Middle East round-up: Iran rock climber in headscarf controversy

Here’s a round-up of Al Jazeera’s Middle East coverage this week.

[Al Jazeera]
[Al Jazeera]

The battle for the narrative in Iran, tensions between Greece and Turkey and Australia reverses recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Here’s your round-up, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Al Jazeera Digital’s Middle East and North Africa editor.

Protesters in Iran have shown few signs they have any intention of backing down after more than a month of anti-government demonstrations. The protests started after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was in the custody of Iran’s morality police — accused of contravening the dress code for women. Now, a video’s gone viral.

It shows an Iranian climber, Elnaz Rekabi, competing without a headscarf at an event in South Korea. Back home, protesters saw Rekabi’s omission as tacit approval of their movement. She later apologised on social media, and said the whole thing was an accident. How true that is will undoubtedly continue to be debated as the Iranian government and the protesters do battle in their efforts to shape the narrative there.

And speaking of narratives, it’s often hard to get accurate information out of Iran, especially beyond the capital, Tehran. A big issue, as Al Jazeera’s Resul Serdar reported, has been the state’s restrictions on the internet, designed to hamper protest organisers, but which have also had the unintended effect of hurting businesses.

Refugees stripped on Greece-Turkey border

The sight of almost 100 naked refugees on the Greek side of the border with Turkey says a lot about how badly people are being treated as they fight to make their way into Europe. Their mistreatment has become the basis for the latest disagreement between Athens and Ankara, as the two neighbours each blame the other for what happened to those people. Besides refugees, Greece and Turkey continue to feud over islands in the Aegean. It’s gotten so bad, people are asking whether there’s a chance they could go to war.

Australia reverses Jerusalem decision

In many ways it’s only a symbolic decision more than anything else, but the Israeli government still isn’t happy. The Australian government has reversed a decision by the previous administration to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most countries don’t recognise Jerusalem as the capital because the eastern part of the city is Palestinian territory that Israel has occupied since 1967.

[READ: Israeli settlers attack Palestinians in Nablus during army siege]

And now for something different

Deq is the name given to an ancient type of Kurdish tattoo body art. The ink that’s used is made from breastmilk and ashes, and is believed to provide protection and bestow blessings. But it’s been dying out, with one woman in Turkey doing her best to keep the tradition alive.

The US, Saudi Arabia, and OPEC

Washington and Riyadh have historically been close allies, but there’s no denying that relations are not as close as they once were. A recent decision by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members, to cut oil production, has angered the United States. It also has some observers wondering whether it was a decision designed to simply anger the US — and whether the Biden administration’s reaction is evidence that, perhaps, “divorce proceedings” for the two countries are being considered.

In Brief

Sadrists refuse to join the new Iraqi government, potentially laying groundwork for more strife – Contaminated cancer medicine kills at least 10 children in Yemen – Two Palestinians are killed by Israeli forces in raid on Jenin – Malaysian media report Israel’s Mossad behind kidnapping and beating of Palestinian man in Kuala Lumpur – Tunisian protesters denounce president’s ‘coup’ and demand he step down – Struggling Credit Suisse is approaching sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East for a capital boost – Intercommunal violence kills 13 in Sudan’s Blue Nile state – Russia and Iran have insisted the UN has no authority to investigate alleged Iranian drones being used in Ukraine.

­­Yemen’s future water wars

In Yemen, separate to the wider civil war that has devastated the country, a 20-year-long conflict between tribes in Taiz has been fought over access to fresh water. Research by the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) suggests that more conflicts will result from the continued depletion of water resources. “Yemen should serve as a clear warning to the rest of the world — climate change acts as a conflict multiplier,” says CIVIC’s Middle East and North Africa researcher, Niku Jafarnia.

­Quote of the Week

“Iran is responsible for the murder of Ukrainians. [A] country that oppresses its own people is now giving [Russian] monsters weapons for mass murders in the heart of Europe.” — Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, after Ukraine accused Russia of using Iranian-built drones. Iran has denied the accusations.

Source: Al Jazeera