Updates from the Middle East

Written by Bushra Bani-Salman

October 17, 2022

Turkey’s parliament passes new legislation restricting free speech. 

In recent years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been less forgiving to political dissent and has even called social media a threat to democracy. The new law allows the government to jail journalists and social media users for spreading information the government deems as false or misleading. Publishers may face up to three years in jail. Opposers of the legislation, like lawmaker Burak Erbay, said this law limits freedom of expression. Erbay took to the parliament’s podium, and told lawmakers that they will truly feel dissent when young Turks become of voting age within the next few years and vote the party out.

Biden administration says it is “re-evaluating” its relationship with Saudi Arabia after the kingdom rejects its request

The U.S. Biden administration requested the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to delay its reduction in oil outputs in hopes to deprive Russia’s President Vladimir Putin of oil money, further weakening the country’s position in the Ukraine War. However, Saudi’s Foreign Ministry stated the Biden administration asked them to delay the cuts by one month – suggesting that a month would alleviate any concerns of a price spike before the U.S. midterm elections. Regardless of reasoning, the Saudis rejected the request, saying it would have economic consequences.

Iranian women brave it all during the continued antigovernment protests.

The protests sparked with the death of Jina Mena Amini, a 23 year old Kurdish woman who died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly breaking the country’s modesty law. Women are at the forefront of these protests and risking their jobs, freedom, and especially their lives in hopes to change the government’s strict restrictions and imposed laws that negate self-autonomy. One protestor says, “It’s not just about the scarf. It’s about the whole life they have built for us.”

Tensions rise in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem after Israeli security forces killed two Palestinians in Jenin.

The occupied West Bank is experiencing its deadliest year since 2015. In a morning raid in the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli security forces went to arrest a man accused of terrorism. Palestinian gunmen fired, and Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian teenagers, as well as wounding at least 11 others. The camp is known to have Palestinian resistance fighters and the Israelis have raided it numerous times. Al Jazeera’s reporter states that there have been more than 114 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2022 in the occupied West Bank. 

Iraqi parliament elects new president, independent and Kurdish politician, Abdul Latif Rashid.

Following his swearing in, President Rashid appoints senior Shiite politician, Mohammed al-Sudani to assemble a cabinet within 30 days and get it approved by Parliament. This may prove difficult with the government’s different religious and ethnic sectarian groups. Additionally, Mr. Sudani said in an interview last week that there may be discussions of removing a number of American forces off Iraqi soil. 

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