Iran/United States – Draft legislation responding to US President Donald Trump's refusal to certify the Iran nuclear deal would set tough new terms for the pact, including restoring sanctions if Iran tests a ballistic missile able to carry a warhead or bars nuclear inspectors from any sites it was reported on the 25 Oct 17. Critics of the legislation drafted by Republican Senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton, with support from the Trump administration, said it could put the United States in violation of the international agreement if it were enacted. The draft was in the works on the 13 Oct 17 when Trump announced he would not formally certify that Tehran was complying with the international nuclear pact, and called on Congress to write legislation to toughen it. Since then, Corker has met with Senate Democratic colleagues, at least some of whom would have to back the legislation for it to pass. They have insisted that Washington work with European allies who co-signed the deal before making any changes. Britain, France, Germany and the European Union, which also signed the nuclear accord - as did Russia and China - warned that Trump's plan could cause a split with Washington and risked US credibility abroad. Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said last week that the Trump administration must work closely with European allies as it develops its new Iran policy. The draft legislation, a proposed amendment to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed in 2015, broadens a required administration assessment on whether Iran is complying with the pact to add factors related to issues from trade to whether Iran is using commercial aircraft licensed by the United States for non-civil aviation purposes. As previously reported, it would instantly reimpose, or "snap back" sanctions lifted under the agreement if Iran were deemed capable of developing a nuclear weapon within a year. The Iran issue has been complicated by Trump's recent attacks on Corker, in which he blamed him for the nuclear deal forged under former Democratic President Barack Obama. The pact, which world leaders have urged Trump not to derail, was opposed by every Republican in Congress including Corker. Corker has lashed back at Trump by saying he has failed to grow into the job as president and blaming him for breaking down important international relationships. A spokeswoman for Corker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the dispute with the president might affect the Iran legislation.
Iran – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said Tehran will continue to produce missiles for defence purposes and does not believe its missile development programme violates international accords. In a speech to parliament on the 29 Oct 17 Rouhani also hit out at the US, calling negotiations with Washington "madness." "We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles," the 68-year-old was quoted by State TV as saying. "We are not contradicting UN Resolution 2231." Rouhani's comments come after US President Donald Trump refused to certify Iran's compliance with a landmark 2015 deal curtailing Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump has repeatedly criticised the accord, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and enshrined under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, as "the worst deal ever" and "an embarrassment". Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to limit its disputed nuclear programme in return for the easing of economic sanctions. Iran has repeatedly denied its missile development breaches the resolution, saying its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons. On the 28 Oct 17 Iranian army Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan also rejected the idea of discussing the country's missile capabilities, calling it "not negotiable." "Our missile might is among the capabilities that are not negotiable at all," Iran's Tasnim news agency quoted Pourdastan as saying. 361 COMMENT: Rouhani states they are doing nothing to contravene UN Resolution 2231 is similar to Hitler’s Germany stating he was doing nothing against the Versailles Treaty whilst building an army, navy and air force inside Soviet Russia prior to World War 2. In building missiles ‘for defence purposes’ how easy would it be to turn their production into offensive weapons? COMMENT ENDS
Iran/Houthis/Yemen – Iran has not stopped backing Houthi militias till today since their takeover of Sanaa, despite international efforts and decisions to deter its interference. And with the restoration of more than two thirds of Yemen, Iran’s involvement in arming and training Houthi militias has been clearly exposed. This is what coalition leaders highlighted in one of their documents, as well as stating that Hezbollah members are supervising the training of the Houthi militias. Iran’s support peaked by supplying the militias with more long-range ballistic missiles that were smuggled into Yemen. This came in the midst of the rising defeat of the Houthis on battlefronts as well as the militia’s strong disagreements with ousted president Saleh. These were the same missiles used to attack Saudi lands, as well as in the failed attempt to attack the holy city of Mecca. A report published by the ‘Center for Research on Armed Conflict’ in London also revealed that the militia are using Iranian technology it was reported on the 29 Oct 17. They were supplied with unmanned drones called Qasif. They claim that they have built these drones, however it was later discovered that they were Iranian drones Ababeel1. Remotely controlled explosive boats were used in several operations against relief and monitoring coalition ships. The boat bombs also came from Iran, but were not used until 9 months after the war had started. The longer this war continues, the longer Iran is in violation of Security Council resolution number two thousand two hundred and sixteen, which condemns sending arms to Houthi Militias and Saleh. And after failed attempts at misleading the international community, the Houthis have no choice but to mislead their own community by claiming that they are at war with the Unites States of America, and not Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iran’s gain at the end of this war will be the creation of destruction and instability in the region.
