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Category Archives: Middle East

Syria war, Sochi peace

The main take-away of the trilateral, two hour-long Russia-Iran-Turkey summit in Sochi on the future of Syria was expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin:

“The presidents of Iran and Turkey supported the initiative to convene an All-Syrian Congress for national dialogue in Syria. We agreed to hold this important event at the proper level and ensure the participation of representatives of different sectors of Syrian society.”

In practice, that means Russian, Iranian and Turkish foreign ministries and defense departments are tasked to “gather delegates from various political parties, internal and external opposition, ethnic and confessional groups at the negotiating table.”

Putin stressed that “in our common opinion, the success on the battlefield that brings closer the liberation of the whole of Syrian territory from the militants paves the way for a qualitatively new stage in the settlement of the crisis. I’m talking about the real prospects of achieving a long-term, comprehensive normalization in Syria, political adjustment in the post-conflict period.”

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Syria-war-Sochi-peace-by-Pepe-Escobar-Assad_Daesh_Negotiation_Peace-171124-877.html

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot

Investigative journalist Gareth Porter has published two exclusives whose import is far greater than may be immediately apparent. They concern Israel’s bombing in 2007 of a supposed nuclear plant secretly built, according to a self-serving US and Israeli narrative, by Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Although the attack on the “nuclear reactor” occurred a decade ago, there are pressing lessons to be learnt for those analysing current events in Syria.

Porter’s research indicates very strongly that the building that was bombed could not have been a nuclear reactor – and that was clear to experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) even as the story was being promoted uncritically across the western media.

But – and this is the critical information Porter conveys – the IAEA failed to disclose the fact that it was certain the building was not a nuclear plant, allowing the fabricated narrative to be spread unchallenged. It abandoned science to bow instead to political expediency.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/22/syria-experts-and-george-monbiot/

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Middle East

 

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US foreign policy in the Middle East doesn’t exist anymore

Time was when a mere statement from a secretary of state – let alone a US president – would have the phones jangling across the Middle East. The Reagans, Clintons, Bushes or Obamas of this world actually did have an effect on the region, albeit often malign, US leaders being poorly briefed and always in awe of Israel (not to mention its power to destroy political lives in Washington). But today, who is calling the shots across the old Ottoman Empire?

Well, just take a look at Putin and Assad and Erdogan and Sissi and Macron and Rouhani. These are the men who are currently holding the headlines, either declaring Isis dead or beaten or Syria “saved” or the Kurds “terrorists” or rescuing Prime Minister Saad Hariri from his hostage home in Saudi Arabia – although now we’ve all got to believe that he wasn’t detained and didn’t really intend to resign or did resign but doesn’t want to resign any more. And rather oddly, Mohamed bin Salman looks less and less influential, a Gulf Crown Prince whose attempts to destroy Yemen, Assad’s Syria, Qatar and Al Jazeera and even poor Lebanon look more and more like a child in a tantrum, throwing his toys around in an attempt to frighten the neighbours – including the one neighbour he will not fight, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/us-foreign-policy-middle-east-russia-syria-doesnt-exist-anymore-a8072056.html

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Europe, Middle East, North America

 

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How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads

Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani will hold a summit this Wednesday in Sochi to discuss Syria. Russia, Turkey and Iran are the three power players at the Astana negotiations — where multiple cease-fires, as hard to implement as they are, at least evolve, slowly but surely, towards the ultimate target — a political settlement.

A stable Syria is crucial to all parties involved in Eurasia integration. As Asia Times reported, China has made it clear that a pacified Syria will eventually become a hub of the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — building on the previous business bonanza of legions of small traders commuting between Yiwu and the Levant.

Away from intractable war and peace issues, it’s even more enlightening to observe how Turkey, Iran and Russia are playing their overlapping versions of Eurasia economic integration and/or BRI-related business.

Much has to do with the energy/transportation connectivity between railway networks — and, further on the down the road, high-speed rail — and what I have described, since the early 2000s, as Pipelineistan.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/How-Turkey-Iran-Russia-a-by-Pepe-Escobar-Iran_Iran-Russia-And-China_Pipeline_Pipelineistan-171122-416.html

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Asia, Economy, Europe, Middle East

 

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Le verità su Gaza che Israele non vuole vedere

L’intervista allo psicologo israeliano Mohammed Mansour è uno dei documenti più sconvolgenti, spaventosi e deprimenti che siano stati recentemente pubblicati da Haaretz.

