Daily Answer Writing

13TH JANUARY,2021 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS

Index

  1. A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  2. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) (PIB)
  3. Kayakalp Award (PIB)
  4. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yajana (PMFBY) (PIB)
  5. B) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  6. Spintronics (PIB)
  7. All about Clinical Trials in India (TH)
  8. C) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
  9. Year End Review 2020: Ministry of Law and Justice (PIB)
  10. D) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
  11. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) (TH)
  12. E) International Relations
  13. The Al-Ula conclave (TH)

 

A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

  1. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) (PIB)

  • Context: Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog today (12th Jan 2021) launched its new edition of Atal Tinkering Lab handbook which reinforces the detailed establishment and operational processes of the Atal Tinkering Labs and its journey towards an innovative ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
  • The publication coincides with the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, also celebrated as the National Youth Day (12th January) to honor the birthday of Swami Vivekananda who voiced the important role that youth play in the building up of a strong nation throughout his life.

 Analysis

  • The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the country at school, university, research institutions, MSME and industry levels.
  • Partnering with the Ministries of Road Transport and Highways, Housing and Urban Affairs, Agriculture and Family Welfare, Drinking Water & Sanitation and the Railway Board, AIM will attempt to harness the potential of India’s innovators.

Implementation framework

  • AIM has multiple programs to encourage and support innovation in the country.
  • Atal Tinkering Labs-Creating problem solving mindset across schools in India.
  • Atal Incubation Centers-Fostering world class startups and adding a new dimension to the incubator model.
  • Atal New India Challenges-Fostering product innovations and aligning them to the needs of various sectors/ministeries.
  • Mentor India Campaign– A national Mentor network in collaboration with public sector, corporates and institutions, to support all the intiatives of the mission.
  • Atal Community Innovation Center– To stimulate community centric innovation and ideas in the unserved /underserved regions of the country including Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
  • ARISE-To stimulate innovation and research in the MSME industry.

Brief on activities carried out under Atal Innovation Mission

Atal Tinkering Laboratories

  • With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, NITI Aayog under the Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.
  • Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
  • The objective of this scheme is to:
  • foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and
  • inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
  • Till date, 2441 schools have been selected across the country to establish ATL.
  • ATL would contain educational and learning ‘do it yourself’ kits and equipment on – science, electronics, robotics, open source microcontroller boards, sensors and 3D printers and computers.
  • Other desirable facilities include meeting rooms and video conferencing facility.

Eligibility

  • Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society to set up ATL.

Atal Incubators

  • It aims at promoting entrepreneurship in universities and industry.
  • At the university, NGO, SME and Corporate industry levels, AIM is setting up world-class Atal Incubators (AICs) that would trigger and enable successful growth of sustainable startups in every sector/state of the country, addressing both commercial and social entrepreneurship opportunities in India and applicable globally.
  • AIM is also providing scale up support to existing incubators for scaling up their operations.
  • AIM will provide a grant-in-aid of upto Rs. 10 crore for a maximum period of 5 years to cover the capital and operational expenditures to establish the AIC.

Requirements

  • The applicant would have to provide at least 10,000 sq. ft. of ready-to-use, built-up space, for the exclusive use of the AIC.

Atal New India Challenges and Atal Grand Challenges

  • These are to promote technology driven innovations and product creation for social and commercial impact.
  • Atal New India Challenges/Atal Grand Challenges are being launched in specific areas and sectors of national importance – such as Renewable Energies, Energy Storage, Climate-smart precision agriculture, Universal drinking water, Swaach Bharat, Transportation, Education, Healthcare using Robotic, IOT technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Block-chain, Augmented and Virtual reality, Battery Technologies etc.
  • Researchers have long talked of the ‘Valleys of Death’ at the early stage and commercialization stage in taking innovations to market.
  • The Atal New India Challenge aims to address the second Commercialization Valley of Death, in which innovators are unable to access resources for piloting, testing, and market creation.
  • The successful applicants will get a grant of upto Rs 1 crore for Atal New India Challenges and larger grants of upto Rs 30 crores for Atal Grand Challenges.
  • The vision of ANIC is two-fold:
  • help create products from existing technologies relevant for national and social causes (productization);
  • help new deep-tech products find markets and early customers (commercialization) in the context of India.
  • The programme is open to Indian companies registered under the Companies Act 1956/2013, primarily a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) as defined in the MSMED Act, 2006.
  • It is also open to:
  • Start-Ups, as defined by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP),
  • Government or private R&D organizations (other than a Railway R&D organization),
  • academic institutions,
  • academicians, or even individual innovators are encouraged to apply, provided they partner with entities with appropriate manufacturing capabilities.

Atal Innovation Mission launches ‘AIM-iCREST’

  • In a major initiative to encourage and enable holistic progress in the incubator ecosystem across the country, NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), has launched AIM iCREST – an Incubator Capabilities enhancement program for a Robust Ecosystem focused on creating high performing Startups.
  • startup incubator is a collaborative program designed to help new startups succeed. The sole purpose of a startup incubator is to help entrepreneurs grow their business.
  • This is a first of its kind initiative for advancing innovation at scale in India.
  • AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wadhwani Foundation – organizations that can lend credible support and expertise in the entrepreneurship and innovation space.
  1. Kayakalp Award (PIB)

  • Government of India launched a National Initiative ‘Kayakalp’ on 15th May 2015 as an extension of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission to ensure hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness in Public Health Facilities in India.
  • Initiated from District hospitals in 2015, the scheme expanded to PHC level (2016) and then covered all Urban Health Facilities by 2017.
  • Those District Hospitals, Sub-divisional hospitals, Community Health Centres, Primary Health Centres and Health & Wellness Centres in public healthcare system who have achieved high level of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control were recognised and felicitated with award.
  • For the holistic and comprehensive improvement across the health sector, the Kayakalp scheme was extended to private sector health facilities.
  • The objectives of the award scheme are:
  • 1) To inculcate a culture of ongoing assessment and peer review of performance related to hygiene, sanitation and infection control.
  • 2) To incentivize and recognize public healthcare facilities that show exemplary performance in adhering to standard protocols of cleanliness, infection control and sanitation,
  • 3) To create and share sustainable practices related to improving cleanliness in public health facilities which lead to positive health outcomes.

Swachh Swasth Sarvatra

  • Encouraged by the success of Kayakalp initiative, MoHFW had collaborated with Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (Jal Shakti Mantralaya is formed by integrating the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation) and launched an integrated scheme under Swachh Bharat Mission named as “Swachh Swasth Sarvatra” in December 2016.
  • The aim of this scheme is to strengthen Community Health Centres in open defecation free (ODF) blocks across the country along with behavioural change to enable them achieve higher levels of cleanliness and hygiene with the goal of making India free of open defecation.
  • Three broad objectives of this scheme are:
  • 1. Enabling Gram Panchayat where Kayakalp awarded PHCs are located to become ODF.
  • 2. Strengthening Community Health Centre (CHC) in ODF blocks to achieve higher level of cleanliness to meet Kayakalp standards through a support of Rs 10 Lakh under NHM.
  • 3. Build capacity through training in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) of nominees from covered PHC and CHC.
  • Highlighting the fact that the success stories of Kayakalp are not limited to India.
  • It has also been internationally applauded during 72nd World Health Assembly, held on 20-28th May 2019.
  • The success of Kayakalp is duly recognized in Global Baseline Report 2019 published by WHO, UNICEF and JMP.”
  1. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yajana (PMFBY) (PIB)

  • Context: Crop Insurance Scheme – The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yajana (PMFBY) successfully completes 5 Years of operations on 13th January 2021.

Analysis

  • Premium cost over and above the farmer share is equally subsidized by States and GoI.
  • However, GoI shares 90% of the premium subsidy for North Eastern States to promote the uptake in the region.
  • As an end to end risk mitigation mechanism for farmers, the scheme extends coverage for the entire cropping cycle from pre-sowing to post-harvest including coverage for losses arising out of prevented sowing and mid-season adversities.
  • Individual farm level losses arising out of localized calamities and post-harvest losses are also covered due to perils such as inundation, cloudburst and natural fire.
  • Integration of land records with the PMFBY portal, Crop Insurance mobile-app for easy enrollment of farmers and usage of technology such as satellite imagery, remote-sensing technology, drones, artificial intelligence and machine learning to assess crop losses are some of the key features of the scheme.
  • The scheme makes it easier for the farmer to report crop loss within 72 hours of occurrence of any event through the Crop Insurance App, CSC Centre or the nearest agriculture officer.
  • As an endeavor to constantly bring about improvements, the scheme was made voluntary for all farmers, post its revamp in February 2020.
  • Further the States have also been provided flexibility to rationalize the sum insured so that adequate benefit can be availed by farmers.

B) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

4.Spintronics (PIB)

  • Context: Scientists have produced electron gas (2d-electron gas(2DEG)) with ultra-high mobility, which can speed up transfer of quantum information and signal from one part of a device to another and increase data storage and memory.

