Ankara and Moscow are again facing an escalation of violence in Syria’s last rebel-held territory, a development that puts their cooperation to the test even as they support opposing sides in the eight-year war that has devastated Syria.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him This Marks Major Gain For President Bashar al-Assad An all-out offensive by Syrian government forces to capture Idlib in northwestern Syria from insurgents could unleash an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, for the area is home to 3 million people. Turkey, which is already hosting more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, is facing strong pressure from Syria, Iran and Russia to deliver on its pledge to control the armed rebel factions in Idlib. But Turkey also needs Russia to rein in Syrian President Bashar Assad to prevent a massive outflow of refugees and to keep Turkish soldiers on the ground safe. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin “have an incentive to cooperate and ensure that nobody’s interests are totally trampled,” says Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East program in American think-tank Foreign Policy Research Institute. In September, the two leaders brokered a cease-fire for Idlib in the Russian resort of Sochi, preventing a bloody onslaught, despite the fact that Russia has firmly backed Assad and Turkey supports opposition forces. Nine months later, the truce has failed. The agreement called for a 15-to-20 kilometer (9-to-12 mile)
Baghdad’s Green Zone has been a barometer for tension and conflict in Iraq for nearly two decades. The 4-square mile (10-square kilometer) heavily guarded strip on the banks of the Tigris River was known as “Little America” following the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It then became a hated symbol of the country’s inequality, fueling the perception among Iraqis that their government is out of touch.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Maduro: Guaidó ‘Will Be Jailed’ For ‘All Crimes He’s Committed’ The sealed-off area, with its palm trees and monuments, is home to the gigantic U.S. Embassy in Iraq, one of the largest diplomatic missions in the world. It has also been home to successive Iraqi governments and is off limits to most Iraqis. Various attempts and promises by the Iraqi government to open the area to traffic over the past years have failed to materialize, because of persistent security concerns. Here’s a look at the Green Zone, past and present: BEFORE THE INVASION Although not visible, security was always tight around the area, as Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace complex was located inside. So were the homes of some of Iraq’s top government officials. The road leading to the presidential palace had been closed for decades before the war. The zone is also home to important Baghdad landmarks including the “Victory Arch” — a 40-meter (131-feet) tall arch of
Israel’s parliament on Monday passed a preliminary motion to dissolve itself. The move further pushed the country toward an unprecedented political impasse, less than two months after elections seemed to promise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a new mandate.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Netanyahu Withdraws His Request For Immunity From Corruption Charges If the bill receives final passage in a vote scheduled Wednesday, Israel would be forced to hold new elections — sending the political system into disarray. Netanyahu appeared to have a clear path to victory, and a fourth consecutive term, after the April 9 elections. His Likud party emerged tied as the largest party in the 120-seat parliament, and with his traditional allies, he appeared to control a solid 65-55 majority. But Benjamin Netanyahu has struggled to form a government ahead of a looming deadline to do so. His prospective coalition has been thrown into crisis in recent days by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ally and sometimes rival of Netanyahu’s. Netanyahu delivered a primetime statement on Monday calling on his potential partners to put “the good of the nation above every other interest” in order to avoid sending the country once again to “expensive, wasteful” elections. He placed the blame on Lieberman for creating the crisis, but said he was hopeful his efforts to salvage a compromise in the next 48 hours would succeed. Lieberman has insisted on
Russian-backed Syrian government forces will be able to advance all the way to the Turkish border if they pierce rebel defences in the northwest, a top opposition official said, urging Turkey to do more to shield the area from a major attack.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Sanders Finds Unusual Ally in Trump The month-long onslaught is the most serious escalation of the war between President Bashar al-Assad and his enemies since last summer. Syrian government air strikes and barrel bombing backed by Russian air power have uprooted around 250,000 people in the territory, the last significant rebel stronghold. Fawaz Hilal, head of the “Salvation Government” that runs Idlib province, expressed confidence that opposition fighters gathered in the Idlib region from all over Syria would be able resist the onslaught. “This ferocious attack is a bone-breaking battle. If the regime is able to break our defensive lines in northern Hama and southern Idlib it will not stop until it reaches the borders,” Hilal told Reuters in an interview. His government, backed by the powerful Tahrir al-Sham jihadist group, had called on its employees to help shoulder the “military burden” through building sandbag defences, manning front lines, financial support or any other help. “We are all concerned with repelling this attack,” he said. The bombardment has killed 229 civilians and injured 727 since April 28, according to The Union of Medical Care and
Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Sanders Finds Unusual Ally in Trump Speaking at a Baghdad news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, Zarif said Iran wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them. “We will defend against any war efforts against Iran, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said. Strains have increased between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region. Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concern over the risk of conflict in a volatile region. Iraq stands with Iran and is willing to act as an intermediary between its neighbor and the United States, Hakim said. Baghdad does not believe an “economic blockade” is fruitful, he added in a reference to U.S. sanctions. “We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the
The head of the United Nations agency that has supported Palestinian refugees for seven decades hit back on Thursday at a U.S. proposal to have host countries take over the services it provides across the Middle East.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Maduro: Guaidó ‘Will Be Jailed’ For ‘All Crimes He’s Committed’ The suggestion, from U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday, that UNRWA should be effectively dismantled was the latest U.S. attack on an agency that began operations in 1950. Formerly UNRWA’s largest donor, the United States halted its funding to the agency in 2018, deeming its fiscal practices “irredeemably flawed” and stoking tensions between the Palestinians and U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. “We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organizations, as appropriate,” Greenblatt said after the Security Council was briefed by UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl. Asked at a Gaza news conference on Thursday about Greenblatt’s remarks, Krahenbuhl said UNRWA’s mandate was a matter for the entire U.N. General Assembly to consider, not by “one or two individual member states”. “Therefore, Palestinian refugees should remember that the mandate is protected by the General Assembly, and of course we will engage with member states to ensure what we hope is a safe renewal of
Iranian and U.S. leaders have reassured their nations that they do not seek war. But among ordinary Iranians who already face hardship from tightening sanctions, nerves are being strained by worry that the situation could slip out of control.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Sanders Finds Unusual Ally in Trump In interviews conducted from outside the country by telephone and online, Iranians described heated discussions at home, on the streets and on social media. The prospect of war was now the main topic of conversation in workplaces, taxis and buses, Nima Abdollahzade, a legal consultant at an Iranian startup company, told Reuters. “Apart from the deterioration in the Iranian economy, I believe the most severe effect” of confrontation with the United States “is in the mental situation of ordinary Iranians,” he said. “They are sustaining a significant amount of stress.” The United States pulled out of an agreement between Iran and world powers a year ago that limited Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting economic sanctions. This month tensions have risen sharply, with Washington extending its sanctions to ban all countries from importing Iranian oil. A number of U.S. officials led by National Security Adviser John Bolton have made hawkish remarks, citing Iranian threats against U.S. interests. Trump himself tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” Iran has tended to dismiss the tough talk
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia this week in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid United Nations-led peace efforts.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Sanders Finds Unusual Ally in Trump The latest hostilities coincide with rising tensions between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied to the United States and come just as a sensitive, U.N.-sponsored peace deal is being carried out in Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions. The Houthis, who claimed responsibility for last week’s armed drone strikes on oil assets in Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday that one of their drones hit an arms depot at the kingdom’s Najran airport near the Yemeni border, causing a fire. The Saudi-led military coalition said a civilian facility in Najran province was targeted with an explosive-laden drone. It said on Monday that Saudi defence forces intercepted Houthi ballistic missiles fired towards Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. The Houthis denied doing so. On Sunday, the Houthis said they would attack 300 vital military targets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE head a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014. The movement has during the
Palestinians will stay away from a U.S.-led conference in Bahrain next month that the Trump administration has cast as an overture to its own plan for peace between them and Israel, a Palestinian cabinet minister said on Monday.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Maduro: Guaidó ‘Will Be Jailed’ For ‘All Crimes He’s Committed’ Washington announced the conference on Sunday, describing it as an opportunity to drum up international investment for the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration since it recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, have shown little interest in discussing a plan on which they had no input and that they anticipate will fall far short of their core demands. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday that his government had not been consulted on the June 25-26 gathering in Manama. After the cabinet met, Ahhmed Majdalani, the social development minister and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee, said: “There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop.” “Any Palestinian who would take part would be nothing but a collaborator for the Americans and Israel,” he said. Shtayyeh reiterated Palestinians’ aspirations for a two-state peace agreement with Israel entailing control of the occupied West Bank and Gaza – currently run by the Islamist group Hamas – as well as East Jerusalem as their future capital.
