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Tag 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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Trouble in the Gulf: the view from Tehran

Throughout the Gulf region people are talking about the rift between Saudi Arabia (and its allies) and Qatar and the unexpected appointment on 21 June of Muhammad Bin Salman (known as ‘MBS’) as Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince. The unprecedented attempt to marginalise a fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member has shocked many in the region, and there are fears that the promotion of MBS may further exacerbate the tension.For months it has been obvious that King Salman was grooming his favourite son as his successor, but few imagined that happening quite so soon.At the core of the Qatar furore lies the longstanding rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Throughout the commotion, Iranian politicians have largely kept quiet and advised both parties to settle their issues through negotiation. But if they were concerned about the inter-Arab squabbling, the promotion of MBS has sent an altogether more powerful message to the Iranians, as he is behind the war on Yemen, and seen either as a ‘reformer’ or as ‘reckless’.

Source: Trouble in the Gulf: the view from Tehran, by Camelia Entekhabifard (Le Monde diplomatique – English edition, July 2017)

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2017 in Middle East

 

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A Planet’s Future Threatened by the Fate of Its Children

“This is a war against normal life.” So said CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward, describing the situation at this moment in Syria, as well as in other parts of the Middle East. It was one of those remarks that should wake you up to the fact that the regions the United States has, since September 2001, played such a role in destabilizing are indeed in crisis, and that this process isn’t just taking place at the level of failing states and bombed-out cities, but in the most personal way imaginable. It’s devastating for countless individuals — mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, friends, lovers — and above all for children.

Ward’s words caught a reality that grows harsher by the week, and not just in Syria, but in parts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, among other places in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Death and destruction stalk whole populations in Syria and other crumbling countries and failed or failing states across the region.  In one of those statistics that should stagger the imagination, devastated Syria alone accounts for more than five million of the estimated 21 million refugees worldwide. And sadly, these numbers do not reflect an even harsher reality: you only become a “refugee” by crossing a border.  According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in 2015 there were another 44 million people uprooted from their homes who were, in essence, exiles in their own lands.  Add those numbers together and you have one out of every 113 people on the planet — and those figures, the worst since World War II, may only be growing.

Source: Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, A Planet’s Future Threatened by the Fate of Its Children | TomDispatch

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Blood on the Tracks of the New Silk Roads

China’s cardinal foreign policy imperative is to refrain from interfering abroad while advancing the proverbial good relations with key political actors – even when they may be at each other’s throats.Still, it’s nothing but gut-wrenching for Beijing to watch the current, unpredictable, Saudi-Qatari standoff. There’s no endgame in sight, as plausible scenarios include even regime change and a seismic geopolitical shift in Southwest Asia – what a Western-centric view calls the Middle East.And blood on the tracks in Southwest Asia cannot but translate into major trouble ahead for the New Silk Roads, now rebranded Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Source: Blood on the Tracks of the New Silk Roads

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America

 

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Did Donald Trump denounce Qatar as a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ due to failed business deals?

What on earth made President Donald Trump identify Qatar – with its longstanding relationship with the US and host to 10,000 American military personnel on the biggest airbase in the Middle East – as a “funder of terrorism”? Did someone misinform him of Qatar’s role in the region? Or was Mr Trump embittered because, as Qatari businessmen are asking themselves, a real estate deal between the future US president and Qatar’s rulers fell through in 2010?

Clayton Swisher, the investigative journalist who broke the Palestine Papers story in 2011 – detailing secret talks between the Israelis, the Palestine Authority and the Bush-era US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice – says that Mr Trump and his daughter Ivanka came to Qatar seven years ago. There, he says, they approached two senior Qatari officials for investment help. One was Hussein Al-Abdullah, executive board member of the Qatar Investment Authority. The other was Sheikh Hamid bin Jassem al-Thani, a member of the royal family who was then prime minister.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/donald-trump-qatar-sponsor-terrorism-business-deals-fail-us-president-gulf-emirate-saudi-arabia-uae-a7788151.html?amp

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2017 in Middle East, North America

 

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This is the real story behind the economic crisis unfolding in Qatar

The Qatar crisis proves two things: the continued infantilisation of the Arab states, and the total collapse of the Sunni Muslim unity supposedly created by Donald Trump’s preposterous attendance at the Saudi summit two weeks ago.