Analysis

  • The need for attaining new functionalities in modern electronic devices has led to the manipulation of property of an electron called spin degree of freedom along with its charge.
  • This has given rise to an altogether new field of spin-electronics or ‘spintronics’. It has been realized that a phenomenon called the ‘Rashba effect’, which consists of splitting of spin-bands in an electronic system, might play a key role in spintronic devices.
  • Due to the high mobility of the electron gas, electrons do not collide inside the medium for a long distance and hence do not lose the memory and information
  • Hence, such a system can easily remember and transfer its memory for a long time and distance.
  • In addition, since they collide less during their flow, their resistance is very low, and hence they don’t dissipate energy as heat. So, such devices do not heat up easily and need less input energy to operate.
  1. All about Clinical Trials in India (TH)

  • Context: The phase-3 clinical trial of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, by a private hospital in the Bhopal-based Peoples College of Medical Sciences & Research Centre appears to suffer from serious violations.

Analysis

Clinical Trials

  • No new drug can be launched in India without it undergoing clinical trial in the country.
  • India has 17% of global population and 20% of global disease burden.
  • Less than 1.4% of all global clinical trials are done in India.
  • Clinical trials are approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
  • Recent revival of clinical trials in India is because of introduction of scientific and balanced guidelines that suit all stakeholders.
  • India has begun harmonizing the clinical trial environment as per international standards:
  • now 50% of the trials can be conducted in private hospitals,
  • there is no restriction of three trials per investigator and
  • a formula for calculating financial compensation has been derived.
  • The Clinical Trials Registry of India (CTRI) – It is a free and online system for registration all clinical trials being conducted in India.
  • Any researcher who plans to conduct a trial involving human participants, of any intervention as well as trials being conducted in the purview of the Department of AYUSH is expected to register the trial in the CTRI before enrolment of the first participant.
  • Registration of clinical trials in the CTRI is now mandatory.
  • Prerequisites of conducting a clinical trial in India
  • Permission from the Drugs Controller General, India (DCGI).
  • Approval from respective Ethics Committee where the study is planned.
  • Mandatory registration on the Clinical Trials Registry of India.
  • The Drug Controller General of India is the main licensing authority. It issues the permissions for new drugs and devices and oversees clinical trials.
  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority sets drug prices.
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act has a special provision to accept international trial data or other information, to allow import, and to waive the clinical trial requirement in the interest of public health.
  • A clinical trial may also be waived for drugs that are approved and have been used in other countries for many years.

Informed consent process

  • The informed consent process, the cornerstone of ethics in clinical trials.
  • Following the October 2013 Supreme Court order, the Indian regulator had in 2019 made mandatory an audio-video recording of the informed consent process of each vulnerable individual participant before conducting clinical trials.
  • And a written consent from the participant had to necessarily be taken before the audio-video recording of the informed consent process.
  • In case of illiterate participants, an impartial witness is required to be present during the entire informed consent process to append his/her signatures to the consent form.

Stages of a clinical trial

  • In its developing stage, a vaccine must go through three phases of rigorous experimental testing on human beings, referred to as clinical trials, to judge its safety and efficacy.
  • With an average sample size of less than 100, phase I is the preliminary study of safety, where the objective is to find the acceptable dose level which will not cause serious side-effects.
  • Phase II is a study of safety and efficacy together, with a few hundred people or even fewer.
  • Doses appearing to be simultaneously effective and safe are forwarded for a phase III study, which is a detailed evaluation of effectiveness in comparison to some existing treatment or some similar-looking treatment having no effect (called placebo).
  • Hundreds or even a few thousand people are given either the vaccine or a placebo.
  • They are then tracked over months to determine whether the people receiving the vaccine get infected less than people who get the control.
  • This stage even allows scientists to look for rare side-effects that can’t be spotted in smaller, earlier stage trials.
  • After the three phases, if the vaccine is found to be safe and effective, the study report is forwarded to the regulatory agency, which, if convinced, permits its usage en masse.
  • Phase IV is the postmarketing surveillance stage. Such surveillance can only be conducted after the drug is marketed.

Central Drugs Standard Control Organization 

  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), headed by the Drugs Controller General of India, under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
  • Under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, the regulation of manufacture, sale and distribution of Drugs is primarily the concern of the State authorities while the Central Authorities are responsible for:
  • approval of New Drugs and Clinical Trials in the country,
  • laying down the standards for Drugs,
  • control over the quality of imported Drugs,
  • coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organisations
  • banning of drugs and cosmetics and providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.

Why are guinea pigs used in medical research?

