[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.]
Palestinians say U.S. “deal of the century” will finish off their state (2 June 2019) The US blueprint to end the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, still in draft form after almost two years, is seen by Palestinians, and by some Arab officials and politicians, as a plan to finish off the Palestinian cause.
Trump calls on Russia, Syria to stop bombing Idlib province(2 June 2019) US President Donald Trump urged Russia and Syrian government forces to stop bombing Syria’s Idlib province, following a Kremlin statement that signaled Moscow would continue to back a month-long Syrian government offensive there.
U.S. shared nuclear power info with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi killed (4 June 2019) The Trump administration granted two authorizations to US companies to share sensitive nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia shortly after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.
Republican, Democratic senators seek to block Trump Saudi arms sales (5 June 2019) Republican and Democratic US Senators announced they would introduce legislation to block President Donald Trump’s plan for eight billion dollars in military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without congressional review.
Trump: Iran failing as a nation, but U.S. could turn that around (6 June 2019) US President Donald Trump stated that Iran is failing as a nation after Washington imposed powerful sanctions last year, adding that he could turn that around very quickly in talks with the leadership in Tehran.
U.S. to stop training Turkish F-35 pilots because of Russia deal (6 June 2019) The United States has decided to stop accepting any more Turkish pilots who has planned to train in the United States on F-35 fighter jets, in a sign of an escalating dispute over Ankara’s plans to purchase Russian air defenses.
Egypt, Jordan, Morocco to attend U.S.-led Palestinian conference (11 June 2019) Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco have informed the Trump administration they will attend a US-led conference in Bahrain on proposals for boosting the Palestinian economy as part of a coming US peace plan.
Palestinians urge Egypt, Jordan to reconsider going to U.S.-led conference (12 June 2019) Palestinians urged Egypt and Jordan to reconsider their attendance at a US-led conference on 25-26 June in Bahrain, voicing concern it would weaken any Arab opposition to Washington’s coming peace plan.
U.S. military releases video it says shows Iran’s military recovering mine (13 June 2019) The US military released a video that it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an unexploded mine from the side of a Japanese-owned oil tanker, as Washington blamed Iran for attacks rattling global oil markets.
Israel to attend U.S.-led Palestinian conference (16 June 2019) Israelis will attend a US-led conference in Bahrain on proposals for the Palestinian economy as part of a coming peace plan.
Trump would consider military force vs Iran to prevent nuclear weapon (18 June 2019) US President Donald Trump would consider using military force to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon but left open the question if it involved protecting oil supplies.
Overruling his experts, Pompeo keeps Saudis off U.S. child soldiers list (18 June 2019) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blocked the inclusion on Saudi Arabia on a US list of countries that recruit child soldiers, dismissing his experts’ finding that a Saudi-led coalition has been using under-age fighters in Yemen’s civil war.
U.S. Navy says mine fragments suggest Iran behind Gulf tanker attacks (19 June 2019) The United States sought to bolster its case for isolating Iran over its nuclear and reginal activities by displaying limpet mine fragments it claims came from an oil tanker damaged in an attack last week and saying the ordnance looked Iranian in origin.
Trump says he halted U.S. strike on Iran over possible casualties (21 June 2019) US President Donald Trump said he called off a planned military strike against Iran because it would have been a disproportionate response to Tehran’s downing of an unmanned US surveillance drone, adding that more sanctions have been imposed.
U.S., Taliban aim to firm up date for foreign force exit from Afghanistan (24 June 2019) Upcoming peace talks between the United States and the Taliban will focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee militants will not plot attacks from Afghan soil.
Trump puts sanctions on Iranian supreme leader, other top officials (24 June 2019) US President Donald Trump targeted Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top officials with sanctions, taking a dramatic and unprecedented step to increase pressure on Iran after Tehran’s downing of an unmanned American drone.
Trump threatens “obliteration”, Iran calls White House “mentally retarded” (25 June 2019) US President Donald Trump threatened to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American,” in a new war of words with Iran who condemned fresh US sanctions on Tehran as “mentally retarded.”
U.S. will sanction any countries that import Iranian oil (28 June 2019) According to the US special envoy for Iran, the United States will sanction any country that imports Iranian oil and there are no exemptions in place.
Senate defeats measure to restrain Trump on Iran (28 June 2019) The US Senate defeated legislation that would have barred President Donald Trump from launching an attack on Iran without first obtaining the approval of Congress, except in self-defense.
