[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. considering new Iran sanctions, perhaps in May (1 April 2019) The U.S. government is considering additional sanctions against Iran that would target areas of its economy that have not been hit before.
Lockheed clinches $2.4 billion deal for sale of THAAD missiles (1 April 2019) Lockheed Martin Corp was awarded a $2.4 billion Pentagon contract for THAAD interceptor missiles, some of which are slated to be delivered to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
NATO meeting to focus on Russia, as U.S. cautions Turkey over missile purchases (2 April 2019) A senior State Department official reiterated that Turkey remains an important NATO ally and partner to the United States despite concerns over its plans to buy missile defense systems from Russia, a day before the start of a NATO meeting in Washington.
U.S. expects to resolve spat with Turkey over purchase of Russian air defenses (2 April 2019) Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he expected to resolve a dispute with Turkey over its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, a day after the Pentagon halted delivery of equipment related to F-35 fighter jets to Ankara.
U.S. senators seeks details on nuclear power cooperation with Saudi Arabia (2 April 2019) U.S. senators from both parties have asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry for details about recent approvals for companies to share nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia, with the lawmakers expressing concern about the possible development of atomic weapons.
U.S. urges immediate halt to military operations in Libya (7 April 2019) The United States called for an immediate halt to military operations in Libya as the Libyan National Army headed by Khalifa Haftar advanced on the capital Tripoli.
Trump, Egypt’s Sisi to discuss security during White House visit (8 April 2019) U.S. President Donald Trump will discuss tensions in the Middle East, security, economic reform, and human rights in Egypt during a meeting with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at the White House.
In unprecedented move, U.S. names Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group (8 April 2019) President Donald Trump said he would name Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
Iran decries ‘illegal’ U.S. designation of Guards, retaliates with terrorism listing (8 April 2019) Iran warned that Washington’s designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization could endanger peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond.
Trump praises Egypt’s Sisi despite concerns about human rights, Russian arms (9 April 2019) U.S. President Donald Trump praised Egyptian President El-Sisi as a “great president”, even as a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers raised concerns about El-Sisi’s record on human rights, efforts to keep him in office for many years, and planned Russian arms purchases.
Trump discussed Iran, human rights with Saudi crown prince (9 April 2019) U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, discussing Riyadh’s role in Middle East stability, maintaining pressure on Iran, and the importance of human rights issues.
Turkey says it will look elsewhere if U.S. won’t sell Patriots, F-35s (10 April 2019) Turkey warned that it could buy jets and additional air defense systems from Russia if it cannot get Patriot missile shields and F-35 jets from Washington, raising the prospect of even deeper defense ties between Moscow and a NATO member.
U.S. Senate confirms Abizaid as ambassador to Saudi Arabia (10 April 2019) The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm retired General John Abizaid as the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling a vital position vacant since Donald Trump took office more than two years ago.
Egypt withdraws from U.S.-led anti-Iran security initiative (10 April 2019) Egypt has pulled out of the U.S. effort to forge an “Arab NATO” with key Arab allies, in a blow to the Trump administration’s strategy to contain Iran.
White House says Trump spoke to Libyan commander Haftar (19 April 2019) The White House said that President Donald Trump spoke by phone and discussed “ongoing counterterrorism efforts” with Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.
Israeli minister condemns Sanders’ remarks on ‘racist’ Netanyahu government (23 April 2019) An Israeli cabinet member condemned U.S. Democratic Party presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders for describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as racist over its treatment of Palestinians.
Turkey indicts third U.S. Consulate worker in Istanbul on terrorism charges (26 April 2019) Turkey has indicted a third U.S. Consulate employee and his wife and daughter on charges of membership of a terrorist group, a move likely to further strain ties between Ankara and Washington.
Trump weighs labeling Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group (30 April 2019) President Donald Trump is working to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, which would bring sanctions against the movement.
France blocks E.U. call to stop Haftar’s offensive in Libya (10 April 2019) France blocked a European Union statement calling on Khalifa Haftar to halt his eastern forces’ offensive in Libya.
Turkey condemns French and Italian recognition of Armenian genocide (11 April 2019) Turkey strongly condemned separate decisions by France and Italy to officially recognize the mass killing of Armenians a century ago as a genocide, an issue that has regularly caused friction between Turkey and European Union nations.