Iran/Saudi Arabia/Yemen – Tehran on the 30 Oct 17 rejected as "ridiculous and baseless" accusations by Saudi Arabia that Iran is supporting rebels and blocking peace efforts in Yemen. "The Saudi foreign minister's claims that our country has been blocking peace efforts in Yemen are ridiculous and baseless," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said. "Iran has condemned the aggression (against Yemen) since the beginning... and will not spare any efforts to stop this bloody and detestable war," Ghasemi said in a statement published on the ministry's website. Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition backing Yemen's government in its fight against the Shiite Huthi rebels. Both sides in the Yemen conflict have come under harsh criticism for their neglect of civilian safety, but the Saudi-led coalition has in particular been accused of bombing schools, markets and hospitals. "Repeating such false accusations will not reduce the responsibility... of those who have committed heinous crimes, particularly murder, destruction of schools and hospitals and pushing an innocent population to famine," Ghasemi said. On the 29 Oct 17 Saudi Arabia's top diplomat accused Tehran of smuggling arms to the Huthis, who control northern Yemen, and to their allies. Adel al-Jubeir said the Yemeni "militias would not have continued operations without the support of the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world -- the Iranian regime". He accused Iran of "destroying all attempts to find a solution in Yemen, which has led to the failure of all political negotiations between the government and these militias". Multiple rounds of UN-sponsored talks have failed to broker a political settlement between the Saudi-backed government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and the rebels and their allies. Yemen's war has claimed more than 8,600 lives since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 after the rebels overran the capital Sanaa. A cholera outbreak in the impoverished country has claimed more than 2,100 lives since April, as hospitals struggle to secure supplies amid a blockade on ports and the country's main international airport. The United Nations has warned Yemen now stands at the brink of famine. The UN Human Rights Council in September agreed to send a group of experts to investigate alleged violations and abuses in Yemen, overcoming strong resistance by Saudi Arabia's representative.
Iran Missile Discussion – Iran has no need to extend the current 2,000km range of its ballistic missiles as they can already strike enemy targets in case of aggression, the head of the Revolutionary Guard has said. Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari told reporters in the capital, Tehran, on the 31 Oct 17 that the missile range can cover "most of American interest and forces" within the region, even as he underlined the programme's defensive purpose. Jafari said the ballistic missile range is based on the limits set by the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But he warned Iran's enemies of the "high costs" of provoking his country. "There is the capability to increase this range, but it is sufficient for now as the Americans are present within a 2,000km radius around the country, and would get a response in the case of any invasion," the state-owned Press TV quoted him as saying. The Revolutionary Guard is a separate force from Iran's army. It answers only to the country's supreme leader. Meanwhile, Iran's military chief of staff Mohammad Hussein Bagheri was quoted as saying on the 31 Oct 17 that the military is trying to improve the accuracy of its ballistic missiles, but added that they are not intended to carry nuclear warheads. A 2,000km range ballistic missile from Iran is not capable of hitting the United States, but can cover much of the Middle East, including several American bases and naval facilities in the region. Iran's missile programme is not covered by the 2015 nuclear deal Tehran reached with world powers, including the US. But in a recent speech announcing the de-certification of the Iran agreement, US President Donald Trump said he would ask Congress to impose sanctions against Iran's missile programme. In Feb 17 and Jul 17, the US slapped sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies for its missile programme and tests. Despite its rhetoric, the US "fears the consequences of a war with Iran", Jafari said on 31 Oct 17 adding that Americans "are well aware that they would be the losers if such war breaks out". On 29 Oct 17 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told parliament members that Tehran will continue to produce missiles for defence purposes. "We have built, are building, and will continue to build missiles," he said. Khamenei had also said in recent weeks that Iran's defence, including its missile programme, are non-negotiable.
Israel/Hezbollah – The Israeli army has uncovered the name and photo of Hezbollah leader in Golan Heights it was reported on the 25 Oct 17. A spokesperson for the Israeli army Avichay Adraei posted a photo of the leader Mounir Ali Sheayto, known as Haj Hesham, on his official twitter account on the 25 Oct 17. In his tweet, Adraei said: “Lebanon’s interests are not part of Hezbollah’s plans. This was clear for decades and it has become a reality especially in the Syrian war to become an affirmation of the war’s administration, especially in the south.” Mounir, married and has four children, has been identified as having held a position in various field missions for Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon. They Israeli army also said that he was fulfilling Iran’s missions in Golan Heights. Adraei’s tweet comes after several Israeli statements which stressed that if another battle were to take place, it would not exclude Syria or the Lebanese government; it would include both of them.
Qatar/United States/Terrorism – In an unusual move by officials in US Congress and figures working in the US administration, a conference in the capital called on Qatar to find a resolution of its positions between its allies on one hand and Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other it was reported on the 23 Oct 17. One of the more prominent speakers was former US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta, who also served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Barack Obama, saying Qatar had funded terrorist organizations. “Qatar has a mixed record. We know that they provided financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood, terrorism, Hamas, al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” Panetta said. “The problem is that they cannot receive one thing and it’s opposite," Panetta added. Panetta was pointing out that Qatar had close ties to the United States and was hosting a huge US military base on its soil while also funding terrorist-branded terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda. Republican Rep. Robert Bettinger, a member of the counterterrorism subcommittee, revealed that he had met with the Emir of Qatar three times and met with the Qatari ambassador in Washington many times. “Frankly, the emir told me that we helped al-Qaeda in Syria because we hate Assad,” Bettinger said. The Hudson Institute was attended by a large number of members of the US Congress, especially members of the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committee. Many, especially the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Qatar must fulfil its obligations and consider that non-compliance should be met with accountability. Congressional representatives and former officials pointed out that the dangers in the Middle East stem from two sources: The first is Iran and its affiliated organizations such as Hezbollah, and the second is the organization of the Brotherhood and its affiliated organizations such as Hamas, al-Qaeda, ISIS and others. Members of the US House of Representatives pointed to the dangers of the relationship between Qatar and these organizations on the one hand and with Iran on the one hand. Many, and in particular General David Petraeus, called for bridging the rift in the Gulf relations and called on the GCC to “overcome the matter and return to one another.” “We cannot coexist with the fragmentation of the GCC,” Petraeus added.
Qatar/United States/Terrorism – Qatar has agreed to increase efforts in cooperation with the United States to stop terrorists from receiving financing, the Trump administration announced 30 Oct 17. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the new agreement following an overseas meeting with Qatari officials, according to the Washington Examiner. It was the second trip to Qatar in a week by a Cabinet-level official, following Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most recent travel. The meetings are part of a Trump administration effort to end a key US partner’s surreptitious support of terrorism, the site added. “We affirm that the United States and Qatar will significantly increase our cooperation on these issues to ensure that Qatar is a hostile environment for terrorist financing,” Mnuchin said in a statement. Those efforts will include the development of a new system for Qatari officials to designate terrorists for sanctions, as well as information sharing to crack down on private sector funding of jihadist groups. That will allow the two sides to begin “substantially increasing the sharing of information on terrorist financiers in the region,” Mnuchin said. Qatar’s support for terrorism has been a major diplomatic priority over the last year. President Trump called on Arab nations to “strip [terrorists] of their access to funds” during his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, the first trip abroad of his presidency. It added that Tillerson’s team has used the crisis to induce Qatar to make new concessions regarding terror financing.
Syria/Chemical Weapons/United Nations – United Nations investigators on the 26 Oct 17 blamed a sarin gas massacre on Bashar al-Assad's regime, as the United States renewed its warning that he has no role in Syria's future. The expert panel's report and tough remarks by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson overshadowed the announcement that UN-sponsored peace talks will resume next month. More than 80 people died on the 4 Apr 17 when sarin gas projectiles were fired into Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the Idlib province of north-western Syria. Images of dead and dying victims, including young children, in the aftermath of the attack provoked global outrage and a US cruise missile strike on a regime air base. The UN placed the death toll at 83 while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was 87. Syria and its ally Russia had suggested that a rebel weapon may have detonated on the ground but the UN panel confirmed Western intelligence reports that blamed the regime. "The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017," the report says. The report will increase pressure on Assad's regime just as Washington, in the wake of battlefield victories against the Islamic State group, renews calls for him to step down. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's comments to reporters came during a visit to Geneva in which he met UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is trying to convene a new round of peace talks next month. The secretary said US policy has not changed, but his remarks represented tougher language from an administration that had previously said Assad's fate is not a priority. "We do not believe there is a future for the Assad regime, the Assad family," Tillerson said. "I think I've said it on a number of occasions. The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end, and the only issue is how should that be brought about." Russia, which is running a parallel peace process with Iran and Turkey in a series of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, reacted coolly to Tillerson's remarks. "I think we should not pre-empt any future for anybody," said Moscow's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who on the 24 Oct 17 had vetoed a US attempt to extend the gas attack probe. "Even the first cursory read shows that many inconsistencies, logical discrepancies, using doubtful witness accounts and unverified evidence... all of this is still (in the report)," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency. Ryabkov said other nations were seeking to use the report to "resolve their own strategic geopolitical issues in Syria". Russia would analyse the findings and publish a response soon, he added. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UN panel's report had reached a "clear conclusion" and urged the "international community to unite to hold Assad's regime accountable." "I call on Russia to stop covering up for its abhorrent ally and keep its own commitment to ensure that chemical weapons are never used again," he said. De Mistura hopes to convene an eighth round of Syrian peace talks between Assad's regime and an opposition coalition in Geneva from the 28 Nov 17. These will be focused on drafting a new constitution and holding UN-supervised elections in a country devastated by several overlapping bloody civil conflicts. Assad's regime has been saved by Russian and Iranian military intervention and he insists that he will not stand down in the face of what he regards as "terrorist" rebels. But Western capitals, the opposition and many of Syria's Arab neighbours hold Assad's forces responsible for the bulk of the 330,000 people who have died in the conflict. In addition to chemical weapons attacks against his own people, his government is accused of overseeing the large-scale torture and murder of civilian detainees. The previous US administration often said that Assad's days were numbered, but then President Barack Obama decided not to use force to punish his chemical weapons attacks. His successor, President Donald Trump, did order one missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack. But US policy has otherwise focused solely on the defeat of the Islamic State jihadist group, driving it out of its last bastions in eastern Syria's Euphrates valley. Tillerson said, however, that he hopes a way to oust Assad will "emerge" as part of de Mistura's UN-mediated talks. He argued that the UN Security Council resolution setting up the peace process already contains a procedure to hold elections that Washington does not think Assad can win. "The only thing that changed is when this administration came into office, we took a view that it is not a prerequisite that Assad go before that process starts, rather the mechanism by which Assad departs will likely emerge from that process," he said. Earlier, de Mistura had told the UN Security Council that with the defeat of the Islamic State, the Syrian peace process had reached a "moment of truth." "We need to get the parties into real negotiations," the envoy said. Seven rounds of talks have achieved only incremental progress toward a political deal, with negotiations deadlocked over Assad's fate. The opposition insists any settlement must provide for a transition away from Assad's rule but, as government forces make gains, there is little likelihood of a breakthrough. 361 COMMENT: No matter what the outcome of the chemical report, the allies of Assad will always deny such an incident took place, nor will it ever except the report’s findings because it states the truth and blames the Assad regime. No matter what is said or reported the fact remains (by a world renowned organisation which Russia is a major player in) that the United Nations have stated Syria ‘was’ responsible for the 4 Apr 17 chemical attack. Now that, that fact has been established the next question which ‘needs’ to be answered is, “where did the chemical weapons come from?” If, and this is a big if, Syria did hand in all its chemical weapons and dismantle the means to create and store such weapons, where did the Sarin come from? He either did not dismantle the equipment or he did so but started again in a different location, or he was supplied with them. However, no doubt Russia will not agree or see the truth from a world organisation that it is part of. Especially as it shows how farcical it and its allies are to the world in this particular incident no doubt Syria will also deny the report. A lot of the statements that come from Russia resemble a great deal of comments from the USSR. COMMENT ENDS
Syria/Chemical Weapons/United Nations – Syria has denounced as a "falsification of the truth" a United Nations report blaming the Damascus government for a chemical attack in Idlib province back in April. "Syria categorically denies the content of the joint report between the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," state news agency SANA quoted an official in Syria's Foreign Ministry as saying on the 27 Oct 17. The report was released earlier by the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which gathers experts from both the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). "This report and the one that preceded it are falsifications of the truth and distort the exact information on what happened at Khan Shaykhun," the official added. Over 80 people died in the April 4 sarin gas attack on Khan Shaykhun in Idlib. Some Western governments and the militants operating in the area blamed the Syrian government for the incident. Syria and Russia, however, rejected the claims, suggesting that a weapon used by militants might have detonated on the ground. The ministry also decried the "method of investigation" in the UN report, saying it was based on "the words of the criminals who committed this immoral act in Khan Shaykhun and on dubious witnesses." The statement said the UN report had been compiled under "instructions from the US administration and Western countries to exert more political pressure" on Syria. Damascus turned over for destruction its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States in 2013. The OPCW oversaw the operations to remove the chemical arsenal from Syria.
Yemen/Iran – The Yemeni government reported on the 14 Oct 17 has again accused Iran of using the Houthi militia as"puppets" to destabilize the region. The government also complained about numerous Iranian interferences in the country. In a statement on the 14 Oct 17 the Yemeni government said that Iran’s alliance with the militia aims to destabilize the region. The government continued saying that Tehran is providing the militia with weapons and it has intentionally supported them both militarily and materialistically, providing advanced missiles and technology systems. According to the government, this has prolonged the war. Other supportive means from Iran include naval mines and booby-trapped boats which threaten Red Sea’s stability, security and freedom of navigation. Tehran has also connected the militia with experts from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the government added.
Yemen/al-Qaeda – Four Yemeni soldiers and five assailants were killed in an Al-Qaeda attack on a military base in the southern province of Abyan on the 23 Oct 17 a security source said. A car rigged with explosives carrying five Al-Qaeda militants pulled up to a military base in the district of Mudiya in Abyan, the source said. Four men wearing explosive belts ran out of the car towards the base, but were all shot dead before they could blow themselves up, the source said. The vehicle then exploded outside the base, killing the driver and four soldiers from a UAE-backed contingent in the Yemeni army. Nine soldiers were also wounded. Yemen's southern provinces, including Abyan, have seen a long-running US drone war against Al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch.