The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced Friday receiving confirmation from Iranian activists of arson overnight at the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan. May 14th was the 72nd anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence. In February, members of the Basij militia threatened to raze the building and replace it with a Palestinian consulate. The Anti-Defamation League, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Alliance for Rights of All Minorities, and US Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism each issued statements condemning the arson.
United Arab Emirates
With Dubai's trade and tourism-dependent economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, sources informed Reuters that oil-rich Abu Dhabi is negotiating a bailout of its sister emirate that will likely be "orchestrated through mergers of assets where Abu Dhabi and Dubai compete directly or where they have joint ownerships." Abu Dhabi might seek to merge its Etihad Airways with its Dubai-based Emirates airline competitor. Abu Dhabi bailed out Dubai before, providing $10 billion to the Dubai Financial Support Fund in 2009 to prevent government-owned Dubai World from defaulting on a $4.1 billion bond payment. That bailout also involved mergers, including Dubai Aluminum with Emirates Aluminium to create Emirates Global Aluminium.
After blaming Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) gunmen for killing on Thursday two social workers delivering COVID-19 aid in Van province, police arrested 38 suspects, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leader in the Ozalp district and five other HPD officials. Turkish authorities on Friday also detained four HDP mayors and replaced them with government-appointed trustees for purportedly having ties to the PKK. Since the HDP won 65 mayoral races in the March 2019 local elections, the government has replaced 45.
EU member state foreign ministers during Friday's Foreign Affairs Council meeting discussed possible measures to deter Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank. Since sanctions require an unlikely unanimity among member states, some foreign ministers suggested excluding Israel from joint projects with the EU, such as Horizon 2020 and the Erasmus Plus student exchange program.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus during a phone briefing with Israeli reporters Friday reiterated the Trump administration's position that "annexation should be part of a peace process where Palestinians should have a say."
In a Der Spiegel interview published Friday, King Abdullah said that if Israel actually annexed parts of the West Bank in July, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advocates, "it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan." When pressed if that conflict would entail canceling the 1994 peace treaty, King Abdullah responded, "I do not want to make any threats and create an atmosphere of dispute, but we are considering all options."
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) declined PA President Mahmoud Abbas's invitation to hold an emergency meeting on Saturday in Ramallah concerning Israel potentially annexing parts of the West Bank, each preferring a more confrontational approach. Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh called for "comprehensive popular resistance" in the West Bank and Gaza while senior PIJ official Ahmed al-Mudallal stated Palestinians should adopt a "comprehensive and popular confrontation [with] the Zionist enemy, especially in the West Bank, to make the occupation costly." The third invitee, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, agreed to attend the meeting.
Lebanon's financial prosecutor Ali Ibrahim ordered the detention of Mazen Hamdan, the director of the cash operations at the central bank, for "currency manipulation" for allegedly buying dollars from exchange bureaus, thereby weakening the pound on the black market. An anonymous judicial source says Ibrahim has not been formally charged with any crime. An internal central bank investigation into currency manipulation concluded, "There was no manipulation in the money exchange market as a result of the bank's operations" and will demonstrate that by releasing its records of transactions between the bank and private money traders. Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government blames the central bank for the financial crisis causing the Lebanese pound to lose 60 percent of its value in recent weeks and ending the 20-year dollar peg while Lebanese central bank governor Riad Salameh blames government profligacy and corruption.
As the military offensive launched Monday by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi's internationally recognized government to regain control of Aden stalls in Abyan province, the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) called for an uprising against Hadi's government in the Hadramout and Shabwa provinces.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum