MENA Weekly

May 20, 2024

U.S.-Iran Indirect Talks

On Tuesday, May 14, the United States and Iran held indirect discussions in Oman aimed at avoiding regional escalation. Sources indicate that the talks “focused on clarifying the consequences of actions by Iran and its proxies in the region and to discuss U.S. concerns regarding the status of Iran’s nuclear program.”

U.S. President Joe Biden’s Middle East advisor Brett McGurk and acting U.S. envoy to Iran Abram Paley participated in representation of the United States.

Middle East Policy covers the key developments in the relationship between Iran and Israel, providing analysis on the recent and past tensions between the two adversaries.


Sudan: U.S. Sanctions & El-Fasher Violence

On Wednesday, May 15, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued sanctions against two commanders of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF): Central Darfur commander Ali Yagoub Gibril and operational planning head Osman Mohamed Hamid Mohamed.

This development comes as violent conflict has reached the former haven city of el-Fasher, where the RSF seeks to establish control. 

While the paramilitary group has announced willingness to open “safe passages” out of the city, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator maintains that Sudan’s residents are “trapped in an inferno of brutal violence.”

A Middle East Policy article by Majak D’Agoot discusses the rise of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces and its role in the current conflict.


33rd Arab League Summit

On Thursday, May 16, the 33rd Arab League Summit, held in Bahrain, concluded after a 23-item agendacovering joint Arab action in the political, economic, social, cultural, media and security fields, and Arab cooperation with international and regional groupings.”

The block issued the “Manama Declaration,” calling for “international protection and peacekeeping forces of the United Nations in the occupied Palestinian territories” until the implementation of a two-state solution. The summit also advocated for an international peace conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An article in Middle East Policy by Saban Kardas and Bulent Aras analyzes the process of Syria’s normalization with Arab states.


Protests Against HTS in Syria’s Idlib

On Friday, May 17, protests occurred in several areas of Syria’s rebel-held northwest, including Idlib, Jisr Al-Shughour, Binnish, and Sarmada. The demonstrations, which began in February, called for the ousting of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) leader Abu Mohammed Al-Golani “following the death of a member of a rebel faction, allegedly while being tortured in a jail run by HTS.”

HTS, previously affiliated with Al-Qaeda, controls much of Syria’s Idlib province and has been criticized for monopolization of the region’s economic and security administration and alleged torture of prisoners. 

A Middle East Policy article by Samer Bakkour and Gareth Stansfield examines ISIS’s attempt at state building in Syria and its inherent weaknesses. 


Iranian President Dies in Helicopter Crash

On Monday, May 20, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was located and confirmed dead after a helicopter crash the day prior. The president was returning from a delegation trip for the inauguration of a dam on the border with Azerbaijan, and the crash was fatal for all individuals on board, including Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. There were reportedly poor weather conditions and fog during the flight. 

According to the Iranian constitution, upon the passing of the president, the first vice president will hold the position for a maximum of 50 days until a new election, expected to take place in early July.

A panel of experts hosted by the Middle East Policy Council discussed Iran’s position in the region and how historical developments drive its current policies.


Also Check Out:

Amid rising tension between Biden and Netanyahu, Middle East Policy provides insightful analysis on the special relationship between the United States and Israel.

FIFA delays decision on Palestinian request to ban Israel amid Gaza war | Football News | Al Jazeera

Why Egypt backed South Africa’s genocide case against Israel in the ICJ | Israel War on Gaza News | Al Jazeera

Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Security Council announces arrest of top aide of former Daesh leader | Arab News



(Image: Reuters)

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