Category Archives: Middle East

Growth of Shiite Iran Leads Israel To Embrace Unexpected Allies

Growth of Shiite Iran Leads Israel To Embrace Unexpected Allies

The emerging alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia against their common enemy – Iran came to light since Israel’s IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Gadi Eizenkot gave few interviews to the independent Saudi newspaper Elaph last month (Jerusalem Post, 2 Dec 2017; Jerusalem Post, 16 Nov 2017). In the middle of November, he stated that there are many shared interests between the two countries and admitted that Israel has offered to share intelligence about Iran with Riyadh and other moderate Arab states:

“We are ready to exchange experiences with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence information to confront Iran. … There are many shared interests between us and Saudi Arabia.” (As cited in Jerusalem Post, 16 Nov 2017).

Riyadh has not publicly confided in the mending diplomatic fences though. The Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told Egypt’s CBC television:

“There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. There is the Arab peace initiative, which shows the road map to reach peace and establish normal [ties] between Israel and Arab states.” (Jerusalem Post, 2 Dec 2017).

Despite this denial, there are few reasons to suggest that Saudi Arabia is interested in the alliance not less than Israel.

Growing Power of Iran

The war against the Islamic state in Syria and Iraq strengthened Iran’s positions. The alliance of predominantly Shiite Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian forces together with Russia defeated IS Sunnites. Iranian military advisers successfully commanded some units of the Iraqi Shiite army and effectively influenced the outcome of the war. This brought a powerful position in the region to Iran. As of today, Iran allies with Assad’s regime in Iraq and Syria. In Yemen – a neighborough country with Saudi Arabia, Iran supports the Shiite Houthi rebels. And in Lebanon, it backs the Shiite Hezbollah (GPF, 29 Nov 2017).

All three: Assad’s regime, Houthis and Hezbollah are enemies to both Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Why is the new geopolitical situation insecure for Israel and Saudi Arabia?

According to the analytical magazine Geopolitical Futures, Israel was fairly safe while radical Sunnite and Shiite forces were fighting with each other in Syria. However, they may now turn their focus on Israel again (GPF, 1 Dec 2017). Though, from the two options, Assad is less evil for Israel than ISIS but still an enemy. Take also into account that ISIS forces are dispersed but not completely defeated. What is worse for Israelis and Saudis is that Hezbollah, backed by both Iran and Assad, has strengthened its positions. (GPF, 1 Dec 2017).

In this context, warming relations of Israel with Saudi Arabia look very well-minded. However, yet the situation in the region is not as insecure for Israel as it may seem. Hezbollah is an enemy but Israel used to deal with Hezbollah for many years. Iran’s military achievements threaten Israel more than during the war in Syria. Nevertheless, it is not to Tehran’s benefit to confronting with Israel right now because this would lead to the renewal of sanctions imposed on Iran by the West (GPF 1 Dec 2017).

When it comes to Saudi Arabia, the relations between Sunni Saudis and Shiite Iranians have been hostile since the Iranian revolution (GPF 1 Dec 2017). Now, the struggle for the regional power between Riyadh and Tehran has intensified (Jerusalem Post 29 Nov 2017). Saudi Arabia is Iran’s regional rival but the decline of oil price has weakened the economic and political stability of Riyadh. And hence, the ability to protect itself from Iran (GPF 1 Dec 2017).

Thus, Saudi Arabia reckons on getting a strong player in the region to stand up Shiites. Therefore, it needs Israel in confronting growing power of Iran.

However, the alliance is beneficial for Israel as well. By establishing a dialogue with Arabic countries, Israel is legitimising its legal status in the Arab world.

It is not for nothing that Israel has recently changed its attitude to some former adversaries, stating that there is no more Arab coalition against Israel but those who are for and against peace.

For example, in June 2017, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated that

“We and the Arabs, the same Arabs who organized in a coalition in the Six-Day War to try to destroy the Jewish state, today find themselves in the same boat with us … The Sunni Arab countries, apart from Qatar, are largely in the same boat with us since we all see a nuclear Iran as the number one threat against all of us.” (Jewish Press 5 June 2017)

In the new geopolitical context, Israel is trying to get partners among non-extremist states, even though they are former adversaries. Just because Israel regards that former discords are less endangering than current extremism.

