IRAN CRISIS: Saudi Arabia won’t hesitate to defend itself

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran 

The U.S. military command that oversees the Mideast has confirmed an explosion outside the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad and says there are no U.S. or coalition casualties.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, Bill Urban, says in a statement that Iraqi Security Forces are investigating Sunday’s incident.

A State Department spokesman says that “a low-grade rocket” landed within the International Zone near the U.S. Embassy and that there was no significant damage or impact on any U.S.-inhabited facility.

Advertisements

Analysis Iran Threatens the Saudi-U.S. Axis Without Taking Direct Responsibility

The flow of news continues from the Persian Gulf at a rapid pace. On Tuesday, sites connected to the oil industries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were reportedly hit for the second time this week. And according to a New York Times report, the White House is considering military plans against Iran, one of which includes the dispatch to the region of a huge taskforce of 120,000 soldiers. (U.S. President Donald Trump denied the report on Tuesday.) Iran’s choice of targets is already causing unusual volatility in the oil market and is of concern to the Trump administration.

Turkey has arrested two suspects who confessed to spying on Arab nationals for the United Arab Emirates, and is investigating whether the arrival in Turkey of one of them was related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a senior Turkish official said on Friday. One of the two men arrived in Turkey in October 2018, days after Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, the official said, adding the other had arrived later to help his colleague with the workload. “We are investigating whether the primary individual’s arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder,” said the official, adding the person had been monitored for six months before the arrests in Istanbul on Monday. “It is possible that there was an attempt to collect information about Arabs, including political dissidents, living in Turkey.”

Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun due to arrive in Canada Thailand for asylum

An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family saying she feared for her life, is due to arrive in Canada on Saturday, after being granted asylum in the North American country.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada had accepted a request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to take in Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who grabbed international attention earlier this week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies any abuse.

Jamal Khashoggi: The Free Thinker Whose Murder Shook the World

The brutal murder of my friend, journalist Jamal Khashoggi, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul this past October, has triggered a geopolitical tsunami. Unlike during the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when the American political establishment was mostly unified in its quest to preserve the U.S.-Saudi partnership, the consensus in Congress now is that business as usual—as defined by the presidency of Donald Trump—cannot continue.

Jamal, as all of us who had the privilege of knowing him are aware, was a proud Saudi patriot—one who, overall, was supportive of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic and social reform agenda in the country. But he was highly critical of the crown prince’s repressive tactics and had no illusions about the brutality of the Saudi government—for instance, when several high-profile Saudis, including members of the royal family, were detained at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh in late 2017. Jamal was also highly critical of the Saudi leadership’s embrace of President Trump.