Rolling MENA 2014 (Middle East)

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Syria is still a mess, but at least the chemical weapons are being removed - right?

Mordy , Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:06 (seven years ago) link

Mordy , Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:07 (seven years ago) link

All those hyperlinks were originally in one long post but I kept hitting some unspecified error so I had to break them down to post them. They looked cool tho!

Mordy , Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:20 (seven years ago) link

From that op-ed about the third Intifada: "For this reason, Israel is frantically Judaizing Jerusalem, including daily attempts to impose its presence in the Al Aqsa mosque, increasing settlement inside the city, destroying Palestinian homes, and transforming Palestinians into temporary residents of the city."

God, "Judaizing Jerusalem," what a reprehensible bit of propaganda that idiom is.

Mordy , Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:31 (seven years ago) link

Since he will probably be sticking around for a while, it's probably time to revisit Assad:

Mordy , Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:47 (seven years ago) link

Black-clad Sunni militants of Al Qaeda destroyed the Falluja police headquarters, planted their flag atop other government buildings and decreed the Iraqi city to be a new independent state.

Mordy , Saturday, 4 January 2014 03:23 (seven years ago) link

But for all its echoes, the bloodshed that has engulfed Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in the past two weeks exposes something new and destabilizing: the emergence of a post-American Middle East in which no broker has the power, or the will, to contain the region’s sectarian hatreds.

Amid this vacuum, fanatical Islamists have flourished in both Iraq and Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda, as the two countries’ conflicts amplify each other and foster ever-deeper radicalism. Behind much of it is the bitter rivalry of two great oil powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rulers — claiming to represent Shiite and Sunni Islam, respectively — cynically deploy a sectarian agenda that makes almost any sort of accommodation a heresy.

Mordy , Sunday, 5 January 2014 17:34 (seven years ago) link

So you're not a follower of the Prophet, eh?

Kiarostami bag (milo z), Sunday, 5 January 2014 17:38 (seven years ago) link

Just trying to point out the NYT's one-sided anti-Islamic agenda - this wasn't even an op-ed! Also I wanted to praise the US's hands-off approach to MENA sectarian violence.

Mordy , Sunday, 5 January 2014 17:40 (seven years ago) link

Leiberman says Israel should accept the Kerry deal:

Mordy , Monday, 6 January 2014 18:19 (seven years ago) link

Mordy , Tuesday, 7 January 2014 13:55 (seven years ago) link

Mordy , Wednesday, 8 January 2014 02:25 (seven years ago) link

The United Nations announced Tuesday that it was ceasing to update the death toll in Syria’s nearly three-year war because it can no longer reliably keep track of those killed by the conflict. The Associated Press noted that the last official figures, which were current as of July 2013, estimated that at least 100,000 people had perished.

Mordy , Thursday, 9 January 2014 22:11 (seven years ago) link

i heard - from an anglo-syrian doctor who has been periodically visiting syria over the last few years - that the figures were only being collected in certain areas and that in homs & other central regions there was no data what-so-ever, so the death toll is certainly several times as high as the UN figure

ogmor, Thursday, 9 January 2014 23:25 (seven years ago) link


Mordy , Friday, 10 January 2014 04:26 (seven years ago) link

that is remarkable

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Friday, 10 January 2014 04:49 (seven years ago) link

el sisi wants to run for office - i guess he'll probably win?

Mordy , Sunday, 12 January 2014 02:16 (seven years ago) link

Iran Nuclear Deal to Take Effect Jan. 20, Officials Say
Under the plan between Iran and six world powers, Iran for the first time would begin eliminating its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.

Mordy , Sunday, 12 January 2014 20:32 (seven years ago) link

After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home, Egypt's military rulers plan to undermine the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which runs the neighboring Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters.

The aim, which the officials say could take years to pull off, includes working with Hamas's political rivals Fatah and supporting popular anti-Hamas activities in Gaza, four security and diplomatic officials said.

Intelligence operatives, with help from Hamas's political rivals and activists, plan to undermine the credibility of Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007 after a brief civil war against the Fatah movement led by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to the Egyptian officials, Hamas will face growing resistance by activists who will launch protests similar to those in Egypt that have led to the downfall of two presidents since the Arab Spring in 2011. Cairo plans to support such protests in an effort to cripple Hamas.

