🌍 Inside The Middle East — April 29

Israeli Apartheid, Biden Recognises Armenian Genocide, Ramadan Violence in Jerusalem, British-Iranian Aid Worker Imprisoned Again, Kuwait Harassment Murder, Jordan's First Green Climate Fund Project

Hey guys, welcome to another edition of Inside The Middle East! We have another full slate today, so we’ll get right to it!

Before we do, a quick shoutout to Mirela’s amazingly thorough Data Corner from yesterday, where she featured a bunch of compelling datasets on Covid-19’s devastating impact on the world’s students, teachers and schools.

Covid-19's Impact on Schools

And also a quick update to last week’s report that arch enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia met to discuss various issues. While both sides denied meeting, Saudi’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said yesterday that he wants “good relations” with his Kingdom’s traditional foe, and some form of reconciliation between the regional superpowers could actually be on the cards.

Okay, jobs/internships update and more datasets below, let’s do the news!

Job Corner ✍️

Almost 100 active internships and fellowships are listed on the job board, with a few previewed below. Subscribe for full access!

Data Corner 🧮

A few datasets referenced in today’s edition…

  1. Israeli Apartheid: Full report and data on Israel’s policies toward Palestine, from Human Rights Watch

  2. Israeli Occupation: Databases on casualties, prisoners, settlements, house demolitions, restrictions of movement, water and the separation barrier, from B’TSELEM

  3. Israel-Palestine: Another dataset on Israeli and Palestinian injuries and fatalities, from the UN

  4. Genocide: Data on genocide, from Our World In Data and Yale University

  5. Women’s Rights: Women, Peace and Security Index, from Georgetown University

  6. Domestic Violence: Global database on violence against women, from the UN

Israel Accused of Committing Crimes of Apartheid

We start this week in Israel, where a new report from Human Rights Watch accused Israel of pursuing policies of apartheid and crimes against humanity toward Palestinians. HRW concluded that Israel aims to “maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians”, including those who are its own citizens.

While HRW said its aim wasn’t to compare Israel to apartheid-era South Africa, definitions from the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, and 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court, justify the watchdog’s use of the term. 

Israeli officials fiercely objected to the report’s findings, with the country’s foreign ministry calling the report “preposterous and false”, and accused HRW of having a “long-standing anti-Israeli agenda”.

Ramadan Violence Flares in Jerusalem

Staying in Israel for the moment, where violent nightly clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan have resulted in hundreds injured. The violence began when Israeli police barricaded the plaza outside Damascus Gate, a traditional gathering point for Palestinians following their prayers that leads to the Old City. Unsurprisingly, many Palestinians didn’t take well to the police’s actions, but according to NPR’s Daniel Estrin, it was the police who charged unprovoked that stoked the unrest.

The police then allegedly let the anti-Arab group Lehava march through the city chanting slogans such as “death to Arabs”, and its supporters were encouraged to gather near the plaza to “protect Jewish honor”. Lehava are said to have responded to TikTok videos showing Palestinians harassing Israelis on the street. The unrest extended to the West Bank and Gaza, where dozens of rockets were fired at Israel, who retaliated with strikes on Hamas targets. Israeli police have since admitted the barricades were a mistake and removed them, according to France 24.

Video: Police remove east Jerusalem barricades after violent protests

Last Time on Inside The Middle East…

🌍 Inside The Middle East — April 22

🌍 Inside The Middle East — April 15

🌍 Inside The Middle East — April 8

🌍 Inside The Middle East — April 1

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Biden Recognises Armenian Genocide

Moving to Turkey next where politicians are outraged by Joe Biden’s recognition of the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide. He becomes the first U.S. president to use the word to describe what Armenians call Meds Yeghern, or the Great Crime. Though the International Association of Genocide Scholars believes more than one million Armenians were systematically killed, Turkey rejects that it was genocide because both Turks and Armenians died, and that there was no official policy to exterminate the Armenian people.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Biden’s recognition “groundless”, while the country’s foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest the decision, and said “The statement does not have legal grounds in terms of international law and has hurt the Turkish people, opening a wound that’s hard to fix in our relations.”

Video: Armenian mass killings explained in 60 seconds

British-Iranian Aid Worker Imprisoned for ‘Propaganda’

Now to Iran where aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to another year in prison after being found guilty of ‘propaganda’ against the Iranian government. Her lawyer said the latest charges stem from a protest she attended outside the Iranian embassy in London 12 years ago, while her husband said the ruling was “clearly a negotiating tactic” by the regime who are in the middle of key nuclear talks with the West.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has just served a five-year sentence for plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment, and was released from house arrest last month, but immediately ordered back into court. Meanwhile, the UN recently elected Iran to chair its commission on women’s rights.

Joe Biden has made reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal a top priority, but it has proven difficult as Iran insists it will not comply until the U.S. lifts sanctions and Biden has said sanctions will not be lifted until Tehran stops its uranium enrichment activities. Boris Johnson said his government “would be working very hard” to secure her release. Iran currently ranks 118th out of 167 countries for women’s rights, according to Georgetown University.

Kuwait Murder Spurs Cry for Greater Safety for Women

We visit Kuwait next, where the brutal murder of a woman by her harasser has sparked outrage over the lack of protection for women. Farah Hamza Akbar and her family previously filed two cases of harassment against the man to the authorities, after allegedly refusing his marriage proposal.

The interior ministry said a man seized Akbar in front of her daughter and niece from her own car, took her to an unknown location before leaving her outside a hospital where she was pronounced dead. He was later arrested and confessed to stabbing her in the chest. In a video outside the hospital, Akbar’s sister is shown yelling ‘We told you he’d kill her and he killed my sister!... Where is the government?’

A domestic violence law was passed last September, which included plans to set up shelters for women and allows for restraining orders to prevent abusers from contacting victims. But after this latest horrific murder, and a social media campaign earlier this year that prompted an outpour of similar experiences from women, it’s clear that most women are still not safe in the country.

Green Climate Fund Launches First Project in Jordan

We end this week in Jordan where the Green Climate Fund, a key part of the Paris climate agreement, is launching its first ever project in Jordan. The GCF will provide $25 million to improve the efficiency of water and waste management around the Dead Sea, which has been shrinking for decades due to climate change. The initiative is expected to benefit over 200,000 people

Based in South Korea, the GCF aims to help countries and communities adapt to climate change and mitigate its harmful effects. Since it’s first project in 2015, the fund has allocated billions of dollars to more than 100 projects around the world. Jordan’s project will also be backed by the UN’s Development Programme and Food and Agriculture Organisation, each giving $1 million, while the Jordanian government will provide $6.1 million.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow for Picks of the Week! 👋