[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.]
Trump warns Iran against possible ‘sneak attack’ on US in Iraq(1 April 2020) US President Donald Trump said that Iran or its proxies planned a sneak attack on US targets in Iraq, and warned they would pay a “very heavy price” but gave no details.
Trump touts ‘great’ Saudi-Russia oil deal to halt price rout, but details unclear (2 April 2020) US President Donald Trump announced he had brokered a deal with top crude producers Russia and Saudi Arabia to cut output and arrest an oil price rout amid the global coronavirus pandemic, though details of how cuts would work were unclear.
US pushed back on call by OPEC+ to join big oil output cuts(7 April 2020) Saudi Arabia, Russia, and allied oil producers will agree to deep cuts to their crude output at talks this week only if the United States and several others join in with curbs to help prop up prices that have been hammered by the coronavirus crisis.
Bill would remove US troops from Saudi Arabia in 30 days (9 April 2020) A Republican US senator introduced legislation to remove American troops from Saudi Arabia, adding pressure on the kingdom to tighten its oil taps to reverse the crude price drop that has hurt domestic energy companies.
Trump says he had good call with Russia’s Putin, Saudi king on oil (9 April 2020) US President Donald Trump said he had a good conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and expected that OPEC and other countries would be announcing a deal soon.
Coronavirus puts missile showdown between Turkey and US on hold (20 April 2020) Turkey’s plans to switch on its new Russian missile defense systems have been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak but it does not intend to reverse a decision which has raised the threat of US sanctions, a senior Turkish official said.
Pompeo says annexation of West Bank is Israeli decision to make (22 April 2020) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was up to Israel whether to annex parts of the West Bank and said that Washington would offer its views privately to Israel’s new government, drawing a warning from Palestinians who vowed not to “stand handcuffed” if Israel formally took their land.
Trump tells Navy to destroy Iranian gunboats if they ‘harass’ American ships(22 April 2020) President Donald Trump said he had instructed the US Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea, but said later he was not changing the military’s rules of engagement.
Pompeo urges Egypt to keep American prisoners safe from coronavirus(23 April 2020) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed to his Egyptian counterpart that Americans detained in Egypt should be kept safe during the coronavirus pandemic, the State Department said.
Netanyahu ‘confident’ US will allow West Bank annexation in two months (26 April 2020) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced confidence that Washington would give Israel the nod within two months to move ahead with de facto annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
Pompeo says US ‘concerned’ over south Yemen separatists self-rule declaration(28 April 2020) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that Washington was “concerned” over the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist group, declaring self-rule in Yemen’s south, warning such actions threatened efforts to revive talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels.
EU regrets US refusal to allow economic aid for Iran to fight coronavirus (22 April 2020) The European Union has urged the United States to ease its sanctions on Iran and approve economic aid to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but its calls were rejected, the European Union’s top diplomat announced.
First Syria torture trail opens in Germany (22 April 2020) The first trial of suspected members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s security services for crimes against humanity, including torture and sexual assault, starts in Germany on Thursday.
U.K. says Iran’s ballistic missile launch is of significant concern(24 April 2020) Britain said that Iran’s launch of a military satellite using ballistic missile technology earlier this week was of significant concern and inconsistent with a United Nations Security Council resolution.
After US, Israeli pressure, Germany bans Hezbollah activity, raids mosques(30 April 2020) Germany banned all Hizballah activity on its soil and designated the Iran-backed group a terrorist organization, a much-anticipated step long urged by Israel and the United States.
Turkey repeats working group offer to US to solve row over Russian defense purchase (14 April 2020) Turkey repeated an offer to the United States to establish a technical working group including NATO to help solve a dispute over Ankara’s purchase of Russian missile defenses that angered Washington.
Saudi Arabia gets physical with Russia in underground oil bout(20 April 2020) Behind a Saudi-Russian truce to stabilize oil markets with a record output cut, market players are seeing the two production heavyweights still trading blows in the physical market.
Rouhani: Iran, Russia should increase cooperation against coronavirus, continue trade (21 April 2020) Iran and Russia should increase their cooperation in the fight against the new coronavirus outbreak and continue to trade with each other, President Hassan Rouhani told Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Iranian presidency website said.
Turkey says deployment of Russian defenses delayed, but will happen(30 April 2020) Turkey’s planned deployment of Russian S-400 missile defenses has been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak but will ultimately go ahead, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman announced, despite Washington’s warnings that Ankara risks US sanctions.
Iran, China emphasize cooperation in coronavirus battle (27 April 2020) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized the need to cooperate in the battle against the new coronavirus outbreak and to expand trade ties, according to Iran’s official presidency website.
Other Countries/Middle East
Rouhani: US has lost opportunity to lift Iran sanctions amid coronavirus(1 April 2020) Iran’s president said that, with the advent of the coronavirus, the United States had missed a historic opportunity to lift sanctions on his country, though the penalties had not hampered its fight against the infection.
Israel links coronavirus aid for Gaza to recovering soldiers (1 April 2020) Israel linked any assistance it might offer for the Gaza Strip’s efforts against coronavirus to progress in its attempt to recover two Israeli soldiers lost during the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave.
