[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 firstname.lastname@example.org, mentioning "Foreign Policies Roundup" in the subject line.]
White House Urges Patience on ISIS Fight (19 May 2015) Following ISIS’s takeover of Ramadi many members of Washington’s foreign policy establishment called for more troops in Iraq and Syria. In response, the Obama administration has urged everyone to calm down and stated no new troops would be needed.
Egypt Urges Broadening of US Duty Free Trade Agreement (19 May 2015) Egypt is urging world powers to ease trade laws and sign free trade agreements. For example, Egypt is seeking to expand the Qualifying Industrial Zones trade agreement with the United States. This would allow some items from Israel and Egypt to enter the United States duty free.
U.S. Rethinks Strategy to Battle Islamic State After Setback in Ramadi (19 May 2015) While, publicly, the administration said no new developments would befall U.S. strategy in Syria and Iraq after the fall of Ramadi, the Wall Street Journal claims that training and equipping Sunni tribes has been increased. This will result in poorly trained and vetted fighters joining the battle earlier than expected.
U.S. To Send Rockets To Iraq For ISIS Fight (20 May 2015) Following the fall of Ramadi, the United States military has decided to focus its efforts on protecting the Anbar province. Thus, they are sending one thousand anti-tank rockets to the coalition in order to fight against ISIS’s suicide bombers.
131 Civilians Among Over Two-Thousand-and-Four-Hundred Killed In Airstrikes in Syria In Eight Months (21 May 2015) The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights has discovered that the United States has killed over one-hundred innocents and forty-two children in Syria since the anti-ISIS campaign began.
Obama Says Tunisia To Be Non-NATO Ally of US (22 May 2015) Obama raised Washington’s relationship with Tunisia up one level, called it a non-NATO ally in North Africa, and promised military and economic aid in order to strengthen the Tunisian democratic government. By describing Tunisia as a non-NATO ally, the United States agreed to cooperate with Tunisia’s defense and security apparati but does not guarantee military involvement in support of the country.
US Saw ISIL As Asset Against Assad (24 May 2015) Judicial Watch has gained access to over one-hundred DIA documents that suggest the United States intelligence community helped facilitate the rise of ISIS. This was done, per Judicial Watch and the documents, to help defeat the Assad regime.
Iran Says it Foiled U.S. Cyber Attack on Oil Ministry (26 May 2015) The Islamic Republic is claiming that it has foiled a cyber attack on its oil ministry. Tehran is claiming, moreover, that this attack was committed from inside the United States.
US Likely To Boost Defense Aid To Israel In Wake Of Iran Nuclear Talks (29 May 2015) In order to assuage Israel’s fears, Washington is planning to significantly increase defense aid to Tel Aviv prior to any new Iran nuclear discussions. In response, Netanyahu has claimed that Israel’s policy towards any nuclear deal would not change in light of more aid.
Houthi Rebels in Yemen are Holding Multiple Americans Prisoner (29 May 2015) Houthi rebels are holding four Americans prisoner in Sanaa. This comes as Washington is providing intelligence to Riyadh that allows the later’s coalition to bomb Sanaa. U.S. efforts to free the Americans have, thus far, failed. This comes as John Kerry has delayed Iran nuclear talks because he broke his leg.
Syrian Rebels Backing Out of U.S. Fights Vs. ISIS (31 May 2015) Over one-thousand rebels have backed out of the United States’ war against ISIS. A variety of reasons are included, yet, some of the most prominent include groups not being notified of when they will receive weapons as well as only being allowed to fight ISIS. These are demonstrative of the overall lack of clarity in Washington’s “anti-ISIS” strategy as well as its lack of understanding of the desires of actual citizens.
U.S. Says Senior Diplomat Met With Yemen`s Houthi In Oman (2 June 2015) Washington released a statement that states a U.S. diplomat met with Yemen’s Houthi in Oman. This was predicated by the rebels capturing four U.S. journalists. One was released, however, as of June 2 the Houthi still hold the other three captives.