  • They have many biological similarities to humans, beyond the simple fact that they are mammals, which make them useful in many fields of research.
  • Studies on guinea pigs led to the discovery of:
  • Vitamin C
  • the tuberculosis bacterium
  • adrenaline

 C) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

6.Year End Review 2020: Ministry of Law and Justice (PIB)

Election Laws and Electoral Reforms

  • The Acts in connection with the conduct of elections to Parliament, state legislatures and to the offices of the President and the Vice-President are:
  • (i) The Representation of the People Act, 1950;
  • (ii) The Representation of the People Act, 1951;
  • (iii) The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952;
  • (iv) The Delimitation Act, 2002;
  • (v) The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council Act, 2005; and
  • (vi) The Tamil Nadu Legislative Council Act, 2010.
  • The Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India [also known as anti-defection Law] and the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 also deal with the respective issues relating to the elected representative in the Parliament and the State Legislatures.
  • These are administrated by the Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice.

Delimitation of Constituencies

  • The first Delimitation Commission in India was constituted in 1952, the second in 1962, the third in 1973 and the fourth in the year 2002.
  • The present delimitation, as carried out in fourth delimitation exercise, is based on 2001 census.

Delimitation of Constituencies in UT of Jammu and Kashmir and certain States in North-East India

  • After the enactment of Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Act, 2019 the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir has been bifurcated into two Union territories, viz. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with Legislative Assembly and the Union Territory of Ladakh without Legislative Assembly.
  • In terms of special provision as contemplated in Section 62 of said 2019-Act the readjustment of the constituencies in the successor Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir into Assembly Constituencies shall be carried out on the basis of 2011-census figures by a Delimitation Commission to be constituted under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002 as amended by said 2019-Act.
  • Therefore, in pursuance of the mandate as contained in said 2019-Act and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002 the Centre Government has constituted a Delimitation Commission vide notification published in the Gazette of India on 06thMarch, 2020 for the purpose of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.

India Code Information System (ICIS)

  • India Code Information System (ICIS), available over Internet, a one stop digital repository of all the Central and State Legislation including their respective subordinate legislations, has been developed with the help of National Informatics Centre(NIC) under the guidance of Law and Justice (Legislative Department).
  • It is an important step in ensuring legal empowerment of all citizens as well as the object of ONE NATION – ONE PLATFORM.
  • The main object of this system is to provide a one stop repository of all the Acts and Legislations in India in the latest and updated format as and when required by the general public, lawyers, judges and all other interested parties and to avoid private publishers from exploiting the general public with enormous prices by claiming published updated laws as their copyrighted work.
  • Till date, Central Acts from the years 1838 to 2020 total 857 Central Acts have been updated and uploaded in (ICIS)for general public.

D) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations

7.South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) (TH)

  • Context: An editorial.

Analysis

  • Thirty-six years after it first began, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), appears to be all but dead in the water.
  • The year 2020 marked the sixth year since the leaders of the eight nations that make up SAARC were able to meet.
  • Further evidence of its perilous position, if any was needed, came on the SAARC charter day on December 8, where Prime Minister of India made it clear that India’s position on cross-border terrorism from Pakistan that led New Delhi to refuse to attend the SAARC summit in 2016 in Islamabad, is still in place.
  • This indicates that the grouping, which cannot convene unless all leaders agree to meet, is unlikely to do so in the near future.
  • India’s problems with Pakistan on:
  • terrorism,
  • territorial claims and on
  • its role in blocking SAARC initiatives on connectivity and trade are well known.
  • Even so, India’s refusal to allow Pakistan to host the SAARC summit because of those problems is akin to giving Pakistan a ‘veto’ over the entire SAARC process.
  • South Asia is the world’s least integrated region; less than 5% of the trade of SAARC countries is within.
  • A South Asian Free Trade Zone agreed on, in 2006, remains, in reality, a chimera.
  • The last SAARC summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November 2016, was postponed after the terrorist attacks in Uri.

China’s quest

  • At the border, it is clear that tensions with Pakistan and Nepal amplify the threat perception from China, while other SAARC members (minus Bhutan), all of whom are Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners of China, will be hard placed to help individually.
  • Significantly, from 2005-14, China actually wanted to join SAARC.
  • Every SAARC summit during that decade period saw a discussion on whether China could be upgraded to member status (from observer status).
  • On each occasion, it was fought back by India and most other countries in the grouping, with the logic that despite sharing boundaries with three South Asian countries, China is not South Asian.

Other important concepts from the editorial!

East Africa Single Joint Visa

  • The East Africa Tourist Visa is a single-entry visa for foreigners visiting Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda simultaneously.
  • It is multi-entry within the three countries; however, this expires automatically if a traveler goes outside of the three (3) countries.

