Hezbollah capped off the 40th anniversary of its founding on Monday with large-scale celebrations on a stage in southern Beirut that featured holograms of fighters killed in battle, and videos showing off the group’s historic confrontation with Israel. An interpretive dance, depicting how the group freed prisoners from ISIS in Syria, was a notable addition.
- Background: Thousands of women were permitted to attend a World Cup Qualifier game between Iran and Cambodia in 2019, following pressure from human rights groups and the sport’s world governing body FIFA. That was the first time since the Revolution that women were able to attend an international football competition inside Iran.
- Why it matters: FIFA had come under increasing pressure to force Iran to overturn a ban on women entering sports stadiums, in particular following the death of Sahar Khodayari. The female fan set herself on fire after she was denied access to a football stadium in Tehran in 2019. Video from the stadium on Thursday showed women dressed in blue waving Esteghlal flags and chanting “blue girl” from the stands, referring to Khodayari.
- Background: The trauma of French colonial rule in Algeria and the independence war that ended it in 1962 has haunted relations between the two countries for decades. Last year Macron was quoted as suggesting that Algerian national identity did not exist before French rule, and accused Algeria’s leaders of rewriting the history of the independence struggle based on a hatred of France. Algeria withdrew its ambassador and closed its airspace to French planes.
- Why it matters: Ties with Algeria have become more important for France because the war in Ukraine has increased demand in Europe for North African gas, and due to surging migration across the Mediterranean. Algeria is meanwhile seeking to capitalize on higher energy prices to lock in European investment.
- Background: The US carried out additional airstrikes targeting enemy positions and rocket launchers near Deir ez-Zor in northeast Syria on Thursday following a rocket attack on coalition bases in the region that injured three US troops on Wednesday, according to a US official.
- Why it matters: Iranian militias have a strong presence in the town and have long targeted the nearby Al Omar oil field on the eastern bank of the Euphrates where the US coalition has its biggest base in Syria. The flare-up occurred amid diplomatic efforts between Tehran and the West to try to save Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.