[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 email@example.com, mentioning "Foreign Policies Roundup" in the subject line.]
U.S. Middle East envoy Greenblatt to resign after plan released (5 September 2019) Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Middle East, plans to resign once the long-delayed U.S. peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians that he has been working on is released.
Pentagon chief says he currently has no plan to seize Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 (5 September 2019) U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper stated he currently had no plan on his desk to seize the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, which is at the center of a dispute between Tehran and Western powers.
Pentagon chief: Iran ‘inching’ toward place where talks could be held (6 September 2019) U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper stated that it appeared Iran was inching toward a place where talks could be held, days after U.S. President Donald Trump left the door open to a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Trump says he canceled peace talks with Taliban over attack (7 September 2019) U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday said he canceled peace talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders after the insurgent group claimed responsibility last week for an attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 other people.
Turkish military enters Syria to begin joint U.S. ‘safe zone’ patrol (8 September 2019) Armed Turkish military vehicles crossed into war-stricken Syria on Sunday to begin joint patrols with U.S. counterparts to establish a high-stakes “safe zone” along a border region controlled by Kurdish forces.
U.S. will sanction whoever purchases Iran’s oil (8 September 2019) The United States will continue to impose sanctions on whoever purchases Iran’s oil or conducts business with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and no oil waivers will be re-issued, a U.S. official announced.
Mnuchin: U.S. eyeing sanctions over Turkey’s S-400 buy (9 September 2019) U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the Trump administration was considering imposing sanctions on related to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system, but no decisions have been made.
Saudi Arabia flags plan to enrich uranium as U.S. seeks nuclear pact (9 September 2019) Saudi Arabia wants to enrich uranium for its nuclear power program, its energy minister announced, potentially complicating talks with Washington on an atomic pact and the role of U.S. companies.
Defying Trump, U.S. senators renew pressure on Saudis with focus on Yemen (11 September 2019) Republican and Democratic U.S. senators revived an effort to pressure Saudi Arabia over human rights, by pushing the country to fulfill its commitment to provide $750 million this year to help the people of Yemen.
U.S. won’t send more troops to Syria for joint Turkish patrols (13 September 2019) The U.S. military will not increase troop levels in Syria to carry out joint patrols with Turkish forces, a top general announced, adding that his goal was to eventually reduce the number of U.S. forces in the country.
Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza killed in U.S. raid, Trump says (14 September 2019) Hamza bin Laden, a son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and himself a notable figure in the militant group, was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation, President Donald Trump announced.
U.S. blames Iran for Saudi attacks, ‘pretend’ diplomacy (14 September 2019) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of leading attacks on Saudi oil plants that have cut the kingdom’s output roughly in half, as he ruled out Yemeni involvement and denounced Tehran for engaging in false diplomacy.
U.S. won’t rule out Trump-Rouhani meeting after blaming Iran for Saudi attacks (15 September 2019) The White House did not rule out a potential meeting between President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, even after Washington accused Iran of being behind drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
U.S. considers more intel sharing with Saudi Arabia after attack (16 September 2019) he United States is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia after Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities, which halved the kingdom’s production and jolted world oil markets.
Pompeo says attack was ‘act of war’ on Saudi Arabia, seeks coalition(18 September 2019) The United States wants to build a coalition of European and Arab partners to deter Iran after an attack on Saudi Arabia that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described as “an act of war” against the world’s top oil exporter.
United States sending troops to bolster Saudi defenses after attack (20 September 2019) U.S. President Donald Trump approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran.
Pompeo says U.S. mission is to avoid war with Iran but measures in place to deter (22 September 2019) The United States aims to avoid war with Iran and the additional troops ordered to be deployed in the Gulf region are for “deterrence and defense,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed.
U.S. launches strike in southern Libya as U.N. warns of escalation (25 September 2019) U.S. forces said they killed 11 suspected militants in their second air strike in a week near the southern Libyan town of Murzuq, as the U.N. envoy warned of a growing risk of armed escalation and rights abuses in the country.
Iran’s Rouhani says wider talks with U.S. possible if 2015 deal implemented(26 September 2019) Iran can discuss other issues with the United States providing its 2015 nuclear deal with six powers is fully implemented, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced, adding that Tehran’s missile capabilities were not negotiable.
Pentagon to send radar, Patriot missiles to bolster Saudi defenses (26 September 2019) The Pentagon announced that it plans to send four radar systems, a battery of Patriot missiles and about 200 support personnel to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defenses after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities this month.
