New York is playing host to the latest round of negotiations aimed at limiting Iran’s controversial nuclear program, but getting agreement around the table is proving difficult with the current slew of world crises distracting the nations involved.
The last set of talks, based in Vienna in July, stalled and achieved only an agreement to try and reach a consensus on giving Iran relief from the sanctions currently levied against it, in return for strict limits designed to hinder any attempts to acquire a nuclear weapon.
The high profile setting of these new talks, timed to take place when world leaders are gathered for the UN General Assembly meeting have raised expectations of a final resolution to talks. The non-stop procession of crisis events this summer however – from the Ukraine conflict and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the Islamic State violence in Syria and Iraq – threaten to weaken resolve to dedicate time to the discussions.
Commentators are wary of how Iran will feel emboldened by the current unrest, noting how historically the country has tended to see conflicts such as those in Iraq as an opportunity to increase their leverage in negotiations. There are fears that both sides will get bogged down in increased demands rather than seeking a solution that would then free them up to deal with bigger issues of national security.
The looming deadline of November 24th is unlikely to be extended, so this round of negotiations is going to essential if both sides are going to be able to find solutions to the current road blocks.
Saudi Arabian authorities had raided a private home in the Kingdom where a Christian prayer meeting was held. They had arrested the 27 attendees of the meeting and had confiscated their bibles.
The operation was the latest in the series of raids against religious minorities in Saudi Arabia the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a hardline commission in the country.
The Christians held their prayer meeting at the home of an Indian national in Khafji. Police had entered the building and arrested the members. No news regarding the prisoners have been shared to the public.
According to Human Rights groups and free thinking organisations, Saudi Arabia continues its religious cleansing, which is part of its government’s policy. Saudi Arabia is the only country that has an official policy to ban other churches in its country.
Human rights activists are calling on the United States to take action on releasing the prisoners
Most people victimised in Saudi Arabia are foreign workers coming from Asian and African countries, who practice Christianity and Catholicism, whose governments are unable to do anything as Saudi Arabia provides them with a steady stream of profit.
According to a Saudi government spokesperson, the government had no knowledge of the arrests. But newspapers such as The Saudi Gazette had reported about the arrests locally.
The Israeli military had destroyed the house of three Palestinian Hamas fighters accused of kidnapping and killing the three teenagers in the West bank. The military had destroyed the homes of the suspects, Hassam Qawasmeh and Amar Ebu Eisha, through demolition.
At least 250 policemen and dozens of Israeli soldiers had participated in destroying the properties.
The house of Marwan Qawasmeh had been sealed off and is being readied to be demolished.
The Israel government said that the demolitions of the properties were in accordance with the procedures for dealing with militants with war crimes.
On June 12, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, who has a dual US-Israeli citizenship, had gone missing. Soldiers discovered their bodies beneath piles of rocks on June 30. Public outcry from Israel held Hamas responsible, but they had denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, Israel and Gaza had ceased fire the previous week. It is to conclude a deal before the ceasefire expires at morning today.
Israel said that it will not be open to any deals until conditions permit that the Hamas become disarmed. Hamas had also stiffened their position that they will not conclude any deal not until the Gaza blockade is lifted.
As ISIS’ influence and activities continue to spread in Iraq, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defence had stepped up its border defence on the northern side of Aran. The MoD had sent more than 2,000 troops armed with the latest military technology and intelligence-gathering equipment to defend the possible incursion of ISIS militants once the Iraqi conflict is resolved.
Saudi Border Guards Commander General Faleh al-Subai’i said that three helicopter units and lorries mounted with machine guns have mobilised to survey the land and ensure the safety of the border. The border is also guarded by radar and infrared video cameras, which is monitored 24 hours in a control room.
The MoD is reported to have sent more troops, but they and the media have not yet said the exact number of soldiers added.
The border is also guarded by high earth berms and fences. Sandbags have been spread thoroughly all around the border.
In the previous week, a Saudi border guard’s housing complex were hit by three rockets. The military has yet to identify who launched the rockets, but General Faleh al-Subai’I said that these groups are looking to start a conflict between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blames Saudi Arabia and Qatar for indirectly funding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants as it pushed to aid the rebels in the Syrian civil war. Part of the Syrian rebel forces were al-Qaeda splinter groups aiming to overthrow the Syrian regime and ISIS is one of these groups.
However, Saudi and Qatar had blamed al-Maliki for his “sectarian” policies, leading under a Shiite majority government.
According to local Qatar news agency The Peninsula Qatar, some of the ISIS members had supporters of the deposed dictator Saddam Hussein joining their ranks.
ISIS had overtaken the northern areas of Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit. They have also invaded nearby towns as they progress further towards Baghdad, Iraq’s capital.
The ISIS had also uploaded photos of executions online, showing the “before and after” appearances of unarmed Iraqi soldiers in mass execution. The UN and the US had condemned the photographs, saying the terrorist group had committed war crimes for killing “in cold blood.”
Meanwhile, the United States had confirmed the deployment of 275 military personnel to grant safe passage to Iraqi US Embassy personnel. The Iraqi government had also stepped up the capital’s security.
