Other top Middle East news
- Background: Kavala, 64, had been in jail for over four years without a conviction and denied the charges he faced over the Gezi protests in 2013 that snowballed into nationwide anti-government unrest. Kavala played a major role developing Turkish civil society before he was detained in 2017.
- Why it matters: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and activists have said the case is politically motivated and part of a crackdown on dissent under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — accusations the government dismisses. Embassies of Turkey’s Western allies, including the United States and Germany, echoed the call for Kavala’s release last year, prompting threats by Erdogan to expel their ambassadors.
- Background: The UAE cargo ship RWABEE was seized by the Houthis in the Red Sea on January 3, who said the vessel carried military hardware. The Saudi-led coalition said the ship was carrying medical equipment. The British government previously identified the released Briton as Luke Symons, saying he was held without trial since 2017.
- Why it matters: The Houthi movement and Saudi-led coalition in Yemen have recently been taking steps toward ending hostilities after a seven-year war left Yemen in a dire humanitarian state. As Gulf monarchies worry about an emboldened Iran following a nuclear deal, they have been engaging in direct talks with their longtime foe, which continues to support armed proxies across the region.
- Background: The eastern-based parliament appointed Bashagha in March, but the UN-backed sitting prime minister, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, refused to cede power leading to a prolonged standoff between the two rival governments.
- Why it matters: Unrest in the oil-producing country can have an impact on crude prices at a time when the Ukraine war has caused a significant spike in prices leading to global inflation. Earlier this month, protesters shut several oil facilities in the country calling for al-Dbeibah to resign.