Levant & Mesopotamia

Israel resolution_

Unpicking UN Resolution 2334

Resolution 2334, approved 14-nil by the UN Security Council on 23 December 2016 with only the United States abstaining, has generated a tsunami of media comment.  A major subject of debate has turned on the fact that, for the first time in his eight years in office, President Obama decided not to veto a demonstrably anti-Israel resolution.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks on Middle East peace at the Department of State in Washington. Photo: Reuters

Flaws at the Heart of Kerry’s Blueprint

On 28 December 2016, in the dying days of the Obama presidency, Secretary of State John Kerry summoned the media to the Dean Acheson Auditorium in the State Department building in Washington, where he promised to “deliver remarks on Middle East peace”. In a speech lasting more than an hour, Kerry provided a detailed apologia for the Obama administration’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, including an impassioned rationale for the US’s abstention on the Security Council vote on December 23 demanding an end to further Israeli settlement construction in territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War.

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand inside the Umayyad mosque CREDIT: REUTERS

Aleppo: Symbol of Action and Inaction

SYRIA – Assad army, backed by Russian and Iranian allies, has recaptured the city of Aleppo, which might be a major victory for President Assad in Syria’s six-year-long civil war. It is not the same city the rebels and the regime were first fighting for. It has dramatically changed. Much of it has become in ruins. Much of it has been lost. Most of its people have been traumatised as thousands have died and many more have been detained or displaced. . Aleppo, as it was before the civil war, has become a memory. Thousands have died and many more…
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Here’s How Syrian Regime Built ISIS

Here’s How Syrian Regime Built ISIS

In his first interview after winning the presidency, Donald Trump hinted that he will shift policy in the Syria conflict from one of support for the moderate opposition to collaboration with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS,” Trump said. As for the rebels that the U.S. has backed fitfully for the past three years, he said: “We have no idea who these people are.” But the president-elect appears to be ill-informed about Assad’s key role in the rise of the so-called Islamic State. This three-part series documents the Syrian dictator’s sinister contributions to this…
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What to Be Improved in the Arab World? Image ©: Wayne Owens Chair Tanner Humanities Center The University Of Utah

What to Be Improved in the Arab World?

The short answer to the question: Where does one start? If things in the Middle East and North Africa were not complicated enough, answering the question has been made even more difficult by the rise of Donald Trump, and the fact that no one, maybe not even he, has an idea about what his policy towards the various crises in the Middle East and North Africa will be, or what his attitude might be towards individual countries in the region.

Sack of jerusalem

To Hell with the Truth!

To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything.                                                   Eugene O’Neill: “The Iceman Cometh” Opinions and wishful thinking are not the same as provable facts. It is one thing, for example, to believe fervently that Marxism is a preferable system to capitalism, but to maintain against all the evidence that the world is a flat disc floating in space is surely unsustainable. Yet the Flat Earth…
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Abbas_

Breaking the Israeli-Palestinian Log Jam

Discussing the current impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a recent leader in the Jerusalem Post put Israel’s dilemma in a nutshell. “The real problem is that Israel lacks a clear and decisive policy of what it wants…Israel is living in a reality of indecision.” Within the broad spectrum of Israeli public opinion there is no shortage of clear and decisive policies for resolving the Israel-Palestine stalemate, but the four administrations led over the years by Benjamin Netanyahu have plumped for none of them. The result, as the leader writer pointed out, is the anomaly of the government officially supporting the…
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A Syrian woman cries as she leaves a residential block reportedly hit by an explosives-filled barrel dropped by a government forces helicopter on March 18, 2014, in Aleppo. Khaled Khatib / AFP

The War Criminals of Syria

“It is difficult to deny that Russia is partnering with the Syrian regime to carry out war crimes.” This is the charge laid by the British ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, in a vituperative meeting of the Security Council on 25 September 2016. In comments unrestrained by the normal diplomatic niceties, Britain, France and the US openly condemned Russia as “an international pariah”. The war crimes accusations centred on the widespread use of bunker-busting and incendiary bombs on the 275,000 civilians living in the rebel-held east of the city, weapons that Moscow’s accusers say were dropped by Russian aircraft.

Bashar Al-Assad in Russia

Can Syria Avoid Disintegration?

On September 10, 2016, after mammoth negotiating sessions held in Geneva, the USA and Russia announced that agreement had been reached on a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war, to take effect at sundown on Monday the 12th.

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