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Arabic press review: Top Saudi and Emirati officials make unannounced visit to Sudan

High-profile delegation that includes brother of Mohammed Bin Salman make stop in Khartoum on Friday
Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, was part of delegation to Sudan (AFP)

Saudi-Emirati delegation visits Sudan

A high-profile delegation from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates made an unannounced visit to Sudan on Friday, al-Quds al-Arabi, an Arabic-language newspaper based in London, reported on its website.

Citing unidentified Sudanese sources, the newspaper said the delegation was in Sudan for only a few hours, after meeting with the head of the country's Transitional Military Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

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The delegation included Saudi deputy defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who is the brother of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs.

Mohammed Dahlan, a former Palestinian Authority security chief who now works as an adviser to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, was also part of the delegation.

The delegation, which flew into Sudan from Abu Dhabi, left for Saudi Arabia right after the meeting with al-Burhan ended, the sources added.

That meeting was held just a few hours before Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed landed in Khartoum, as part of his efforts to mediate between the Sudanese opposition and the TMC.

Israeli belly dancing festival cancelled in Morocco

Moroccan authorities have cancelled a belly dancing festival that was scheduled to be hosted by an Israeli artist in Marrakesh, following protests, al-Quds al-Arabi reported.

The hotel management where the festival was slated to take place was informed that the festival organised by Simon Guzman was cancelled.

The festival was originally set to begin on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and continue until 10 June.

Only two days before it was set to start, Guzman said the festival preparations were proceeding as planned and that delegations were scheduled to arrive in Marrakech to participate.

But the event was deemed offensive by Moroccans, who said it was a form of normalisation with Israel, al-Quds al-Arabi reported.

A senior official in Marrakesh said the festival was banned because it coincided with the last days of Ramadan and affected public order and citizens' religious beliefs.

"Perhaps the authorities wouldn't have prevented the festival if it did not coincide with the aforementioned period," the official said.

Morocco does not have any formal diplomatic ties to Israel.

Iran and Russia expanding influence in Syria

Iranian influence in Syrian society in some regions has become more apparent, at a time when Russia is also expanding its reach within Syrian government institutions, especially the army and security agencies, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Saudi newspaper reported that Syrian opposition sources in Turkey revealed recent changes at the security services and army level.

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These changes showed Moscow's influence on those institutions four years into its intervention on the side of the Syrian government, and has contributed to the regime now having control  over 60 percent of Syria, up from 15 percent previously.

Moscow has established two military bases, in Latakia and Tartus, and concluded a deal to run the port of Tartus, while Tehran will run the port of Latakia, the newspaper reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said that Iran "continues to expand in the Syrian south, Deir ez-Zor and other places in Damascus and Rif-Dimashq".

Tehran has done that "by its ongoing polarisation of men and youth through a network of mediators and agents", the Observatory said.