Levant & Mesopotamia

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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Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq: Example of Failure?

Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq: Example of Failure?

The Kurds in Iraq have been running their government since the uprising in 1991 against the dictatorial regime Of Sadam Hussein. It means that they have been governing their territory for about 26 years. Throughout this period of time, this region has experienced many political and military crises. The main actors in these crises are those political parties running or dominating the Kurdish region, specifically both parties the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP), and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). After the collapse the Sadams’ regime in 2003, thanks to coalition forces under the leadership of the USA, all major Iraqi…
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Assad and the rise of ISIS

Assad and the rise of ISIS

A link between Bashar Assad regime and the rise of the so-called Islamic State does not come as a surprise to many Syrians. Unlike the image the regime has been trying to sell to world media that Assad is fighting ISIS, there is well-documented evidence of the Assad dictatorship’s contributions to the ISIS tale of terror. Both former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Assad released al-Qaeda-affiliated prisoners in 2011 in their respective countries, which was instrumental to the rise of ISIS. So far, research has shown that releasing Jihadist extremists correlates with the increase of the number of arrests…
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US Army Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicle in Northern Syria – © Photo: @AfarinMamosta/Twitter

Syria: Has Turkey Been Marginalised While the US Thrusts into the Fight?

In a remarkably under-reported series of events in northern Syria, the success of the joint Turkish – Free Syrian Army (FSA) Operation Euphrates Shield (Turkish: Fırat Kalkanı Harekâtı, Arabic dara’ al-furat) is now more uncertain than ever. The goal of the military campaign is to defeat the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). FSA forces supported by Turkish air power, armour, artillery, intelligence and special forces were moving slowly but steadily on their way from the Turkish border towards what is regarded as ISIS’s centre of gravity – its self-proclaimed capital in the city of Al-Raqqah. Just…
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Jalal Talaban

Who Rules Kurdistan Region in Iraq?

The Kurds of Iraq had been systemically oppressed by different Iraqi regimes since the creation of modern Iraqi state in 1921. Consequently, many Kurdish movements appeared and fought against the Iraqi state. The chief amongst are the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Mustafa Barzani, established the former in 1946, while Jalal Talabani had founded PUK in 1975 when he split from Barzani’s KDP. Both parties have fought against Iraq till 1992. Since then, The Kurdistan Region of Iraq emerged as a quasi-state thanks to the establishment of the no-fly zone in northern Iraq by…
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Squaring the Two-State Circle

Squaring the Two-State Circle – Op-Ed

The year 2017 will witness a double anniversary in the convoluted history of the Middle East, one of 50 years, the other a centenary. June 6 is the date in 1967 which marked the outbreak of the Six Day War; “November 2nd, 1917” is the date that appears below the words “Foreign Office” on the single sheet of paper that contains the Balfour Declaration. Both continue to influence every aspect of Arab-Israeli relations and the interminable Israel-Palestine dispute.

Hamas-Fatah

Hamas-Fatah reconciliation Op-Ed

The Islamist world is fierce, bloody and fratricidal. Many of the extremist groupings are in bitter conflict with one another, not always along the traditional Sunni-Shia divide. Sometimes intra-Islamist conflicts are essentially political in nature. One long-running political feud is the continuing struggle between Hamas and Fatah. The Hamas-Fatah conflict does not concern itself with religious doctrine, nor even with basic political objectives.  Both organisations are Sunni Muslim; both are pledged to restore to Islamic rule the whole of Mandate Palestine, including the area currently occupied by the state of Israel.  Their fundamental disagreement is over the strategy for achieving their common…
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The state of Lebanon

The state of Lebanon

Uniquely among the 50 Muslim-majority nations of the world, Lebanon has a Christian president. The inauguration of Michel Aoun on 1 November 2016 ended a 29-month power vacuum and a political stalemate that had frozen the country’s constitutional processes.    “Not before time” would be a natural reaction, considering the length of the presidential inter-regnum. The truth, however, is that the absence of a largely figurehead president over that period, while politically inconvenient and somewhat of an embarrassment, made little difference to Lebanon as it ambled along under the guidance of prime minister Tammam Salam.

France’s Damp Squib - MPC Journal - PM Netanyahu (R) and France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius deliver statements in Jerusalem, June 21, 2015. Photo by Thomas Coex / Reuters

France’s Damp Squib

November the 5th – for anyone unfamiliar with British customs – is the day each year when children across the UK gather around a bonfire, burn an effigy of a 17th century villain called Guy Fawkes, and let off fireworks. Guy Fawkes’s villainy consisted in packing the basement of the House of Lords with barrels of gunpowder, hoping to blow up the whole place when King James I was present, thus despatching the monarch and the entire aristocracy to kingdom come. Details of the plot leaked, and it turned – as any firework does if not kept completely dry –…
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