June, 2016 Middle East

Michael Peck

Two of the world’s most powerful air forces are operating towards opposite goals. What could possibly go wrong?
How long will it be before American and Russia jets dogfight in the skies over Syria?
That possibility seems more likely after the latest in a string of confrontations between American and Russian aircraft. Earlier this month, Russian aircraft bombing U.S.-backed rebels fighting ISIS and the Syrian government almost confronted U.S. Navy fighters, according to the Los Angeles Times.


Lebanese ally of Syrian government acknowledges heavy losses but vows to fight on as "retreat is not permissible".
The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement has said he will send more fighters to Syria's Aleppo area, a battleground where it has suffered heavy losses fighting alongside Syrian government forces against rebel groups.


Author Maxim A. Suchkov

As last week’s “dissent cable,” signed by US State Department officials, criticized President Barack Obama’s Syrian strategy for not being very strategic, the mood in Moscow seems quite different. Recent low-intensity diplomatic spats between the two states over whose patience is running thinner in Syria signal more-profound grievances in both capitals regarding their respective strategies, as well as one another.


by Daniel Pipes

Moncef Marzouki, the president of Tunisia from 2011 to 2014, has penned an analysis predicting, as I have, the demise of Islamism. I quote from a MiddleEastEye.net abridgement and translation of the original Arabic version that appeared at Aljazeera.net.


by Tarek Fatah, The Toronto Sun
Originally published under the title "West Bowing to Radical Islam."
 

Almost 10 years ago, Maclean's magazine published an essay by Mark Steyn, titled "The future belongs to Islam." In it, he suggested, "the West is growing old and enfeebled, and lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it."


Author Sardar Mlla Drwish, TranslatorJoelle El-Khoury

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Since the Syrian revolution began in 2011, the Kurds have not engaged in direct military confrontations with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has not shelled their areas as it has other Syrian cities, even though the Kurds have always opposed successive Syrian regimes.

Four scenarios for the future as the JCPOA approaches one year.
Ariel E. Levite

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has now been in effect for a year. It has withstood multiple political tests in Washington and Tehran and its key provisions have thus far been implemented by Iran and its seven partners (the P-5, Germany and the European Union).


BY DAVID P. GOLDMAN
A “Russian-Chinese axis” will dominate the Middle East with Israel as its western anchor: That scenario was floated June 15 in Russia Insider, a louche propaganda site that often runs the work of fringe conspiracy theorists and the occasional anti-Semite. But the author in this case was the venerable Giancarlo Elia Valori, president of Huawei Technologies’ Italian division, a veteran of past intelligence wars with a resume that reads like a Robert Ludlum novel.


By Alastair Crooke

 "Information Clearing House" - "World Post" - BEIRUT — Gradually, the mist of ambiguity and confusion hanging over Syria is lifting a little. The landscape is sharpening into focus. With this improved visibility, we can view a little more clearly the course of action being prepared by Iran, Russia and the Syrian government.

American and Russian fighter jets had a tense showdown in the skies above Syria as the Russians dropped bombs on U.S.-backed rebels.
U.S. and Russian fighter jets bloodlessly tangled in the air over Syria on June 16 as the American pilots tried and failed to stop the Russians from bombing U.S.-backed rebels in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.


By Bill Van Auken

 "Information Clearing House" - "WSWS" - The leaking of a so-called “dissent channel cable”—a classified memo signed by over 50 mid-level State Department officials calling for the Obama administration to re-direct its military intervention in Syria to a war against the government of President Bashar al-Assad—has ratcheted up tensions between Washington and Moscow.

By Ivan Plis
From ISIS to Turkey, Islamism endures.

Many Western analysts of terrorism, and of Middle Eastern politics, are bad at religion. They prefer empirical explanations for individual and group actions, and so they’d rather avoid wrestling with God. They’re also likely to see religion as infinitely adaptable, an “epiphenomenal” cover for political or economic grievance—or fertile ground for the mentally unhinged.

By Alex Vatanka
They could tear it apart—or work together.
On June 6, Khorasan Province of Islamic State claimed credit for the killing of Sher Wali Wardak, an Afghan parliamentarian. If confirmed, the killing will represent a new chapter in ISIS’s capacity to operate in Afghanistan. The attack happened as professors from Ghazni University in the eastern part of the country are warning of ISIS infiltration of the university, another sign that the group seeks to expand its base of support in the country.

By AYA BATRAWY and MAGGIE MICHAEL
The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday that the “war is over” for its troops in Yemen, though it may continue to keep them there for counterterrorism operations.

A billboard shows the founder of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Saeed Kamali Dehghan in London and David Smith in Washington

Documents seen by BBC suggest Carter administration paved way for Khomeini to return to Iran by holding the army back from launching a military coup.
Iranian leaders have reacted with fury to reports that newly declassified US diplomatic cables revealed extensive contacts between Ayatollah Khomeini and the Carter administration just weeks ahead of Iran’s Islamic revolution.

By James Bowen
Fossil fuels’ bleak future spells trouble for Riyadh.

Speaking at the December 2013 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, then Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi warned of repercussions from a pledge by Iran—hit the year before by harsh U.S. and European sanctions—to return to producing four million barrels of crude a day, “even if the oil price reaches twenty dollars per barrel.” Naimi predicted this basement-level value would wipe out producers of then burgeoning “nonconventional” petroleum such as shale and oil sands.

Settler Refael Morris stands at an observation point overlooking the West Bank village of Duma
As it enters its 50th anniversary year, the Six Day War looms, for better and worse, as the most pivotal moment in the state’s history. ‘You say you want peace,” said Lyndon Johnson to Levi Eshkol, “but actually you just want a piece of this and a piece of that.”


DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis 

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, declared Thursday June 2 in a major foreign policy address: ‘We are now safer than we were before this agreement (the International-Iran nuclear deal).”
A short while before her speech, the State Department, published its yearly report on world terror, and determined, as in past years, that Iran remains “the leading state sponsor of terrorism, on account of its support for designated terrorist groups and proxy militias in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.”


Author Mohammed A. Salih
Faced with what has been often described as the world’s most resourceful and sophisticated terror organization, Iraq’s news media outlets have stumbled in how to cover the Islamic State (IS). The country’s news media appear to have unwillingly assisted IS in disseminating some of its gruesome propaganda releases, thus enabling it to achieve broader reach and possibly even impact.


by A.J. Caschetta 

IRGC Commander Ali Fadavi's recent threat to "drown American vessels" in the Persian Gulf is only the latest indication that America's relationship with Iran resembles a dhimma contract more than a traditional foreign policy.


Author Mohammad Ballout
TranslatorKamal Fayad

No countdown is currently underway for [a renewed] Russian military intervention [in Syria]. This intervention will probably never be renewed, at least not with the same momentum seen in the months prior to the ever-vacillating truce. As a matter of fact, it seems that only the Russians had counted on this intervention and believe that their achievements were sufficient to successfully embark on a political process in Geneva, which also did not materialize.