[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.]
Trump says Iran ‘playing with fire’ with uranium enrichment (1 July 2019) Iran announced it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, drawing a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump that Tehran was “playing with fire.”
Despite Turkey’s assurances, U.S. still eyes sanctions, F-35 exit (3 July 2019) The Trump administration still plans to impose sanctions on Turkey and remove it from a critical fighter jet program if the NATO ally acquires Russian air defenses, despite the Turkish president’s assurances to the contrary.
Pence: U.S. ready to protect its interests as Iran makes nuclear threats (8 July 2018) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that the United States is prepared to protect U.S. personnel and citizens in the Middle East as tensions build with Iran over its nuclear program.
U.S. wants military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen (9 July 2019) The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks.
Senate Foreign Relations chairman offers Saudi rights bill (10 July 2019) The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Jim Risch, introduced legislation punishing Saudi Arabia over human rights abuses and criticizing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but not halting weapons sales.
Iran ready to talk if U.S. lifts sanctions, Pompeo skeptical (14 July 2019) Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year.
Iran’s Zarif says U.S. travel curbs on Iranian diplomats ‘inhuman’ (17 July 2019) Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that tight U.S. travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats and their families living in New York are “basically inhuman.”
U.S. removing Turkey from F-35 program after its Russian missile defense purchase (17 July 2019) The United States announced that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 jet program, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system.
U.S. says Navy ship ‘destroyed’ Iranian drone in Gulf(18 July 2019) The United States announced that a U.S. Navy ship had “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft threatened the vessel.
Pompeo says Iran needs to ‘come to the table’ for talks as tensions rise (19 July 2019) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the United States needed Iran to “come to the table” for negotiations, amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Saudi king approves hosting U.S. troops to enhance regional security (19 July 2019) Saudi Arabia’s King Salman approved hosting U.S. forces in the country to boost regional security and stability.
White House’s Kushner to finalize Palestinian economic plan on Middle East tour (21 July 2019) White House senior advisor Jared Kushner will lead a U.S. delegation tour of the Middle East to finalize details of his proposed $50 billion economic development plan for the Palestinians, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.
Pompeo dismisses Iran’s announcement that it captured U.S. spies (22 July 2019) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed Iran’s announcement it had captured 17 spies working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and sentenced some to death.
U.S. Senate panel advances Saudi sanctions measure (25 July 2019) The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed legislation that would impose sanctions on the Saudi royal family and block some weapons sales, pushing back against President Donald Trump’s close ties to the kingdom.
Pompeo: Trump wants forces reduced in Afghanistan by next U.S. election (29 July 2019) U.S. President Donald Trump wants combat forces reduced in Afghanistan by the next U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced, in comments that underlined the growing pressure from Washington to cut troop numbers there.
Bolton: U.S. will extend sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear programs(31 July 2019) The United States will renew sanctions waivers for Iranian nuclear programs that allow Russia, China and European countries to continue their civilian nuclear cooperation with Tehran, White House national security adviser John Bolton announced.
Israel calls for ‘automatic’ European sanctions on Iran over uranium breach (1 July 2019) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Europe to impose “automatic sanctions” on Iran for accumulating more low-enriched uranium than permitted under its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.
Tehran fumes as Britain seizes Iranian oil tanker over Syria sanctions (4 July 2019) British Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of E.U. sanctions, a dramatic step that drew Tehran’s fury and could escalate its confrontation with the West.
Turkey rejects Greek, E.U. claims that drilling off Cyprus illegitimate (10 July 2019) Turkey said it rejected Greek and European Union assertions that Turkish drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus was illegitimate, and said they showed the E.U. could not be an impartial mediator on the Cyprus problem.
Iranian boats ‘harass’ British tanker in the Gulf (10 July 2019) Five boats believed to belong to Iranian Revolutionary Guards approached a British oil tanker in the Gulf and asked it to stop in Iranian waters close by, but withdrew after a British warship warned them.
E.U. mulls adding Saudi Arabia to money-laundering gray list (11 July 2019) The European Union is preparing an overhaul of its listing of countries that pose money-laundering risks, a review that could allow Saudi Arabia to be moved to a new gray list after having been briefly blacklisted.
