya should be ended, ensuring the security of the citizen, ending the armed conflict, unifying state institutions and liberating the national sovereign will from any material or moral coercion. Menguş also stated that they emphasized that the US delegation should reopen its embassy in Tripoli and its consulate in Benghazi in order to deliver a message of stability in Libya.

Resource: Aydemir M. (2021). ‘ABD’li yetkili Hood tüm yabancı güçler ve paralı askerlerin Libya’dan çekilmesi gerektiğini söyledi’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/abdli-yetkili-hood-tum-yabanci-gucler-ve-parali-askerlerin-libyadan-cekilmesi-gerektigini-soyledi/2245917 (accessed 18.05.2021)

  • Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dibeybe met with Tunisian Prime Minister Hisham al-Mesishi and his delegation, who visited the capital Tripoli. The two leaders made a joint press statement after the meeting between the delegations.
  • Noting that there has been a great momentum in relations between Libya and Tunisia since they took office as the Libyan government, Dibeybe said that they will work to activate the agreements between the two countries.
  • Tunisian Prime Minister Mesishi stated that they are ready to accompany the rebuilding process of Libya. Mesishi also added that they will facilitate the entry of Libyan citizens into Tunisia and lift restrictions on property acquisition.

Resource: Aydemir, M. (2021). ‘Libya ve Tunus arasında taşımacılık alanında anlaşmalar imzalandı’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/libya-ve-tunus-arasinda-tasimacilik-alaninda-anlasmalar-imzalandi/2251187  (accessed 22.05.2021)

  • United Nations (UN) Special Envoy to Libya Jan Kubis called for foreign forces and mercenaries in Libya to leave the country as soon as possible.
  • Kubis pointed out that although there is progress in the field of ceasefire, political process and security, there has been no progress on important issues such as opening the coastal road between Sirte and Misrata and withdrawing foreign fighters from Libya. Kubis called for all foreign fighters and foreign forces to leave the country as soon as possible in order to stabilize Libya.

Resource: Yürük, B. (2021). ‘BM, Libya’daki paralı savaşçıların ve yabancı güçlerin ayrılması çağrısı yaptı’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/bm-libyadaki-parali-savascilarin-ve-yabanci-guclerin-ayrilmasi-cagrisi-yapti/2250600 (accessed 21.05.2021)

Iraq

  • It has been reported that the pro-Iranian Hashd al-Shaabi forces in Iraq have ended their siege in the Baghdad Green Zone.
  • Hashdi Shabi Enbar Operations Commander Kasim Muslih was arrested by an Iraqi government force for a terrorist crime. Thereupon, al-Hashd al-Shaabi elements raided the Green Zone with military vehicles and weapons and surrounded the interior.
  • The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council had decided to arrest Muslih for terrorism charges. It is alleged that Muslih was involved in the killing of civil activists in the country and the rocket attacks on the Ayn al-Asad Akseri Base, where US forces are located.

Resource: Karaalp, H. (2021). ‘Bağdat’ta Haşdi Şabi’nin Yeşil Bölge’deki kuşatması sona erdi’ https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/bagdat-ta-hasdi-sabi-nin-yesil-bolgedeki-kusatmasi-sona-erdi/2255408 (accessed 26.05.2021)

  • In Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, hundreds of people protested the government over the lack of public service and the killing of civilian activists on May 25, and there were clashes between security forces and demonstrators.
  • Another crisis broke out in Iraq, where various demonstrations have been continuing since October 2019. It was reported that one person was killed and hundreds were injured in clashes between security forces and civilians.
  • It is reported that the brawl that took place before the elections planned to be held in October in the country could seriously affect the rate of participation in the election.

Resource: The Associated Press. (2021). ‘Iraq protests: One killed amid clashes between demonstrators and security forces’ https://www.euronews.com/2021/05/25/iraq-protests-one-killed-amid-clashes-between-demonstrators-and-security-forces (accessed 25.05.2021)

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