Se Israele fosse una società con un’etica, e non nazionalista e vittima di un lavaggio del cervello, starebbe tremando fino alle sue fondamenta. Le parole di Mansour avrebbero dovuto essere l’argomento del giorno, la bufera del giorno. Una catastrofe umanitaria si sta svolgendo ad appena un’ora da noi. Un disastro umanitario: un orrore le cui responsabilità ricadono in buona parte su Israele, un paese che invece è tutto occupato dalle accuse di violenza sessuale nei confronti del capo di un gruppo editoriale televisivo, Alex Gilady.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/gideon-levy/2017/11/17/gaza-abusi

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The greatest dangers in the Middle East today are Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman

I was in my room in the Baghdad Hotel on al-Sadoun street last Sunday evening, writing about the chances for stability in Iraq taking hold, when the walls and floor began to shake. They jerked sideways and up and down several times as if my room was the cabin of boat in a rough sea.

My first confused thought was – this being Baghdad – that there must have been some huge bomb explosion, which would explain the rocking motion of everything around me. But almost simultaneously, I realised that I had not heard the sound of an explosion, so a better explanation was that there was an earthquake, though I had never thought of Baghdad as being in an earthquake zone.

The jerking movements of the walls and floor of my room were so spectacular that I wondered if the building was going to collapse. I looked under the desk where I was sitting, but the space was too small for me to crouch in. I got down on my hands and knees and started to crawl towards the bathroom which is meant to be the safest place in the event of a bomb explosion, and I supposed the same must be true of earthquakes.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/middle-east-saudi-arabia-us-iraq-israel-iran-jared-kushner-bin-salman-greatest-dangers-a8060886.html?amp

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Tension mounts in Lebanon as Saudi Arabia escalates power struggle with Iran

In Beirut’s southern suburbs, where buildings scarred with wars of old blend with posters of the latest dead, talk of another conflict has taken hold. A fight on a scale not seen before may be brewing, say locals like Hussein Khaireddine, a barber who says he and his family in the Shia suburb of Dahiyeh have grown used to tensions over decades.

“This one’s different,” he said. “It could lead to every valley and mountain top. And if it starts, it may not stop.”

The trepidation extends beyond the city’s predominantly Shia suburbs and south Lebanon, which bore the brunt of the 2006 war with Israel, to all corners of a country that has suddenly found itself at the centre of an extraordinary regional crisis. The turmoil had been brewing for years. But it was brought to a head on 3 November, at a lunch in Beirut being hosted by prime minister Saad Hariri. Midway through the meal with the visiting French cultural minister, Françoise Nyssen, Hariri received a call and his demeanour changed. He excused himself and left for the airport, without his aides.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/11/lebanon-saudi-arabia-iran–power-struggle-saad-hariri-resignation

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East

 

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A lesson from Syria: it’s crucial not to fuel far-right conspiracy theories

What do we believe? This is the crucial democratic question. Without informed choice, democracy is meaningless. This is why dictators and billionaires invest so heavily in fake news. Our only defence is constant vigilance, rigour and scepticism. But when some of the world’s most famous crusaders against propaganda appear to give credence to conspiracy theories, you wonder where to turn.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/15/lesson-from-syria-chemical-weapons-conspiracy-theories-alt-right

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Live from Baghdad: the Secret of Iraq’s Renaissance

Baghdad

On a sandstorm-swept morning in Baghdad earlier last week, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the legendary deputy leader of Hashd al-Shaabi, a.k.a. People Mobilization Units (PMUs) and the actual mastermind of numerous ground battles against ISIS/Daesh, met a small number of independent foreign journalists and analysts.

This was a game-changing moment in more ways than one. It was the first detailed interview granted by Mohandes since the fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani – the immensely respected marja (source of emulation) and top clerical authority in Iraq – in June 2014, when Daesh stormed across the border from Syria. The fatwa, loosely translated, reads, “It is upon every Iraqi capable of carrying guns to volunteer with the Iraqi Armed Forces to defend the sanctities of the nation.”

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/16/live-from-baghdad-the-secret-of-iraqs-renaissance/

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East

 

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In a Devastated Country, One City Is Thriving

“Cholera? No, cholera isn’t the worst problem here,” says the hospital director. The fatal epidemic spreading across Yemen in the last eight months, which has infected around 800,000 people and claimed over 2,000 lives, “is only the third or fourth most common cause of death here in Marib,” says Dr. Mohammed al-Qubati. “Most deaths are caused by landmines.”

Marib’s desert valley, located 172 kilometers (107 miles) east of the capital Sanaa, served for months as the frontline of some of the civil war’s fiercest fighting. Starting in 2015, the attacking Houthi militants began laying tens of thousands of land mines on roads, in fields and in gardens. Today, the front line runs 35 to 100 kilometers outside the town. But the mines are still there, still killing soldiers and civilians alike. “We only have 120 beds,” says the doctor. “They’re always occupied. Go and see for yourself, second floor!”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-city-of-marib-is-flourishing-while-yemen-falls-apart-a-1177800.html

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East

 

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