Skip to main content

Home/ Groups/ International Politics of the Middle East
Ed Webb

Senate Democrats hold up arms sales for Saudi war in Yemen - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of t... - 1 views

  • Congress was notified Aug. 19 of the Obama administration's intent to provide Riyadh with thousands of precision-guided munitions. The sale is linked to the administration's effort to placate Gulf countries' concerns about the Iranian nuclear deal, but it has hit a snag with Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who want to see the Saudi-led campaign reeled in.
  • “I fear that our failure to strongly advocate diplomacy in Yemen over the past two years, coupled with our failure to urge restraint in the face of the crisis last spring, may put the viability of this critical [US-Saudi] partnership at risk,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. “The Leahy Law prohibits US security assistance — and many forms of defense cooperation — with forces that have engaged in gross violations of human rights. If reports are accurate, the Saudi indiscriminate targeting in the air campaign and an overly broad naval blockade could well constitute such violations.”
  • While the sale is almost certain to go through eventually, they hope to use it as leverage to win concessions on kick-starting political negotiations with the Houthis and lifting the blockade
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • Critics of the sale in particular point out that Riyadh has been able to derive extra legitimacy from the US support for its campaign.

    “We are very careful in picking targets. We have very precise weapons,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CBS News after an airstrike killed more than 130 people at a wedding reception. “We work with our allies, including the United States, on these targets.”

  • Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. “It's not all bad that the Saudis decided that they wanted to act immediately in Yemen. I don't think we need to be 'mother may I' in terms of folks acting in their own security interests in the region. But I am struck by the level of their response compared to what I view as an extremely tepid response to Sunni extremism. It's not just Iranian influence in the region that should trouble us.”
Ed Webb

Barghouti: 'The Third Intifada has already begun' - 1 views

  • the Third Intifada "has already begun," following deadly clashes and protests in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem over the past few weeks, including the fatal shooting of two Palestinian teenagers in recent days and the killing of several Israelis by Palestinians
  • In light of the current violence, some armed Palestinian factions, such as Islamic Jihad, have made threats to resume attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli targets which would represent a marked escalation in the current crisis. 
  • In an attempt to de-escalate tensions, the Israeli army released the results of their preliminary investigation into the fatal shooting yesterday of 13-year-old Abdel Rahman Obeidallah. A senior army officer has described the tragic shooting as “unintentional”.
  • ...3 more annotations...
  • The army investigation confirmed that the teenager was shot with a .22 calibre round by an Israeli sniper who was aiming at an adult standing next to him, without specifying what that adult was doing.
  • B'tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation that documents Israeli government abuses in the Occupied Territories, denounced the death of Obeidallah and condemned the use of live rounds against Palestinians, saying that .22 calibre rounds were "a lethal weapon, which the Israeli authorities present as a reasonable dealing with demonstrations"
  • Barghouthi told MEE; "I expect the international community to take punitive action against Israel in the form of international sanctions. They need to make it clear to the Israelis that they must immediately cease their violence."
Ed Webb

Yemen Doesn't Need the Obama Administration's 'Deep Concern' | Foreign Policy - 2 views

  • more than 21 million of Yemen’s 25 million people now require some form of aid to survive, and more than 1.5 million have fled their homes
  • The responsibility for Yemen’s descent into wanton destruction lies not with the United States, but with Yemen’s government in exile, the Houthis, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and other Yemeni political and military leaders; they are each pursuing their own short-sighted interests at the expense of an equitable and inclusive peace. But thanks to the U.S. government’s deep involvement in what many Yemenis call the “Saudi-American” military campaign, American hands are far from clean
  • To truly stand with Yemenis, the Obama administration must adopt a radically different course: withdraw its support to the coalition including the transfer of arms to belligerent parties, publicly demand the free flow of commercial goods into all ports, and rally support at the United Nations Security Council for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire and inclusive political process to bring an end to the war.
Ed Webb

Syrian Kurdish leader: Moscow wants to work with us - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Midd... - 1 views

  • Ilham Ehmed, a senior member of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told Al-Monitor in a brief interview Oct. 8 that “Russia says it wants to work with us” to combat the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) and other extremist organizations.
  • According to the Kurds, the United States has also frustrated their desire to expand their area of control in Syria,
  • While the United States supported the PYD in expelling IS from Kobani and in capturing Tell Abyad east of Kobani, Washington has promised Turkey not to allow the Kurds to move west toward Afrin in return for allowing the United States to fly bombing runs from Incirlik Air Base, Balanche said. He added that the PYD would face other obstacles in such an operation. “There are 500,000 people between Azaz, al-Bab, Manbaj and Jarabulus, including a Turkmen minority,” he said. “It would be very difficult for the Kurds to capture this area without heavy US support.”

    Balanche wrote recently that if the United States does not back the Kurdish advance, the PYD will look to Russia and Assad “if that is its only path to a continuous territory in the north.”

  • ...4 more annotations...
  • the Obama administration needs the Kurds for a planned major offensive against the IS stronghold of Raqqa
  • Ehmed said that the Kurds are seeking “self-administration, not autonomy,” along the lines of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. “We want to stay in Syria with our culture and our language,”
  • Turkey “opened the border for terrorism,” she said. “Terrorism didn’t come from the sky.”
  • The dispute between Turkey and the Kurds has undermined the US goal of closing a 68-mile section of the Turkey-Syria border that has been controlled by IS and used for the transit of foreign fighters into Syria.
Ed Webb

Turkish police 'seize Islamic State coin-makers' | Middle East Eye - 1 views

  • Turkish police have arrested six foreign nationals and seized material allegedly used by Islamic State (IS) militants to produce coins for the group
  • the coins produced are used as currency in IS-controlled areas
  • IS announced last year that it would start producing its own currency in an effort to "emancipate itself from the satanic global economic system".
  • ...1 more annotation...
  • based on the original dinar coins used during the Caliphate of Uthman in 634 CE, was set to include seven minted coins: two gold, three silver and two copper. One gold dinar would be worth about $139
Ed Webb

Putin is filling a vacuum in Syria, but what is Moscow's endgame? | The National - 2 views

    Read in the light of Lustick's article on the absence of great powers in MENA.
Ed Webb

Lebanon reaps weapons windfall from Congress - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 1 views

  • Congress over the past year has approved more than $1 billion in proposed arms sales for the Lebanese armed forces, including attack aircraft and helicopters. And lawmakers on Sept. 29 cemented Beirut's status as a key ally with the release of a compromise annual defense bill that puts Lebanon on equal footing with longtime partner Jordan
  • aircraft sales would provide the Lebanese armed forces with close air support seen as crucial for strikes against IS militants along the border. Saudi Arabia is helping foot the bill through a $1 billion grant to Lebanon.
Ed Webb

Iraq and Syria opinion poll - the world's most dangerous survey? - BBC News - 1 views

  • how do you set about conducting field research in an IS-controlled area?

    "In the IS-controlled areas of Raqqa for each survey we visit the head of the town and ask him for permission to randomly interview people," Mr Heald says.

    "His response is 'so long as you are not an international media station and pull out video cameras, I don't mind you doing this'."

    "Why is this his reaction? Because, as the data verifies, many of those living in Raqqa now are happier since IS took over.

    "They welcome the security, they see IS trying to help the people with electricity, with food, with petrol. In many respects it is a story they are keen to tell."

  • "the majority in both countries are opposed to IS but that they also think that IS is a product of foreign countries… which to you and I may seem like some crazy conspiracy theory but to them it is a common perception.

    "Widespread opposition to the coalition bombing, should also make policymakers reconsider their strategy. I think the official British government line is that coalition air strikes are 'degrading' IS.

    "But while we can accept that it may be slowing them down," he says, "there is little evidence to suggest they are losing the war. People aren't leaving Raqqa now because of IS - they are leaving because of the coalition air strikes."

  • IS have an incredibly well-oiled strategic communication operation. Politicians and military leaders need to track public opinion to see where hearts and minds are and how they are shifting
Ed Webb

Yemen pays price for Saudis' sectarian paranoia | Middle East Eye - 1 views

  • The success of the Houthi insurgency from the north that swept the Yemeni leadership from power, taking over the capital Sanaa, was perversely treated by the Security Council as a military coup justifying the intervention by a Saudi-led coalition. Strange to recall that the 2013 undisguised military coup in Egypt, with much bloodier reprisals against the displaced elected rulers, aroused not a murmur of protest in the halls of the UN. So goes geopolitics in the Middle East.
  • the geopolitical tendency to reduce an incredibly complex national history and interplay of contending forces to a simplistic story of Sunni versus Shia rivalry for the control of the country
  • allows Saudi Arabia to portray the strife in Yemen as another theatre of the wider region proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies against Iran, which is a guaranteed way of securing US and Israeli backing
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • not a regional politics based on sectarian priorities, but rather a pathological preoccupation with regime stability in the Saudi monarchy, with anxieties arising whenever political tendencies emerge in the region that elude its control, and are perceived as threatening
  • There is a long experience of division between the north and the south, and this means that any unity government for the whole of Yemen can only be sustained by an iron-fisted dictator like Saleh or through a genuine power-sharing federalist kind of arrangement. Beyond this, the country bears the scars of Ottoman rule intermixed with a British presence in Aden and the surrounding area, vital for colonial priorities of controlling the Suez and the trade routes to the East.

    Additionally, Yemen remains a composite of tribes that still command the major loyalty of people. The modern European insistence on sovereign states in the Middle East never succeeded in overcoming the primacy of Yemeni tribal identities. Any possibility of political stability requires subsidising Yemen’s tribes as Saudi Arabia did during Saleh’s dictatorship (1990-2012) or creating a multi-coloured quilt of autonomous tribal polities. When geography and tribalism are taken into account recourse to the Shia-Sunni divide or the Riyadh-Tehran rivalry as an explanation of Yemen’s strife-ridden country is a cruel and futile fantasy.

  • What is needed is establishing a political transition sensitive both to the North-South split and the strength of Yemeni tribes coupled with massive economic assistance from outside and the creation of a UN peacekeeping presence tasked with implementation
  • Such a rational path is currently blocked, especially by the intense militancy of the aggressive Saudi leadership of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, and his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Secretary of Defence, the apparent champion of military intervention
Ed Webb

The State of Reporting on the Middle East: A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with C... - 1 views

    Well worth listening to the conversation between experienced observers of the region, and of those reporting on it.
Ed Webb

Saudi Arabia is worried - and not just about its king | Brian Whitaker | Comment is fre... - 1 views

  • One Saudi prince, a grandson of the kingdom’s founder, has stuck his head partly above the parapet with a letter calling for King Salman to go – and he appears to have support from others in the clan.

    The prince is also saying things that less-privileged Saudis might well wish to say, but can’t. His royal blood means he is less likely to be carted off to jail and flogged, but even he is wary of being identified by name.

  • Writing in the Lebanese Daily Star after a visit to Dubai, columnist Rami Khouri described a sense of alarm sweeping through the Gulf:

    “Seen from Riyadh, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, the world around the mostly wealthy oil-producing [Gulf Cooperation Council] states has been turned on its head in the last four years. Every major geo-strategic potential threat or fear that they have quietly harboured for years has started to materialise – virtually simultaneously.”

  • The kingdom can’t continue like this indefinitely and, increasingly, Saudis know it.
1 - 20 of 2033 Next › Last »
Showing 20 items per page