KAZAKHSTAN, IRAN FOCUS ON TRADE, TRANSIT, TRANSPORTATION
Kazakhstan and Iran agreed to increase mutual trade, strengthen trade and economic cooperation in transport, logistics, manufacturing, and agriculture, and expand cultural and humanitarian ties. This was announced during the meeting between Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on June 19. As part of his official visit to Iran, Tokayev took part in the online launch ceremony of the first container train from Kazakhstan through Iran to Türkiye. The agreement for the use of the transport and transit potential between the two countries is an important one, noted the Kazakh President. The transport corridor will connect the northern and southern, western, and eastern directions. The President of Iran noted the potential opportunities have not yet been fully realized despite the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the countries.
ALGERIA SUSPENDS TOURISM TIES WITH SPAIN AMID TENSION
Algeria suspended all tourism ties with Spain on June 20 in a new escalation of tension between the two countries over the disputed Western Sahara region. A document dated June 19 by the Algerian Tourism Ministry asked all tour operators to immediately suspend tourism relations with Spain. The document said the suspension was part of Algeria’s decision to suspend a friendship treaty with Madrid. Last week, Algeria suspended its 20-year-old friendship and cooperation treaty with Spain. The North African country’s banking association, ABEF, also ordered all banks to freeze bank operations related to trade with Spain. The escalation came after the Spanish government shifted its position on the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Spain had previously supported Western Sahara’s independence. However, after diplomatic tensions with Morocco surged last year, the government was persuaded to accept the position that Western Sahara should be an autonomous region with Morocco. Algeria, a firm supporter of Western Saharan independence, has described Spain’s U-turn as “a betrayal.”
SUDAN’S ECONOMY SINKS LEADERS SEARCH FOR SUPPORT
An accelerated breakdown in services, including water and electricity supplies, has left Sudanese citizens counting the cost of political stalemate after a military takeover last October, reports said on June 20. The slide in living conditions comes after the coup triggered the suspension of billions of dollars in international funding, and at a time when the war in Ukraine has pushed the cost of key imports higher. It has fed into anti-military demonstrations held at least once a week for the past eight months, while also adding to pressure for the military and civilian groups to come to a political agreement. Authorities say they are pressing on with economic reforms that a civilian-led government began under International Monetary Fund (IMF) monitoring in 2020, aimed at reducing subsidies seen as inflationary, but government spending has skyrocketed.
AFGHAN DETAINEE RELEASED FROM GUANTANAMO
The US has released another Afghan detainee from Guantanamo prison, the interim Taliban administration said on June 24. In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said one of their detainees, Assadullah Haroon, has been released and handed over to the Taliban. “As a result of the efforts of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and its direct and positive interaction with the United States, one of the remaining two detainees, Asadullah Haroon, was released from Guantanamo prison,” said Mujahid, using the pre-2001 name of the landlocked-country when it was under Taliban rule. “As a result of IEA’s efforts, today, we are witnessing the release of Assadullah Haroon from Guantanamo prison and his reunion with his family years later,” he added. He thanked the government of Qatar for their help. Haroon spent 15 years in the offshore prison notorious for grave human rights violations. Mujahid said some Afghans have been detained in other countries as well and the interim Taliban administration is currently in contact with these states to secure their release.
FLOODS KILL 68, DAMAGE HECTARES OF CROPS IN B’DESH
The monsoon floods and onrush upstream water from India have claimed at least 68 lives in Bangladesh amid a rising number of waterborne diseases, along with food and potable water crises. The floods have swept across north-eastern Bangladesh, inundating 6 million inhabitants and thousands of hectares that include local paddy fields and fishing enclosures, a report said on June 23. At least 13 districts across the South Asian country have been marooned by the floods, including almost the entire north-eastern Sylhet division, amid pouring rains and an onrush of water from nearby hills and upstream India, triggering a humanitarian crisis in flood-hit areas. Floodwaters also damaged about 56,000 hectares of paddy fields in Sylhet, Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque told reporters.
WILDFIRE IN TÜRKIYE’S MARMARIS BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL
A wildfire that broke out in Türkiye’s southwestern resort town of Marmaris earlier this week has been brought under control, the country’s agriculture and forestry minister said on June 25. Speaking to reporters, Vahit Kirisci said that efforts are being made to cool the area affected by fire, adding that restoration efforts will begin soon. Kirisci said the fire has been brought under control in less than 72 hours.
TUNISIAN JUDGES STRIKE FOR 4TH WEEK TO PROTEST SACKINGS
Tunisian judges have extended their strike for a fourth week to protest the sacking of their colleagues by President Kais Saied. In a statement, the Coordination of Judicial Structures said the move was taken over refusal of the Presidency and the Justice Ministry to respond to their demands. “The strike will include all courts, administrative, financial and judicial institutions as of Monday,” it added. The statement called on all judges to abide by the strike “in order to ensure the independency of the judiciary.” On June 1, the Tunisian president sacked 57 judges, citing corruption and covering up terrorist cases, accusations that were vehemently rejected by judges. Tunisia has been in the throes of a deep political crisis that has aggravated the country’s economic conditions since Saied ousted the government, dissolved parliament and assumed executive authority last year in July.
QATAR LIKELY TO HOST IRAN-US NUCLEAR DEAL TALKS
Qatar is most likely to host the upcoming talks between Iran and the US, mediated by the European Union, to close the remaining gaps in efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal. Nour News, affiliated with Iran’s top security body, said in a statement posted on Twitter on June 26 that Doha has a “better chance” of hosting the forthcoming talks than other Gulf countries, given its “ongoing efforts to resume talks on lifting sanctions.” It comes a day after Iran and the EU agreed to break a three-month deadlock in the Vienna nuclear talks, following EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s meetings in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkani.