Middle East

Religious backlash loosens clerics’ grip on legacy of 1979 Iranian Revolution

With Iran’s ruling clergy already preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, it may be too late to question whether or not the revolution was in fact Islamic. Naser Ghobadzadeh The Conversation What we can do, at least, is explore the revolution’s degree of Islamicness. In Iran, like elsewhere in the world, often competing utopian political visions shaped the political landscape of the previous century. Marxism, nationalism and liberalism all played important roles in the 1979 ... Read More »

The Making of a Kurdish Mandela

By keeping a key challenger in jail, Turkey’s government risks making Selahattin Demirtas an even more popular and formidable opponent. Henri J. Barkey FP The Turkish government has just called snap presidential and parliamentary elections, which will be held on June 24. Most analysts are predicting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will sail to victory primarily because of the weakness of the main opposition parties and… He also appears to have developed ... Read More »

Turkey sued over violence in protests in Washington in 2017

Twenty people beaten outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington in 2017 have filed lawsuits against the government of Turkey and five individuals after the bloody assault on demonstrators that drew international condemnation. Spencer S. Hsu The Washington Post In a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in the District, 15 mostly pro-Kurdish demonstrators, nearly all U.S. citizens and residents, sought unspecified damages for injuries sustained when they said guards for visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan charged their… ... Read More »

Russian arms deal sours US-Turkey relations

That Turkey, a Nato ally, is at odds with the US is something that is more than obvious. Nicos Panayiotides Asia Times The deteriorating relations between Ankara and Washington are manifested by a number of issues, ranging from disagreements about the Kurds’ role in the fight against Islamic State and violations of the domestic rule of law to strategic decisions considered by the Americans to be against their interests. Specifically, Ankara’s strategic decision to buy the S-400 missile system from ... Read More »

In Lebanon’s Elections, More of the Same is Mostly Good News

Lebanon’s elections yielded few surprises, says Crisis Group’s Lebanon, Syria and Iraq Project Director Heiko Wimmen in this Q&A. Hizbollah is slightly stronger and its main rival weaker. But the polls do represent a return to normalcy. Heiko Wimmen ICG Who won and who lost in the Lebanese elections? The 6 May elections readjusted the political balance but brought no fundamental change. As before, no government can be formed without Hizbollah. To be effective in government the Shiite Islamist movement, ... Read More »

Iraq’s Pre-election Optimism Includes a New Partnership with Saudi Arabia

After the defeat of the Islamic State in 2017, normality is returning to Iraq ahead of the 12 May parliamentary elections. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the Arabian Peninsula Elizabeth Dickinson says the country’s cautious optimism includes hopes of a new partnership with Riyadh, balancing Baghdad’s strong ties with Tehran. Elizabeth Dickinson ICG First: the facts. What is happening on 12 May, who is competing? And any prognosis as to the outcome? This is the fourth time ... Read More »

Syria, Sarin and Cyprus: An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Syria, Sarin and Cyprus: An Open Letter to the Right Honourable Theresa May MP, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Klearchos A. Kyriakides[1]  Published in Agora Dialogue at http://agora-dialogue.com/ on 9 May 2018 OPEN LETTER[2] Date: 9 May 2018  Dear Prime Minister Re: Syria, Sarin and Cyprus Introduction I refer to your first statement on Syria of 14 April 2018,[3] your second statement on Syria of the same date[4] and your subsequent statement on Syria of 16 April 2018.[5] ... Read More »

Saving the Iran Nuclear Deal Without the U.S.

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement on 8 May 2018. This unilateral act deals a serious blow to the accord, but Europe and Iran can still work together to salvage it. ICG President Donald J. Trump has unilaterally withdrawn the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and announced the reimposition of sanctions against Iran. Since January, when President Trump declared that he would pull the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement with ... Read More »

U.S. Looks Beyond Iran Nuclear Deal Deadline to What Comes Next

(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump seems set on pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal next week, with U.S. officials suggesting that any initial diplomatic turbulence will be followed by negotiations for a new accord. Nicholas Wadhams There’s one big hang-up: Iran is ruling out new talks, calling the current agreement “non-negotiable.” And America’s European allies continue to back it, saying the deal has been essential to reining in Iran’s nuclear program. As markets, U.S. allies and the government in Tehran ... Read More »

Turkey’s Dangerous Game of ‘Hostage Diplomacy’

How an American pastor became a political pawn for Erdogan On October 7, 2016, Andrew Brunson, a 50-year-old American pastor working as a missionary in Turkey, received a call from the police requesting that he come in for a visit. Diego Cupolo The Atlantic Since 1995, Brunson had lived in the city of Izmir in western Turkey, serving as a Presbyterian pastor. When the police got in touch, he had been awaiting the renewal of his residence permit, and figured ... Read More »

Clock ticking for Cyprus reunification

Nobel Peace Prize winner F.W. de Klerk says Cypriots need to find a way to reconnect Former South African President F.W. de Klerk is a man who knows how to read the warning signs of history and he urges Cypriot leaders not to miss another opportunity to make peace before it’s too late. Charlie Charalambous Knews “Timing is important, sometimes the time is right for something to happen and if you don’t see the opportunity and use it, the window ... Read More »

The Challenge of Reinstating Sanctions Against Iran

It’s Not as Simple as Withdrawing From the JCPOA Peter Harrell FP U.S. President Donald Trump appears to be on the brink of withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with… He faces a May 12 deadline to renew waivers of key U.S. sanctions on Iran, and despite pressure from French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to do so, Trump seems set to deliver on his January ... Read More »

As Israel turns 70, many young American Jews turn away

Natalie Portman, the Oscar-winning actress, recently kicked off a massive storm of controversy when she pulled out of a prestigious award ceremony in Israel because, she said, she “did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu.” Dov Waxman The Conversation The response to Portman’s refusal to appear alongside Israel’s prime minister was intense. She was denounced by right-wing Israeli politicians. One labeled Portman’s decision as borderline anti-Semitic. Another suggested that her Israeli citizenship should be stripped. Born in Israel, ... Read More »

Turkey’s fighter jet program races ahead as Russian firm reveals interest

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s program for the design, development and production of the country’s first indigenous fighter jet gained pace late in April when two local prime contractors joined forces to outline a production scheme for critical parts. By: Burak Ege Bekdil DefenseNews Meanwhile, in a surprise move, a top Russian aerospace concern expressed interest in developing an engine to power the TF-X, the Turkish fighter aircraft in the making. On April 26, two strategic local contractors of the TF-X ... Read More »

Israelis targeted Iranian anti-aircraft missiles in Sunday strike: US officials

Iran vows retaliation as sources say Israel preparing for open warfare Asia Times A late-night air strike targeting a base in the Syrian city of Hama was carried out by Israeli F-15s, US officials revealed on Tuesday amid calls for retaliation from Iran. Media outlets associated with the Syrian government and Hezbollah initially suggested Israel was behind the attack, but parties on both sides were slow to shed light on the strike. The three US officials, cited by NBC News, ... Read More »

Eastern Mediterranean: International Arbitration for ‘Venus’

Cyprus and Israel are expected to resume international arbitration in order to put an end to their seven-year dispute over the exploitation rights of the “Aphrodite” (“Venus”) field. By Nefeli Tzanetakou / ibna On May 8, a two-sided meeting in Nicosia is scheduled to take place, with the participation of Greece, where, among other things, the implementation plan for the East Med pipeline, which is expected to transport the… In 2010, Cyprus and Israel co-signed the demarcation agreement relevant to the ... Read More »