Israel says E.U.’s response on Iran recalls Nazi appeasement (15 July 2019) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned a European Union response to Iran’s breaches of nuclear limitations, saying it recalled failed diplomacy with Nazi Germany ahead of WWII.
Britain calls ship seizure ‘hostile act’ as Iran releases video of capture (20 July 2019) Britain denounced Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf as a “hostile act” and rejected Tehran’s explanation that it seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident.
Britain wins early European support for Hormuz naval mission (23 July 2019) France, Italy, and Denmark gave initial support for a British plan for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, proposed after Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker.
Russian-led assault in Syria leaves over 500 civilians dead (6 July 2019) At least 544 civilians have been killed and over 2,000 people injured since a Russian-led assault on the last opposition-held bastion in northwestern Syria began two months ago.
Turkey begins receiving Russian missiles in challenge to U.S. and NATO (12 July 2019) Turkey began taking delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system, a move expected to trigger U.S. sanctions against a NATO ally and drive a wedge into the heart of the Western military alliance.
Turkey’s Erdogan says Russian S-400s will be fully deployed by April 2020 (15 July 2019) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated that the Russian S-400 missile defense system, parts of which have been delivered to Turkey over the past four days, would be fully deployed in April 2020.
Syrian rebels say Moscow deploys ground forces in Idlib campaign (17 July 2019) Senior rebel commander have announced that Russia has sent special forces in recent days to fight alongside Syrian army troops in northwestern Syria where they have been struggling for more that two months to seize the last opposition bastion.
China says Turkey’s president offered support over restive Xinjiang(2 July 2019) Turkey “recognizes the fact that the people of China’s Xinjiang lead happy lives”, Chinese state media reported Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as saying.
Saudi Arabia and Russia among 37 states backing China’s Xinjiang policy (12 July 2019) Saudi Arabia, Russia, and 35 other states have written to the United Nations supporting China’s policies in its western region of Xinjiang, in contrast to strong Western criticism.
U.S. sanctions Chinese oil buyer over alleged Iran violations (22 July 2019) The United States has sanctioned Chinese state-run energy company Zhuhai Zhenrong Co Ltd for allegedly violating restrictions imposed on Iran’s oil sector.
Other Countries/Middle East
Iran says several suspected U.S. spies face possible death sentences (2 July 2019) Iranian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for several suspects arrested last year for allegedly spying for the United States in military and nuclear bodies.
Israel says it is bracing military for possible U.S.-Iran escalation (2 July 2019) Israel is preparing for its possible military involvement in any escalation in the Gulf confrontation between the United States and Iran.
New Saudi ambassadors take up posts in Washington and London (4 July 2019) Saudi Arabia’s new ambassadors to the United States and the United Kingdom have taken up their posts after several months’ vacancy amid tensions with Western allies over the Yemen war and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Iran could consider talks with U.S. only if sanctions lifted and Khamenei permits (4 July 2019) Iran’s intelligence minister said Tehran and Washington could hold talks only if the United States ended its sanctions and Iran’s top authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave his approval.
Iran to lift uranium enrichment to 5%, above level in 2015 deal (6 July 2019) Iran will announce an increase in uranium enrichment to 5%, a concentration above the limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.
UAE troop drawdown in Yemen was agrees with Saudi Arabia (8 July 2019) The United Arab Emirates had been planning its recent troop drawdown in Yemen for over a year and coordinated its move with key ally Saudi Arabia, a senior Emirati official announced.
Turkey warns United States against harmful steps over Russian S-400s (10 July 2019) Turkey called on the United States to avoid steps harmful to bilateral relations after the U.S. State Department spokeswoman reiterated Ankara would face “real and negative consequences” for acquiring Russian S-400 defense systems.
Saudi Arabia moves to secure Yemen Red Sea ports after UAE drawdown (11 July 2019) Saudi Arabia’s military in Yemen have moved in to secure two strategic Red Sea ports and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait after its leading ally the United Arab Emirates substantially reduced its presence there.