"Gaza is next," said one senior security official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "We cannot get liberated from the terrorism of the Brotherhood in Egypt without ending it in Gaza, which lies on our borders."

Mordy , Tuesday, 14 January 2014 19:19 (seven years ago) link

the leftist egyptians i know who've celebrated the destruction of the brotherhood also pretty loudly back hamas. was this a predictable move by the military?

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Tuesday, 14 January 2014 19:36 (seven years ago) link

it certainly fits their MO of locking down the Sinai, blaming agitation on Hamas and closing/flooding the tunnels -- it was predictable that the military would be less compassionate towards Hamas than the Brotherhood, but i don't know if anyone expected them to be this antagonistic

Mordy , Tuesday, 14 January 2014 19:42 (seven years ago) link

Mordy , Wednesday, 15 January 2014 03:43 (seven years ago) link

also lol pat buchanon xp

Mordy , Wednesday, 15 January 2014 21:54 (seven years ago) link

thought that said 'fat buchanon' i was like damn dude

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:41 (seven years ago) link

body positivity!

Mordy , Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:47 (seven years ago) link

'no body positivity for fascists'

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:50 (seven years ago) link

Arab Neighbors Take Split Paths in Constitutions
Tunisia and Egypt, whose revolts ignited the Arab Spring, provide a dual lesson in the pitfalls and potentials for democracy in the region as they move toward new charters.

Still haven't read this NY Times article, but mean to

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:59 (seven years ago) link

tunisia is like new poster child of arab democracy acc to bbc this morning + nyt here:

TUNIS — Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly is close to passing a new Constitution that legislators across the political spectrum, human rights organizations and constitutional experts are hailing as a triumph of consensus politics.

Two years in the making and now in its third draft, the charter is a carefully worded blend of ideas that has won the support of both Ennahda, the Islamist party that leads the interim government, and the secular opposition. It is being hailed as one of the most liberal constitutions in an Arab nation.

“They finally found some equilibrium,” said Ghazi Gherairi, secretary general of the International Academy of Constitutional Law in Tunis, the capital. “It is a result of consensus, and this is new in the Arab world.”

i haven't read the other article yet but i assume the contrast is that egypt is busy putting pre-revolution military rule back into place. apparently the big comparisons of the day for sisi are nasser and sadat

Mordy , Thursday, 16 January 2014 04:08 (seven years ago) link

NY T re Egypt in that article:

The difference, scholars said, lies in the shape of the shards left after each country’s revolt. Tunisia’s brutal security police virtually collapsed during its revolt, while its small, professionalized military historically had no interest in political power. In civilian politics, its Islamist and secular factions were relatively evenly matched, with the Islamists winning only a plurality in Tunisia’s first free vote. Each side needed the other to govern.

In Egypt, where the military has been a political player since Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1952 coup, the generals stepped in to remove President Hosni Mubarak, himself a onetime military man, and never fully receded. Further complicating matters, each side of the political divide had reason to hope it might rule alone: The Islamists dominated the elections, while their opponents knew the military was waiting in the wings.
“The opposition knew that, first, it might never win another election and, second, the military was there,” Mr. Brown said.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 16 January 2014 16:31 (seven years ago) link

GENEVA — A recent series of mass executions attributed to jihadist rebels in Syria may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, Navi Pillay, the United Nations human rights chief, said on Thursday.

Mass executions of civilians and of fighters who were no longer participating in hostilities were reported in the northern cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Raqqa. They were carried out by armed opposition groups in Syria, in particular by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Ms. Pillay said in a statement, citing what she described as reliable testimony by witnesses.

Mordy , Thursday, 16 January 2014 18:57 (seven years ago) link

That's ISIS, the Al-queda one, right?

curmudgeon, Thursday, 16 January 2014 19:07 (seven years ago) link

yeah, it's ISIS - very bleak stuff

Mordy , Thursday, 16 January 2014 19:11 (seven years ago) link

re pervasive accusations that AIPAC is behind the Iran sanctions legislation:

Despite growing support in the Senate for Iran sanctions legislation, Democratic leaders have yet to feel insurmountable pressure to bring the measure to the floor.

One major reason: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is mostly keeping quiet.

The powerful pro-Israel lobby has not engaged in a shoe-leather lobbying campaign to woo wayward senators and push Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule a vote on the bill, according to several key senators and aides. While the group supports the bill — authored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — it is not yet putting its political muscle behind a push for an immediate vote.

“I don’t know where AIPAC is. I haven’t talked to anybody,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who opposes any vote for additional sanctions at this time.

As of now, the Menendez-Kirk bill has 59 public supporters, including 43 of 45 Senate Republicans. But dozens of Democrats remain publicly undecided on the bill and seem unlikely to cross the Obama administration and openly back the legislation at this time. And AIPAC isn’t yet twisting Democratic arms.

A number of senators on both sides of the sanctions debate said they’d heard little from AIPAC on the issue, suggesting that wavering lawmakers are feeling little pressure from the group. With its clout on Capitol Hill and ties to deep-pocketed Jewish donors, the group’s muscle could be enough to change the political calculation over how to proceed on the contentious issue.

“I don’t know what they’re doing,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading defense hawk and strong supporter of getting a vote on the bill.

...California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Jewish Democrat, said she’s met with AIPAC “many times” on the issue of Iran. But asked if the group had been pressing her to support the Iran sanctions measure, she replied “not at all.”

“They respect my position, which is that sanctions are totally appropriate if this fails,” she said, referring to the diplomatic talks.

But other senators have not yet heard from the group and indicated they were entirely unaware of AIPAC’s activities on the Hill.

“I really have not talked to AIPAC about it,” said Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Jewish liberal and one of the few Senate Democrats publicly backing the Kirk-Menendez legislation.

Mordy , Thursday, 16 January 2014 20:33 (seven years ago) link

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s plan to transfer jurisdiction of some Israeli Arab towns, with their approximately 300,000 residents, to a future Palestinian state has the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, according to senior officials in Likud-Beytenu quoted by Maariv Friday. There was no confirmation of the report.

Unnamed official sources told the newspaper that Netanyahu has concluded that, in the event of an agreement with the Palestinians, the demographic factor must be taken into consideration, which would mean amending the borders to include some Israeli Arab towns in the new Palestinian state as Israel would include some West Bank Jewish settlements. The officials said that, during negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in recent months, Livni brought up the names of specific towns and villages to be included in the Palestinian state.

I'm not a huge fan of the idea, but mondopeeps screaming about ethnic cleansing are insane. If it's ethnic cleansing to force Palestinians to belong to the Palestinian state than it's certainly ethnic cleansing to force settlers to move (and also raises the question of why the world needs a Palestinian state if the Palestinians don't want to live there).

Mordy , Friday, 17 January 2014 17:50 (seven years ago) link

it's certainly ethnic cleansing to force settlers to move

I lose your analogy a bit here. I'm not sure how a view regarding which state long-time Palestinian residents should be a part of, is analagous to how we should analyze recent non-Palestinian settlers in that area.

Also, just as some Jews may not want to live in Israel, perhaps some Palestinians want to stay in Israel

curmudgeon, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:19 (seven years ago) link

American Jews not wanting to live in Israel should not be used as a reason to say there's no need for Israel, similiarly with Palestinians.

curmudgeon, Friday, 17 January 2014 18:20 (seven years ago) link

I just mean that if redrawing the border is ethnic cleansing (as I've seen claimed) then forcing someone to actually uproot their home and move bc of their ethnicity is the same. Re the second point, America doesn't share a border w/ Israel, but yr right I was being a little cheeky about the fact that plenty of Palestinians would prefer to live in Israel than in a future Palestinian State.

Mordy , Friday, 17 January 2014 18:23 (seven years ago) link

I just mean that if redrawing the border is ethnic cleansing (as I've seen claimed) then forcing someone to actually uproot their home and move bc of their ethnicity is the same.

I do not agree that these are the same

curmudgeon, Friday, 17 January 2014 19:18 (seven years ago) link

it's more of an a fortiori than an equivalence

Mordy , Friday, 17 January 2014 19:20 (seven years ago) link

hey what if jan brewer decided a bunch of heavily hispanic border towns were just gonna be mexico now, haha right??

goole, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:09 (seven years ago) link

i guess the question is whether those israeli arabs have any say in having their citizenship stripped, "transfer of jurisdiction" is pretty vague.

plus according to that quote it is "in the event of an agreement with the Palestinians" which means never i take it. so this is trolling?

goole, Friday, 17 January 2014 20:12 (seven years ago) link

(CNN) -- A team of internationally renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts has found "direct evidence" of "systematic torture and killing" by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the lawyers on the team say in a new report.

Their report, based on thousands of photographs of dead bodies of alleged detainees killed in Syrian government custody, would stand up in an international criminal tribunal, the group says.

CNN's "Amanpour" was given the report in a joint exclusive with The Guardian newspaper.

"This is a smoking gun," said David Crane, one of the report's authors. "Any prosecutor would like this kind of evidence -- the photos and the process. This is direct evidence of the regime's killing machine."

Mordy , Tuesday, 21 January 2014 19:16 (seven years ago) link

this sounds promising:

Οὖτις, Thursday, 10 December 2015 22:22 (five years ago) link


"Are We not MENA, We are the rolling Israel-Jordan-Egypt-Syria-Turkey-Lebanon-UAE-Saudi Arabia-Tunisia-Libya-Morrocco-Iraq-Iran-Yemen-Kuwait-Oman-Bahrain & North Africa thread"

curmudgeon, Thursday, 10 December 2015 22:38 (five years ago) link


Οὖτις, Thursday, 10 December 2015 22:41 (five years ago) link


wizzz! (amateurist), Thursday, 10 December 2015 23:04 (five years ago) link


how's life, Friday, 11 December 2015 00:43 (five years ago) link

Reuters is reporting that Putin has announced Russia is providing arms, ammunition and air support to the FSA!

On a Raqqa tip (ShariVari), Friday, 11 December 2015 12:36 (five years ago) link

meanwhile erdogan is playing the part of spurned friend and has been meeting barzani and rolling out the flag of kurdistan

turkey seems to be seriously trying to annex northern iraq and syria, not sure how this has escaped this thread's attention

ogmor, Friday, 11 December 2015 13:50 (five years ago) link

There's some debate as to whether the presence of new Turkish troops in Iraq is an escalation or whether they're replacing the soldiers who were already working with / training the Peshmerga. Iraq clearly doesn't want them there either way though. It's pretty controversial in Turkey as well - there's a perception that they're doing it at the behest of the US and it runs counter to Turkey's own interests.

On a Raqqa tip (ShariVari), Friday, 11 December 2015 13:56 (five years ago) link

Putin expertly clowning anyone who thought they might have got some vague handle on this clusterfuck.

Agents, show the general out. (Bananaman Begins), Friday, 11 December 2015 14:18 (five years ago) link

The problem with deploying a large number of Arab troops is that no individual country is likely to risk it, and no nation has a mandate to act on behalf of everyone else.

Even if that wasn't the case, the likelihood of Syria or Iraq endorsing foreign military intervention is extremely unlikely, according to Ghadi Sary, a Middle East expert at Chatham House.

"I think it's going to be very hard for that to happen -- you've seen the Iraqi reaction to the presence of the Turkish army in northern Iraq," Sary says, referring to Iraq's ordering of Turkish troops out of the country on Monday.

"It is important for any intervening army to have the backing of the central government, or at least the army in the country," Sary says, "(including) the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who everyone will see as impossible to work with."

Sary also says most Arab militaries are more comfortable working inside -- not outside -- their own borders.

"For most of these countries, the over-involvement by the army in the internal affairs of the state has become acceptable, but when it comes to foreign intervention, it becomes problematic," he says.

"We're seeing the Egyptian army focus on the Sinai and its internal problems, we're seeing the Syrian army doing that, and in Yemen it's almost seen as the Saudi army cleaning up their own backyard -- but not really intervention on the international level."

curmudgeon, Friday, 11 December 2015 16:06 (five years ago) link

Kerry heads to Moscow for tough Syria, Ukraine talks... "We are not playing 'Let's Make a Deal' here," the official said. "We are not trading Ukraine for Syria."

Mordy, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 00:10 (five years ago) link

Can Kerry get the Russians to stop this tactic--

Aid agencies are warning of a worsening humanitarian crisis in northern Syria as sharply intensified Russian airstrikes paralyze aid supply routes, knock out bakeries and hospitals and kill and maim civilians in growing numbers.

