Middle East

US-born Islamic State supporter in Syria won’t be allowed to return, Pompeo says

Secretary of state says Hoda Muthana ‘is not a US citizen and will not be admitted’ into the US MEE and agencies The United States is refusing to allow an American-born supporter of the Islamic State (IS) group to return to the country, after she left for Syria to join the militant group, Mike Pompeo has said. In a brief statement on Wednesday, the US secretary of state said Hoda Muthana, 24, “is not a US citizen and will not ... Read More »

Why a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church matters today

A new Orthodox Church was recently established in Ukraine. Shortly after, Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual head of global Orthodox Christianity, granted independence to the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine and transferred its jurisdiction from the church of Moscow to the church of Constantinople, located in Istanbul. Victoria Smolkin The Conversation This competition between the churches of Constantinople and Moscow for dominance in the Orthodox Christian world is not new – it goes back more than ... Read More »

Tajikistan: Report confirms significant Chinese security presence in Pamirs

Satellite images show a complex of around two dozen buildings on the border. “Remember,” a Chinese soldier told a reporter nosing around a remote spot in eastern Tajikistan. “You never saw us here.” Eurasianet The cat’s out of the bag now. A front-page story on the Washington Post on February 19 has confirmed long-held suspicions about the Chinese military presence in the desolate quadrant where the borders of Tajikistan, China and Afghanistan intersect. If it was previously suspected the deployment might be ... Read More »

The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum

A Lebanese perspective Energy ministers from Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority took an important step toward establishing an Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) on January 14, in Cairo. Mona Sukkarieh Executive According to the declaration that followed the meeting, the EMGF will, among other things, assist in the creation of a regional gas market, ensure the security of supply and demand, optimize resource development, facilitate the… The forum’s raison d’être is regional energy cooperation. Almost ... Read More »

Intel: How Trump’s choice as envoy to Turkey could complicate US Syria policy

The Donald Trump administration’s announcement that it plans to nominate veteran diplomat David Satterfield as ambassador to Turkey could shake up US policy in Syria. Al-Monitor The post has sat vacant for more than a year as relations between Washington and Ankara have deteriorated over the Pentagon’s backing of a Syrian Kurdish group in the fight against the Islamic State. Why it matters: Satterfield’s confirmation could pit two influential diplomats against each other as the Trump administration tries to hammer ... Read More »

Israel’s Leviathan Energy Prize: Where Will The Gas Go?

Israel is finally emerging as a natural gas player in the Mediterranean. In the last week of January, the Israeli Navy conducted a complex drill simulating attacks on the country’s offshore oil and gas infrastructure. Ariel Cohen Forbes The exercise included coordinated operations between dozens of naval vessels and aircraft, and even incorporated a live-fire missile test against an abandoned cargo vessel (imitating an enemy transport… Israel’s week-long “Raging Sea” operation comes on the heels of two joint military drills ... Read More »

Pence: ‘We will not stand idly by’ as Turkey purchases S-400

MUNICH — Vice President Mike Pence repeated warnings to Turkey not to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, a day after Turkey dismissed the first of two deadlines to cease with the… Tara Copp Military Times Pence, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, told attendees “we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the… The U.S. ... Read More »

This Is What the Beginning of a Real Israel Debate Looks Like

Before Ilhan Omar came to the national stage, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer tried to discuss pro-Israel lobbying. Ben Ehrenreich The New Republic They were shouted down. With all the shouting it was easy to miss, but something new happened in Washington this week. If you can’t see it yet, put yourself back in 2006, when everything about a Somali-American, Muslim congresswoman tweeting a line from a Puff Daddy song—as Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar did Sunday evening—would have been unthinkable. In March ... Read More »

US updates warning over Turkey travel amid rising political tensions

Turkey announced it would purchase Russia’s missile system The US Department of State on Thursday updated its travel advisory for Turkey amid stalled US-Turkey talks on Syria and growing differences over Venezuela and Turkish S-400 deal with Russia. Joyce Karam The National Turkey announced Thursday it would be going ahead with a purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system, ahead of an informal Friday deadline to respond to a rival US offer. Turkey, a NATO member, made repeated moves to buy ... Read More »

U.S. ally Turkey looks to Russia and Iran to protect its interests

Analysis: The U.S. organized a global conference on the Mideast in Warsaw, but Turkey’s leader is at a summit with Russian and Iranian leaders instead. By Dan De Luce NBC WASHINGTON — As Trump administration officials presided over the second day of an international conference in Warsaw dominated by calls to ratchet up pressure on Iran, one longtime U.S. ally and NATO member was noticeably absent — Turkey. Snubbing the gathering in Poland, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday ... Read More »

Crisis Group Yemen Update #4

Below is the fourth weekly update as part of Crisis Group’s Yemen Campaign. ICG This week we look at fighting near the Saudi-Yemeni border and strains on the ceasefire around Hodeida, as well as international developments. Trendline: The Overlooked Battle for Yemen’s Northern Border Though the battle for the Red Sea port and city of Hodeida is paused until the UN-brokered deal to demilitarise the area succeeds or collapses, fighting on other fronts has intensified, particularly along the Saudi-Yemeni border. ... Read More »

Egypt says “NO” to East Med

An unequivocal “no” from Egypt received the East Med gas pipeline. Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El Molla, in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, said he was opposed to the transportation of gas from East Mediterranean to Europe via the East Med pipeline. Nefeli Tzanetakou ibna He even justified his position by saying that the feasibility study for this project would last up to two years, which in itself is a luxury the region of ... Read More »

Turkey’s Erdogan Is Due for Another Rebuke

With municipal elections on the horizon, Turks are likely to note that imprisoning the opposition hasn’t exactly raised living standards. Conn Hallinan Foreign Policy In Focus “Democracy is like a tram; you get off when you have reached your destination.” The comment by Recep Tayyip Erdogan — made more than 20 years ago when he was first elected mayor of Istanbul — sums up the Machiavellian cynicism of Turkey’s authoritarian president. As Turkey gears up for municipal elections on March ... Read More »

What is the essence of the Saudi-Turkish Conflict?

The establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it is known by the world today, dates back to 1932 by Abdulaziz Al Saud. Osama Dlykan Geopolitika.ru But what many do not know is that this kingdom is the third state of the Sauds; the first one (1747-1818) and the second (1818-1891). Both states were overthrown militarily by the Ottoman Turks, the first directly, and the second indirectly through the Turks’ support of the Al Rashid, who were the rivals ... Read More »

German migrant rescue ship renamed after tragic toddler

A German migrant rescue ship which operates in the Mediterranean was renamed on Feb. 10 after Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach at the height of the… Palma Hurriyet Alan’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, and aunt, Tima Kurdi, attended the renaming ceremony held in Palma on Spain’s Balearic Island of Mallorca. The event was organized by German charity Sea-Eye which operates the… “We are happy that a German rescue ship will carry the name of our boy. My boy on ... Read More »