US to Maintain Military Assistance to Egypt Until 2017 (4 June 2015) Per a bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee, as long as the Egyptian government meets a certain set of goals, the United States will continue military assistance, at least until 2017. Additionally, anywhere up to one-hundred-and-fifty million dollars per year may be provided as economic assistance from Washington to Cairo.
US Training Base in Iraq Hasn`t Seen a New Recruit in Weeks (8 June 2015) In Western Iraq’s Al Asad air base rebel training has stalled because Baghdad’s central government has stopped sending potential trainees. This is a result of slow Iraqi recruitment efforts and has prompted President Obama to ask Iraq’s leadership to increase their pace.
$1.3 Billion Dollars in US Aid to Continue Despite Country `Moving Away From Democracy (9 June 2015) The Obama administration released a report harshly criticizing Egypt; yet, stating that military aid will continue as planned as long as Egypt meets certain criteria.
Trainers Intended As Lift, But Quick Iraq Turnaround is Unlikely (10 June 2015) The United States has decided to send four-hundred-and-fifty extra personal intent on training coalition forces. This is intended to speed up training that has lagged in recent months. This decision also lets the United States deploy aircrafts in the Anbar province, allowing them closer access in the fight to regain Ramadi from ISIS.
Pentagon Breaks Down Pricetag on War Against ISIS (11 June 2015) The war against ISIS has cost the United States $2.7 billion dollars and currently costs the United States nine million dollars per day.
U.S. Sends Six Yemeni Prisoners From Guantanamo To Oman For Resettlement (13 June 2015) Six Yemenis who were held in Guantanamo for more than a decade were resettled in Oman. This is the largest transfer of prisoners out of Guantanamo over the past year. Yet, the majority of detainees who remain in Guantanamo are Yemenis, who make up over fifty percent of remaining prisoners.
Israel Asks U.S. To Increase Aid To Druze in Syria (14 June 2015) Israel has asked Washington to increase its aid toward Syrian Druze who are under attack by Sunni rebels. Israel is prepared to offer humanitarian assistance to the Druze community and, thus, requests U.S. help.
Kerry `Absolutely Certain` Assad Using Chlorine Attacks On His People (16 June 2015) John Kerry has claimed the United States is absolutely certain Assad has utilized chlorine bombs against his own people. He furthered that Washington’s patience is “growing thin” with Assad’s neglect for international law, human rights abuses, and lies.
CIA Didn`t Know Strike Would Hit Al-Qaeda Leader (17 June 2015) The bombing of Al Qaeda’s second in command -- Nasir al-Wuhayashi -- was done on complete accident, per a CIA report. This occurred in opposition to groups who have used the aforementioned evidence to support Washington’s drone program.
Drones Turn Al-Qaeda Killers on Each Other (17 June 2015) Per U.S. intelligence officials, members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have begun to turn against one another. Moreover, the same officials believe that increased, accurate drone strikes have the group believing traitors exist in AQAP’s leadership. This is fermenting distrust and resulting in further disorganization within the terrorist group.
US Says Turkey Main Transit Route for Syria-bound Foreign Fighters (19 June 2015) The State Department released a report claiming that Turkey is the main-transit route ISIS uses to recruit foreign fighters. By virtue of its location, the report states, Turkey has remained the main transit hub for ISIS recruits. Turkish officials claim that it is nearly impossible to stop the transit unless their intelligence knows who the foreign fighters are and when they are travelling through Turkey.
U.S. Military Pays Syrian Rebels up to Four-Hundred Dollars Per Month (22 June 2015) A State Department report reveals that the United States is paying Syrian rebels up to four hundred dollars per month.
Iran Negotiators Willing To Breach Deadline On Nuclear Talks (22 June 2015) Iranian and Western negotiators have told the Wall Street Journal that, while the deadline for an agreement is June 30, they are willing to work past to reach an agreement. This is meant to assuage concerns that, due to the deadline, a deal may not occur.
Iran`s Forces and U.S. Share a Base in Iraq (22 June 2015) Iran militias and the United States’ forces are sharing a base in Iraq. Some members of the U.S. military fear that this puts Washington’s soldiers at risk; however, due to the success of the militias, intelligence sharing between the two groups is occurring.
