Middle East

Turkey: New System, Old One-Man Show

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Zaytung, a popular Turkish humor website that publishes “news” with the dictum “Honest, Unbiased, Immoral News,” recently ran a story with this headline: “Presidential system influences Fenerbahçe” (a… Burak Bekdil BESA The piece said that the latest presidential decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dictates that Fenerbahçe should now appear on the pitch with one defensive midfielder instead of two. Erdoğan has dominated Turkey for more than 15 years, but to him, this is not enough. After he comfortably ... Read More »

Iraq’s Paramilitary Groups: The Challenge of Rebuilding a Functioning State

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A struggle looms in Iraq over the future of paramilitary groups assembled to help the state defeat ISIS. These units remain under arms and autonomous. ICG Baghdad should strengthen the interior and defence ministries so they can absorb the paramilitaries now undercutting the state’s authority. What’s new? Iraq’s three-year battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) empowered an array of armed actors that operate autonomously from state security forces. As the country’s focus on security decreases, these paramilitary groups – the ... Read More »

Trump seeks to revive ‘Arab NATO’ to confront Iran

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The Trump administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the… WASHINGTON – Reuters Hurriyet The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and… The plan to forge what officials in the White House and Middle East have called an “Arab NATO” of ... Read More »

Israeli Arab MP resigns over controversial ‘nation state’ law

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An Israeli Arab politician has resigned in opposition to a controversial new law which declares Israel to be the nation state of the Jewish people. BBC Zouheir Bahloul, 67, branded parliament “racist” and “destructive” for passing the law, which also puts Hebrew above Arabic as the official language. “[The law] removes the Arab population from the path of equality in Israel,” he told Israeli TV network Reshet. The bill passed on 19 July, provoking anger from Israel’s Arab minority. Arab ... Read More »

Turkey is ready ‘to fight’ in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

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Ankara “counterattacks” on the occasion of the preparation of exploratory drillings by Exxon Mobil, Qatar Petroleum, Total and ENI, within the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus, for the… Nefeli Tzanetakou ibna According to a report in the Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak, “Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction issues are back on the agenda as the fight for energy supplies in the Eastern Mediterranean continues.” The quantities in the meantime hosted in the Eastern Mediterranean zone, according to a survey cited by the ... Read More »

Trump Thought Turkey’s Erdogan Was His Friend. Now He’s Mad.

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President Trump has often touted his personal chemistry with leaders like Xi Jinping of China or the royal family of Saudi Arabia as the key component of his foreign policy approach. Joshua Keating Slate He has described his handshake with Kim Jong-un in Singapore as more important than the terms of the agreement they signed. He has suggested that if Vladimir Putin were readmitted to the G-8, he could ask the Russian leader to “do me a favor” by withdrawing forces from ... Read More »

Turkey’s growing presence in Jerusalem ‘potential threat’: Israeli report

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The report describes what it says are the numerous ways Turkey has been active in East Jerusalem, remarking on the prevalence of the Turkish flag in every corner of the Old City. Yeni Şafak A report published by an Israeli think-tank referred to Turkish citizens visiting the Old City of Jerusalem as a “potential threat,” and remarked on the prevalence of the Turkish flag across East Jerusalem as a… The report, titled “Erdoğan’s Turkey Intensifies Involvement in Gaza and Jerusalem,” ... Read More »

I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers, so it’s time for the west to reveal who they sell arms to

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I don’t think either Nato or the EU has the slightest interest in chasing the provenance of weapons in the hands of Islamist fighters in Syria or anywhere else in the Middle East Robert Fisk Independent Readers, a small detective story. Note down this number: MFG BGM-71E-1B. And this number: STOCK NO 1410-01-300-0254. And this code: DAA A01 C-0292. I found all these numerals printed on the side of a spent missile casing lying in the basement of a bombed-out ... Read More »

Xi ends state visit to UAE with raft of deals signed

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The United Arab Emirates on Saturday said it agreed to set up a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with China as President Xi Jinping wrapped up a three-day visit to the Gulf country. Al-Monitor AFP “The UAE and China have agreed to enhance cooperation in all fields to higher levels and forge overall strategic partnerships,” the official WAM news agency said. It said this would “contribute to cementing and intensifying cooperation, boost joint development and prosperity, which is consistent with the common ... Read More »

Hamas and Israel agree to Gaza ceasefire, says Hamas

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The Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip have said they reached an agreement with Israel to restore calm. DW It follows a day of deadly Israeli strikes after a soldier was killed along the border for the first time in years. The ceasefire agreement was reached early Saturday, a spokesman for Hamas said. “With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions,” Fawzi Barhoum told the Reuters ... Read More »

Losing Egypt to Russia Isn’t the Real Problem—but Collapse Is

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Cairo is no long a prize to be won, but a weak state in need of reform. Andrew Miller and Michele Dunne The National Interest While most attention regarding U.S.-Russian competition in the Middle East is concentrated on Syria and Iran, Russian president Vladimir Putin has quietly been trying to make inroads into Egypt. For instance, a recent article by Anna Borshchevskaya presents an alarming picture in which the United States is on the verge of losing Egypt to Russia. We have ... Read More »

Averting War in Gaza

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Israel and Hamas stand on the brink of another full-scale confrontation in Gaza. The only viable exit from the ongoing cycle of escalation is for international actors to use carrots and sticks to bring about intra-Palestinian reconciliation, thereby allowing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern the Gaza Strip. ICG What’s new?  What is new is that little is new: despite repeated claims that efforts are being made to address the situation in Gaza, Israel and Hamas once again are sliding ... Read More »

Lebanon: Same-Sex Relations Not Illegal

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Homosexuality Not an ‘Unnatural Offense,’ Appeals Court Rules (Beirut) – A district court of appeal in Lebanon issued a groundbreaking ruling on July 12, 2018, that consensual sex between people of the same sex is not unlawful, Human Rights Watch said. HRW The ruling follows similar judgments from lower courts that have declined to convict gay and transgender people of “sexual intercourse contrary to nature” in four separate rulings between 2007 and 2017. It is the first such ruling from ... Read More »

Israel passes controversial ‘Jewish nation-state law’, stripping Arabs of self-determination right

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Israel has passed a law to declare that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country, something members of the Arab minority have called racist and verging on apartheid. ABC The “nation-state” law, backed by the Government, passed by a vote of 62-55 and two abstentions in the 120-member Parliament after months of political argument. Some Arab politicians shouted and ripped up papers after the vote. “This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the ... Read More »

‘Collective punishment’: Israel blocks fuel shipment to Gaza

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Israel further tightens its blockade on the strip while rights group denounces measure as ‘morally depraved’. AlJazeera Israel has further tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip, preventing gas and fuel deliveries through its only commercial crossing with the Palestinian besieged enclave a week after Israeli authorities announced the closure of the crossing. The Kerem Shalom crossing, known to Palestinians as Karem Abu Salem, was shut down on July 9 and initially, only items deemed as “humanitarian” would be allowed to enter Gaza, ... Read More »

Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean Alliance

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Concrete steps over the past three years have set the foundations of an Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (EMA) comprising Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. John M. Nomikos BESA The convergence of the three nations is the natural outcome of close democratic similarities and a joint desire for stability and progress in a region tormented by perennial Middle East strife, radical Islamism, and the morphing of Turkey into a fundamentalist Islamic autocracy. The EMA is emerging at a time of increasing global instability. ... Read More »