Israel could stand alone day-to-day terrorist attacks and few wars with neighbours in the past. However, may a broad-scale terrorism or a marginal aggression from a coalition of adversaries happen, Israel needs allies. This became especially relevant with a possibility of an escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Third Intifada) following Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

The question is how much can both Saudi Arabia and Israel, busy with their own problems, help each other, may the conflict either with Iran or other their adversaries happen? They need to look for more allies. However, U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital has narrowed down the choice of prospective candidates.

References

Geopolitical Futures [online], Iran Reshapes the Middle East (29 November 2017), available at: https://geopoliticalfutures.com/iran-reshapes-middle-east/ [accessed: 03/12/2017]

Geopolitical Futures [online], A Complex Dynamic Between Israel and Iran (1 December 2017), available at: https://geopoliticalfutures.com/complex-dynamic-israel-iran/ [accessed: 04/12/2017]

Jerusalem Post [online], IDF Chief of Staff: Israel willing to share intelligence with Saudis by Anna Anronheim (16 November, 2017), available at: http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/IDF-Chief-of-Staff-Israel-willing-to-share-intelligence-with-Saudis-514438 [accessed: 03/12/2017]

Jerusalem Post [online], Saudi Arabia vs Iran (29 November, 2017), available at: http://www.jpost.com/Jerusalem-Report/Saudi-Arabia-vs-Iran-515511 [accessed: 04/12/2017]

Jerusalem Post [online], Inside The Prospective Israel-Saudi Arabia Rapprochement (2 December 2017), available at: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Inside-The-Prospective-Israel-Saudi-Arabia-Rapprochement-515801 [accessed: 03/12/2017]

Jewish Post [online], Ya’alon: No More Arab Coalition Against Us, Also Containment Is Victory (5 June 2017), available at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/eye-on-palestine/yaalon-no-more-arab-coalition-against-us-also-containment-is-victory/2017/06/05/ [accessed: 05/12/2017]

Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On Wednesday this week, after much speculation President Donald Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Additionally, the President signaled his intention to move the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, although the President did sign a waiver delaying this move for six months.

This announcement has caused a flaring of violence between Israeli and Palestinian forces. Clashes have erupted in the occupied West Bank and over the Israeli-Gaza border, where one Palestinian was killed. The policy shift from the President has been welcomed by Israel, but has been condemned by the Arab world and also Western allies of the United States.

Officially this has been the position of the United States since the 1995 Jerusalem Act which states “Jerusalem should be recognised as the capital of Israel.” The law also required the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but conceded the move could be put off for six months at a time as long as the President  informed Congress that such a suspension would be necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States. Every six months since 1995 successive Presidents have opted against moving its embassy, until now.

So why is this decision so controversial? Jerusalem is a place of great religious and historical significance. Firstly, it holds a special status for each of the three Abrahamic religions of the world. Therefore any policy decision about Jerusalem will cause a reaction amongst each of these three religions. Secondly, both Israel and Palestine recognise Jerusalem as their capital. This will be seen as moving a step closer to cementing Israeli sovereignty over the city. Lastly, when in July 1980, Israel passed a law declaring Jerusalem as its united capital following the Six-Day War in 1967 this was condemned by the United Nations Security Council. There are complex religious, regional and diplomatic issues to be considered.

Undoubtedly this will make any peace deal between Israel and Palestine significantly harder and thus further reduce the prospect for peace in the region. The decision will also enhance tensions in the region. Next week Jordan and Turkey will lead a meeting discussing the Arab-Islamic response to the Jerusalem decision. Hamas have also called for a Palestinian uprising and a ‘day of rage’ to highlight the anger that exists and in Indonesia and Malaysia, Muslims have also protested outside US embassies.

In a region plagued by violence and war, this is a diplomatically foolish decision. The aim of the United States should be to secure peace in the region. This move will not help this aim. Without question, the issue of Jerusalem is one of the hardest in modern diplomacy. This, however is not the correct answer.

The Middle Eastern cold war

In the last year, Saudi Arabia’s flirtation with religious realism has already caused the most pressing humanitarian disaster in world affairs, now it threatens to destabilise Lebanon.

Lebanon is a country defined by religious and political instability. It seemed these issues were going to be allayed with the accession of Michel Aoun as President.

Saudi Arabia continues to mount high profile proxy wars to strengthen its influence over other Arabic nations. It is locked in a cold war with Iran. One where polarised religious interpretation influences political decision making. Covert operations and surreptitious support for either Sunni or Shi’a paramilitaries are how the conflict has perpetuated for many decades. But recently it has reached a dogmatic fever-pitch.

