Iran and Saudi Arabia Resume Ties in Talks Brokered by China
Plus: Saudi Arabia to launch Riyadh Air, crypto investment fraud in Egypt, and Tunisia to restore diplomatic ties with Syria.
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Iran and Saudi Arabia resume ties in talks brokered by China
Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies within two months, according to a statement released by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China.
The deal, brokered by China, was announced after four days of previously undisclosed talks in Beijing between top security officials from the two countries.
The agreement includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in internal affairs. The long-standing tensions between the two countries have threatened stability and security in the Gulf and fueled conflicts in the Middle East from Yemen to Syria.
Both sides stand to benefit from de-escalation, as Iran seeks to undercut U.S. efforts to isolate it in the region and Saudi Arabia tries to focus on economic development.
The deal was welcomed by fellow Gulf states, as well as Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have been engaged in a proxy war in Yemen over the past eight years.
The most interesting dynamic may be that China led the way, showing where global power is shifting. The U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, and Saudi-Iranian rapprochement was not apparently something the Biden administration was working toward.
Saudi Arabia to launch new state airline, Riyadh Air, with ex-Etihad CEO
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced the launch of a new national airline called "Riyadh Air," with former Etihad CEO Tony Douglas as its chief executive.
The airline, wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), aims to enhance connectivity between the Kingdom and the three continents it borders and is expected to serve over 100 destinations worldwide by 2030.
The PIF estimates that the airline will generate over $20 billion in non-oil GDP growth and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The senior management team will comprise both Saudis and international employees, and the airline will be headquartered in the capital city.
The announcement comes after the November 2022 reveal of a King Salman International Airport masterplan.
Egyptian authorities detain 29 individuals in connection with Hoggpool crypto investment fraud
Last week, Egyptians who invested in a cryptocurrency mining app called Hoggpool realized that the profits they thought they were making were fictional.
Hoggpool was launched in August, with a man introducing the company in a promotional video claiming that it was investing in cutting-edge industries such as life sciences technology and blockchain.
The company was presented as one of the leading energy providers worldwide, offering cryptocurrency mining at all levels.
Potential investors were offered various investment plans, ranging from only about $10 to an $800 crypto-mining machine with a $55 per-day payout.
Hoggpool told investors that they could withdraw their money daily, minus a 15% tax, or wait until the end of the month and withdraw all their returns tax-free.
On March 4, 2023, Egyptian police arrested 29 individuals in connection with the cryptocurrency scam, including 13 foreign nationals.
Police seized 95 phones, 3,367 SIM cards, and about $194,000 worth of Egyptian and foreign currency as they made the arrests.
The suspects had bilked unsuspecting investors of at least 19 million pounds or about $615,000, but many in Egypt believe the real total was likely much higher.
Cryptocurrency trading is illegal in Egypt, and another lawyer representing some of the victims said that had likely kept many from reporting the crime.
Tunisia to restore diplomatic ties with Syria
Tunisian President Kais Saied plans to restore diplomatic relations with Syria after a decade of severed ties due to the Assad government's repression of political opponents.
Saied desires to strengthen diplomatic representation in Syria, stating that the "question of the regime in Syria concerns only the Syrians."
Tunisia previously expelled Syria's ambassador in 2012 to protest the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations.
In 2017, Tunisia reopened a limited diplomatic mission to track Tunisian militants fighting in Syria.
Despite this change in direction, Saied faces opposition to a power grab that many fear signals a return to authoritarianism.
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My name is Dario Sabaghi, and I am a freelance journalist interested in international news focusing on the MENA region.
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Cover photo: SAUDI PRESS AGENCY/DPA/REUTERS - Wall Street Journal