Air attacks have escalated significantly since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Turkey-Syria border on Nov. 24, the aid agencies say, with Russia responding to the incident by stepping up its effort to crush the anti-government rebellion in the insurgent-held provinces bordering Turkey.

Among the targets that have been hit are the border crossings and highways used to deliver humanitarian supplies from Turkey, forcing many aid agencies to halt or curtail their aid operations and deepening the misery for millions of people living in the affected areas, according to a report this month by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Hospitals and health facilities also have been struck, reducing the availability of medical care for those injured in the bombings. According to the U.N. report, at least 20 medical facilities have been hit nationwide in Syria since Russia launched its air war on Sept. 30.

“This is an emerging humanitarian crisis. There is extreme suffering, and people are not being protected,” said Rae McGrath, country director for Turkey and North Syria for the American aid agency Mercy Corps, one of the largest providers of food aid in northern Syria. Since the Russian strikes began, the agency has been able to deliver only a fifth of the amount it normally provides, he said.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 16:56 (five years ago) link

If I didn't know better I'd say Putin tries to escalate the refugee crisis to the point of massive civil unrest in Europe, then have Russian troops move in as a peacekeeping force? And I don't know better. After years of sanctions and COP21 the military is his only bargaining chip, and turning his opponents' weaknesses against themselves is very much Putin's style.

Of course there's a way to stop recession-fueled right-wing Fortress Europe demagogues dead in their tracks - a UBI, which enjoys growing support - but the over-aged political €stablishment isn't quite ready for that kind of sci-fi tomfoolery.

Wes Brodicus, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:35 (five years ago) link

idk if that's Putin's plan. it requires too much cooperation on behalf of Europe to continue to accept any number of refugees (and it isn't clear there's the political will in Europe for that).

Mordy, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:40 (five years ago) link

i dont think there are enough people in syria to destabilise europe to the point where troops are required, let alone extra foreign troops

ogmor, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:44 (five years ago) link

The refugees themselves aren't the problem. The problem is fascists and "concerned citizens" beating refugees in the streets, hurling insults and bottles at Syrian children, and torching their shelters. Hundreds of shelters were burned down in Germany this year - most of them not yet occupied, though - and the number of incidents per week keeps rising.

Wes Brodicus, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:52 (five years ago) link

the problem in a democracy is always the radicalization of the polity under stress

Mordy, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:53 (five years ago) link

If I didn't know better I'd say Putin tries to escalate the refugee crisis to the point of massive civil unrest in Europe, then have Russian troops move in as a peacekeeping force?

Lol, no.

on entre O.K. on sort K.O. (man alive), Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:53 (five years ago) link

I just don't see how it could get to that point, and even if it were possible, action would be taken long before it was reached

ogmor, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:57 (five years ago) link

if you do believe that the causes of the current refugee crisis are not merely political (ie the climate change hypothesis) then there are enough ppl in the middle east to dramatically shift the demographic identity of europe (not to mention the current below replacement level birthrates). but i imagine that europe would close the borders long before this kind of right-wing dystopian fantasy came true.

Mordy, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:57 (five years ago) link

if the entire middle east had to be evacuated that wld present problems yes

ogmor, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:59 (five years ago) link

one thing putin seems to have learned from chechnya is not to have the kind of full-scale occupying force he did in that conflict.

wizzz! (amateurist), Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:59 (five years ago) link

did he? chechnya was in his backyard, he was committed totally to keeping it under control, and it seems like so far his very heavy-handed response to the separatism has been successful. i just don't think he sees a need for it in, eg, syria.

Mordy, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 18:01 (five years ago) link

heavy-handed, maybe, but done mostly by (putatively) covert ops and proxies.... maybe i'm wrong; i'm certainly no russia expert.

wizzz! (amateurist), Tuesday, 15 December 2015 18:02 (five years ago) link

me neither, but we're talking about 1999 right and the events that followed the apartment building bombing? i thought there was a full-scale invasion w/ ground troops.

Mordy, Tuesday, 15 December 2015 18:06 (five years ago) link

Chechnya is part of Russia so idk if occupation is the term. There was a combination of ground troops, air strikes and local militias.