The Shia paramilitary, Hezbollah, has been a fracture point in this battle for dominance for many years. It has provided opposition to Maronite Christian militias, it has fought Israel during the Lebanese civil war and it has given aid to Bashar Al Assad’s government in Syria.

Lebanon is what is known as a transitional democracy. Against all the odds it had finally attained some stability.

But the political machinations of Saudi Arabia have rudely disrupted this short-lived serenity. Lebanon’s state sovereignty has once again been breached.

The country’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, along with Yemen’s President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, have been detained in Riyadh under mysterious circumstances.

What is clear, is that Lebanon’s old foes present a very tangible threat once more. Saudi Arabia has issued a travel ban and advised that its citizens leave Lebanon as a so-called proclamation of war has been predicted. This has prompted widespread concerns about armed conflict within Lebanon – but also between Iran and Saudi Arabia- and between Hezbollah and Israel.

It is speculated that Saudi Arabia blames Iran and Hezbollah for a rocket strike from Yemen that was aimed at Riyadh airport. It is more likely the Saudi’s are disappointed by Hariri’s perceived tolerance of Hezbollah.

Of course, the role of Iran cannot be underplayed here, however,  its direct role is still unclear. Its allegiance with Hezbollah has troubled Saudi Arabia and Israel for many decades.

One factor in the escalating conflict that won’t be so widely discussed is the complicity of the West. Its unmistakable allegiance to Israel seems to be a motive in its appeasement of Saudi Arabia. It has actively supported Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. In fact, the war has been waged using US and UK arms, security and tactics – leaving millions of Yemeni people enduring famine and a cholera outbreak.

The pessimists in the region will wince at the alliance of Trump and Kushner’s US with Israel and Saudi Arabia, especially as Trump backs Mohammed Bin Salman’s efforts to strengthen his grip on the house of Saud.

The Middle Eastern heavyweights are engaging in a cold war. They are inviting a battle of destabilisation. Attentive Western powers have designs to scavenge on the political carrion. With transparency in intention becoming harder to decipher, a conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is becoming an increasing possibility. The blame game is intensifying as Middle Eastern nations meddle in each other’s affairs, exacerbating perennial religious tensions. It is states resembling Yemen and Lebanon, that standby to be left in the wreckage of religious realism.

A cycle of mutual reinforcement – The Israel-Palestine conflict and omens for the future

As with all violent conflicts, a process of othering and a gradual dehumanisation of the opposition becomes an instrument of justification for those on both sides of the crossfire. The insidious combination of fear, racism and stigmatisation can distort a society’s view of other humans to the extent that systematic acts of violence can be committed without empathy and without remorse. Often, this combination is administered by one side so effectively that despite, for example, a comparative contrast in military might, a disparity in social standing or economic development, or perhaps using some of these realities as further justification, violence descends into a cycle of mutual reinforcement. On the other side of the conflict is often an enfeebled, comparatively weaker state, that resorts to symbolic forms of violence to deliver a message about the perceived injustice they face. Only then to be labelled subversives or terrorists in the process. This cycle is one of the most powerful catalysts for conflict taking place on both national and international scales.

The most pertinent example of a conflict locked in a cycle of mutual reinforcement is the Israel-Palestine conflict. Importantly, the cycle itself is perpetuated not just by physical and military violence, but also by cultural violence (Galtung,1990). Israel and Palestine remain separate entities. The Israeli’s, a powerful advanced economy with state of the art military technology. The Palestinian’s, an unrecognised entity living under occupation in the West Bank or under military control on the Gaza strip. Furthermore, the Palestinians remain separated from Israel by a wall and a series of military blockades. The power of this divide is the physical manifestation of the process of othering (Said,1978). The symbolic significance is that it is very rare for an ordinary Israeli to encounter a Palestinian – or an ‘Arab’, as they are almost exclusively referred to by Israeli’s (Peled-Elhanan,2012). The historical significance of this divide is that both Israeli and Palestinian education systems teach alternate and contrasting histories of the region. Not only contrasting histories, but the media depicts two contrasting versions of the present and the future, that only cross when violence has been committed by one side to the other (Deprez & Raeymaeckers, 2010). Thus, the social development of Israelis and Palestinians are mutually constituted by a belief that the ‘other’ is the enemy.

