[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 Policies 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.]
U.S. and Turkey begin training for joint patrols in Syria’s Manbij (1 October 2018) The United States and Turkey have started training together to carry out joint patrols soon in northern Syria’s Manbij area.
Trump says Saudi king wouldn’t last “two weeks” without U.S. support (2 October 2018) US President Donald Trump announced at a rally in Mississippi that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman would not last in power “for two weeks” without the backing of the US military.
New U.S. counter-terrorism focus on Iran and proxies (5 October 2018) The Trump Administration is giving greater priority to Iran and the proxy groups it backs in a new US counter-terrorism strategy document that further increases pressure on Tehran.
U.S. actively considering waivers on Iran oil sanctions (5 October 2018) The Trump Administration is actively considering waivers on sanctions it will re-impose next month for countries that are reducing their imports of Iranian oil.
U.S. rejects Iran’s legal claim to recover $2 billion in foreign assets (9 October 2018) The United States has asked judges at the International Court of Justice to throw out a claim by Iran to recover nearly two billion dollars in national bank assets seized by American courts.
Trump says he talked to Saudis at highest levels about missing journalist (10 October 2018) US President Donald Trump said he has talked to officials in Saudi Arabia at the “highest levels” about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and wants the United States to get to the bottom of the matter.
Bipartisan senate group forces U.S. probe of Saudi journalist’s disappearance (10 October 2018) A bipartisan group of US senators is forcing the Trump administration to investigate the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, triggering a human rights probe that could result in sanctions against Saudi officials and entities.
Erdogan says Turkey-U.S. deal on Syria’s Manbij “not dead” (11 October 2018) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated that the deal between Turkey and the United States regarding the northern Syrian town on Manbij is “delayed but not dead”. Under the deal, the Kurdish YPG militia would withdraw from Manbij and Turkish and US forces would maintain security in the town.
U.S. Navy returns to Israeli port in sign of “deep alliance” (11 October 2018) A U.S. Navy warship has docked in the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, the first such visit there in almost twenty years, in what officials from both sides hailed as a sign of their strong ties in the face of shared adversaries like Iran.
Trump: Missing journalist no reason to stop Saudi investments (11 October 2018) U.S. President Donald Trump stated that he saw “no reason” to block Saudi Arabian investments in the United States despite concern over a missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, saying the Gulf nation would then just move its money into Russia or China.
Trump thanks Turkey for pastor’s release, denies cutting deal (13 October 2018) US President Donald Trump said that the release of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson after two years in Turkish custody was a “tremendous step” toward improved relations with Turkey, but he denied cutting a deal with Ankara.
Trump says “rogue killers” may be behind Khashoggi disappearance (15 October 2018) US President Donald Trump dispatched U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman over the unexplained disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and raised the possibility that “rogue killers” could have been responsible.
Turkey yet to share Khashoggi audio, video with U.S. (17 October 2018) Turkey has yet to share with the US government or European allies the audio and video evidence it allegedly collected showing Jamal Khashoggi being murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Trump, Europeans call Saudi account of Khashoggi death inadequate (19 October 2018) US President Donald Trump and European Leaders jointly pushed against Saudi Arabia for more answers about Jamal Khashoggi after Riyadh changed its story and acknowledged that the journalist died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
U.S. lawmakers blame Saudi Crown Prince for Khashoggi murder (21 October 2018) Top US lawmakers stated they believe Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman ordered the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi death: Saudi prince may have been involved, Trump says (23 October 2018) Donald Trump has announced for the first time that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman could have been involved in the operation to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Turkey asks Germany to return 136 people with alleged terror links (1 October 2018) Turkey has delivered a list of 136 individuals it wants German authorities to extradite over alleged links to terrorist groups.
Germany to stop reconnaissance missions over Iraq, Syria (2 October 2018) Germany announced that it will end in 2019 its reconnaissance and air-to-air refueling missions that are part of US-led operations against ISIS over Iraq and Syria.
Bedouin families appeal to Merkel to help to block Israeli expulsion (2 October 2018) Bedouin families of the Khan al-Ahmar village have appealed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to help block Israeli plans to raze their hamlet in the occupied West Bank.
Italy to host Libya conference in Sicily, seeks stabilization (2 October 2018) Italy announced it will host an international conference on Libya in Sicily in November, in hopes of bringing together opposing forces and forge dialog within the warring nation.
France points finger at Iran over bomb plot (3 October 2018) France announced that it has “no doubt” Iran’s Intelligence Ministry was behind a June bomb plot to attack an exiled opposition group’s rally outside of Paris, and has moved to freeze the assets of several individuals in retaliation.
Turkey needs to take steps to revive E.U. accession process: Dutch Minister (3 October 2018) Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok stated on a visit to Ankara that Turkey’s EU accession negotiations have come to a standstill, and that it must address issues including rule of law and human rights in order to make progress possible.
