[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.]
U.S. to work with Turkey on F-35 parts until 2022, state media citing Pentagon says (1 July 2020) The United States will continue working with Turkish companies producing some parts of F-35 fighter jets until 2022, Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu agency quoted a Pentagon spokeswoman as saying.
U.S. urges Turkey to let Hagia Sophia remain a museum(1 July 2020) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Turkey to let Istanbul’s former Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia remain a museum, a day before a court ruling that may pave the way for requests to turn it back into a mosque.
U.S. affirms Lebanon support as Hezbollah steps up criticism (8 July 2020) A U.S. general voiced Washington’s backing for Lebanese stability on Wednesday on a visit that triggered a protest by demonstrators including supporters of the Iran-backed Hezbollah against U.S. policies in the country.
Pompeo says U.S. seized Iranian weapons on way to Houthi rebels in Yemen(8 July 2020) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that U.S. and partner forces seized a boat in June carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen as he renewed his call for the U.N. Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran.
Palestinians hope Biden would roll back Trump’s embrace of Israel(9 July 2020) Palestinian leaders hope Democrat Joe Biden will tone down Washington’s pro-Israel policies if he becomes U.S. president, and Palestinian-Americans have been pressing his campaign for a change, sources familiar with the efforts said.
U.S. senior diplomat complains Europe not doing enough in Libya (16 July 2020) Europe can do more in Libya by designating Russian military contractor Wagner Group and calling out Moscow and other countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt that are violating a U.N. arms embargo, a senior U.S. diplomat claimed.
U.S. fighter jets near Iranian passenger plane over Syrian airspace (23 July 2020) Several passengers on an Iranian airline were injured over Syria after the pilot changed altitude to avoid collision with a U.S. fighter jet, according to Iranian media, but the U.S. military said its F-15 was at a safe distance.
Gulf dispute has gone on too long, U.S. envoy says on visit (26 July 2020) U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook said the rift between Qatar and some of its other Gulf Arab allies had lasted too long and urged them to rebuild trust and unity.
U.S. slaps sanctions on Syria in push for Assad to end war (29 July 2020) The United States imposed new sanctions aimed at cutting off funds for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and warned that anyone doing business with Damascus was also at risk of being blacklisted.
Pompeo says U.S. has expanded scope of Iran metals sanctions (30 July 2020) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was expanding the scope of Iran metals sanctions, targeting 22 specific materials that he said were used in connection with Iran’s nuclear, military or ballistic missile programs.
Italian police seize record amount of amphetamines shipped from Syria (1 July 2020) Italian police said on Wednesday they had seized about 14 tons of amphetamine pills worth around 1 billion euros arriving from Syria, in what they described as the world’s single largest operation of its kind.
As ties fray, Turkey accuses France of bias over Libya (1 July 2020) Turkey’s ambassador to Paris accused France of having a biased policy over Libya, turning a blind eye to suspected violations of a U.N. arms embargo by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to the benefit of eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.
UK PM tells Israel: Do not annex parts of the occupied West Bank (1 July 2020) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned Israel against annexation in the occupied West Bank, saying it would violate international law and harm its drive to improve relations with the Arab world.
Turkey asks EU to correct “mistake” of travel list exclusion (1 July 2020) Turkey said it is disappointed by the European Union’s decision to exclude it from a list of countries recommended for non-essential travel and called on the bloc to correct the “mistake” as soon as possible.
Vatican summons U.S., Israeli envoys over West Bank annexation moves (1 July 2020) The Vatican, in a highly unusual move, summoned both the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to express the Holy See’s concern about Israel’s moves to extend its sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.
Turkey wants French apology over Mediterranean incident (2 July 2020) Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey expects France to apologize after an incident between Turkish and French warships in the Mediterranean prompted Paris to request a NATO investigation.
Turkey warns it will respond if EU takes fresh measures against it (6 July 2020) Turkey will respond with its own steps if the European Union imposes further sanctions on Ankara, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after meeting the EU’s top diplomat.
Britain imposes sanctions on Russians, including top investigator, Saudis over rights (6 July 2020) Britain imposed sanctions on 25 Russians and 20 Saudis as part of post-Brexit measures foreign minister Dominic Raab said were aimed at stopping the laundering of “blood money”.
France says U.S. should do more to enforce Libya embargo (17 July 2020) France’s foreign ministry rebuffed U.S. assertions that a European Union naval mission to enforce a U.N. weapons embargo for Libya was biased and not serious, saying Washington should itself be doing more to stop the flow of weapons.
France, Germany, Italy threaten sanctions over arms for Libya (18 July 2020) The leaders of France, Germany and Italy threatened for the first time to use sanctions against countries that continued to violate a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.
Russia’s Putin urges Turkey, Iran to help promote dialogue in Syria (1 July 2020) Russian President Vladimir Putin told his counterparts from Turkey and Iran that there was a need for peaceful dialogue between the opposing forces in Syria’s civil war.
Russia to reopen embassy in Libya, Ifax cites foreign minister(3 July 2020) Russia has decided to reopen its embassy in Libya although its head will temporarily be based in neighboring Tunisia, Interfax news agency cited Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.
U.S. says Russia sent more equipment to Libyan front lines (24 July 2020) Russia appears to be sending more military equipment to its mercenaries in Libya, including the flashpoint city of Sirte, in breach of an arms embargo, the U.S. military announced.
Other Countries/Middle East
Turkish business group plans Libya trip to set post-war plan, sources say (1 July 2020) A Turkish business delegation is set to visit Libya within two weeks to assess how Turkey’s companies and banks can help rebuild the war-torn country and secure its energy needs, two people familiar with the plan told Reuters.