Israel is depicted in Palestine and by the Arab nations as an American agent of destabilisation, the product of colonial pursuits and a heavily militarised denier of Palestine’s collective history and social existence. Palestine is barely depicted by Israel at all. The unacknowledged occupants of a ‘land without a people, for a people without a land’ (Muir,2008). When they are depicted, it is in inflammatory terms. Even for many in the West, particularly in the US, Palestinians are synonymous with terrorism, a lack of development, resistance to democracy and rampant anti-Semitism. It is these carefully cultivated caricatures that allow the cycle of reinforcement to take place. When a terrorist attack happens, it is blamed on Palestinian resistance to the state of Israel and an instinct for violence and anti-Semitism. When Israel responds excessively, with the full force of its indoctrinated and vastly superior armed forces, it is because Palestinian’s are viewed as sub-human terrorists.

This legitimising discourse on both sides necessitates and condones internationally condemned treatment of Palestinians in the form of excessive military responses, widespread displacement and settlement building. Whilst Palestinians continue to fight for nationhood with what little power they possess, usually via demonstration or suicide bombing. This is the reinforcement process, with perceptions carefully conditioned to utilise and distort the narrative of the violence the opposing side has committed. It is unfortunate that this will continue until Israel forces Palestine into submission or Israel contradicts its founding doctrines and recognises a state of Palestine. However, with Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Naftali Bennett’s far-right coalition in power, and the continued settlement expansion into the West Bank, a two-state solution seems impossible (Al Jazeera,2017). And with the Rohingya crisis displaying some similar characteristics to the conflict in Israel, the power of mutual reinforcement continues to threaten international peace (BBC news,2017).

 

Deprez, A. and Raeymaeckers, K., (2010). Bias in the news? The representation of Palestinians and Israelis in the coverage of the First and Second Intifada. International Communication Gazette, 72(1), pp.91-109.

Galtung, J., (1990). Cultural violence. Journal of peace research, 27(3), pp.291-305

Kibble, D, (2012). A plea for improved education about ‘the Other’ in Israel and Palestine. The Curriculum journal. 23:4, pp.553-566

Muir, D., (2008). A Land without a People for a People without a Land. Middle East Quarterly.

Peled-Elhanan, N., (2012). Palestine in Israeli school books: Ideology and propaganda in education (Vol. 82). IB Tauris.

Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 199.

Al Jazeera [online], UN: Israel settlements big hurdle to two-state solution, (2017), available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/israel-settlements-big-hurdle-state-solution-170829174956923.html [accessed: 20/09/2017]

BBC news [online], Rohingya crisis: Suu Kyi says ‘fake news helping terrorists’, (2017), available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41170570 [accessed: 20/09/2017]

 

Anglo-Saudi Relations: A Study in Realist International Theory

As we in the western world wrestle with the cultural theatrics that come with a modern brand of political correctness. From internet trolls to gender and racial tolerance; issues which are a far-cry from the cultural norms of Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of numerous basic human rights abuses and of funding international terrorism. So why does the UK, the birthplace of parliamentary democracy and a self-proclaimed cradle for modern liberal values overtly engage in the sale of arms and support to the Saudi regime. Realism is a theory of international politics which insists that states act in a rational manner and only to further their own self-interests, as opposed to liberal theory; which posits that states ally themselves in accordance to shared values (known as norms).



In a realists’ world, the UK aligns itself with the House of Saud because the relationship is a beneficial one – in the sense that the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia helps to expand the UK economy. The fact that such weapons are being used with complete disregard for Yemeni civilian life, does not seem to be a concern for the British government, as it should be according to subscribers of Liberal Theory (human rights being a supposed UK norm). In its 2016/2017 report, Amnesty International outlines the ways in which the Saudi state has also tightened its restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. It continues to detain, arrest and prosecute writers and online commentators based on vague charges. It also pursues those who attempt to defend human rights within its borders: including founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) and the Union for Human Rights (Amnesty International, 2017).

Though there is no conclusive evidence that the ruling class in Saudi Arabia is actively involved in the support of ISIL, there are sources which give credence to such allegations. In the famous leaked Emails which plagued Mrs. Clinton’s 2017 bid for the presidency, John Podesta wrote that the Saudis were “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” (Wikileaks, 2015) Published diplomatic cables from the US State Department serve to reinforce Podesta’s claim: “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide” (Wikileaks, 2009).

