EU And Egypt Near Gas Supply Deal In Shift Away From Russia
Plus: Russia launches production for Egypt's nuclear power plant, Iran removes nuclear watchdog's cameras after criticism, Israel wants 'complete control' of Palestinian land, and much more.
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Before diving into the news of the week, I suggest reading my first article published on Democracy in Exile, the official journal of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a nonprofit organization that helps promote human rights in the Middle East and North Africa.
Despite guaranteeing the right to privacy and nondiscrimination in its 2014 constitution, Tunisia still criminalizes homosexuality under its penal code, which dates back to the French colonial era. Therefore, I reported on the "nightmare" that one gay man, Tunisian filmmaker Karim Belhadj, endured after he was arrested and jailed in 2017.
Therefore, I reported on the "nightmare" that one gay man, Tunisian filmmaker Karim Belhadj, endured after he was arrested and jailed in 2017.
EU and Egypt near gas supply deal in shift away from Russia
The European Union (EU) and Egypt are set to sign a deal later this month to supply the old continent with gas.
The EU's goal is to rip off its dependence on Russian supplies.
The two sides, and Israel, are poised to agree on a memorandum of understanding when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visits Cairo later this month.
The proposed deal with Egypt highlights the country's crucial role in ensuring both food and energy security following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
EU leaders have also highlighted the potential of African countries to provide not only the liquefied natural gas (LNG) needed to replace Russian fossil fuels but also green hydrogen in the coming years.
Russia launches production for Egypt's nuclear power plant
In early June, Russia's state-owned atomic energy company, Rosatom, announced the start of production of equipment for the Egyptian nuclear power plant in Dabaa, northwest of Cairo.
Egypt's Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA), Amgad al-Wakeel, said on June 1 that the Dabaa nuclear power plant would bring the latest production technologies to Egypt. Also, it would contribute to the Egyptian people's increasing well-being and prosperity during the coming decades.
The Dabaa nuclear power plant will be implemented at the cost of $30 billion, 85% of which is financed through a Russian loan of $25 billion with a 3% interest rate.
Iran removes nuclear watchdog's cameras after criticism
Iran has told the global nuclear watchdog it is removing 27 surveillance cameras from its nuclear facilities. This comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 's board censured Iran for not answering questions about uranium traces found at three undeclared sites.
On Wednesday, June 8, the IAEA approved a resolution that expressed "profound concern that the safeguards issues" related to the undeclared sites "remain outstanding due to insufficient substantive co-operation by Iran." It also urged the country to act urgently to fulfill its legal obligations.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said 40 cameras would remain but that the move posed a "serious challenge."
UN: Israel wants 'complete control' of Palestinian land
An independent commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council said Israel has no intention of ending the Palestinian occupation and is pursuing "complete control" of it.
According to the report, the Israeli government has been "acting to alter the demography through maintaining a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favorable environment for Israeli settlers."
Biden to Travel to Saudi Arabia, Ending Its 'Pariah' Status
US President Joe Biden has decided to travel to Riyadh this month to rebuild relations with Saudi Arabia.
He is seeking to lower gas prices at home and isolate Russia abroad.
Biden, as a candidate, vowed to make Saudi Arabia a "pariah" in response to the assassination of prominent dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
Mr. Biden planned to add the visit to a previously scheduled trip to Europe and Israel.
The president will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his stop in Riyadh.
According to foreign policy experts, the visit represents the triumph of realpolitik over moral outrage.
In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden has found it necessary to court other energy producers to replace oil from Moscow and stabilize world markets.
Ukraine envoy says Turkey among destinations of grain stolen by Russia
Kyiv's ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, said on Friday, June 3, Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russia stole from Ukraine. Bodnar added he had sought Turkey's help to identify and capture individuals responsible for the shipments.
Meanwhile, Russian and Turkish defense ministers have discussed a potential grain export corridor from Ukraine.
Black Sea ports in Ukraine, the world's fourth-largest grains exporter, have been blocked by Russian naval forces since the invasion, with about 20 million tonnes of grain now stuck in the country.
The United Nations is trying to broker a deal to enable Ukraine's grain to be shipped from ports such as Odesa. Russia has said it wants Western sanctions lifted as part of a deal to end the port blockade.
At the request of the United Nations, Turkey has offered its services to escort maritime convoys from Ukrainian ports.
Arrival of Israeli gas installation reignites Lebanon maritime border dispute
Suspended for over a decade, the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the two countries' maritime borders resurfaced on June 5. An Israeli floating gas production unit arrived in the maritime zone disputed between Israel and Lebanon. As a result, it prompted the anger of the Lebanese government, especially as negotiations between the two countries on this dispute are at a standstill.
The Lebanese presidency warned the Israeli government against any "aggressive actions" in the disputed maritime area.
Israel and Lebanon have never drawn their borders. The Karish gas field where Israel is exploring is located in a disputed area of 860 km2 in the middle of the eastern Mediterranean, where huge gas reserves have been found in recent years.
On Monday, June 6, the Lebanese government invited the US envoy Amos Hochstein to Beirut. President Joe Biden charged him with mediating between the two countries.
Lebanese officials asked him to help restart talks with Israel over the issue.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah said it is ready to take action, "including force," against Israeli gas operations in disputed waters once the Lebanese government adopts a more specific policy.
Syrian Democratic Forces will turn to Assad if Turkey attacks in Syria
The United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have said they will turn to the Syrian government for support if Turkey decides to launch a new military operation against them in northern Syria.
The Kurdish-led SDF is the Syrian branch of the PKK, a group Turkey, the European Union, and the US consider a "terrorist" organization.
They have said that the group's priority is to reduce tension near Turkey's border and, in case, prepare for a long fight if Ankara carries out its threat.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said over the past few weeks that he is planning a major military operation to create a 30km (19-mile) deep buffer zone inside Syria along Turkey's border.
The proposed military incursion would be the fourth major Turkish operation since 2016, with previous campaigns giving Turkey control of territory from the SDF and ISIS in different areas along its border.
Iranian Kurd opposition member severely wounded in a car bomb in Erbil
Iranian Kurdish political activist Akbar Sanjabi, 49, escaped an assassination attempt on Monday, June 6, in Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, as a bomb left him severely injured.
He was severely wounded when a sticker bomb detonated with his car, according to a member of the organization of Iranian Kurdistan Struggle (Sazmani Khabat).
Algeria suspends friendship treaty with Spain amid Western Sahara tensions
Algeria has suspended its 20-year-old cooperation treaty with Spain, the country's presidency announced Wednesday, June 8.
The decision came after Madrid reversed its long-standing policy of neutrality on the Western Sahara conflict in March by backing Morocco's position.
Algeria said it considered Spain's "unjustifiable" change of position to be contrary to international law, directly contributing to a critical situation in the vast, mineral-rich region.
In March, Algiers withdrew its ambassador to Madrid.
In a bid to end a diplomatic crisis with Morocco, Spain publicly recognized Rabat's autonomy plan for the disputed region in March.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading Inshallah. Share this article and subscribe to be up to date about news from the Middle East every week. It's free.
My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.
You can follow me on Twitter: @DarioSabaghi
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Cover photo: euromedrights.org - google.com