Middle East

Iran executes two men accused of illicit gold coin trading

Iran executed two men accused of economic crimes on Nov. 14, part of an effort to stem financial misconduct as the country faces an economic crisis and new U.S. sanctions targeting its oil sector. GENEVA – Reuters Hurriyet One of the two executed men was Vahid Mazloumin, dubbed the “sultan of coins” by media, a trader accused of manipulating the currency market, according to Mizan, the news site of the Iranian judiciary. Mazloumin was allegedly caught with two tons of gold coins, according ... Read More »

Why the history of messianic Judaism is so fraught and complicated

When Loren Jacobs, member of the Shma Yisrael Congregation, offered a prayer for the victims of the Tree of Life congregation at a campaign rally attended by Mike Pence, it left many Jews feeling very upset. Ingrid Anderson The Conversation The vice president’s office later denied inviting Jacobs to the event. Jacobs is a messianic Jew and part of a group called Jews for Jesus. Here is why their relationship with Jews is so fraught. Messianic Jews Messianic Jews consider ... Read More »

Palestine and Britain: forgotten legacy of World War I that devastated the Middle East

For those of us of an age to have known only peace in Western Europe, the centenary of the end of World War I is a an opportunity to learn something of the extreme consequences of the failure to… James Rodgers The Conversation And when the world marked the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, millions fell silent to remember the pain and sacrifice of that conflict. But another anniversary that fell this year – that of the end of the ... Read More »

Factbox: Greece’s territorial waters and Turkey

Following his resignation from the post of foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias said that Greece was ready to extend its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles. Angelos M. Syrigos * ekathimerini This came as surprise to Greece’s political parties and drew a strong reaction from Turkey, which claimed that any extension of Greece’s territorial waters in the Aegean would be considered a casus belli. Here I would like to examine some of the most important questions related ... Read More »

Rouhani says new U.S. sanctions have no effect on Iran economy

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Nov. 10 that U.S. sanctions announced last week have had no effect on Iran’s economy because Washington had already practically reimposed them earlier. DUBAI – Reuters Hurriyet The restoration of sanctions is part of a wider effort by U.S. President Donald Trump to force Iran to curb its nuclear and missile programs as well as its support for proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon… “The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing ... Read More »

Blasphemy law is repealed in Ireland, enforced in Pakistan – and a problem in many Christian and Muslim countries

The citizens of Ireland voted recently, in a nationwide referendum, to remove a clause from their constitution that had made blasphemy a criminal offense. Steve Pinkerton The Conversation Ireland’s now-defunct Defamation Act of 2009 prohibited the “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter.” Just last year, in fact, Irish police opened a brief investigation into whether comedian Stephen Fry had broken the law when he described God as “capricious, mean-minded, stupid” and “an utter maniac” during a televised interview. The case was closed, however, as the… ... Read More »

Pakistan has cost effective solutions to India’s ballistic missile defence system: Report

Pakistan has “cost effective solutions” to India’s latest ballistic missile defence system and would also find a counter to its nuclear capable submarine, a media report said on Wednesday quoting a… Pakistan Defence Addressing a conference on ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Strategic Stability in South Asia’ hosted by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Adviser to the National Command Authority (NCA) Lt Gen (retd… “The history of our strategic force development clearly indicates that Pakistan has never allowed this (strategic) balance to ... Read More »

Snowden issues surveillance warning to Israelis

U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden urged Israelis to be on guard against heavy-handed government and private surveillance in a speech by video link on Nov. 6 and defended his 2013 massive… TEL AVIV – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Snowden highlighted Israel‘s high-tech capabilities, but warned that accepting too much government surveillance and too easily acceding to the argument that it is needed for security reasons… “If we can allow ourselves to be terrorized by someone with nothing but a knife, to reorder our societies for the convenience ... Read More »

Uzi: The Israeli Super Machine Gun That Conquered the World

Uzi was a textbook example of a simple project successfully completed by a nascent arms industry. Kyle Mizokami The National Interest A well-designed, reliable submachine gun made of stamped parts, it was simple to build and had universal appeal. Although mostly out of service, the Uzi’s profile will be recognizable for decades to come. Outside of Israel the Uzi proliferated widely, contributing to its global image. Countries as diverse as Japan, Germany, Belgium, Peru and Brazil all used the Uzi ... Read More »

The United Arab Emirates in the Horn of Africa

The UAE, together with its ally Saudi Arabia, played a highly visible role in helping make peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. ICG As its footprint across the Horn of Africa grows, the UAE should avoid having intra-Gulf competition colour its engagement. What’s new?  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been expanding its role in the Horn of Africa. Along with other Gulf powers, it is broadening its ties to the region. Strategic rivalries, including those within the Gulf Cooperation Council ... Read More »

Khashoggi murder: how states are increasingly repressing dissidents beyond their borders

Authoritarian states have long tried to suppress dissidents who oppose the regime But in the age of globalisation, they are increasingly able to mobilise beyond their territorial borders and target political opponents overseas. Aurhors: The Conversation The brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a former Saudi regime insider who became a critic in self exile of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is an extreme example of this new reality. Although the precise details of Khashoggi’s murder have yet to be proved, his grim fate – he ... Read More »

Iranian hardliners dig in as US sanctions snap back

Rouhani’s government is working to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but Iranian hardliners are digging in for resistance By ALISON TAHMIZIAN MEUSE Asia Times Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed on Monday to defy United States sanctions on the country’s petroleum sector, even as the conservative Guardian Council went further – rejecting a bill meant to relieve US pressure. Rouhani said Iran would “proudly bypass” the US sanctions in a televised speech on state TV as the 180-day deadline passed. Brigadier ... Read More »

Russia sends new frigate with cruise missiles onboard to Mediterranean

Russia said it deployed its new frigate with long-range Kalibr cruise missiles to the Mediterranean Sea on Nov. 5, a few months after Moscow had reinforced its naval forces off Syrian cost. MOSCOW – Reuters Hurriyet “The Black Sea Navy Fleet’s frigate Admiral Makarov left (Navy base) Sevastopol and laid a course for the Black Sea straits. The vessel will be acting in the standing naval force of the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean,” the… Russia has in the past fired Kalibr cruise missiles from ... Read More »

Iranians feel the pressure of new US sanctions

After the latest round of US sanctions, ordinary Iranians are likely to suffer the most. Wesley Rahn, Mitra Shodjaie DW While some optimism remains about back door support through oil exports, the long-term outlook for Iran’s economy remains dire. The full force of US sanctions on Iran was re-imposed Monday in an attempt to isolate the country’s leadership and force a change in its behavior by crippling the Iranian economy. Iran has been absorbing a series of domestic crises even before the ... Read More »

Turkey warns oil companies against drilling near Cyprus

President Erdoğan calls foreign energy firms ‘bandits of the sea’ for defying Ankara over hydrocarbon resources Agence France-Presse in Istanbul The Guardian The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has warned foreign oil companies against energy exploration near Cyprus, describing those defying Ankara as “bandits of the sea” who would face a similar response as its foes in Syria. Drilling for hydrocarbon resources off the coast of Cyprus, an EU member, is hugely sensitive. The northern third of the island is occupied ... Read More »

Bahrain opposition leaders get life term over Qatar spying case

The verdict against three senior members of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq movement comes months after their acquittal. Al Jazeera Bahrain’s appeals court has sentenced three senior members of the country’s opposition movement to life in prison over charges of spying for neighbouring Qatar, according to a statement from the public prosecutor. The verdict against Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed al-Wefaq movement, as well as Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad came on Sunday, months after their acquittal by the… Sultan ... Read More »