Crisis in the Arabian Gulf

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Iran has sapped U.S. capacity for war: Revolutionary Guards chief
May 28, 2019 / Updated an hour ago

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran’s “absolute power” in its region has sapped the capacity of arch-enemy the United States to wage war against it, the commander of its elite Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday, according to semi-official Mehr news agency.

He was speaking a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not seeking regime change in Iran following moves to beef up U.S. forces in the Middle East, and that a new deal on Iran’s nuclear program was possible.

“We have been able to...empty the enemy’s capacity for war. You see the decline and crash of the enemies’ speech,” Major General Hossein Salami said, apparently alluding to Trump’s remarks during a visit to Japan.

“Today, Iran is an absolute power of the region and because of this it is not afraid of the enemy’s threats. Today, America has been defeated in its political philosophy.”

Trump appeared to soften his tone toward Iran, saying he believed it wanted to make a deal, crediting heavy U.S. economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“We aren’t looking for regime change - I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons.”

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States after an attack earlier this month on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington, a close ally of Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, blamed the attacks on Tehran, which denied the accusations.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Mark Heinrich



 

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Hossam Zaki: Arab Summit Sends Clear Message on Foreign Meddling
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


Arab League foreign ministers meet in Cairo, Egypt December 9, 2017. (Reuters)

Cairo – Sawsan Abou Hussein

Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League Hossam Zaki stressed that the organization’s upcoming emergency summit in Makkah sends a clear message on foreign meddling in the region.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that protecting national Arab security against violations and threats requires more coordination, consultations and cooperation among Arab countries.

He predicted that the summit, scheduled for Thursday, would make a strong political stance that supports the countries whose security and stability are being threatened by any foreign non-Arab parties, especially Iran.

Commenting in Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s proposal to Gulf states to sign a non-aggression pact with them, Zaki said that the problem with Iran is that its statements differ from its actions.

It may make positive remarks, but they are not followed up with actions, he added.

 

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Bolton: Iran Almost Certainly behind Sabotage off UAE Coast
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


US national security adviser John Bolton. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that Iran was “almost certainly” behind the sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates’ port of Fujairah earlier this month.

“I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” he told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

"Who else would you think is doing it?" he asked rhetorically. "Somebody from Nepal?"

Bolton had arrived in the UAE on Tuesday for talks with officials on regional security.

He will meet with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss bilateral ties and regional tensions.

The UAE has not blamed anyone for the sabotage attack. It is carrying out an investigation with Saudi Arabia, Norway, France and the US in the incident.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a pact, signed with other major powers, designed to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The Trump administration has tightened sanctions on Iran, notably targeting its key oil exports, and beefed up its military presence in the Gulf, accusing Tehran of threats to US troops and interests.

Bolton said the United States was trying to be “prudent and responsible” in its approach. “The point is to make it clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kind of activities risk a very strong response from the Americans.”

He said the tanker attacks were connected to the strike on oil pumping stations on Saudi Arabia’s East-West pipeline and a rocket attack on the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Bolton said the US was deeply concerned with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force’s employment of Shiite militias in Iraq to launch indirect attacks against US forces deployed there.

“We will hold the Quds Force responsible if we see attacks,” he stressed.

 

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In UAE, Trump’s adviser warns Iran of ‘very strong response’
By JON GAMBRELL
9 minutes ago
29 May 2019

National Security Adviser John Bolton arrives to speak at the commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser warned Iran on Wednesday that any attacks in the Persian Gulf will draw a “very strong response” from the U.S., taking a hard-line approach with Tehran after his boss only two days earlier said America wasn’t “looking to hurt Iran at all.”

John Bolton’s comments are the latest amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran that have been playing out in the Middle East.
Bolton spoke to journalists in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which only days earlier saw former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warn there that “unilateralism will not work” in confronting the Islamic Republic.

The dueling approaches highlight the divide over Iran within American politics. The U.S. has accused Tehran of being behind a string of incidents this month, including the alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the Emirati coast, a rocket strike near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a coordinated drone attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels.

On Wednesday, Bolton told journalists that there had been a previously unknown attempt to attack the Saudi oil port of Yanbu as well, which he also blamed on Iran. He described Tehran’s decision to back away from its 2015 atomic deal with world powers as evidence it sought nuclear weapons, even though it came a year after America unilaterally withdrew from the unraveling agreement.

