There may be a silver but risky lining for Kurdish nationalists in their devastating loss of Kirkuk and other cities on the periphery of their semi-autonomous region as they lick their wounds and vent anger over deep-seated internal divisions that facilitated the Iranian-backed Iraqi blitzkrieg. Mounting popular anger coupled with US Congressional fury could, however, position the Kurds as a key player in potential US efforts to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq and counter the Islamic republic as part of President Donald J. Trump’s tougher approach towards the Islamic republic.
Levant & Mesopotamia
As far as Kurdish affairs are concerned, the world’s attention is currently focused on the independence referendum held on September 25, 2017 by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in north-eastern Iraq and that, despite considerable international pressure, there was a 92 percent vote in favour, on a 72 percent turnout. Little attention has been paid to the fact that just three days earlier, another historic Kurdish election took place in neighbouring Syria.
The wealth of cultural sites strewn throughout present day Syria and Iraq bear ample witness to the fact that this area was once revered as the cradle of civilisation – sadly, many of these sites have fallen victim to war, violence and looting.
António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres became Secretary-General of the United Nations on January 1, 2017. Once Portugal’s prime minister, he was UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005. For ten years he headed the world’s largest humanitarian organization during a period when unprecedented numbers of people fled their homes to seek safety or a better life elsewhere. He used his time in office to achieve fundamental organizational reform, cutting staff and administrative costs, while expanding the organization’s emergency response capacity during the worst displacement crisis since the Second World War.
The ideology of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that conquered substantial parts of Syria and Iraq has been described as based on Salafi-jihadism. The group has rapidly become a security threat to Middle Eastern countries, as it has challenged the Middle Eastern order and attempted to redraw the map of the region. Additionally, it has threatened Western countries, encouraging murders, suicide killings, and spreading fear among the their respective populations.
Devastated after years of conflict, Syria remains a huge battlefield, the scene of at least six separate military clashes.
From early on in his bid for the presidency Donald Trump was intrigued by the possibility of brokering a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. On the campaign trail back in February 2016 he declared “I will give it one hell of a shot. I would say if you can do that deal, you can do any deal.” Later, as he earmarked his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to lead the peace-making effort, he said: “I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians. That would be such a great achievement.” There is little doubt that…
Once upon a time, many thousands of years ago, a proud and independent nation lived and thrived in its own land in the heart of the Middle East. Down through the ages, although subject to many foreign invasions, this ethnically distinct people refused to be integrated with their various conquerors, but retained their individual culture. At the start of the First World War, their country was a small part of the Ottoman Empire. In shaping the future Middle East after the war the Allied powers, and in particular the United Kingdom, promised to act as guarantors of this people’s freedom….
Israeli shooting range offers tourists the chance to shoot targets designed to look like Palestinians. A shooting range in Israel has come under fire for offering tourists the chance to pretend they’re security services shutting down terror attacks – using targets mocked up to look like Palestinians. Caliber 3, which is based in the West Bank and run by a former member of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), calls itself “the premier academy for counter terror and security”. It offers six programs for tourists, including desert “Survival Training”, krav magna martial arts, and “Combat Rappelling” using paintball guns.
On 26 June 2017, the White House released a statement indicating that the Syrians may be making preparations for another chemical weapons attack, specifically an air attack from Sha’yrat air base, the same base from which the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun (Idlib province) was launched.