U.S. envoys lend a hand as Israel digs down in east Jerusalem (30 June 2019) US envoys wielded hammers to break open a new tunnel at a Jewish heritage site in East Jerusalem, signaling Washington’s support for Israel’s hold over parts of the city that Palestinians seek for a future state.
French weapons sales to Saudi jumped 50 percent last year (4 June 2019) France’s weapons sales to Saudi Arabia rose fifty percent in 2018 despite the government calling for an end to the “dirty war” in Yemen.
Iran urges Europe to normalize economic ties with it or face consequences (9 June 2019) Iran announced that Europe was in no position to criticize Tehran for its military capabilities and it called on European leaders to normalize trade ties with the Islamic Republic despite US sanctions, or face consequences.
German minister lands in Iran in bid to save nuclear pact (9 June 2019) Germany’s foreign minister arrived in Tehran to hold talks with President Hassam Rouhani as part of a concerted European effort to preserve Iran’s nuclear pact with world powers and defuse rising US-Iranian tensions.
British court: Britain broke law in allowing arms exports to Saudis (20 June 2019) An English court ruled that Britain broke the law by allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia that might have been deployed in the war in Yemen.
Europeans warn Iran against reducing nuclear deal commitments (24 June 2019) France, Britain, and Germany have sent an official diplomatic warning to Iran about the serious consequences Tehran faces if it scales back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
Kremlin rebuffs Trump on Syria, says military action in Idlib is justified (3 June 2019) The Kremlin rebuffed criticism from US President Donald Trump concerning Russian and Syrian military action in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, saying it was needed to shut down rebel attacks being launched from the province.
Erdogan says Turkey committed to Russian missile defense deal (4 June 2019) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated it was out of the question for Turkey to take a step back from its deal with Moscow to buy Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Russia plans to deliver missiles to Turkey in July; U.S. takes dim view (11 June 2019) Russia announced it plans to deliver its S-400 missile defense system to Turkey in July, setting the clock on a US threat to hit Ankara with sanctions if it goes ahead with a deal that has strained ties between the two NATO allies.
Turkey, Russia dispute facts after attack on Turkish outpost in Syria (13 June 2019) Russia and Turkey, the two countries responsible for a rickety agreement to keep the peace along Syria’s last major frontline, gave sharply conflicting accounts of an attack on a Turkish military outpost.
Russia agrees with Saudi Arabia to extend OPEC+ oil output deal (29 June 2019) Russia has agreed with Saudi Arabia to extend by six to nine months a deal with OPEC on reducing oil output, as oil prices come under renewed pressure from rising US supplies and a slowing global economy.
China’s Xi says Iran tensions worrying, calls for restraint (4 June 2019) A rise in tensions in the Middle East owing to US pressure on Iran is worrying and all parties need to exercise restraint, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Russian media ahead of a visit to the country.
Don’t open “pandora’s box” in Middle East, China warns (18 June 2019) The Chinese government’s top diplomat warned that the world should not open a “pandora’s box” in the Middle East, as he denounces US pressure on Iran and called on it not to drop out of a landmark nuclear deal.
Taliban delegation holds talks in China as part of peace push (20 June 2019) China recently played host to a Taliban delegation as part of efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Other Countries/Middle East
Iranian president says talks possible only if Washington shows “respect” (1 June 2019) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested Iran may be willing to hold talks if the United States showed it respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into negotiations.
Israel strikes Syria after rockets fired at Golan (1 June 2019) The Israeli military said its aircraft struck Syrian army targets after rockets were fired at the Golan Heights, and Syria’s state media announced that three soldiers were killed.
Iran calls U.S. sanctions “economic war”, says no talks until they are lifted (3 June 2019) Iran called U.S. sanctions “economic war”, and said there could be no talks with the United States until sanctions are lifted.
Iran’s Khamenei: Tehran will not abandon its missile program (4 June 2019) Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Tehran would not be “deceived” by US President Donald Trump’s offer for negotiations and would not give up its missile program.
Saudi Arabia says it is watching Sudan with concern, urges renewed dialogue (5 June 2019) Saudi Arabia stated it is watching developments in Sudan with great concern and it supported “continued dialogue” between the ruling military council and the opposition.
Japan arranging for PM Abe to visit Iran soon (6 June 2019) Japan is arranging for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Iran in the near future, although details of the trip are being worked out.
UAE says “sophisticated” tanker attacks likely the work of a state actor (6 June 2019) The United Arab Emirates told UN Security Council members that attacks on four tankers off its coast on 12 May bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a “state actor.”
Palestinians say U.S. ambassador helps Israel to annex part of the West Bank (10 June 2019) The Palestinian foreign minister said that comments by the US ambassador to Israel were intended to help Israel annex parts of the occupied West Bank, underscoring the Palestinians’ distrust of the Trump administration.
Yemen’s Houthis strike Saudi airport, coalition vows to retaliate (12 June 2019) The Saudi-led military coalition vowed to respond firmly to a missile attack by Yemeni Houthi forces on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia that wounded twenty-six people.
Arab League head warns no Mideast peace deal without Palestinian state (17 June 2019) The head of the Arab League warned that attempts to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict will be in vain without the establishment of a Palestinian state on all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.
Israel launches “Trump Heights” on Golan, but construction may lag (17 June 2019) Israel approved in principle a new community names after US President Donald Trump on a contested frontier zone with Syria–but construction looked likely to lag given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political stumbles.
Tremors across Jordan as Trump Mideast peace plan revives old fears (17 June 2019) Jordan’s King Abdullah reacts angrily to any suggestion that he might accept a US deal to end the Arab-Israeli conflict that would make his country a homeland for Palestinians.
Palestinians reject Kushner “economy first” approach to Mideast peace (22 June 2019) Palestinian officials dismissed proposals unveiled by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner for big money projects to form the first economic portion of the Trump administration’s long-awaited Middle East “peace plan.”
Palestinians rally against Kushner’s economic peace plan (24 June 2019) Palestinians burned portraits of President Donald Trump as they protested in both the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank against US-led plans for a conference on their economy in Bahrain.
PM Hariri: Lebanon opposes U.S. plan for Mideast (26 June 2019) The Lebanese government and parliament both oppose a US plan for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Libyan fighters seize U.S. and Chinese missiles from Haftar’s forces (29 June 2019) Forces allied to Libya’s internationally-recognized government based in Tripoli captured sophisticated US and Chinese rockets as well as drones when they seized a town from eastern forces last week.
Turkey says six Turks held by Haftar in Libya, demands release (30 June 2019) Turkey said that six of its citizens were being held by eastern Libyan forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, and that the militia would become a “legitimate target” if they were not released immediately.
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
U.N: Syrian fighters burning crops, using crops as “weapon of war” (4 June 2019) The United Nations argued that fighters have set fire to thousands of acres of what and other crops in northwest Syria in a campaign that has turned food supplies into a “weapon of war.”
Yemen’s Houthis and WFP dispute aid control as millions starve (4 June 2019) A dispute over control of biometric data between the World Food Program (WFP) and Yemen’s Houthi group is straining humanitarian efforts and threatens to disrupt aid distribution in a country already on the brink of famine.
U.N.: Up to two million Syrians could flee to Turkey if clashes worsen (10 June 2019) Up to two million refugees could flee to Turkey if fighting intensifies in northwestern Syria as aid funds fun dangerously low.
IAEA: Iran has accelerated enrichment of uranium (10 June 2019) According to the head of the UN atomic watchdog, Iran has followed through on a threat to accelerate its production of enriched uranium.
U.N: No Houthi military in three key Yemen ports for past month (12 June 2019) A UN mission monitoring a peace deal between warring parties in Yemen’s Hodeidah region said it had not detected any Houthi military forces in three key ports since the group withdrew a month ago.
U.N. food chief warns aid suspension in Yemen likely to start this week (17 June 2019) United Nations food chief David Beasley warned that a phased-suspension of food assistance in Yemen was likely to begin over a diversion of aid and lack of independence in Houthi-controlled areas.
U.N. chief urges Russia, Turkey to stabilize Syria’s Idlib “without delay” (18 June 2019) UN Chief Antonio Guterres appealed to Russia and Turkey to stabilize northwest Syria as the UN chief said that some hospitals were not sharing their locations with the warring parties because it “paints targets on their backs.”
Saudi crown prince linked to Khashoggi murder in U.N. report (19 June 2019) Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials should be investigated over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi given credible evidence against them, a UN rights investigator announced.
Turkey’s Erdogan says he believes U.N. will look into death of Egypt’s Morsi (20 June 2019) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he believed the United Nations will look into the “suspicious” death of former Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi and hold those accountable.
HRW: West must be in “driver’s seat” for Syria reconstruction (28 June 2019) Western donors must ensure that humanitarian aid and any further reconstruction assistance in Syria do not fuel repression or benefit “cronies” of President Bashar al-Assad.