Showing posts with label Arab World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arab World. Show all posts

18 February 2018

Security and Stability in Turkey

By Fabien Merz

Fabian Merz contends that Turkey has witnessed a significant deterioration of stability and security in recent years. So what’s behind this development and what might the future hold for Turkey’s stability? In this article, Merz provides answers by looking at the driving factors that have contributed to Turkey’s current security situation, including 1) Turkey’s growing authoritarianism; 2) the 2016 military coup attempt and its aftermath; 3) jihadist terrorism related to the war in Syria, and 4) the reignition of the Kurdish conflict.

Recent developments in Turkey have far-reaching implications. Domestic political instability, jihadist terrorism related to the war in Syria, and the newly inflamed Kurdish conflict have led to a marked deterioration in the country’s security situation over the last few years. What are the causes of this development, and what does the future hold in terms of Turkey’s stability?

16 February 2018

Rejecting The Grey Zone

By Angie Gad

For most of my life, terrorism and Islam have occupied overlapping spaces in the public consciousness. It goes without saying that the attacks on September 11 dramatically changed the world, and the West’s relationship with Islam took a turn along with it.

I recall the week after 9/11, a boy at school asked me if I was Muslim. It was the first time anyone had asked me; religion never came up in a conversation before then. I was ecstatic about a chance to finally talk about Islam. I abruptly and jubilantly said “yes!” Before I could finish taking a deep breath to start my next sentence, he said with a twisted face and condescending tone, “so just like the terrorists that killed people with planes?” I was never able to muster a response because what does an eleven-year-old say to that? I was too young and oblivious to comprehend his comment. What terrorists? What is a terrorist? What did they have to do with Islam? We had never discussed planes or terrorists during our weekly lessons at the mosque. 

15 February 2018

Turkey and Iran: On a Collision Course

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The Turkish military said on Feb. 6 that one soldier was killed and five more were wounded in a mortar attack while attempting to set up a military outpost in northwest Syria. The Turkish military statement did not include any details about who had attacked its soldiers, but Arab News – an English-language daily based in Saudi Arabia – claimed that the attack had been carried out by “Iranian militias.” A Saudi media outlet has an interest in playing this up, but various other reports simply noted that “pro-regime forces” had carried out an attack on Turkish forces. Either way, Turkey and Iran are on a collision course.

Israel’s power show on northern border aimed at Hezbollah

Ben Caspit 

The visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the northern border and the extensive paratrooper drill last week sends a clear message to Lebanon and Hezbollah: Israel is prepared for an attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a military outpost on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, Feb. 4, 2015. 

On Feb. 6, Israel’s Security Cabinet paid a visit to the country’s northern border. The ministers, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, were photographed in fashionable windbreakers, baseball caps and binoculars looking out over the Syrian border from the Golan Heights. Photos from the tour that reached the press were shot in the Golan Heights, with the ministers looking northeast, or in other words, at the Syrian front.

Security and Stability in Turkey

By Fabien Merz 

Fabian Merz contends that Turkey has witnessed a significant deterioration of stability and security in recent years. So what’s behind this development and what might the future hold for Turkey’s stability? In this article, Merz provides answers by looking at the driving factors that have contributed to Turkey’s current security situation, including 1) Turkey’s growing authoritarianism; 2) the 2016 military coup attempt and its aftermath; 3) jihadist terrorism related to the war in Syria, and 4) the reignition of the Kurdish conflict.

14 February 2018

Oman: How India Can Benefit In Calm Amidst Storm In West Asia – Analysis


By Kabir Taneja


The geography of West Asia today is under immense stress, with conflicts visible on most of the boundaries in the region. While on the face of it much of the blame would point towards the Syrian war and the entry of the Islamic State (ISIS) into the jihadist discourse, it is in fact the increasingly confrontational rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is spreading a lot of discord around the region’s politics and the fragile sectarian environment that holds these states together.