Saudi Arabia wants to avert war in the region but stands ready to respond with “all strength and determination” following last week’s attacks on Saudi oil assets, a senior official said on Sunday, adding that the ball was now in Iran’s court.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Jeff Bezos Phone Hack: What You Need to Know Now Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering Tuesday’s drone strikes on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom, claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group. The attack came two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Iran has denied it was behind the attacks which come as Washington and the Islamic Republic spar over sanctions and the U.S. military presence in the region, raising concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference. “It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.” Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday invited Gulf and Arab leaders to convene emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss
Iran’s top diplomat on Saturday dismissed the possibility of war erupting in the region, saying Tehran did not want a conflict and that no country had the “illusion it can confront Iran”, the state news agency IRNA reported.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Maduro: Guaidó ‘Will Be Jailed’ For ‘All Crimes He’s Committed’ Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased in recent days, raising concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. Earlier this week the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its Baghdad embassy following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf. “There will be no war because neither do we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion it can confront Iran in the region,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told IRNA before ending a visit to Beijing. President Donald Trump has bolstered economic sanctions and built up U.S. military presence in the region, accusing Iran of threats to U.S. troops and interests. Tehran has described those steps as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”. “The fact is that Trump has officially said and reiterated again that he does not want a war, but people around him are pushing for war on the pretext that they want to make America stronger against Iran,” Zarif said. He told Reuters last month that Trump could be lured into a conflict by the likes of U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, an
Houthi fighters and pro-government forces battled in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday, breaching a ceasefire and potentially complicating a troop withdrawal agreement intended to pave the way for wider peace talks.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Maduro: Guaidó ‘Will Be Jailed’ For ‘All Crimes He’s Committed’ Hodeidah port, which has been under Houthi control, is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis threatened by starvation because of the war as it is the main entry point for food imports and aid. The Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah and two other Red Sea ports began on Saturday and was the most significant advance yet in efforts to end the four-year-old war. The United Nations said on Tuesday the ports had been handed over to a coast guard and the pullout was going to plan. But both sides reported renewed clashes on Wednesday. Houthi-run media said pro-government forces had hit various parts of Hodeidah city, including the airport, with heavy and medium weapons. It did not say if they were Yemeni troops or members of an international military coalition led by Saudi Arabia which backs President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Aden-based government The coalition-backed forces said in a report that Houthi fighters tried to infiltrate Hodeidah and the al-Duraihmi area to its south but pro-government troops foiled them. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a leading member of the coalition, have yet to
The British Council has confirmed one of its employees has been convicted and jailed in Iran for espionage charges.Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Maduro: Guaidó ‘Will Be Jailed’ For ‘All Crimes He’s Committed’ Head of the British cultural organization Ciarán Devane said in a statement on Tuesday that Aras Amiri, a 32-year-old employee of the London-based Council, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran more than a year after she was arrested in the country for espionage. The statement came a day after a senior Iranian judiciary official said an Iranian woman had been convicted after she was found guilty of spying for Britain. Gholamhossein Esmaili, who serves as the spokesman for the Iranian Judiciary, said the unidentified woman had been “cooperating with Britain’s foreign intelligence service,” while working for the Iran Desk at the British Council. Esmaili said the woman had made “clear confessions” about her recruitment and “the instructions that the English security agency had given her.” “The person was involved in contacting theater and art groups to implement cultural infiltration projects,” said the official, adding that the woman had repeatedly traveled to Iran under aliases.Readers Also Enjoyed 🔥 Rebecca Long-Bailey Biography and Profile Stephen Barclay Biography and Profile Dawn Butler Biography and Profile The British council, however, denied espionage charges against Amiri. The agency said it will remain in contact with Britain’s foreign ministry to
The United States’ military presence in the Gulf used to be a serious threat but now it is an opportunity, a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).Trends For You 🔥 Trump and His Controversial Peace Plan For Palestine and Israel Donald Trump Exacting Swift Punishment Against Those Who Crossed Him Maduro: Guaidó ‘Will Be Jailed’ For ‘All Crimes He’s Committed’ The U.S. military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East to counter what U.S. officials have said are “clear indications” of threats from Iran to its forces there. The USS Abraham Lincoln is replacing another carrier rotated out of the Gulf last month. “An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now…the threats have switched to opportunities,” Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division said. He added, “If (the Americans) make a move we will hit them in the head.” The commander of the Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, said in a parliament session on Sunday that the United States has started a psychological war in the region, according to a parliamentary spokesman. “Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,” said Behrouz Nemati in
European countries said on Thursday they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran scaled back curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach the pact.
Iran announced steps on Wednesday to ease curbs on its nuclear programme, in response to new U.S. sanctions imposed after Washington abandoned the deal a year ago.
Experts say the new moves announced by Tehran so far are not likely to violate the terms of the deal immediately.
But President Hassan Rouhani said that unless world powers find a way to protect Iran’s banking and oil industries from U.S. sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond limits allowed in the deal.
“We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT,” read a statement issued jointly by the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.
The military wing of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement Hamas says it successfully “overcame” Israel’s so-called Iron Dome missile system during its recent confrontation with the Tel Aviv regime thanks to its new rocket-launching tactic.
Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a social media post on Monday that the fresh rocket-launching tactic had overwhelmed the so-called Iron Dome missile system, leading to the deaths and injuries of numerous Israelis in two days.
“The Qassam Brigades, thanks to God, succeeded in overcoming the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of missiles in one single burst,” he said.
“The high intensity of fire and the great destructive ability of the missiles that were introduced by the Qassam [Brigades]… succeeded in causing great losses and destruction to the enemy,” Obeida noted.
Iran will on Wednesday announce “reciprocal actions” on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Monday, quoting “knowledgeable sources.”
The Islamic Republic itself is not planning to pull out of the landmark nuclear agreement, the report noted, without spelling out what action Tehran intended to take. Some European Union leaders had been unofficially told of Iran’s decision, the report said.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S. pullout on May 8 last year and subsequently reimposed tough sanctions on Iran, including on its lifeblood oil exports with the stated intent of reducing them to zero and starving Iran’s economy.