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Western Sahara and New Cell of Hezbollah involvement in North Africa

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Tehran’s recent moves against Morocco’s national sovereignty represents its plan to keep on its strategy through global supremacy by undermining and destabilizing pro-Western states. the Kingdom of Morocco decides to disjoin relations with Tehran a week before President Trump announcement of his full decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action. Iran’s existence in North Africa and Maghreb region has been increasing over time and evolve yet more marked as the deadline approached for the expected American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action.

Morocco and Qatar Relations

Currently, Qatar has been seen as display powerful and growing relationship with the Kingdom of Morocco. Both states signed 12 agreements in March restating their strong and mutual cooperation on a range of domains. Qatar also emerged to hit targeting Morocco’s regional rival, Algeria, the key supporter of Polisario Front, on the international sphere.

For this case, Doha’s illicit support for Polisario Front is seen by some Moroccans as a stab in the back. If double-dealing is, in fact, taking place, it would be another reason of Qatar’s openly criticized style of diplomacy, wherein it has proved to achieve international right by welcoming Western countries while at the same time sustaining relations with terrorist organizations like Hamas and the Taliban.

Relations between Morocco and Qatar may have been tight as early as April when documentation of Qatari individuals’ ties to Polisario Front first surfaced. Besides, according to Saudi sources, Qatar’s charity in Somalia supports and finances Iran-backed terrorists. Iran has also organized a group of Somalian fighters in Saudi-backed Sudan, which is part of the Arab coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. Sudan is one of the states Qatar has been aiming for military deals jointly with Turkey.

Accordingly, Saudi Arabia vowed Kingdom of Morocco that it would declare Polisario Front a terrorist organization in a major spot of support for Morocco’s territorial integrity. hence, the Western Sahara Conflict became yet another part between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, further provoke the Gulf Dilemma.

Some reports showed that Qatar’s covert support for Polisario Front is another interpretation of its plan to break into North Africa and promote an independent foreign policy. The way out of criticized this move for benefiting militias in Libya at the expense of neighborly state actors. Polisario’s Front link to Hezbollah makes the organization strategy in global terrorism, against which the Anti-Terrorism aggregate has taken a strong stand.

for the time being Qatar fully appreciated Iran for its backing during the Gulf Dilemma, which runs counter that Qatar is held hostage to Iran’s proximity to its gas zone and that it is only the Gulf Dilemma that has pushed Qatar through furthering that relationship. Such public statements likely disturb officials in Morocco who notice Iran’s act as that of a troublemaker, not as a source of support.

Morocco’s disagreement with Iran plans an intimated sitting for Qatar, which currently joined the other Gulf Countries and the US in sanctioning Hezbollah while in the same time admiring Iran’s back its Gulf rivals. It has not yet had to directly acknowledge the strange phenomenon of its coalition with a state that supports terrorist groups like Hezbollah. alike, Qatar’s supporting of the Hamas-led riots – jointly with Iran.

Hezbollah Involvement in North Africa

Hezbollah’s movements in Africa –particularly with the Polisario Front, and with the explicit supporting and assistance of powerful state actors – are a threat to regional stability and US interests. Despite Morocco’s bold move, the risk of Iranian support for radical organizations and separatist groups throughout the African continent is likely to rise in the near future. Under tension from the US and changed about the future of European financial investment as well as facing domestic opposition to costs on foreign military experimentation, Iran will enhance its relationships with South Africa and quest to make new allies, find manners of preventing newly imposed US sanctions and potential losses in profit, and collect “supplemental profit” through weapons, drugs, and human trafficking .

Iran has been engaged in Africa for a long time, and its engagement into North Africa anticipate the current milestone with Polisario Front. Iran has been drilling, training militarily and growing spies, Palestinian terrorist groups (in South Africa), and weapons for its darkness war against the West. In 2014, Kenya, which has an increasing bilateral relationship with Iran, arrested Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) helps with fake Israeli passports who were allegedly preparing terrorist attacks against US, Israeli, and British targets. In 2015, in the same circumstances, two alleged Iranian assets were also jailed. Iran’s rational impact in Africa towards its financing of infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, universities, and mosques increased after Riyadh severed relations with Iran following an attack on its embassy. It has also enlarged its commercial trading with African states twenty percent in just the previous year.

