As tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to escalate, who is to blame for the feud and is there an end in sight? In this episode of UpFront, a close ally to the Iranian president debates a former adviser to the Saudi royal family.

Mehdi Hasan also looks at Latin America beyond the stereotypes, and speaks to a top Human Rights Watch official about the use of starvation as a weapon of war in Syria.

Saudi Arabia vs Iran: Is the Middle East cold war heating up?

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to escalate. The current row erupted earlier this month after Saudi Arabia executed Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr and the Saudi embassy in Tehran was burned.

So, is the Middle East cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran about to turn hot? And who is to blame for the current tension? 

In this week's special Arena, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, the former head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Iranian National Security Council and a close ally of President Hassan Rouhani, debates with Jamal Khashoggi, a former adviser to Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal. 

Latin America: Beyond the stereotypes

Drugs, corruption and violence often mar any news coming from Latin America. 

While no one can deny there is a huge problem with inequality and violence, the region is also home to a diverse mix of sophisticated cultures, progressive social change, hundreds of languages, and more than a dozen Nobel Laureates. 

In this week's Reality Check, Mehdi Hasan highlights Latin America beyond the stereotypes. 

Syria: Starvation as a weapon of war

Images of malnourished children and old people from the Syrian town of Madaya gripped the world last week. A UN aid convoy finally reached the besieged town on Monday, with officials describing “horrifying conditions” for the more than 40,000 people trapped there.

Madaya is one example of the depth of the humanitarian crisis facing the region. According to the UN there are at least 400,000 people living under siege in 15 towns across Syria. Doctors Without Borders  estimate that 28 people have died of starvation in Madaya alone since the beginning of December 2015, with more than 250 people suffering from severe acute malnutrition. 

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the use of starvation as a weapon in Syria was a war crime.

Mehdi Hasan speaks to Sarah Leah Whitson, one of the foremost experts in the region and the executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, about the use of starvation as a weapon of war.

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook..

 

Source: Al Jazeera