Air strikes on Syrian rebel enclave intensify (12 July 2019) Air strikes targeted rebel-held cities in northwest Syria, widening bombardment of the last major opposition-held enclave to areas that had mostly escaped it.
Jordan names new envoy to Qatar, two years after downgrading ties (16 July 2019) Jordan appointed a new ambassador to Qatar, a step toward restoring normal relations two years after Amman withdrew its ambassador in solidarity with Gulf Arab allies who severed ties with Doha.
Iran says it seized British tanker, denies U.S. brought down drone(19 July 2019) Iran said it had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz but denied Washington’s assertion that the U.S. Navy had downed an Iranian drone nearby.
Israel demolishes Palestinian homes near West Bank barrier (21 July 2019) Israeli forces demolished a cluster of Palestinian homes near a military barrier on the outskirts of Jerusalem, in the face of protests and international criticism.
Turkey has ‘no patience left’ with U.S. on Syria safe zone (24 July 2019) Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that new U.S. proposals for a safe zone in northern Syria fall short and Turkey was running out of patience as Washington appears to be stalling in efforts to seal and agreement.
Top Khamenei aid says no talks with U.S. under any circumstances (24 July 2019) The top military advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that Tehran would not negotiate with the United States under any circumstances, an apparent hardening of its position as the Gulf tanker crisis escalates.
Turkish military chiefs discuss possible offensive in Syria (25 July 2019) Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met with military officials to discuss a possible offensive east the of the Euphrates River in Syria as Ankara ramped up warnings of a cross border operation.
Iran says missile tests defensive, needs no one’s permission (27 July 2019) Iran announced that its missile tests were part of its defensive needs and were not directed against any country, after Washington said Tehran had test-fired a medium range missile,
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
U.N.: At least 44 die as air strike hits Libya migrant detention center (2 July 2019) An air strike hit a detention center for mainly African migrants in a suburb of the Libyan capital Tripoli, killing at least 44 people wounding more than 130.
U.N. council pushes Libya truce, tells other countries to stay out (5 July 2019) The United Nations Security Council condemned a deadly air strike on a migrant detention center in Libya, and called for the warring parties to commit to a ceasefire and urged other countries not to intervene or exacerbate the conflict.
IAEA: Iran has gone beyond nuclear deal’s uranium enrichment (8 July 2019) Iran has enriched uranium beyond a 3.67% purity limit set by its deal with major powers, confirming a move previously announced by Tehran.
U.N., Syria close to agreeing constitutional committee (10 July 2019) The United Nations is reportedly close to agreement with Syria on setting up a constitutional committee, a long-awaited step in a stalled peace process.
New chemical weapons team to launch first Syria investigations (10 July 2019) A new team established by the global chemical weapons watchdog to attribute blame for the use of banned munitions in Syria will investigate nine alleged attacks during the country’s civil war, including the town of Douma.
U.N. urges Yemen Houthi court to review 30 death sentences (12 July 2019) Thirty men were sentences to death by Houthi authorities in Yemen amid credible allegations that many were tortured during three years of politically-motivated detention.
U.N. says Yemeni warring sides agree to port ceasefire moves (15 July 2019) Yemen’s warring parties have agreed to new measures to enforce a ceasefire and facilitate a troop pullback from the flashpoint of Hodeidah, according to the United Nations.
U.N. calls out Saudi Arabia, UAE for not paying Yemen aid pledges(18 July 2019) United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock called out Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for only paying a “modest proportion” of the hundreds of millions of dollars they pledged five months ago to a humanitarian appeal for Yemen.
U.N. says Syria air strikes killed at least 100 civilians in past 10 days (26 July 2019) Air strikes by the Syrian government and its allies on schools, hospitals, markets, and bakeries have killed at least 103 civilians in the past 10 days, including 26 children, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet announced.
Saudi-led forces, Israel among states rapped by U.N. for killing children (26 July 2019) A Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen killed or injured 729 children during 2018, accounting for nearly half the total child casualties.
U.N. calls for Eid truce in Libya, warns foreign support fueling conflict (29 July 2019) A United Nations envoy called for a truce to be declared in Libya around August 10, and warned that an influx of weapons from foreign supporters in violation of an arms embargo was fueling the conflict.