Middle East update: UK to accept female footballers; violence erupts in Lebanon

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Mainstream news outlets in the US have turned their attention away from the Middle East in recent weeks while many impactful events are still taking place.

Being Libertarian now provides for you Middle East updates that will be published monthly. These updates will include the three most impactful events to happen in the region each month. Those events will be summarized in a manner that our readers can know what’s happening in other parts of the world without having to consume too much precious time looking for them.

In our first Middle East update, the UK has granted refuge to the Afghanistan women’s junior football team. These soccer players fled the country after the Taliban took control of it this past August. The organization has returned controversial policies it enforced the last time it controlled the country, including barring women from doing many things, such as attending schools and participating in sports and outdoor activities. Elsewhere, violence erupted in Lebanon this week between Hezbollah and alleged pro-Israel fighters. These items and the rest of your Middle East update are below.

UK grants refuge to Afghanistan female footballers

After the Taliban regained control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, it reinstated several oppressive policies over the Afghan people, particularly women. Once again, women are not permitted to attend schools or participate in sports and other outdoor activities.

The Afghanistan women’s junior football team, consisting of 35 teenagers and young adults, escaped the country after the Taliban takeover. They fled in small groups into Pakistan, according to media reports. The team missed a flight to the UK in August, where they have been granted refuge.

Once arriving in Pakistan, the football players were granted 30-day visas. From there, they applied for refuge in the UK. According to media reports, ROKiT, a UK-based telecoms company sells mobile handsets along with services such as telemedicine, roadside assistance, and smartphones; these athletes will have opportunities to try out for women’s clubs after arriving in the UK.

According to ROKiT founder Jonathan Kendrick, there was “simply no option” from a humanitarian perspective for the UK nonprofit to assist with the evacuation. Kendrick added in a statement that 130 people in all, the 35 athletes and their families, are being relocated to the UK.

Gunfire erupts at Lebanon protest, six confirmed dead

Violence erupted at a protest in Lebanon that left six people dead, according to media reports. The gunfire was exchanged between Hezbollah and its allies, and alleged pro-Israel forces. Hezbollah named the Christian Lebanese Forces, who denied involvement.

The violent event happened on Oct. 14. The following day, Iran announced on its state-run Press TV that Israel was responsible for the gunfire, alleging that the pro-West ally backed what Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called seditions backed by the Zionist entity.

According to reports, the violence took place in Tayouneh, a portion of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, which significantly is the same place where a civil war occurred between Christians and Muslims from 1975-1990. Hezbollah and allies of its Amal Movement were at the area to protest, demanding that the judge investigating a Lebanese port blast be removed.

War between Houthi rebels and Saudi-led coalition rages on

The Houthi rebels launched an offensive toward the Yemeni city of Marib in February this year, in an attempt to overtake the Arab state’s oil and natural gas resources. Marib is the final stronghold ahead of these resources. This civil war has been recognized internationally as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

No matter who is winning this war, innocent Yemenis are losing – their lives and their livelihoods. The United Nations reported that tens of thousands of of people have been displace in Marib province this year, 10,000 in the month of September. Millions have been displaced, and tens of thousands have died, since this war began in 2014. The UN called for a halt to the fighting this week, citing as many as 17,000 caught in crossfire. These people fled to Marib province after the fighting came to where they lived.

The Saudi-led coalition consists of a group of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia. The coalition began lending support to the Yemeni government in 2015, a year after Houthi rebels seized the capital city of Sanaa. The rebels have accused the Yemeni government of receiving support from Al Qaida and ISIS, and claimed that both terrorist organizations are linked to the coalition. The coalition, and the United States, have recognized Iran as a supporter of the Houthi rebels, giving funding, training and weapons to the fighters. Iran claims it has offered only advisory and spiritual support.

The United States has called on the Houthi rebels to end the fighting and join and UN-led effort to find a peaceful resolution. The United States has sold weapons to the Saudi-led coalition that have been used in war crimes. The United States continues to provide support to the Saudi-led coalition, despite an announcement by Pres. Joe Biden it would do the opposite last February. Meanwhile, 80 percent of Yemen’s population remains in need of humanitarian aid.

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Mike Ursery