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Israel Condemns Turkish Offensive in Syria, US Imposes Sanctions

October 14, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and US President Trump both have concerns about Turkey. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Avi Ohayon (GPO)

As Turkey invades neighboring Syria to battle alleged terrorists among the Kurdish minority there, Israel has warned of the potential for “ethnic cleansing” and the United States on Monday issued sanctions against the Turks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also offered humanitarian support to the Kurdish people. “Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by his office last Thursday. “Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”

On Monday, the US opposition to the Turkish military moves took the form of sanctions imposed upon the US ally. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the Turkish Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Energy and three senior Turkish officials had been sanctioned. Speaking in a statement released by the State Department, Pompeo said the intent of the sanctions is to “press Turkey to halt its military offensive against northeast Syria and adopt an immediate ceasefire.”

Separately, US President Donald Trump issued a statement posted to Twitter in which he also announced an increase on tariffs on steel trade with Turkey and halted talks on a $100 billion trade deal with the Turks. “I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” said Trump in his statement. … Continue Reading

Israel Proposes ‘Historic’ Non-Aggression Pacts, Cooperation with Arab Nations

October 6, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu & FM Israel Katz. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

Israel and the Arab Gulf states may face a common enemy in Iran and may not be in open conflict—but technically, they are still at war. Now Israel is talking with those countries about changing that technicality by signing non-aggression pacts with those Arab nations. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz posted to Twitter that he has recently been promoting, with the support of the United States, a “political initiative to sign ‘non-war agreements’ with the Arab Gulf states. The historic move will put an end to the conflict and allow civilian cooperation until peace agreements are signed.”

In his tweet, which included a news report from Israel’s Channel 12, Katz further said that he presented the connect to multiple Arab foreign ministers and outgoing US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt during his recent visit to the United Nations. “I will continue to work to strengthen the status of Israel in the region and around the world,” said Katz in the tweet, which was translated from Hebrew by Google.

The tweet from Katz follows a report on the initiative by Channel 12 news. The Times of Israel recapped the Hebrew-language Channel 12 report by noting that Katz and the Arab contacts agreed to launch working groups to proceed towards the non-aggression pact plan. The report further clarified that the discussions come against the backdrop of the Iran threat and that fighting terror and economic cooperation are in the draft proposal. … Continue Reading

Germany Condemns Iran for Saying Wiping Israel Off the Map Is ‘Achievable’

October 2, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Radiation Warning Symbol. Public Domain.

It’s not new that an Iranian leader has openly discussed wiping Israel off the map, but the leader of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Monday said it’s no longer just an idea, but “an achievable goal.” The Tasnim News Agency quoted Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami as saying Israel “must be wiped off from the world geography in the second step (of the Islamic Revolution), and this is not an aspiration or dream anymore, but an achievable goal.”

Salami’s comments to a conference of IRGC commanders were condemned the next day by Germany, a nation who knows all too well the dangers of Holocaust rhetoric. “We condemn the recent threats by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps against Israel in the strongest possible terms,” a Federal Foreign Office Spokesman said in a press release on Tuesday.

“Such anti-Israel rhetoric is completely unacceptable. Israel’s right to exist is not negotiable. We urge Iran to commit to maintaining peaceful relations with all states in the region and to take practical steps to de-escalate tensions.”

Yet rather than back down from the violent comments, Iran doubled down on Wednesday, responding to Germany’s comments with yet another threat. … Continue Reading

Europe Threatens to Begin Withdraw from Nuclear Deal If Iran Continues to Advance Nuke Program

Germany one of multiple EU nations wanting new nuclear deal with Iran. German, EU flags in Square of the Republic in Berlin. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The European Union last week threatened Iran that they may withdraw from the international nuclear deal and resume global sanctions on Iran if Tehran takes another sizable enough step in their nuclear program. The Guardian reported last Thursday that the message comes as Iran—having already withdrawn from certain components of the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—have threatened a fourth move in November if economic relief is not granted them. Before re-engaging sanctions, Europe would need to engage the JCPOA’s dispute mechanism to arbitrate the disagreement between the sides.

The response from Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman on Monday, according to the Fars News Agency, was to call a move by Europe to trigger the dispute mechanism “illegal” and “already dead”. Seyed Abbas Mousavi was quoted by Fars as saying that if Europe does not make a significant enough economic move for Iran, the Islamic Republic would carry out their threat to continue its withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

With that in the background, the United States believes the recent Iranian drone and missile attack on the Saudi oil industry has changed the calculus for Europe and that a number of European allies believe the JCPOA needs to be amended—something the Trump Administration has been demanding for years. … Continue Reading

US Increases Sanctions on Iran, Pledges Troops to Bolster Saudi Defenses after Attack

September 22, 2019 Peace and Conflict

US President Donald Trump is weighing his options on Iran. Illustrative photo, edited for size. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead.

The United States responded to the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Friday, expanding sanctions on Iranian financial institutions and pledging troops to bolster the Saudi’s air and missile defense. “As the president has made clear, the United States does not seek conflict with Iran. That said, we have many other military options available should they be necessary,” US Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper told reporters on Friday announcing the military plans, according to a transcript posted to the US Department of Defense website.

Esper said the troops, which would be “defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense”, would help protect the world’s oil supply and “send a clear message that the United States supports our partners in the region.”

The US action comes after drone and missile attacks—which the US has repeatedly said came from Iran—struck the Saudi oil industry. It marks the latest escalation by Iran in a summer full of aggression, with Esper noting Iran has already attacked commercial shipping, seized a British oil tanker and shot down an American unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). … Continue Reading

Cautious Trump Says War with Iran Is Option after Saudi Strike

September 18, 2019 Peace and Conflict

US President Donald Trump is weighing his options on Iran. Illustrative photo, edited for size. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead.

The United States is readying “very significant sanctions” on Iran after the latter launched a massive attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, according to US President Donald Trump, who further noted his country has more options for a response than just sanctions. “There are many options. And there’s the ultimate option [of going to war], and there are options that are a lot less than that,” said Trump in comments on Wednesday posted to the White House website. “And we’ll see. We’re in a very powerful position.”

Trump, however, appeared to express caution on warfare in his comments to reporters, highlighting the war in Iraq that has dragged on far longer than the US originally envisioned. “There’s plenty of time to do some dastardly things,” said Trump. “It’s very easy to start. And we’ll see what happens… If we have to do something, we’ll do it without hesitation.”

Regardless of whether the US launches retaliatory strikes on Iran, stronger sanctions against the Islamic Republic are promised. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his support for that move in a statement on Wednesday. … Continue Reading

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