Iran protests to France over diplomat’s nuclear comments (14 April 2019) Iran protested to France over comments made by the French ambassador in Washington concerning Tehran’s right to enrich Uranium after 2025.
French-made tanks and howitzer canons used in Yemini war (15 April 2019) French arms including tanks and laser-guided missile systems sold to Saudi Arabia and the UAE are reportedly being used in the Yemini war against civilians.
Bashar al-Assad’s uncle to face trial in France over property fraud (17 April 2019) The uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will stand trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets using funds diverted from the Syrian state.
Turkey says S-400 purchase from Russia a ‘done deal’, cannot be canceled (4 April 2019) Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which has raised tension with Washington, is a “done deal” and cannot be cancelled, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Syria’s Assad discusses peace talks, Tartus port with Russians (20 April 2019) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met senior officials from his strongest ally Russia in Damascus to discuss upcoming peace talks, renting out Tartus port, and trade between the two countries.
Putin says Russia and Syria are not planning assault on Idlib for now (27 April 2019) Russian President Vladimir Putin stated he did not rule out Syrian forces, backed by Russian airpower, launching a full-scale assault on militants in Syria’s Idlib province, but that such an operation was unpractical for now.
Pakistan’s PM Khan to visit China next week, sign new pacts (17 April 2019) Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit China to meet its leaders and deliver a keynote speech at the vast Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, as economic anxiety grows at home.
China complains to U.S. over end to Iran oil sanction waivers (23 April 2019) China’s Foreign Ministry said it has formally complained to the United States over its decision to end waivers on sanctions on Iranian oil imports.
Saudi Arabia says China has not yet asked for more oil amid tighter Iran sanctions (25 April 2019) Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih told Reuters that China has “not yet” asked for more crude oil after the United States decided to end sanction waivers on Iranian oil imports that has permitted Beijing to keep buying from Tehran.
Other Countries/Middle East
Bolsonaro visits Western Wall, Palestinians angry at Jerusalem mission (1 April 2019) Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, accompanied by Israel’s prime minister, visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall as the Palestinians considered recalling their ambassador in Brazil over a new trade mission to Israel in the holy city.
Saudi plans to invite bids for nuclear power project in 2020 (4 April 2019) Saudi Arabia plans to issue a multi-billion-dollar tender in 2020 to construct its first two nuclear power reactors and is discussing the project with U.S. and other potential suppliers.
Eastern Libyan commander orders forces to move on Tripoli (4 April 2019) After years of saber-rattling, eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar ordered his troops to march on the capital of Tripoli, escalating a conflict with the internationally recognized government.
Gulf states, Egypt say will boycott parliament meet in Doha (5 April 2019) Three Gulf Arab states and Egypt said they will not attend a global meeting of parliamentarians due to be held in Doha because Qatar has ‘not changed the kind of behavior’ which made them sever ties two years ago.
Rouhani says Iran ready to expand gas, power trade with Iraq (6 April 2019) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for Iran and Iraq to expand their gas and electricity dealings and boost bilateral trade to $20 billion, despite difficulties caused by U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
Iran’s Khamenei urges Iraq to force out U.S. troops ‘as soon as possible’ (6 April 2019) Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iraq to demand U.S. troops leave “as soon as possible” during a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Turkey says ‘irresponsible’ Netanyahu cannot change West Bank status (7 April 2019) Turkey criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “irresponsible” for saying he would annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins the national election.
Airbnb reverses on delisting Israeli settlements, won’t profit off West Bank (9 April 2019) Airbnb announced it would not implement a planned delisting of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and would donate proceeds from any bookings in the territory to international humanitarian aid organizations.
Egypt’s president meets Libyan commander Haftar in Cairo (14 April 2019) Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met in Cairo with Khalifa Haftar, who is under international pressure to halt an advance on the capital Tripoli.
Israeli delegation cancels visit to Bahrain after outcry (14 April 2019) A delegation from Israel that was due to attend a conference in Bahrain has pulled out due to security concerns, after Bahrainis held an extensive campaign against the visit.
Israeli court upholds deportation of Human Rights Watch official (16 April 2019) The director of the Israeli office of Human Rights Watch lost his appeal against deportation, having been accused of promoting pro-Palestinian boycotts of Israel.
