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Apr 9, 2014

Troubled Mideast peace effort compounds U.S. policy woes in region

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) – Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Barack Obama declared the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace one of the two main U.S. foreign policy priorities for his second term.

Fast-forward to today, the Obama administration faces a stark choice: expend more energy on a faltering peace process or absorb the hit to an already-troubled record in the Middle East and walk away from negotiations.

Apr 9, 2014

Analysis – Troubled Mideast peace effort compounds U.S. policy woes in region

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) – Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Barack Obama declared the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace one of the two main U.S. foreign policy priorities for his second term.

Fast-forward to today, the Obama administration faces a stark choice: expend more energy on a faltering peace process or absorb the hit to an already-troubled record in the Middle East and walk away from negotiations.

Apr 1, 2014

Al Qaeda says security steps show Saudi rulers controlled by U.S.

DUBAI (Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch has mocked tough new counter-terrorism measures adopted by neighboring Saudi Arabia, saying they would not deter the Islamist group’s fighters and that they proved the kingdom was in the pay of the United States.

In an online statement, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also said Riyadh’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood – a group whose political wings have contested elections in several countries – as a terrorist organization proved that secular authorities would never tolerate Islamist groups.

Mar 30, 2014

Obama-Saudi king talks may ease friction but no breakthrough seen

DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s leaders hope U.S. President Barack Obama and their King Abdullah understand each other better after talks and can stabilize a close regional security alliance after months of rockiness over Middle East policy, diplomats said.

Friday’s two-hour exchange at Abdullah’s desert camp did not yield a shared statement or any evidence of policy changes, leading some Saudis to question whether differences over Syria’s war or Iran’s nuclear programme were closer to being resolved.

Mar 17, 2014

Iran seeks banned nuclear items, uses China trader for missile parts: U.S.

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has pursued a longstanding effort to buy banned components for its nuclear and missile programs in recent months, a U.S. official said, a period when it struck an interim deal with major powers to limit its disputed atomic activity.

Vann Van Diepen, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, added that a Chinese businessman indicted in the United States in 2009 over sales of missile parts to Iran continued to supply such items despite U.S. pressure on China to tighten export controls.

Mar 16, 2014

Iran pursuing banned items for nuclear, missile work -US official

DUBAI, March 16 (Reuters) – Iran has pursued a longstanding
effort to buy banned components for its nuclear and missile
programmes in recent months, a U.S. official said on Sunday, a
period when it struck an interim deal with major powers to limit
its disputed atomic activity.

Vann Van Diepen, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of
State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, said
Iran was still “very actively” creating front companies and
engaging in other activity to conceal procurements.

Feb 11, 2014

Iran says nuclear program ‘forever’, dismisses military talk

DUBAI (Reuters) – President Hassan Rouhani dismissed on Tuesday a Western assertion that military force could yet solve a decade-old nuclear dispute if negotiations proved fruitless, pledging that Iran would pursue peaceful atomic research “forever”.

In a speech marking the 35th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Rouhani also attacked economic sanctions imposed by the West as “brutal, illegal and wrong” and said countries in the region had nothing to fear from Iran.

Dec 11, 2013

Kuwait spy chief worried by turmoil in Iraq

MANAMA (Reuters) – Kuwait is anxious about instability in Iraq and disappointed at its neighbour’s failure to arrest a militia leader who said his group was behind a mortar attack on Saudi Arabia, a Kuwaiti intelligence chief said.

Sheikh Thamer al-Sabah, President of Kuwait’s National Security Bureau intelligence service, said in a rare interview that his working relationships with his counterparts in Iraq, which occupied Kuwait in 1990-91, and Iran needed improvement.

Dec 8, 2013

Iran, Saudi strategists spar, swap ideas, over Gulf security

MANAMA (Reuters) – Invoking religious faith and desert folklore, Gulf Arab officials proclaim wariness about a possible thaw in relations between their ally the United States and regional rival Iran.

A former Iranian official says the Islamic Republic and its neighbours should learn peaceful coexistence, without Gulf Arabs relying on the West for security. U.S.-Iranian d├ętente could bolster stability from north Africa to central Asia, he says.

Dec 8, 2013

India not keen on U.S.-style Gulf security role: Khurshid

MANAMA (Reuters) – Foreign minister Salman Khurshid said India had no interest in filling the breach if Washington decided to reduce its military footprint in the Gulf, and cautioned that the region would not be well-served by turning to other Asian powers, like China.

“We have never played the classical role of intervening with military assistance in the same way that the U.S. has been doing,” Khurshid told Reuters.