• Overview of the Armed Factions in Syria

    by Dr. Haytham Mouzahem — In the space of three months, Syria’s rebel factions have lost their stronghold in Aleppo, fled to Idlib and witnessed the election of a new US president who’s as reluctant to help them as the outgoing one – if not more so. So what better time to recap who’s who,

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  • Convoy with head of Libyan U.N.-backed government shot at, no-one hurt

    A convoy carrying the prime minister of Libya’s U.N.-backed government and the two leaders of an allied parliament and presidential guard came under fire in Tripoli on Monday, but none of the three men were harmed, officials said. A spokesman for the U.N.-backed government, Ashraf Tulty, said the motorcade had been hit by gunfire as

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  • Trump’s defense chief says in Iraq: We’re not here for your oil

    By Phil Stewart | BAGHDAD – The U.S. military is “not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil”, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said as he arrived for talks with Iraqi leaders on Monday, distancing himself from remarks by President Donald Trump. Mattis was the highest-ranking Trump administration official to visit Iraq since Trump irked Iraqis with

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  • Hezbollah torn between its local and regional roles

    By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem for Al-monitor– On Jan. 17, the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, Hezbollah’s political wing in the Lebanese parliament, held its regular meeting and said in a statement that the meeting was mostly dedicated to discussing the national draft laws, in particular the electoral law. However, the most remarkable thing about the

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  • Some 5,000 Chinese Militants Fight in Syria- Syrian Ambassador to China

    The Levant News — Syria’s Ambassador to China stated that approximately 5,000 fighters from the restive northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang are fighting alongside militants in Syria. BEIJING (Sputnik) – Approximately 5,000 fighters from the restive northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang are fighting alongside militants in Syria, Syria’s Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha told Sputnik.

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  • The Blackwater of Jihad

    By Rao Komar, Christian Borys and Eric Woods, Foreign Policy: Heavily armed and expertly kitted with body armor and ballistic helmets, the men can be seen defending bunkers, storming buildings, and even posing by whiteboards giving tactical lessons. Though the titles of these YouTube videos are written in Russian Cyrillic, their background music is an

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  • Saudis expel 39,000 Pakistanis over terror fears

    By Richard Spencer for THE TIMES — Saudi Arabia has expelled 39,000 Pakistanis in the past four months amid what it says is a crackdown on terrorism, according to the Saudi Gazette. Most deportations were for standard visa violations, reported the English-language daily newspaper, published in Jedda. However, officials were also reacting to concern over

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  • Syrian President Assad meets with Damascus manufacturers

    The Levant News — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Damascus manufacturers affected by war on Tuesday, state media said, in his first reported meeting since rumors circulated that he was suffering from ill health. Assad greeted business owners from the capital and its countryside to discuss challenges they have faced during the conflict, now

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  • Hizbullah and the Politics of Remembrance by Bashir Saade

    Cambridge University Press has recently published a book entitled “Hizbullah and the Politics of Remembrance: Writing the Lebanese Nation” by Bashir Saade. Description “Born out of the Israeli occupation of the South of Lebanon, the political armed group Hizbullah is a powerful player within both Lebanon and the wider Middle East. Understanding how Hizbullah has,

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  • Palestine in the Age of Trump

    By Rashid Khalidi* for The New Yorker — With the advent in Washington of an Administration with radical new priorities regarding Israel, and a disdain for Palestinian rights, Palestine is facing a daunting reality. In recent years, ascendant political currents in America and Israel had already begun to merge. We have now reached the point

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  • An inauguration—into what?

    by Graham E. Fuller — With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, it’s hard to know where first to focus attention. Rage and righteous indignation on all sides are mounting. There is more than enough blame to go around for how the US got itself into this situation.

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  • At Paris Meeting, Major Powers to Warn Trump Over Middle East Peace

    By John Irish and Lesley Wroughton, Reuters – Some 70 countries on Sunday reaffirmed that only a two-state solution could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and warned they would not recognize any unilateral steps by either side that could prejudge negotiations. The final communique of a one-day international Middle East peace conference in Paris shied away

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  • Obama Belatedly Says No to Israel

    If President Obama had confronted Israel over its illegal settlements earlier, he might have really achieved something, but his U.N. abstention as he heads out the door is better than nothing, observes Marjorie Cohn. By Marjorie Cohn for Consortium — For the first time in his eight-year presidency, Barack Obama said no to Israel. When

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  • Hamas and Dahlan Coordinate Positions ahead of PLC Conference

    By Jasmin Rasheed — Palestinian reliable sources revealed that Mousa Abu Marzook, member of the Hamas Political Bureau, met the representatives of Mohammad Dahlan to discuss future moves against Abu Mazen. According to these sources, a week ago, Abu Marzook met in Cairo two close associates of Mohammad Dahlan – Samir Masharawi and the PLC

