Since U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia on May 20, 2017, tensions have run high in the Middle East and critical developments have taken place.
May 20 - Trump’s visit do Riyadh
During his visit to the country, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Joining Saudi King Salman’s traditional sword dance, Trump also touched a glowing orb with Egypt’s putschist General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Salman.
June 5 – Qatar crisis
Following the cyber-attack row between Qatar and the Arab states on May 23, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen announced that they had cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Qatar of “supporting terrorism,” charges which Doha denies.
June 21 – New crown prince
King Salman ended a tradition in his country and named his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman next in line instead of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. This change was interpreted as a “soft coup.”
July 30 – Al-Sadr in Saudi Arabia
Iraq's influential Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr visited Saudi Arabia upon an official invitation for the first time in 11 years.
Sept. 25 – Illegitimate referendum in the KRG
Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held an illegitimate “independence referendum” although many countries opposed the vote, including Turkey.
Oct. 12 – Hamas and Fatah reconciliation
The Hamas and Fatah movements signed a “reconciliation deal” within the ongoing negotiations in Egypt, ending a conflict in Palestine.
Oct. 13 – Nuclear deal in Congress
Recently putting more pressure on Iran, U.S. President Trump withdrew his support from the nuclear deal signed in 2015, and put the fate of the deal in the Congress’ hands.
Oct. 24 – Saudi Arabia returns to ‘moderate Islam’
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated that his country will return to “moderate Islam” and that they will end “extremism” soon.
Nov. 2 – Iran and al-Qaeda link in Bin Laden documents
Iran’s links to al-Qaeda have been revealed after U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released around 470,000 documents seized in a raid of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s house.
Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE role in Hariri’s resignation
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Israel alliance that wanted to reduce Iran's influence in Iraq with an "independence referendum" in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) decided to conduct a second attempt in Lebanon. Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad al-Hariri suddenly resigned on Saturday. Hariri, in a televised speech, said there was a plot to kill him, and accused Hezbollah and its Iranian backers of sowing strife in the Arab world. Immediately after Hariri's resignation, Thamer Al-Sabhan, the influential Saudi minister for Gulf Arab Affairs, cautioned that "the hands of betrayal and enmity should be cut.” Hariri was found to have met with Sabhan five days before his resignation.No assassination plot uncovered in Lebanon: ArmyTiming draws attentionHariri announced his resignation during a visit to Saudi Arabia, arguing that Lebanon and Hezbollah planned an assassination against him. "We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri. I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life," Hariri said. Rafik al-Hariri was killed in a 2005 Beirut bomb attack that pushed his son Saad into politics and set off years of turmoil. Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016. In comments directed at Iran, he said the Arab world would "cut off the hands that wickedly extend to it.”Hariri’s resignation, announced soon after the failed "independence referendum" in northern Iraq is noteworthy. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel, which failed to counter Iran’s influence in Iraq using Masoud Barzani, targeted Lebanon’s Hezbollah in an attempt to strike Tehran’s influence on the Mediterranean line.Lebanese president will not accept PM's resignation yetTrump, Salman behind Hariri’s resignationHariri’s resignation resulted in a spat between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Hüseyin Şeyhulislam said that U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were behind the resignation. Iranian Mehr news agency reported that Şeyhulislam said: "The resignation is a clear Saudi Arabian decision taken to confront Hezbollah. If he respects the honor of the Lebanese people and wants to protect it, we wish for Hariri to resign from Lebanon, not from any other country.”Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, said: "The resignation was a Saudi decision dictated to Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and was forced on him." Hariri's resignation toppled a coalition government that included Hezbollah, thrusting Lebanon back into the frontline of the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry and risking an open-ended political crisis. Tehran, Riyadh trade words after Lebanese PM’s resignLebanese president says PM Hariri phoned to resign from outside countryLebanese prime minister resigns, saying his life in danger
Trump spoke to Saudi King after probe
