[This is a monthly roundup of news articles and other materials related to other countries` foreign policies toward the Middle East. It does not reflect the views of the Foreign Polices Roundup Editors of Jadaliyya. You may send recommendations for inclusion in the Foreign Policies Media Roundup to email@example.com, mentioning "Foreign Policies Roundup" in the subject line.]
From Tel Aviv to Turtle Bay (18 March 2015) In response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive reelection, the United States considers alternative approaches to Middle East peace.
Relocation of US Personnel From Yemen (21 March 2015) Office of US Press Relations statement on the relocation of remaining US personnel in Yemen.
Obama Slows Afghan Withdrawal (24 March 2015) US President Barack Obama agrees to slow the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in response to President Ashraf Ghani’s lobbying efforts
Yemen Strife Reminds Markets That Mayhem Matters (26 March 2015) US oil traders lost money due to the conflict in Yemen. They, therefore, have voiced support for Saudi Arabia.
Make No Mistake—The United States Is At War With Yemen (30 March 2015) Micah Zenko discusses Obama’s authorization of logistical and intelligence support to the GCC in Yemen. He argues that because of the administration’s tacit support of Saudi Arabia and targeted military strikes the United States is intervening in the conflict.
The Pentagon Ups the Ante in Syria Fight (30 March 2015 For better or worse, the US diversifies train-and-equip missions to combat the Islamic State.
Obama Administration Ends Long Hold on Military Aid to Egypt (31 March 2015) The article discusses how Washington will not actually begin to supply Egypt with military aid. Moreover, Egypt can no longer buy military weapons on credit. The article, among other things, argues that this could signal a lack of guaranteed aid in the future.
Is Yemen America`s Fight (1 April 2015) The New York Times brought on four academics to debate the proposition: “Is Yemen America’s Fight?” The debaters on the affirmative are Sharmine Narwani, Trita Parsi, Nabeel Khoury, and Rachel Bronson.
On Iran, the Least-Worst Option (3 April 2015) Goldberg argues that the nuclear deal with Iran prevents a future war. He contends that if the United States were not to come to an agreement, and Iran would eventually develop a weapon, it would lead to an international war. Thus, by stopping Iran’s production of a WMD, the United States is avoiding war.
Iran Nuclear Deal: How Both Sides Are Selling It To Their People (3 April 2015) The article goes through a list of tweets and statements regarding how both Iran and the United States are selling the nuclear deal to their populations.
A US Concession to Reality in the Battle Against Islamic State (3 April 2015) Helene Cooper contends that part of the nuclear agreement includes Washington and Tehran working to fight the Islamic State in Iraq. She cites military generals that examine the military cooperation between Iran and the United States.
If You Really Want To Bomb Iran, Take The Deal (3 April 2015) Austin Long argues that the nuclear deal weakens Iran’s military so significantly that it actually makes it easier for Washington to go to war with Tehran. For example, Iran now has to focus all nuclear enrichment, in Long’s view, in a limited number of facilities. This would, therefore, make a bombing campaign significantly more effective.
Nuclear Deal Unlikely To Make Iran a Docile US Partner (4 April 2015) An Obama official claims, “At least in the short run, the [Iranian] regime will want to demonstrate that it hasn’t lost its revolutionary spirit.”
US Reports More Air Strikes Against ISIS in Iraq and Syria (4 April 2015) The United States has announced it conducted fifteen airstrikes against IS between 3 April 2015 and 4 April 2015.
Former top CIA Official: Here`s Iran`s Grand Strategy (5 April 2015) Michael Morell, acting and deputy director of the CIA from 2010 to 2013, argues that any nuclear deal with Iran is problematic because, by removing sanctions, the administration provides the clerics resources to pursue their grand strategy.
If Libya Falls to Terrorists, Terrorism will Spread to Europe: Libya`s Washington Charges d`affaires Wafa Bugaighis. (5 April 2015) The Libyan Embassy in Washington DC said that the international community should send military and humanitarian aid to the Libyan National Army.
