RIYADH – Saudi Arabia was hosting a summit of Arab Gulf leaders Sunday as crises brew over a bitter diplomatic dispute with Qatar, the war in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was invited by Riyadh, which severed diplomatic ties with Doha in 2017 along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to the Gulf Cooperation Council talks. In the emir's place, Qatar announced it had sent State Minister for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad al-Muraikhi to the annual event. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and fostering close ties with their regional rival, Iran. Doha -- which announced this month it was quitting the Saudi-dominated OPEC oil cartel -- denies the allegations, but the dispute has dragged on.
Iran and Turkey may seem like unlikely partners following events of the past few years, especially in Syria. But they are saying the same thing about the recent "Yes" vote in the Kurdish referendum, as neither want Kurdish people living in northern Iraq to secede. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani welcomed him to discuss curbs on the Kurds' dream of their own homeland. Turkey is threatening to stop buying oil from the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, while Iran has mobilised troops on its border with the region. What more can de done, beyond an economic embargo?
For the past five days, the Gulf region has been experiencing one of its most serious political crises in recent history. Early on Monday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain cut diplomatic relations with Qatar in an apparent attempt to isolate the country. In addition to these three countries, Egypt, Libya, Yemen; the island nations of Maldives and Mauritius; and countries such as Jordan, Mauritania, Djibuti and Senegal have also joined in the campaign against Qatar, one of the most prosperous countries in the Gulf region. This unwise decision will undoubtedly harm the feeling of unity among the Gulf countries and cause serious repercussions for the perpetrators behind it. Since the beginning of the crisis, analysts have been trying to understand the motives behind this move, which was spearheaded by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Turkish military jets have carried out air strikes against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters in northern Iraq and northeast Syria, killing at least 24 people, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said. A statement released by Turkey's air force said that it carried out the air strikes against PKK targets located in the Sinjar Mountain region in northern Iraq, and in Karachok mountains in northeastern Syria on Tuesday. The targets were hit to prevent the PKK from sending "terrorists, arms, ammunition and explosives to Turkey," the statement said, adding that the operation was conducted "within the scope of the international law". The PKK are Kurdish fighters operating in Turkey, while the Rojava Defence Units (YPG) are Kurdish fighters operating in Northern Syria and the Peshmerga fighters are in charge of security in Iraqi Kurdistan. The three groups are currently fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
ANKARA – Turkish warplanes struck suspected Kurdish rebel positions in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, drawing condemnation from Baghdad and criticism from the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, which is allied with Kurdish factions in both countries. Syrian activists said the attack killed at least 18 members of the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, which is a close U.S. ally against IS but is seen by Ankara as a terrorist group because of its ties to Turkey's Kurdish rebels. The airstrikes also killed five members of the Iraqi Kurdish militia known as the peshmerga, which is also battling the extremist group with help from the U.S.-led coalition. The YPG said the strikes hit a media center, a local radio station, a communication headquarters and some military posts, killing an undetermined number of fighters in the town of Karachok, in Syria's northeastern Hassakeh province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group that monitors all sides of the conflict, said the strikes killed 18 YPG fighters.