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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 1998, pages 121-122

Facts For Your Files

A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations

Compiled by Janet McMahon

June 1, 1998: Thousands of ethnic Albanians fled their villages in Kosovo as Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic launched a new offensive against the provinces’s growing separatist movement.

— In Montenegro, which along with Serbia constitutes what remains of Yugoslavia, the party of pro-democracy President Milo Djukanovic defeated Milosevic prot³g³ Momir Bulatovic’s Socialist People’s Party in parliamentary elections.

June 3: At Houston’s Baker Institute, senior Syrian and Israeli officials held discussions for the first time in more than two years.

— U.N. arms inspectors, using spy-plane and satellite photographs as evidence, attempted to convince the U.N. Security Council that, contrary to its statements, Iraq had not completely disarmed.

— Mohammed Rashid, released from a Greek prison in 1996 after serving four years for the 1972 bombing of a Pan Am flight from Tokyo to Honolulu, was arraigned in a U.S. federal court on nine counts of terrorism after being arrested and turned over to American authorities by Egypt.

June 4: Meeting in Geneva, the foreign ministers of the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China urged India and Pakistan not to escalate from nuclear testing to deployment and offered to help resolve the dispute over Kashmir.

— With an estimated 40,000 refugees in Albania, Kosovo separatist leaders broke off talks with Serbia, demanding a halt to the latest Serb offensive.

— The U.S. suspended a portion of its “Train and Equip” military aid program to Bosnia because of noncooperation between the republic’s Muslims and Croatians on even minor joint security issues.

— For the second time since January, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico agreed to cut their oil production.

June 6: The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to urge India and Pakistan to cease testing of nuclear weapons and to deny the two countries status as nuclear states.

— The U.S. withdrew its deterrent air force from Bahrain, which had agreed to a two-month extension during the recent crisis over weapons inspections in Iraq.

June 7: As Serbian President Milosevic agreed to allow diplomatic observers to enter and move through Kosovo, Serbian police beat some 1,000 ethnic Albanian demonstrators at an independence rally in the province’s capital of Pristina.

— Pakistan blamed Indian secret agents for a bomb explosion which killed 26 people on a crowded train in the southern province of Sindh.

— Lebanon held its first municipal elections in 35 years.

— On the opening day of his trial, Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbashi pleaded innocent to charges of graft and fraud.

June 8: Saying “Our aim is to Judaize East Jerusalem,” Jewish settlers moved overnight into four houses in the Silwan neighborhood of Arab East Jerusalem.

June 9: Hours after the EU adopted similar sanctions, the U.S. banned American investment in Yugoslavia and froze the Balkan state’s U.S. assets.

— By wide margins, the House and Senate voted to impose sanctions on countries exporting missile technology to Iran.

June 11: Pakistan announced a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and offered to open peace talks with India.

— In an effort to forestall a no-confidence vote over alleged mismanagement and corruption, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat agreed to reshuffle his cabinet.

— As the Yugoslav army was reported to be planting mines along the Albanian border, NATO defense ministers ordered contingency plans for bombing Serb military targets in Kosovo and announced a massive military exercise there the following week.

— The Taliban government permitted a shipment of food to reach the contested Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan which has been cut off from supplies for nearly a year.

June 12: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that the six-nation “Contact Group” on Yugoslavia had voted that Serbia must end its attacks on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo within four days or face unspecified punitive measures.

— At an emergency summit the G-7 nations and Russia moved to deprive India and Pakistan of access to nonhumanitarian international loans.

— As Palestinian President Arafat invited Pope John Paul II to celebrate the millennium in Bethlehem, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected a plea by a delegation of American Reform Jews for equal rights in Israel for non-Orthodox Jews.

June 13: Hamas said it was considering an offer to join the new government of Palestinian President Arafat.

— Iraq said it would provide visiting chief arms inspector Richard Butler evidence that Baghad has complied with terms of the U.N. weapons ban.

June 14: Baghdad agreed to a two-month weapons inspection program aimed at accelerating the pace of verification.

— Ethnic Albanian separatists killed two Serb security officers and wounded seven others in ambushes in Kosovo.

— The radical Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced they would not join the new cabinet being assembled by Palestinian President Arafat.

June 15: NATO warplanes conducted maneuvers over the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in a “show-of-force” warning to Serbian President Milosevic.

— Chief U.N. weapons inspector Butler said most outstanding issues with Iraq could be resolved within months.

— The Palestinian Legislative Council agreed to defer a no-confidence motion and give President Arafat 10 days to form a new cabinet.

— Jordan’s King Hussein and President Clinton held a private White House meeting.