Bolton stressed the U.S. had not seen any further Iranian attacks in the time since, something he attributed to the recent military deployments — America recently sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf. But he warned the U.S. would strike back if again attacked.

“The point is to make it very clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of action risk a very strong response from the United States,” Bolton threatened, without elaborating.

Bolton spoke before talks with Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He declined to have his remarks recorded by journalists.

A longtime Iran hawk, Bolton blamed Tehran for the recent incidents, at one point saying it was “almost certainly” Iran that planted explosives on the four oil tankers off the UAE coast. He declined to offer any evidence for his claims.

“Who else would you think is doing it?” Bolton asked at one point when pressed. “Somebody from Nepal?”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has repeatedly criticized Bolton as a warmonger. Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said later Wednesday Bolton’s remarks were a “ridiculous accusation.”

Separately in Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani said that the “road is not closed” when it comes to talks with the U.S. — if America returns to the nuclear deal. However, the relatively moderate Rouhani faces increasing criticism from hard-liners and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over the collapsing accord.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Bolton linked the rocket fire in Baghdad, the alleged sabotage of the ships and the drone attack by Yemen’s rebels, describing them as a response from Iran and its proxies.

“I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran to know that we know,” Bolton said. He then brought up what he said could be a considered a fourth, previously unknown attack.

“There also had been an attack, an unsuccessful attack, on the Saudi port of Yanbu a couple of days before the attack on the tankers,” he said, without elaborating.

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Bolton’s claim on Yanbu, which is the terminus, or end point, of the kingdom’s East-West Pipeline. The Houthis have already targeted two pumping stations on that pipeline during a coordinated drone assault.
Bolton also said the U.S. would boost American military installations and those of its allies in the region.

Earlier in April, on the first anniversary of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Tehran announced it would begin to back away from the agreement.

The accord saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump pulled out of the accord as he said it didn’t go far enough in limiting the Iranian nuclear program, nor did it address Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Bolton said that without more nuclear power plants, it made no sense for Iran to stockpile more low-enriched uranium as it now plans to do. But the U.S. also earlier cut off Iran’s ability to sell its uranium to Russia in exchange for unprocessed yellow-cake uranium.

Iran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to offer better terms to the unraveling nuclear deal, otherwise it will resume enrichment closer to weapons level. Bolton declined to say what the U.S. would do in response to that.

“There’s no reason for them to do any of that unless that’s part of an effort to reduce the breakout time to produce nuclear weapons,” Bolton said.

“That’s a very serious issue if they continue to do that.”

Bolton’s trip to the UAE comes just days after Trump in Tokyo appeared to welcome negotiations with Iran.

“We’re not looking for regime change — I just want to make that clear,” Trump said. “We’re looking for no nuclear weapons.”

But Bolton himself, for years before becoming national security adviser, called for overthrowing Iran’s government in interviews and in paid speaking engagement before an Iranian exile group.

“I don’t back away from any of it. Those are positions I took as a private citizen,” Bolton said when asked about his prior remarks. “Right now I’m a government official. I advise the president. I’m the national security adviser, not the nation security decision-maker. It’s up to him to make those decisions.”

He also dismissed reports that he faced criticism from Trump over his hard-line stance with what he described as an old proverb: “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.”
___
Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.


 

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The Latest: Iran official says some in US pushing for war
15 minutes ago
29 May 2019


FILE - In this Friday, May 24, 2019, file photo, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is surrounded by reporters at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan. North Korea on Monday, May 27, 2019, has called U.S. National Security Adviser Bolton a "war monger" and "defective human product" after he called the North's recent tests of short-range missile a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. (Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News via AP, File)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):

5:25 p.m.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister is saying that some “elements” in the Trump administration are pushing the country into a war that would be “catastrophic” for the region.

The semi-official ISNA news agency quotes Abbas Araghchi as saying, “We are aware that evident elements are trying to put America into a war with Iran for their own goals.” He did not elaborate on who those elements are.

Araghchi said there have been no talks and won’t be any talks with the U.S., either directly or indirectly.

