Russia on Thursday vetoed a U.S.-drafted resolution to extend the mandate of experts trying to determine who was responsible for chemical attacks in Syria. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia then withdrew a rival Russian resolution, which is opposed by the United States and other Security Council members, over Moscow’s insistence that it be voted on second not first as required under council rules. The result of Thursday’s vote on the U.S. draft resolution would mean that the Joint Investigative Mechanism, known as the JIM, will cease operations when its current mandate expires at midnight Thursday. This would be a serious blow to efforts to hold those responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria accountable. Both the U.S. and Russia said they wanted the JIM to be extended, but Russia insisted on changing its mandate, which the Trump administration and other council members rejected.
During a cabinet session on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the presence of foreign powers hasn’t done any good for the region. By getting involved in the Middle East, foreign powers only upset the Middle East’s security by interfering in the region and seeking to market and sell their arms, preparing the ground for interference in the regional market, and playing with oil prices to pursue and maximize their own purposes. “Foreign presence in the region has only caused troubles”, as he said. President Rouhani criticized some regional countries for depending on foreign powers, such as Britain and the US, and for believing that big powers could establish and guaranteed security in the Middle East. Criticizing trans-regional powers for conducting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, he also condemned Saudi Arabia for committing crimes against the defenseless Muslim people of Yemen. In fact, since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its allies have launched a military campaign against Yemen to restore power to the fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh and because of several attacks more than 14.000 people have been killed and millions have been forced from their homes while the country is facing severe famine and a deadly cholera outbreak.
A suicide car bomb targeted a camp used by security forces in the al-Mansoura district in Yemen’s port city of Aden. A bombing hit a security post in Yemen’s government bastion of Aden on Tuesday, killing and wounding several people, witnesses and police sources said. Witnesses in the southern Aden province told AFP they heard a loud explosion followed by gunfire at the main office of UAE-trained security forces in charge of guarding state-owned facilities. They said 10 people had been killed in the attack and more wounded. The number of casualties could not be confirmed by government sources. It was not immediately clear how the bombing was carried out. One police source said it appeared that explosives in a vehicle had been remotely detonated during the attack. Another said there had been a suicide bomber inside the car. The Zayed bin Sultan mosque, which is located near the security office and funded by the UAE, was also damaged in the attack.
On Saturday, the Iraqi police department announced that thirteen Islamic State militants were killed in an attack against security troops in Salahuddin. “Based on intelligence information, Salahuddin Operations Command and the troops from the province’s police, backed by army jets, carried out an operation in al-Shiha village, west of Tikrit. The operation left thirteen militants killed, seven of them were sheltering in a tunnel”, as the department said in a statement. On Friday, twelve Islamic State militants who attempted infiltration from Hamreen mountains toward Tuz Khurmatu region were killed and injured too. The department also added that a rest house of the militants, food supply and TNT explosive were destroyed. Earlier on the day, Iraqi army launched a wide-scale operation to recapture al-Rummana and Rawa regions. Having recaptured Hawija in Kirkuk, Mosul and Tal Afar in Nineveh as well as Annah and Qaim towns in Anbar, Iraqi troops still have only Western Anbar’s towns of Rawa and Qaim remain under the militants’ control: both have been held by the extremist group since 2014, when it occupied one third of Iraq to proclaim the “Caliphate”.
Saudi Arabia called on the United Nations Security Council to take appropriate measures against Iran’s active support of terrorism saying that it is seeking to compromise the security of the Kingdom and the region. In a letter presented by the Saudi mission to the United Nations on Wednesday, ahead of the closed session on the Humanitarian situation in Yemen, the Kingdom detailed the terrorist actions of the Iranian allied Houthi militias. The Houthi militias resorted only to aggression and violence since the beginning of the Yemeni crisis, the letter said. The militias refusal to the return of legitimacy, it said, or abide by the Security Council resolutions, has led to humanitarian disasters adding to that their dismissal of all political solutions to the conflict. Saudi Arabia stressed on the fact that Iran’s continuous supply of weapons to the militias in Yemen through smuggling routes, and the presence of Hezbollah fighters on the ground to assemble and operate these weapons, is clear evidence of Iran’s aggression.
