Levant & Mesopotamia

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) supporters at a party rally. Masoud Barzani, the party's leader and the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, is featured on a banner behind the supporters. © Ivor Prickett/PANOS / LUZ

Double Standard of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

Having won the two times popular vote in 1991 and 2005 elections, the PUK is now becoming the third largest party in Kurdistan region. Lack of vision as well as dominance of personal interests at the expense of the party’s led to the emergence of the KDP as a decisive force. The PUK still has the potential to rise and become a key player in the game, but it requires a strong leadership and clear policies, two components the party is still missing. These missing components and intra-conflicts made the PUK adopt controversially inconsistent policies compared to its rival the KDP.

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Syrian Children Remain World Leftovers

Six years into war in Syria have proven again and again that it is the worst man-made catastrophe in modern history. According to UN records, more than 400,000 people have died, more than one million injured, while over 10 million have been displaced, triggering a global refugee crisis in neighbouring countries and overseas. 

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Is BDS Winning?

The life cycle of many enterprises can best be described as a parabola – an arch-like curve, like an object thrown high in the air which falls back to earth.  From a slow start they often gain considerable momentum, reach an apogee, and then decline.  Is the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement following this pattern?  Born in 2005, it grew rapidly in influence, penetrating university campuses across the free world, local governments, trade unions, churches, and even supermarkets and concert halls.  It reached what seemed like a high point in 2015, a decade after it began.  Since then…
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Peshmerga Forces Between Unification and Division

As one of the oldest armed forces in Iraq, Peshmerga dates back to the early 20th century, although its paramilitary roots had arisen in the late 19th century. The Peshmerga forces initially formed among Kurdish tribes in northern Iraq and are now a part of the Iraqi defence system. However, among others political crises and lack of trust remain obstacles to the unification of Peshmerga forces. During much of the late 20th century, the Peshmerga used guerrilla tactics in their war against Iraqi forces. Some Peshmerga forces led by Mustafa Barzani, the previous leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), while others were…
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Defeating ISIS: A War Mired in Contradictions

    The pitfalls are complex and multiple. They range from differences within the 68-member, anti-Islamic State (IS) alliance over what constitutes terrorism to diverging political priorities to varying degrees of willingness to tacitly employ jihadists to pursue geopolitical goals. The pitfalls are most evident in Yemen and Syria and involve two long-standing US allies, NATO ally Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Israel-Palestinian Peace: The “Regional Umbrella” Approach

Suddenly the media is awash with reports, rumors and hints about a fresh approach to tackling the perennial Israel-Palestinian stand-off. Cynics, contemplating the history of the Middle East over the past 70 years, might well conclude that every conceivable method of reconciling the conflicting aspirations of the two parties has already been tried and failed. But changing circumstances can reconfigure political opportunities. An initiative impossible in 2007 may have become perfectly viable by 2017.

Iraqi Prime Minister Al-‘Abadi in Washington – Some Realities

Iraqi Prime Minister Al-‘Abadi in Washington – Some Realities

While the current media coverage of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shifted to the fighting in Syria, the major battle continues to be the Iraqi campaign to defeat the Islamist group in the city of Mosul. The Iraqi security forces – Army, Air Force, police, and special operations units, as well as several Iranian-backed Shi’a militias – have generally acquitted themselves well in the fighting. We all remember the Iraqi Army’s dismal performance against ISIS in June 2014, when the Army collapsed as the group stormed into northern Iraq from Syria and began…
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Assad’s Foreign Fighters

Assad’s Foreign Fighters

While the danger posed by foreign fighters flooding into Syria has become a central point in world media and research, this focus was more likely to concentrate on Islamically-flavoured extremists and their globally Jihadist ideology. Much less attention was given to those who fight beside Assad regime, who indeed espouse an extremist ideology but with a different flavor. As much as Assad relies on Russian fighters, warplanes and destructive force, he also relies on Iran’s money and Shiite foreign fighters from a variety of countries.

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Assad in the Ascendant?

Back in the glory days of the so-called “Arab Spring”, when Middle Eastern dictators were falling like ninepins, it seemed that the overthrow of Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya and Saleh of Yemen would inevitably be followed by the downfall of President Bashar Assad of Syria. But, it now seems, providence had reserved a different fate for Assad. A determination to cling to power, however ruthless or inhumane the methods, allied to a favourable concatenation of political circumstances, has enabled Assad to emerge from a long, multi-faceted combat battered, depleted territorially and logistically, but still…
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