The sultanate of Oman, the last stop of Prime Minister Modi’s tri-nation trip to the region covering Palestine (with Jordan facilitating the stopover to Ramallah) and UAE before he lands in Muscat, has been conflict-free since the Dhofar Rebellion which lasted from 1963 till 1976, leading to a radical modernisation of the previously downtrodden and impoverished Omani state. Amidst this political kerfuffle, then Omani Sultan Said bin Taimur (who gained his education from Mayo College, Rajputana—India, in the 1920s) was deposed in a coup by his son Qaboos Bin Said al Said with support from the British. Qaboos, as of today, is the longest serving Arab leader.

10 February 2018

Lebanon: About to Blow?

Janine di Giovanni

Lebanon is a tiny country, with a population of around six million; it could fit neatly between Philadelphia and Danbury, Connecticut. It has survived many crises over the past several decades: a brutal civil war from 1975 to 1990 that left 100,000 dead, a string of political assassinations since 2004 whose perpetrators have gone unpunished, and occupations by Israel and Syria. But Lebanon’s resilience is fraying. Its infrastructure is badly damaged and unemployment is high. It is also struggling to accommodate a large refugee population—500,000 Palestinians, many descended from those who fled the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and nearly 1.5 million Syrians, a majority of them Sunni Muslims. 

Turkey's permanent state of emergency is crippling its chances of development

Faisal Al Yafai

To no-one's surprise – but to considerable alarm – Ankara last week extended the state of emergency that has been in place since a failed coup attempt in July 2016. That makes the sixth extension since the coup; 18 months in which more than 50,000 people have been arrested and an estimated 100,000 civil servants removed from their positions.

The ostensible reason for these arrests has been an attempt to root out followers of a US-based cleric called Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the attempted coup. But with the state of emergency dragging up government opponents and politicians and forcing the closure of media groups, critics within and without Turkey have asked how proportionate president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been.

9 February 2018

A Theory About Iran

By Jacob L. Shapiro

When protests erupted in Iran at the end of December, the initial cause seemed obvious. The price of basic food staples like eggs and poultry rose by almost 40 percent in a matter of days, and data from Iran’s central bank showed a general rise of the inflation rate throughout the country. And yet, even at the time, there was something inadequate about this explanation. The protesters were everyday civilians, not students or political activists – and they had not risked their lives to protest in 2012 or 2013, when economic conditions were far worse. If the price of a carton of eggs rises temporarily from $3 to $4.20, it is hardly welcome, but it is also not the type of thing that leads to revolution.

Back Into the Quagmire

By FRED KAPLAN

As the Trump administration escalates America’s military involvement in Afghanistan and Syria, one wonders what happened to the Donald Trump who decried the former war as a “total disaster” and bellowed over and over “It’s time to come home”—and who pledged to do nothing in the latter war but “bomb the shit out of ISIS.”

Yet Trump is sending more troops to Afghanistan (the longest war in U.S. history) and broadening our mission in Syria (arguably the most complex conflict we’ve ever sleepwalked into).

8 February 2018

The Islamic State’s Drone Documents: Management, Acquisitions, and DIY Tradecraft

DON RASSLER, MUHAMMAD AL

Much has been made of the Islamic State drone threat ever since the group killed two Kurdish soldiers in October 2016 with a bomb hidden within one of its drones that Kurdish forces downed in Iraq.1 The Islamic State was able to achieve this feat through an act of deception, as the two Kurdish soldiers were killed by the bomb after they had taken the drone back to their base to inspect it. Since this type of attack had not been conducted before, the drone was an unassuming place for the Islamic State to hide an improvised explosive device. But that trick only works occasionally, and it likely has a limited shelf life.

