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

23 July 2018

How Christians Destroyed the Ancient World

By Bettany Hughes

Vandalizing the Parthenon temple in Athens has been a tenacious tradition. Most famously, Lord Elgin appropriated the “Elgin marbles” in 1801-5. But that was hardly the first example. In the Byzantine era, when the temple had been turned into a church, two bishops — Marinos and Theodosios — carved their names on its monumental columns. The Ottomans used the Parthenon as a gunpowder magazine, hence its pockmarked masonry — the result of an attack by Venetian forces in the 17th century. Now Catherine Nixey, a classics teacher turned writer and journalist, takes us back to earlier desecrations, the destruction of the premier artworks of antiquity by Christian zealots (from the Greek zelos — ardor, eager rivalry) in what she calls “The Darkening Age.”

Trump Should Prioritize Fighting Terrorism

by Robert G. Rabil 

Although President Donald Trump has taken credit for the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in its self-proclaimed capitals in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, he has wisely refrained from declaring overall victory. However, the Trump Administration’s recent policies risk making victory over ISIS and its ideology of Salafi-jihadism nearly impossible. The U.S.-led coalition's routing of ISIS in Raqqa and Mosul has neither brought about the demise of ISIS nor eliminated the ideological or militant threat of Salafi-jihadism. ISIS is still active in parts of Syria and Iraq, and a significant number of its members have joined other sister Salafi-jihadi organizations. 

22 July 2018

Islamist Actors: Libya and Tunisia

By Lisa Watanabe for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Attention has understandably been focused on jihadi actors in Libya and Tunisia. However, Lisa Watanabe contends that other Islamic actors also deserve greater scrutiny given the role they could play in shaping these countries’ future. To help address this gap, Watanabe here explores 1) the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya and Ennahda in Tunisia, groups who have gone the furthest in accepting democratic norms and principles; 2) more conservative Salafi actors, such as former jihadis; 3) quietist Salafis, who generally eschew political engagement and reject armed resistance against Sunni Muslim regimes, and more.

20 July 2018

Whither Wahhabism

JAMES DORSEY 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman could well dash expectations that he is gunning for a break with Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism rather than a shaving off of the rough edges of Wahhabi ideology that has been woven into the kingdom’s fabric since its founding more than eighty years ago. Prince Mohammed has fueled expectations by fostering Islamic scholars who advocate a revision of Wahhabism as well as by lifting a ban on women’s driving and creating space for entertainment, including music, theatre, film, and, for conservatives, controversial sports events like wrestling. The expectations were reinforced by the fact that King Salman and Prince Mohammed have called into question the degree to which the rule of the Al Sauds remains dependent on religious legitimization following the crown prince’s power grab that moved the kingdom from consensual family to two-man rule in which the monarch and his son’s legitimacy are anchored in their image as reformers.

19 July 2018

Pakistan, Iran and the Financial Fight Against Terrorism


The Financial Action Task Force recently "gray-listed" Pakistan for failing to better combat money laundering and terrorism financing; at the same time, the international organization suspended countermeasures on Iran while Tehran implements reforms. The task force's decision will exacerbate Pakistan's financial risks and increase Islamabad's reliance on China as a lender of last resort. Internal divisions over how far Iran should go to comply with the organization's guidelines will complicate Tehran's pursuit of financial breathing room as Iran faces strong U.S. sanctions.

Where Iran Ships Its Crude

by Dyfed Loesche

After President Donald Trump pulled out of the Nuclear Deal with Iran, the United States is now threatening countries that import Iranian oil with sanctions. After President Donald Trump pulled out of the Nuclear Deal with Iran, the United States is now threatening countries that import Iranian oil with sanctions. The two major regions importing Iranian oil are Asia Pacific and Europe, which together received some 2.1 million barrels per day in 2017, according to OPEC data.

18 July 2018

The Pros And Cons Of Iran’s Oil Threat

By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

As the Iranian economy begins to feel the growing pain of American-led sanctions, the question of a proper counterstrategy to minimize the damage and to ensure the sustainability of Iran’s economic well-being looms large. There is no denying the existential threat to the Iranian economy posed by these sanctions that have already resulted in significant damages, reflected in the growing number of foreign energy and non-energy companies pulling out of Iran and most of Iran’s energy trade partners buckling under pressure and reducing their Iranian oil imports, irrespective of political statements to the contrary by various governments including India. The latter have sought to receive exemptions from Washington to no avail (so far) and, chances are, by late Fall we will witness a substantial decline in Iran’s oil exports, which can be only nominally remedied by resorting to the pre-JCPOA pattern of oil smuggling.

