Report

Iran Claims Saudi Airstrike Hit Embassy in Yemen

Iranian press reports are claiming that an airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition struck the Iranian embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in what would be the most significant escalation of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia in their recent spat. The attack has not been independently verified. Other signs of tension between the two countries ...

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Iranian press reports are claiming that an airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition struck the Iranian embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in what would be the most significant escalation of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia in their recent spat. The attack has not been independently verified.

Other signs of tension between the two countries and their allies have emerged in the past day. Today, Iran announced that it would ban the import of Saudi goods for sale in the country. Meanwhile, Qatar and Djibouti have joined diplomatic protests against Iran in solidarity with Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, Djibouti announced that it was breaking diplomatic ties and Qatar said it would recall its ambassador from Tehran. Saudi allies have downgraded or broken ties with Iran since Saudi Arabia announced it was severing relations with Tehran on Sunday.

Large Truck Bomb Targets Libyan Police Academy

At least 50 people were killed and 127 injured in a truck bomb attack targeting a police academy located on a military base in Zlitan, Libya. The country’s Tripoli-based government, which is not internationally recognized, has declared a state of emergency and is bringing the wounded to hospitals in Tripoli and Misrata for treatment. Meanwhile, a fire at an oil facility at Ras Lanuf has spread to five storage tanks. The fire was started during attacks by Islamic State fighters on the oil facilities at Ras Lanuf and Es Sider on Monday and Tuesday; nine guards were killed and more than 40 others injured.

Headlines

  • The government of Bahrain claimed that it arrested a terrorist cell with ties to Lebanese-based Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that was plotting bomb attacks, though experts were skeptical of the report’s’ veracity.

 

  • Two Yemeni men who were captured in Afghanistan and held by the United States without charge at Guantanamo Bay will be resettled in Ghana; the men were deemed to not be a threat and cleared for release in 2009, but the government of Ghana said the men would be monitored as a security precaution.

 

  • Masked gunmen opened fire on an Israeli tour bus in Cairo but no people were injured; the Egyptian Interior Ministry said one attacker has been arrested, though approximately 20 people were involved in the attack, which they have blamed on Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated militants.

 

  • Syrian opposition leaders have told U.N. officials that they will not participate in upcoming peace talks unless the Assad regime lifts its siege of the town of Madaya, where 10 people have died of starvation in recent weeks and many more are at risk from severe malnutrition.

 

  • For the second consecutive year, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attended mass for the Coptic celebration of Christmas; in remarks at Saint Mark’s Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, he described religious diversity and tolerance as part of “God’s norms of life.”

Arguments and Analysis

West needs a balanced approach in Saudi-Iran escalation” (Ellie Geranmayeh, European Council on Foreign Relations)

“Going forward it will be crucial for the West to safeguard the Syrian talks. This is the battleground where any further escalation for Saudi Arabia and Iran will have greatest ripple effects across the region and into Europe. The Syrian negotiations are also important to preserve as the only existing political track accompanying the military dimension of the conflict. At this stage, Iran and Saudi Arabia are likely to base their strategy on short-term reactionary measures. Iran and Saudi Arabia must be reminded that any one party should not be able to spoil this multilateral process and that diplomatic space must be maintained with all parties. If either side does become the spoiler, it will be seen as doing so on a post-facto justification for a position they had already decided and would have taken as soon as an apt pretext arose.”

 

A History of Missed Opportunities: Yemen and the GCC” (Farea Al-Muslimi, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

“For all their infighting, many Yemenis who view closer integration with the rest of the Arabian Peninsula as their best hope of stability and economic development share the dream of membership in the GCC. While this is not currently realistic due to the civil war and Yemen’s lack of a functioning central government, a peaceful Yemen firmly linked to its neighbors would be the surest way to fill the security vacuum that has long plagued the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. If they truly want to help the Yemeni people and restore a government in Sanaa that would not be exclusively dependent on Tehran, the Gulf Arab nations need to act upon these shared interests. By offering a credible and realistic road map to GCC membership for a stabilized postconflict Yemen, the GCC states can provide Yemenis with a glimpse of a better future, create hope for economic recovery, and facilitate a peace deal that would serve both Yemen and the Gulf region as a whole.”

-J. Dana Stuster

FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

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