The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have become the latest Arab States to sign an agreement normalizing relations with Israel in what is viewed as a strategic realignment of countries in the Middle East against Iran. The deal brokered by the United States and signed at the White House in Washington makes the two Arab nations the third and fourth to normalize relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994 respectively. Na'eem Jeenah is the Executive Director of Johannesburg-based think tank, Afro-Middle East Centre. He now joins us via Skype.
US expert Brooks Spector speculates US intel may have picked up informal chatter, but is unlikely to be a formal Iranian plot.
US magazine Politico reported allegations of an attempted plot to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks, in retaliation for the United States killing the Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in a January drone attack, based on US intelligence sources.,
On Monday, Lester Kiewit spoke to Naeem Jeenah, director at Afro-MiddleEast Centre, who said it needs to be taken 'with a pinch of salt'. He argued that South Africa is one of Iran's few friends and it seemed unlikely it would put that good relationship in jeopardy by orchestrating such action on South African soil.
Jeenah also noted that Iran was unlikely to consider Marks a political equivalent to Soleimani.
He adds that it is more likely a ploy by the United States to send a message to the South African government about its relationship with Iran.
SA State Security Agency has stated that the matter is receiving the necessary attention.
Kiewit now talks to and Associate Editor of Daily Maverick and former US Diplomat, Brooks Spector.
Spector notes that Politico is known to be a reasonable publication not given to wild innuendos.
He notes the SSA's statement was the expected response.
Spector says he is entering completely speculative waters when he suggests perhaps this was something hatched in the 'shadier and darker edges of the world.'
He notes that when Soleimani was killed by the Americans in Iraq, the Iranians did say there would be an accounting for this death.
To understand how divisions have further deepened after Israel and the UAE agreed on Thursday to establish diplomatic relations in a United States-brokered deal, we have asked an expert on the matter, Matshidiso Motsoeneng, who is currently a researcher at the Afro-Middle East Centre, a research institute based in Johannesburg, South Africa to join. She's on Skype.
Turkey has launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. Warplanes have bombed militia positions in towns near the border, killing two civilians. To discuss this ongoing conflict, we're joined by Matshidiso Motsoeneng from the Afro-Middle East Centre.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the US middle east plan as another apartheid. The US plan proposes to allow Israel to annex all its illegal settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley. Israel has imposed a ban on the export of Palestinian farm produce via Jordan. In an escalating trade war, this will make it impossible for farmers in the occupied West Bank to connect with markets around the world. The Palestinians have described the export ban as a dangerous action. Palestine said the Israeli move is part of a dispute that began in October when their authorities ordered a halt to the import of calves from ranches in Israel. They said at the time they wanted to decrease their dependency on the Israeli market. But Israel saw the move as a breach of a trade agreement. Matshidiso Motsoeneng is a researcher at the Afro-Middle East Centre, a think tank based in Johannesburg. She joins us via Skype for more on this.