The US Embassy in the capital of Muscat said: “We have lost one of the world’s great leaders — a visionary responsible for Oman’s prosperity and progress for the last half century,” the embassy’s tweet read. “His steadfast leadership embodied his sincerity, his generosity, his tolerance, and his deep love for his country. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos will be missed not only by the people of Oman, but also by his friends and admirers the world over, including in the United States.”
“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars,” leftist Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said. “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”
The long shadow war between Israel and Iran has burst into the open in recent days, with Israel allegedly striking Iran-linked targets as far away as Iraq and crash-landing two drones in Hezbollah-dominated southern Beirut. These incidents, along with an air raid in Syria that Israel says thwarted an imminent Iranian drone attack, have raised tensions at a particularly fraught time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking to project strength three weeks before national elections, while Iran has taken a series of provocative actions in recent months aimed at pressuring European nations to provide relief from crippling U.S. sanctions. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, vowed to retaliate after a drone crashed on the militant group’s Beirut media office and another exploded midair early Sunday. Israeli forces along the border with Lebanon are on high alert, raising fears of a repeat of the 2006 war. Netanyahu has warned Nasrallah to “relax,” saying Israel “knows how to defend itself and how to pay back its enemies.” The Israeli leader has also addressed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of its regional entrenchment, telling him to “be careful with your words and be even more careful with your actions.” Israel said Soleimani masterminded the alleged drone attack. Another commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohsen Rezaei, dismissed the Israeli allegations as a “lie.” Israel has also blamed Iran for recent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, and on Monday struck a Palestinian base in
Three years ago, when Iran’s military captured 10 U.S. sailors after they mistakenly strayed into Iranian waters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jumped on the phone in minutes and worked out the sailors’ release in hours. Could a similar crisis be so quickly resolved today? “No,” Zarif said in a recent interview with Reuters. “How could it be averted?” Zarif and the current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have never spoken directly, according to Iran’s mission at the United Nations. They instead tend to communicate through name-calling on Twitter or through the media. “Pompeo makes sure that every time he talks about Iran, he insults me,” Zarif said. “Why should I even answer his phone call?” The open rancor between the nations’ two top diplomats underscores growing concern that the lack of any established channel for direct negotiation makes a military confrontation more likely in the event of a misunderstanding or a mishap, according to current and former U.S. officials, foreign diplomats, U.S. lawmakers and foreign policy experts. The Trump administration this month ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East, citing intelligence about possible Iranian preparations to attack U.S. forces or interests. “The danger of an accidental conflict seems to be increasing over each day,” U.S. Senator Angus King, a political independent from Maine, told Reuters as he called for direct dialogue between the United States and Iran. A senior European diplomat
The Pentagon on Thursday will present plans to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats, U.S. officials said. The officials said no final decision has been made yet, and it’s not clear if the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested forces. Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran, but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran. Thursday morning’s meeting comes as tensions with Iran continue to simmer, and it wasn’t clear if a decision would be made during the session. Any move to deploy more forces to the Middle East would signal a shift for President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce America’s troop presence in the region. U.S. officials have provided few details about possible Iranian threats, but indicated they initially involved missiles loaded onto small Iranian boats. This week officials said the missiles have been taken off the boats near Iran’s shore, but other maritime threats continue. Sending more troops could also raise questions on Capitol Hill. During back-to-back closed briefings for the House and Senate on Tuesday, defense leaders told congressional officials the U.S. doesn’t want to go to war with Iran and wants to de-escalate the
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. 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 implications of the attacks. “The current critical circumstances entail a unified Arab and Gulf stance toward the besetting challenges and risks,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim
“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,” the spokesman for the parliamentary leadership, Behrouz Nemati, said, summarizing the Guards’ commander’s comments, according to parliament’s ICANA news site.
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, said: “This is an incident that took place in a diplomatic mission … In such a situation the Saudi Arabian authorities are responsible for this… The Saudi Arabian authorities know how such a murder was carried out… They need to explain. President Trump should help reveal the truth and ensure justice be served. He should not pave the way for a cover-up of my fiancée’s murder. Let’s not let money taint our conscience and compromise our values.”
Riyadh Saturday dismissed Ankara’s calls to extradite 18 Saudis wanted for the murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi, as Washington warned the crisis risked destabilising the Middle East.
“The individuals are Saudi nationals. They’re detained in Saudi Arabia, and the investigation is in Saudi Arabia, and they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a regional defence forum in Bahrain.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis told Arab leaders on Saturday that Russia is no replacement for the United States in the Middle East following Moscow’s military intervention in Syria.
“Russia’s presence in the region cannot replace the longstanding, enduring, and transparent US commitment to the Middle East,” Mattis told a meeting in the Bahraini capital Manama.
While Jamal Khashoggi’s death has rightfully fixated our attentions, it has done so most notably because it raises questions about Washington’s close alliance with Riyadh. However, the absence of any U.S.-Iran relations has sadly meant far less scrutiny or reporting on the stories of the many Iranian Khashoggis.