🌍 Inside The Middle East — July 1

U.S. Iran Airstrikes, Man Deported for TikTok Rant, West Bank PA Protests, Saudis-Houthis Peace Deal, New Ancient Human Species Found in Israel

Hello folks! Happy pinch and a punch, yep it’s already July. We have another packed Inside The Middle East today, so we’ll get right to it…

Today we’ll be on the Iraq-Syria border where Joe Biden ordered more retaliatory U.S. airstrikes on Iran-backed militia; Kuwait who’s set to deport a man for ranting about the weather on TikTok; the West Bank where more protests have ensued over the death of a Palestinian activist; Yemen where Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels could be nearing a peace deal to end the civil war; and we finish in Israel where a monumental discovery could mean history has another human species!

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U.S. Strikes Iran-Backed Militia

We lead off near the Iraq-Syria border where the U.S. said it carried out air strikes against Iran-backed militias in response to drone attacks on its forces. The strikes mark the second time Joe Biden has retaliated against such militia, and targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one in Iraq. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least five Iraqi militiamen were killed. 

About 2,500 U.S. troops remain stationed in Iraq as part of a global coalition supporting local security forces in the fight against Islamic State. U.S. officials said there have been at least five drone attacks against coalition forces since April, and comes amid heightened regional tensions after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s recent presidential election.

Video: U.S. launches air strikes on Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria


Kuwait Deports Man for TikTok Weather Rant

Police in Kuwait have arrested an Egyptian resident for a TikTok video in which he rants about the country’s intense heat and dust storms. Kuwait has endured some of the highest temperatures on earth this year, reaching as high as 126F (53.2C). The country's Ministry of the Interior said the authorities would “take the necessary legal action’’ against the man behind the “offensive video’’, and it was later reported that he’ll be deported. 

The Gulf state has previously faced criticism from human rights groups for a lack of legal protection, especially for millions of foreign workers that the sheikhdom relies on for cheap labor. But authorities routinely use the cybercrime law to police criticism and prosecute dissidents of the regime.


Last Time on Inside The Middle East…

🌍 Inside The Middle East — June 24

🌍 Inside The Middle East — June 17

🌍 Inside The Middle East — June 10

🌍 Inside The Middle East — June 3


Death of Activist Sparks Another West Bank Protest

Demonstrations against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank are growing after the death of Nizar Banat, a critic of President Mahmoud Abbas, while in custody. The 43-year-old Banat was a vocal critic of the PA, and was arrested last week after security forces stormed his home. An autopsy showed head blows that indicated an “unnatural death”, according to the PA's Independent Commission for Human Rights.

Several hundred people took to the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem, calling for an end to Abbas’ 16-year rule, but and were met with force from both PA security forces and Abbas loyalists in plain clothes. Clubs, metal rods, teargas and the sexual assault of female protestors were used to break up the demonstrations and stop reporters from documenting the events, according to the Palestinian journalists’ union. Abbas recently postponed rare elections, saying the poll could only go ahead if Israel allowed Palestinians living in East Jerusalem to vote.


Saudis and Houthis Near Peace Deal

To Oman next, who has spent months mediating talks between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels to put an end to Yemen’s civil war that began in 2014. Mixed success has been reported. On one hand, the fact that the two adversaries are even talking is cause for optimism, but they both remain entrenched since peace talks were disrupted in March when a Saudi-proposed ceasefire was rejected by the Houthis. The Houthis said elements of the offer, such as the reopening of Sanaa’s airport and unchecked access to the Hodeidah port, should be unconditional. 

An agreement would be the first breakthrough by the UN, Oman and recently the U.S., since more peace talks broke down in Sweden in 2018. Yemen is currently the world’s worst humanitarian disaster after the Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade to halt arms shipments to the Houthis. An estimated 233,000 Yemenis have died over the course of the conflict. 


New Ancient Human Species Found in Israel

Israeli researchers have found bones belonging to a “new type of early human’’ previously unknown to science. Archeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have uncovered prehistoric remains near the city of Ramla, which cannot be matched to any known species from the Homo genus. The researchers named the new lineage the ‘Nesher Ramla Homo type’.

The discovery calls into question the widely accepted theory that Neanderthals first emerged in Europe and migrated south. The new findings imply there was a larger population that lived in the Levant and the Neanderthals of Western Europe. Smaller groups of the Nesher Ramla type likely travelled to Europe, developing into Neanderthals and Asia, evolving into populations with similar features. 


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