Iran’s Rouhani praises Europe for “taking a big step” to maintain business with Tehran (3 October 2018) Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani praised Europe for taking a “big step” to maintain business ties with Tehran after the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposition of new sanctions.
Germany, U.S. agree on need to prevent chemical weapons attacks in Syria (4 October 2018) After meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced that Germany and the United States agree on the need to do everything possible to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Merkel begins visit to Israel and agenda includes Iran and the Palestinians (4 October 2018) German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly include talks about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Erdogan says he will consider referendum on Turkey’s E.U. bid (4 October 2018) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced that he would consider putting Turkey’s long-stalled bid to join the European Union to a referendum, signaling exasperation with a process he says has been waylaid by prejudice against Muslims.
British academic held after conducting research in UAE (11 October 2018) According to his wife, Matthew Hedges, a thirty-one-year-old doctoral student at Durham University, is being held in solitary confinement without charge in the United Aarb Emirates, five months after he was arrested while in the country conducting field research for his thesis.
Macron seeks answers from Saudi Arabia on Khashoggi (12 October 2018) French President Emmanuel Macron has demanded answers from Saudi Arabia on the fate of veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
Germany halts arms deals with Saudi Arabia, encourages allies to do the same (22 October 2018) German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her government would not approve new arms exports to the kingdom until further notice, and urged allies to do the same.
France to repatriate children of jihadi fighters from Syria (24 October 2018) France has announced that it plans to bring back children who belong to suspected French Islamist militants from Syria.
Austria calls for E.U.-wide halt in arms sales to Saudi Arabia (25 October 2018) Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl stated that the European Union should halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Syrian rebels say Turkey promises no Russian patrols in Idlib zone (2 October 2018) Rebels in northern Syria announced that Ankara has assured them no Russian forces would patrol the newly delineated demilitarized zone.
Russia completes delivery of S-300 system to Syria (2 October 2018) Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the delivery of an S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria has been completed, despite US and Israeli concerns that the arms sale would embolden Iran and escalate the Syrian War.
Saudi Arabia, Russia agreed in September to lift oil output, told U.S. (3 October 2018) Russia and Saudi Arabia reportedly struck a private deal in September to raise oil output to cool rising prices and informed the United States before a meeting in Algiers with other producers.
Netanyahu to meet Putin on Syria coordination amid row over missile system (7 October 2018) The Israeli prime minister said that he will soon meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss security coordination over Syria, amid friction with Moscow over the recent deployment on the S-300 missile system to Syria.
Turkey says Russian S-400 systems installation to begin October 2019 (25 October 2018) Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stated that the installation of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system in Turkey will begin in October 2019.
Russia, Germany, France, and Turkey call for lasting ceasefire, constitutional meeting for Syria (27 October 2018) The leaders of Russia, Germany, France, and Turkey stressed the importance of a lasting ceasefire in Syria, and said a committee to create a new constitution should meet by the end of the year.
Pakistan cuts Chinese “Silk Road” rail project by $2 billion due to debt concerns (1 October 2018) Islamabad has cut the size of the biggest Chinese “Silk Road” project in Pakistan by two billion dollars, citing government concerns about the country’s debt levels.
China slashes U.S. LPG imports amid trade war (9 October 2018) China has choked back on imports of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from the United States, turning to the Middle East for extra supplies amid the two countries’ trade dispute.
Malaysia frees 11 Uighurs, defying China handover request (12 October 2018) Malaysia has freed eleven ethnic Uighur Muslims who escaped from immigration detention in Thailand, ignoring a request from Beijing to deport the group to China.
As U.S. sanctions loom, China’s bank of Kunlun to stop receiving Iran payments (23 October 2018) The Bank of Kunlun Co, the key Chinese conduit for transactions with Iran, is set to halt handling payments from the Islamic Republic under pressure of imminent US sanctions against the country.
China has not asked for military access to Gwadar, Pakistan Admiral says (26 October 2018) A Senior Pakistani Rear Admiral announced that China has not asked for military access to Pakistan’s Chinese-funded, deep-water port of Gwadar, despite speculation in India and the United States it could become a Chinese naval base.
Other Countries/Middle East
Palestinians strike in support of Israel’s Arab minority (1 October 2018) Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem held a general strike in support of Israeli-Arab protests against Israel’s new Nation State Law.
Iran fires missile at militants in Syria over Ahvaz attack (1 October 2018) A statement from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced that they fired missiles at eastern Syria, reportedly targeting the ringleaders of the attack on a military parade in Ahvaz.