U.S. accuses Syrian government of chemical weapon attack in May in Idlib (26 September 2019) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the United States had concluded the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria had used chlorine as a chemical weapon in an attack in May during a battle with insurgents in Idlib.
Iran warns EU over nuclear commitments as deadline for further steps looms (2 September 2019) Iran announced it would further reduce its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal if European parties failed to shield Tehran’s economy from sanctions re-imposed by the United States after Washington quit the accord last year.
France pushes $15 billion credit line plan for Iran, if U.S. allows it(3 September 2019) France has proposed offering Iran about $15 billion in credit lines until year-end if Tehran comes fully back into compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal, a move that hinges on Washington not blocking it.
Russia says U.S. strikes in Syria’s Idlib put ceasefire at risk (1 September 2019) Russia’s military said the United States had mounted air strikes in Syria’s Idlib without forewarning Moscow or Ankara, endangering a ceasefire there.
Russian Agriculture Minister, Saudi’s Falih to discuss Russia-Saudi trade (4 September 2019) Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev and Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih will discuss the development of bilateral relations, including agricultural trade.
Turkey says delivery of second S-400 battery complete (15 September 2019) Turkey’s defense ministry said that the delivery of a second battery of Russian S-400 missile defense systems has been completed as of Sunday, and added that the systems would become active in April 2020.
Kremlin warns against ‘hasty conclusions’ over attacks in Saudi Arabia (16 September 2019) Russia urged countries in the Middle East and outside the region not to draw “hasty conclusions” on who staged the attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
Russia casts 13th veto of U.N. Security Council action during Syrian war (19 September 2019) Russia cast its 13th veto of U.N. Security Council action on the Syrian conflict, blocking a demand for a truce in northwest Syria because it does not include an exemption for military offensives against U.N. blacklisted militant groups.
China hacked Asian telecos to spy on Uighur travelers (5 September 2019) Hackers working for the Chinese government have broken into telecoms networks to track Uighur travelers in Central and Southeast Asia.
China says can’t apportion blame for Saudi attack without facts (16 September 2019) China’s Foreign Ministry stated it was irresponsible to blame anyone for an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities without conclusive facts, striking a cautious note after the United States blamed Iran.
U.S. imposes Iran sanctions on China tankers (26 September 2019) The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Chinese tanker companies for alleged involvement in the transport of oil from Iran, calling it one of the biggest sanctions actions it has taken since its crackdown on Iranian oil exports.
Other Countries/Middle East
Netanyahu repeats pledge to annex Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank (1 September 2019) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to annex all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, he announced, reiterating an election promise made five months ago but again giving no timeframe.
Lebanese Army: Israeli drone dropped incendiary substance in border forest (1 September 2019) The Lebanese military said an Israeli drone, which violated Lebanon’s airspace, dropped incendiary material and sparked a fire in a pine forest by the border.
Israel, Hezbollah exchange fire along Lebanon border (1 September 2019) Israel’s military claimed anti-tank missiles from Lebanon targeted an army base and vehicles and that it responded with fire into southern Lebanon.
Saudi-led coalition bombs Yemen prison, scores killed (1 September 2019) Air strikes by a Saudi-led military coalition in southwest Yemen hit a prison complex, killing scores of people, Yemen’s Houthi movement and a Red Cross official claimed.
Saudi Arabia struggles to hold Yemen coalition together as allies face off (2 September 2019) Saudi Arabia is struggling to hold together a military coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen after local allies turned on each other in a power struggle that has strained Riyadh’s alliance with its main regional partner, the United Arab Emirates.
Iran’s Rouhani rules out bilateral talks with U.S. (3 September 2019) Iran will never hold bilateral talks with the United States but if it lifts all the sanctions it re-imposed on Iran it can join multilateral talks between Iran and other parties to a 2015 nuclear deal, President Hassan Rouhani announced.
Saudi Arabia boosts troop levels in south Yemen as tensions rise (3 September 2019) Saudi Arabia has deployed more troops in southern Yemen to try to contain clashes between nominal allies in the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthis that risk further fragmenting the country.
Turkey plans to return one million Syrians, warns of new migrant wave in Europe(5 September 2019) Turkey plans to resettle 1 million refugees in northern Syria and may reopen the route for migrants into Europe if it does not receive adequate international support for the plan, President Tayyip Erdogan announced.