US Official: Hezbollah Role in Syria Prolongs Conflict (7 April 2015) A high-ranking US official reported to Lebanon’s The Daily Star that Washington is infuriated regarding Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria. Moreover, the official claimed, that the intervention prolonged the conflict. Additionally, the article discusses Washington’s Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s, prodding of Lebanese leaders to elect a new MP.
US Military Aid Will Further Strangle Egypt`s Democracy (7 April 2015) This article argues that the 1 April 2015 reinstitution of Egypt’s military aid from the United States will further entrench the military in society.
How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq (7 April 2015) Emma Sky, advisor to the top US general in Iraq, provides an account of how Obama did not want the country to have democracy. Moreover, she contends that the administration’s sudden removal of all troops from Baghdad resulted in authoritarianism taking hold. In Sky’s opinion, Washington should have left a policing force in order to prevent the increase in ethnic conflict.
US Expedites Arms Shipments to Coalition Bombing Yemen (8 April 2015) Per a senior US diplomat, the United States is speeding up arms supplies and bolstering intelligence sharing with a Saudi-led alliance bombing a militia aligned with Iran in neighbouring Yemen. Moreover, the article discusses how Washington plans to aid Riyadh in the fight against the Houthis in Yemen.
Rivals With Benefits (13 March 2015) Saudi Arabia and London have turned to Israel in order to ship weapons to Yemenis who oppose the Houthis.
Israel Seeks an Ally in France to Oppose Iran Deal (23 March 2015) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius only supported an Iran deal that “dismantles” Iran’s nuclear program. Moreover, Israel has reached out to France for support against the recent agreement.
UK To Give Military Training to `Moderate Syria Forces` (26 March 2015) UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has confirmed Britain’s supplying of weapons and training to “moderate Syrian rebels.”
UK Defends Iran Nuclear Agreement (3 April 2015) David Cameron hailed Iran deal as “strong” and defended the signing. British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, however, insisted that the agreement had potentially headed off a Middle East Arms Race.
A Norway Town and Its Pipeline To Jihad in Syria (4 April 2015) Andrew Higgins argues that multiple members of the town Fredrikstad, Norway have joined the Islamic State.
Cameron`s Unthinking Policy on Syria has Fueled The Rise of British Jihadism (8 April 2015) A former British diplomat, Peter Ford, argues that Cameron’s Syria policy is responsible for the uptick in Islamism in Britain. He argues that Britain’s bombing in Syria has fueled anti-British sentiment and thus lead to more local Jihadism.
Islamic State French Jihadists: Nearly Half of European Extremists Joining ISIS Are From France (8 April 2015) According to a French Senate Report, almost fifty percent of ISIS’ European recruits are from France. This is compared to much lower numbers from the rest of the world.
Italy, Egypt and Algeria to Intensify Collaboration Over Libya (9 April 2015) Italy, Egypt, and Algeria have joined forces to fight growing terrorism in Libya. Moreover, the article contends, the Italian Foreign Minister wants to attempt to have a more inclusive government in Libya, and in doing so, reduce the amount of terrorism.
Russia Shouldn`t Put All Its Middle East Eggs in Iran`s Basket, Warn Experts (2 April 2015) Alexander Shumilin, head of the Center for Analysis of Middle East Conflicts at the Institute for US and Canada Studies in Moscow warns that Russia’s relationship with Iran is dangerous for Moscow. He argues “After Syria, Russia is increasingly seen as an ally of Shia elites in Iran, and now in Yemen, where is against foreign intervention, which diminishes its influence in Sunni states.”
Iran to Export Food to Russia via Caspian Corridor (4 April 2015). Russia’s trade envoy to Iran says Tehran is planning to boost exports of agricultural products to Russia using a transit corridor via the Caspian region.
Russia and Red Cross Appeal for "Humanitarian Pause" in Yemen (4 April 2015) Russia appealed with support from the Red Cross for a military pause in Yemen to allow urgent humanitarian aid deliveries and evacuation of civilians.
Syria Bans Domestic Activist From Attending Moscow Talks (4 April 2014) Louay Hussein, head of the Building the Syrian State party – which is part of the “tolerated” opposition – cannot attend Moscow talks due to his travel ban.
Syria Talks in Moscow to Focus on Humanitarian Issues (5 April 2015) During the week of April 6-11, talks in Moscow will occur attempting to resolve the various humanitarian conflicts in Syria’s war. The Russian government does not think anything will result from the aforementioned talks, yet, are seeking a framework for future agreements.
Russia Sees Iran`s Post-Sanctions Market as Extremely Promising (5 April 2015) Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said “we are interested in supplies to this country [Iran]. This concerns the automobile, aircraft, shipbuilding and other industries.” He furthered that Iran is a country where “Russia sees its interest in terms of entering its market.”
Russia, China May Take A Stricter Line on Yemen (6 April 2015) China’s foreign minister is visiting Moscow in an attempt to coordinate a strategy to aid the Houthis and fight against Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
Russian Foreign Minister: Iran Nuclear Deal Will Not Create Arms Race (6 April 2015) Sergei Lavrov made comments that, while Russia and Iran can now trade nuclear materials, the deal will not trigger an arms race.
Russian Veto Serves Strife (8 April 2015) Russia is in the process of asking for a Saudi-led pause in the Yemen conflict while not requesting the same of the Houthis.
Russia`s Gazprom Neft Receives Iraqi Oil (10 April 2015) Russia’s Gazprom Neft oil company has received its first shipment of Iraqi grade Kirkuk oil due to its role in helping develop the oilfield.
Syria Peace Talks in Moscow End in Disarray (10 April 2015) A second round of talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups ends in failure.
Abbas to Visit Moscow on Monday (10 April 2015) Russia and the Palestinian Authority are meeting on 12 April 2015 in an attempt to further cement relations and work on improving trade.
Russian Official Warns of ISIS` Influence (11 April 2015) Russian intelligence agencies estimate that up to seventeen hundred Russian citizens have joined ISIS’ crusade.
Amid Yemen Chaos, China Keeps Oil Shipments Flowing (30 March 2015) On 30 March 2015 China exported a large shipment of crude oil from Yemen.
China Says Iran Deal Good for US-Sino Relations (4 April 2015) In a call with John Kerry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this deal benefits Sino-US relations. He argued that the agreement leads to future “safeguarding the international nuclear non-proliferation system”
China Evacuates Foreign Nationals From Yemen (4 April 2015) Following the escalation of conflict, China evacuated its citizens out of Yemen.
UAE Joins Chinese-led Bank AIIB (5 April 2015) The United Arab Emirates claim they have joined Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. According to PressTV, this action frightens Washington because the White House believes it is a new policy on the part of Beijing to increase China’s influence in the Middle East.
Yemen`s Resuce Operation Demonstrates China`s Constructive Role (6 April 2015) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi claims Beijing’s attempts to rescue foreign nationals in Yemen are evidence of their role on the world stage. In his opinion, China is on the “same page” as the rest of the world.
China To Build Pipeline From Iran to Pakistan (8 April 2015) Following the anticipated reduction of sanctions post-nuclear agreement, China has announced it is building a pipeline from Iran to Pakistan. The article argues the pipeline will help to improve relations between Iran and Pakistan as well as provide economic benefits for all countries involved.
Other Countries/Middle East
A Ray of Light for Africa’s Dam of Discord (27 March 2015) Despite previous diplomatic fallouts, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan take a stride toward an agreement on the Grand Renaissance Dam project. Egypt, however, is concerned that the dam will choke up water necessary for its civilians; and more importantly, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have fought for decades regarding who controls the Nile. Yet, the project does address water-sharing for the Grand Renaissance Dam, which is a step towards a future agreement regarding the nile.
Arab League Agrees to Create Joint Military Force (29 March 2015) In Cairo, Arab League nations agree to coordinate militaries in order to counter instability and extremism in the region
Air Strike on Yemeni Refugee Camp by Saudi-led Coalition Kills At Least 40 (30 March 2015) Saudi airstrikes against Houthi militias result in casualties at UN-established al-Mazraq IDP camp.
Dozens Are Reported Killed as Saudi-Led Strike Hits Camp for Displaced Yemeni Civilians (31 March 2015 In the deadliest incident since the Yemen conflict began, Saudi killed many displaced Yemenis in airstrike.
The Dangerous, Delicate Saudi-Pakistan Alliance (1 April 2015) Pakistan sends mixed signals about its degree of involvement in the Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen.
Iraqi PM: Armies Have No Chance Against IS if it Keeps Recruiting Foreigners (4 April 2015) Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi told a German magazine that the Iraqi military cannot fight the Islamic State by itself because the latter group contains 43 percent foreign fighters. Al-Abadi, therefore, is arguing for greater western intervention.
Canadians Evacuated From Yemen Via Russia (4 April 2014) Canada has evacuated its citizens who were present in Yemen via Russian support.
India Evacuates Over 260 Nationals, 170 Foreigners From Yemen (5 April 2015) India has evacuated more than 440 people from Yemen since 3 April 2015.
Nuclear deal: India Confident of Easier Trade Practice With Iran (5 April 2015) Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher visited Tehran Sunday, 5 April 2015 to capitalize on the evolving situation post-nuclear agreement. Official sources in the Indian government claim that India is Iran’s second largest importer of crude oil and New Delhi wants to discuss increasing Iranian rice imports.
Syria Offers Palestinians Its Firepower In Yarmuk Battle (8 April 2015) The Syrian government is offering the Palestinians living in the Yarmuk refugee camp weapons to fight against ISIS and their genocide.
Sudan Summons Libyan Ambassador Over Consul`s Arrest (9 April 2015) The Libyan government arrested a Sudanese consul following an illegal visit to a military prison. Sudan’s government is calling for the aforementioned prisoners release. On 9 April 2015, however, he was freed.
Iran`s Leader Says Saudi Air Strikes Causing Genocide in Yemen (10 April 2015) Ayatollah Khamenei claims that the genocide in Yemen is a result of Saudi airstrikes against the Houthis.
India Ends Yemen Evacuation, Rescues People From 41 Countries (11 April 2015) India rescues four thousand six hundred Indians as well as others from forty one different countries from Yemen. This was more rescuing than any other country in the world.
Hundreds Defy Ban To Protest Saudi Arabia in Iran`s Capital (11 April 2015) Hundreds of Iranians gathered in front of the Saudi embassy in Northern Tehran to protest. This occurred because two Iranian were abused when they visited Mecca the previous week.
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
Donors Pledge 3.8 Billion Dollars in Syria Aid, Far Short of What`s Needed (31 March 2015) A recent donor conference in Kuwait raises less than half of the United Nation’s desired funding for the crisis in Syria.
Dem Senator: Russia, China Would Prevent Renegotiating of Iran Deal (5 April 2015) Senator Chris Murphy on 5 April 2015 claimed that, to renegotiate the latest Iranian nuclear deal, China and Russia would need to agree to return to the negotiating tables.
Iran Nuclear Talks: Behind the Scenes at Lausanne (5 April 2015) Barbara Plett Usher, reporting for the BBC, gives a detail-by-detail account of the Iranian nuclear talks.
U.N. Demands Access to Besieged Palestinian Camp in Damascus (7 April 2015) The UN Security Council seeks to intervene in the ongoing humanitarian crisis at Yarmouk Camp in Syria.
International Pressure Mounts To End South Sudan War (9 April 2015) A coalition of the African Union, United Nations, United States, and China are attempting to kickstart the Sudanese peace talks. The last country is important because Beijing is the predominant buyer of South Sudanese oil.
Iran: No Nuclear Deal Without Lifting of Sanctions (9 April 2015) Ayatollah Khamenei claimed that he neither supports nor opposes that nuclear agreement; however, no final deal will be reached without full lifting of sanctions by the international community.
International Criminal Court Says ISIS is Out of its Jurisdiction (9 April 2015) Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the ICC, says the court can do nothing to stop ISIS. She posited that if Iraq and/or Syria accepted the court’s jurisdiction on a temporary basis the court would have the ability to act.
Aleppo Shelled as Syrian Humanitarian Crisis Worsens (12 April 2015) Syrian rebels have shelled a pro-regime Aleppo neighborhood. Twenty-seven were killed and dozens were wounded. Moreover, since 4 April 2015, the regime has dropped thirty-six barrel bombs on the refugee camp in Yarmouk.