Kuwait Ruler, Longtime Diplomat Sheikh Sabah, Dies at Age 91

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the ruler of Kuwait who drew on his decades as the oil-rich nation’s top diplomat to push for closer ties to Iraq after the 1990 Gulf War and solutions to other regional crises, died Tuesday. He was 91.

In a Middle East replete with elderly rulers, Sheikh Sabah stood out for his efforts at pushing for diplomacy to resolve a bitter dispute between Qatar and other Arab nations that continues to this day.

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Signing of Abraham Accords Is ‘Paradigm Shift’ for Israel-Gulf Relations, Sen. Blackburn Says

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) applauded the signing Tuesday of the Abraham Accords, calling it a “paradigm shift.”

Blackburn on Tuesday tweeted, “Today, we are witnessing history at the @WhiteHouse. 27 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain have achieved monumental peace. This deal brings great potential and opportunity to the region and is a paradigm shift in Israel-Gulf state relations.”

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Bahrain Becomes Latest Arab Nation to Recognize Israel

Bahrain has become the latest Arab nation to agree to normalize ties with Israel as part of a broader diplomatic push by President Donald Trump and his administration to fully integrate the Jewish state into the Middle East.

Trump announced the agreement on Friday, following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The three leaders also issued a brief six-paragraph joint statement, attesting to the deal.

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Biden Says He Won’t Completely Withdraw Troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Thursday that if he wins the election in November, he will not fully withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Biden told Stars and Stripes Thursday he supported a continued presence of up to 2,000 ground troops throughout the region for executing operations against ISIS and other terror threats.

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UAE Formally Ends Israel Boycott Amid US-Brokered Deal

The ruler of the United Arab Emirates issued a decree Saturday formally ending the country’s boycott of Israel amid a U.S.-brokered deal to normalize relations between the two countries.

The announcement now allows trade and commerce between the UAE, home to oil-rich Abu Dhabi and skyscraper-studded Dubai, and Israel, home to a thriving diamond trade, pharmaceutical companies and tech start-ups.

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Commentary: Trump’s Huge Middle East Win

Even The Washington Post’s David Ignatius had to admit President Trump hit a home run with the deal he helped negotiate for Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize diplomatic relations.

“This was, as he tweeted, a ‘HUGE’ achievement,” Ignatius wrote. It is viewed as an “’icebreaker” that could open the door to other countries, such as Bahrain, Omar and Morocco, opening diplomatic relations with Israel.

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Trump Says UAE to Open Diplomatic Ties with Israel

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as part of a deal to halt the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel.

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US Says Iran Briefly Seizes Oil Tanker Near Strait of Hormuz

The Iranian navy boarded and briefly seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S., the American military said Thursday.

The U.S. military’s Central Command published a black-and-white video showing what appeared to be special forces fast-roping down from a helicopter onto the MT Wila, whose last position appeared to be off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates near the city of Khorfakkan.

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Iran Declines to Disclose Cause of Mysterious Nuke Site Fire

An online video and messages purportedly claiming responsibility for a fire that analysts say damaged a centrifuge assembly plant at Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear site deepened the mystery Friday around the incident — even as Tehran insisted it knew the cause but would not make it public due to “security reasons.”

The multiple, different claims by a self-described group called the “Cheetahs of the Homeland” included language used by several exiled Iranian opposition organizations. They also focused almost entirely on Iran’s nuclear program, viewed by Israel as a danger to its very existence.

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US Begins Troop Drawdown Amid Deepening Afghan Political Crisis

ISLAMABAD – Officials in Afghanistan say a presidential decree is expected to be issued Tuesday that would set in motion the process of releasing thousands of Taliban prisoners as the U.S. military begins a troop drawdown in the country—steps outlined in a deal with the Islamist insurgent group aimed at ending the nearly 19-year-old war.

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Trump De-escalates: Says ‘Iran Appears to be Standing Down,’ U.S. ‘Ready to Embrace Peace’

President Trump made it abundantly clear in his address to the nation Wednesday morning that Iran’s free reign of terror throughout the Middle East was over, but the United States would not be retaliating militarily against the Islamic Republic following their missile strikes on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.

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