Health Silk Road

  • In January 2017, China signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Health Organization (WHO) committing to the construction of a Health Silk Road that would aim to improve public health in countries along China’s Belt and Road

SAARC

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka in December 1985; the idea was initiated by General Zia Ur Rehman of Bangladesh.
  • SAARC comprises of eight Member States:
  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the founding members.
  • Afghanistan joined in 2007.
  • It also has nine Observers, namely China, EU, Iran, Republic of Korea, Australia, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar and USA.
  • The Secretariat of the Association was set up in Kathmandu in January 1987.
  • The 11 stated areas of cooperation are:
  • agriculture;
  • education, culture, and sports;
  • health, population, and child welfare;
  • the environment and meteorology;
  • rural development (including the SAARC Youth Volunteers Program);
  • tourism;
  • transport;
  • science and technology;
  • communications;
  • women development; and
  • the prevention of drug trafficking and drug abuse.
  • The charter stipulates that decisions are to be unanimous and that “bilateral and contentious issues” are to be avoided.

E) International Relations

8.The Al-Ula conclave (TH)

  • Context: On January 5, the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met at the ancient town of Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia to end the bitter discord that three of its members — Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, along with Egypt — have had with their partner, Qatar.

Analysis

  • On June 5, 2017, the Arab Quartet, as they styled themselves, subjected Qatar to an onerous diplomatic boycott and a total land, sea and air embargo.
  • They accused Qatar of destabilising the region with its support for Islamist groups.
  • They then presented Qatar with 13 demands including severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, diluting relations with Turkey and Iran, and shutting down the Al Jazeera network, in order to normalise ties.
  • Viewing these demands as an encroachment on its sovereignty, Qatar rejected them. This led to the boycott. Now, three and a half years later, the boycott has ended.
  • With its huge resources, Qatar could weather the financial assault, while the backing of Turkey, Iran and two GCC partners, Kuwait and Oman, ensured that the movement of goods and people was maintained.

Background to the boycott

  • Ten years ago, the Arab Spring uprisings across West Asia had thrown up popular demands for reform — an end to authoritarian rule and the restoration of Arab “dignity” through freedom and democracy.
  • Four leaders fell under these pressures, which also gave rise to two new developments: one, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated parties came to power in Egypt and Tunisia; and, two, Saudi Arabia decided to divert demands for domestic reform by highlighting a threat from Iran.
  • Asserting that Iran had hegemonic designs across the region, the Kingdom shaped opposition to Iran on sectarian basis and confronted it in theatres of its influence – Syria and later Yemen.
  • The Brotherhood, with its grassroots mobilisation and a political platform that marries Islamic principles with Western-style democracy, poses a serious challenge to the existing monarchical order that provides no scope for popular participation.
  • Hence, Saudi Arabia and the UAE watched with horror the Brotherhood’s electoral successes, culminating in Mohammed Morsi being elected President in Egypt in 2012.
  • Fearing that a successful Brotherhood administration would become a model for their countries as well, the two GCC allies supported the Egyptian army’s coup against Morsi in July 2013.

Qatar and the Brotherhood

  • Qatar, a GCC member, besides supporting its independent television channel, Al Jazeera, that often criticises regional leaders, it is a major supporter of the Brotherhood.
  • After the events of 9/11, when the U.S. was convinced of the need for wide-ranging reform in the region, it believed that the Brotherhood, with its blend of Islam and democracy, could achieve change. Hence, Qatar’s backing for the Brotherhood from the early 2000s and later, specifically of Morsi, was in line with U.S. interests.
  • Recently, when the UAE and Bahrain “normalised” ties with Israel, both Qatar and Turkey affirmed their support for Hamas, the Islamist party in power in Gaza.
  • The two countries are also partners in Libya, ranged against the group backed by Egypt and the UAE in the ongoing civil conflict.

Possible re-alignments

  • The most likely reason for the reconciliation at Al-Ula is the incoming Biden presidency in the U.S.: it is expected that, besides reviving the nuclear agreement with Iran and easing sanctions, Joe Biden could focus on Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record and the war in Yemen.
  • Hence, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was anxious to project his conciliatory approach to the incoming administration by patching up with Qatar.
  • The reconciliation has evoked no enthusiasm from the other sponsors of the boycott.
  • The UAE has its own reasons for hostility towards Qatar. It has far greater concerns relating to the threat from the Brotherhood than other GCC members due to the influence of its domestic Brotherhood-affiliated Al Islah party.
  • Again, its leaders are also keen to emerge as major players in regional affairs on the back of close links with the U.S. They therefore see Qatar as a rival hindering their aspirations.
  • For further details, refer to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of 11th.
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