Middle East

Six Steps to Make the Most of the U.S. Senate’s Yemen Vote

By an unexpectedly large margin, the U.S. Senate voted on 29 November to move ahead with a bill to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war. ICG Crisis Group calls on the key actors to seize this opportunity to suspend the fighting and… The U.S. Congress is notoriously reluctant to take tough decisions on matters of war and peace, which makes the Senate’s 29 November vote on the conflict in Yemen all the more remarkable. The Senate voted by a ... Read More »

Goodbye Grotius, Hello Putin

Russia’s provocations in the Kerch Strait aren’t just a challenge to Ukraine. Like Beijing in the South China Sea, Moscow is seeking to undermine international maritime law. James R. Holmes FP Sunday’s encounter between Russian and Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait, the entryway to the Sea of Azov east of the Crimean peninsula, revived an age-old question in international politics: Can a coastal nation own the sea? International law says no; authoritarian states such as China and Russia say ... Read More »

Pentagon Moves Closer To Cutting Turkey’s Role In The F-35 Program If It Buys S-400 SAMs

Turkey remains steadfast in its plans to purchase the air defense systems as its relations with the United States remain cool Joseph Trevthick TheDRIVE The U.S. government could reportedly reexamine Turkey’s participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program if that country goes ahead with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia. But even if that particular issue is resolved, there could still be major hurdles in unfreezing deliveries of the jets to the Turkish Air Force. The ... Read More »

Intel: Why the US opposes UN calls for a Yemen cease-fire

CNN reported today that the United States is pulling its support for a Yemen cease-fire resolution at the United Nations after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed frustration over language calling for increased humanitarian aid and… Al-Monitor Why it matters: The report indicates that the Donald Trump administration is contradicting its stated policy goal in Yemen, which was to get the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthis to the… US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has signaled for weeks that the ... Read More »

Even a ‘Diplomat’s Diplomat’ Can’t Solve Syria’s Civil War

The United Nations’ Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, is stepping down. Is there any role left for the international community to play in ending Syria’s slaughter? David Kenner The Atlantic BEIRUT—If the only thing you knew about Syria was UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura’s briefing to the Security Council this month, you might assume dramatic events were afoot. There had been an important meeting in Istanbul, he said, while equally vital summits in Astana, Kazakhstan, and of the G-20 countries in ... Read More »

Turkey Wipes Out the Christian Culture of Occupied Cyprus

A sixth-century mosaic of Saint Mark, stolen from a church after Turkey’s military invaded Cyprus in 1974, was recently recovered in a Monaco apartment and returned to Cypriot officials. Uzay Bulut Gatestone Institute The ancient masterpiece was described by Arthur Brand, the Dutch investigator who located it, as “one of the last and most beautiful examples of art from the early Byzantine era.” Many other cultural Cypriot relics, from churches and other sites, were stolen from Cyprus by Turkish invaders and ... Read More »

Khashoggi murder: Storm clouds gather over Turkish-Saudi ties

Turkey’s determination to go all the way to force Saudi Arabia to come clean over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is pointing to a serious crisis in the making between the two countries. Semih Idiz Al-Monitor This crisis, which could have regional implications for Turkey, seems unavoidable since Ankara’s accusations ultimately target Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly referred to by his initials, MBS. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government have no affection for the crown prince, who ... Read More »

Will Erdogan Risk Turkey’s COE Membership?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the incarceration of Selahattin Demirtas, of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is… Semih Idiz Sigma Insight Turkey The Court ruled that Demirtas, a former presidential candidate who has been in prison since November 2016 on terrorism charges, should be released immediately because he had been detained for… The ruling puts Ankara in a bind, because, contrary to what Erdogan is arguing, ECHR ... Read More »

Former Turkish PM’s son resurrects his father’s Welfare Party

Fatih Erbakan, the son of former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, has resurrected his father’s Welfare Party (RP), which was closed by Turkey’s top court in 1998. TM The New Welfare Party was announced by the younger Erbakan in a tweet on Friday. Abdülhamid Kayıhan Osmanoğlu, a grandchild of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit II, who died in exile in 1918, was among the founders of the party. Necmettin Erbakan, a leading figure of Turkey’s Islamist movement, had formed the old RP ... Read More »

Iran: Mounting Crackdown on Teachers, Labor Activists

Authorities Arrest Union Leaders, Threaten Strikers (Beirut) – Iranian authorities have increased targeting of teachers and labor activists in recent weeks for organizing and conducting peaceful protests, Human Rights Watch said today. HRW On November 13, 2018, the Council for Coordination among Teachers Unions organized a walkout involving dozens of teachers across Iran to protest their insufficient salaries due to high inflation and poor living conditions. It was the second teacher-organized walkout since September 21, when Iran’s public school year ... Read More »

Why I’m sick of Turkey

Washington continues to claim Ankara as ‘strategic partner.’ Let’s stop pretending it is. Steven A. Cook Politico I am already sick of Turkey. I suspect that many Americans feel this way, about the bird and the country. Yet a small group of Washington foreign policy hands — at the State Department, at the Pentagon and in congressional offices — continue to make the case for Turkey as a “strategically important” partner to the… On paper, the country looks good: It ... Read More »

Yemen: up to 85,000 young children dead from starvation

Save the Children condemns ‘preventable’ deaths of under-fives and calls for end to war Bethan McKernan The Guardian An estimated 85,000 children under the age of five have starved to death over the last three years as a result of Yemen’s civil war, a report from Save the Children has found, as the charity urged an… The figure is a conservative estimate based on UN data on severe acute malnutrition, which the international body says has afflicted more than 1.3 million children since ... Read More »

How to Halt Yemen’s Slide into Famine

A Saudi-led coalition attack on the city of Hodeida risks plunging millions of Yemenis into famine and will meet fierce resistance from Huthi rebels. ICG The U.S. should stop enabling coalition offensives and international stakeholders must quickly place Hodeida under UN control. What’s new?  At the end of October, fighting reached the outer edges of the city of Hodeida, a gateway on Yemen’s Red Sea coast for trade that is a lifeline for some two thirds of the country’s population. ... Read More »

This Is How Social Media Is Being Used in the Middle East

Governments are using social media to rally domestic and foreign support for their policies. Caroline Caywood The National Interest Social media has played an increasingly important role in Middle East politics ever since the 2011 Arab Spring. State actors such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have sought to use social media to influence discourse at home and… As ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen have dominated news from the Middle East in recent years, international public opinion has taken on ... Read More »

Anti-corruption activist shot dead in Iraq’s Basra

A prominent activist has been killed in Iraq‘s southern Basra province amid protests against poor public utilities and corruption, according to a local police officer. BAGHDAD – Anadolu Agency Hurriyet Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Sheikh Wisam Ghazrawi outside his home in central Basra late Nov. 17, killing him on the spot, the officer said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. Iraqi authorities have launched an investigation into the killing, for which no group has yet claimed responsibility. Ghazrawi, 30, was ... Read More »

Tony Abbott rejects warnings, urges Scott Morrison to move Israel embassy

Tony Abbott has urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to proceed with a controversial shift in policy on Israel despite a warning from Malaysia that the move could fuel terrorism and concerns from Indonesia over a… David Crowe The Canberra Times Mr Abbott said the “rhetorical backlash” from Muslim countries in Asia was always going to happen but that this should not stop Australia showing its support for Israel by moving the Australian embassy from Tel… The comments are another strong ... Read More »