On a target date, Israel signs delay in West Bank annexation moves (1 July 2020) Israeli annexation in the occupied West Bank might be weeks away, a government minister said as a start date on Wednesday for cabinet discussions of the move slipped by in the absence of a green light from Washington.
Saudi-led coalition starts military operation against Yemen’s Houthis (1 July 2020) A Saudi-led coalition has started a military operation against Yemen’s Houthi movement after it stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, Saudi state television reported.
Israel says “not necessarily” behind all Iran nuclear site incidents(5 July 2020) Israel’s defense minister said it is not “necessarily” behind every mysterious incident in Iran, after a fire at the Natanz nuclear site prompted some Iranian officials to say it was the result of cyber sabotage.
Israeli court dismisses Amnesty’s petition against spyware firm NSO (13 July 2020) An Israeli court has dismissed Amnesty International’s legal bid to stop NSO Group from exporting surveillance software, saying the rights organization did not prove NSO’s technology had been used to spy on its members.
Jordan king warns that Israel’s annexation plans jeopardize regional peace (13 July 2020) Jordan’s King Abdullah warned that any unilateral Israeli moves to annex territory in the occupied West Bank would fuel instability and dim hopes of a final settlement of the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict.
World Court hands Qatar legal win in air blockade row with Gulf states (14 July 2020) The U.N.’s highest court for disputes between countries sided with Qatar in its legal fight with several Gulf states that imposed an air blockade against Doha.
Iran says it has executed Iranian agent linked to CIA (14 July 2020) Iran has executed a former defense ministry employee who sold information to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the Islamic Republic’s judiciary announced.
Eastern-based Libyan parliament asks Egypt to intervene in war (14 July 2020) Libya’s eastern-based parliament has called for Egypt to directly intervene in the country’s civil war to counter Turkish support for the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli.
Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia deadlocked on Nile dam in new talks (14 July 2020) Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have failed to reach agreement at a new round of talks hosted by the African Union to regulate the flow of water from the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam built by Addis Ababa, the three countries said.
Turkey’s Erdogan says Egypt’s actions in Libya are illegal (17 July 2020) Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan denounced Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for supporting forces based in eastern Libya, after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Libyan tribesmen who called for Cairo to intervene in the civil war.
Syria says Israel strikes southern Damascus, sources say Iranian bases hit (20 July 2020) Syrian air defenses intercepted a new Israeli “aggression” above the capital Damascus, state media said, in the latest wave of attacks that Western intelligence sources have said were Israeli strikes on a major Iranian-backed ammunition depot on the edge of the capital.
Egypt’s Sisi wins parliamentary approval for possible Libya intervention(20 July 2020) Egypt’s parliament gave President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi the green light for possible military intervention in Libya by approving the deployment of armed forces abroad to fight “terrorist groups” and “militias”.
Greece says Turkish plans to map sea encroach on its territory(21 July 2020) Greece accused Turkey of attempting to encroach on its continental shelf in a serious escalation of tensions between the two NATO allies at odds over a range of issues.
Turkey shifts fight against Kurdish militants deeper into Iraq (22 July 2020) Turkey is taking its decades-old conflict with Kurdish militants deep into northern Iraq, establishing military bases and deploying armed military drones against the fighters in their mountain strongholds.
Israel strikes Syrian army positions in retaliatory attack, army says (24 July 2020) The Israeli military said its helicopters struck Syrian army targets in response to mortars fired toward the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Netanyahu warns Hezbollah against playing with fire after frontier incident (27 July 2020) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli forces thwarted an attempt by Hezbollah to infiltrate across the Lebanon frontier, which the Iranian-backed Shi’ite group denied.
Lebanese PM urges caution, Israel vows to defend itself amid border tension (28 July 2020) Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Israel had violated his country’s sovereignty with a “dangerous military escalation” along the frontier on Monday and urged caution after a rise in border tensions.
Iran holds annual Gulf drill amid rising tensions with U.S. (28 July 2020) Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards launched a military drill in the Gulf, Iranian state television reported, at a time of high tension between Tehran and Washington.
Treaties, Agreements, United Nations, and Statistics
U.N. expert deems U.S. drone strike on Iran’s Soleimani an ‘unlawful’ killing (6 July 2020) The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a U.N. human rights investigator stated.
Deadly Syrian, Russian air strikes in Idlib amount to war crimes, U.N. says (7 July 2020) Syrian and Russian planes have carried out deadly aerial strikes on schools, hospitals and markets in Idlib province that amount to war crimes, U.N. investigators said in a report that also condemned attacks by Islamist militants.
Russia, China veto U.N. approval of aid deliveries to Syria from Turkey (7 July 2020) Russia and China cast vetoes to block the U.N. Security Council from extending its approval of aid deliveries to Syria from Turkey for a year, despite U.N. warnings that the lives of Syrian civilians depend on the cross-border access.
U.N. chief says foreign meddling in Libya conflict at ‘unprecedented levels’ (8 July 2020) United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council that the conflict in Libya has entered a new phase with “unprecedented levels” of foreign interference and mercenaries in the oil-producing country.
U.N. rights investigator calls on Saudi Arabia to free women activists(9 July 2020) An investigator for the U.N. Human Rights Council urged member states to pressure Saudi Arabia to free women activists before a G20 nations summit which Riyadh will be hosting in November.
Syria condemned by chemical weapons body for use of sarin, chlorine (9 July 2020) The executive branch of the world’s chemical weapons watchdog condemned the use of banned sarin and chlorine bombs by Syria’s air force, but stopped short of taking direct action to penalize Damascus.
On fifth attempt, U.N. Security Council renews Syria aid via Turkey (11 July 2020) The United Nations Security Council approved aid deliveries to Syria through one border crossing from Turkey, a day after its authorization for the six-year-long humanitarian operation ended, leaving millions of Syrian civilians in limbo.