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  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards position for power

    By Babak Dehghanpisheh for Reuters | BEIRUT — Iran’s Revolutionary Guards look set to entrench their power and shift the country to more hardline, isolationist policies for years to come following the death of influential powerbroker Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Former president Rafsanjani long had a contentious relationship with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),

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  • Trump-Putin Frenzy

    by Graham E. Fuller* — I cannot recall a period in which the US public debate across the media has reached such implacably partisan and toxic proportions. The issues are indeed important—particularly the specific case of Russian involvement in helping make public the activities of the Democratic National Committee—information that was strongly unfavorable to the

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  • Egyptian Authorities Continue to Arrest Visiting Gaza Strip Residents

    The Levant News – By Jasmin Rasheed — According to Palestinian sources, despite an improvement in relations with Hamas, and Rafah Crossing being open more frequently, the Egyptian authorities consistently continue their activity against visitors from the Gaza Strip suspected of links to terror. On 10-12 December, Rafah Crossing was opened for travelers and goods

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  • ISIS claims responsibility for Berlin truck attack

    The Levant News — “The Islamic State” group (ISIS)claimed responsibility Tuesday for a truck attack at a Christmas market in Berlin that killed 12 people and injured 48 others. German police are still hunting for the driver of the truck. “The executor of the operation … in Berlin is a soldier of the Islamic State

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  • Qatari banks in talks to form Sharia-compliant $44-bn megabank

    DOHA (AFP) – Three Qatari banks announced Tuesday that they are in merger talks to create a financial institution with assets of more than $44 billion. Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar said the potential merger would create the third largest Sharia-compliant bank in the Middle East, in a statement released

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  • U.S. government loses to Russia’s disinformation campaign: advisers

    By Joseph Menn for Reuters — The U.S. government spent more than a decade preparing responses to malicious hacking by a foreign power but had no clear strategy when Russia launched a disinformation campaign over the internet during the U.S. election campaign, current and former White House cyber security advisers said. Far more effort has

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  • Iran, Russia, Turkey Underline Respect for Syria’s Territorial Integrity

    TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran, Russia and Turkey issued a joint statement on Tuesday, calling for continued cooperation on Syria and reiterating their respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. According to the statement, the ministers of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey, meeting

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  • Jordanian policemen killed fighting gunmen near Karak: security source

    By Suleiman Al-Khalidi | AMMAN – Reuters — Four Jordanian policemen were killed in clashes with Islamist militants near the southern city of Karak on Tuesday as the authorities hunted militants who killed 10 people on Sunday, security officials said. Two days earlier police tackled gunmen holed up inside a Crusader castle in Karak. Among

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  • Karak attackers planned further assaults

    The Levant News — Assailants who staged attacks in Jordan’s southern city of Karak on Sunday had suicide vests and other weapons, and were planning further assaults, Interior Minister Salamah Hamad has said. Hamad did not give details on Monday on the identity or nationality of the attackers, saying an investigation was still ongoing. The

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  • Iran will reduce its heavy water exports

    TEHRAN – Iran’s atomic agency says it will begin exporting less heavy water because of an oversupply in the international market. State TV quotes agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying Tuesday that Iran will export some 20 tons of the material annually from now on. That’s much less that the 70 tons of heavy water

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  • Syrian army says it will enter Aleppo enclave

    The Levant News – Syria’s army broadcast messages into the last rebel enclave of Aleppo saying it would enter the area on Tuesday, a military media unit run by the government’s ally Hezbollah reported, urging insurgents to speed up their evacuation of the city. A rebel official based in Turkey told Reuters that only about

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  • Syria army tells remaining rebels to quit Aleppo

    ALEPPO, Syria: Syria’s army on Tuesday urged the last remaining rebels and civilians to leave the bombed-out eastern quarters of Aleppo as it prepares to take full control of the devastated city. The evacuation of east Aleppo is seen as a pivotal moment in the nearly six-year war that has killed more than 310,000 people

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  • Trump wins Electoral College vote; a few electors break ranks

    By Eric M. Johnson and Jon Herskovitz for Reuters| Republican Donald Trump prevailed in U.S. Electoral College voting on Monday to officially win election as the next president, easily dashing a long-shot push by a small movement of detractors to try to block him from gaining the White House. Trump, who is set to take

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  • Trump nominates trading firm founder Viola as Army secretary

    By Doina Chiacu and John McCrank for Reuters| WASHINGTON/NEW YORK President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Vincent Viola, an Army veteran and founder of a high-speed trading firm, to be secretary of the Army, adding another figure from the business world without government experience to his Cabinet. Viola is a West Point graduate who founded the

