EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday the EU will both send Iran €20 million in humanitarian aid, which is subject to US sanctions, and support Tehran's March 6 application to the IMF for $5 billion of emergency funding to blunt COVID-19's economic consequences.
Iran Tuesday suddenly and without explanation canceled a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) project for nine emergency and intensive care unit medical doctors and logisticians to set up a 50-bed inflatable field hospital in the central city of Isfahan. The MSF team was already in the country. Some Iranian policymakers reportedly feared the MSF staff could be spies.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended the March 17 temporary release of approximately 85,000 prisoners by 15 days to reduce their exposure to COVID-19. He also announced that half of government employees are now working from home.
State-run IRNA reported the mother-in-law of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's youngest son, Meysam Khamenei, died from COVID-19.
The Houthi militia prevented a UN-chartered ship carrying representatives of the internationally recognized, Aden-based government from leaving Hodeidah's port. The representatives, who two weeks ago suspended truce and troop redeployment negotiations for Hodeidah, planned to sail on Tuesday morning for the Aden government-controlled port of Mokha.
The Houthi-controlled Specialized Criminal Court sentenced to death in absentia 40 parliamentarians and military officers loyal to the internationally recognized government and seized their property. Since capturing Sanaa in 2014, the aforementioned court has sentenced to death in absentia and seized the property of hundreds associated with the internationally recognized government.
Cairo imposed a two-week curfew, starting Wednesday, from 7 PM to 6 AM. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a televised press briefing that violators will face fines of up to 4,000 Egyptian pounds ($255) or prison. The government also announced allocating one billion Egyptian pounds ($63.69 million) to the health ministry to pay for medical supplies.
United Arab Emirates
The US and UAE conducted a major military exercise Monday that simulated seizing a sprawling model Mideast city, complete with multi-story buildings, an airport control tower, an oil refinery, and a central mosque.
An appellate court sentenced Karim Tabbou, one of the most prominent activists in the protest movement that toppled longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to one year in prison and a 50,000 Algerian dinar ($405) fine for "weakening army morale" after publishing videos last year on his unregistered political party's Facebook page that peacefully criticized the army's role in politics.
Senior Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi Tuesday broke with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, urging him to accede to the High Court of Justice's unanimous ruling that he must convene the Knesset to vote on a new speaker tomorrow. Hanegbi said, "Despite all the frustration, the decision of the judiciary must be upheld. Ignoring it will seriously damage our constitutional regime." Likud minister Ze'ev Elkin likewise argued that Edelstein must yield to the ruling, even though Elkin believes the High Court's decision is "wrong and illegitimate." MK Meir Cohen from Blue and White's Yesh Atid faction is the anti-Netanyahu bloc's candidate for Knesset speaker.
The Blue and White party, along with its left-wing allies, controversially agreed to a Joint Arab List member chairing the Knesset's Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee, which handles the medical treatment of terror victims and injured soldiers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and MK Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) each registered their disapproval of reserving such a position for a member of a party that includes MKs that openly praise terrorist attacks against Israelis. The Joint Arab List has not yet identified which of its lawmakers will assume the post.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) received $25 million in withheld tax revenue from Israel to stave of a COVID-19-induced financial crisis. In February 2019, Israel started deducting tax revenue equivalent to the benefits the PA provides to imprisoned terrorists and the families of terrorists.
Jordanian authorities have arrested over 1,600 people for violating the curfew that took effect on Saturday and placed them in army-run quarantine centers. Those arrested could face one year in prison. Amman chartered 190 buses to deliver bread directly to homes in the capital.
To combat COVID-19, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen called for an immediate nationwide ceasefire, the release of detainees and abductees, and Damascus granting medical workers access to prisons. Russia Tuesday sent a naval ship through Turkey's Bosphorus containing ambulances for the Syrian regime.
Micah Levinson is a Washington, DC resident fellow at the Middle East Forum.