Turkey looking at new trade mechanisms with Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions (17 April 2019) Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Turkey is looking into establishing new trade mechanisms with Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions reimposed last year on exports of Iranian oil.
Iraqi PM Abdul Mahdi meets Saudi King Salman on first visit to Saudi Arabia (17 April 2019) Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi made his first visit to Saudi Arabia since taking office six months ago, meeting King Salman during the stop on a regional tour that has also seen visits to Cairo and Tehran in recent weeks.
Turkey arrests suspected spies for UAE, investigating Khashoggi link (19 April 2019) Turkey has arrested two suspects who confessed for spying on Arab nationals for the United Arab Emirates, and is investigating whether the arrival in Turkey of one of them was related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia, UAE to send $3 billion in aid to Sudan (21 April 2019) Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced they had agreed to send Sudan $3 billion worth of aid, throwing a lifeline to the country’s new military leaders after protests led to the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir.
Iran lawmakers authorize firm actions against U.S. ‘terrorist’ acts (23 April 2019) Iran’s parliament passed a bill requiring the government to take firm steps to respond to “terrorist actions” by U.S. forces, retaliating against Washington’s blacklisting of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.
African summit gives Sudan military three months for reforms (23 April 2019) African leaders meeting in Cairo agreed to give Sudan’s ruling military council three months to implement democratic reforms, amid pressure for a quick handover of power to civilians.
Undeterred by Khashoggi murder, global executives return to Saudi Arabia (24 April 2019) Global finance chiefs who boycotted a Saudi investment summit last year following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi returned to Riyadh this week as the Gulf kingdom gets business back on track.
Iran says leaving nuclear treaty one of the many options after U.S. sanctions move (28 April 2019) Iran said it could quit a treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons after the United States tightens sanctions.
Iraq says I.S. remains threat, leader Baghdadi filmed video in ‘remote area’ (30 April 2019) Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi stated that the Islamic State remains a potent threat around the world despite reduced capabilities, adding its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had made his latest video appearance in a “remote area”.
Maduro ally Turkey berates Venezuelan opposition for uprising call (30 April 2019) Turkey’s government defended its ally President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, saying opposition calls for a military uprising against him threatened the constitutional order.
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
Yemen’s Houthis deny U.N. access to Hodeidah mills for ‘safety reasons’ (2 April 2019) Houthi forces denied the United Nations access to a grain storage site in the Yemen port city of Hodeidah.
U.N.: Iraqi victims of Islamic State leadership deserve justice (4 April 2019) A United Nations human rights investigator announced that Iraq must ensure that Islamic State leadership faces justice for alleged war crimes and genocide against civilians, not just charges of belonging to a terrorist group.
U.N nuclear watchdog inspects Iran ‘warehouse’ Netanyahu pointed to (4 April 2019) The U.N. atomic watchdog policing Iran’s nuclear deal has inspected what Israel’s prime minister called a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran.
U.N. to hold Libya conference as planned despite surge in fighting (6 April 2019) The United Nations announced that it is determined to hold Libya’s national conference on possible elections on time despite eastern forces’ advance on the capital of Tripoli in an escalation of the conflict.
Amnesty urges UAE to release activist on hunger strike (10 April 2019) Amnesty International called on the United Arab Emirates to release a local activist who has been on a hunger strike for more than three weeks, citing concern over his health and prison conditions.
U.S., Russia say they cannot support a U.S. call for Libya truce (18 April 2019) The United States and Russia both stated they could not support a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time.
U.N. rights boss condemns Saudi Arabia’s beheading of 37 men (24 April 2019) The U.N. human rights chief condemned the beheadings of 37 Saudi nationals across the kingdom this week, saying most were minority Shi’ite Muslims who may not have had fair trials and at least three were minors when sentenced.
Amnesty, monitors say U.S.-led coalition killed 1,600 civilians in Syria’s Raqqa (25 April 2019) The U.S.-backed assault to drive the Islamic State from its Syrian capital Raqqa in 2017 killed more than 1,600 civilians, 10 times the toll the coalition itself has acknowledged, according to Amnesty International and the monitoring group Airwars.
Senior U.N official meets Taliban negotiators in Qatar (25 April 2019) The United Nations’ top official in Afghanistan met the Taliban’s chief negotiator in Qatar, as moves continue to try to start full peace negotiations to end more than 17 years of war.