Saudi Arabia, UAE urge Yemen government and separatists to halt fighting (8 September 2019) Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates called on Yemen’s separatists and the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to halt all military actions in south Yemen.
Israel’s Netanyahu announces post-election plan to annex West Bank’s Jordan Valley (10 September 2019) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the occupied West Bank, if he wins a closely contested election just a week away.
Warplanes strike Syria’s Idlib despite ceasefire(12 September 2019) Air strikes pounded the south of Syria’s Idlib region, a rebel official and residents said, despite a ceasefire that had halted a fierce army offensive against the rebel stronghold two weeks ago.
‘You will never break our will’: Palestinians to Netanyahu after annexation pledge (12 September 2019) Palestinians tilling the fertile Jordan Valley said they have been rooted for generations to the West Bank land that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to annex, and they vowed never to give it up.
Israel must have freedom to act against Iran, Netanyahu says in Russia (12 September 2019) Israel must be allowed to act freely against Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated during a visit to Sochi, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss security coordination in Syria.
Attacks on Saudi oil facilities knock out half the kingdom’s supply (13 September 2019) Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group said it attacked two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, knocking out more than half the Kingdom’s output, in a move expected to send oil prices soaring and increase tensions in the Middle East.
Turkey says Israel becoming ‘racist, apartheid regime’ with annexation plan (15 September 2019) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of his intention to annex areas of the West Bank following next week’s elections shows Israel is becoming a “racist, apartheid regime”, Turkey’s foreign minister was quoted as saying.
Iran dismisses U.S. claim it was behind Saudi oil strikes, says ready for war (15 September 2019) Iran rejected accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting world energy supplies and warned on Sunday that U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles.
Egypt and Ethiopia at odds as talks over Blue Nile dam resume (16 September 2019) Egypt says Ethiopia has “summarily rejected” its plan for key aspects of operating a giant dam the East African nation is building on the Nile, while dismissing Ethiopia’s own proposal as “unfair and inequitable”.
Yemen’s Houthis threaten to attack United Arab Emirates targets (18 September 2019) Yemen’s Houthi group claimed it had identified dozens of sites in the United Arab Emirates as possible targets, in an attempt to underscore its military clout following a weekend attack it claims to have carried out on Saudi oil facilities.
Twitter suspends Saudi royal adviser Qahtani, fake Gulf accounts (20 September 2019) Twitter suspended the account of former Saudi royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, nearly a year after he was sacked over his suspected role in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The social network also separately removed accounts linked to Saudi Arabia’s “state-run media apparatus” and others in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, all of them amplifying pro-Saudi messages
Hezbollah says Iran would destroy Saudi Arabia in any war (20 September 2019) Lebanon’s Hezbollah warned Saudi Arabia against betting on a war against Iran because it would destroy the kingdom and said Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates should halt the conflict in Yemen to protect themselves.
Khashoggi murder ‘happened under my watch,’ Saudi crown prince tells PBS (26 September 2019) Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said he bears responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year by Saudi operatives “because it happened under my watch,” according to a PBS documentary.
Yemen’s Houthis say attacked Saudi border frontline, no immediate Saudi confirmation (28 September 2019) Yemen’s Houthi movement announced it had carried out a major attack near the border with the southern Saudi region of Najran and captured many troops and vehicles, but there was no immediate confirmation from Saudi Arabian authorities.
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
U.S., France, Britain may be complicit in Yemen war crimes, U.N. report says (3 September 2019) The United States, Britain and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing intelligence and logistics support to a Saudi-led coalition that starves civilians as a war tactic, the United Nations announced.
Amnesty urges Saudi Arabia to reveal whereabouts of two missing Qataris (4 September 2019) Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to reveal the whereabouts of a Qatari father and son who allegedly disappeared during a visit to the kingdom last month.
U.N. investigators link U.S., Syrian, and Russian forces to war crimes (11 September 2019) ir strikes by U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria have killed or wounded many civilians, indicating that required precautions were ignored and war crimes may have been committed, United Nations investigators claimed.
Western countries raise concerns over Saudi rights record (23 September 2019) Two dozen mainly European countries voiced concern at alleged torture, unlawful detentions and unfair trials of critics, including women activists and journalists, in Saudi Arabia.
Egypt, Qatar trade barbs at U.N. on Libya conflict interference (24 September 2019) Egypt and Qatar, who support rival groups in the Libyan conflict, traded barbs at the United Nations, highlighting just how difficult it will be for the U.N. to push renewed peace efforts.