• Kerry Nazarbayev
  • Kadyrov
  • Turkey Russian-Kurdish deal
  • Summit at Mar-a-Lago
  • Assad
  •  ISIS Lebanon as Next Target
  • Weak MHP support to AKP

Use the menu below to find specific articles with various combinations (i.e. Area: Middle East and Topic: Economy will provide all articles related to Economy for Middle East)

Iran unveils new missile, other weapons

By Yeganeh Torbati

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran unveiled upgrades to six weapons on Tuesday, including a more accurate short-range missile and a more powerful naval engine, Iranian media reported, in what seemed to be its latest response to international pressure over its nuclear program.

Violence in Lebanon sparks concerns of Syrian spillover

Mary Casey, Jennifer Parker

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

At least three people have been killed and up to 45 wounded in clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. Fighting began Monday night and continued into Tuesday on Syria Street, the symbolic "dividing line" between the Sunni Muslim district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen in the predominantly Sunni city.

Mali Becomes Infected by the Somali Virus

08/21/2012

By Jan Puhl in Mopti, Mali

Mali was once a model of African democracy. But ever since a military coup in March, Islamists have been on the march and have already imposed Sharia law in the country's north. There are fears that Mali could join Somalia as another failed state.

U.S. Funds Israel’s ‘Iron Dome,’ But Doesn’t (Quite) Know How It Works

By Spencer Ackerman

August 21, 2012 |

The top U.S. military officer’s plane got damaged in Afghanistan by insurgent rockets on Tuesday morning. It’s a reminder that the U.S. military’s defense against short-range rockets remains a work in progress. But it has helped its ally Israel buy its own system for defending against exactly those kinds of rockets, and it might be useful for the U.S. to ask Israel to share. Only one problem: The U.S. doesn’t quite know how the Iron Dome system works.

Somalia: From Troubled Transition to a Tarnished Transition?

Nairobi/Brussels

20 Aug 2012

The term of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions has expired, and there is no new president to take office as envisaged. The current political process has been as undemocratic as the one it seeks to replace, with unprecedented levels of political interference, corruption and intimidation.

Syrian Conflict Not Just Battle Against Assad

Aug 20 2012

The New Yorker has just published a gripping, must read piece for those following the horrible convulsions inside Syria titled "The War Within" by Jon Lee Anderson on the diverse array of bosses, ideologues, thugs and strategists animating the Syrian opposition today.

Unease grows over Syria's chemical weapons

The worsening situation in Syria, 17 months into its political crisis, is heightening international fears over the nature of its chemical-weapons programme and the security of its stockpiles.

Assad’s Kurdish Strategy

Joshua Landis

Aug 20, 2012

Assad’s Kurdish strategy appears to be to help the PKK to take control of the Kurdish regions of Syria in the North East. His aim is to hurt both the Free Syrian Army and Turkey, which are leading the opposition against him. In general, his strategy is to weaken the Sunni Arabs of Syria.

Myanmar government ends direct media censorship

YADANA HTUN

August 20, 2012

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar abolished direct censorship of the media Monday in the most dramatic move yet toward allowing freedom of expression in the long-repressed nation. But related laws and practices that may lead to self-censorship raise doubt about how much will change.

Russia, China, and America’s Hypersonic Missile Race

By J. Michael Cole

August 20, 2012

At first everything went as planned: the vehicle separated from a B-52 Stratofortress high above a naval air warfare center sea range in California and decoupled from the rocket booster. But 31 seconds into the test, a problem developed with a cruiser control fin and the X-51A Waverider hypersonic vehicle plummeted into the Pacific Ocean, missing its target of cruising at Mach 6 for five minutes.

IAEA Security Official Seeks More Money to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

By Chris Schneidmiller

Aug. 20, 2012

WASHINGTON – The International Atomic Energy Agency’s top nuclear security official said his operation must have more money and people if it is to meet nations’ growing demand for help in ensuring their atomic facilities are protected against terrorism.

Showdown in the euro crisis

 


Deutsche Welle, 20 August 2012

As the summer break draws to a close, the apparent calm in the euro zone is over, too. No reason to panic, however: The European Central Bank is rumored to bring out the heavy artillery.

The government in Athens has miscalculated once again. It is lacking not just the originally estimated 11.5 billion euros ($14.1 billion) for the next two years, but 14 billion euros ($17.3 billion). That may not sound like much in view of the 240 billion euros ($296 billion) from two rescue packages and the serious cuts taken by creditors to the tune of 100 billion euros. But patience is wearing thin among lenders. It will be difficult to explain a third Greek bailout package to citizens in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland. Accordingly, lenders in the Greek crisis are debating a different route: lowering or even deferring interest for the loans.

Greece is not the only trouble spot: Spain looks to be on the brink of seeking a bailout. According to Madrid mayor Ana Botella, a new call for aid appears to be "inevitable."

Investors are turning their backs in droves on the euro zone's fourth-largest economy. During the second quarter of this year, more capital was drained than ever before in the past 20 years. Spain's high borrowing costs are another sign of the financial markets' mistrust: interest for ten-year bonds hovers at about seven percent. No country can carry such a burden in the long run, prompting Spain's Economics Minister Luis de Guindos to urge the European Central Bank (ECB) to buy sovereign debt to help Madrid cut its refinancing costs.

 Euro-Logo (ddp images/AP Photo/Bernd Kammerer,fls)

All eyes are on the ECB, expecting concrete action

Last-resort lender

Just one month ago, experts would have shaken their heads and wondered, "has the man gone mad?" That would amount to open state financing on the part of the ECB - a barrier that must not be crossed.  But ever since ECB President Mario Draghi announced in July he would do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, the unthinkable has become an option. The fact that the Italian winked and said: "Believe me, it will be sufficient" is regarded as a sure sign the ECB is planning something big. Something that will by far surpass the relatively puny 210 billion euro bond purchase program and the two billion euros in cash injections.

That "something" is fleshing out. Germany's Spiegel newsmagazine reported the ECB plans to set a limit on the borrowing costs of individual countries and intervene on the markets to maintain this level. "Bazookas" or "Big Bertha" - the ECB is expected to mount deterrents to keep speculators at bay. It will win the fight for the common currency because the European Central Bank can print endless amounts of euro bills.

Shares on European stock markets rose at this speculation although most states are hit by recession and companies' profits are draining away - a breeding ground for the next bubble.

"Italian currency union"

The stock bubble and the ECB's apparent rescue plans have one thing in common - both are not lasting.

Jörg Krämer,

The ECB's apparent strategy would prevent a euro zone break-up, Krämer says

By making large-scale bond purchases, the ECB will not only alleviate the debt-ridden peripheral states' pressure versus borrowing costs but will also lighten the pressure on these nations to push through reforms. More rescue funds will become necessary, meaning the ECB's money presses will not stand still. The measures will prevent the euro zone from breaking apart, but higher inflation in the currency's core states will be unavoidable at some point, Commerzbank head economist Jörg Krämer said. In addition, Krämer said, "over the years, the euro would be clearly depreciated compared with other currencies by the ECB's focus on the peripheral states' problems and these states' weariness of reforms." High inflation and a weak currency are reminiscent of Italy in the 1970s and '80s - thus, Krämer predicted an "Italian currency union" for the euro zone.

Central Bank chief Draghi, nicknamed "Super Mario," will make financial markets, the southern European states and political leaders happy - for a short time.

In the long run, the countries on the euro zone's periphery will return to a pre-currency existence.  Ultimately, citizens in the core countries will pay the price for the preservation of the euro zone. It will take time for the consequences to be felt: politicians hope citizens will resign themselves to the stealthy process.

http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,16180260,00.html

Syrian conflict divides Druze community

 


Deutsche Welle
 
20 August 2012

After Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria, a religious minority living there continued to retain close ties with Syria. But now young Druze are going against the traditional loyalties of their community.

A serene view of mountaintops and villages in the distance is a tourist attraction in the Golan Heights in Israel's northern-most part. Families lunch at this spot overlooking the UN monitored plot of no man's land between the Israeli border and Syria.

Boys throw rocks in the direction of Israel's long-time foe. Yet this playful setting takes a dark turn when shelling and mortars dropping just over the mountaintops in Syria can be heard at nights, a chilling reminder for the residents of the Golan of the close proximity of Syria's bloody civil war.

Bitter over annexation of Golan

Many of the residents of the Golan are Druze, a minority religious group that is an offshoot of Islam. They live among the five Druze villages Israel captured and annexed after winning the six-day 1967 war against neighboring Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Bitter animosity over Israel's annexation of the Golan territories persists among the Druze, who refer to the land as "occupied."

Israeli soldiers patrol along the Israeli-Syrian border next to the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights on May 20, 2011

Majdal Shams is located in Israeli-controlled territory

Traditionally, the Druze were loyal to the Syrian regime and reluctant to live under Israeli control. They come from the same Alawite sect as the embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. But as residents in Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in the Golan Hights, became aware of the murders being carried out by forces loyal to Assad on the other side of the border, opinion began to split.

Outraged by atrocities

Whereas the elder members of the community tended to remain loyal to Assad, the younger generation reacted with outrage to the atrocities being committed in his name. Shefaa Abu Jabal is one of them. The 26-year-old lawyer, was the first Druze woman ever to graduate from an Israeli university, and is part of a group of Druze Israeli activists who are openly aligning themselves with anti-regime activists in Syria.