Alike Morocco’s Islamist parties notified, lately on October 2017, of Tehran’s supporting of Shiite militias in Sunni North Africa. Tehran’s foreign minister embark to the region an official visit in June of that year, talking with heads of state in Mauritania, Tunisia, and Algeria – entire states that have been paid off by Sunni extremists and militias and are at endangering of increasing destabilization.

Even it has failed to establish its own infrastructure, Iran has few choices for self-gain other than to attack stable and pro-Western states such as Morocco, imposing security and economic loss however it can. Many observers acknowledged that the Kingdom of Morocco is using this opportunity as an influence to grow its relationship with the US, which would include the US openly embracing Morocco’s autonomy plan to undermine Polisario Front. The US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and pressure on European companies to cease up doing business with Iran might likewise prevent Iran’s financing for involvement in foreign conflicts and involvement with local separatist and terrorist groups in several parts of the world.

Iran’s Northern African Allies

In 2009, Tehran obtains a Mauritanian hospital formerly condescended by Israel. Mauritania is now overrunning with jihadist groups and ripe for the picking, despite having accepted a significant amount of foreign aid from the US over the years for national security and defense. However, Senegal, Guinea, Nigeria, and Mali were also part of the visit. Iran’s Shiite movement has been aiming those countries in different ways for many years.

Additionally, Russia’s supporting of states such as Algeria and its confusion with European investors may give a temporary lifebelt to Iran’s aspiration due to the close alliance between Russia and Iran and their quest of similar goals. A powerful alliance between the US and Morocco will go a long way through countering the plans of these aspiring hegemons.

The Kingdom of Morocco can serve religious training education to African and European Imams, retaliating Iran’s ideological pushing; involve in stronger economic relations with other African countries, as it is fighting to do after rejoining the African Union; and become a cultural link between the US and Africa, initiating an additional support against Iran’s ideological impact and military hegemony. As well as the US, Europe, and the Anti-Terrorism band, Morocco is working to build up a strong reinforcement position that can help protect the African continent from the spread of Iran-backed jihadist groups and criminal activities.

Teheran’s ambitions will look profitable only concerning poor, fragile and failing states. A strong, stable Morocco is a danger to its plans to co-opt Africa and destroy American, European, and Saudi alliances and business potential. It will use Hezbollah group as well as state proxies to enhance Morocco’s adversaries, increase more terrorist entities, and manipulate ideological allies in Morocco’s backyard, as well as in more sensitive areas. And it will search to set up forces similar to Hezbollah that could be used to attack Western objectives and plant discord between allies, all the while using Africa for hidden and illegitimate activities.

Polisario and Hezbollah move

Morocco’s break with Iran came as a slap too much of the international society. Not many have pursed events and circumstances in North Africa and are aware of current illegal manipulates by the separatist group Polisario Front, which claims to represent the Western Sahrawi tribes. Polisario Front has long been known as a smuggler of weapons to Mauritania and other countries in the Sahel region, and in the last decade has been involved in drug smuggling and human trafficking.

Polisario’s Front recent movements in the defensive zone break ceasefire agreements from 1991. In a deeper violation, Polisario Front declared that it is mobilizing its facilities closer to the Moroccan border wall. latest reports about Polisario’s Front role in terrorist attacks against civilians, mostly Moroccan businessmen, fishermen, are further blaming the legacy of the group, which is strongly supported by Algeria, Iran, and Russia. Counterterrorism organizations that run activity in North Africa have decided that Polisario Front has well-established connections with al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) as well as Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.

Western Sahara, then, is becoming just another fresh filed for Qatar’s rivalry against Saudi Arabia and others. It seems that Qatar may have been eager to design its foreign policy desire – dominating Africa and dealing a blow to the Saudis – over its clearly intimate relationship with the Kingdom of Morocco.