Turkish, Saudi officials diverge on whereabouts of prominent Saudi journalist (2 October 2018) Turkish and Saudi authorities gave conflicting accounts about the whereabouts of Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen nearly thirty hours after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Yemen separatists call for southern uprising (3 October 2018) Yemen’s southern separatist movement has called for an uprising against President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, accusing the government of negligence and corruption.
Gaza youth killed in border protest (3 October 2018) A Palestinian teenager was killed when a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops hit him in the head. Approximately twenty-four others were wounded.
Israel reinforces troops outside Gaza as border protests enter seventh month (4 October 2018) Israel announced that it was reinforcing troops around the Gaza Strip as a precaution against incursions by Palestinians along the border that have often been met by lethal Israeli fire.
Saudi Arabia state defense company seeks wide-ranging deals with South African arms firms (4 October 2018) Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) chief executive Andreas Schwer stated that Saudi Arabia is in talks with South Africa’s major arms manufacturers and is considering taking an equity stake in the struggling state-owned firm Denel.
Turkey summons Saudi envoy over missing writer (4 October 2018) The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that the Saudi ambassador to Turkey has been summoned for discussions over a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Erdogan: Turkey will not leave Syria until an election is held (4 October 2018) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will not leave Syria until a general election is held.
Saudi Crown Prince pledges Aramco U.S.$2 trillion IPO by early 2021 (5 October 2018) Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman insisted that the stalled plan to sell shares in oil giant Aramco will go forward, promising an intitial public offering by 2021 and sticking to his ambitious view that the state-run company is worth two trillion dollars or more.
Saudi Arabia will allow Turkey to search consulate for missing journalist (5 October 2018) Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman announced that Saudi Arabia will allow Turkey to search its consulate in Istanbul for prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing for three days after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Erdogan vows to “finish” Kurdish militants in Iraq to avenge dead soldiers (6 October 2018) Turkish President Erdogan has vowed to “finish” Kurdish militants in Iraq’s Sinjar and Qandil regions and to avenge eight Turkish soldiers who were killed in a bomb attack in Southern Turkey earlier in the week.
Turkish police believe Saudi journalist was killed at consulate (6 October 2018) Turkish authorities now believe that prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared several days ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was killed inside the consulate.
Israel says destroys Hamas attack tunnel from Gaza (11 October 2018) Israel’s military said it destroyed a Hamas-built tunnel extending into its territory from the Gaza Strip that was intended for attacks.
Plight of stranded Syrians worsens as food blocked (11 October 2018) Thousands of Syrians stranded on Jordan’s border with Syria are running out of food as routes leading to the camp are closed by the Syrian army to the north, and Jordan to the south who is blocking aid deliveries.
Israel says Palestinian refugees number in the thousands, not millions (12 October 2018) An Israeli government study argues that Palestinian refugees number in the thousands, not millions as designated by a UN aid agency whose funding has been slashed by the Trump administration.
Seven Palestinians killed in clashes with IDF during Gaza border protests (12 October 2018) Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians in protests along Gaza’s border, bringing the total death toll to around two hundred since the border protests began on 30 March.
Turkish officials reportedly have recordings proving journalist was killed (13 October 2018) Turkish officials have reportedly obtained recordings proving that Saudi journalist and Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed.
Jordan and Syria reopen Nassib border crossing (15 October 2018) The border crossing between Jordan and Syria opened to people and good after being closed for three years.
Israel puts West Bank Bedouin village eviction on hold for several weeks (21 October 2018) Israel announced that it will put on hold for “a number of weeks” the razing of a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank amid international calls to drop the plan, saying it would try and negotiate an evacuation.
Jordan says it won’t renew peace treaty land deal with Israel (21 October 2018) Jordan announced that it will not extend a 1994 peace treaty with Israel, which allowed Israel to use two tracts of territory along the Jordanian border.
Saudis offer $6 billion rescue package to ease Pakistan’s economic crisis (23 October 2018) Saudi Arabia has agreed to give three billion dollars in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to three billion dollars in deferred payments for oil imports to help stave off a current account crisis in Pakistan.
Saudi, Bahrain add Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to terrorism lists (23 October 2018) Saudi Arabia announced that it and Bahrain have added Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and senior officers from the Quds Force to their lists of people and organizations suspected of involvement in terrorism.
Saudi Arabia now says Khashoggi murder “premeditated” (25 October 2018) Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announced that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate was premeditated, reversing previous statements that the killing was unintended.
Israeli PM makes rare visit to Oman (26 October 2018) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gulf state of Oman and discussed peace initiatives in the Middle East with Omani leader Sultan Qaboos.
Israeli forces kill four Palestinians in Gaza border protest (26 October 2018) Israeli forces shot and killed four Palestinians and wounded 232, 180 of them from live fire, during protests along the border with Gaza. Roughly 212 Gazans have been killed since the protests began on 30 March.
