The Arab League
The Arab League Wednesday failed to pass a resolution introduced by the Palestinian Authority condemning the UAE for normalizing relations with Israel. Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki reported that the Palestinian position was either pass a resolution condemning the UAE or pass no resolution regarding Palestine. Earlier in the day, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki asserted, "In the face of the UAE-Israeli normalization agreement, it has become necessary for us to issue a position to reject this move. Otherwise, our meeting will be considered as a blessing or being complicit with the normalization." Ultimately, the Arab League just reiterated its support for the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which advocates Arab states normalizing relations with Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state in the territory captured in the 1967 war and a "just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees." However, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit stressed, "It is the indisputable right of each country to have sovereignty in conducting its foreign policy in the way it sees fit."
Ever since the US unveiled the Israel-UAE peace accord, the Palestinian Authority has criticized Ahmed Aboul Gheit and the Arab League for not taking a forceful stand against normalization. Secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee Saeb Erekat said last month about Ahmed Aboul Gheit, "If he is not able to issue a statement condemning the UAE-Israeli normalization, he should resign." Likewise on Wednesday, Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Palestinian Authority's General Authority of Civil Affairs, called the failure to pass a condemnatory resolution, "The triumph of money over dignity" and "the use of 'national sovereignty' to justify subservience." While the Arab League did not condemn the UAE, it urged Iran to "stop support for its proxies in the region and stop inciting sectarian seditions that constitute a continuing threat to the stability and security of the Arab region."
Jared Kushner on Wednesday informed reporters that "Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will allow all Israeli flights to pass over their territory, and not just flights to and from the Emirates." Bahrain last Thursday accepted Abu Dhabi's request to permit flights between the UAE and Israel to pass through its airspace. That came one day after Riyadh announced that flights to and from the UAE "from all countries" could henceforth use Saudi airspace.
CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. formally announced Wednesday the US will reduce the number of troops in Iraq this month from 5,200 to 3,000. He said the remaining forces will help the Iraqi military defeat the remnants of ISIS and enable the US to deter Tehran.
Baghdad requested Wednesday that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cut oil production by 120,000 bpd as part of an effort to compensate for Iraq initially violating its quota set by an April OPEC+ agreement to stabilize oil prices. On August 6, Iraq, theretofore the least compliant party to the OPEC+ agreement, announced it would cut output by an extra 400,000 bpd in August and September to compensate for past overproduction. Production cuts occurred so far in the country's south, Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar noting the KRG continues exporting oil without coordinating with Baghdad.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun Wednesday asked caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe to contact the American embassy "in order to understand the circumstances" behind the US Treasury Department Tuesday blacklisting two former Lebanese government ministers for providing material support to Hezbollah and engaging in corruption. A Treasury Department statement issued Tuesday clearly delineated how, after taking Hezbollah bribes, former Minister of Transportation and Public Works Yusuf Finyanus intervened to ensure Hezbollah-owned companies won government contracts and provided Hezbollah with legal documents pertaining to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri's assassination. The statement then accused former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil of helping Hezbollah skirt US sanctions and evade taxes on electronics imports.
A "Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen" commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council released its third report Wednesday, which covers from July 2019 to June 2020. It cited "credible reports regarding Houthi recruitment of 34 girls (ages 13-17), between June 2015 and June 2020, for use as spies, recruiters of other children, guards, medics, and members of the Zainabiyat" female security unit while "twelve of these girls allegedly survived sexual violence and/or a forced and early marriage directly linked to their recruitment."
A Turkish court Wednesday convicted five journalists for reporting on the funeral of an intelligence officer killed in Libya, prosecutors claiming they revealed the officer's identity and exposed agents attending the funeral. The journalists included editors-in-chief of the Odatv news website and the pro-Kurdish Yeni Yasam newspaper and the sentences ranged from three years and nine months to four years and six months. Since the intelligence officer's name had already been mentioned during public discussions in Turkey's parliament, the defendants argued they did not publish secret information.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum