Middle East

Lebanon asserts against using maritime borders for gas pipeline from Israel to EU

Lebanon on Thursday warned its Mediterranean neighbours that a planned EastMed gas pipeline from Israel to the European Union must not be allowed to violate its… Devdiscourse Beirut has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel – which it regards as an enemy country – over a sea area of about 860 sq km (330 square miles) extending along the… Israel is hoping to enlist several European countries in the construction of a 2,000 km (1,243 miles) pipeline linking vast ... Read More »

Javad Zarif Returns—to a Foreign Ministry Still Out in the Cold

Iran’s Top Diplomat Vies for Authority “Considering that state affairs are not carried out in an optimal way free from the meddling of irresponsible persons, I am forced to resign my post to warn of potential dangers. By Mehrzad Boroujerdi FP I do not see it fitting to stay on as a cabinet member without being able to introduce any fundamental changes in the current system.” These were the departing words of Karim Sanjabi, Iran’s first postrevolutionary foreign minister, who ... Read More »

Is Turkey exploiting the international community in order to suppress dissent?

According to Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, Erdogan throws around charges of being a Gulenist or associated with Jews or a member of a terror group in the framework of spreading “conspiracy theories”… by Rachel Avraham Foreign Policy According to Turkish journalist Rafael Sadi, “Erdogan’s government is very scared and is looking everywhere for Gulenists. They are suspicious of everyone.  No one feels free to talk or write.” In fact, according to recent reports, Erdogan has even gone to the level ... Read More »

Rumours grow of rift between Saudi king and crown prince

There are growing signs of a potentially destabilising rift between the king of Saudi Arabia and his heir, the Guardian has been told. Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington and Nick Hopkins in London The Guardian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are understood to have disagreed over a number of important policy issues in recent weeks, including the war in Yemen. The unease is said to have been building since the murder in Turkey of ... Read More »

Despite US Threats, Another Ally Mulls Russia’s S-400

Another US ally — and host of a critical Middle Eastern air base — is considering buying a high-tech Russian missile system. By Paul McLeary Breaking Defense What can Washington do about it? WASHINGTON The Trump administration’s promise last year to slap sanctions on countries who buy Russian military equipment appears to have done little to deter key allies. For months, American allies from India to Saudi Arania to Turkey have weighed absorbing the promised economic hit, while a new ... Read More »

Iranian who was arrested for Hijab protest absconds country, seeks asylum

The actions earned Jangravi a three-year prison sentence. One year ago, Azam Jangravi took off her hijab and waved it above her head while standing atop an electrical transformer in a busy Tehran square. By ZACHARY KEYSER JPost Reuters contributed to this report. It was an act of protest to denounce Iran’s strict Islamic laws that restrict women and general life in Iran, and limited her ability to live freely within her own country. The actions earned Jangravi a three-year prison ... Read More »

US deploys advanced THAAD missile defense system to Israel

The deployment, which began in March, was intended to test the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy such weapons around the world, said a spokeswoman for U.S. European Command. JERUSALEM- Reuters Hurriyet Citing security reasons, she declined to say how long it took to move the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which is built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to Israel from its home base of Fort Bliss, Texas. The move comes amid increased tensions between Israel and Iran over Israel‘s bombing campaign in ... Read More »

Turkey faces growing Kurdish insurgency in Syria’s Afrin

Ever since the Turkish military and allied factions from the Free Syrian Army drove the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) out of Kurdish-dominated Afrin in March 2017, there has been almost no independent reporting on how the… Amberin Zaman Al Monitor The United Nations and Human Rights Watch are among a handful of international bodies that have offered valuable insight on the massive human rights abuses — rape, theft, extortion, kidnappings and the… The UN said some of these actions amount to war ... Read More »

Crisis Group Yemen Update #6

Trendline: Putting Yemen to Work Late February brought some hope to Yemen’s embattled population, large segments of which were on the verge of starvation at the end of 2018. ICG The UN announced that it had both raised billions of dollars to pay for its humanitarian work over the coming year and had regained access to the Red Sea Mills, an important food storage and distribution hub outside the port city of Hodeida for the first time in five months. ... Read More »

Intel: How Turkey is turning to Russia amid row with US over Syria

The timing of the Turkish foreign minister’s unexpected phone call today with his Russian counterpart in the middle of US-Turkey talks on Syria is the latest sign that Washington and Ankara remain hopelessly at odds over how to move forward in the region. Al-Monitor Why it matters: Mevlut Cavusoglu’s call to Sergey Lavrov was made “upon the initiative of the Turkish side,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Syria dossier topped the agenda. The call comes as ... Read More »

ExxonMobil makes biggest natural gas discovery in two years off the coast of Cyprus

ATHENS- Exxon Mobil announced on Thursday that it has made the world’s third-biggest natural gas discovery in two years off the coast of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean at the Glaucus-1 well. Nasos Koukakis CNBC The region is already know for some of the world’s largest such discoveries. It wants to become an alternative energy source for Europe. Based on preliminary interpretation of the well data, the discovery could represent a natural gas resource of approximately 5 trillion to 8 ... Read More »

Turkey’s Lack of Vision in Syria

Ankara’s scare tactics in Afrin and state building in Azaz highlight Turkey’s continued attempts to inhibit Kurdish expansion, yet neither approach is sustainable. Ferhat Gurini Carnegie While all eyes have been fixed on Ankara’s plans in Manbij, Turkey’s creation of a buffer territory farther west of the Euphrates since 2016 has largely gone unnoticed. Turkey has taken a two-pronged approach to the areas it currently holds in northern Syria. In the northwestern areas captured under Operation Olive Branch, such as ... Read More »

14 French ISIL detainees handed to Iraq

The U.S.-backed YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, has handed 280 Iraqi and foreign ISIL detainees to Iraq, 14 of whom are French citizens, in recent days, Iraq’s military said in a statement on Feb. 24. BAGHDAD Hurriyet An Iraqi military colonel confirmed to Reuters that 130 people were transferred on Feb. 24, adding to the 150 transferred on Feb. 21. They included the first known transfers of non-Iraqi detainees to Iraq, but it was unclear if they will remain in Iraqi custody. There ... Read More »

Ukraine’s crisis of faith

The Kiev-Kremlin conflict catalyzes a religious schism centuries in the making. Christopher Miller Politico VORSIVKA, Ukraine — For years, Father Vasily spent his Sundays behind the altar at St. Nicholas, a church in the small town of Vorsivka, in north-central Ukraine. That all changed in early January, not long after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church in one of the biggest schisms in Christian history. That’s when the village faithful held a vote to decide whether their ... Read More »

Lessons from the Syrian State’s Return to the South

Russian mediation helped reduce bloodshed during the Assad regime’s reconquest of southern Syria. ICG But for similar arrangements to work in remaining rebel strongholds, better security guarantees by outside powers are needed to prevent regime reprisals, improve aid flows and, down the road, facilitate refugee return. What’s new? When the Syrian regime retook the south from rebels in mid-2018, Russian mediation limited the violence. Six months later, security and living conditions remain precarious; the regime has re-established authoritarian rule; and ... Read More »

The Conflict of Fener and Moscow Patriarchs about Church of Ukraine

Significant developments happened in the Orthodox world in the last autumn of last year. Arif Asalioglu POLITURCO Metropolitan Epifaniy, the Archbishop of the Independent Church of Ukraine established in Kiev, and his accompanying committee arrived in Istanbul in order to receive the “Tomos”, which recognizes the independence of the Church, from the Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos. Ceremonies, which were also attended by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, were held for the occasion. And in those ceremonies, Ukraine officially obtained an ... Read More »