Not sure any escalated bombing is more than doubling down to show Erdogan not to shoot at any more planes.

On a Raqqa tip (ShariVari), Tuesday, 15 December 2015 19:02 (five years ago) link

Saudi window dressing...Not really surprising

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 16 December 2015 14:54 (five years ago) link

Mordy, Wednesday, 16 December 2015 21:41 (five years ago) link

Hailey is not likely to be appointed as a National Security Advisor, so we may all breathe a bit easier.

a little too mature to be cute (Aimless), Wednesday, 16 December 2015 22:01 (five years ago) link

Taliban vs. ISIS fite!

Anyway, it's not a three, it's a yogh. (Tom D.), Friday, 18 December 2015 13:51 (five years ago) link


Meanwhile, talks at the UN today should solve everything in Syria!

UNITED NATIONS — Diplomats from more than a dozen countries were expected to meet Friday morning in New York, with an eye to drawing the Syrian war to a close and to focusing the world’s attention on the threat of the Islamic State. But whether they can put aside their rivalries and fulfill promises they have made in pursuit of a cease-fire and peace talks by January remains unclear.

At issue is whether the world powers that all have large stakes in the war can end the fighting — and with it, help stem the refugee crisis in Europe and the threat posed by the Islamic State.

This is the third meeting of the so-called International Syria Support Group, which also includes the Arab League and the European Union. The group is led by the top envoys of the United States and Russia, and it includes the regional rivals Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which have vastly different agendas in Syria.

The last two rounds of talks, held in Vienna in October and November, produced a road map for diplomacy: a cease-fire by January; talks between the Syrian government and opposition parties, mediated by the United Nations; and elections in 18 months.

The talks this week aim to produce a United Nations Security Council resolution by the end of the day. That resolution is intended to give the international support group and the road map for peace the Council’s blessing, diplomats say, but it has been held up by crucial differences between Russia and the United States.

curmudgeon, Friday, 18 December 2015 15:43 (five years ago) link

‪‎Israel‬ and ‪‎Turkey‬ have just agreed to renew full diplomatic ties.

Mordy, Friday, 18 December 2015 18:01 (five years ago) link

Koplow says:

Turkey is in a serious bind now that its relationship with Russia has deteriorated in such a big way, and Israeli gas provides a way out. If Russia cancels the Turkish Stream project or even takes things one step further and halts natural gas shipments to Turkey entirely, Israeli gas won’t solve things in the short term but will provide a long term hedge against relying on Russia as a primary energy supplier. On the Israeli side, the simple truth is that no energy company is going to invest the resources to develop the Leviathan field without a viable export destination, and the two best large market options were always Egypt and Turkey. The first one is far less attractive now due to the recent Egyptian gas discoveries mitigating how much Israeli gas Egypt will want to buy over the long haul, leaving Turkey as the best destination remaining. There are still political hurdles to be overcome on both sides, and the technical hurdle of constructing a deepwater pipeline is nothing to sneeze at either, but the formal approval granted yesterday to Noble to develop Leviathan likely resulted directly from the reconciliation agreement with Turkey.

Mordy, Friday, 18 December 2015 18:39 (five years ago) link

this round table looks really interesting too - i'll probably watch after work today:

Mordy, Friday, 18 December 2015 18:48 (five years ago) link

there's a country in the region w/ a highly developed desalination industry - maybe rapprochement is on the longterm agenda for iran?

Mordy, Friday, 18 December 2015 18:57 (five years ago) link

wow more maybe big news, "The five permanent UN Security Council members have agreed the text of a draft UN resolution for the Syrian peace process, diplomats say."

Mordy, Friday, 18 December 2015 20:37 (five years ago) link

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 December 2015 22:57 (five years ago) link

A notorious Lebanese militant leader, viewed by the United States and Israel as a terrorist and deeply involved in the Syrian civil war, was killed late Saturday in an airstrike on the outskirts of Damascus.

Suspicion for the attack, which killed Samir Kuntar and at least eight others affiliated with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, immediately fell on Israel. Kuntar was released by Israel in 2008 after he spent three decades in prison for his role in the killing of three Israelis, including a 4-year-old girl and her father.

