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Category Archives: Middle East

Turkey needs voices in favor of peace politics

Turkey is not officially at war, but rather says it is engaged in a “military operation” in the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin. But there must have been a political space for arguments in favor of peace or for a peaceful solution. Alas, we do not seem to have any space for such dissent in Turkey. This is the case primarily because of the political understanding of the ruling party, which views any argument against a military solution as tantamount to “treason.” But that is only one reason among many.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/nuray-mert/turkey-needs-voices-in-favor-of-peace-politics-126423

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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Turkey accused of recruiting ex-Isis fighters in their thousands to attack Kurds in Syria

Turkey is recruiting and retraining Isis fighters to lead its invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, according to an ex-Isis source.

“Most of those who are fighting in Afrin against the YPG [People’s Protection Units] are Isis, though Turkey has trained them to change their assault tactics,” said Faraj, a former Isis fighter from north-east Syria who remains in close touch with the jihadi movement.

In a phone interview with The Independent, he added: “Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting Isis, but actually they are training Isis members and sending them to Afrin.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/turkey-isis-afrin-syria-kurds-free-syrian-army-jihadi-video-fighters-recruits-a8199166.html?amp

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Why we should fear the ‘Washington establishment’ figures who are pulling the strings in the Trump administration

People sitting in cafes in Baghdad under the rule of Saddam Hussein used to be nervous of accidentally spilling their cup of coffee over the front page of the newspaper spread out before them. They had a good reason for their anxiety, because Iraqi newspapers at that time always carried a picture of Saddam on their front page. Defacing his features might be interpreted as an indication of disrespect or even of a critical or treasonous attitude towards the great leader.

Saddam Hussein invariably got star billing in the Iraqi press, but he would be impressed at the astonishing way in which it has become the norm in the US media for the words and doings of President Trump to monopolise the top of the news. Day after day, the three or four lead stories in The New York Times and CNN relate directly or indirectly to Trump. And, unlike Saddam, this blanket coverage is voluntary on the part of the news outlets and overwhelmingly critical.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-rex-tillerson-establishment-media-iraq-syria-iran-turkey-a8191626.html?amp

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Middle East

 

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On the front line in Syria, a confusing conversation with a doctor who may be an official of the YPG

Dr Karaman Heddo breezed into the office in surgical kit, a plastic covering for his hair, a big grin on his bearded face.

“Ask me anything about Afrin – ask me anything political,” he said.

It was an odd meeting. Dr Heddo – trained as a doctor at the Aleppo medical school, he confided –  wouldn’t exactly confirm he was an official of the YPG, the local Kurdish “protection units”, although he certainly sounded like it. He insisted we were in a medical facility. It had marble floors. It was spotless. It was guarded by two armed men. But it seemed to have no patients. It certainly had no ambulances or worried families at the door or busy nurses.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-front-line-robert-fisk-war-ypg-kurdish-syrian-army-russia-putin-a8191381.html

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Perché l’Italia non alza la voce con Erdoğan

Quando le immagini dell’intervento turco nel nord della Siria hanno mostrato i carri armati di fabbricazione tedesca Leopard 2 che bombardavano il cantone curdo di Afrin, in Germania è subito scoppiato un caso politico. A molti è sembrato intollerabile che le armi tedesche fossero impiegate per invadere uno stato sovrano e attaccare le milizie curde dell’Ypg, che sono state l’unico vero alleato sul campo dell’occidente nella lotta al gruppo Stato islamico.

Di fronte alle polemiche il governo tedesco è stato costretto a sospendere un accordo con la Turchia per l’ammodernamento degli stessi carri armati, rinviando la discussione a quando saranno terminate le trattative per la formazione del nuovo esecutivo.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/gabriele-crescente/2018/02/05/amp/italia-turchia-erdogan

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2018 in European Union, Middle East

 

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Mapping the Blurred Lines of Beirut’s Languages

A sign across from a quiet Beirut park advertises a taxi service: “For everyone, everywhere,” the sign reads in French. “Day and night,” it says in Arabic on the other side of the sign. Two sheets of printer paper are taped up on a wall nearby. One advertises an apartment for rent, delivering different pieces of information in English, French, and a transliteration of Arabic into Latin letters. On the wrinkled page pasted next to it, a hookah delivery service lists its flavors in Arabic—alternating between Arabic and Latin script—and entices customers with an offer of “free delivery” in English.

