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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

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Middle East

Europe’s Migrant Crisis – of the 5th Century

in Europe/Middle East/Politics by
syrian refugees budapest

Rome was not built in a day, the saying goes. Yet the idea of a rapid “fall of Rome” seems to be commonly accepted: non-Roman barbarian “others,” taking advantage of Roman weakness, pouring across the borders and tearing down civilization, leaving Europe in a cultural backwater for the next millennium. This is an image which easily captures the imagination, and it fits into the general narrative of the Middle Ages as a generally backward, barbaric era. It has unrelentingly maintained its grip on minds, child and adult alike, even over the protests of professional historians who frown upon the use of that demeaning, and inaccurate, term “the Dark Ages.” Such a pessimistic view of an entire thousand plus years of European history is in fact the result of successful propaganda by Renaissance-era thinkers, who sought to emphasize their achievements by contrasting their time period with the alleged barbarism and darkness of the centuries before them and signaling a return to the cultural and intellectual glory of classical Europe (hence a “rebirth”). And the beginning of all the darkness of the Middle Ages begins with the so-called “fall of Rome,” precipitated by the mass movements of barbarian tribes who allegedly did…

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Beacons Over Mars

in Economics/Middle East/Politics/Technology/US by
Kizilgaha beacon tower

Lets begin with a question: How is trade created? At first an intellectual being defines a phenomenon and then that person (or maybe someone else who has somehow acquired that knowledge) generates an interest for it. Spontaneously that interest defines a need which ends up with an exchange. The difficulty of this process can vary; sometimes rocket science is required to define a phenomenon but sometimes it is as easy as lighting a beacon. For instance the Silk Road of the ancient world was not even a leveled sand road but rather several beacons lit by the locals to invite trade caravans. As a result goods, science and culture were transported to both ends of the known world, forming our past. It is of course a fact of history that trade has not only created immeasurable wealth but also caused devastating wars. Some countries boosted their intellectual capacity and flourished whereas some regions ended up covered by sand plagued by chronic instability. That’s why we read about geopolitics in our daily lives. History gave us a great example when colonialism overturned the existing Central Asian and Middle Eastern status-quo causing the wealth of European Empires’ to be revolutionary in every aspect at the expensive of…

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One Step Forward, No Steps Back: Changing the U.S.-Iranian Relationship

in Asia/Diplomacy/Middle East/Security by
John Kerry Iran Foreign Minister

On July 14, 2015, after endless hours of tense negotiations, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCAP) was unveiled to the world.  In the United States, it was hailed as a victory for the non-proliferation regime while others expressed frustration at the number of capitulations the U.S. had made. But the more optimistic supporters of the deal celebrated the rapprochement and suggested a possibility for closer American-Iranian ties. Unfortunately, mere days after the conclusion of the agreement, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Khomeini, Supreme Leader of Iran, squashed any hopes of more cooperation. Sumitha Kutty, an Associate Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, offers a very cogent analysis of the prospects of improved relations here. Put simply, the outlook for true détente is grim. The U.S.-Iranian relationship is scarred by two major events. The first is the 1953 coup d’état engineered by the CIA and the British SIS. In response to the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the U.S. deposed and replaced the popularly elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh with the pro-Western monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The second event was the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). During this long and bloody conflict, the United States supported…

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Israel’s Other Human Rights Catastrophe: The Negev Bedouin

in Human Rights/Law/Middle East/Politics by
Bedouin Israel Child

The plight of the Negev Bedouin continued as Israel’s Supreme Court recently ruled that the village of Umm al-Hiran would be destroyed and its inhabitants removed to make way for Israeli settlers. The NGO Human Rights Watch criticized the ruling, which also applied to a similar village in the West Bank, with its Middle East and Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson stating “The court decisions in the Umm al-Hiran and Susya cases ignore international law in upholding discriminatory evictions by the Israeli authorities in Israel and the occupied territories”.

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ISILationism, Part 3: Eventual Endgame or Endless Games?

in Diplomacy/Middle East/Security/US by

In case you missed it be sure to check out the first and second part of the series, ISILationism, Part 1 and ISILationism, Part 2! A question that must be asked when confronting Fundamental Islam is: where and when have terrorism and insurgencies faltered, ultimately failed, and reached complete fallout? The answer, as should be known, is: nowhere and not yet! Salafi Jihadism, under the guise of some newly emerged radical Islam, has been an overt force in the world since the beginning of our current millennium, with no tangible sign for the hopeful demise of its existence. Al-Qaida rose from obscurity after the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City to a globally renown, expertly organized network promoting the destruction of the “far enemies” in order to universally advent Sharia Law. This organization, however, has diminished in power and overall capabilities through the relentless strategies and countermeasures conducted by the United States to successfully subvert Al-Qaida. With the conclusion of military operations in Iraq officially declared and executed in 2011, a lessening concern for Afghanistan has also increased among public policy and public opinion in America. Additionally, the multinational forces have grown battle-weary and the exhaustive, perpetual struggles with the…