Conclusion

Tehran’s influence on African foreign politics and security issues can be every part as undermining and destabilizing as its pattern of terror and oppression in the Middle East. The Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) withdrawal is an enormous chance for the United State to strengthen its relationships with allies in Africa and go jointly after backing for Hezbollah, Iran, and their counter partners in Africa and somewhere else.

Dr. Jamal Ait Laadam, Specialist in North African and Western Sahara Issue, at Jilin University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

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After 10 years of war in Syria, siege tactics still threaten civilians

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The future for Syria’s people is “increasingly bleak”, UN-appointed rights experts said on Tuesday, highlighting escalating conflict in several areas of the war-ravaged country, a return to siege tactics and popular demonstrations linked to the plummeting economy.

According to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the country is not safe for refugees to return to, after a decade of war.

The panel’s findings come amid an uptick in violence in the northwest, northeast and south of the country, where the Commissioners highlighted the chilling return of besiegement against civilian populations by pro-Government forces.

“The parties to the conflict continue to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity and infringing the basic human rights of Syrians,” said head of the Commission of Inquiry, Paulo Pinheiro. “The war on Syrian civilians continues, and it is difficult for them to find security or safe haven.”

Scandal of Al Hol’s children

Professor Pinheiro also described as “scandalous” the fact that many thousands of non-Syrian children born to former IS fighters continue to be held in detention in dreadful conditions in Syria’s north-east.

“Most foreign children remain deprived of their liberty since their home countries refuse to repatriate them,” he told journalists, on the sidelines of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“We have the most ratified convention in the world, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is completely forgotten. And democratic States that are prepared to abide to this Convention they neglect the obligations of this Convention in what is happening in Al Hol and other camps and prison places.”

Some 40,000 children continue to be held in camps including Al Hol. Nearly half are Iraqi and 7,800 are from nearly 60 other countries who refuse to repatriate them, according to the Commission of Inquiry report, which covers the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. 

Blockades and bombardment

The rights experts also condemned a siege by pro-Government forces on the town of Dar’a Al-Balad, the birthplace of the uprising in 2011, along with “siege-like tactics” in Quineitra and Rif Damascus governorates.

“Three years after the suffering that the Commission documented in eastern Ghouta, another tragedy has been unfolding before our eyes in Dar’a Al-Balad,” said Commissioner Hanny Megally, in reference to the siege of eastern Ghouta which lasted more than five years – and which the commissioners previously labelled “barbaric and medieval”.

In addition to the dangers posed by heavy artillery shelling, tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside Dar’a Al-Balad had insufficient access to food and health care, forcing many to flee, the Commissioners said.

Living in fear

In the Afrin and Ra’s al-Ayn regions of Aleppo, the Commissioners described how people lived in fear of car bombs “that are frequently detonated in crowded civilian areas”, targeting markets and busy streets.

At least 243 women, men and children have been killed in seven such attacks over the 12-month reporting period, they said, adding that the real toll is likely to be considerably higher.

Indiscriminate shelling has also continued, including on 12 June when munitions struck multiple locations in Afrin city in northwest Syria, killing and injuring many and destroying parts of al-Shifa hospital.

Insecurity in areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria has also deteriorated, according to the Commission of Inquiry, with increased attacks by extremist “remnants” and conflict with Turkish forces.

Division remains

The Commissioners noted that although President Assad controls about 70 per cent of the territory and 40 per cent of the pre-war population, there seems to be “no moves to unite the country or seek reconciliation. On the contrary.”

Despite a welcome drop in the level of violence compared with previous years, the Commission of Inquiry highlighted the dangers that continue to be faced by non-combatants

The senior rights experts also highlighted mounting discontent and protests amongst the population, impacted by fuel shortages and food insecurity, which has increased by 50 per cent in a year, to 12.4 million, citing UNFPA data.

“The hardships that Syrians are facing, particularly in the areas where the Government is back in control, are beginning to show in terms of protests by Syrians who have been loyal to the State,” said Mr. Megally. They are now saying, ‘Ten years of conflict, our lives are getting worse rather than getting better, when do we see an end to this?’”