Russia Offers Military Aid To Iraq During PM Visit (21 May 2015) Russia has offered Iraq Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi military and humanitarian aid to help push back ISIS. Moreover, Putin claimed that Iraqi and Russian businesses are working better together than ever before and Moscow will continue to support Baghdad.
Lavrov - Russia to Back Egypt in Its War Against Terrorism (22 May 2015) Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has claimed Russia supports the Egyptian government in its war against terrorism. Moreover, he claimed, Egypt stands with Iraq and Syria as being at the forefront of fighting terrorism.
Iran Hails `Success` in S-300 Talks With Russia (26 May 2015) Moscow and Tehran have concluded an agreement which will send Russia’s S-300 weapon system to Iran as early as possible.
Sisi Discusses With Russian Minister a Free Trade Zone (27 May 2015) President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has begun discussions with Russia to establish a free trade zone between Egypt and the Eurasian Customs Union. The Russian minister, in these talks, highlighted the massive trade increase between the two countries in recent years. The meeting concluded with a roadmap for future trade and the possibility of a free trade zone between the two countries.
Russia Wants Precise Wording for U.N. Resolution on Libya Human Smugglers (1 June 2015) Russia has claimed that any U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force to prevent Libyan human smuggling must have precise wording. Moscow is considered that vague wording could lead to another military intervention similar to 2011. Lavrov has claimed that Russia will veto any vague resolutions regarding Libyan human trafficking.
Russia Urges US To Act in Lockstep With Syria To Crush IS (2 June 2015) Russia has urged the United States to act with Moscow to crush the Islamic State. The Russian government claimed, by not working with Assad, Washington has allowed the Islamic State to grow stronger. Finally, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that the United States is weighing their hate for “one person” over the threat from international terrorism.
Russia, China Block Proposed U.N. Blacklisting Of Two Libyans (5 June 2015) Four states (United States, France, Spain, and Britain) requested blacklisting of two Libyans who have involvement in corrupt politics and Libya’s military. This was blocked by Russia and China, though, because the two countries felt the United States wanted this for purely political motivations. This rationale occurred because, the United States claimed this blacklisting would send a clear signal that the current Libyan government is legitimate.
Egypt, Russia to Start Main Phase of First-Ever Joint Naval Exercise (8 June 2015) Between June 8-14, Russia and Egypt will hold their first-ever joint naval exercise. This is being done to signal a growing strength in the relationship between the two countries.
Russia Talking With U.S. On Assigning Blame For Syria Gas Attacks (18 June 2015) Russia is attempting to change a UN resolution that assigns blame for Syria’s gas attacks to Assad. Moscow believes that a new U.N. commision needs to be established to oversee Assad’s decision not to dismantle and destroy all of his chemical weapons.
Putin Reaffirms Russia`s Support for Syria`s Assad (19 June 2015) Putin has reaffirmed his support for Assad and his opposition to any attempts to end the Syrian Civil War. This comes as Western media outlets were questioning Russia’s support for the Syrian dictator. Finally, Putin concluded that it is up to the Syrian people to determine Assad’s future and the future of the war.
Saudi Arabia and Russia Agreed to Trade Votes on the UNHRC (22 June 2015) A leaked diplomatic cable has revealed that Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to trade votes for spots on the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Russia Weapons` Sale To Syria To Be Completed Despite UN Sanctions (24 June 2015) A Russian news agency is reporting that, despite UN sanctions, Moscow is still planning on sending aircrafts to Assad in Syria.
German Cooperation With NSA Spies Broader Than We Knew (19 May 2015) The NSA has asked German intelligence for information on roughly two hundred persons per day, many of which lived in the Middle East or were Arabs in Germany.
International Meeting on Iraq and Syria in Paris June 2: France (20 May 2015) France has been slated to hold an international meeting on Iraq and Syria in Paris on 2 June 2015.
Value of Egypt`s Exports to Britain at One-Hundred-Ninety-Nine Million Euros in First Quarter of 2015 (23 May 2015) The value of Britain’s exports to Egypt did not change in the first quarter of 2015. This occurred despite speculation that it would decrease following instability in Egypt.
