The month of November witnessed an uptick in protests, specifically in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, who joined last. More than 400 people were killed in Iraq, the Lebanese prime minister Saad Al Hariri officially resigned, and the Iranian government shut down internet and controlled media coverage . Moreover, these countries experienced mass protests sparked by a range of causes ranging from new laws to corruption and poverty.
After eight months of negotiations, Saad Hariri finally formed a new Lebanese government. The Prime Minister will head the new 30-member government and will initiate urgent economic and political reforms. In a recent speech, Hariri stated that the economy will be the government’s main challenge moving forward.
Israel’s general election is coming up on April 9th and it could possibly facilitate a new era of politics in the region. Despite the fact that popular opinion still generally favors Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling center-right coalition, an opportunity for center-left challenger Benny Gantz rises in the midst of growing discontent. Whoever wins, however, will need to deal with brewing threats from Iran, Hezbollah and Palestine that could escalate to a major conflict as well as increasing criticism from U.S. Politicians regarding Israel’s ties with China.
The Syrian state media reported on Monday February 11th, 2019 that Israel bombed a demolished hospital and observation post in Syria’s southern Quneitra province near the border between Israel and Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on February 12th, 2019 that Israel did in fact strike Hezbollah targets in Syria the previous day. "We operate every day, including yesterday, against Iran and its attempts to entrench itself in the region," Netanyahu stated as he set out to attend an international conference on the Middle East in Warsaw.
US sanctions on Iran officially resumed on Monday, November 5, 2018, three years after being lifted by the Obama administration as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions came back into full effect Monday morning, bringing crippling economic burdens on Iran’s oil, banking, shipping, and other sectors. U.S. sanctions which are aimed at more than 700 Iranian entities and individuals are expected to have dire consequences on the country’s economy.
On Tuesday July 25th, an attack, carried out by Houthi Rebels targeting a Saudi oil tanker West of Hodeidah port city, was thwarted by the Western-backed Arab coalition forces. The Red Sea port of Hodeidah sits on the strategic passageway of the Bab el-Mandeb strait but currently lies under the control of Houthi rebel forces as they are clashing with Saudi and Emirati military forces for control of the city. The Saudi-led intervention has marked its third year since it first began following the Houthi takeover of the capital Sana’a in 2015.
According to reports, on Saturday February 10th, an Iranian surveillance drone allegedly took off from Syrian territory in an attempt to infiltrate Israeli airspace and monitor the area. Israel perceived it to be a an Iranian aggression and as such, the Israeli army assigned a military attack-helicopter (Apache) to intercept and down the drone which later reportedly fell inside Israeli controlled areas. A spokesperson for the Israeli army said that the Iranian drone will be carefully studied as it considered to be very advanced.