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  • Saudi coalition says UK-made cluster bombs used in Yemen

    The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on Monday said it had made “limited use” of British-made cluster bombs, a type of weapon which 100 countries have pledged not to use. In its 21-month campaign against Houthi Ansarullah group who has seized much of Yemen, the Saudi-led alliance has faced repeated allegations of killing civilians. It

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  • Kurd-led forces press ISIS near Syria’s Raqqa

    The Levant News – Several villages held by Islamic State have been captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of militias backed by the United States that includes a strong Kurdish contingent, an organisation that monitors the war said on Monday. The advance is part of a military campaign backed by an international

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  • Iranian FM, DM in Russia for Talks on Syria

    TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan have paid a visit to Moscow to meet with senior Russian officials and discuss issues of mutual interests, the Syrian crisis in particular. Heading high-ranking delegations, Zarif and Dehqan arrived in Moscow on Tuesday morning to hold trilateral talks with

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  • Karlov gave final interview to Anadolu Agency

    By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun — Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, who was assassinated Monday, gave his final interview to Anadolu Agency. The envoy assured Turkey of Russian cooperation “in every sense, at the bilateral or international level,” during the Nov. 30 sit-down. Karlov was killed after being shot multiple times in Ankara as he

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  • Isis manufacturing military standard weapons on an ‘industrial scale’ in Iraq

    By Lizzie Dearden @lizziedearden for The Independent — Isis is developing its own arsenal of military grade weapons and ammunition including rockets, mortar rounds and bombs as it continues battling to defend territory across Syria and Iraq, a report has found. Facilities abandoned during the Mosul offensive have revealed manufacturing on “an industrial scale”, making

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  • The Never-Ending Extravaganza

    by Graham E. Fuller*– It had been an exhausting, interminable 18-20 months of presidential campaigning during which much of the business of thoughtful American governance had to yield space to the riveting follies of politics. Yet most other countries in the world, not locked into dictators or kings for life, conduct their elections far more

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  • ISIS makes advances towards Palmyra

    The ISIS group in Syria attacked the Syrian army near the city of Palmyra on Thursday, killing dozens of soldiers and advancing to within four kilometers (2.5 miles) of the city, a war monitor said. The Syrian army, backed by Russian jets, recaptured Palmyra, the site of a Roman-era city and spectacular ruins, from Islamic

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  • Universality of Human Rights: Myth or Reality

    Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai* — “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights The statement of Mr. Ban Ki-moon – UN Secretary General deserves an appreciation who wants to console people by saying: “On Human Rights Day, let us recommit

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  • Israeli Occupation economically suffocates Palestinian East Jerusalem

    The Levant News — In an unusual move, and after years of neglect, American and European delegations and development agencies have recently been visiting East Jerusalem and showing an increased interest in “doing something” about its deteriorating socioeconomic conditions. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is, after a prolonged silence, working on updating the Strategic Multi-Sector

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  • Trump on Boeing’s Air Force One contract: ‘Cancel order!’

    By Phil Stewart and Amy Tennery | WASHINGTON/NEW YORK — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump urged the government on Tuesday to cancel an order with Boeing Co for a revamped Air Force One – a prominent symbol of the U.S. presidency – complaining that costs were out of control. It was the latest example of Trump

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  • RUMI’S UNTOLD STORY

    by Shahram Shiva from near 30 years of research on Rumi http://www.rumi.net/about_rumi_main.htm Rumi is now one of the most widely read poets in America. I began translating Rumi in 1988, and performing his poetry in 1992. In all of these years I never thought that he would become so popular in the West in such

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  • The forgotten shipwreck

    By Stephen Grey and Amina Ismail for REUTERS — NEW LIVES: Migrants wait on the dock in Augusta, Sicily, after being rescued. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello Millions of people, billions of dollars – and Europe’s struggle to cope The Migration Machine RESCUED: Italian police carry migrants to safety, leaving their leaky boat to drift. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi STRANDED: Border controls stopped

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  • Netanyahu to discuss ‘bad’ Iran deal with Trump

    By Jeffrey Heller and Arshad Mohammed for Reuters | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he would discuss with Donald Trump the West’s “bad” nuclear deal with Iran after the U.S. president-elect enters the White House. Speaking separately to a conference in Washington, Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry clashed over

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  • Exxon CEO Now a Contender for Donald Trump’s Secretary of State

    By CAROL E. LEE and PETER NICHOLAS – WASHINGTON— President-elect Donald Trump is widening the circle of candidates for secretary of state and will interview more prospects this week, transition officials said, a sign that after multiple meetings with high-profile hopefuls he still isn’t sold on who he wants as the nation’s top diplomat. Though

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