But all of this is disregarded by our government, because to address it would be counter-productive to the UK’s plans in the region. Which are representative of the West’s grander plan for the Middle-East; with the Saudi trade partnership and the mutual exchange of oil and arms at its centre. Besides the economic benefits of such a partnership, the UK is willing to ignore Saudi funding of ISIL because the alliance provides the West with a somewhat reliable ally in opposition to Iran, the Taliban and other actors the UK deems as a threat to her interests.

So a few people have their rights infringed upon, and some people may lose their lives because of terrorism, or paradoxically find themselves imprisoned on vague anti-terrorist charges. The fact is, in a realist world system, these things clearly don’t count for much.

 

Amnesty International, “Saudi Arabia 2016/2017” (2017): Accessible: https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/saudi-arabia/report-saudi-arabia/ (Accessed 17/09/2017)

WikiLeaks, “Congrats!, John Podesta Email Chain” (2015): Accessible: https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/3774 (Accessed 17/09/2017)

WikiLeaks, “Terrorist Finance: Action Request for Senior Level Engagement on Terrorism Finance” (2009) Accessible: https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09STATE131801_a.html (Accessed 17/09/2017)

Russia’s Very Own Turkish Coup

The move by Russia to normalise its relations with Turkey was unexpected. However, it makes perfect sense when one considers Russia’s foreign policy strategy is focused on outmanoeuvring the US and Europe over the refugee and Syria crises.

The tension that had until recently dogged relations between the two nations had been caused by the downing of a Russian jet near Turkey’s border with Syria on 24th November last year. One of the most significant links between this incident and the normalisation of Russo-Turkish relations is that a repeat is now highly unlikely. The strengthening of ties between the two will allow the Russians additional freedom to conduct airstrikes in Syria. Russia is thus in a considerably stronger position to advance its own aims and those of Bashar al-Assad, something which the US and Europe do not want to see.

The significance of Turkey in the current refugee crisis cannot be ignored either. There are approximately 2.75 million refugees currently in Turkey. Russia, like ISIS, has utilised the crisis to destabilise the domestic and foreign affairs of the US and Europe. The normalisation of ties with Turkey will give the Russians increased influence over the fate of the millions of refugees resident there. This spells bad news for a Europe that is already being strained at a political and societal level by both this crisis and Brexit. The EU’s aim of expanding will also have been set back by the normalisation as Turkey had a significant interest in one day joining the EU. It is now highly doubtful that this will happen anytime in the short or medium term future, and once again shows the ease at which Russia is able to outflank the EU at a diplomatic level.

Normalisation of relations with Turkey was nothing short of a masterstroke from Russia. It shows that they are still a force to be reckoned with on the world stage, whilst decreasing the likelihood of a solution to the refugee and Syrian crises and the instability in the EU being found. Should the isolationist and unstable Donald Trump capture the White House later this year, Russia’s work to ensure that it becomes one of the dominant powers in Eurasia will be frighteningly close to fruition. The need for greater cohesion and purpose within the EU, and for the West in general over the refugee and Syria crises has never been greater.

Better Relations with Iran will benefit all!

Relations between Iran and the Western world have often been complicated with trust lacking on both sides. In recent months though there are signs this may be changing. The U.S in particular is making new efforts to reengage with Iran and a lot of hope has been placed in President Hassan Rouhani and his desire to modernise the country.

This thaw in relations appears to have reaped dividends with news that international nuclear sanctions placed on Iran have been lifted. This was after the international nuclear watchdog said Iran had compiled with a deal designed to prevent it developing nuclear weapons. Before the deal Iran could have enriched enough uranium to make a nuclear bomb within a matter of weeks, now it would take more than a year.

Nuclear sanctions have been in place since 2006. This coupled with other sanctions has had a very detrimental effect on the Iranian economy. The lifting of these sanctions could lead to a flurry of Iranian economic activity and is likely to help the country progress and develop.

The Middle East is an area in conflict presently. Syria remains in chaos and war is ongoing in Yemen. These situations have no easy solution. Iran is a crucial player in the region and is vital to any chance of long-term peace and stability and ending these conflicts. If the West could work with Iran rather than against them in these instances and also around the world then this should benefit all and is to be welcomed.

