This Week in the Middle East

(With an obvious nod to Mike Allen.)

The Big News This Week: Trump's second Travel Ban was blocked just hours before it was due to come into effect on Thursday at 12:01am. The ban, CNN reported, would bar people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.

At a rally in Nashville, Trump vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court (here's a video). This new ban was blocked before it came into effect, so we didn't see chaotic scenes at airports a second time.

Al-Hajj: Al Jazeera is reporting that Iranian Muslims can participate in the Hajj, after Iran-Saudi tensions kept them from attending in 2016. The Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, is largest annual gathering of people in the world.

Foreign Terrorist Org? The paper of record reported back in February that Trump staff are debating whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. The group, which has several mostly-autonomous chapters in the Middle East, has formally denounced violence since 2011.

Critics said they feared that Mr. Trump’s team wanted to create a legal justification to crack down on Muslim charities, mosques and other groups in the United States. A terrorist designation would freeze assets, block visas and ban financial interactions.

Here's Zaid Jilani, over on The Intercept, on why that's a bad plan, noting that classifying the Muslim Brotherhood could be used as an excuse to rail against American Muslims.

And Now for Something Completely Different: The Economist reports on a plan to build an artificial island off the coast of Gaza, which would reduce Palestine's isolation from the rest of the world. The plan, which has tepid support from some in the Israeli government, would largely depend on Netanyahu's willingness to act (so don't hold your breath).

For the Day That's In it: Here's a good report from The New York Times on Trump's St. Patrick's Day meeting with Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny. Kenny spoke about the importance of immigrants, and in particular the ~50,000 undocumented immigrants from Ireland.

“We would like this to be sorted,” Mr. Kenny said, calling for these people to be given a path to citizenship. “It would remove a burden of so many that they could now stand in the light and say, ‘Now I’m free to contribute to America as I know I can.’ That’s what people want.”

“All they want is the opportunity to be free,” he added, choking up momentarily.

It was a somber moment during a ritual that is normally as convivial and rancor-free as any in Washington. The last seven such visits by Mr. Kenny featured good-natured gibes about former Vice President’s Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s long-winded speeches or President Barack Obama’s habit of toasting the taoiseach with water-filled glasses.


See you next week. Got something you want to see covered? I'm @tommycollison on Twitter, or you can contact me here.