Turkey demands extradition of 18 Saudis in Khashoggi case (26 October 2018) Turkish prosecutors have prepared an extradition request for eighteen suspects from Saudi Arabia in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Oman says time to accept Israel in region, offers help for peace (27 October 2018) Oman described Israel as an accepted Middle East state, a day after hosting a surprise visit by its prime minister that Washington said could help regional peace efforts.
Egypt hosts Arab military exercises in what could develop into an “Arab NATO” (31 October 2018) Armed forces and observers from eight Arab countries converged on Egypt for military exercises, in a move that could evolve into a “regional pact to counter Iran’s influence.”
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
U.N. Agency, worried about safety, pulls some international staff out of Gaza (1 October 2018) The United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees withdrew some of its international staff from the Gaza Strip, saying it was concerned for their safety.
Saudi Arabia admits coalition “mistakes” in targeting Yemen (1 October 2018) Saudi Arabia announced it was “working hard” to correct mistaken targetings by its military coalition in Yemen.
Pompeo says Iran is origin of threat to U.S. missions in Iraq (3 October 2018) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for threats to American missions in Iraq and said the United States is withdrawing from the 1955 Treaty of Amity.
Egyptians facing eviction should have right to stay: U.N. (3 October 2018) A UN rapporteur announced during a visit to Egypt that Egyptians living in areas marked for urban development projects should have a right to remain in their homes if they wish to do so.
Rights group says Egypt “forcibly disappeared” lawyer (3 October 2018) Human Rights Watch has urged Egypt to reveal the whereabouts of a well-known human rights lawyer who went missing after being detained in September.
U.S. withdraws from international accords, says U.N. world court “politicized” (3 October 2018) The United States announced that it has pulled out of two international agreements after Iran and the Palestinians complained to the International Criminal Court about US policies.
Some aid agencies halt use of Syrian border gate, citing Jihadists’ taxes on trucks (4 October 2018) Government aid agencies of the United States and Britain directed their humanitarian partners to stop using a northern border crossing between Turkey and Syria, due to concerns that taxes on aid trucks were used to fund extremist groups.
U.N envoy says top priority in Yemen is fixing the economy (4 October 2018) The UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths stated that the best way to resolve Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is to fix the economy in order to stem the slide in the country’s currency.
U.N. report: Iran is new transit point for Somali charcoal in illicit trade taxed by militants (9 October 2018) According to a UN sanction monitoring report, criminal networks are using Iran as a transit point for illicit Somali charcoal exports that earn Islamist militant group al-Shabaab millions of dollars annually in tax.
U.N. urges Turkey, Saudi Arabia to investigate journalist disappearance (9 October 2018) The United Nations human rights office voiced deep concerns at the apparent “enforced disappearance” and possible murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and urged the two countries to investigate.
U.N. child rights panel calls on Saudi Arabia to halt Yemen strikes (11 October 2018) The UN Committee on the rights of the Child called on Saudi Arabia to halt its deadly air strikes against civilian targets in Yemen and to prosecute officials responsible for child casualties due to unlawful attacks.
U.N. experts say Saudi Arabia must release women’s rights activists (12 October 2018) The United Nations announced that Saudi Arabia must immediately and unconditionally release all women it has detained for campaigning for human rights.
Amnesty: Coalition must do more for Syria’s smashed Raqqa (12 October 2018) Rights group amnesty International stated that the coalition against ISIS has done little to help the city of Raqqa recover after air strikes destroyed must of the city in the fight against terrorist group.
Millions face famine in Yemen as PM sacked (16 October 2018) According to the United Nations, the number of Yeminis on the brink of famine could rise to twelve million from around 8.5 million in the coming months due to escalating war and a deepening economic crisis.
U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura to step down at end of November (17 October 2018) United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura announced that he would step down at the end of November for personal reasons, but would use his final month to push for the formation of a committee to rewrite the Syrian constitution.
Syria approves U.N. aid delivery to remote camp on Jordan-Syria border (17 October 2018) The Syrian government gave approval for the United Nations to deliver aid to thousands of civilians stranded near a U.S. garrison on the Jordan-Syrian border.
Rights group accuses Palestinian Authority, Hamas, of using systematic torture (23 October 2018) Human Rights Watch announced that security forces of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Gaza’s Hamas routinely arrest and torture critics and opponents to try and stifle dissent.
Syria FM to U.N. envoy: constitution is “sovereign matter” (24 October 2018) Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told UN envoy Staffan de Mistura that the constitution was a sovereign matter up to the Syrian people.
U.N.-led aid convoy to Syria’s Rukban camp postponed (26 October 2018) A UN-led aid delivery to civilians stranded in a camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border has been postponed indefinitely for logistical and security reasons.
U.N. chief taps Norwegian diplomat as new Syria envoy (30 October 2018) Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen will be the new United Nations Syria envoy.