Levant & Mesopotamia

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Who Follows Mahmoud Abbas?

Reaching the age of 83 is no big deal these days.  Centenarians abound.  But Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is 83 with a long history of health problems.  Some twenty years ago he underwent an operation for prostate cancer.  Subsequently, as a heavy smoker, he has struggled against a succession of health issues, many connected with his heart.

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Jordanian Protests: Revisiting the Arab Spring?

Protests that forced Jordan’s prime minister to resign and laid bare the country’s systemic economic and political crisis shed a new light on the root causes of popular protests in the Middle East that swept the region in 2011 and have since continuously erupted at local levels in a swath of land stretching from Morocco to Egypt.

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PUK – Gorran Relations in Post Kurdish Referendum: A New Phase of Conflict in Green Zone

The Kurdish referendum in September 2017 not only lost plenty of gains earned since 2003, but also brought about a deep political dichotomy between and inside the prominent political parties in the region. The post-referendum Kurdish politics in the Green Zone (the PUK dominated zone) shifted from an alliance to antagonism, particularly between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Movement for Change (Gorran). This article will discuss the political rivalry between the two parties in the Green Zone since the Kurdish referendum period, as well as intra-disputes amongst the various factions of PUK and its implications upon their…
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Syria – The Next Steps

Why did Syrian president Bashar al-Assad meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 17, 2018?  “Quite comprehensive negotiations took place,“ was the explanation offered by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.  

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Gaza: A Response in Kind to the Humanitarian Crisis?

For the sake of the Palestinians and Israelis alike, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has to be seriously addressed by the international community. The massacure of unarmed Palestinians at the Gaza-Israel Border has left at least 60 Palestinians killed and at least no less than 1700 injured. Eight of the dead were children. While the demonstrations have intensified over US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the start of protests was on 30 March 2018.

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Lebanon’s Elections and the Importance of Religion

On Sunday, Lebanese citizens will vote in national elections for the first time since 2009. These are the first elections since the passage in June 2017 of a new electoral law and the first since the 2016 Beirut municipal elections, when a grass-roots campaign won almost 40 percent of votes, challenging Lebanon’s long-standing patronage-based sectarian parties.

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Syria’s Future

On April 4, 2018 three national presidents met in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan greeted his Russian and Iranian counterparts − Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani − to discuss a way forward in Syria. In the statement that followed, the three leaders claimed to be working closely to bring about a lasting peace in Syria.  

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Regime Change in Gaza?

Suddenly, it seems, the appalling circumstances in which the vast majority of Gazans are living have struck the public conscience.  The Strip suffers from a chronic lack of water, of electricity, of medical resources – and the situation seems to be deteriorating from week to week.  Gaza’s problems stem from a variety of causes, but the people of Gaza have little inclination to analyse the reasons for the humanitarian crisis that has overwhelmed them.  The struggle to exist in anything approaching decent living and working conditions occupies most of their attention.

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Lebanon – One Big Iranian Arms Factory?

Lebanon goes to the polls on May 6. Nine long years have passed since the last parliamentary elections which, according to the constitution, are supposed to be held every four years. Ever since 2014 ministers and politicians have voted again and again to postpone elections and extend the current parliament, citing security concerns, political crisis and a dispute over the election law.

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