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

18 August 2018

Plunge in Lira, Turkey’s Currency, Fuels Fears of Financial Contagion

By Jack Ewing and Alexandra Stevenson
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Turkey’s currency fell to another record low on Monday, hitting stocks in Europe and Asia and raising fears that the country is on the verge of an economic meltdown that could spread to other emerging markets. The crisis, caused by soaring inflation, economic mismanagement by the Turkish government and tensions with the United States, has raised concerns over whether emerging economies that have benefited in recent years from foreign investment may also be vulnerable. Rising interest rates in the United States and in Europe have made investors less tolerant of emerging markets. Foreign investors piled money into Turkish assets for years, lured by what appeared to be a stable economy and higher returns. But as interest rates rise in countries seen as safer, the relative attractiveness of riskier investments wanes. A crisis like the one in Turkey may be all it takes to send them fleeing.

16 August 2018

Critiquing Islamist Fundamentalism Is No 'Attack' on Muslim Women

By Munira Mirza

It is hard to know whether Boris Johnson’s comments about the burka would have provoked the same hysteria had they been made outside the August silly season, but one suspects they would not have received much notice if said by almost any other senior politician. Ken Clarke has argued for a ban on wearing the burka in law courts, describing the garment as “a kind of bag”. None of the people now lining up to attack Johnson were vocal about Clarke’s comments. Emily Thornberry said she wouldn’t want a woman in a burka looking after her child. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police didn’t seek guidance as to whether her remarks constituted a criminal offence. If Jeremy Wright and Ruth Davidson truly believe that anyone who describes the burka in derogatory terms is ‘crossing a line’, then we must ask why they have never criticised the many other senior politicians who have done so, such as Anna Soubry and Sadiq Khan.

14 August 2018



Iran has threatened to block access to the world's busiest oil route in response to U.S. sanctions designed to reduce the revolutionary Shiite Muslim power's petroleum exports to zero. While there has been no indication that Iran was prepared to go through with the warning, such a move would likely be catastrophic for the region and global energy prices.
The first batch of U.S. sanctions on Iran came into effect Monday, following President Donald Trump's withdrawal in May from a 2015 landmark nuclear deal between the two countries, as well as five other major powers. These sanctions include restrictions on Iran's manufacturing, aviation and automobile industries, but the next round on November 4 will specifically prohibit international companies from doing business with the country's oil and gas sector.

13 August 2018

Daily Memo: On Cease-Fires, Sanctions and Sensitive Negotiations

All the news worth knowing today.

Israel and Hamas came to blows on Wednesday. Hamas fired nearly 200 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, and Israel responded by striking 150 Hamas targets in Gaza. So far, the signals coming out of Israel are hardly encouraging. A senior official for the Israel Defense Forces said that Israel and Hamas were “rapidly nearing a confrontation.” An IDF spokesman said additional forces had been deployed to the area and preparations to evacuate southern Israel were in place. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene his security Cabinet to discuss next steps. The main thing to watch is whether Israel calls up reserves. Right now, war doesn’t appear to be imminent, but the past 24 hours have shown that things can change at a moment’s notice. So much for the cease-fire Egypt was believed to be brokering.

The Path to Renewed Oil Sanctions on Iran

By Peter Harrell

On August 5, the Trump administration reinstated a first set of U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been suspended under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. But the bulk of U.S. sanctions on Iran will not come back into force until November 5, 180 days after Trump’s initial May 8 announcement that Washington would withdraw from the agreement. On that date, all of the U.S. sanctions suspended by the JCPOA will be reinstated, including the most important of all: the sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.

11 August 2018

Trump’s Post-ISIS Retreat Leaves Syria Vulnerable to Russia and Iran

As the U.S.-led coalition winds down its fight against the Islamic State in northeastern Syria, analysts are warning that Washington’s reluctance to devote resources to stabilizing the area could allow Russia and Iran to exert greater influence over the country. Coalition forces are closing in on the last bastion of Islamic State fighters in the city of Hajin, near the Iraqi border. Once the militants are routed, the next challenge will be providing food and services to civilians, demining the cities, repatriating millions of refugees, and re-imposing rule-of-law in broad swaths of the country.

How to Strike a Missile Deal With Iran


The United States’ confrontational posture toward Iran is not likely to enlist any international partners apart from those already in the anti-Iran camp. But as European leaders try to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran, they should seek to find common cause with Washington to address their shared concerns. A key issue is the potential threat inherent in Iran’s ballistic missile program: If Iran ever decides to go for broke in building nuclear weapons, some of its missiles, which today are fitted with conventional warheads, could be repurposed to deliver nuclear warheads.