Araghchi added that Iran is ready to talk with any Persian Gulf state to reduce tensions and establish a balanced and constructive relationship.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran soared recently over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
__
4:25 p.m.
Iran’s foreign ministry is rejecting accusations by President Donald Trump’s national security adviser that Tehran was behind alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
John Bolton, long a hawk on Iran, said during a visit to the UAE on Wednesday that the sabotage came from naval mines placed “almost certainly by Iran.” He declined to offer any evidence to support his comments.
In Tehran, the foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that it was a “ridiculous accusation” but not a surprise and “not a strange thing” since it came from someone with a long record of anti-Iran stance.
Bolton’s visit to the UAE comes amid heightened tensions across the Persian Gulf.
___
2:30 p.m.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the “road is not closed” if the U.S. wants negotiations with Iran and returns to the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Rouhani spoke during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

He did not explicitly name the United States but referred to Washington by saying: “The road is not closed for them, whenever they put aside their cruel sanctions and return to the negotiation table that they left.”

Rouhani’s website also quoted him as saying that if the U.S. chooses “another way and returns to justice and law, the Iranian nation will keep the road open to you.”

The U.S. last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.

___
1:30 p.m.
Iran’s official news agency says Russia’s deputy foreign minister is visiting Tehran to discuss the increasingly unraveling 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

IRNA says Sergey Ryabkov met his Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araghchi, on Wednesday. It says they discussed the deal as well as bilateral ties, regional and international issues.

The visit comes as tensions have escalated in the Persian Gulf region amid a crisis between Washington and Iran. Last year, the Trump administration pulled America out of the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran targeting the country’s oil sector.

America has deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over the escalation. Countries such as Iraq and Japan have offered to mediate in the crisis. Iran says it will wait and monitor the developments in the region before deciding about the offer.
___
10:05 a.m.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser says there was a failed attack recently on the Saudi oil-port city of Yanbu.

The comments by John Bolton on Wednesday came during a briefing to journalists in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi.

Bolton’s remarks mark the first time anyone has alleged that Yanbu was targeted during the ongoing Persian Gulf crisis.

Yanbu is the terminus, the final point, of Saudi Arabia’s east-west pipeline. That pipeline was recently targeted by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in a coordinated drone attack.

Bolton said he suspected Iran was behind the failed attack, but did not elaborate.

Officials in Saudi Arabia could not be immediately reached for comment.
___
9:55 a.m.
The top security adviser to President Donald Trump says that there’s “no reason” for Iran to breach the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers other than to seek atomic weapons.

John Bolton made the comment on Wednesday while speaking to journalists in Abu Dhabi ahead of meetings he planned with top Emirati officials.
Bolton said: “There’s no reason for them to do . it unless it is to reduce the breakout time to nuclear weapons.”

Bolton also claims that four oil tankers Emirati officials alleged were sabotaged off the coast of Fujairah were attacked “almost certainly by Iran.” He declined to offer any evidence to support his comments.

Bolton dismissed the idea there was any difference between his positions and Trump, saying: “I am the national security adviser, not the national security decision-maker.”
___
8:55 a.m.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, a longtime hawk on Iran, is visiting the United Arab Emirates amid heightened tensions across the Persian Gulf.

John Bolton tweeted he had arrived in the Emirates for meetings Wednesday “to discuss important and timely regional security matters.”

America recently deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran. The U.S. also pulled nonessential diplomats out of Iraq and sent hundreds more troops to the region.

Meanwhile, Emirati officials allege four ships off their coast were sabotaged. Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have launched drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. pulled out of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers a year ago. Iran now says it too will begin backing away from the accord.

 

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Rouhani Suggests Talks with US Possible if it Lifts Sanctions
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (AP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Wednesday that talks with the United States may be possible if it lifted sanctions against Iran.

“Whenever they lift the unjust sanctions and fulfill their commitments and return to the negotiations table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed,” he told a cabinet meeting without explicitly naming the US.

“But our people judge you by your actions, not your words,” he said according to state television.

Rouhani's website also quoted him as saying that if the US chooses "another way and returns to justice and law, the Iranian nation will keep the road open to you."

He made his comments days after US President Donald Trump said a deal with Tehran on its nuclear program was conceivable.

Washington withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran, and is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.

Trump said on Monday: “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran saw no prospect of negotiations with the United States.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States since Washington deployed military resources including a carrier strike group and bombers and announced plans to deploy 1,500 troops to the Middle East, prompting fears of a conflict.