17 July 2018

Oil Geopolitics and Iran’s Response

by Amy Myers Jaffe

At first glance, last week’s Vienna Group meeting—that is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plus non-OPEC producers including Russia—seemed to have resolved some thorny issues. The producer group confidently announced it would increase oil production to stabilize the global oil market. Iran, which had previously threatened to boycott any agreement in protest, appeared to acquiesce to the joint OPEC production increase communique. That may have seemed like a win for the Trump administration, which had hoped to box Iran in to the negotiating table on a host of issues, including conflict resolution in Yemen and Syria, when it cancelled the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports. Iran had suggested OPEC take a more strident stance on the U.S. policy. Not unexpectedly, U.S. Gulf allies, under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets and back door diplomacy, offered a moderate approach, which will include significant production increases by Saudi Arabia, among others.

15 July 2018

Whither Wahhabism

by James M. Dorsey

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman could well dash expectations that he is gunning for a break with Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism rather than a shaving off of the rough edges of Wahhabi ideology that has been woven into the kingdom’s fabric since its founding more than eighty years ago. Prince Mohammed has fueled expectations by fostering Islamic scholars who advocate a revision of Wahhabism as well as by lifting a ban on women’s driving and creating space for entertainment, including music, theatre, film, and, for conservatives, controversial sports events like wrestling.

13 July 2018

Shaking Up Algeria's Government, One Small Reform at a Time


Algeria's economy is struggling, and its citizens are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the stubborn ruling parties that have held a tight grip on power for two decades. The economic woes have galvanized members of the feeble political opposition, who are demanding reforms such as economic diversification and the loosening of restrictive foreign investment regulations. Dramatic economic reforms are unlikely under the current Algerian leadership, but even small changes, especially adjustments to foreign investment laws, are big in the context of the country's long-stagnant political system.

11 July 2018

Whither Wahhabism? – Analysis


By James M. Dorsey

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman could well dash expectations that he is gunning for a break with Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism rather than a shaving off of the rough edges of Wahhabi ideology that has been woven into the kingdom’s fabric since its founding more than eighty years ago.

Prince Mohammed has fuelled expectations by fostering Islamic scholars who advocate a revision of Wahhabism as well as by lifting a ban on women’s driving and creating space for entertainment, including music, theatre, film, and, for conservatives, controversial sports events like wrestling.

Iran’s Nuclear Deal, Oil and US Sanctions

Amb D P Srivastava

A meeting of the Joint Commission established under Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) took place in Vienna on 6th July. The Joint Commission was set up as the mechanism to resolve any disputes arising out of implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. This was the first such meeting held after US withdrawal from JCPOA announced by President Trump on 9th May. It was convened on Iran’s request. With the exception of UK, all other countries – France, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran - were represented at the level of Foreign Ministers. The UK was represented by the Minister of State for the Middle East, Alistair Burt. The Joint Commission was chaired by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.

10 July 2018

U.S. airstrikes are pounding al-Qaeda in Yemen, yet the militants fight on fiercely

Sudarsan Raghavan

The land mines had been planted. As hundreds of U.S.-backed forces approached in pickup trucks mounted with machine guns, the al-Qaeda militants watched and waited in their redoubt, tucked into the jagged mountains of southern Yemen. The first explosion shattered one vehicle, but the convoy pushed forward. Then came a second blast. Within minutes, five trucks were destroyed and the militants began firing with heavy weapons from their perches, recalled five witnesses to the May 10 ambush. Shabwani Elite Forces members stand on a hill overlooking Hota, Yemen. The militia, which is supported by the United Arab Emirates, liberated the village in December 2017 from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

8 July 2018

Here's How the Road to Iraq Is Repeating Itself with Iran

by Christopher A. Preble

Rob Reiner’s movie “Shock and Awe,” due to hit theaters on July 13, reminds us of the role that provocateurs and conspiracy theorists played in building the case for war with Iraq. (Spoiler alert: this article reveals key movie plot lines, including that the United States did, in fact, invade Iraq in 2003, and that most of the people who led us into that war have evaded accountability for having done so.) Some of the Iraq war boosters appear in actual clips from the era. We see, for example, Laurie Mylroie on C-Span, peddling her tale of Saddam Hussein’s supposed involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center Attack. We are also treated again to Dick Cheney’s claims of Iraq-Al Qaeda linkages and Saddam’s aluminum tubes on “Meet the Press.” There’s Donald Rumsfeld’s “known unknowns” press conference, and, of course, George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” speech. At other times, names are dropped into dialogue. For example, Reiner, in the role as Knight Ridder DC Bureau Chief John Walcott, mentions Bill Kristol and others at the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) as key figures behind the case for war.

