Tag Archives: Mideast

The Latest: Pence heads to Mideast as Turkey attacks Kurds

The Latest: Pence heads to Mideast as Turkey attacks KurdsVice President Mike Pence says he’s being dispatched to the Middle East by President Donald Trump as U.S. troops pull out of northeast Syria and Turkish forces invade. Pence says Trump spoke with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Monday and called for an immediate end to Turkey’s moves against the Kurds in Syria.



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U.S. Orders Defensive Boost to Mideast After Saudi Attacks

U.S. Orders Defensive Boost to Mideast After Saudi Attacks(Bloomberg) — The U.S. will send a “moderate” number of American troops to the Middle East and additional missile defense capabilities to Saudi Arabia in response to last weekend’s attack on oil facilities, top Pentagon officials said.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Friday that the decision came at the request of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and represented a “first step” in the U.S. response. He reiterated U.S. statements that evidence collected to date shows Iran was responsible for the attacks. The briefing by Esper and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, followed a meeting of national security officials at the White House.“Iran is waging a deliberate campaign to destabilize the Middle East,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. He added that the U.S. has shown “great restraint” in responding so far, but called the strike on Saudi Aramco facilities on Saturday a “dramatic escalation.”Esper and Dunford are still deciding on the specific number of troops and weapons systems but said the personnel deployment will be relatively small, not numbering in the thousands, and that more details would be forthcoming.In addition to the U.S. missile defense assistance, Esper said “we are calling on many other countries who all have these capabilities to do two things — stand up and condemn these attacks” and also contribute equipment.U.S. and Saudi analyses of the attack have described the strike as complex, involving a mix of low-flying drones and cruise missiles coming from the north. The attack exposed glaring vulnerabilities in Saudi Arabia’s defense capabilities despite having spent hundreds of billions of dollars on weaponry in recent years.Swarms of Drones“There’s an international action led by the U.S. and in coordination with the Saudi kingdom to protect the navigation in the gulf and the Arabian sea,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said in a news conference in Riyadh on Saturday. This way “tankers and oil supplies are not subject to any complications from Iran,” he said.Saudi Arabia has already taken delivery of Patriot-3 hit-to-kill missiles bought years ago to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles. The kingdom earlier this year finalized a long-sought after contract for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Thaad missile interceptors designed to intercept ballistic missiles at higher altitudes. It’s not known whether any Thaad batteries have been delivered.“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like” the combination of systems launched against Saudi Arabia last week, Dunford said. “But a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran.”U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who has repeatedly said Iran was responsible for the attack, returned early Friday from a two-day trip to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., saying he wanted to begin building a coalition that would organize a response to Iran.During a news conference earlier on Friday, President Donald Trump signaled he’s trying to avoid a military conflict. Trump campaigned in 2016 on getting the U.S. out of Mideast conflicts and he’s repeatedly criticized the second U.S. invasion of Iraq.“I will say I think the sanctions work, and the military would work,” Trump told reporters. “But that’s a very severe form of winning.”On Friday the Treasury Department announced it is sanctioning Iran’s central bank and sovereign wealth fund, a move aimed at squelching any remaining trade the country conducts with Europe and Asia.The Blame GameIranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that any U.S. or Saudi strike on his country in response to the attacks on the kingdom’s critical oil facilities would lead to “all-out war.”“I know that we didn’t do it,” Zarif told CNN. “I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.”Zarif later said in a post on Twitter that it was “curious” the Saudis “retaliated” against Yemen when Iran was blamed for the attacks. “It is clear that even the Saudis themselves don’t believe the fiction of Iranian involvement.”Yemeni Shiite Houthi rebel leader Mahdi al-Mashat announced Friday the halt of drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. He also called on the Saudi-led coalition to lift the blockade on the port of Hodeidah and reopen Sana’a International Airport.“We judge other parties by their deeds and actions and not by their words,” Saudi Arabia’s Al-Jubeir said.(Updates with comments from a Saudi official in the seventh and last paragraphs.)\–With assistance from Dana El Baltaji, Donna Abu-Nasr and Salma El Wardany.To contact the reporters on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net;Glen Carey in Washington at gcarey8@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, Kevin WhitelawFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Trump's Mideast peace envoy set to leave the White House

Trump's Mideast peace envoy set to leave the White HouseThe Trump administration official tasked with developing a plan to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians is leaving the White House. Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, will depart the administration in the coming weeks, the White House said Thursday. The former Trump Organization lawyer had been leading the effort to devise the oft-delayed peace plan.



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Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM Abe

Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM AbeJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday he had not yet decided on how to respond to an expected U.S. request to send its navy to join a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen. “We’ve started to hear the United States’ thinking on this and we want to keep listening carefully,” he said on national television as votes were being counted for the upper house election. “At the same time, Japan also has friendly ties with Iran,” Abe added.



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Merchant ships urged to avoid using private armed teams in Mideast Gulf

Merchant ships urged to avoid using private armed teams in Mideast GulfShipping companies sailing through the Middle East Gulf are being urged to avoid having private armed security guards onboard as the risk of escalation in the region rises, industry associations say. Relations between Iran and the West have become increasingly strained after Britain seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar last week and London said its warship HMS Montrose had to fend off Iranian vessels seeking to block a British-owned tanker from passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The most recent incidents followed a spate of attacks on tankers since May around the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, which the United States has blamed on Iran and are denied by Tehran.



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AP Explains: Mideast tensions threaten key global oil route

AP Explains: Mideast tensions threaten key global oil routeThe brief standoff between British and Iranian naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday looks to renew concerns about the vulnerability of world energy supplies to tensions in the Persian Gulf region. The British navy says it thwarted an attempt by the Iranians to impede the passage of a British oil tanker, a day after Iran warned of repercussions after its own supertanker was seized by authorities in Gibraltar for allegedly trying to breach European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. About a fifth of all oil traded around the world goes through the Strait of Hormuz, so any conflict could cause huge disruption to crude supplies for energy-hungry countries, particularly in Asia.



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In Mideast, Pompeo seeks a global coalition against Iran

In Mideast, Pompeo seeks a global coalition against IranSecretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week of crisis that saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran. Pompeo spoke as he left Washington for Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Sunni Arab allies that are alarmed by Shiite Iran’s increasing assertiveness and are working to limit its influence in the region. “We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.



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Iran warns US attack would imperil interests across Mideast

Iran warns US attack would imperil interests across MideastTehran warned Washington Saturday that any attack would see its interests across the Middle East go up in flames after US President Donald Trump said he called off a strike at the 11th hour. The aborted military action was to have been in response to Iran’s downing of a US reconnaissance drone, which has seen tensions between the two countries soar after a series of attacks on commercial vessels the US has blamed on Iran. “Firing one bullet towards Iran will set fire to the interests of America and its allies” in the region, armed forces general staff spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the Tasnim news agency.



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China warns US against opening Mideast 'Pandora's box'

China warns US against opening Mideast 'Pandora's box'China on Tuesday warned against opening a “Pandora’s box” in the Middle East after the United States announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the region amid escalating tensions with Iran. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also urged Tehran to not abandon the nuclear agreement “so easily” after Iran said it would exceed its uranium stockpile limit if world powers fail to fulfil their commitments under the agreement in 10 days. The United States ratcheted up pressure on Iran Monday, announcing the deployment of additional troops to the Middle East and producing new photographs it said showed Tehran was behind an attack on a tanker ship in the Gulf of Oman last week.



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Mideast anger over Trump's Golan vow 'breaking international law'

Mideast anger over Trump's Golan vow 'breaking international law'Syria, its allies, and fellow states in the region Friday condemned US President Donald Trump’s pledge to recognise Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights slamming the move as a violation of international law. Trump said Thursday it was time for Washington to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the strategic territory, which it seized from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and annexed in a move never recognised internationally. Any such move would break with UN Security Council resolutions and with more than half a century of US foreign policy, which treated the Golan as occupied territory whose future would be negotiated in talks with Syria on a comprehensive peace.



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