Middle East

America Can’t Win the Drug War in Afghanistan

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Twenty-four of Afghanistan’s thirty-four provinces now are directly involved in illicit drug production. Ted Galen Carpenter  As if the United States needed more evidence that its sixteen-year mission in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility, a new United Nations report provides an additional reason for depression. The National Interest The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, released on November 15, confirms that Washington’s effort to curb illicit narcotics trafficking in the country has failed. Almost every ... Read More »

YPG, Russia meeting ‘evaluated steps to take’ after ISIL: Russian defense ministry

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Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Dec. 4 that a meeting held a day earlier by a Russian military delegation and officials of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province had “evaluated the steps to be taken” after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is ousted from the region. Nerdun Hacıoğlu – MOSCOW Hurriyet It was the first statement released by Russia regarding the Dec. 3 meeting. The Defense Ministry said among the ... Read More »

Turkey jails activist couple of Armenian origin for social media posts

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Two political activists of Armenian origin have recently been arrested by Turkish police due to social media posts that were critical of the Turkish government Uzay Bulut Providence An author and environmental activist, Cemil Aksu, was arrested on October 25 in the city of Artvin for allegedly “praising crime and criminals” in his social media posts. Aksu is the local co-chair of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and is one of the editors of the Gor-Hemshin cultural magazine. His wife, Nurcan Vayiç Aksu, ... Read More »

Geopolitics of Syrian Kurds and military cooperation with the US

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The survival and development of the revolutionary process in Rojava, i.e. of a new democratic perspective, has the big potential to change the mindsets of dozens of millions of people in Middle East. ERCAN AYBOĞA ANF How did the US end up supporting the Kurds in Rojava? Since October 2014 the Syrian Kurds and their non-Kurdish Allies have discussed military cooperation with the US-led Global Coalition against the “Islamic State” (IS). Towards the end of 2014, the mainly Kurdish People’s/Women’s ... Read More »

Greek Orthodox Church Sells Land In Israel, Worrying Both Israelis And Palestinians

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Secretive real estate deals in the Holy Land are putting one of Jerusalem’s most powerful and ancient churches in the spotlight Daniel Estrin npr The Greek Orthodox Church calls itself the second-largest landowner in Israel, after the Israeli government. It says it owns some 30 percent of Jerusalem’s walled Old City, the city’s historic core, and controls the largest stake of any Christian denomination in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, home to the traditional tomb of Jesus. It also ... Read More »

UN votes 151-6 against Israel, an ‘occupying power’ with no rights to Jerusalem

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The UN passed six new resolutions against the Jewish state, including one denying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem 151-6. United with Israel The United Nations General Assembly in New York passed six resolutions on Thursday affirming Palestinian rights and condemning Israeli violations of international law, Middle East Monitor reported. According to one resolution (‘Jerusalem’), “the Assembly reiterated that any actions by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem were illegal and therefore null and… UN ... Read More »

Would ‘Rexit’ Mean First Step Toward War With Iran?

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There’s no counterweight to Kushner, Neocons or other hawks in White House. Robert W. Merry The American Conservative If reports are correct that Rex Tillerson is going to be fired as U.S. Secretary of State, to be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton taking Pompeo’s old job, then prospects for war with Iran become significantly greater. Tillerson has been less bellicose in his attitude toward Iran than either Pompeo or Cotton, who are both fervid ... Read More »

Ehud Barak: We Must Save Israel From Its Government

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For anyone who cares about Israel, this is no time for niceties. Ehud Barak * What we need now is plain speaking, even pained speaking — and action. The New York Times For all of Israel’s great achievements in its seven decades of statehood, our country now finds its very future, identity and security severely threatened by the whims and illusions of the ultranationalist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In its more than three years in power, this government has ... Read More »

Turkey squeezed between American hammer, Russian anvil on Syrian stage

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Images can be misleading. Anybody who sees the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi might think this impressive trio could actually deliver a settlement to the bloody Syrian conflict that has been ongoing for six years. Cengiz Çandar AlMonitor Astana, Kazakhstan, is another venue being used by the same trio for peacemaking in Syria. Although the Russians were always keen to present Astana as a supplementary peace effort to the United Nations’ Geneva talks, the meetings in ... Read More »

The Unyielding Paranoia of Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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A major sanctions case could further imperil an already fraught relationship between Washington and Ankara, and reveal the Turkish president’s illicit dealings Diego Cupolo The Atlantic A key defendant in an Iranian sanction-busting case has now become its “most important witness.”Following weeks of speculation, Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of helping Iranian entities evade U.S. sanctions through his international network of businesses, possibly with the help of Turkish banks and government officials. Today, Zarrab ... Read More »

Is this Israel’s “most hated” man?

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Author and commentator Gideon Levy has been called both “the most hated man in Israel” and “the most heroic.” ABC LateLine While he describes himself as a “patriotic Israeli”, he’s highly critical of what he calls his country’s ‘moral blindness’ to its acts of war and occupation. Emma Alberici spoke to Gideon Levy ahead of his talk at the University of Sydney this week. Transcript Read More »

In Times Of Crisis We Must Work Especially Hard To Protect Women And Girls

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Violence against women and girls anywhere and at any time is not acceptable Julie Bishop In conflicts and crises across the world, women and girls can suffer terrible abuses HuffPost The UN estimates that seven in 10 women are exposed to violence in crises The risk of abuse increases when they flee without the family or community networks that would normally support them, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking or assault. The trauma of such experiences cannot be overstated, severely affecting ... Read More »

Humanitarian aid arrives in Yemen as coalition allows UN flights

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The first shipments of humanitarian aid arrived at Sanaa airport overnight after a weeks-long closure which aid groups said deprived Yemen’s residents of badly needed food and supplies. tvnz On Saturday, the airport received two flights – one from the Red Cross and another from UNICEF. Both carried medical supplies, among them polio vaccines.They also carried UNICEF and Red Cross aid workers. The Saudi-led coalition that has imposed an air, sea and land blockade on war-battered Yemen since November 6 ... Read More »

Trump tells Turkish president U.S. will stop arming Kurds in Syria

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The Trump administration is preparing to stop supplying weapons to ethnic Kurdish fighters in Syria, the White House acknowledged Friday, a move reflecting renewed focus on furthering a political settlement to the civil war there and countering Iranian influence now that the Islamic State caliphate is largely… By Carol Morello and Erin Cunningham The Washington Post Word of the policy change long sought by neighboring Turkey came Friday, not from Washington but from Ankara.Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last

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The crown prince has big plans for his society. RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style. Unlike the other Arab Springs — ... Read More »

‘Slow, painful death’ of Yazidi woman’s body and soul while enslaved by the Islamic State

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The Islamic State’s attempt to exterminate the Yazidi people of Iraq did not involve only murder Alia Malek When the militants swept through the north of the country after taking Mosul in the summer of 2014, they executed the religious minority group’s men and elderly women. The Washington Post The children and the other women they took captive. They brainwashed and conscripted the young boys and turned the women and girls into sexual slaves. This enslavement was justified by edicts ... Read More »