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Category Archives: Middle East

Two Impulsive Leaders Fan the Global Flames 

The Middle East.  Could there be a more perilous place on Earth, including North Korea?  Not likely.  The planet’s two leading nuclear armed powers backing battling proxies amply supplied with conventional weapons; terror groups splitting and spreading; religious-sectarian wars threatening amid a plethora of ongoing armed hostilities stretching from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. And that was before Donald Trump and his team arrived on this chaotic scene. If there is one region where a single spark might start the fire that could engulf the globe, then welcome to the Middle East.



As for sparks, they are now in ample supply. At this moment, President Trump’s foreign policy agenda is a package of contradictions threatening to reach a boiling point in the region. He has allied himself firmly with Saudi Arabia even when his secretaries of state and defense seem equivocal on the subject. In the process, he’s come to view a region he clearly knows little about through the Saudi royal family’s paranoid eyes, believing staunchly that Shia Iran is hell-bent on controlling an Islamic world that is 85% Sunni.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176303/

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Middle East

 

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A question of justice

This April a number of Republican congressmen set up an Israel Victory Caucus in Washington (1). Its co-chair Bill Johnson said: ‘We believe Israel has been victorious in the war and that this reality must be recognised for any peace to be achieved between Israel and its neighbours.’ Historian Daniel Pipes added that ‘victory means imposing your will on your enemy.’ As if in response, hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners acted on a call from their best-known member, Marwan Barghouti, to go on hunger strike, their way of saying loud and clear that the Palestinians’ resistance continues and all ideas of their destruction are illusions.
http://mondediplo.com/2017/06/11palestine

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The battle for Mosul is won. But can Iraq survive?

It is widely accepted that Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul, declared this weekend, ends a battle but not a war, and that the group’s thousands of jihadi supporters could turn in revenge to targeted suicide bombings in the west as well as in cities in Iraq and Syria. What has been less often predicted is the risk of mass violence from a different quarter. Iraqis themselves may slip back into fraternal conflict now that their temporary need to unite against Isis is almost over.Three years of war against the Islamist extremists created a national sense of urgency which overcame regional, ethnic and sectarian disputes. But with Isis now on the back foot, and deprived of most of the territory it once held throughout western Iraq, old tensions could resume.One of these deep-seated Iraqi problems has clearly worsened since Isis emerged to capture Mosul in 2014. In the early months of the struggle to prevent the group from moving on to seize Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish regional government, Kurdish resistance forces occupied vast areas of the Nineveh plain east of Mosul which had long been disputed between Arabs and Kurds. The same happened in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

Source: The battle for Mosul is won. But can Iraq survive? | Jonathan Steele | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Mosul families complain overuse of airstrikes killed thousands as they count their dead in wake of Isis defeat

“There were very few Daesh [Isis fighters] in our neighbourhood, but they dropped a lot of bombs on them,” says Qais, 47, a resident of the al-Jadida district of Mosul. “We reckon that the airstrikes here killed between 600 and 1,000 people.”He shows pictures on his phone of a house that had stood beside his own before it was hit by a bomb or missile that had reduced it to a heap of smashed-up bricks. “There were no Daesh in the house,” says Qais. But there were seven members of the Abu Imad family living there, of whom five were killed along with two passers-by.

Source: Mosul families complain overuse of airstrikes killed thousands as they count their dead in wake of Isis defeat | The Independent

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Mosul victory marks ‘collapse’ of Isis, says Iraqi Prime Minister

Iraq’s Prime Minister formally declared victory over Isis in the northern city of Mosul, saying their defeat marks the “collapse” of the self-proclaimed caliphate.”I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism which the terrorist Daesh announced from Mosul,” Haider al-abadi said in a speech shown on state television, using an Arabic acronym for Isis.His Iraqi government is greatly strengthened by its defeat of Isis which three years ago launched the Caliphate in the wake of its unexpected capture of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. Iraqi security services could not have succeeded militarily without being able call in air strikes at will to destroy any Isis defensive positions. This has led to very heavy civilian casualties and immense destruction.

