The Muslim World
China says it's established a “strategic partnership” with the Palestinian Authority during a visit to the country by President Mahmoud Abbas. The announcement on Wednesday marked another step in China's campaign to gain political and economic influence in the Middle East. The region is a new field for competition between Beijing and Washington, with China seeking energy resources and promoting its version of authoritarian government to challenge the Western-style democratic world order. However, China's experience in the Middle East is mainly limited to construction, manufacturing and other economic projects. Beijing has long maintained diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority and Abbas was welcomed with full military honors.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel on Thursday, his last stop on a three-nation Latin American tour aimed at shoring up support among Latin American allies saddled, like Iran, by U.S. sanctions.
International donors have committed $10.3 billion in aid for millions of Syrians battered by war, poverty, and hunger. However, the pledges from 57 nations and 30 international organizations at an annual European Union-hosted conference in Brussels for Syria fall about $800 million short of a United Nations humanitarian appeal. Funding from the conference will help provide aid to Syrians inside the war-torn country and to some 5.7 million Syrian refugees living in neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Syria’s uprising-turned conflict, now in its thirteenth year, has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half of its prewar population of 23 million.
The powerful Hezbollah group and its allies thwarted a bid by their rivals to elect a top IMF official as Lebanon's president on Wednesday, sharpening sectarian tensions and further dimming prospects for preventing a collapse of the state.
Qatar's sovereign wealth fund is in talks with Egypt about potentially investing in seven historic hotels there, in what could be a landmark deal between the two countries that restored diplomatic ties in 2021 after a long-running dispute.
Kuwait says it has struck an agreement worth $367 million with Turkish drone giant Baykar to procure its TB2 drones. The successful deployment of the relatively cheap but lethal drones in conflict zones like Libya, Syria, and particularly Ukraine, have sparked a worldwide rush among nations to acquire them. The announcement, on Tuesday, would set Kuwait to become the 28th country to procure the TB2 drones. The drone, Bayraktar TB2, boasts unmanned aerial vehicles that can carry lightweight, laser-guided bombs, and fly for up to 27 hours at a time, which, according to the company, was “a record,” it had set while testing the drone in Kuwait in 2019.
As China builds its diplomatic role in the Middle East, its companies are also now racing to expand in a region that is more open to U.S. competitors than it has been in years.
The International Monetary Fund has slammed Pakistan’s government over its proposal for the new annual budget, saying it failed to implement a more fair tax system in the draft. The harsh criticism by Esther Perez Ruiz, IMF’s representative for Pakistan, raised new concerns on Thursday about the success of monthslong talks between the cash-strapped Islamic nation and the IMF over a stalled bailout tranche. The government last week presented the country’s new budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year in the parliament, announcing a new tax amnesty scheme and skipping some of the anticipated taxes. Perez Ruiz says the IMF is offering “work with the government in refining its strategy” for the budget.