Beirut, Lebanon’s cosmopolitan capital, is famous for the chaotic jumble of languages it contains. Arabic, French, and English mix and mingle in writing and in conversation. For visitors and locals alike, it can be hard to pin down just how they interact, and the unwritten rules for how they’re used.

https://www.citylab.com/design/2017/11/mapping-the-blurred-lines-of-beiruts-languages/546359/

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Middle East

 

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The Real Reason Behind Turkey’s Military Incursion Into Syria

On the ninth day of Turkey’s incursion into the Kurdish district of Afrin, an international movement is underway to try to stop the galloping Turkish assault into Syria.

Germany announced Thursday it would halt arms shipments and suspend the deal it signed to upgrade Turkey’s German-manufactured tanks. France convened a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday, and U.S. President Donald Trump warned Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday to “avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces” in Syria.

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/the-real-reason-behind-turkey-s-kurdish-skirmish-1.5766942

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Middle East

 

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How the people of Mosul subverted Isis ‘apartheid’

The day Isis attacked Mosul, Wassan, an affable young doctor with a cherubic face, ran from the maternity ward to the emergency room at Jimhoriya hospital. Injured civilians had begun pouring in. Wassan had just graduated from medical school, and had no experience in treating trauma casualties. As the wounded continued to arrive, what she lacked in knowledge she tried to make up for with enthusiasm.

By the evening, the wards were overflowing, patients spilling into the corridors. Wassan slept overnight in the hospital, ignoring her father’s incessant phone calls to come home.

The next morning, when mortar shells started falling near the hospital, doctors and patients alike piled into ambulances and fled across the bridge to the east side of the city.

There, they heard the news. The governor and senior generals had fled. Western Mosul had fallen.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jan/30/mosul-isis-apartheid

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Middle East

 

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The bureaucracy of evil: how Islamic State ran a city

Every day, early in the morning, the former missile scientist would leave his house in Mosul. Riding buses, or on foot – he could no longer afford petrol – he’d call on friends, check on his mother or visit his sister’s family. Sometimes he’d hunt for cheap kerosene, or try to score contraband books or cigarettes. Most often, he’d meander aimlessly – a traveller in his own city.

In the evening, he’d sit at his old wooden desk, bent over his notebook, recording the day. Most of what he wrote was banal: the price of tomatoes, a quarrel with his wife. But he also wrote his observations of the remarkable events unfolding in Mosul.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jan/29/bureaucracy-evil-isis-run-city-mosul

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Middle East

 

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As my recent trip to Syria proved, wars can be at their most dangerous when they’re coming to an end

It’s easy to think the war is over. Until mortars from Ghouta swish over Damascus and explode in the old Christian area of Bab el-Touma with its grocery shops and restaurants. Six dead. Or when an army officer comes and says quite casually to you: “Remember Captain Walid? He was martyred four days ago.” I’ve always felt uneasy about the word “martyred” – about any soldier, or civilian, anywhere.

But that’s the way the man referred to Captain Walid Jabbour Khalil. He was a combat correspondent with the Syrian army. He carried a notebook, not a rifle, and he had a dangerous job.

I knew him, though not well. Last year, he was covering the war on the mountains of Qalamun high above Lebanon, a short, cheerful, moustachioed man who, I thought, was happier as an official military reporter than an infantryman. He had been recording how the bodies of Jabhat al-Nusra fighters lay on the edge of an escarpment just captured by the army and its Hezbollah allies.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-civil-war-deaths-danger-risk-assad-regime-rebels-russia-eastern-ghouta-damascus-aleppo-hama-a8188936.html

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Middle East

 

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