Source: Mosul victory marks ‘collapse’ of Isis, says Iraqi Prime Minister | The Independent

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Iraqi government recaptures Mosul where it suffered its heaviest defeat by Isis

Iraq is declaring victory over Isis in Mosul as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, wearing black military uniform, arrived in the city to congratulate his soldiers at the end of an epic nine-month-long battle.Elite Iraqi government forces raised the country’s flag on the banks of the Tigris River this morning, though Isis snipers are still shooting from the last buildings they hold in the Old City.The magnitude of the victory won by the Iraqi government and its armed forces, three years after they suffered a catastrophic defeat in Mosul, is not in doubt.A few thousand lightly equipped Isis fighters astonished the world by routing in four days an Iraqi garrison of at least 20,000 men equipped with tanks and helicopters. The recapture of Mosul now is revenge for the earlier humiliation.

Source: Iraqi government recaptures Mosul where it suffered its heaviest defeat by Isis | The Independent

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Soldiers celebrate Isis’s defeat in Mosul as Iraq’s greatest battle in war against jihadis reaches bloody conclusion

Iraqi soldiers have started celebrating their defeat of Isis in Mosul after a nine-month siege, even before the last resistance has been extinguished. An Iraqi commander called on a loudspeaker for surviving Isis fighters to surrender, but this was rejected by their commander. “It may take another two or three days,” said an Iraqi observer, but the Iraqi government is right in saying that the greatest battle in its war against Isis is effectively over.Iraqi troops were beginning to look more relaxed as they moved through the shattered streets in the centre of Mosul. Air strikes have turned every building into a jumble of broken beams and masonry. There was the sound of shooting just ahead and a civilian ambulance sped past. There had been heavy fighting the previous day in which snipers were very active and there were repeated air strikes by the US-led coalition.

Source: Soldiers celebrate Isis’s defeat in Mosul as Iraq’s greatest battle in war against jihadis reaches bloody conclusion | The Independent

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Battle for Raqqa: Fighters begin offensive to push Isis out of Old City

In the early dawn of 5 July, a 200-strong force of anti-Isis fighters launched a surprise attack on the Old City of Raqqa, which is the last big urban centre held by Isis anywhere in Syria and Iraq. Recruited mostly from survivors of a tribe that Isis massacred three years ago, the five-man assault teams, into which the attackers were divided, at first made quick progress and reached a well-known local mosque in the Old City called Othman bin Affan. But Isis is still a formidable force, using expert snipers, suicide bombers and great numbers of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to inflict casualties. Abu Imad al-Sheity, the commander of the anti-Isis group, told The Independent in an interview by phone from the front line, that “the Daesh [Isis] militants learned that the local civilians were telling us the position of their snipers. They targeted them and killed dozens. It was a horrible massacre.” The UN says that there are between 50,000 and 100,000 civilians still left in Raqqa.

Source: Battle for Raqqa: Fighters begin offensive to push Isis out of Old City | The Independent

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Here in Iraq, Isis is being defeated – but with US policy in disarray, it doesn’t feel any safer

President Trump has told a crowd of cheering Polish nationalists in Warsaw that the great threat to the world is from “radical Islamic terrorism”, which should make it good news for him that Isis is losing Mosul, the heart of its self-proclaimed Caliphate and its de facto capital in Iraq. At the same time, US-backed Syrian-Kurdish forces are closing in on Raqqa, the last big Isis-held city in Syria, which they will capture in the coming weeks or months.Isis has been the most powerful enemy of peace in the Middle East and beyond over the last three years, so why is its defeat in its two largest strongholds not making the region feel a safer place? Instead, the mood is edgy and fearful, bringing to mind the atmosphere in Europe in 1914 when many different conflicts were escalating and cross-infecting each other. It is not so much that the great powers are itching to fight each other in the Middle East, but, as in the period before the First World War, there are so many “wild cards”, in the sense of inputs or ingredients of uncertain value in the political mix, that almost anything could happen.

Source: Here in Iraq, Isis is being defeated – but with US policy in disarray, it doesn’t feel any safer | The Independent

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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July 3: The end of one revolution and the start of another 

It is no coincidence that the deadline Qatar was given to comply with Saudi Arabia’s 13 demands fell on 3 July, the fourth anniversary of the military coup in Egypt that ousted the country’s first democratically elected president.

The link between the two days was made explicit by propagandists for the Saudi and Emirati regimes. On 2 July, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the former police chief of Dubai, tweeted: “On 3 July Morsi was ousted. On 3 July Qatar will be ousted. Is it a coincidence?”

The week before, Abdulrahman al-Rasheed, the former general manager of the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, wrote of Qatar: “It is threatening and warning that the confrontation will be similar to what happened at the “Safwan tent” but we fear for Doha as it may be like the ‘Rabaa Square!'”

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/3-july-319275252

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2017 in Middle East

 

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