10 August 2018

Can Iran Wait out Trump's Pressure Campaign?

by Lawrence J. Haas

U.S. foreign policy toward Iran is approaching a “back to the future” moment, with the Trump White House resurrecting the strategy pursued by President George W. Bush (and, for a while, President Barack Obama) of pressuring Iran economically into abandoning its nuclear pursuits. The question now is whether President Trump, or if necessary a successor, will push this pressure campaign—which the Administration is supplementing with outreach to Iran’s people and more security cooperation with its regional adversaries—to its conclusion.

A Brief Guide to Understanding the Kurds

It has been said that the Kurds are a nation without borders, though that is only partly true. They are, of course, citizens of any number of countries, ones that envelop their homeland in the Middle East and ones much farther afield. But for the Kurds — a nation of some 25 million people who, despite their shared culture, speak different languages, practice different religions, subscribe to different political ideologies and hold different passports — citizenship is not such a simple matter. It would be more accurate to say that Kurds, having assimilated into countries they do not consider their own, tend to be citizens in name but not in practice. And they are subject, therefore, to discrimination and outright oppression. In Turkey, Kurdish language curriculums are still banned in most schools. In Iraq, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds were killed in the late 1980s during Saddam Hussein's al-Anfal campaign. In Iran, as many as 1,200 Kurdish political prisoners were allegedly executed after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.



Congress rarely gets outraged over an internecine war in a distant land where American troops are not bleeding and dying. But in a rare exception, lawmakers have become deeply troubled over the Pentagon’s role in Yemen’s civil war—a conflict that has eviscerated the civilian population, provoked a deadly famine and ignited what health officials are calling the worst cholera outbreak in recorded history. For the first time since the war began in 2015, U.S. lawmakers are taking concrete steps to halt or tightly restrict weapons sales to their allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—the leaders behind an Arab coalition fighting Yemen’s rebels, who are seen as proxies for a common enemy, Iran. Much of the damage from the war, independent observers say, has been caused by Saudi and UAE airstrikes using U.S. and British warplanes and munitions, leading human rights groups to accuse Washington and London of complicity in Yemen’s agony.



The past few weeks have been particularly rich in new developments for the UAE’s foreign policy. In Yemen, the UAE is at the forefront of the current struggle for the seizure of the Houthi-held port of Hodeidah, a critical chokepoint for the arms and humanitarian supplies to the Houthis, and an important access to the Red Sea and strait of Bab el Mandeb, where 4.8 million barrels of oil and 8 percent of global trade transit every day. On the other shore of the Red Sea, the Emiratis have reportedly played a key role at facilitating the rapprochement between 20-year rivals Eritrea and Ethiopia. On July 24, a few weeks after the two countries signed a peace agreement, Abu Dhabi hosted a tripartite summit with the two leaders, where it reaffirmed its support to their peace efforts. For the UAE, the stabilisation of these important partners could have strategic advantages, including for reinforcing its already solid influence on Horn of Africa’s ports. Indeed, Eritrea hosts the UAE’s first foreign military base in its port of Assab since 2015, and reports suggest that landlocked Ethiopia plans to use this port, possibly developed by Dubai Ports World, to diminish its reliance on the port of Djibouti.

9 August 2018

Monitoring Illicit Arms Flows: The Role of UN Peacekeeping Operations

By Holger Anders 
Holder Andes contends that UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) could make a significantly greater contribution to the monitoring of illicit arms flows. To highlight how, and address why so few PKOs take advantage of their potential capacity in this area, Andes reviews 1) the mandates of such operations; 2) their relations with UN panels of experts on embargo monitoring; and 3) their approaches to monitoring. He also presents case studies of the PKOs in Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, which have extensive experience in this field. This article was originally published by the Small Arms Survey on June 2018. Image courtesy of UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).


5 August 2018

The Islamic State Threat Hasn’t Gone Away

by Michael P. Dempsey

Why it matters: Like the mythological hydra, the Islamic State has remained resilient and lethal, even after losing its physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria last year—continuing to thrive in areas without local authority and legitimacy and to recruit from vulnerable Sunni populations. Equally worrisome, the recent attacks demonstrate the group’s ability to retain its followers; in the year since the fall of Raqqa, no Islamic State branch has renounced its pledge of fealty.

When It Comes to Cyberattacks, Iran Plays the Odds

By Ben West

While Iran is capable of carrying out conventional military action, cyberspace is the more likely theater for its current conflict with the United States. Iran's cyber threat groups tend to use unsophisticated yet tried-and-true tactics while targeting many individuals.  Awareness, knowledge and preparation are the best tools to defend against such tactics.  The war of words between the United States and Iran appears to be heating up in cyberspace. In recent weeks, the tension has grown palpable as the United States leads the drive to reimpose sanctions on Iran beginning Aug. 6. U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have traded heated threats with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force.

4 August 2018

CTC Sentinel 11 (6)

The four articles in this CTC Sentinel issue focus on 1) the evolving threat posed by jihadis in Indonesia, including the implications of the May 2018 bombing of three churches in East Java; 2) foreign children fighters who joined the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria; 3) the different experiences of IS veteran fighters in Libya and Afghanistan; and 4) the case of an all-female IS cell that allegedly planned several attacks in France in September 2016. The edition also includes an interview with Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Price, former CTC Director and former Academy Professor at the US Military Academy at West Point.

3 August 2018

Iran Ramps Up Support to Taliban in Western Afghanistan

By: Abubakar Siddique

During an official visit to Iran in May, Tariq Shah Bahrami, Afghanistan’s defense minister, received assurances that Tehran was fully committed to helping Kabul fight terrorism. It was a welcome guarantee, coming as Afghan forces faced a fresh onslaught from the Taliban, which typically mounts an annual offensive in April. Within months, however, the promise appeared to ring hollow as Afghan officials increasingly blamed Iran for the fighting in Afghanistan’s western Farah province.

A Common Enemy

2 August 2018

Is Islamic State Making Plans for a Comeback in Iraq?

By: Rafid Jaboori

Dozens of people have been killed in a series of attacks launched by Islamic State (IS) in locations north of Baghdad over the past few months, prompting fears that the terrorist group is reconstituting itself in parts of Iraq (al-Hadath, March 28; al-Sumaria, July 1). IS has lost all of its urban strongholds in Iraq, including Mosul, which it occupied in June 2014 and which was reclaimed by Iraqi forces last year with significant U.S. support. However, the recent surge in IS activity indicates that the group is now pursuing its old hit-and-run tactics in Iraq, and serves to illustrate how IS could exploit the divisions that remain among Iraqi factions. 

Shia Anger and a Resurgent IS

31 July 2018

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 Plan Is Too Big to Fail -- Or Succeed

Since 2016, Saudi Arabia has been urgent in pursuing its aggressive economic reform efforts, but since oil prices have risen, these efforts have shifted and slowed. Riyadh hopes to grow its foreign investment and private sector activity, but it will struggle as its regulatory environment is continually shifting. Everything in the kingdom, from social practices to regulations, is still tightly controlled by the state, which will continue to invite wariness from investors and Saudi citizens. Though Riyadh may be tapping the breaks on some of its initiatives, this is not a sign that the troubles Vision 2030 is facing are fatal — or even entirely unexpected; rather, they are part of a familiar cycle.

30 July 2018

Daily Memo: Turkish Military Matters, US Energy Supplies

Is the U.S. preparing to bomb Iran? Australia, of all places, seems to think so. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation cited government officials as saying the U.S. was preparing to strike Iranian nuclear facilities as early as next month. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismissed the reports, while the defense minister said Australia was unaware of any U.S. action. That said, the report is strange. Top U.S. officials wrapped up meetings with their Australian counterparts this past Tuesday without mentioning Iran. And it’s unclear why the Turnbull government would leak this story. From a purely strategic perspective, a U.S. strike on Iran makes little sense. It can’t destroy Iran’s nuclear program with tactical strikes, and tactical strikes are the only thing it’s in a position to conduct. An attack would only galvanize the Iranian people, who are otherwise upset with a government reeling from the dissolution of the nuclear deal. Strategic or not, though, some officials in the Trump administration such as National Security Adviser John Bolton have advocated military action in Iran for years. The bottom line is that it is unlikely that the U.S. is preparing to attack. If that changes, we’ll let you know.

Counterterrorism: Taking Down the Big Man

By Kevin Ivey

Disrupting terrorist networks is inherently difficult, and success is difficult to measure. Clandestine by nature, these groups generally hide their internal functions, institutions, and various chains of command. While a potentially vast cadre of fighters, sympathizers, and suppliers wait in the wings, the outside world only glimpses a few leaders, who often serve as figureheads for their organizations. With little else to go on, states often make targeting these leaders a key priority. From the Shining Path in Peru to ISIL in Syria and Iraq, security forces carry out operations to capture or kill mid- and upper-level leaders in the hopes that their absence will be the knockout blow necessary to defeat a terrorist organization. Recent attention has turned to ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who is rumored to be still alive. Intelligence gathering and planning is likely underway in multiple countries to capture or kill the man who continues to lead one of the world's deadliest terror groups. But is leadership decapitation, as this strategy is known, effective?