🌍 Inside The Middle East — Feb. 3
Kushner Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, Biden Halts Saudi Arms Sales, Israel Gives Palestine 5k Vaccines, Lebanon Lockdown Protests, Saudi Removes anti-Semitic Passages
Happy Wednesday folks, it’s that time once again… Welcome to another edition of Inside The Middle East, where we dissect the most important news from the most important region in the world.
Be sure to check out this week’s job board update (more details below) with more than 400 new jobs added. Tomorrow we’ll have the first Data Corner of the new year, rounding up all the cool datasets we used in January. And keep an eye out for a special edition on Friday, when our Sophie Foggin will detail her recent trip for Vice to the Colombia-Panama border, where she documented how hundreds of migrants headed for the U.S. are stranded on a beach.
Until then, enjoy today’s edition. Aina, over to you!
Job Corner ✍️
Exactly 400 new jobs added to the board this weekend, taking our total up to more than 1,450 full-time, part-time, freelance and internship positions. We also have 83 deadlines approaching in the next 10 days. New newsrooms this week include ABCNews, Bloomberg, ITN, the NBA, Press Association, Rogers, Sky, The Information, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Toronto Star and WaterAid.
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… 👇
Preview of the 400 new jobs added to the board this weekend 👇
A few datasets used in today’s newsletter…
Arms Sales: Global arms import and export data, from SIPRI
Nobel Prize: Data on historical Nobel Prize laureates
Vaccinations: Global vaccination data, from Our World In Data
Covid Protests: Covid-19 Disorder Tracker, from ACLED
Biden Halts Arms Sales to Saudi and the U.A.E.
We start this week roughly where we left last week with another impactful move by new U.S. President Joe Biden, after he already ended Donald Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, and froze sanctions on the Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. Biden upped the stakes once again as it pertains to his relationship with Saudi Arabia, which he previously stated he would reassess, by suspending arms sales to the Kingdom, as well as the U.A.E.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the suspension will remain in place while the new administration reviews the existing arms deals, and said that was typical under a new presidency. The suspension includes the controversial deal to sell F-35 fighter jets to the U.A.E., as part of its normalization deal with Israel last year.
Also under consideration is the U.S.’ stance toward Israel and Palestine, which the new administration stated it will work to restore diplomatic ties with Palestine, and resume pushing for a two-state solution. Elsewhere, Italy permanently halted arms sales to Saudi and the U.A.E., while the UK faces intense pressure to follow suit.
Kushner Nobel Peace Prize Nomination
Staying with the U.S., Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with his deputy and former U.S. Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz. The pair were nominated by Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard University law professor who’ll be one of Trump’s defense attorneys for his forthcoming Senate impeachment trial, for their part in Israel’s four U.S.-brokered diplomatic deals with the U.A.E., Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco last year. Also nominated for this year’s award are climate change activist Greta Thunberg and pro-democracy activist Alexei Navalny.
Among many ways to qualify to nominate someone, apparently university professors meet the criteria, so we’re already thinking of who we can nominate, we just need a professor who’s up for it…
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Israel to Give Palestine 5,000 Vaccines
Israel has announced it will transfer 5,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Palestinian frontline health workers in the West Bank and Gaza, amid intense pressure to assist in the equal access of vaccines to its neighbours, after the Israeli government previously said it had no responsibility to do so. Israel currently leads the global race to vaccinate the majority of its population, with more than a third of its people already receiving at least one dose.
According to the BBC, Israel based its original decision not to help on the Oslo Accords, which they claim means the Palestinian Authority is responsible for overseeing public health under the principles of self-determination. But the PA claims the accords state that Israel must co-operate with them in combating epidemics and contagious diseases.
Lebanon Lockdown Protests Erupt
We move to Lebanon next where anti-lockdown protests have raged in Tripoli, the country’s second-largest city, and have so far resulted in 400 people being injured and one person being shot to death. The unrest stems from years of rising unemployment and government incompetence, and reached a climax under harsh lockdown measures that have left many without any income. Tripoli and Lebanon aren’t alone in their frustration over lockdown restrictions, joining Israel and a slew of European countries who have played host to wide-scale protests.
Since the start of the new year, Covid has made Lebanon one of the deadliest countries in the world per capita. In response, the government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world on Jan. 14, including preventing people from leaving their homes. All supermarkets are off limits, with people having to rely on deliveries.
Last Time on Inside The Middle East…
Saudi Removes Sexist, Homophobic, anti-Semitic School Passages
We end today in Saudi Arabia whose government has removed some anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist passages from school textbooks. However, many references to all three remain, including one that still includes a story of a Jewish boy being saved from hell because he converted to Islam. Other references still include women’s inferiority to men, as well as the demonization of homosexuality.
The move comes as relations between Saudi and Israel continue to warm, after a not-so-secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in November, and the Kingdom’s resulting decision to open its airspace to Israeli commercial flights. An official normalization of diplomatic relations could be on the horizon.
That’s all for today. See you Friday! 👋
Correction/Update: A previous version included the following under the Kushner Nobel Peace Prize Nomination section, which fell well short of our editing standards. We apologize for this and will do our best not to let this happen again.
“Now, you might be wondering how two members of such a divisive administration can qualify for such a prestigious award, but the reality is that the peace prize has descended into somewhat of a joke. Current Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the award in 2019, 18 months before he led his country to the brink of civil war. And Aung San Suu Kyi, the former leader of Myanmar who was deposed via a military coup this week, won the prize in 1991, and then went onto persecute the country’s minority Rohingya Muslims.”
(Updated on Feb. 13.)