Their support, she says, has been warmly welcomed by their Syrian counterparts. "When they see our pictures in demonstrations they appreciate it very much," she says. She and the other activists demonstrate every Friday, and "we post things on Facebook and Twitter, we help them upload videos; we spread the word."

With easy Internet access available almost everywhere in Israel, the activists say they make use of the possibilities they have to support their counterparts in Syria. For her and many of her fellow Druze activists, Shefaa says "it was the first time that we could feel the Syrian person inside" themselves. But she has also suffered harsh consequences due to her activism.

Every year, on February 14, the anniversary of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War, many Druze of the Golan hold a rally in Israel calling for a return of the territory to Syria. In Majdal Shams, this event became the catalyst for a violent community backlash against Shefaa and her friends. "They didn't chant the usual chanting like 'we are Syrians we want to go back to Syria.' It was 'we love Bashar, we are the men of Bashar.' It was more a pro-Assad demonstration."

Then the crowd went Shefaa's house. "They started to chant against us. They see my family and uncles as traitors who joined this conspiracy against Syria, and ended up next to our houses spitting on us and cursing us."

'Druze should take a stance'

Despite the annual demonstrations, the Druze generally pride themselves on being a neutral political force in the host countries in which they reside. In Majdal Shams most residents are reluctant to comment on the situation in Syria.

Israeli soldiers tour an old abandoned army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights

Younger Druze cannot remember a time when Syria controlled the Golan Heights

But town's mayor, 31-year-old Dolann Abu Salach, has a different take. He thinks people should be more outspoken against Assad.

"We don't support the fact that [Druze] are neutral," he says. "We do think they are supposed to oppose the dictatorship." After the Assad regime has fallen, he adds, the Druze will be asked where they stood, and "so we think they should take a stance."

Salach's position on Syria puts him at odds with a large proportion of his community and could cost him his political popularity. Nevertheless, he believes the atrocities on the other side of the border are slowly causing opinion in Majdal Shams to shift. If events continue on their current course, the voices of young professionals such as Salach and Shefaa may soon be joined by those of older Druze speaking out against the Assad regime.

http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,16178213,00.html

Greek Shortfall Growing Ever Larger

Der Spiegel

20 August 2012

The Greek prime minister has spent weeks searching for ways to come up with 11.5 billion euros to satisfy international conditions for emergency aid. Now, though, SPIEGEL has learned that the shortfall may be as much as 14 billion euros. German politicians are becoming increasingly exasperated.

Israel becoming concerned by Egypt's Sinai deployment

Ryan Jones, Israel Today

20 August 2012

Last week, a leading Israeli media analyst suggested that Israel's government should be more concerned about Egypt's growing military deployment in the Sinai Peninsula, instead of focusing all its worries on Iran.

This Is Not a Test

Robert Haddick, Foreign Policy

17 August 2012

An Aug. 15 Bloomberg article describes a grim and anxious Israeli public preparing itself for war with Iran. Citizens are filing by distribution sites at shopping malls to pick up gas masks while wondering when the Israeli air force will attack Iran's nuclear complex.

Report: Iraq helping Iran skirt sanctions against nuclear program

By Reuters

Aug.19, 2012 |

Iraq has been helping Iran skirt economic sanctions imposed because of its nuclear program, using a network of financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations that are providing Tehran with a crucial flow of dollars, the New York Times said on Saturday.

Panetta: Afghanistan forces must be rigorously vetted

By the CNN Wire Staff

August 19, 2012

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is urging Afghanistan to rigorously vet its security force recruits following a spate of attacks that has seen Afghan soldiers and police turn their weapons on NATO troops.

Pakistan’s Descent into Chaos

Gurmeet Kanwal

August 19, 2012

Embroiled in continuing political turbulence, judicial activism, internal instability and a stagnating economy, Pakistan appears to be hurtling inexorably downhill. The terrorist strike on Minhas airbase in Kamra on August 16, in which one Pakistani soldier and nine terrorists were killed, is but the latest manifestation of the state’s inability to protect even its vital military installations. The fact that nuclear warheads are stored at the airbase makes the attack even more ominous. The strike was launched by fighters of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a terrorist organisation that is committed to the establishment of a “true Islamic state” in Pakistan.

China praises 'wise' Japan move in islands dispute

BBC News

18 August 2012

China has praised Japan's "wise" decision to free a group of activists who sailed to a disputed island chain, in a state media commentary.

The article on Xinhua news agency's website said the speedy action had averted the deterioration in relations.