Middle East

Israel Boosts Protection Of Gas Fields, Shipping

TEL AVIV: With over 80 percent of Israeli’s commerce carried by sea and its offshore gas fields crucial to the economy, the country is boosting spending on protecting its shipping lanes, littorals and… Arie Egozi Braking Defense Hezbollah sees the large natural gas reservoirs and the rigs that probe them in the Mediterranean as potential targets and this puts heavy pressure on the Israeli navy to safeguard them. David Ben–Bassat, former commander of the Israeli navy, told Breaking Defense that ... Read More »

Hakeem al-Araibi faces Thai court to fight his potential extradition to Bahrain

Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi will be remanded in a Thai prison for another 60 days, with his next court date to fight extradition to his native Bahrain set for April 22. by AP with Staff Writers Source: AAP Fox Sports al-Araibi pleaded outside a Bangkok court for Thailand to not send him home to Bahrain. “Please speak to Thailand, don’t send me to Bahrain. Bahrain won’t defend me,” a chained Hakeem al-Araibi shouted to reporters outside court on Monday ... Read More »

Is authoritarianism bad for the economy? Ask Venezuela – or Hungary or Turkey

Democracy is at risk worldwide. And the economy may be, too. Seventy-one out of the world’s 195 countries saw their democratic institutions erode in recent years, according to the 2018 year-end report by democracy watchdog Freedom House, a phenomenon known as “democratic backsliding.” Authors: The Conversation Signs of backsliding include elected leaders who expand their executive powers while weakening the legislature and judiciary, elections that have become less competitive and shrinking press freedom. When government institutions erode like this, it ... Read More »

How countries use ‘migration diplomacy’ to pursue their own interests

The story of Rahaf Mohammed, the Saudi teenager granted asylum by Canada on January 11 after barricading herself in a Bangkok hotel room, sparked headlines around the world. Authors: The Conversation The decision to grant asylum to Mohammed, the daughter of a Saudi town governor, was the latest episode in an ongoing spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the decision, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said: Canada is a country that understands how important it is to ... Read More »

Trapped in shrinking Syria holdout, Daesh turns to human shields

BAGHOUZ: On a rooftop near the front line with the Daesh group’s collapsing caliphate in eastern Syria, a US-backed fighter and his comrades sip tea as they await orders to restart the battle. AFP Arab News The Syrian Democratic Forces halted their ground assault on Daesh’s final shreds of territory last week, saying the militants are increasingly using civilians as human shields to block the advance. In the desert hamlet of Baghouz, held mostly by the SDF, 22-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim ... Read More »

Crisis Group Yemen Update #2

This is Crisis Group’s second weekly update published as part of our Yemen Campaign. ICG Prefaced with a new introductory trendline – this week, fear of famine – it provides up-to-the minute insights into the four-year-old civil war and the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. The Present Context For more than six months the primary focus for diplomats, policymakers and analysts working on Yemen has been the now-frozen offensive on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida. (You can read our ... Read More »

Kurdish lobby struggles to slow US pullout from Syria

Reeling from President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria, the political wing of the Pentagon-backed Kurdish group that has spent the past four years fighting the Islamic State started the… Jack Detsch Al-Monitor It’s not clear how the delegation, led by Ilham Ahmed, happened upon the president. Trump told the group “I love the Kurds” and promised that the US allies are “not going to be killed” by Turkish forces, the Syrian Democratic Committee co-president recalled ... Read More »

Turkey’s Sweeping “Educational” Penetration into the Balkans

As part of its expansionist neo-Ottoman agenda, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been building mosques and setting up Islamic educational institutions around the world. Uzay Bulut Gatestone Institute The mosque that Ankara is currently constructing in Tirana, Albania, will reportedly be the largest of the dozens of its mosques in the Balkans. Through the Maarif Foundation — established in 2016 by means of a law enacted by the Turkish parliament, which gave it the authority to ... Read More »

China calls for harmony as it welcomes Qatar emir amid Gulf dispute

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a return to “unity and harmony” on Jan. 31 as he welcomed gas-rich Qatar‘s emir to Beijing, amid a festering dispute that has seen some Arab states lead by Saudi Arabia severing… BEIJING – Reuters Hurriyet Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017. They accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and cultivating ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional foe, Iran. Qatar, which denies the charge, says the boycott seeks to curtail its ... Read More »

Interpreting the U.S. Talks with the Taliban

Talks with the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha have raised hopes that the U.S. could end its involvement in Afghanistan’s war. ICG Our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller and Afghanistan analysts Borhan Osman and Graeme Smith break down what was achieved and what remains unresolved. How significant were the U.S.-Taliban talks? Last week’s six-day talks between the U.S. and Taliban were the clearest sign yet that the U.S. is intent on withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan, and that the ... Read More »

Germany Considering Israeli Defense System To Protect Tanks From RPGS

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems testing the TROPHY system on Germany’s Leopard 2. Anna Ahronheim JP Israel’s TROPHY active protection systems (APSs) might soon be supplied to Germany for it’s Leopard 2 main battle tank, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems will be testing the system on the Leopard 2 later this year along with the tank’s manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmenn. According to a report by defense site Defense-Update, the details were disclosed at the International Armored Vehicles (IAV) event which took place ... Read More »

We must not abandon the Kurds

The civilized world owes a debt of gratitude to the Kurdish people in general, and to their stalwart Peshmerga fighters in particular, for their successful efforts to combat ISIS. Neville Teller JPost One major factor behind President Trump’s decision to withdraw US special forces from Syria is the dominant position achieved by Russia, in alliance with Iran, in restoring the fortunes of Syria’s President Bashar Assad. Another seems to have been a telephone discussion with Turkey’s President Erdogan just before ... Read More »

Use it or lose it: Seagoing nations must defend embattled waterways

Great Britain is returning to seaways “east of Suez,” decades after freeing its colonies and withdrawing, more or less, to the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. James R. Holmes The Hill A warship from Britain’s Royal Navy demonstrated on behalf of nautical freedom in the South China Sea last September, drawing a stern rebuke from China. This month the frigate HMS Argyll joined the destroyer USS McCampbell for six days’ worth of exercises in the South China Sea. Beijing will doubtless ... Read More »

Erdogan and Assad: A former friendship damaged beyond repair?

Relations between Syria and Turkey may depend on the outcome of Syrian presidential elections in two years, experts say. Andrew Wilks Al Jazeera Ten years ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister of Turkey, hosted Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for a family holiday in the Aegean resort of Bodrum as relations between Turkey and… After decades of Cold War animosity, the Erdogan government that took power in 2002 had built new ties with its southern neighbour and trade and… Much ... Read More »

New Year, Same Old Turkey

Democratic anomaly became the new Turkish normal several years ago. Burak Bekdil Gatestone Institute The anomaly, sometimes, offers entertaining moments, too. Take, for instance, Parliament Speaker Binali Yıldırım, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s most important political confidant (and former prime minister), who became the joke of the day when he declared: “Animals, too, are living beings”. Someone teased him on social media: “He is right. And I am adding: Plants, too, are living beings.” A few days later Yıldırım, under fire ... Read More »

Taliban and U.S. claim significant progress in talks but no agreement

The duration and scope of the talks in Doha between U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and senior Taliban figures was unprecedented, former diplomats and experts said. By Dan De Luce, Ahmed Mengli and Mushtaq Yusufzai rbcnews U.S. and Taliban representatives say six days of talks have produced progress toward a potential agreement that would see Washington withdraw American troops within 18 months and the insurgents commit to preventing al Qaeda or other extremists to use the… The duration and scope of ... Read More »