 

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Saudi foreign minister: Attacks on Gulf oil facilities must be addressed with 'firmness'
May 30, 2019

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that attacks on Gulf oil facilities must be addressed with “strength and firmness” and that more efforts were needed to combat the activities of the groups that carried them out.

“We emphasize the need to exert more efforts to combat the subversive activities of extremist and terrorist groups,” Ibrahim al-Assaf told a meeting of foreign ministers ahead of emergency summits of Gulf and Arab leaders to discuss the attacks.

“They must be addressed with all strength and firmness,” he said. He was referring to an attack on oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates this month and drone strikes two days later on oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering the drone strikes on its oil assets. Tehran has denied involvement in either attack.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

 

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No negotiations with U.S., says Iran's Supreme Leader
May 29, 2019
Bozorgmehr Sharafedin


LONDON (Reuters) - Iran will not negotiate with the United States, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, after President Hassan Rouhani signaled talks with Washington might be possible if sanctions were lifted.

Washington withdrew last year from an international nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015, and it is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.

U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the accord, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile program and role in conflicts around the Middle East.

Trump said on Monday he was hopeful Iran would come to negotiating table to reach a new deal: “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal ... and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website: “We said before that we will not negotiate with America, because negotiation has no benefit and carries harm.”

Khamenei said Iran had no problems negotiating with Europeans and other countries, but added, “We will not negotiate over the core values of the revolution. We will not negotiate over our military capabilities.”

Earlier in the day, Rouhani had taken a more positive stance.

In remarks carried by state television, he said: “Whenever they lift the unjust sanctions and fulfill their commitments and return to the negotiations table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed.”

“But our people judge you by your actions, not your words.”

Khamenei has the final say in all major policies under Iran’s dual system, split between the clerical establishment and the government. He is also the head of the armed forces.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran saw no prospect of negotiations with the United States.

Last week the Pentagon announced the deployment of 900 additional troops to the Middle East, and extended the deployment of another 600 service members in the region, describing it as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran.

Speaking with reporters en route to Indonesia on Wednesday, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the additional troops announced last week would be going to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Without giving details or evidence, Shanahan said that while the Iranian posture had changed recently, the threat remained.

He added that sending military assets into the region, such as deploying bombers, Patriot missiles and accelerating the movement of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East, had helped deter attacks against Americans in Iraq.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton also said on Wednesday naval mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates this month, and warned Tehran against conducting new operations.

Mousavi dismissed Bolton’s remarks as a “ludicrous claim”.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, Idrees Ali in Jakarta, and Dubai newsroom; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Alison Williams and Frances Kerry

 

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US will respond with military force if its interests are attacked by Iran — Hook
Reuters
May 30, 2019
  • Hook says US waiting for results of investigation into tanker attacks off UAE coast before discussing proper response
  • The Iran envoy said the US repositioning of military assets has had desired deterrent effect on Iranian regime
DUBAI: The United States will respond with military force if its interests are attacked by Iran, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told a news conference call on Thursday.

Hook spoke to reporters ahead of emergency summits of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia due on Thursday to discuss drone strikes on oil installations in Saudi and attacks on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the UAE coast earlier this month.

Tehran has denied involvement in either attack.

Meanwhile, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that the US is not pursuing a policy of regime change in Iran.

During a visit to London, Bolton also told reporters the threat from Iran was not over but that the quick response and deployment from the United States had helped deter it.

The U.S. military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East in a move that U.S. officials said was made to counter "clear indications" of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.

 

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U.S. top security adviser says threat from Iran is not over
May 30, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) - The threat from Iran is not over but quick action from the United States has helped deter it, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Thursday.

The U.S. military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East in a move that U.S. officials said was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.

“I don’t think this threat is over, but I do think you can make at least a conditional claim that the quick response and the deployment and other steps that we took did serve as a deterrent,” Bolton told reporters during a visit to London.

Asked whether he was at odds with President Donald Trump, who said earlier this week that the U.S. was not looking for regime change in Iran, he said: “The policy we’re pursuing is not a policy of regime change. That’s the fact and everybody should understand it that way.”

Bolton said there was some prospect that evidence Iran was behind attacks this month on oil tankers in the Gulf would be presented to the United Nations Security Council next week.

