President Hassan Rouhani said citizens have the right to protest but that Trump “has no right to sympathize with Iranians”. He added, “This man in America who is sympathizing today with our people has forgotten that he called the Iranian nation terrorists a few months ago. This man who is against the Iranian nation to his core has no right to sympathize with Iranians.”
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The balancing act that Hamas and Fatah are now forced to play requires some external pressure, and it appears that the Egyptians are willing to apply this pressure, especially against Hamas. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is able to exert similar pressure on the PLO, mostly by means of its financial support to the Palestinian government.
The coalition countries pay the Sudanese soldiers’ salaries, provoking accusations that the soldiers are little more than mercenaries. Although the amounts of these salaries have not been officially announced, according to some sources, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir asked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman $2 billion for every 1,000 Sudanese soldiers fighting in Yemen.
Whatever the case, such dramatic changes come at a price. The crown prince is consolidating power to a degree Saudi Arabia has not seen in generations. MBS has dismantled that system, alienating almost everyone and fundamentally altering the governance dynamics of the kingdom. By consolidating power, MBS seems to be offering a larger degree of social freedom, but there can surely be little room for dissent during this mega-transformation.
At the root of the conflict between Iran and its Arab neighbours lies the Shia-Sunni divide, as the patrons of the two Muslim sects, Tehran and Riyadh respectively, are both prepared to promote and support their sectarian beliefs. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain can be viewed in this light. Yet it is also the result of an ordinary struggle between two regional powers.
Historically, Saudi Arabia and Iran have not stood head-to-head, and while several factors played into the historical deterioration of relations between the two regional powers, oil was the main cause. The consequences of the economic face off are felt by both nations, and, most importantly, their populations.
Bin Zayed grew up witnessing the rapid transformation of the UAE from huts to Hilton hotels and skyscrapers. Along the way, his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, elder brother Khalifa and he learned two valuable lessons: the UAE cannot survive without outside protection and they need to remain strategically significant to keep mainly their Western allies interested and on board. Moreover, the country’s geographical location puts it between two regional powers that historically have shown an interest in controlling it.
Today, Shiites are divided into numerous sects, the largest being Twelver Shiism. Shiites make up the majority of the population in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan; and they constitute significant minorities in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Tanzania.