Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated Wednesday, "We must be attentive so that the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan does not become a regional war" and Tehran will not allow "states to send terrorists to our borders under various pretexts." He was referring to reports of Turkey transporting Syrian rebels to fight for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. Subsequent discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif raised concerns over Turkish-aligned Libyan fighters' possible involvement in the conflict. Iranian Border Guards Commander Qasem Rezaei attributed his force's deployment along Iran's borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan to artillery shells and rockets launched by the belligerents falling in Iranian territory. Ethnic Azeri Iranians in recent days organized large demonstrations demanding the regime close its border with Armenia after videos posted on social media reportedly showed Russia resupplying Armenia through Iran.
Doha formally submitted a request to purchase Lockheed Martin's F-35A fighter jets. Although Israel remains the only Middle Eastern country to operate F-35s, Nahum Barnea published an article in Yedioth Ahronoth last August claiming a secret clause of the Israel-UAE peace deal involves the US selling F-35s to Abu Dhabi while sources say the Trump administration aims to draft a letter of agreement on the sale by December 2. Selling F-35s to Qatar will likely encounter resistance from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who have blockaded the country for three years in a vain attempt to pressure it into cutting ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, shuttering Al-Jazeera, and downgrading diplomatic relations with Iran. Despite this, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Gulf Affairs Timothy Lenderking told reporters last month Washington hopes to designate Qatar a major non-NATO ally, a status enjoyed by neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE.
Fierce clashes between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and Saudi-supported government forces continued for a fifth day in Hodeidah port, reportedly leaving 52 dead. The Houthi rebels launched the offensive to regain territory lost in 2018 to troops loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi's internationally recognized Yemeni government assisted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Kuwait's new Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Sabah, 83, on Wednesday tapped National Guard deputy chief Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah as Crown Prince. The 80-year-old Crown Prince is the paternal brother of Sheikh Nawaf as well as previous Emirs Sheikh Sabah (2006-2020) and Sheikh Jaber (1977-2006). Parliament will vote to confirm Sheikh Meshal in his new position Thursday.
President Michel Aoun's office announced Wednesday he will commence on October 15 consultations with parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister. Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in October 2019 after mass demonstrations against a proposed austerity program intended to shore up a depreciating Lebanese pound. Since then, Lebanon's central bank failed to sustain the dollar peg dating to 1997, precipitating the worst financial crisis in the country's history with the Lebanese pound losing 80 percent of its value vis-à-vis the dollar over the past year. Hariri's successor, Hassan Diab, resigned the following August facing widespread anger over the August 4 Beirut Port explosion. On August 30, Mustapha Adib won the backing of 90 out of 120 MPs, including parties from both the pro-Iranian March 8 Alliance (e.g. Hezbollah and Amal) and the anti-Iranian March 14 Alliance (e.g. Saad Hariri's Future Movement), to form a technocratic government. However, his efforts foundered when the Shiite groups Hezbollah and Amal insisted on continuing to control the finance ministry and Adib accordingly relinquished his position as Prime Minister-designate on September 26.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum