Middle East

Saudi nukes on Chinese rockets?

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared in a ’60 Minutes’ interview that Saudi Arabia would quickly acquire a nuclear bomb if Iran develops a nuclear weapon first Uwe Parpat Asia Times When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS for short) meets US President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday (March 20), nuclear weapons will be high on the agenda. MBS made sure of that when he said in a CBS “60 minutes” interview aired on Sunday, but in part released three days ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia’s Leader Could Tell a Better Story if He’d End His Vicious, No-win War

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who arrives in Washington this week, is a man on a mission with a story to tell. Originally published in The Washington Post ICG It’s an appealing if slightly embellished narrative: about his economic vision, desire to promote a more moderate form of Islam, recognition of women’s rights and empowerment of a younger generation. But it’s a narrative that should not silence the other, far less rosy story of Saudi Arabia’s military ... Read More »

24 March: Global Action Day for Afrin

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The international campaign in defense of Afrin declared 24 March as Global Action Day for Afrin and urged all supporters to protest Turkish invasion. AFN The signatories of the campaign released a statement entitled “Supporting the resistance is an historical imperative” and called all to join the first Global Action Day for Afrin on 24 March 2018. The statement read as follows: “The criminal assault on Afrin constitutes a new phase in the Turkish state’s war on the Kurdish people. ... Read More »

What Putin’s Reelection Means for Russia and the World

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Putin is staying—but he is likely to take the initiative to shape both Russia’s domestic politics and its international position to his liking. Nikolas K. Gvosdev The National Interest No one should have been surprised by the results of Sunday’s presidential election in Russia. Official figures maintain that nearly 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, with incumbent Vladimir Putin cruising to an easy victory with more than three-quarters of the votes. Even assuming that the figures were massaged—note the ... Read More »

Saudi women should have choice whether to wear abaya robe, crown prince says

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Women in Saudi Arabia need not wear headcover or the black abaya – the loose-fitting, full-length robes symbolic of Islamic piety – as long as their attire is “decent and respectful”, the kingdom’s reform-minded crown prince has said. RIYADH – Reuters Hurriyet With the ascent to power of young Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom has seen an expansion in women’s rights including a decision to allow women to attend mixed public sporting events and the right to drive cars ... Read More »

Developing countries at risk from US rate rise, debt charity warns

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Jubilee Debt Campaign says 126 nations spend more than 10% of revenues on interest Larry Elliott The Guardian The expected rise in US interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60% jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned. The Jubilee Debt Campaign said a study of 126 developing nations showed that they were devoting more than 10% of their revenues on average to paying the interest on money borrowed – the ... Read More »

Why Pompeo may not be good news for Ankara

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The diplomatic reshuffle in Washington may be the harbinger of a new era of further confrontation with Ankara. Yavuz Baydar The Arab Weekly Regardless of the rosy expectations of some, US-Turkey relations may enter a critical phase if CIA Director Mike Pompeo takes over the US State Department from Rex Tillerson. Pompeo and Tillerson have very little in common. Tillerson represented a “softer” American approach to issues and the notion that Washington needs to take its allies into account. Pompeo ... Read More »

Turkey Slams Europe Over Calls to End Syria Offensive

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ISTANBUL — Turkey has reacted furiously to the European Parliament’s motion calling for an end to Ankara’s military offensive in Syria’s Afrin enclave against a Kurdish militia. Dorian Jones VoA The motion cited concerns for the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in Afrin city under siege by Turkish forces for almost two months. But beyond the diplomatic haranguing, both the European Union and Ankara appear anxious to continue to work to rebuild relations. Speaking at his presidential palace, Turkish President ... Read More »

Lebanon-Israel maritime dispute: Rules of (diplomatic) engagement

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Thus far attempts to resolve the dispute have been unsuccessful, but while the challenge is clearly a difficult one, the situation is far from irretrievable if the parties practice restraint and resolve to settle their differences via diplomacy and dialogue. Roudi Barouti Annahar BEIRUT: Tensions between Lebanon and Israel are flaring once again, this time over the demarcation of their maritime border and, therefore, the rightful ownership of offshore oil and gas deposits. Thus far attempts to resolve the dispute ... Read More »

Syria war: Thousands flee twin offensives in Afrin and Ghouta

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As many as 50,000 people have fled separate offensives against rebel forces in northern and southern Syria in recent days, activists say. BBC About 30,000 have left the northern town of Afrin as Turkish forces and their allies stepped up a siege. In the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, some 20,000 have left areas targeted by Syrian government forces. The mass movements come seven years into a war which has driven nearly 12 million people from their homes. At least ... Read More »

Saudi Crown Prince Likens Iran’s Supreme Leader to Hitler

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince has compared the supreme leader of Iran to Adolf Hitler, and said that his country would acquire a nuclear bomb “as soon as possible” if Iran developed nuclear weapons. Ben Hubbard The New York Times The comments by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ratcheted up the rhetoric in the increasingly volatile rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has fueled sectarianism and war across the Middle East. His statements were in an ... Read More »

The 2018 Turkey Regress Report

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The European Commission is due to publish its next progress report on Turkey in April 2018. Marc Pierini Carnegie Europe This standard procedure is meant to outline how candidate countries have advanced in aligning with the EU’s political and technical criteria for accession and to chart their paths forward. Yet, in Turkey’s case, a massive deterioration of the rule of law makes it impossible to acknowledge any progress. Instead, the commission’s forthcoming report is bound to illustrate a substantial regression. ... Read More »

Jordan’s New Regional Role

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It is significant for a Syrian opposition member to take a photo with a top American official. Maria Dubovikova and Shehab Al-Makahleh International Policy Digest When the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a meeting in Jordan’s capital, Amman, with the head of the Syrian Negotiations Commission, Nasr al-Hariri, and an accompanying delegation on February 14, the photo, which went viral, signaled how Jordan is set to play a major role in the outcome of ongoing conflicts in the… Indeed, the ... Read More »

Erdogan’s Vision: Uniting an ‘Army of Islam’ to Destroy Israel in 10 Days

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JERUSALEM, Israel – An article in a Turkish paper with close ties to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exposes the regime’s desire to form an “Army of Islam” to attack and destroy the State of Israel. Tzippe Barrow CBNnews The article calls on the 57 member nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) throughout the Muslim world to join forces against the Israeli “occupiers” who would then be vastly outnumbered and unable to defend their country. Translated and posted by MEMRI (Middle ... Read More »

The U.S. Must Not Appease Turkey’s Erdogan

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It is often invidious to draw historical parallels, but in the case of Turkey’s attack on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria, one parallel is justified: Nazi Germany’s claim to the Sudetenland in Czechslovakia in 1938, where Britain and France adopted a policy of appeasement. Robert Ellis International Policy Digest When Germany invaded Poland a year later, Britain and France were forced to declare war. And we all know what that led to. The U.S. is now in ... Read More »

UN Goodwill Ambassador says Turkish attack on Afrin foreshadows genocide and ethnic cleansing

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UN Goodwill Ambassador and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad on Monday called for a ceasefire in Afrin and called on Turkey to stop the attacks on Afrin that so far have killed over 200 civilians. Wladimir van Wilgenburg The Region “Today, I received information that the area of Afrin inhabited by Kurds, Yazidis and Christians is under siege from all sides. There is only one road through which people can leave the city,” she said in a statement. “200 civilians have ... Read More »