Twitter removes accounts linked to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, other countries (2 April 2020) Twitter took down thousands of accounts linked to Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Serbia for either taking directions from the governments or promoting pro-government content.
Oil crash poses severe test for OPEC+ after Moscow, Riyadh miscalculate (2 April 2020) US President Donald Trump says he has brokered a deal with Saudi Arabia and Russia that would see sweeping oil output cuts. Riyadh has called for emergency talks, and Moscow has said it no longer plans to hike production in a battle for market share.
Dubai imposes two-week lockdown as Gulf states step up coronavirus fight (4 April 2020) Dubai imposed a two-week lockdown and Saudi Arabia sealed off parts of the Red Sea city of Jeddah as Gulf states tightened measures in big cities to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Turkey to curb some troop movement in Syria as coronavirus cases jump (5 April 2020) Turkey announced it would minimize its troop movements in operation zones in neighboring Syria in response to the coronavirus outbreak as the Turkish death toll and infections in the country rose.
Oil prices decline $3 a barrel as market remains uncertain on supply outlook (5 April 2020) Global benchmark oil prices traded as much as three dollars a barrel lower as the market opened for Monday’s trading session, reflecting fears of oversupply after Saudi Arabia and Russia postponed to Thursday a meeting about a potential pact to cut production.
Canada lifting a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, opposition wants big deal scrapped (9 April 2020) Canada is lifting a freeze on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and has renegotiated a much-criticized fourteen-billion-dollar contract to sell General Dynamics Corp armored vehicles to Riyadh, Ottawa announced.
Forces aligned with Tripoli government advance along west Libyan coast (13 April 2020) Forces aligned with Libya’s internationally recognized government seized two towns west of the capital Tripoli after heavy clashes and drone strikes, military sources and residents said.
Libyan forces loyal to Tripoli government try to build on military momentum(18 April 2020) Forces aligned with Libya’s internationally recognized government said they had advanced on Tarhouna, a key support base for their eastern-based rival Khalifa Haftar.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards say have increased Gulf patrols(19 April 2020) Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned the United States about its military activities in the Gulf, adding that their navy had as a result increased patrols, which would also secure the passage of Iranian ships and combat fuel smuggling.
Rouhani: US pressure on Iran during coronavirus outbreak is ‘inhumane’ (20 April 2020) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that American pressure on Iran in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic was “inhumane,” according to a statement on the official presidency website.
Iran says it puts first military satellite into orbit, triggers US condemnation(22 April 2020) Iran announced that it successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit, triggering protests from the United States and stoking already high tensions over Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs.
Yemen separatists announce self-rule in south, complicating peace efforts(25 April 2020) Yemen’s main southern separatist group announced early it would establish self-rule in areas under its control, which the Saudi-backed government warned would have “catastrophic consequences.”
‘It is still a mystery’: War-hit Yemen struggles to trace COVID-19 infection (27 April 2020) When doctors first confirmed Yemeni port official Saleh had contracted COVID-19, authorities raced to trace his movements to try and protect one of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
Libya’s eastern leader Haftar says army to take formal control (27 April 2020) Libya’s eastern-based military leader Khalifa Haftar announced that his Libyan National Army (LNA) was accepting a “popular mandate” to rule the country, apparently brushing aside the civilian authorities that nominally govern eastern Libya.
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
As coronavirus spreads, US seeks Yemen urgent peace talks resumption (2 April 2020) The United Nations and Western allies are pointing to the threat of coronavirus to push Yemen’s combatants to agree to fresh talks to end a war that has left millions vulnerable to disease, the United Nations and sources familiar with the matter stated.
U.N. worried about Iran prisoners amid coronavirus outbreak(3 April 2020) A United Nations rights official voiced concern over prisoners after reports of unrest in facilities prompted by worries over a coronavirus outbreak in countries including Iran, one of the worst-hit in the world.
U.N. finds ‘highly probable’ Syrian government, allies, targeted schools and hospitals (6 April 2020) It is “highly probable” the government of Syria or its allies carried out attacks on three healthcare facilities, a school and a refuge for children in northwest Syria last year, according to a summary of an internal United Nations inquiry seen by Reuters.
Saudi-led coalition announces ceasefire in five-year Yemen war (8 April 2020) The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis announced it was halting military operations nationwide in support of UN efforts to end a five-year war that has killed over one hundred thousand people and spread hunger and disease.
U.N. condemns water shutoff to Libyan capital (10 April 2020) The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Libya condemned the cutting off of water supply to the capital Tripoli over the past week as “particularly reprehensible” and said it must stop immediately.
U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus (13 April 2020) The United Nations said that deportations of illegal migrant workers by Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia risked spreading the coronavirus and it urged Riyadh to suspend the practice for the time being.
Saudi-led coalition announces one-month extension of Yemen ceasefire (24 April 2020) The Saudi-led coalition said it was extending a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen by one month to support efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, citing a coalition spokesman.
Coronavirus probably circulating in Yemen, U.N. says, amid funding shortage(28 April 2020) There is a “very real probability” the new coronavirus is circulating in Yemen, the United Nations announced, warning that an aid funding shortfall would compromise efforts to combat the virus in one of the most vulnerable countries.