Middle East

Australian troops to stay in Middle East despite US pullout: Morrison

Australian troops will remain in the Middle East despite US President Donald Trump announcing the withdrawal of thousands of soldiers from Syria and Afghanistan in a… Eryk Bagshaw Brisbane Times Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s presence “will remain” in the region, where more than 600 troops continue to conduct operations and train local troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We have to be conscious of the potential for a resilient and a resurgent [Islamic State],” he said.  “We’re in regular ... Read More »

Incoming US Secretary of Defense Shanahan has ties to US-Turkey arms trade

United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who will take over for ousted Secretary of Defense James Mattis in January, has significant ties to the U.S.-Turkey arms trade— a… Meghan Bodette The Region “I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a… Shanahan joined Boeing in 1986, and worked there for over 30 years. He had no previous ... Read More »

Turkey FM labels Netanyahu ‘a cold-blooded killer’

Israel, Turkey in new war of words on social media after a year of tense relations over multiple issues. Al Jazeera and News Agencies Turkey has hit out at Israel’s “lawless occupation” of Palestinian territory after the Israeli prime minister accused Turkey of “massacres” against Kurds in a new war of words. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu labelled Benjamin Netanyahu “a cold-blooded killer of modern times”, in a Tweet on Sunday, adding that the prime minister was “responsible for massacres ... Read More »

Soccer community demands action to bring Hakeem al-Araibi home

Australia’s soccer community is demanding the federal government step up its fight to bring home a Melbourne-based refugee footballer as fears for his safety grow. Sumeyya Ilanbey The Age Hakeem al-Araibi, who was granted refugee status by Australia after he fled Bahrain, is being held in a Thai detention centre following an incorrectly-issued Interpol red notice flagging his arrival in Thailand. Araibi’s supporters say the Pascoe Vale Football Club defender has a “very real chance” of being extradited to Bahrain, ... Read More »

Yellow Jackets flop in Portugal

Campaign to bring country to a halt tests the exportability of the protest movement. Paul Ames Politico LISBON — France’s prototype gilet jaune was, reportedly, a BMW-loving Portuguese bricklayer called Leandro Nogueira whose Facebook rage against reduced speed limits ignited traffic-disrupting demonstrations around his home in… After escalating into a nationwide revolt against the French government, the Yellow Jackets headed to Nogueira’s homeland Friday with plans for a nationwide day of action under the slogan “Vamos Parar Portugal” (Let’s… Yellow Jackets flop… Read More »

Trump Says Turkey Should Easily Be Able to Mop Up ISIS in Syria

Days after handing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a diplomatic win by announcing he’ll pull U.S. troops out of Syria, President Donald Trump defended the move, saying Turkey “should be able to… By Onur Ant, Nick Wadhams, and Selcan Hacaoglu Bloomberg Trump’s action on Syria, which was announced on Twitter and triggered the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and later Brett McGurk, a leading U.S. diplomat, came a week after the… Instead, during a lengthy phone call on Dec. 14, Trump shocked ... Read More »

Turks Fleeing a Crackdown Find Haven in Albania

Dozens of Turks at risk at home from their affiliation with the man accused of mounting a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have found haven in Albania. But ‘brotherly’ ties between Ankara and Tirana keep them on their toes. Vladimir Karaj . BIRN . Tirana BalkanInsight Early one August morning in 2016, Esin and Huseyin Sakinmaz filled their car with canned food and left their home in Istanbul. They headed south, but had little idea where they would end up. ... Read More »

Avoiding a Free-for-all in Syria’s North East

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from north-east Syria. ICG This risks chaos and drives home the urgent need for a deal that restores Syrian state sovereignty to its north east, assuages Turkish security concerns and allows for some degree of Kurdish self-rule. What’s new? President Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria followed previous warnings that he justified their presence only as part of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). Trump said ... Read More »

The Geopolitics of Greece: A Sea at its Heart

Throughout the history of Greece, its geography has been both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because it allowed Greece to dominate the “known Western world” for a good portion of Europe’s ancient history due to a combination of sea access and rugged topography. Stratfor In the ancient era, these were perfect conditions for a maritime city-state culture oriented toward commerce and one that was difficult to dislodge by more powerful land-based opponents. This geography incubated the West’s first ... Read More »

The biggest winner of Trump’s Syria withdrawal? Turkey.

When President Trump announced Wednesday that he was pulling U.S. forces out of Syria, it came as a shock to much of Washington. Ishaan Tharoor The Washington Post Key U.S. military officials reportedly felt hoodwinked by the drastic shift in policy; Trump’s secretary of defense quit. Counterterrorism experts warned that a departure could lead to an Islamic State resurgence. Critics in the foreign-policy community declared that Trump was giving “a Christmas gift to our enemies” — namely Russia and Iran, whose influence the… ... Read More »

After More Than Two Decades of Work, a New Hebrew Bible to Rival the King James

The pre-eminent scholar Robert Alter has finally finished his own translation. Avi Steinberg The New York Times One morning this fall, at his home high in the Berkeley hills, the literary critic and translator Robert Alter chatted with me about the dilemmas he faced while translating the Hebrew Bible. Alter, who is 83, sat on a sofa with a long-limbed, feline watchfulness. Behind him, a picture window looked out onto a… He occasionally cast a probing eye on his brand-new, ... Read More »

Anger, confusion greet Trump’s surprise decision on Syria

Senate Republicans uncharacteristically lashed out at President Trump on Wednesday for announcing a sudden and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, a decision that came without consulting Congress and seemed to catch the Pentagon off guard. Rebecca Kheel The Hill Several lawmakers said Congress received no advance notice of Trump’s announcement, leaving them fuming and scratching their heads. “I don’t know what they’ve done, but this is chaos,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch Trump ally and Armed Services Committee ... Read More »

Making Yemen’s Hodeida Deal Stick

On 17 December, the UN announced a ceasefire in the contested governorate of Hodeida. Peter Salisbury ICG Thus far, after some initial wobbling, it has held. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s senior Yemen analyst Peter Salisbury unpacks the ceasefire and assesses its prospects. What does the ceasefire mean? The Hodeida ceasefire is a first step toward implementing an agreement reached at UN-led talks between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and Huthi rebels in Sweden on 13 December to demilitarise Hodeida city ... Read More »

US approves possible Patriot missile sale to Turkey in bid to block Russian purchase

Washington (CNN) – Amid diplomatic tensions between the US and Turkey on a range of issues, the US State Department announced Tuesday that it approved the possible sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile system to Turkey. By Ryan Browne, CNN The approval is an attempt by the US to get Turkey to give up its plans to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. The proposed purchase has been a major impediment to closer US-Turkish relations amid fears the Russian ... Read More »

Don’t let Russian S-400s peel Turkey away from the West

U.S.-Turkish relations are enjoying a somewhat warmer moment, following the resolution of the crisis over American pastor Andrew Brunson and the recent dialogue to resolve differences over U.S. cooperation with the… Kemal Kirişci and Seçkin Köstem Brookings However, Ankara’s commitment to purchase S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia presents a big challenge with important geopolitical implications. Among other problems, the plan could get Turkey sanctioned and removed from the U.S.-led program to provide F-35 aircraft. Some experts have recently argued that ... Read More »

Michael Flynn’s former associate charged with secret lobbying for Turkey against Fethullah Gulen

An ex-business partner of former US national security adviser Michael Flynn and a businessman with ties to Turkish Government officials have been charged with undisclosed lobbying aimed at the… ABC Reuters Mr Flynn’s former partner, Bijan Rafiekian, was indicted on two criminal counts, including conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday in the… Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish-Dutch businessman, was charged for allegedly plotting with Turkish officials to cause ... Read More »