France: Iraq and Syria Risk Division if anti-ISIS Force Not Bolstered (27 May 2015) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that if international efforts to defeat ISIS are not increased the situation in Iraq and Syria will increasingly get worse. Moreover, he furthered, Assad has lost control of Syria and will not be able to rule again; therefore, a political solution is necessary.
France`s Le Pen Hails Egypt Battle Against `Extremism` (29 May 2015) France’s far-right political leader Marine Le Pen hails Egypt and Sisi’s fight against terrorism and Islamism in the Middle East.
Paris Says One-Hundred-And-Ten Jihadists From France Killed in Iraq and Syria (2 June 2015) French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that over eight-hundred French citizens have left the country to join the Islamic State and, of those, over one-hundred have died. Moreover, the fear of radicalization has prompted France to significantly increase its security measures and limit personal freedoms of its citizens.
France Nears Deal Greater Than One Billion U.S. Dollars To Sell Airbus Helicopters (10 June 2015) France is nearing a $1.1 billion dollar deal with Kuwait that would sell twenty-four airbus helicopters to the Middle Eastern country. This contract is part of an increasing relationship between the two countries, and satisfies a request from Kuwait’s emir, while benefiting France fiscally.
Prince Charles Hails Head of Egypt`s Al-Azhar Over `Religious Moderation` (13 June 2015) Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb -- head of Al-Azhar -- met with Prince Charles and the head of the Anglican Church in an exercise to promote religious dialogue. Following this meeting, Prince Charles described el-Tayyeb as a “religious moderate.”
Egypt`s Economy Needs FDI Push For Its Flat Battery (17 June 2015) British ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, claimed that Egypt needs a massive FDI increase to solve its economic woes. He furthered, that while this was a challenge for British investors, it could be a way to increase dialogue between citizens of both countries.
Egypt`s President Invited To Visit Great Britain (17 June 2015) Egypt’s president, al-Sisi, has not visited Britain since he took office. British Prime Minister David Cameron, therefore, invited al-Sisi to visit with hopes of establishing a dialogue between the two countries.
France`s Fabius To Meet Iran`s Zarif On Nuclear Talks (20 June 2015) French and Iranian Foreign Ministers are meeting in order to discuss where Tehran stands ahead of the final round of talks regarding the country’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu Rebuffs France On Restarting Mideast Talks (21 June 2015) Netanyahu has rebuffed France’s Foreign Minister’s suggestion to restart Middle East peace talks with international support. Netanyahu argued that international resolutions will not create peace; and moreover, the only way to achieve peace is through direct conversations between the involved parties.
Egypt`s Defense Minister Arrives in France for Military Talks (22 June 2015) This is Egypt’s Defence Minister’s first visit to France since he was appointed in 2014. These talks are organized around creating military cooperation between the two countries.
Iran, China Carmakers Launch Joint Assembly Lines (20 May 2015) SAIPA, Iran’s second largest car producer has reached an agreement with China’s Brilliance Auto to produce thirty-thousand new cars. This project may eventually grow into something that could produce one-hundred-thousand cars annually. This coincides with an eight percent increase of China’s hold of Iran’s automobile economy.
Chinese Firm To Provide Sanitation Service for Two-Hundred-And-Sixty Egyptian Villages (26 May 2015) The Egyptian Housing Ministry and a leading Chinese corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying an agreement whereby China will help sanitize Egypt. This project will allow Beijing to help millions of Egyptian civilians.
Russia, China Deepen Naval Cooperation With Mediterranean Exercise (28 May 2015) China and Russia held a joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean sea. Reports suggest that this was done after China grew fearful of its maritime security following the need to evacuate its citizens from Libya.
China Competing in Egypt`s Nuclear Power Market (29 May 2015) Chinese and Egyptian businesses have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that will develop nuclear relations between the countries. Essentially, China will help Egypt further develop a nuclear energy plant.
China Urges No New Demands At Iran Nuclear Talks (5 June 2015) China’s Foreign Minister has argued that all parties not add new demands to the Iran nuclear agreement. He argues that, as the situation grows more complex, making new demands results in the deal becoming increasingly fragile.