June 16: After meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Serbian President Milosevic agreed to resume talks with moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, but not with representatives of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

— Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordecai reportedly told a closed meeting that Israel “had no choice” but to redeploy its troops from the West Bank.

— Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz signed a pact with a leftist opposition faction under which he would resign by December, with early general elections to be held in 1999.

— In Afghanistan, the ruling Taliban government shut down more than 100 private schools educating girls.

June 17: The U.S. imposed economic and military sanctions on India and Pakistan.

— As fierce fighting continued, ethnic Albanian negotiator Fehmi Agani said there would be no talks until Serbian forces were withdrawn from Kosovo.

— As Iran’s ambassador to the U.N., Mohammad Hadi Nejad Hosseinian criticized the “hostile” U.S. policy toward Iran, Secretary of State Albright said the momentum of change in Tehran presented an “historic opportunity” for improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations.

— Martin Indyk, assistant secretary of state for the Near East, said the U.S. planned to assist 73 Iraqi opposition groups to “organize and coordinate their case against Saddam Hussain.”

— Iraq and Egypt agreed to “new economic and trade cooperation.”

June 18: Saying, “I think this is a basic change in Jerusalem’s status that will be remembered as a turning point,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a plan designed to increase the Jewish population of Jerusalem to 70 percent by annexing land to the west of the city and constructing 142,000 new homes.

— Turkey sent six F-16 fighter jets to northern Cyprus in response to a similar Greek deployment.

— In a report to the Security Council, chief weapons inspector Butler said Iraq still refuses to provide information about its missiles and biological and chemical weapons.

June 19: The State Department condemned Israel’s plan for the expansion of Jerusalem as provocative and insensitive.

— Israeli Defense Minister Mordechai ordered that the Kiryat Arba shrine to Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein be dismantled.

— As Serbian troops sealed Kosovo’s border with Albania, ethnic Albanian leader Rugova urged NATO to “undertake all possible measures to prevent further massacres and protect the people of Kosovo.”

— The U.N. Security Council agreed to allow Iraq to spend $300 million of its oil-for-food revenue to buy spare parts for its oil industry.

— Indian officials blamed Pakistan-backed Muslim insurgents for the killing of 25 Hindu male wedding party guests in Kashmir.

— Riots continued for a second day in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a after the government announced a 40 percent increase in fuel prices.

June 21: The Israeli cabinet approved the plan for the expansion of Jerusalem.

— Iran’s parliament impeached moderate Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri, whom President Mohammad Khatami then quickly appointed to the newly created position of deputy president.

— Bombs exploded near the U.S. Embassy compound in Beirut.

— By a score of 2-1 Iran defeated the U.S. in a World Cup soccer match in Lyon, France.

June 22: U.N. weapons inspectors uncovered evidence that Iraq had put VX nerve gas into its missile warheads before the Gulf war.

— President Clinton issued a directive removing the ban on travel by U.S. citizens to Lebanon.

June 23: Iraq termed reports of its use of nerve gas as an “outrageous lie.”

— U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke met with Serbian President Milosevic in a last-ditch attempt to end the Serbian crackdown on Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians.

— In a letter to Secretary of State Albright, Palestinian President Arafat urged her to make public the U.S. proposal for an Israeli troop withdrawal from the West Bank.

— As President Clinton vetoed legislation imposing sanctions on countries that provide missile technology to Iran, President Khatami told Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that Iranians should show more tolerance for differing political and social views.

June 24: With Israeli permission, Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin returned triumphantly to Gaza following a four-month tour of Arab capitals.

— Richard Holbrooke met with representatives of the Kosovo Liberation Army but reported no progress.

— OPEC members reached a compromise agreement to reduce oil production by 1.355 million barrels per day.

June 25: Israel exchanged with Hezbollah 60 Lebanese prisoners and the exhumed bodies of 40 guerrillas for the remains of an Israeli soldier.

— Israel staged its final airlift of some 60 Ethiopian “Falasha” Jews.

— Thousands of Algerians protested the killing of popular Berber singer Lounes Maroub.

— The U.N. Security Council voted to continue sanctions on Iraq for 60 days.

June 26: The U.N. General Assembly voted 109 to 2 (the U.S. and Israel) that Israel should pay $2.4 million in damages from its April 1996 attack on the UNIFIL base in Qana, southern Lebanon.

— Four Pakistanis suspected of involvement in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center were arrested in Bangkok by FBI agents and Thai immigration police.

June 28: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan urged the U.N. to mediate his country’s dispute with India over Kashmir.

June 29: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected President Ezer Weizman’s call for early elections.

— A U.S. F-16 fighter fired at an Iraqi missile battery when Iraqi radar locked on British patrol planes.