Hezbollah, which is embroiled in the Syrian war in support of the regime, said it would take revenge on Israel for Kuntar’s death. A few hours later, three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, sending residents in towns along the border into bomb shelters. There were no reports of casualties, and the Israeli military said it responded with targeted artillery fire at sites in southern Lebanon.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it “holds the Lebanese Army responsible for attacks emanating from its territory.”

In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV station confirmed Kuntar’s death, reporting early Sunday that four Israeli missiles had struck a residential building in Jaramana, just outside Damascus, the Syrian capital.

curmudgeon, Monday, 21 December 2015 15:24 (five years ago) link

on that note:

Mordy, Monday, 21 December 2015 15:28 (five years ago) link

The resolution creates a framework, but one that leaves yawning gaps between its timbers. It is not clear whether the regime will show up to the January talks brokered by the UN special envoy, Staffan di Mistura, though Damascus will presumably come under strong pressure from Moscow and Tehran to attend.

There are also a lot of questions of the relationship between the Riyadh opposition and the balance of forces inside rebel-held territory. If the disconnect is too great, the talks will lead nowhere and will not bring a ceasefire. But inclusivity brings with it a cost.

Neither the protagonists nor their international sponsors agree on the list of terrorist groups to be excluded. There is consensus on Islamic State (now known to almost all parties by the Arabic acronym Daesh), and near-consensus on the al-Nusrah Front. After that, agreement breaks down. And the discord was evident from the contrasting tone of the remarks from John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov after the resolution was passed. Russia is currently bombing groups and communities supported by the west.

Jordan was given the job of distinguishing between the acceptable and unacceptable but has essentially passed the buck, simply collating the differing views of the outside powers.

curmudgeon, Monday, 21 December 2015 17:25 (five years ago) link

i wonder if hezbollah could survive nasrallah's assassination at this point - the whole party seems tenuous atm.

Mordy, Tuesday, 22 December 2015 16:58 (five years ago) link

Kuntar's ex-wife believes that regardless of who killed him, her ex-husband's murder was justified because his intention was not to fight against Israel but to harm Syrians and the Palestinian people.

"Kuntar and Hezbollah are on the Arab land of Syria not in order to fight Israel, the Zionist enemy, or any aggression," she said in an interview with the Saudi al-Arabia Network.

"They are there to fight the Syrian people and the Palestinian people. We show no solidarity with murderers. Murders should be killed," she added.

I mean one would hope she'd condemn him for murdering a family including 2 young children (the horrific details can be read on the wiki page) but you can only expect so much.

Mordy, Tuesday, 22 December 2015 17:39 (five years ago) link

(trigger warning: i have a strong tolerance for such things and i felt nauseated reading about what he did)

Mordy, Tuesday, 22 December 2015 17:40 (five years ago) link

i can't believe they broadcast this kind of filth on al-j - essentially advocating for genocide against alawites

Mordy, Sunday, 27 December 2015 20:32 (five years ago) link

that is kind of unbelievable. are those polls a plausible reflection of wider sunni sentiment?

ogmor, Sunday, 27 December 2015 20:50 (five years ago) link

2012 tales of Sunni hatred of Alawites

If the fighters seeking to oust Mr. Assad sometimes portray their battle as a struggle for democracy, the Sunni Muslim children of the Zaatari camp tell a much uglier story of sectarian revenge. Asked for their own views of the grown-up battle that drove them from their homes, child after child brought up their hatred of the Alawites and a thirst for revenge. Children as young as 10 or 11 vowed never to play with Syrian Alawite children or even pledged to kill them.

curmudgeon, Monday, 28 December 2015 06:23 (five years ago) link

For IS the loss of Ramadi was inevitable almost from the start but permanent control was probably not their goal. Instead, IS has repeatedly used Ramadi to distract the ISF from attacking the Islamic State's stronghold in Mosul, 450km (280 miles) to the north.....More likely, the slow preparatory phases of the battle for Mosul will now unfold in the first half of 2016.
First, IS' next defensive bulwarks will be ground down - the oil refining hub Qayyarah and other Tigris River Valley towns south of Mosul.
Then the city will be slowly encircled in the summer and air strikes will intensify on IS leadership and logistical targets. Then the assault will begin once the summer heat dies down in the autumn of 2016.

Wow, not till Autumn 2016...

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 29 December 2015 16:13 (five years ago) link

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