Other top Middle East news
- Background: The incident took place at the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, on the last Friday of Ramadan. . Tensions at the compound have been heightened during Ramadan, with clashes occurring every Friday. The Red Crescent accused Israeli forces of preventing its workers from entering the compound, and of “wounding and beating one of our crews.”
- Why it matters: Tensions have been high in Jerusalem after Israeli police entered the Al Aqsa compound earlier this month to counter what they described as riots by Palestinians, which left more than 200 wounded, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. The violence has tested Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition government, as well as triggered various diplomatic responses from neighboring Arab states.
- Background: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition have been at war for the past seven years, but on April 2 agreed to a two-month truce brokered by the United Nations. Prisoner swaps have been in discussion by both sides under the auspices of the UN, which could free up to 1,400 Houthi prisoners in return for 823 coalition prisoners.
- Why it matters: Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies are concerned about what they see as waning US interest in their security, as well as over a potentially emboldened Iran following a nuclear deal with world powers, and have begun taking steps at de-escalation. Riyadh has also resumed direct talks with Iran, which supports armed proxies around the region, including in Yemen.
- Background: The United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Thursday that Iran has moved its new Natanz centrifuge workshop, where it makes machines that enrich uranium, to an underground location. The machines are from a now-closed facility at Karaj that Tehran says was sabotaged by Israeli attacks. Iran’s centrifuge workshop can make parts essential to advancing its uranium enrichment program.
- Why it matters: Iran has engaged in nuclear talks with world powers over the past years, in efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal that was scraped by then-president Donald Trump in 2018. Any new nuclear activity by Iran risks complicating the talks.