Middle East

Theresa May Is Negotiating Like Yasser Arafat

The late Palestinian leader was legendary for forsaking promising opportunities, caving to extremists, and failing to appreciate the challenges of negotiating against a stronger opponent. Britain’s prime minister has perfected his diplomatic style. Garvan Walshe FP A few weeks after the 2016 Brexit referendum I got chatting with a Palestinian journalist at a wine bar in London. “How did you vote?” I asked, as the conversation turned to the inevitable subject. “Leave,” he said. “Why?” I asked. “Immigration,” he replied. ... Read More »

Numbers of Turkish universities soar, but quality falls

Undergraduate and graduate enrollment has increased spectacularly at Turkey’s universities in recent years. And while the infrastructure has kept pace, the same can’t be said of the quality of education. Metin Gurcan Al-Monitor The number of students and academic capacity has grown tenfold in just the past decade. Going back further, in 1979 there were only 12 universities in Turkey. There are now 203. In 1980, out of 467,000 students who participated in university entrance exams, only 42,000 (9%) were able to enter, whereas ... Read More »

Israel extends intelligence document classification period to 90 years

The government of Israel has increased to 90 years the period during which documents belonging to intelligence and security agencies can remain secret, extending it by 20 years. Josef Fitsanakis IntelNews Until last month, government documents produced by Israeli spy agencies, such as its external spy organization, the Mossad, or its domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, could remain hidden from public view for up to 70 years. Last year, however, the administration of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commissioned a ... Read More »

France declares day marking ‘Armenian genocide’

France has declared a national day of commemoration to remember the 1915 Armenian genocide. The announcement is set to provoke an angry response from Turkey. DW French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday declared April 24 to be a national day to commemorate the 1915 Armenian genocide. Macron made the statement at an annual dinner of the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations in France, fulfilling a 2017 campaign promise. France was among the first countries to denounce “the murderous hunt of ... Read More »

Israel Boosts Protection Of Gas Fields, Shipping

TEL AVIV: With over 80 percent of Israeli’s commerce carried by sea and its offshore gas fields crucial to the economy, the country is boosting spending on protecting its shipping lanes, littorals and… Arie Egozi Braking Defense Hezbollah sees the large natural gas reservoirs and the rigs that probe them in the Mediterranean as potential targets and this puts heavy pressure on the Israeli navy to safeguard them. David Ben–Bassat, former commander of the Israeli navy, told Breaking Defense that ... Read More »

Hakeem al-Araibi faces Thai court to fight his potential extradition to Bahrain

Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi will be remanded in a Thai prison for another 60 days, with his next court date to fight extradition to his native Bahrain set for April 22. by AP with Staff Writers Source: AAP Fox Sports al-Araibi pleaded outside a Bangkok court for Thailand to not send him home to Bahrain. “Please speak to Thailand, don’t send me to Bahrain. Bahrain won’t defend me,” a chained Hakeem al-Araibi shouted to reporters outside court on Monday ... Read More »

Is authoritarianism bad for the economy? Ask Venezuela – or Hungary or Turkey

Democracy is at risk worldwide. And the economy may be, too. Seventy-one out of the world’s 195 countries saw their democratic institutions erode in recent years, according to the 2018 year-end report by democracy watchdog Freedom House, a phenomenon known as “democratic backsliding.” Authors: The Conversation Signs of backsliding include elected leaders who expand their executive powers while weakening the legislature and judiciary, elections that have become less competitive and shrinking press freedom. When government institutions erode like this, it ... Read More »

How countries use ‘migration diplomacy’ to pursue their own interests

The story of Rahaf Mohammed, the Saudi teenager granted asylum by Canada on January 11 after barricading herself in a Bangkok hotel room, sparked headlines around the world. Authors: The Conversation The decision to grant asylum to Mohammed, the daughter of a Saudi town governor, was the latest episode in an ongoing spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the decision, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said: Canada is a country that understands how important it is to ... Read More »

Trapped in shrinking Syria holdout, Daesh turns to human shields

BAGHOUZ: On a rooftop near the front line with the Daesh group’s collapsing caliphate in eastern Syria, a US-backed fighter and his comrades sip tea as they await orders to restart the battle. AFP Arab News The Syrian Democratic Forces halted their ground assault on Daesh’s final shreds of territory last week, saying the militants are increasingly using civilians as human shields to block the advance. In the desert hamlet of Baghouz, held mostly by the SDF, 22-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim ... Read More »

Crisis Group Yemen Update #2

This is Crisis Group’s second weekly update published as part of our Yemen Campaign. ICG Prefaced with a new introductory trendline – this week, fear of famine – it provides up-to-the minute insights into the four-year-old civil war and the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. The Present Context For more than six months the primary focus for diplomats, policymakers and analysts working on Yemen has been the now-frozen offensive on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida. (You can read our ... Read More »

Kurdish lobby struggles to slow US pullout from Syria

Reeling from President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria, the political wing of the Pentagon-backed Kurdish group that has spent the past four years fighting the Islamic State started the… Jack Detsch Al-Monitor It’s not clear how the delegation, led by Ilham Ahmed, happened upon the president. Trump told the group “I love the Kurds” and promised that the US allies are “not going to be killed” by Turkish forces, the Syrian Democratic Committee co-president recalled ... Read More »

Turkey’s Sweeping “Educational” Penetration into the Balkans

As part of its expansionist neo-Ottoman agenda, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been building mosques and setting up Islamic educational institutions around the world. Uzay Bulut Gatestone Institute The mosque that Ankara is currently constructing in Tirana, Albania, will reportedly be the largest of the dozens of its mosques in the Balkans. Through the Maarif Foundation — established in 2016 by means of a law enacted by the Turkish parliament, which gave it the authority to ... Read More »

China calls for harmony as it welcomes Qatar emir amid Gulf dispute

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a return to “unity and harmony” on Jan. 31 as he welcomed gas-rich Qatar‘s emir to Beijing, amid a festering dispute that has seen some Arab states lead by Saudi Arabia severing… BEIJING – Reuters Hurriyet Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017. They accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and cultivating ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional foe, Iran. Qatar, which denies the charge, says the boycott seeks to curtail its ... Read More »

Interpreting the U.S. Talks with the Taliban

Talks with the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha have raised hopes that the U.S. could end its involvement in Afghanistan’s war. ICG Our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller and Afghanistan analysts Borhan Osman and Graeme Smith break down what was achieved and what remains unresolved. How significant were the U.S.-Taliban talks? Last week’s six-day talks between the U.S. and Taliban were the clearest sign yet that the U.S. is intent on withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan, and that the ... Read More »

Germany Considering Israeli Defense System To Protect Tanks From RPGS

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems testing the TROPHY system on Germany’s Leopard 2. Anna Ahronheim JP Israel’s TROPHY active protection systems (APSs) might soon be supplied to Germany for it’s Leopard 2 main battle tank, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems will be testing the system on the Leopard 2 later this year along with the tank’s manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmenn. According to a report by defense site Defense-Update, the details were disclosed at the International Armored Vehicles (IAV) event which took place ... Read More »

We must not abandon the Kurds

The civilized world owes a debt of gratitude to the Kurdish people in general, and to their stalwart Peshmerga fighters in particular, for their successful efforts to combat ISIS. Neville Teller JPost One major factor behind President Trump’s decision to withdraw US special forces from Syria is the dominant position achieved by Russia, in alliance with Iran, in restoring the fortunes of Syria’s President Bashar Assad. Another seems to have been a telephone discussion with Turkey’s President Erdogan just before ... Read More »