“I don’t think anybody who is familiar with the situation in the region, whether they have examined the evidence or not, has come to any conclusion other than that these attacks were carried out by Iran or their surrogates,” he said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and William James, Writing by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Alistair Smout

 

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Jubeir to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Don’t Want War, But We Will Defend Interests
Thursday, 30 May, 2019

Jeddah - Mohammed al-Ayed, Saeed al-Abyad

The urgent GCC and Arab League summits will denounce the recent developments in the region because of Iran’s policies, stated Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Jubeir said that his country has been very clear since the beginning about not wanting war in the region, but will surely “protect its land, people, and interests in suitable means.”

The Minister indicated that Iran must put an end to its policies in the region if it wants to be part of the international community.

Jubeir discussed the issues that will be addressed during the GCC and Arab League summits hosted by Saudi Arabia on Thursday and Friday, noting that the aim is to denounce all recent incidents in the region caused by Tehran’s policies.

Saudi Arabia will host the Arab League, GCC and Islamic summits scheduled for Makkah on Thursday and Friday.

He indicated that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold its regular summit during which the current presidency will be transferred from Turkey to Saudi Arabia. He hopes this summit will enhance the organization’s role in the Islamic world and contribute to finding solutions for the challenges facing Islamic states.

Asked whether any of the member states of the OIC called for freezing Iran’s membership in the organization, Jubeir said he expects that all the countries are against Iran’s aggression and its involvement in other state’s affairs. He added that they also denounce Tehran’s support for terrorism and providing Hezbollah and Houthis with ballistic missiles.

Regarding a war in the region following Iran’s acts of sabotage and targeting of oil tankers, as well as instructing the Houthi militias to target oil pipelines in two vital areas, Jubeir asserted that Saudi Arabia is trying to avoid war in any way, but it doesn’t want Iran to maintain its aggression in the region.


 

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US Says to Take Iran’s Sabotage of Vessels to Security Council
Thursday, 30 May, 2019


One of the vessels that was sabotaged off the UAE. EPA file photo

Asharq Al-Awsat

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that there was some prospect that evidence Iran was behind attacks this month on oil tankers in the Gulf would be presented to the United Nations Security Council next week.

"I don’t think anybody who is familiar with the situation in the region, whether they have examined the evidence or not, has come to any conclusion other than that these attacks were carried out by Iran or their surrogates," he said.

The US military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East in a move that US officials said was made to counter "clear indications" of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.

"I don’t think this threat is over, but I do think you can make at least a conditional claim that the quick response and the deployment and other steps that we took did serve as a deterrent," Bolton told reporters during a visit to London.

Asked whether he was at odds with President Donald Trump, who said earlier this week that the US was not looking for regime change in Iran, he said: "The policy we're pursuing is not a policy of regime change. That's the fact and everybody should understand it that way."

Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said US actions taken so far in the Gulf region, which include repositioning military assets, have had the "desired deterrent effect on the (Iranian) regime's risk calculations".

The United States will respond with military force if its interests are attacked by Iran, he said.

Hook was speaking to reporters by phone ahead of emergency summits of Gulf and Arab leaders in Makkah on Thursday to discuss drone strikes on oil installations in Saudi Arabia and attacks on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the UAE coast earlier this month.


 

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GCC Summit Communique Supports US Measures Against Iran, Stresses Joint Defense Agreement
Friday, 31 May, 2019


GCC Extraordinary Summit | SPA

Makkah- Asharq Al-Awsat

Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states condemned, in the final communiqué of the Gulf summit held in Makkah, attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militias against Saudi Arabia and the UAE, affirming that such terrorist acts represented a direct threat to peace and security in the region, the freedom of maritime navigation, international trade and the stability of oil markets.

The Supreme Council reviewed the critical circumstances and serious challenges facing the region as a result of the recent attacks on the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Council expresses solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the face of these terrorist threats aimed at provoking unrest in the region and reiterated support to all measures taken by the Kingdom to protect its security, stability and territorial integrity.

The GCC extraordinary session was held at an invitation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, under the chairmanship of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and in participation of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates' Armed Forces; King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain; Shihab bin Tariq Al Saeed, Advisor to the Sultan of Oman; Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah Nasser Al Thani of the State of Qatar; Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of the State of Kuwait, and Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States.

