Taliban Declares Total Ban on Poppy Cultivation

The cultivation of poppy is now strictly prohibited in Afghanistan, per a recent decree from the Taliban. The move comes amid the Taliban’s bid for formal international recognition, in which cessation of the Afghan drug trade has been a major impediment to the international community. 

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Prince Hamzah of Jordan Renounces Royal Titles

According to the Associated Press, Jordan’s Prince Hamzah announced his decision to abdicate his right to the throne in a statement published on his personal Twitter page. BBC News recounts Hamzah’s reasoning behind this monumental decision, stating that his “personal convictions” were not in line with the “modern methods of our institutions.” This announcement comes after Hamzah publicly apologized to his brother, King Abdullah II, in March 2022, for his previous comments criticizing his rule.

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Turkish President Visits UAE to Boost Long Strained Ties

On February 14, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the United Arab Emirates for the first time in nearly a decade in an attempt to revive relations long strained by regional disputes, Barron’s reports. President Erdogan was welcomed in the capital Abu Dhabi by the de facto ruler of the UAE, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, for the second meeting in three months between the Middle Eastern nations, after years of hostility over the role of Islamist groups in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

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Yemen War Intensifies as Drones Fired on UAE

On January 17, a drone attack on the UAE by Ansarullah, also known as Houthis, in Yemen marked the first time Yemeni forces were able to strike targets in the UAE, a notable escalation in the Yemen War, reports The Associated Press. The Associated Press further reports that this attack was followed by subsequent strikes on strategic facilities in the UAE, including during the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, on January 31.

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Afghan Drug Trade Threatens U.S. War on Drugs

Concerns regarding the impact on Afghanistan’s opium trade have been largely elusive from global conversations since the Taliban reclaimed control of Afghanistan last August, despite its prominence as a multi-billion dollar industry. Reuters reports the United States government has spent more than $8 billion in an unsuccessful effort to eradicate it. 

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FOCUS on Pariah Leaders: Bashar al-Assad

In early October, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a phone call from King Abdullah II of Jordan, their first since Abdullah called for Assad to step down in 2011 during the Arab Spring, according to Al Jazeera. Jordan is not alone in normalizing relations with their estranged Arab neighbor—Egypt and the UAE have both contacted the Syrian government. Jordan and the UAE have come to agreements to improve economic ties and resume trade with Syria, despite U.S. sanctions.

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Arab League Representatives Hopeful About Lebanese Peace Negotiations

General Hossam Zaki, secretary of the Arab League, arrived in Beirut on November 8 to hold talks with the Lebanese government. Al Jazeera reports that the talks were meant to resolve the current rift between the Saudi Arabian government and Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi. Kordahi previously criticized Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen against Houthi rebels in a pre-recorded interview released on October 26. Al Jazeera continues that Kordahi sympathized with the Houthi rebels, an Iran-backed group fighting in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, claiming that they were “defending themselves… against an external aggression.”

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A Looming Humanitarian Crisis Hands Turkey Bargaining Power in Europe

Following the Taliban’s capture of Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, on August 15, countries around the world are bracing for another mass migration of refugees. However, some leaders of Western European countries, such as, Germany and France—two of the most sought-after destinations by asylum seekers—are refusing to allow another migrant wave that resembles the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015.

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Lebanese Minister Criticizes Yemen War, Sparking Diplomatic Spat with Gulf Nations

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have announced the removal of Lebanese envoys, following statements made by the Lebanese Minister about the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. The Gulf nations have also enacted a blanket ban on all imports from Lebanon, according to BBC News.

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