US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

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A handout picture provided by the Saudi Ministry of Defence on June 16, 2019 shows Saudi F-15 Eagles flying in formation with their US Air Force counterparts and a USAF KC-135E Stratotanker jet (top) in the US CENTCOM area of responsibility, on June 2. (AFP)
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A U.S. military image released by the Pentagon in Washington on June 17, shows what the Pentagon says are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy photographed from a U.S. Navy MH-60R helicopter after removing an unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous, a Japanese owned commercial motor tanker, after it was attacked with another mine which did explode on June 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 June 2019

US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East

  • Fears of a confrontation between Iran and US have mounted since last Thursda
  • Troops being deployed for “defensive purposes” amid concerns about threat from Iran

DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes,” citing concerns about a threat from Iran.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said in a statement.
Reuters first reported plans to send US additional troops to the Middle East earlier on Monday.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked, more than a year after President Donald Trump announced Washington was withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which a White House National Security Council spokesman said amounted to “nuclear blackmail.”

Haftar, Saleh in surprise Cairo visit for crisis talks on Libya

Updated 15 min 41 sec ago

Haftar, Saleh in surprise Cairo visit for crisis talks on Libya

  • The meeting in Cairo followed a surprise visit to the Egyptian capital by Haftar and Saleh on Tuesday

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday held crisis talks with the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, and parliament speaker, Aguila Saleh, on latest developments in the Libya conflict.

The meeting in Cairo followed a surprise visit to the Egyptian capital by Haftar and Saleh on Tuesday that coincided with a speech at the UN by El-Sisi in which he said Egypt would intervene if the “red line” provinces of Sirte and Jufra were crossed.

During Wednesday’s discussions in Cairo, held in the presence of Abbas Kamel, head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (GIS), El-Sisi was briefed on efforts from all parties to implement a cease-fire and Libyan attempts to advance the peace process under the auspices of the UN.

According to media reports, Haftar, Saleh, and Egyptian officials would be reviewing military matters and progress on political initiatives.

The visit came within the framework of coordination and consultation talks on a number of issues, most notably the fight against terrorism, and Egyptian efforts to broker security and stability in Libya through political dialogue. Initiatives on Libya that took place in Geneva and Morocco, such as holding elections and forming a new government, were also likely to be on the agenda.

In June, Haftar and Saleh met with the Egyptian president and announced the Cairo Declaration for a cease-fire and resolution to the political crisis in Libya. Sources said their latest visit was to clarify Cairo’s position with international and Libyan parties, discuss a comprehensive solution to the Libyan crisis through international agreements, and smooth over any misunderstandings.

The unscheduled trip was due to recent developments in Libya and the intention of the Government of National Accord (GNA) to establish an army in Libya, the sources added.

Salah Al-Nimroush, minister of defense in the GNA which is headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, has announced the start of programs to build and develop his government’s army with the help of Turkey.

He also said that a military training center had been set up in the suburbs of the Libyan capital and that the priority was to build the army, according to international standards, with the young support force that participated in the defense of Tripoli.

As well as security, the subject of Libyan oil was up for discussion with the Egyptian authorities.

Last week, the Libyan army announced its agreement to reopen oil fields and resume exports on condition that guarantees were made for the fair distribution of oil revenues and the prevention of their use for funding terrorism and fueling corruption.

In a speech addressed to Libyans, Haftar said that the General Command of the army would not hesitate to make concessions as long as they were in the interests of the Libyan people, with the aim of preventing further deterioration of the economic situation in the country.