The US is also considering a security cooperative with Iran to safeguard the two countries’ interest in Iraq’s stability.
Saudi Arabia Health Authorities report three more had died from MERS, which takes the country’s total death toll to 163 individuals.
In total, Saudi Arabia had recorded 698 cases of MERS in the country. According to Health Authorities, 30% of those infected with the virus survive the symptoms.
Three women, a 48 year old from Riyadh, a 67 year old from Taif and an undisclosed-aged woman from Jeddah had died due to the virus.
More cases of MERS in the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah had induced public panic, which led to the dismissal of its Health Minister
The World Health Organization had warned governments to stay vigilant and ensure proper health protocol to avoid the spread of the virus to vulnerable countries in Southeast Asia and Africa. It had come short of considering MERS as a global health issue.
Aside from Saudi Arabia, governments have reported few cases from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, the UAE and the United States.
Health experts and researchers note that MERS is a cousin of the SARS virus from Asia and is a deadlier version of the virus. It appears as a lung infection, with patients coughing, having breathing difficulties and high temperatures. However, MERS could also trigger rapid kidney failure.
The MERS incident and the death toll of 66 people in Saudi Arabia had parents nationwide keep their children off their schools and everybody in the country wearing face –masks. The coronavirus is feared to have spread everywhere, but Makkah Governor Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah and health authorities have made efforts to control and prevent the spread of the disease in the kingdom.
Online rumors in social media had scared Jeddah’s residents and the misconceptions had the Ministry of Health and the governor raise awareness among people in the city, particularly in malls and public spaces.
A ministry that will oversee the prevention of the virus had calmed down the people of Jeddah.
According to Awareness Campaign Supervisor Yusuf Al-Otaibi, the number of people visiting their information stalls surprised them. People were asking about preventative measures against the virus and how to keep it from spreading.
Observers have noticed that the campaigns have been helpful in informing residents. Students said the local authorities had successfully debunked the online myths about MERS, especially those who thought they had symptoms of infection.
After the campaign, pharmaceutical stores had seen a rise in the number of purchases for medical masks.
Yemen had recorded its first death from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus this month.
Saudi Arabia plans to block Qatar from the country because of its links with the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi had recently declared as a terrorist organization. Saudi will not block Qatar if it decides to cut its ties with the Egyptian political party, closes al-Jazeera and removes the local branches of the US Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation, both western surveys and research companies.
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah said that any Saudi who fights with any terrorist group abroad can be jailed for 20 to 30 years. The same sentences can be given to individuals who give moral or material support to terrorist or extremist groups.
However, the new anti-terrorist law, which prohibits radical acts and movements in the kingdom and publicity given to such acts, is contradictory to the Jihadi operations in Saudi Arabia.
Even today, Saudi Arabia uses the wealth it gains from its oil to support jihadists. Saudi fell out with the Muslim Brotherhood because it failed to follow Saudi dictation.
Along with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain recently withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar because of its link with the Muslim Brotherhood. Bahrain had recently imposed a law similar to Arabia that condemns support in both moral or material for the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to statistics, a quarter of a billion euro had been paid out to at least 10,560 people by February. Despite the increases, governments had advised insurers not increase premiums on vehicle and household insurance policies. However, authorities are speculating on the increase because of the lack of increase in accidents in the previous year.
Whiplash injuries had been the easiest to fake in claiming injury compensation in many car accident compensation cases. According to sources, some organisations actually “plan” accidents that would help persuade insurance companies to give compensation for their injuries.
The UK supreme court had previously announced that it would be having an independent medical board that would oversee the regulation of whiplash injuries to ensure that those with genuine whiplash injuries receive proper compensation, while those who have fraudulent injuries will have a difficult time making a claim.
Insurers are actually losing £2 billion to fraudulent injury claims. However, this amount is smaller should insurers want to challenge suspicious insurance claims. The UK court had made plans to reduce the legal fees for challenging claims to reduce the strain on insurance companies.
Some officials and observers blame no win no fee accident claims companies for increasing legislative costs by pushing fraudulent and evidence-lacking claims, however it would be absurd to place blame on this sector alone. Without the chance of compensation from no win no fee claims companies, many genuine victims of accident or injury would struggle to get the money that would be owed to them.
Despite the increasing modernisation of Saudis in their home country and all over the world in different industries, western culture still condemns them to derogatory stereotypes as people who ride out in deserts with camels, are very rich or are terrorists. Even foreign expatriates living in the country still view Arabians in this way.
According to Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, Bernard Haykel, the image of the Arab is not positive in the United States and other western countries. Their derogatory stereotypes are associated with their excessive wealth, gender inequality, abuse of women and their close-minded approach to faith.
According to him, even if some expatriates or visitors may find some Saudi Arabians as kind and down to earth enough to change their ideas, there will still be media and independent underground groups that are willing to tarnish the image of Saudi Arabia.
According to Niagra College Professor Karen Martin, she loved Riyadh when she first saw it. She said she loved the environment and Arabian students were as diligent and welcoming as western students.
She added that the “closed-door” image of Saudi Arabia that has western countries endow it with negative and extreme imagery. She added that it is possible 9/11 changd the view of the world to Arabians and the Middle East forever.