1 July 2018

Without State Reform, Myanmar Isn’t Going Anywhere Fast

By Tej Parikh

Without a revamp to its archaic state apparatus, Myanmar isn’t going anywhere fast. De-facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi may have been lambasted for the slow pace of economic reforms, alongside a stalling peace process, but the reality for those losing patience is that anyone in power would have their capacity severely restrained by an inept, corrupt, and bloated bureaucracy underneath.  After storming to an electoral victory in 2015, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party inherited the unenviable task of meeting high expectations without an effective government architecture to support it. Indeed, decades of rule by the military, also known as the Tatmadaw, has rendered the Southeast Asian nation’s policymaking institutions rigid and ineffective.

30 June 2018

The United States Cannot Afford to Pick a Side in the Shia-Sunni Fight

Payam Mohseni, Ammar Nakhjavani

The President of the United States has decided that the best approach to Iran is to speak loudly and carry a big stick—in the hopes that relentless pressure on Iran will either lead to regime change or the country abandoning its contentious foreign policies. Such saber-rattling will more likely enfeeble American power within the region and set U.S. policy on track for yet another dangerous conflict in the Middle East. Just as importantly, increasing tensions with Iran also bode poorly for sectarian de-escalation in the Muslim world. This is because the Shia view American policies without a balance between regional Sunni and Shia actors.

29 June 2018

An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS

BY WILLIAM LANGEWIESCHE
Source Link

The tale of a 2017 bombing raid in the Libyan desert that pitted stealth bombers and 500-pound bombs against 70 ragtag fighters.

I. Target

The B-2 stealth bomber is the world’s most exotic strategic aircraft, a subsonic flying wing meant to be difficult for air defenses to detect—whether by radar or other means—yet capable of carrying nearly the same payload as the massive B-52. It came into service in the late 1990s primarily for use in a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and clearly as a first-strike weapon rather than a retaliatory one. First-strike weapons have destabilizing, not deterrent, effects. It is probably just as well that the stealth bomber was not quite as stealthy as it was meant to be, and was so expensive—at $2.1 billion each—that only 21 were built before Congress refused to pay for more. Nineteen of them are now stationed close to the geographic center of the contiguous United States, in the desolate farmland of central Missouri, at Whiteman Air Force Base. They are part of the 509th Bomb Wing, and until recently were commanded by Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets IV, whose grandfather dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. B-2 bombers are still primarily regarded as a nuclear-delivery system, meaning that their crews are by selection the sort of men and women capable of defining success as a precisely flown sortie at the outset of mass annihilation. No one should doubt that, if given the order to launch a nuclear attack, these crews would carry it out. In the meantime, they have occasionally flown missions of a different sort—make-work projects such as saber rattling over the Korean peninsula, and the opening salvos in Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq—to tactical advantage without American discomfort.

27 June 2018

3 Ways to Use Data to Fight Terrorism and Money Laundering



The increased severity of domestic security breaches due to terrorist threats and cyber crime poses a strategic challenge for federal and state security services. The strengthening of human resources, now widely deployed around the world, is not enough to meet the challenge alone. Increasing efficiency and speed, controlling the means of communication used by terrorists, but also, and above all, anticipating the lead-up to such actions, are all challenges that persist. 
In this mass information age, the ability to handle big data—huge volumes of structured and unstructured data—is absolutely crucial. Being able to analyze and extract key information in the fight against cybercrime as quickly as possible will revolutionize the work of organizations mobilized in this struggle. To increase efficiency, they must expand the data sources examined and optimize the interoperability between their systems.

17 June 2018

Kuwait and Oman Are Stuck in Arab No Man’s Land

BY JONATHAN SCHANZER, VARSHA KODUVAYUR

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C), Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa (R) and Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah attend a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) informal summit in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah on May 31, 2016. Just over a year ago, four of America’s Arab allies — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt — severed relations with Qatar, another key U.S. ally. They enacted a land, sea, and air blockade to punish the tiny emirate for what they claimed was Doha’s “embrace of various terrorist” entities. Observers widely thought the diplomatic spat would be patched up within a few months. After all, this was hardly the first time Qatar and its Gulf neighbors had squabbled.