Middle East

Tillerson’s Turkey visit: Will it help mend ties?

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey twice during his first year in office, but his third trip due next week may well be the most important. Rosiland Jordan Al Jazeera Turkish-US relations were strained during former President Barack Obama‘s tenure. Some observers say they’ve only become worse during President Donald Trump‘s administration – and they fear the NATO allies could clash militarily in Syria. Tillerson’s mission is to reduce the tensions. Like Obama before him, Trump is backing ... Read More »

Report: Lebanon Defends Oil Rights, Turns to UNCLOS

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Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry is taking steps to refute Israel’s claim about Block 9 oil field reaching to the international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. by Naharnet Newsdesk “The ministry has issued a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in March, 2017 announcing that Block 9 is located within Lebanese territorial waters and that Lebanon affirms its right to launch the process of contracting, exploration and ... Read More »

Erdoğan hits the bottle

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As the ruling Islamists put up taxes on booze, some Turks turn to home brew. By Zia Weise Politico ISTANBUL — Kerem lives within walking distance of Turkey’s oldest beer factory, but he refuses to drink a drop of domestic bestsellers Efes and Bomonti. Instead, the 29-year-old sales manager has turned his flat into a micro-brewery — joining a growing number of Turks who make their own booze to avoid soaring alcohol taxes imposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conservative government. ... Read More »

Averting Disaster in Syria’s Idlib Province

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An imminent military showdown in Idlib with disastrous human costs can be avoided only if Turkey strikes a deal between Russia, on one hand, and militants, on the other, and deploys its forces along the front lines to deter an escalation. ICG What happened? The de-escalation zone in north-western Syria is on the brink of collapse. Boosted by Russian air support, Syrian regime troops are advancing toward the Idlib region. Amid obstruction by the Syrian regime and Iran-backed militias, Turkish ... Read More »

New Eni Discovery ‘Confirms’ Extension of Zohr Like Play in Cyprus EEZ

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Eni has made a ‘promising’ gas discovery offshore Cyprus, which it says confirms the extension of a ‘Zohr like’ play in the country’s exclusive economic zone. RigΖone The Calypso 1 well, located in block 6, was drilled in 6,800 feet of water depth and reached a final total depth of 12,555 feet. Calypso 1 encountered an ‘extended’ gas column in rocks of Miocene and Cretaceous age, with the Cretaceous sequence showing ‘excellent reservoir characteristics’, Eni said in a company statement. Detailed ... Read More »

Israel, Hizbollah and Iran: Preventing Another War in Syria

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Facts on the ground in Syria are defining the contours of the country’s political future and also the geography of a looming clash between Israel, Hizbollah and other Iran-allied militias. ICG Russia should broker understandings to prevent a new front from opening What’s new? A new phase in Syria’s war augurs escalation with Israel As the Assad regime gains the upper hand, Hizbollah probes the south west and Iran seeks to augment its partners’ military capacities, Israel has grown fearful ... Read More »

The Absurdity of the New ‘Great Game’ in Central Asia

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Geopolitics are not a good rationale for continuing the U.S. war in Afghanistan Lyle J. Goldstein The National Interest When the American people went to the polls in November 2016, they could be forgiven for thinking they had elected a president who might just bring the troops home from Afghanistan. After nearly seventeen years of grinding war in that poor, desolate and ultimately insignificant country, it seemed that Americans had finally had enough. However, in a classic symptom of what ails the ... Read More »

Israel says it will legalise West Bank settlement after rabbi shot dead in isolated outpost

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Israel says it plans to legalise an isolated West Bank outpost in response to the murder of one of its residents in a shooting last month. ABC Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his weekly Cabinet meeting his Government would legalise Havat Gilad to “allow the continuing of normal life there”. “Whoever thought that through the reprehensible murder of a resident of Havat Gilad, a father of six, that our spirit can be broken and we can be weakened, is making ... Read More »

The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees. It’s about us

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I was a child refugee, writes the Chinese artist and activist. I know how it feels to live in a camp, robbed of my humanity. Refugees must be seen to be an essential part of our shared humanity Ai Weiwei The Guardisn I was born in 1957, the same year China purged more than 300,000 intellectuals, including writers, teachers, journalists and whoever dared to criticise the newly established communist government. As part of a series of campaigns led by what ... Read More »

Lebanon blasts Israel over oil and gas exploration near border

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In December, the Lebanese Cabinet approved licenses for three international companies to carry out exploratory drilling off the Lebanese coast. ET EnergyWorld AP BEIRUT: Lebanon‘s energy minister vowed Thursday that Beirut will go ahead with oil and gas exploration near its maritime border with Israel, despite Israeli claims to the field that provoked wide condemnation in the tiny Arab country. Cesar Abi Khalil’s comments to The Associated Press came a day after Israel’s defense minister described as “very provocative” Lebanon’s ... Read More »

Images of mutilated female Kurdish fighter spark outrage

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A video captured in Syria shows the body of a female Kurdish fighter which has been mutilated by a group of Turkish-backed rebels, the British Daily Mail newspaper reports. Ahval The woman, identified by Kurdish officials as Barin Kobani, was reportedly a fighter from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mainly-Kurdish fighting force that Turkey is fighting against in the northwest Syrian region of Afrin. The video shows a dozen men around her mutilated body, which has been partially stripped ... Read More »

The price of saying “no” to war in Turkey

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It was just after midnight. I was watching TV as my sons played nearby. Nurcan Baysal Ahval My younger son was playing with Lego as my older son played on his phone. My husband and another friend were also with us. A normal Sunday night. All of a sudden, I heard a terrible noise. At first, I thought it was an earthquake. I then figured out that the sound was coming from the front door. With war as a not ... Read More »

Turkey’s propaganda war targets America’s state capitals

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Law firm hired by Turkey lobbies state officials about political foe, related charter schools By Liz Essley Whyte Center for Public Integrity A law firm hired by the government of Turkey is lobbying state officials across the U.S. about what it alleges is a suspicious network of American charter schools run by a dangerous Turkish opposition leader. Federal records show Turkey’s lawyers requested meetings in January 2018 with politicians in 26 states and the District of Columbia, including attorneys general, ... Read More »

The Bizarre American Lobbying War Over Turkish-Run Schools

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The government of Turkey is seeking to discredit a network of U.S. charter schools linked to exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen. By LIZ ESSLEY WHYTE Politico A law firm hired by the government of Turkey is lobbying state officials across the U.S. about what it alleges is a suspicious network of American charter schools run by a dangerous Turkish opposition leader. Federal records show Turkey’s lawyers requested meetings in January 2018 with politicians in 26 states and the District of Columbia, ... Read More »

Science behind bars: How a Turkish physicist wrote research papers in prison

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Ali Kaya says he used science to stay sane during his incarceration Thousands of academics in Turkish universities stand accused of either having supported terrorism or the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016. Alison Abbott nature Theoretical physicist Ali Kaya is one of them. He was arrested three months after the failed coup and held for more than a year before his trial took place. On 20 December, a court declared him guilty of being a member of a terrorist ... Read More »

How Russia played its bad cards well to enlarge Mid-East role

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Russia has managed to enlarge its role in Syria and the Middle East using shrewd diplomacy and precise military aims. Watch out for similar tactics in Asia. Jonathan Eyal The Straits Times Middle Eastern leaders have long grown accustomed to attending Syria “peace conferences” in one city or another. Vienna, Geneva or New York were the perennial favourites, but even Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, served as a venue for such gatherings. Today, however, a new destination is being added ... Read More »