This change in relations has not been universally welcomed. Israel refuse to be convinced by Iran’s recent actions and have accused Tehran of still seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Secondly the U.S Republican Party through House Speaker Paul Ryan have also expressed doubt claiming the Obama administration had moved to list economic sanctions on the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

More progress can be made in talks between Iran and the West but it does appear relations are better than they have been for a while. This is to be welcomed. Of course there are still tensions and issues to be resolved but bringing Iran back to the table is a good thing and highlights the power of good diplomacy. This is a step forward and a situation we should celebrate.

That is real- Saudi Arabia is elected as a chair of the UN Human Rights Council panel

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the new chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) panel, despite the fact that the Kingdom holds terrifying human rights records. For many individuals that choice was absolutely unexpected. The Kingdom will be chairing the group of 5 ambassador members, which is also called- the Consultative group. The group is responsible for the appointment of more than 77 experts worldwide. These experts monitor and assess the human rights records in various countries around the world. These positions are considered to be from crucial importance for the UN Human Rights Council.

By appointing fundamentalist theocracy that is constantly violating the human rights of its own citizens, as well as these of the neighbouring countries places their legitimacy under question. Saudi Arabia has beheaded more than a hundred people only this year. That amount is even higher than that of the Islamic State. Moreover free speech is still a dream in Saudi Arabia. The number of people like the blogger Saif Badawi, jailed for pledging about democracy and criticising the government is unknown. Another activist Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, just 17 years is sentenced to death by crusification. The reason is that he took participation of the anti- government protests. The rights of the women are another issue, which deserves significant attention. In addition to the varieties of restrictions imposed on women, they are not allowed even to drive.

For some the fact that the Saudis are presiding that panel might seem insignificant. Unfortunately the facts are different. The last couple of weeks have demonstrated the opposite. The Netherlands has made a proposal the war crimes in the Yemeni war to be investigated by an independent commission. The proposal included investigation on Saudis and the opposition Houthi rebels. Also the Dutch proposed the Yemeni ports, which are occupied from the Saudi army to be opened in order to facilitate deliveries of humanitarian aid for Yemeni citizens. Riyadh, the Yemeni government in exile and their allies in the UNHRC (the UAE, Qatar and Morocco) strongly resisted the Dutch proposal. The reason for that is that the Saudi government is aiming to conceal its own war crimes. On 7-th of September the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report which concluded that both parties in the Yemeni conflict committed violations. According to the report- the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for 62% of civilian casualties. Furthermore on 28-th of September 130 civilians were killed by a single Saudi air strike.

However the proposal was rejected and instead was passed an alternative resolution. The resolution supports the decree of the Saudi backed Yemeni government in exile. It proposes appointing of a national commission of inquiry and requires only technical assistance from the UN. The absence of an independent Yemeni inquiry will result to predictable outcome of the investigation. It also gives us an example of how the UN commissions might be used to protect the national interests. In the case with Saudi Arabia that might be just the beginning. As the UN watch executive director- Hillel Neuer states: “This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.”

Israel has every right to be angry with Iran’s deal!

Iran recently reached a deal with Western powers on the country’s nuclear programme. This caused wild celebrations on the streets of Tehran and among ordinary Iranian citizens and came after long negotiations. However the agreement has not been universally popular and has its fair share of critics as well.

The deal stated billions of dollars of sanctions would be lifted and in exchange for these sanctions being lifted, 98% of Iran’s stock-pile of weapons grade uranium would be destroyed, making the path to a nuclear weapon more difficult. These reforms would give Iran greater control over their economy and would allow the country to trade with the rest of the world.

The loudest critics of this deal have been the Republican Party in America who claimed this deal legitimized the Iranian government and that Iran could not be trusted and the Israeli government who are fearful of a stronger Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was very strong saying this was a mistake of historic proportions and that Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons.

Iran does have a questionable track record and therefore questions do have to be asked about trust. Despite being brought to the negotiating table, they have shown no desire to change their position on Israel and still refuse Israel’s right to exist. This should have been made a focal point of any negotiations. Until this changes they will always remain a threat to Israel and the more powerful they become which this deal will ensure the stronger the threat they will be.

Iran has always had a difficult relationship with the West. Therefore it is admirable that Iran has been brought to the negotiating table. However that does not justify a potentially bad deal or mean that any deal is better than no deal. Parts of this deal remain unsavoury and therefore Israel has every right to be angry with the agreement.