Joseph Braude’s New and Noteworthy in Arab and Islamic Affairs, 9-13-17

An Arab League slugfest over Qatar, a shvitzing frenzy in Israel over GCC ties, and Polisario fears of a mass exodus from the Saharan camps. To subscribe to this daily roundup, click here.

Acrimony at the Arab League over Qatar: Tensions escalated at the summit in Cairo as Doha FM called Iran an “honorable state” and dubbed rival regimes’ media “dogs.” Saudi Arabia and the UAE reiterated that their list of 13 demands remained the basis for negotiation over resolving the conflict. Kuwait’s deputy FM, sworn to media the intra-GCC feud, hit back at the Qatari praise for Iran: “Despite Kuwait’s efforts to open up communication channels for dialogue between Arabian Gulf countries and neighbouring Iran with a view to enhancing regional security and stability, the Islamic Republic has continued its interference in domestic Arab affairs. Meanwhile, Washington remains a battlefield among the Gulf states’ hired hands.

A shvitzing frenzy in Israel over GCC ties: An Israel radio broadcast claiming an unnamed Saudi prince had visited the Jewish state has become an international story, and the Saudi Crown Prince has now been named as the reported visitor. The reporting coincided with a comment by Netanyahu that Gulf ties had never been stronger. But the MbS story turned out to be a lie, stoked by a combination of Iranian psychological warfare and self-delusion in Israel. It has sparked a new wave of claims by Saudis that the visitor was a Qatari. Among Gulf elites, the Israeli habit of “kiss and tell” has been one of the obstacles to a better coordinated public discussion about more open ties.
Polisario fears of a mass exodus: A leaked letter from a Polisario official in Cuba, where many young Sahraouis study, asks Havana to stipulate the students’ return to the Polisario of Tindouf before awarding them their degrees. Conditions in the Algeria-held Saharan camps have deteriorated — according to a report by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), due in part to Polisario elites’ misappropriation of EU aid monies on a grand scale.

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