🌍 Inside The Middle East — Feb. 10

UK Sells Another £1.4bn in Arms to Saudi Arabia, Libya's Transitional Government, ICC Extends into West Bank, Al Jazeera Reporter Released, Hezbollah Critic Found Dead, Clubhouse Fuels Turkey Protests

Hello everyone! Happy Wednesday and welcome to another edition of Inside The Middle East, where we’ll round up the most important news from the past week, from the most important region in the world.

Today’s slate sees us travel to Saudi Arabia who has purchased another £1.4bn ($1.92bn) in arms from the UK, despite the U.S. freezing its own exports last week; to Libya whose new transitional government could mean an end to the country’s civil war; to Palestine where the International Criminal Court has extended its jurisdiction to the West Bank and Gaza, meaning it can now investigate Israel and Hamas for war crimes; to Egypt where an Al Jazeera journalist has been released after four years without a trial; to Lebanon where a prominent critic of militant and political group Hezbollah was found dead in his car; and to Turkey where new social media app sensation Clubhouse is helping fuel ongoing university protests.

You can find details on this week’s job board below, as well as some datasets we used to put today’s newsletter together. Okay, let’s do it and get to the news!

Job Corner ✍️

We added 423 new jobs to the board over the weekend, meaning we finally broke the 1,500 barrier, and it won’t be long before we reach the big 2,000! We also have more than 100 deadlines approaching in the next 10 days, and we’ve made it slightly easier to filter jobs by city and state/country.

Newsrooms include the Associated Press, Applied XL, Bell Media, BuzzFeed, ESPN, the Financial Times, Moneysupermarket, Newsweek, NPR, Politico, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, the Washington Post and Toronto Star.

Due to a limit on the number of people that can be added to a Google Spreadsheet, I’ve made two versions listing exactly the same jobs, so no need to have access to both. If you’re a paying member, you’ll have access to one of the two below links/buttons… 👇

Job Board: w/c Feb. 8

Job Board: w/c February 8

Preview of the 423 new jobs added to the board this weekend 👇

Data Corner 🧮 

  1. Arms Sales: National arms reports by country, from SIPRI

  2. UK Arms: UK arms exports data, from the UK government

  3. Yemen: A plethora of data on Yemen’s civil war, from the Yemen Data Project

  4. International Crime: Court records and reports, from the International Criminal Court

January's Data Corner

Libya Forms Transitional Government

We start this week in Libya where a UN-sponsored delegation agreed to form a transitional government and hold elections later this year. The announcement is momentous as it’s the first time the country will have unified leadership in four years, which has more or less been entrenched in civil war since 2011, after brutal leader Muammar Gaddafi, who dictated the country since 1969, was overthrown during the Arab Spring.

Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, a former associate of Gaddafi, has been appointed interim Prime Minister, and now has 21 days to form a cabinet and another three weeks to win a parliamentary vote of confidence. For elections to take place, Dbeibah must unify conflicting financial institutions, dismantle armed groups, repair infrastructure, and restore security in a country where around half a million of its citizens are displaced internally.

Libya war explained: Key players and affiliations

ICC Extends Jurisdiction to Palestine

We move to Palestine next where the International Criminal Court ruled that it has jurisdiction over Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which have all been under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. What this means is that the ICC, which has been part of the global justice system since 2002 and aims to prosecute those responsible for the worst crimes, can now open an investigation into war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas.

The Palestinian Authority joined the court in 2015, pushing for the ICC to look into the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh praised the ICC’s decision. What happens next is unclear as Israel, which isn’t a member of the court, rejected the ruling with PM Benjamin Netanyahu accusing the ICC of “pure anti-Semitism”. And the U.S. also weighed in, saying it has “serious concerns” over the decision.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the PA announced it will start using its own postal codes. Until now, Palestinians only had the option to send mail through costly private couriers, or go through Jordan or Israel and risk packages being opened or seized. The establishment of a postal code system would mean more autonomy for Palestinians.

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Egypt Releases Al Jazeera Reporter After Four Years Without Trial

We move west to Egypt now where Egyptian Al Jazeera reporter Mahmoud Hussein was released from jail, after being held for more than four years under pre-trial detention. The father of nine was arrested while on vacation with his family in Cairo in 2016, for “disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state’s reputation” according to Egypt’s Ministry of Interior.

Since former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013, Egyptian authorities and pro-government media have characterized Al Jazeera, which is part owned by the Qatari government, as a national enemy, according to the Associated Press. The decision to release Hussein comes amid thawing relations between Egypt and Qatar, who officially restored ties last month. Thirty three journalists are currently detained in Egypt, according to Reporters Without Borders, ranking it 166th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.

Hezbollah Critic Found Dead in Car

Moving to Lebanon next where a prominent critic of Hezbollah was found dead in his car from multiple gunshots. Lokman Slim was a 58-year-old Lebanese Shia publisher and researcher, known for his support of democracy, secularism and criticism of the Shia Hezbollah militant and political group. Slim owned Umam Documentation and Research, a research and film production house focused on documenting Lebanon’s and Shia history.

While nobody has claimed responsibility for the death, Slim lived with his family in the southern part of the country, where Hezbollah and its allies are known to control. Slim’s sister Rasha al-Ameer hinted that Hezbollah were behind the attack, but the group has condemned the killing and called for an investigation. The country’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab denounced the “heinous crime” and vowed a quick investigation would follow.

Last Time on Inside The Middle East…

🌍 Inside The Middle East — Feb. 3

🌍 Inside The Middle East — Jan. 27

🌍 Inside The Middle East — Jan. 20

🌍 Inside The Middle East — Jan. 13

UK Authorizes Another £1.4bn in Saudi Arms Sales

The UK government has announced it will continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia, and authorized £1.4bn ($1.92bn) worth of weapons this quarter. The decision comes just days after Joe Biden’s administration suspended arms exports to Saudi and the U.A.E. for their offensive roles in Yemen’s civil war. Italy previously suspended sales to both countries last month.

The decision by UK ministers will continue to provoke ire both within its own ruling Conservative party, as well as the opposition Labour party. Despite concluding in July that there were only “isolated incidents” of civilian casualties from Saudi-led bombing raids in Yemen, UK Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said British arms sales licenses were issued to ensure they did not breach any humanitarian law.

But the Conservative chair of the defense committee, Tobias Ellwood, said the UK must align itself with the U.S., its closest ally. And Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary bluntly said the UK’s support for Saudi Arabia is sustaining the war in Yemen. The UK is currently second only to the U.S. in arms exporters, while Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest importer.

New App Clubhouse at Centre of Turkish Protests

We finish today in Turkey where the new social media app, Clubhouse, is playing an increasing role in the communication behind the ongoing Bogazici University protests. The unrest began last month when Melih Bulu, a loyalist to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was appointed at one of the country’s most prestigious schools, and quickly descended into chaotic violence. Erdogan has continually tightened social media rules in recent years, which is where Clubhouse comes in…

Now, we are only just learning what Clubhouse is, so forgive us for being old scrooges, but the app is based on invite-only audio chats, which has allowed users to listen to real-time information about police raids and arrests. Because you must be invited into a specific chatroom, protestors have been able to disseminate messages that bypass government virtual barriers erected to stop mass movements like this. The app has become so popular in Turkey that it’s been the most downloaded app in the Apple Store for the past two weeks.

Turkey university protests: Istanbul university faces police crackdown

That’s all for today! See you Friday for Picks of the Week! 👋