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IAEA Director General reaches agreement in Tehran, as Biden’s clock is ticking

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IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi at a press conference. Photo: IAEA/Dean Calmaa

A meeting to resolve interim monitoring issues was held in Tehran on 12 September between the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi. Grossi was on a visit to Tehran to fix roadblocks on the stalled monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, which is ever more challenging in a context where there is no diplomatic agreement to revive or supersede the JCPOA. Grossi said in a press conference on 12 September that the IAEA had “a major communication breakdown” with Iran. But what exactly does that mean?


The IAEA monitoring equipment had gone three months without being serviced and Grossi said he needed “immediate rectification” of the issues. He was able to get the Iranian side to come to an agreement. The news from Sunday was that the IAEA’s inspectors are now permitted to service the identified equipment and replace their storage media which will be kept under the joint IAEA and AEOI seals in Iran. The way and the timing are now agreed by the two sides. The IAEA Director General had to push on the terms of the agreement reached in February 2020.

Grossi underlined on Sunday that the new agreement can’t be a permanent solution. Data from the nuclear facilities is just being stored according to what commentators call “the continuity of knowledge” principle, to avoid gaps over extended time periods but the data is not available to inspectors.

When it’s all said and done, basically, it all comes down to the diplomatic level. The American withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2018 keeps undermining the Iran nuclear inspections on the technical level. All the inspection activities have been stalled as a result of the broken deal. The IAEA’s strategy in the interim is that at least the information would be stored and not permanently lost.

Everyone is waiting for the JCPOA to be restored or superseded. As Vali Nasr argued in the New York Times back in April this year, the clock is ticking for Biden on Iran. Iran diplomacy doesn’t seem to be on Biden’s agenda at all at the moment. That makes the nuclear inspectors’ job practically impossible.  Journalists pointed out on Sunday that the Director General’s visit found one broken and one damaged camera in one of the facilities. Grossi assured it has been agreed with Iran that the cameras will be replaced within a few days. The IAEA report notes that it was not Iran but Israel that broke the IAEA cameras in a June drone attack carried out by Israel. Presumably, Israel aimed to show Iran is not complying by committing the violations themselves.

Grossi’s visit was a part of the overall IAEA strategy which goes along the lines of allowing time for diplomacy, without losing the data in the meantime. He added that he thinks he managed to rectify the most urgent problem, which is the imminent loss of data.

The Reuters’s title of the meeting is that the agreement reached on Sunday gives “hope” to a renewed Iran deal with the US, after Iran elected a hardliner president, Ebrahim Raisi, in August this year, but that’s a misleading title. This is not the bit that we were unsure about. The question was never on the Iranian side. No one really expected that the new Iranian president would not engage with the IAEA at all. Earlier in November 2019, an IAEA inspector was not allowed on a nuclear cite and had her accreditation canceled. In November 2020, Iranian lawmakers passed a law that mandated the halt of the IAEA inspections and not to allow inspectors on the nuclear sites, as well as the resuming of uranium enrichment, unless the US sanctions are lifted. In January 2021, there were threats by Iranian lawmakers that IAEA inspectors would be expelled. Yet, the new Iranian President still plays ball with the IAEA.

It is naïve to think that Iran should be expected to act as if there was still a deal but then again, US foreign policy is full of naïve episodes. “The current U.S. administration is no different from the previous one because it demands in different words what Trump demanded from Iran in the nuclear area,” Khamenei was quoted to have said in his first meeting with President Raisi’s cabinet.

“We don’t need a deal – you will just act as if there was still a deal and I will act as if I’m not bound by a deal” seems to be the US government’s line put bluntly. But the ball is actually in Biden’s court. The IAEA Director General is simply buying time, a few months at a time, but ultimately the United States will have to start moving. In a diplomatic tone, Grossi referred on Sunday to many commentators and journalists who are urging that it is time.

I just don’t see any signs on Biden’s side to move in the right direction. The current nuclear talks we have that started in June in Vienna are not even direct diplomatic talks and were put on hold until the outcome of Iran’s presidential elections were clear. US hesitance is making Grossi’s job impossible. The narrative pushed by so many in the US foreign policy space, namely that the big bad wolf Trump is still the one to blame, is slowly fading and reaching its expiry date, as Biden approaches the one-year mark of his presidency.

