Middle East

Bombed into oblivion: The lost oasis of Damascus

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Ghouta, the one-time oasis of Damascus, is being destroyed. Every day brings with it news of renewed bombing, deadly chemical attacks and starved or crushed bodies, accompanied by desperate scenes of mass exodus. Karen Pinto The Conversation Located a mere seven miles from Bashar Al Assad’s palace, Ghouta is the last surviving rebel enclave close to Syria’s capital, where the Assad family’s dictatorial regime has ruled for 47 years. The Syrian revolution that began seven years ago has failed, and ... Read More »

Can America Prevent Saudi Arabia from Going Nuclear?

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Unless the JCPOA is strengthened, Saudi Arabia may find a way to get the bomb as a counter to Iran. Emily B. Landau Yoel Guzansky The National Interest Ahead of his visit to the United States, Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) clarified in an interview that while his country does not want nuclear weapons, “without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” Such a clear and public statement by ... Read More »

Yes, Turkey has definitely become a rogue regime

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When the Clinton administration formulated the notion of rogue regime, they defined it as a country that embraced terrorism, was governed by an undemocratic cabal, and did not abide by the norms of diplomacy. Washington Examiner Michael Rubin Just how much of a rogue regime has Turkey become? Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s turn toward terrorism is well-established. Turkey supports Hamas unabashedly, the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, and perhaps even the Islamic State. Ahmet Kavas, an Erdogan appointee, defended al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb ... Read More »

The Syrian Conflict and The Crisis of Islamist Nationalism in Turkey

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The 79th anniversary of Atatürk’s passing on 10 November 2017 meant more than a routine official commemoration of the founder of the Republic, once Recep Tayyip Erdoğan praised Atatürk with the… Cenk Saraçoğlu Turkish Policy Quarterly Our Nation has an eternal respect for the Gazi. There is not the slightest hesitation concerning the respect of our nation for Mustafa. Our nation does not have the slightest problem with Kemal. We know very well that our nation has no difficulty with ... Read More »

Refugees out of sight, out of mind two years on from EU-Turkey deal

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An agreement between the European Union and Turkey that came into force two years ago on March 20 2016, has reduced the number of migrants arriving on the shores of Greek islands and, however precariously, salvaged the integrity of the… Katy Budge The Conversation But while the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan was justified as a measure that would reduce deaths at sea and protect human dignity, the dramatic increase in the death rate of those crossing the Mediterranean in 2016 ... Read More »

US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank

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Seemingly unrelated events all point to a tectonic shift in which Israel has begun preparing the ground to annex the occupied Palestinian territories. Jonathan Cook CounterPunch Last week, during an address to students in New York, Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett publicly disavowed even the notion of a Palestinian state. “We are done with that,” he said. “They have a Palestinian state in Gaza.” Later in Washington, Bennett, who heads Israel’s settler movement, said Israel would manage the fallout from ... Read More »

Saudi nukes on Chinese rockets?

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared in a ’60 Minutes’ interview that Saudi Arabia would quickly acquire a nuclear bomb if Iran develops a nuclear weapon first Uwe Parpat Asia Times When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS for short) meets US President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday (March 20), nuclear weapons will be high on the agenda. MBS made sure of that when he said in a CBS “60 minutes” interview aired on Sunday, but in part released three days ... Read More »

Turkish-backed rebels loot Syria’s Afrin city – steal everything from Mercedes-Benz cars to foodstuffs

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BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:05 A.M.) – Turkish photo-journalist Bulent Kilic has captured images of pro-Ankara rebel fighters looting the city of Afrin following its fall to Turkish-backed forces. Andrew Illingworth AMN According to sources, no site in Afrin is being spared from the stealing spree – houses, shops and public infrastructures have all been subject to looting by Ankara’s proxy militant groups. Likewise, everything is subject to being stolen in accordance with the self-imposed laws of Afrin’s new rulers, this includes ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia’s Leader Could Tell a Better Story if He’d End His Vicious, No-win War

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who arrives in Washington this week, is a man on a mission with a story to tell. Originally published in The Washington Post ICG It’s an appealing if slightly embellished narrative: about his economic vision, desire to promote a more moderate form of Islam, recognition of women’s rights and empowerment of a younger generation. But it’s a narrative that should not silence the other, far less rosy story of Saudi Arabia’s military ... Read More »

The U.S. Alliance With Turkey Is Worth Preserving

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Elephants in the Room Ankara is a difficult friend. That doesn’t mean the United States should cut it loose. By Michael Singh & James F. Jeffrey | FP If the United States didn’t already face enough troubles in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently threatened American troops with an “Ottoman slap” if they interfered with Turkey’s military incursion into northwestern Syria. The threat, coming two days before a visit to Turkey by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, underscored just how contentious relations between ... Read More »

24 March: Global Action Day for Afrin

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The international campaign in defense of Afrin declared 24 March as Global Action Day for Afrin and urged all supporters to protest Turkish invasion. AFN The signatories of the campaign released a statement entitled “Supporting the resistance is an historical imperative” and called all to join the first Global Action Day for Afrin on 24 March 2018. The statement read as follows: “The criminal assault on Afrin constitutes a new phase in the Turkish state’s war on the Kurdish people. ... Read More »

What Putin’s Reelection Means for Russia and the World

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Putin is staying—but he is likely to take the initiative to shape both Russia’s domestic politics and its international position to his liking. Nikolas K. Gvosdev The National Interest No one should have been surprised by the results of Sunday’s presidential election in Russia. Official figures maintain that nearly 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, with incumbent Vladimir Putin cruising to an easy victory with more than three-quarters of the votes. Even assuming that the figures were massaged—note the ... Read More »

Saudi women should have choice whether to wear abaya robe, crown prince says

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Women in Saudi Arabia need not wear headcover or the black abaya – the loose-fitting, full-length robes symbolic of Islamic piety – as long as their attire is “decent and respectful”, the kingdom’s reform-minded crown prince has said. RIYADH – Reuters Hurriyet With the ascent to power of young Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom has seen an expansion in women’s rights including a decision to allow women to attend mixed public sporting events and the right to drive cars ... Read More »

Developing countries at risk from US rate rise, debt charity warns

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Jubilee Debt Campaign says 126 nations spend more than 10% of revenues on interest Larry Elliott The Guardian The expected rise in US interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60% jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned. The Jubilee Debt Campaign said a study of 126 developing nations showed that they were devoting more than 10% of their revenues on average to paying the interest on money borrowed – the ... Read More »

Why Pompeo may not be good news for Ankara

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The diplomatic reshuffle in Washington may be the harbinger of a new era of further confrontation with Ankara. Yavuz Baydar The Arab Weekly Regardless of the rosy expectations of some, US-Turkey relations may enter a critical phase if CIA Director Mike Pompeo takes over the US State Department from Rex Tillerson. Pompeo and Tillerson have very little in common. Tillerson represented a “softer” American approach to issues and the notion that Washington needs to take its allies into account. Pompeo ... Read More »

Turkey Slams Europe Over Calls to End Syria Offensive

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ISTANBUL — Turkey has reacted furiously to the European Parliament’s motion calling for an end to Ankara’s military offensive in Syria’s Afrin enclave against a Kurdish militia. Dorian Jones VoA The motion cited concerns for the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in Afrin city under siege by Turkish forces for almost two months. But beyond the diplomatic haranguing, both the European Union and Ankara appear anxious to continue to work to rebuild relations. Speaking at his presidential palace, Turkish President ... Read More »