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Iran: Why Nuclear Weapons Made Sense

in Diplomacy/Middle East/Politics/Security/Technology by

The nuclear talks between Iran and the Six Powers have dominated headlines for the first week of April. After days of tense negotiations, a deadline extension, and flaring tempers, an agreed upon framework has finally emerged. And, unsurprisingly, there has been no shortage of critics. The more hawkish American and Israeli lawmakers voiced displeasure. Iranian hardliners found it inadequate. And both countries seem to be reporting different versions of the framework. And to top it all off, there still is no concrete deal in place. March 31st was only a soft deadline important to only the United States to placate the demands of its Congress. The negotiations are far from over and there’s plenty of work left to be done. Everyone understands the dangers of nuclear proliferation. More pointedly, everyone understands the dangers of a nuclear Iran. Thus far, the dominating narrative of Iran’s quest for nuclear capabilities is that of an aspiring regional hegemon capitalizing on the instability caused by the Syrian conflict, American interventionism, and the Arab Spring. This conjures up images of a state hell-bent on destruction making a mad grab for power. This is seriously lacking. This narrative does negotiators and the American public no favors…

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ISILationism, Part 2: the Sunni-Shiite Divide and Iran as America’s Contentious Ally

in Diplomacy/Middle East/Security/US by

In case you missed it be sure to check out the first part of the series, ISILationism, Part 1. Beholden to the promise of containing the Islamic State, a coalition force of regional powers, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has been organized under the guidance of the United States. Some onboard this multilateral feat, however, are rather questionable allies who, through one fashion or another, hold responsibility for the formation of the Islamic State! Islamists throughout the world are joining ISIL’s ranks in the Levantine expanse of bloodshed and destruction, but these are Salafi Jihadist Sunni Muslims and not one of them would be Shiite, lest they prefer suicide without geopolitical impingement. This is where Iran comes into play as the most unlikely candidate America can depend on, teetering on the paradoxical fringe of reliability and suspicion equally reciprocated by the U.S. The Islamic Republic of Iran remains adamant that their nuclear program is a peaceful means for clean, renewable energy, despite resultantly enduring sanctions over and over again without much resolve. An interim deal was made through the greater powers of the international community but, as of yet, progress has been stifled and Iran continues its plans. Nonetheless,…

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ISILationism, Part 1: America’s Sideline Strategy against the Islamic State and the “Strange Bedfellow” Alliance that Follows

in Middle East/Security/US by

As subtle, swift, and stark as a thief in the night, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) sprang from the ravaging badlands of Syria and inflicted a reign of terror far worse than its predecessor, Al-Qaida. A splinter-cell offshoot of Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and the Al-Nusra front in Syria, ISIL forged greater numbers and strength (U.S.-aided munitions and equipment), and inevitably built up its own Caliphate of Islamic fundamentalism. ISIL intends on dominating the region of its claim by unreasonably violent means, subjecting its opponents to public executions, slavery, forced marriage, and many other abominable acts against humanity. A major adversary dismantling the prospects of a more steady and diplomatic Iraq, ISIL threatens neighboring countries and the entire international community, much like Al-Qaida, but through more contemporary methods of advertising as well (i.e. social media networks). The crisis at hand is not solely attributed to the outset of ISIL, but how exactly ISIL must be dealt with; in effect, ISIL may or may not have intended on the more unconventional battles to be waged by their enemies, but the current stratagem of the United States and Near Eastern states could unavoidably lead to triggers for multiple…

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US-Israeli Tension Increases With Kerry’s Remarks

in Diplomacy/Middle East/Security/US by

The behind the scenes moves of the players involved in the high-stakes US-Iran negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program are continuing to fester out into the open. It appears that the Obama administration is increasingly loosing patience with Netanyahu’s meddling. Illustrative of this, tension between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached a new height on Wednesday. Speaking to the US Congress in the run-up to Netanyahu’s planned congressional visit in March, Kerry reminded US officials that the last time Netanyahu spoke before the Congress back in 2002 he was giving his strong support for a US invasion of Iraq. To observers aware of the increasing conflict between the administration and Netanyahu, the implication of Kerry’s statement should be clear, “He cannot be trusted”. Behind closed doors is a continued sense of anger and tension between US President Obama and the Israeli leader. Only weeks ago, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Obama had called and demanded that Netanyahu stop interfering with US lawmakers. Netanyahu is reported to be personally lobbying US senators and congressman for increased sanctions on Iran, an action that would effectively abort any progress on negotiations between the White House and Tehran. Thus, Kerry’s public remarks seem to be expressing…

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Does Obama’s New AUMF Really Matter?

in Diplomacy/Law/Middle East/Security/US by

As reported on February 11th, US President Obama announced his plans to request the authorization to use force against the Islamic State (IS). In preparation for this, the White House released the proposed document, which it notes may be referred to as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (AUMF-ISIL). Although there has been signifiant fanfare and media coverage over the implications of the document, the proposal itself is not as game changing as reported. Largely, this has been a result of overeager media coverage concerning the document. Outlined in the three page draft are the administrations arguments as to why they are requesting authorization against the IS, in addition to limitations of the scope of action and on the executive branch’s powers.  Most notable among these limitations pertains to Subsection (a) of the draft which formally requests authorization. In defining this subsection, the draft notes that it “…does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations”. In essence, this prevents additional deployment of ground troops beyond those which already are present in what is defined as the scope of the theater. In addition, under Section 3…

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