After promising to fight to the death against Shia Iranian “terror,” Saudi Arabia and its closest chums have now ganged up on one of the wealthiest of their neighbours, Qatar, for being a fountainhead of “terror”. Only Shakespeare’s plays could come close to describing such treachery. Shakespeare’s comedies, of course.

For, truly, there is something vastly fantastical about this charade. Qatar’s citizens have certainly contributed to Isis. But so have Saudi Arabia’s citizens.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/qatar-crisis-economy-diplomatic-links-torn-middle-east-russia-hacking-real-story-robert-fisk-a7778616.html?amp

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The only real way to stop atrocities like the Manchester attack is to end the wars which allow extremism to grow

President Trump leaves the Middle East today, having done his bit to make the region even more divided and mired in conflict than it was before.

At the same moment that Donald Trump was condemning the suicide bomber in Manchester as “an evil loser in life”, he was adding to the chaos in which al-Qaeda and Isis have taken root and flourished.

It may be a long distance between the massacre in Manchester and the wars in the Middle East, but the connection is there.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/manchester-attack-terrorism-isis-salman-abedi-end-middle-east-wars-extremism-grows-a7752181.html?amp

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2017 in Europe, Middle East

 

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Donald Trump is trying to stick to the script – but he’s about to really mess up in the Middle East

In Riyadh, Trump couldn’t mention where most of the the 9/11 hijackers came from or whose Sunni cult-faith was the inspiration for Isis – nor which country chopped off heads with Isis-like relish. (Answer: Saudi Arabia). And when he arrived in Israel on Monday, Trump was faced with a new censorship protocol: don’t mention who was occupying whose property in the West Bank or which country was outrageously and continuously stealing land – legally owned by Arabs – for Jews and Jews only. (Answer: Israel).
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-saudi-arabia-riyadh-israel-palestine-sunni-shia-a7749921.html?amp

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Donald Trump’s speech to the Muslim world was filled with hypocrisy and condescension

So after inventing “fake news”, America’s crazed President on Sunday gave the world’s Muslims a fake speech. Donald Trump said he was not in Saudi Arabia to “lecture” – but then told the world’s Islamic preachers what to say, condemned “Islamist terrorism” as if violence was a solely Muslim phenomenon and then announced like an Old Testament prophet that he was in “a battle between good and evil”. There were no words of compassion, none of mercy, absolutely not a word of apology for his racist, anti-Muslim speeches of last year.

Even more incredibly, he blamed Iran – rather than Isis – for “fuelling sectarian violence”, pitied the Iranian people for their “despair” a day after they had freely elected a liberal reformer as their president, and demanded the further isolation of the largest Shiite country in the Middle East. The regime responsible for “so much instability” is Iran. The Shiite Hezbollah were condemned. So were the Shiite Yemenis. Trump’s Sunni Saudi hosts glowed with warmth at such wisdom.

Source: Donald Trump’s speech to the Muslim world was filled with hypocrisy and condescension | The Independent

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Middle East, North America

 

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Donald Trump puts US on Sunni Muslim side of bitter sectarian war with Shias

It was crude stuff. President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously.

He denounced Hezbollah and lined up the US squarely on the side of the Sunni against the Shia in the sectarian proxy war that is tearing apart the Middle East.

The impact of US presidential visits and speeches abroad are generally over-rated and turn out to have far less influence than was claimed at the time.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-saudi-arabia-trip-sunni-shia-sectarian-war-iran-a7748386.html

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Middle East, North America

 

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