Iran Urges China To Play Greater Role in Nuclear Talks as Tehran Seeks Closer Military Ties (9 June 2015) Iran has asked China to play a greater role in the nuclear agreement. Moreover, it has suggested that China increase its naval presence around the Islamic Republic because “it’s China’s right to send military vessels [everywhere].”
China Pushes Again For Yemen Ceasefire, Dialogue (10 June 2015) China, dealing with concern from the Yemen conflict, again asks for a ceasefire. This is a continuation of their attempts, which began in April, to peacefully resolve the conflict.
China, Iran, Indonesia Finalize Refinery Deal (10 June 2015) Iran, China, and Indonesia have finalized a deal to build a refinery on the East Java that would process one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand barrels of oil per day. Moreover, by 2022, this refinery’s capacity will push two million barrels per day.
Iran-China Trade Hits $11.7 Billion Dollars in Four Months (14 June 2015) Iran-China trade in the first four months of 2015 has hit $11.7 billion dollars, which is representative of a thirty percent fall from the year before.
China Hails Algeria`s Efforts to Settle Conflicts in Mali, Libya (14 June 2015) Chinese Ambassador to Algeria, Yang Guangyu, lauded Algeria’s efforts to end other conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. More specifically, the ambassador was appreciative of Algeria’s work in Mali and Libya.
China To Fund Ten Billion Dollars Worth of Egyptian Infrastructure Schemes (22 June 2015) China has agreed to fund fifteen Egyptian infrastructure projects. The projects are divided between energy, transportation, and general investment.
China`s May Iran Oil Imports Down 31.6 Percent on Year (23 June 2015) An April petroleum explosion at Dragon Aromatics -- a plant which handles materials like those shipped to China from Iran -- could have contributed to China’s 31.6 percent on year drop of imported oil from Iran.
Other Countries/Middle East:
Turkish Intelligence Helped Ship Arms To Syrian Islamist Rebels (21 May 2015) According to court testimony, Turkey sent weapons to anti-Assad rebels in 2013-2014. Included in these rebels were both ISIS and Jahbat al-Nusra.
Lebanon and the Start of Iran and Saudi Arabia`s Proxy War (26 May 2015) Mohamad Bazzi traces the beginning of the Iran-Saudi proxy war to Hezbollah’s brief takeover of Beirut, Lebanon in May 2008. He argues that Saudi support for a Sunni government in opposition to Hezbollah started Iranian aid for the Shi’ite militia. This lead to a variety of discoveries of how Iran had aided Hezbollah’s defense and cybersecurity systems. The author, therefore, argues that Hezbollah’s brief ascent to power in 2008 was the trigger that started the Saudi-Iran Middle East proxy war.
Yemen War Will End Up Harming Riyadh, Iran Minister Says (27 May 2015) Iran’s Foreign Minister warned Saudi Arabia that the latter’s war in Yemen will have negative externalities. More specifically, Tehran claimed that the Kingdom would be involved in a long war and harmed economically from continued involvement in Yemen.
Israelis and Saudis Reveal Secret Talks To Thwart Iran (4 June 2015) Per Eli Lake, correspondent for the Daily Beast, Saudi Arabia and Israel have held secret talks on the topic of defeating a nuclear Iran. The goal of these talks is to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons before a conflict could arise. The reveal of these talks came at a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations, and while the two countries cannot seem to agree on Palestine, they have an equal hatred for Iran. The two nations worry that Obama’s peace plan will embolden the clerics to further develop nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia Considering Going Nuclear If Iran Talks Fail (9 June 2015) Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom claims that if Iran goes nuclear “all options will be kept on the table” including nuclear proliferation.
Erdogan Fears Fall of Syria`s Tell Abyad (14 June 2015) Ankara is worried that the Kurdish-Arab coalition that is successfully defeating ISIS in Tell Abyad poses a threat to Turkey. Erdogan fears that the Kurds taking over are terrorists who have ill-will against Turkey.