The Complicated War in Yemen

By Paul R. Pillar

No matter how much some in the United States try to apply to the war in Yemen a Manichean template for seeing the conflict as a simple contest between good guys and bad guys, the complexities of the war keep intruding. Long overlooked has been how the supposedly good side—that is, the one on behalf of which Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have intervened—has been where some genuinely bad guys belonging to al-Qaeda have resided. Similarly overlooked is how the Houthi movement seen as the bad side—because the Houthis have accepted some Iranian aid—has been among al-Qaeda’s staunchest opponents in Yemen. Lest we forget, the Yemeni-based al-Qaeda branch is the wing of the organization that has come closest to inflicting post-9/11 damage on the United

The Qatar Crisis, its Regional Implications, and the US National Interest

by Njdeh Asisian

Introduction

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The GCC is an important organization within the Persian Gulf area which has undergone a very serious organizational crisis. A very stern rift has occurred within the GCC that has witnessed Saudi Arabia and her regional allies, flexing their muscles against Qatar (which is also a member of GCC) due to serious differences in their worldview and day-to-day regional politics. The Saudi ultimatum may be summarized from the original 13 points into the one paragraph below: Cease supporting Iran and Turkey as regional competitors, cease Qatar’s support for terrorist groups and anti

7 February 2018

The Endless War: Taliban Reaping the Rewards From the Deteriorating Security Situation in Afghanistan

By Max Fisher

They were hardly the first Taliban attacks in the capital. Still, there was something particularly alarming in their scale and implication about the pair of episodes, just a week apart, that rocked Afghanistan: a hotel siege that killed 22, then a car bomb, loaded into an ambulance, that killed 103.

The Impact of Turkey’s Afrin Operation on U.S.-Kurdish Stability Operations

By: Patrick Hoover

On January 20, the Turkish army, with Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies, launched Operation Olive Branch to clear the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria. Ankara’s chief strategic objectives include eliminating the Syrian Kurdish militia’s People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their political partner, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which are defending Afrin; ensuring

6 February 2018

Turkey's President Takes a Victory Lap


Following a referendum vote on sweeping constitutional changes in April 2017, Turkey's government will transition from a parliamentary democracy to an executive presidency after the next presidential election in 2019.
The odds of a free and fair election are slim given the measures incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken — and the further measures he will take — to ensure he comes out on top.
Though former President Abdullah Gul would be Erdogan's most credible challenger, he is unlikely to run in the next presidential race.

By November 2019, Turkey will hold one of its most consequential elections: a vote to choose its first executive president. Up until 2014, Turkey's parliament appointed the country's presidents, who served largely in an emeritus capacity as paternalistic figures representing the integrity of the state. The system changed with a series of constitutional amendments spearheaded by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that allowed for direct elections in the future. Erdogan then succeeded President Abdullah Gul to become Turkey's first popularly elected president in August 2014. At the time of his election, constitutional scholars highlighted concerns that having a popularly elected prime minister and a popularly elected president could give rise to an executive duality. If both the head of the constitutionally defined executive — the prime minister — and the head of state are popularly elected, who runs Turkey?

Erdogan had a clear answer. In April 2017, Turkey held a referendum that the president had proposed and promoted on a sweeping number of constitutional changes. Among the amendments up for approval was a provision to transition the country's government from a parliamentary democracy, which it had been since the republic's founding in 1923, to what some have called an "executive presidency." The office of prime minister would be abolished under the new system and all executive power transferred to the presidency. The president would also gain the authority to enact laws directly through decree (though parliament would continue legislating), immunity from virtually all forms of judicial oversight and vast powers to appoint judges to much of the judicial hierarchy, including the Constitutional Court and courts of appeal. In what proved to be a highly contentious process of electioneering — the result of which has been disputed — 51 percent of voters narrowly passed the change to Turkey's political system. The new executive presidency model will come into operation for the most part after the next parliamentary and presidential elections, scheduled for 2019.

Rejecting The Grey Zone


For most of my life, terrorism and Islam have occupied overlapping spaces in the public consciousness. It goes without saying that the attacks on September 11 dramatically changed the world, and the West’s relationship with Islam took a turn along with it.
I recall the week after 9/11, a boy at school asked me if I was Muslim. It was the first time anyone had asked me; religion never came up in a conversation before then. I was ecstatic about a chance to finally talk about Islam. I abruptly and jubilantly said “yes!” Before I could finish taking a deep breath to start my next sentence, he said with a twisted face and condescending tone, “so just like the terrorists that killed people with planes?” I was never able to muster a response because what does an eleven-year-old say to that? I was too young and oblivious to comprehend his comment. What terrorists? What is a terrorist? What did they have to do with Islam? We had never discussed planes or terrorists during our weekly lessons at the mosque. 

Five years later, I wrote a short opinion piece on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 for the local newspaper. I got my own little headline: “Muslim Teen: We Must Stay Together.” I wrote about the need for us to support one another and our similarities as Americans, which should not be invalidated by our religious beliefs. I wanted so desperately to believe that in five years we had overcome this dark period in our collective memories and come together as a country. In hindsight, that was mostly wishful thinking and naiveté on my part. I also mistakenly wrote that the attacks didn’t directly impact my family and I. However, over the years it became apparent to me that, in one way or another, all Muslims were, and continue to be, either directly or indirectly affected. 

Putting the Squeeze on Iran via Hezbollah

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/putting-squeeze-iran-via-hezbollah

FEBRUARY 4, 2018 | KIMBERLY DOZIER
From selling drugs to profiting from a pig farm, Lebanese Hezbollah’s hypocrisy knows no bounds – a political party with a military army that does the bidding of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
That was the description of the group by Trump administration officials who announced new sanctions Friday – little noticed during the brouhaha over the Nunes memo. The sanctions are meant to delay the flow of illicit cash to Hezbollah’s coffers, and frustrate its support of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad, as the group fights alongside Iranian volunteers at the behest of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The group didn’t start out that way. Lebanese Hezbollah is a political party with a military wing, founded in the 1980s to fight Israel when it invaded Beirut. But it became America’s main terrorist target, for a time, when it carried out the 1983 bombings in Beirut that killed 241 Americans and 58 Frenchmen. That earned it the terrorist label, and sanctions that have ebbed and flowed with each American administration’s interest and attention span.
The Trump administration has put Lebanese Hezbollah back on center stage, as a vehicle by which to hit nemesis Iran.

THE COMING WARS The strait at the center of the world

Link


The waters between Djibouti and Yemen are one of the few places where refugees flow both ways.
By BRUNO MAÇÃES , 1/29/18,

BAB EL-MANDEB STRAIT, Djibouti — They call it the gate of grief.
Bab-el-Mandeb was named — according to an old legend — after those who drowned when the strait cracked opened as an earthquake tore apart the continents of Africa and Asia. All non-African people alive today are thought to derive from the small group — some scientists say no more than 200 intrepid souls — who crossed from Africa here, before spreading to the four corners of the world. The first migrants, the original sparkle.
I ask the boat’s pilot to stop right on the line traced between the mountainous Ras Siyyan peninsula in Djibouti and Perim island in Yemen. On the left, the Indian Ocean. On the right, the Red Sea. Time stands still, not a living creature nor the slightest noise to disturb the precious sense of being at the exact point where humanity left Africa to conquer the globe.

The Bab-el-Mandeb you read about is made up of lines and dots on a nautical chart: a strategic chokepoint through which passes almost all of the maritime trade between Europe and Asia: every year, about $700 billion in goods, some 25,000 ships, nearly 2 billion barrels of oil. Then there is an underground world, a secret current underneath, populated by pirates and rebels, fishermen, migrants, wild-hearted divers, sailors and everything in between.

4 February 2018

How Important Has Cyber Warfare Become to the States of the Middle East?

MICHAEL YOUNG

The political use of cyber tools is a powerful accelerator of geopolitical confrontation. The past few years have witnessed a cyber awakening in the Middle East that has been overlooked for too long. Existing political tensions and conflicts in the region have gained an additional arena allowing for a much more rapid escalation. The Qatar crisis in June 2017 provided a glimpse of how the pursuit of expansive geopolitical ambitions by means of targeted cyber attacks could generate conflict and trigger political landslides in no time at all.