Saudi Arabia has barred Yemen’s president, along with his sons, ministers and military officials, from returning home for months. The officials said the ban was prompted by enmity between President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels and has come to dominate southern Yemen, the portion of the country not under rebel control. Hadi and much of his government have been in the Saudi capital Riyadh for most of the war. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two main pillars of the coalition, which is ostensibly defending Hadi’s government and is battling the Shia rebels, known as Houthis. The coalition has waged an air campaign against the rebels since 2015, and the UAE has a strong military presence in southern Yemen – but the Houthis still control the north. Yemenis denounce Saudi siege as ‘collective punishment’ Saudi Arabia intensified its blockade on Yemen on Sunday, closing land crossings and all traffic to Yemen’s air and sea ports. A UN agency warned ships to depart Houthi-controlled ports, and flights to the only functioning airports in southern Yemen were cancelled. As night fell, prices of fuel hiked in Sanaa, with some petrol stations closed, and drivers queued to fill their tanks, fearing worsening fuel shortage. The coalition move came after the Houthis fired a missile towards Riyadh, their deepest strike into the Kingdom. Hadi’s inability to get back to southern Yemen underscores the president’s loss of authority – even in the south that is nominally under his administration. Two other Yemeni officials confirmed that Hadi, his sons and several ministers with him in Riyadh have been prevented from going to Yemen. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the situation. Coalition Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malaki referred any questions related to Hadi to his own office and government. Attempts to reach Yemen’s foreign minister and government spokesman were unsuccessful.
The Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) has announced the formation of the company’s board of directors, chaired by Ahmed Al-Khatib, as well as appointing Andreas Schwer as chief executive for his solid experience in establishing and managing global defense companies. The company’s board of directors includes Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, a senior adviser to the Saudi ambassador to the US, in addition to three international experts who will join the board of directors at a later date. SAMI’s appointment of government officials to its board as well as experts from diverse backgrounds highlights its commitment to localizing 50 percent of the country’s military expenditure by 2030, thus creating more job opportunities for Saudi citizens. SAMI aims to create 40,000 jobs and contribute SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) to the Saudi economy by 2030. also signed an MoU with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and other weapons during a recent visit to Moscow by Saudi King Salman.
Saudi Arabia’s UN envoy, Abdullah al-Maalami, said that the Arab coalition forces had taken specific measures to avoid injuring civilians in Yemen. He added that the UN report proved that the Houthi militias along with the fighters of the ousted Ali Saleh have been recruiting children and using them as shields. He explained that Saudi Arabia has worked to rehabilitate the children who have been recruited by the militias of Yemen. In addition, al-Maalami said that the Yemeni militias fired about 30 ballistic missiles towards the Saudi borders. He confirmed that the coalition investigated 37 cases after allegations of targeting civilians in Yemen, noting that he seriously inspected all allegations of injuries among civilians. Al-Maalami said that the coalition works on the presumption that all areas of Yemen are civilian occupied until “the contrary is proven.” In another context, Al-Maalami said that the Kingdom condemns the violations of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians.
Saudi Arabia plans to extract uranium domestically as part of its nuclear power program and sees this as a step toward “self-sufficiency” in producing atomic fuel. Extracting its own uranium also makes sense from an economic point of view, said Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, head of the Saudi government agency tasked with the nuclear plans, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE). The Kingdom says it wants to tap atomic power for peaceful purposes only in order to diversify its energy supply, and will award a construction contract for its first two nuclear reactors by the end of 2018. Atomic reactors need uranium enriched to around 5 percent purity, but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to higher, weapons-grade levels. Saudi Arabia would be the second country in the Arab Gulf region to tap nuclear after the UAE, which is set to start up its first, South Korean-built reactor in 2018. The UAE has committed not to enrich uranium itself and not to reprocess spent fuel. Industry sources have told Reuters Saudi Arabia is reaching out to potential vendors from South Korea, China, France, Russia, Japan and the US for its first two reactors. The plans have received extra momentum as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, an ambitious economic reform program launched last year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Yamani said Saudi Arabia will soon pass laws for its nuclear program, and will have set up all of the regulations for its nuclear regulator by the third quarter of 2018. Saudi Arabia is considering building some 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the strongest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. Preliminary studies have estimated Saudi Arabia has around 60,000 tons of uranium ore, Maher Al-Odan, the chief atomic energy officer of KACARE, said at an electricity forum in Riyadh on Oct 11.
Oil markets jumped on Monday on concerns over potential renewed US sanctions against Iran as well as conflict in Iraq, while a falling US rig count supported prices there. Traders said that worries over renewed US sanctions against Iran were pushing prices up. US President Donald Trump struck a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Friday, defying both US allies and adversaries by refusing to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the accord even though international inspectors say it is. Under US law, the president must certify every 90 days to Congress that Iran is complying with the deal. The US Congress will now have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the pact. During the previous round of sanctions against Iran, some 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil supplies were cut off global markets. While analysts said they did not expect renewed sanctions to have such a big impact again, especially as the United States would likely act alone, they did warn that such a move would be disruptive.