Will Israel Protect Druze in the Golan from Syrian Rebels? (20 June 2015) Druze living in the Golan Heights are warning that Syrian rebels are going to attack their land in the near future. Part of these rebels that will attack the Golan are made up of the Nusra Front. Yet, the Israeli government is stating it will not intervene and positing that the Druze can defend themselves.
Leaked Saudi Memo Claims Iran Sent Nuke Equipment to Sudan (23 June 2015) Per a leaked document, Iran sent nuclear equipment to Sudan in 2012. Though, this is a Saudi report, and unspecific, so therefore it is not independently verifiable.
Wikileaks: Saudi Arabia Has Bailed Out Failing Middle East Media Organizations In Exchange For Pro-Saudi Coverage (23 June 2015) Many leaked documents suggest that Saudi Arabia has paid substantial money to failing new agencies in exchange for pro-Saudi coverage. Two examples being monetary gifts to Lebanon and Guinea news stations. This has also occurred in Egypt, Tunisia, and to stop airing Iranian network Al-Alam. While not all Saudi payoffs were granted, they have been actively seeking control over media outlets for the past few years.
The WikiLeaks Document Says Lebanon Asked For Saudi Support To Maintain Roumieh Prison (23 June 2015) Lebanon’s Roumieh prison, known for human rights violations, may have received funding from Saudi Arabia. The WikiLeaks documents do not reveal whether or not Saudi Arabia did fund the prison; however, they do suggest Lebanon asked for more than two million dollars from Riyadh to support the prison.
Saudi Government Offered Ten Billion Dollars For Mubarak`s Release (23 June 2015) Per a recently leaked WikiLeaks document, Saudi Arabia offered Egypt ten billion dollars to release former leader Hosni Mubarak from prison.
Wikileaks Documents Reveal Saudi Intrigue Against Bahrain`s Arab Spring (23 June 2015) Wikileaks documents have revealed how substantive Riyadh’s role was in Bahrain’s Arab Spring. First, they monitored U.S. media outlets to see how the world was viewing the Bahraini uprisings. Following that, the Saudis sent a memo to both Britain and the United States asking the western countries to remove the weapons embargo on Bahrain.
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics:
U.S. Announces Yemen Talks, Iran to Allow Ship Inspection (20 May 2015) Saudi led coalitions plane lead another strike in Yemen that killed fifteen people. Following this, the United Nations announced “Yemen talks.” Additionally, the Houthis are arguing for Iran’s inclusion in these “talks.”
Libya on Verge of Economic Collapse, U.N. Envoy Warns (2 May 2015) A United Nations envoy has warned that if the country cannot figure out how to have its two governments work cohesively the country will collapse.
Can Paris Talks Produce Cohesive anti-IS Strategy? (2 June 2015) The Paris talks designed to discuss the global war against IS began on June 2. Unfortunately, there was no representation from the United States following John Kerry’s medical incident. Moreover, the conference seemed to discuss the situation in Iraq in spite of the worsening conflict in Syria.
U.N. Council Condemns Attacks on Syria Civilians, Barrel Bombs (5 June 2015) The United Nations Security Council condemned Assad’s continued usage of barrel bombs against Syrian civilians. This is important because, recently, Russia has begun to criticize Assad. This Security Council resolution, which was signed by Russia, is a sign of these developments.
Israel and Hamas Are Kept Off A Grim List (8 June 2015) Following pressure from the United States and Israel, Hamas and Israel were left off a UN list regarding groups and states that kill and target citizens.
As Civilian Casualties Mount in Yemen, Peace Talks Struggle To Begin (16 June 2015) The U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Cheikh Ahmed, is claiming that a solution to this conflict is far from close. He believes that both sides are stubborn and unwilling to compromise. The purpose of this meeting, therefore, is devolving into how to protect civilians in Yemen from war and Robert Mardini -- regional director for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross -- claimed that both sides were violating the rules of war and this needs to change.
Yemen Peace Talks End Without Agreement -- Or A Ceasefire (19 June 2015) While many expected the U.N. meeting in Geneva would end in a ceasefire, nothing of the sort was reached, and fighting is still occurring in Yemen.