Let’s not forget that the US is the one that left and naturally is the one that has to restart the process, making the parties come back to the table. The US broke the deal. Biden can’t possibly be expecting that the other side will be the one extending its hand to beg for forgiveness. The US government is the one that ruined the multi-year, multilateral efforts of the complex dance that was required to get to something like the JCPOA – a deal that Republicans thought was never going to be possible because “you can’t negotiate with Iran”. You can, but you need skilled diplomats for that. Blinken is no Kerry. Judging from Blinken’s diplomacy moves with China and on other issues, I just don’t think that the Biden Administration has what it takes to get diplomacy back on track. If he follows the same line with Iran we won’t see another JCPOA in Biden’s term. Several weeks ago, Biden said that there are other options with Iran if diplomacy fails, in a White House meeting with Israel’s new prime minister Bennett. I don’t think that anyone in the foreign policy space buys that Biden would launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But I don’t think that team Biden can get to a diplomatic agreement either. Biden and Blinken are still stuck in the 2000, the time when others would approach the US no matter what, irrespective of whose fault it was. “You will do as I say” has never worked in the history of US foreign policy. That’s just not going to happen with Iran and the JCPOA. To expect otherwise is unreasonable. The whole “Trump did it” line is slowly and surely reaching its expiry date – as with anything else on the domestic and foreign policy plane. Biden needs to get his act together. The clock is ticking.

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Elections represent an opportunity for stability and unity in Libya

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With just over 100 days until landmark elections in Libya, political leaders must join forces to ensure the vote is free, fair and inclusive, the UN envoy for the country told the Security Council on Friday. 

Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) briefed ambassadors on developments ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place on 24 December. 

They were agreed under a political roadmap stemming from the historic October 2020 ceasefire between Libya’s rival authorities, and the establishment of a Government of National Unity (GNU) earlier this year. 

At the crossroads 

“Libya is at a crossroads where positive or negative outcomes are equally possible,” said Mr. Kubiš.  “With the elections there is an opportunity for Libya to move gradually and convincingly into a more stable, representative and civilian track.” 

He reported that the House of Representatives has adopted a law on the presidential election, while legislation for the parliamentary election is being finalized and could be considered and approved within the coming weeks.  

Although the High National Election Commission (HNEC) has received the presidential election law, another body, the High State Council, complained that it had been adopted without consultation. 

Foreign fighter threat 

The HNEC chairman has said it will be ready to start implementation once the laws are received, and will do everything possible to meet the 24 December deadline. 

“Thus, it is for the High National Election Commission to establish a clear electoral calendar to lead the country to the elections, with support of the international community, for the efforts of the Government of National Unity, all the respective authorities and institutions to deliver as free and fair, inclusive and credible elections as possible under the demanding and challenging conditions and constraints,” said Mr. Kubiš.  

“The international community could help create more conducive conditions for this by facilitating the start of a gradual withdrawal of foreign elements from Libya without delay.” 

Young voters eager 

The UN envoy also called for countries and regional organizations to provide electoral observers to help ensure the integrity and credibility of the process, as well as acceptance of the results. 

He also welcomed progress so far, including in updating the voter registry and the launch of a register for eligible voters outside the country. 

So far, more than 2.8 million Libyans have registered to vote, 40 per cent of whom are women.  Additionally, more than half a million new voters will also be casting their ballots. 

“Most of the newly registered are under 30, a clear testament to the young generation’s eagerness to take part in determining the fate of their country through a democratic process. The Libyan authorities and leaders must not let them down,” said Mr. Kubiš. 

He stressed that the international community also has a responsibility to support the positive developments in Libya, and to stand firm against attempts at derailment.  

“Not holding the elections could gravely deteriorate the situation in the country, could lead to division and conflict,” he warned.  “I urge the Libyan actors to join forces and ensure inclusive, free, fair parliamentary and presidential elections, which are to be seen as the essential step in further stabilizing and uniting Libya.”

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