🌍 Inside The Middle East — April 8

Female Captain Blamed for Suez Canal Blockage, U.S.-Iran Nuclear Talks Begin Without U.S., Jordan Royal Family Feud, U.S. Restores Palestine Aid, British-Palestinian Filmmaker Nominated for Oscars

Hello folks! Happy Thursday and welcome to another bumper edition of Inside The Middle East.

Today we’ll visit Egypt where the country’s first female ship captain is being blamed for causing the Suez Canal blockage despite being on a different ship hundreds of miles away; Austria where pivotal talks are being held to bring Iran and the U.S. back into the 2015 nuclear accord; Jordan whose royal family has taken the baton from the UK’s royal family for the world’s silliest family dispute; Palestine whose aid from the U.S. has been restored; and London where a British-Palestinian filmmaker is one of just two female directors nominated for this year’s Oscars.

Lots of new jobs added to the job board this week, as well as plenty more datasets in Data Corner, which you can find below. Until then, let’s get to the news!


Job Corner ✍️

Below is a preview of the 300+ new postings including the likes of the ACLU, Axios, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed, Channel 4, JoeMedia, Netflix, ProPublica, Substack, The Globe and Mail and Vice.

If you’re a paying member, your jobs sheet link will remain the same. Interested in a free week’s trial? Reply to this email and we’ll hook you up!

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Data Corner 🧮

A few datasets referenced in today’s edition…

  1. Iran Enrichment: Iran’s nuclear enrichment reports, from the International Atomic Energy Agency

  2. U.S. Aid: Annual aid data by year and country, from USAid

  3. Two-State Solution: Polling data on Americans’ views on Israel and Palestine, from Gallup

  4. Oscars: 93 years worth of nominations and winners, from the Academy Awards


U.S.-Iran Nuclear Negotiations Begin

We begin this week in Vienna, Austria, where several world powers have convened to negotiate a return to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Representatives from countries still part of the accord — Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France, and the UK — are meeting to discuss how to get the U.S., whose delegation is also in town but staying at a different location, to drop crippling sanctions on Iran.

Iran refuses to talk to the U.S. until the harshest of around 1,600 sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump and still enforced by current president Joe Biden are removed. Iran’s foreign minister claimed the sanctions have cost his country's economy $1 trillion, and expects compensation for the damage. Iran began enriching uranium to 20 percent purity again in January, and blamed its actions on Trump abandoning the deal. Talk of having the talks has been ongoing for months, but now the pace is picking up, we’ll be sure to update next week of what, if anything, is resolved.


U.S. to Restore Palestinian Aid

We move to Palestine next who will receive $235 million (£171m) in U.S. aid, after devastating cuts by the Trump administration put millions of lives at risk. While not the full $360 million Trump withdrew, the Biden administration will send $75 million to assist with economic development, $10 million for peace building programs through USAid, and $150 million to UNRWA, the UN body that supports more than five million Palestinian refugees in the region. The aid is in addition to the $15 million the U.S. gave to Palestinian authorities to help the vulnerable fight Covid-19.

The move was met with displeasure from the Israeli government, who became used to preferential treatment from their American allies with $3.1 billion in annual aid. But Biden has publicly repositioned his allegiance in the region, supporting a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, inline with what the majority of Americans believe. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, criticized the move saying “We believe that this UN agency for so-called refugees should not exist in its current format.”


Last Time on Inside The Middle East…

🌍 Inside The Middle East — April 1

🌍 Inside The Middle East — March 25

🇸🇾 10 Years of Syrian Civil War — March 18

🌍 Inside The Middle East — March 11


Female Captain Wrongly Blamed for Suez Canal Blockage

We visit Egypt next, where the country’s first ever female ship captain has been falsely blamed for causing the blockage in the Suez Canal last month, despite being on a different ship hundreds of miles away. Twenty-nine year old Marwa Elselehdar was working as first mate aboard another vessel in Alexandria, but a handful of websites and social media accounts bogusly claimed she was to blame, garnering roughly 20,000 followers in just a few hours.

We don’t typically cover smear campaigns by trolls, but this is a great excuse to admire Elselehdar’s achievements, and shine a light on the lack of women in maritime, who represent just two percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers, according to the International Martime Organization. We salute you, Marwa!


Jordan’s Royal Family Feud

To Jordan next whose royal family got jealous of the Windsors and decided to have a fracas of their own. The feud can be traced all the way back in 2004, when King Abdullah removed his half-brother Prince Hamzah as the country’s Crown Prince, designating his eldest son as heir to the throne instead. Hamza was originally made Crown Prince out of respect to both men’s father King Hussein, who passed away from cancer in 1999 and was said to have favoured Hamza most among his 11 children.

Despite not showing any public animosity toward one another, Hamza last week released videos claiming he was under house arrest by the Kingdom’s authorities for allegedly plotting to oust Abdullah and destablize the country. After initially vowing to defy government orders, Hamza is now said to have pledged his loyalty back to Abudllah, who said the rift is over and eloquently claimed the drama had been “nipped in the bud.” That’s how you do it, Britain...


British Palestinian Filmmaker Nominated for Oscar

We end this week in London, the home of British Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi who has been nominated for an Oscar for best live action short. Her movie, The Present (on Netflix) tells the story of a Palestinian man’s journey to buy his wife an anniversary present and takes their young daughter along for the ride. But they’re met with several challenges, including humiliating encounters with Israeli soldiers depicting the reality Palestinians must deal with in order to enjoy the simplest of activities.

Nabulsi was born in London to Palestinian parents, and went back to Palestine seven years ago for the first time in a quarter of a century, a trip she described as life-changing. Nabulsi is one of two female directors nominated for this year’s Oscars, the first time more than one woman has been nominated in the same year in the awards’ 93-year history, which has seen just five female directors nominated in total.

Video: The Present Trailer


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