The Middle East Channel

Fatah and Hamas Agree to Allow Unity Government to Control Gaza

Negotiators from the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas said they have agreed on a "comprehensive" deal that will allow the Palestinian Authority to run the government in Gaza. The announcement came after two days of talks brokered by Egypt in Cairo. The rival factions agreed to a unity government in June, though it never ...

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Negotiators from the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas said they have agreed on a "comprehensive" deal that will allow the Palestinian Authority to run the government in Gaza. The announcement came after two days of talks brokered by Egypt in Cairo. The rival factions agreed to a unity government in June, though it never took hold amid the 50-day war between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip. The parties reportedly have agreed on a number of contentious points including payment of government workers, security forces in Gaza, and control over crossings. However, few details about the deal have been released, sparking criticism that it lacked substance. One Palestine Liberation Organization official noted, "They reiterated once again the same agreement that they had in the past with all the problems in that agreement."

Syria

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported air and missile strikes, thought to have been carried out by U.S. led forces, hit oilfields and Islamic State bases in eastern Syria for a second day. According to the activist group, the strikes overnight and early Friday hit two oil producing areas in Deir al-Zour province as well as an Islamic State headquarters in the town of Mayadeen. Additionally, the Observatory reported an air raid on Islamic State positions and oil fields in Hassakeh province. On Thursday, as France stepped up its air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq, Britain announced it would also join in airstrikes in Iraq. The British parliament is expected to approve the measure on Friday.

Headlines  

  • FBI Director James Comey said U.S. intelligence agencies believe they have identified the Islamic State militant who appeared in two videos of beheadings of U.S. journalists.
  • Addressing the United Nations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed Western and Arab states for the rise of extremism in the Middle East.
  • Residents of the Lebanese town of Arsal, near the border with Syria, are planning protests after the army raided a refugee camp killing at least one person.
  • Islamic State militants executed Iraqi human rights lawyer and activist Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy in Mosul Monday.

Arguments and Analysis

The limits of the ‘sectarian’ framing in Yemen‘ (Stacey Philbrick Yadav, The Washington Post)

"The fact that the Houthis are Zaydis does not mean that their movement is aimed exclusively or even primarily at establishing a Zaydi political order, reinstituting the kind of imamate that ruled Northern Yemen for hundreds of years (though some critics will tell you so). Similarly, the fact that Islah’s membership is predominantly Sunni doesn’t mean it is working to reestablish the caliphate, or even that it is willing to cooperate with those transnational movements that would, though its detractors may allege this. Instead, the conflict that pits the Houthis against Islah is one several decades in the making, and rests as much in the structure of the Yemeni North, the hierarchies of power and privilege among Zaydis themselves, and a state apparatus that sought to manipulate them."

The Arab Bank and Washington’s Protectorate in the Levant‘ (Pete Moore, MERIP)

"One stated justification for US strikes in Syria and Iraq is to protect the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Indeed, the status of the Hashemite monarchy as Washington’s protectorate has a long history. And while Jordanian society certainly feels the impact of regional insecurity, whether to the north, west or east, the more persistent and serious threats to Hashemite rule have been internal and generally socio-economic. It was mobilization by opposition parties and professional associations in the 1950s that led a young King Hussein to disband Parliament for decades. It was a sudden currency devaluation and impending economic collapse in the late 1980s that compelled him to bring Parliament back. And since then, episodic public protest and unrest in the southern parts of the country have centered on socio-economic grievances that show few signs of abating.

It was curiously ironic, then, that on the day before the US commenced bombing Syria, a federal jury in New York held Jordan’s most important financial institution, the Arab Bank, liable for supporting terrorism. The penalties, to be determined in separate proceedings, threaten the survival of Washington’s close ally in Amman."

Qatar and the Arab Spring: Policy Drivers and Regional Implications‘ (Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

"These policies represented the capstone of a decade and a half of reformulating Qatari foreign policy. In the years prior to the Arab Spring, Qatar’s leaders had nurtured a growing reputation as a nonstop mediator to carve out a niche for itself in regional diplomacy. In addition, the farsighted decision in the early 1990s to build up Qatar’s energy infrastructure to exploit the country’s massive reserves of natural gas enabled Doha to accrue and project considerable forms of soft power. Long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) contracts tied external partners’ energy security needs to Qatar’s domestic stability, while large accumulations of capital were invested both in Qatar and abroad in the form of prestige acquisitions and high-profile investments. LNG allowed Qatar to diversify its international relationships by making a range of countries stakeholders in Qatari stability. The convergence of these trends framed the rise of Qatar as a regional power with international reach in the 2000s and gave the country a realistic claim to the center of the new Middle East." 

— Mary Casey

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