The GCC leaders lauded the leading role played by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques as well as his call to hold this extraordinary summit and the Arab and Islamic summits in order to unite ranks to face the challenges facing the region and maintain security and stability.

They also lauded the level of coordination and consultation with the United States of America and the US-GCC joint cooperation within the framework of the existing strategic partnership in order to achieve security and stability in the region. They reiterated their support for the US strategy towards Iran, including Iran nuclear program, ballistic missile program, Iran's activities to destabilize the region, its support for terrorism, and combating the hostile activities of Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guards, Houthi, and other terrorist organizations.

The GCC final communique condemned the terrorist attacks carried out by the Houthi terrorist militias through bomb-laden drones targeting two oil pump stations in Dawadmi and Afif provinces in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, affirming that these acts of terrorism pose a serious threat to the security of the region and the global economy. It also condemned the firing of ballistic missiles by the Houthi militias, totaling more than 225 missiles toward Saudi Arabia, including attacks on Makkah, and more than 155 unmanned aerial vehicles.

Furthermore, it denounced the sabotage acts on four civil commercial vessels in the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, which affected UAE oil tanker, two Saudi tankers, and Norwegian oil tanker, considering it a dangerous escalation that threatens the security and safety of maritime navigation in this vital region of the world and negatively affects regional and international peace and security as well as stability of oil markets. The Council affirmed its solidarity with the UAE and its support for all measures taken by the UAE to protect its security, stability, and territorial integrity, calling upon the international community and the international maritime authorities to shoulder their responsibilities to prevent such acts of sabotage.

The Council emphasized the strength and coherence of the GCC and the unity of its ranks to confront these threats, and reviewed the GCC defense policy based on the principle of collective and integrated security for the purpose of defending the entity, fundamentals and interests of its countries, territories, airspace and territorial waters, affirming the principles embraced by the GCC Joint Defense Agreement and the indivisible security of GCC States as a whole unit. The Council also asserted the contents of the principles of the Statute of the Cooperation Council and the decisions of the Supreme Council on integration and cooperation among the GCC States to maintain security, peace and stability in the GCC States.

As for relations with Iran, the GCC emphasized the stances taken by the Supreme Council and urged the Islamic republic to abide by the basic principles based on the Charter of the United Nations and the international laws, principles of good neighborliness, respect for the sovereignty of States, non-interference in internal affairs and non-use of force or threat. The Council restated that Iran must stop supporting, financing and arming terrorist militias and organizations as well as feeding sectarian conflicts, calling upon the Iranian regime to prevail wisdom, keep away from hostilities, and destabilizing security and stability. The Council called upon the international community to shoulder its responsibility to maintain international peace and security, take firm action against the Iranian regime, as well as more effective and serious steps to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability and put more stringent restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program.

The communique highlighted the need that Iran spares the region the dangers of war by abiding by the international laws and conventions, stops interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the region, and stops supporting terrorist groups and militias threatening the security of maritime navigation.

Furthermore, the Council affirmed the GCC keenness to maintain stability, security, and peace in the region, the growth of the world economy, and the stability of oil markets.

Finally, the GCC Supreme Council expressed thanks and appreciation to King Salman and the Saudi government and people for the warm reception, good hospitality, and sincere brotherhood.


 

Scorpion

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So much pressure is now put on the international community to deal with the Mullah malignant activities in the region. Let us wait and see what for the Islamic summit to conclude.
 

Eagle1

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Pompeo: US Ready to Talk to Iran With ‘no preconditions’ If It Acts Like 'A Normal Nation'
Sunday, 2 June, 2019


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis attend a press conference at the Castelgrande closing a bilateral meeting on June 2, 2019 in Bellinzona, southern Switzerland.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Washington is prepared to engage with Iran without pre-conditions but needed to see the country behaving like "a normal nation", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

"We are certainly prepared to have that conversation when the Iranians can prove that they want to behave like a normal nation," Pompeo said Sunday at a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart in the southern Swiss city of Bellinzona.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Saturday that Iran may be willing to hold talks if Washington showed it respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into talks, Reuters reported.

"We are for logic and talks if (the other side) sits respectfully at the negotiating table and follows international regulations, not if it issues an order to negotiate," said Rouhani.

Last year, Pompeo outlined 12 ways Iran must change — including stopping its support for proxy groups and halting its missile program — before the United States lifts sanctions.

 

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