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz held a phone call on Sunday with U.S. President Donald Trump.The call came one day after a massive sweeps of princes, sitting ministers and former officials as part of an anti-corruption purge.During the phone call, the Saudi monarch denounced a truck-ramming attack in New York last week, in which eight people were killed, according to the official SPA news agency.The king “reiterated his country’s support for measures taken by the United States to fight terrorism and maintain its national security”.He underlined the importance of “rallying international efforts to uproot all forms of terrorism”, SPA said.Trump, for his part, hailed the role played by Saudi Arabia in combating extremism.During the contact, the two leaders discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation and regional and international developments.On Saturday, Saudi authorities detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers and a dozen of former ministers in an anti-corruption purge. Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed detained in corruption inquirySaudi media said billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and National Guard minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah were among those detained in the sweep. The arrests came hours after an anti-corruption committee, under Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, was formed by a royal decree. Bin Laden’s brother arrested in Saudi probe‘The front that will move the war to the heart of Islam is being formed’Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers for corruption
FMs of anti-Qatar bloc hold talks in Abu Dhabi
The foreign ministers of a Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar held talks in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, according to Egypt’s foreign ministry.The top diplomats of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain met on the sidelines of the Sir Bani Yas Forum, ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on Twitter.He said the meeting “reflected common interests”, but without giving more details.On Friday, Egyptian authorities said Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will attend the 8th annual session of Sir Bani Yas forum to discuss a host of issues, including the Qatari crisis, the Middle East peace process and developments in Iraq and Libya.The meeting came days after Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid Al Khalifa, suggested explicitly on his Twitter account freezing Qatar’s membership at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).The minister also said that Bahrain will not participate in the GCC meetings if Qatar will be present in the upcoming GCC summit.Qatari general hails Turkey’s support during Gulf crisisTurkey, Qatar vow to boost health cooperationIn June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain cut off diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.The four states also threatened Qatar with additional sanctions if it failed to meet a long list of demands, including the closure of Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera.Qatar, however, has refused to comply, vociferously denying the accusations against it and describing the Saudi-led embargo as a breach of its national sovereignty.Turkey's exports to Qatar up 90 pct since embargoQatar emir says open to Trump-hosted talks over Gulf crisis
Iran displays missile, calls Trump 'crazy' in marking 1979 US embassy takeover
Iran put a ballistic missile on display as thousands marched on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy, with a senior official accusing President Donald Trump of a "crazy" return to confrontation with Tehran.Turnout for the annual Iranian street rallies commemorating the embassy takeover, a pivotal event of the Islamic Revolution, appeared higher than in recent years when Trump's predecessor Barack Obama pursued detente with Tehran.Last month, Trump broke ranks with European allies, Russia and China by refusing to re-certify Iran's compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, reached during Obama's tenure. Under that deal, most international sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing nuclear activity seen to pose a risk of being put to developing atomic bombs.Iran has reaffirmed its commitment to the deal and U.N. inspectors have verified Tehran is complying with its terms, but Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened to "shred" the pact if the United States pulls out."All the governments confirm that the American president is a crazy individual who is taking others toward the direction of suicide,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told a rally in Tehran, state media reported."Trump's policies against the people of Iran have brought them out into the streets today," Shamkhani said.He did not identify the governments he had in mind. The other parties to the nuclear deal - Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - have voiced disquiet at Trump's opposition to it, fearing this could stir new Middle East instability.But the Europeans share U.S. concern over Iran's ballistic missile programme and "destabilising" regional behaviour.NOT NEGOTIABLESenior Iranian officials have repeatedly said that the Islamic Republic's missile programme is solely defensive in nature and is not negotiable.In a sign of defiance, a Ghadr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) was put on display near the ex-U.S. embassy in Tehran, now a cultural centre, during Saturday's street demonstration, Tasnim news agency said."That America thinks Iran is going to put aside its military power is a childish dream," said Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of its elite Revolutionary Guards which oversees the missile development, according to Tasnim.Fars news agency posted pictures of demonstrators nearby burning an effigy of Trump and holding up signs saying "Death to America".Iran and the United States severed diplomatic relations soon after the 1979 revolution, during which hardline students seized the embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.Shamkhani spoke a few days after Khamenei said the United States was the "number one enemy" of the Islamic Republic.U.S.-Iranian tensions have risen anew at a time when Tehran has been improving political and military ties with Russia.Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran on Wednesday. Khamenei told him that Tehran and Moscow must step up cooperation to isolate the United States and help defuse conflict in the Middle East.Iran and Russia are both fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar al Assad against the opposition.