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In Depth

Gay Marriage and Western Muslims

THE LEVANT NEWS — By Graham E. Fuller – Source: grahamefuller.com–  Human sexuality has always been a deeply controversial social issue in all societies. So is religion. Put them together and you have a powerful emotional brew. The US Supreme Court ruling this week legalizing gay marriage poses a new challenge …

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Beyond the Greek Impasse

THE LEVANT NEWS — By George Friedman for STRATFOR.COM —  The Greek situation — having perhaps outlived the term “crisis,” now that it has taken so long to unfold — appears to have finally reached its terminal point. This is, of course, an illusion: It has been at its terminal point for …

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Yazidi Iraqi Woman’s ISIS Captivity Story

THE LEVANT NEWS — By Joanna Paraszczuk – Source: Radio Free Europe —    ”We stayed on our feet while they looked for the ones who were pretty, those with a nice body, or pretty eyes, or pretty hair, or a pretty face. They would take them, rape them, and …

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The Major Difference Between the Shi’a and the Sunni

All the Muslims agree that Allah is One, Muhammad (S) is His last Prophet, the Qur’an is His last Book for mankind, and that one day Allah will resurrect all human beings, and they will be questioned about their beliefs and actions. There are, however, disagreements between the two schools …

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The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now

By Scott Stewart for STRATFOR — In recent weeks, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking about the jihadist strategy of al Qaeda and how it compares to that of the Islamic State. Earlier this month, I wrote about the possibility that the al Qaeda brand of …

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Will Turkey Now Change its Foreign Policies?

by Graham E. Fuller – Source: grahamefuller.com — It was welcome news that Turkish President Erdoğan was dramatically foiled in his bid to win a majority in Turkey’s recent parliamentary elections. Those election were in essence a referendum on Erdoğan himself and his ambitions to create a super-presidency in which …

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Internet warfare and manipulation of facts according to ISIS

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Dr Marcin Styszynski* — The Islamic State (ISIS) refers to media and Internet campaign targeting the organization and intensify its negative image among other insurgents and followers, including rival Islamist groups. The organization deals with different misunderstands and manipulations appearing in the Internet and social …

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The Al-Qaeda Brotherhood

By Tariq Aziza for Al-Hayat – Source: Now — Al-Jazeera’s recent interview with the founder and leader of Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jabhat al-Nusra for the People of al-Sham, has provoked negative responses from many Syrians and many people who follow events in Syria. Some have asked what the channel hoped …

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Dangers of a Declining Global Power

By Graham E. Fuller* – Source: grahamefuller.com — Much has been written about the dangers and challenges posed by China as a rising global power. Indeed, historians speak of generic tensions between rising powers and status quo powers that have often led to war. But instability takes at least two …

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Lebanon must ready for U.S.-Iran detente

By Basem Shabb for The Daily Star — A nuclear accord between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, is almost certain. In this context, of particular importance will be an agreement reached between Tehran and Washington. The Obama administration has embarked on …

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Tartus, the Mother of Martyrs

Source: Stratfor Analysis — Editor’s Note:This first-hand account was written by a Stratfor correspondent in the Middle East. Tartus is Syria’s second largest port city, overshadowed only by Latakia. Located on the country’s coastal plain, both sit within the Alawite minority’s geographic core. Originally known as the “Nusayris,” the Alawites became …

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Assad is turning his ISIS problems into opportunities

Source: Now Lebanon — Syrian President Bashar Assad is trying to turn his problems into opportunities by helping ISIS (Daesh; ISIL) choose what’s in his own best interests and allowing ISIS easier access to some areas than to others. “Reports indicate that the regime is making air-strikes in support of ISIL‘s …

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ISIS growing in numbers, money

By Ash Gallagher for AL-MONITOR — The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks against Shiites in Qatif and Damman, Saudi Arabia, on May 22 and 29, respectively. To date, some 35 armed militant groups are thought to have pledged allegiance to IS around the world, including Ansar al-Sharia …

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Does Iran Control Iraq?

By Graham E. Fuller – Source: grahamefuller.com– Saudi, Israeli and US neoconservative voices warn us tirelessly that Iran’s imperial sway has now come to dominate the governments of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and now Yemen, and still threatens Bahrain. Analytically speaking such views are not just exaggerated, but misleading and dangerous, …

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ISIS Reach The European Border

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE — By Dr Marcin Styszynski The tragic terrorist attack on Bardo National Museum in Tunis on 18 march 2015 finally defined the Islamic State (IS) influences in north Africa and strengthened the position of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the region. The organization claimed responsibility for …

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Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever’

BY NOUR SAMAHA – Source: FOREIGN POLICY — QALAMOUN MOUNTAINS, Syria — Along the vast mountain range that marks the Lebanon-Syria border, Hezbollah fighters point out recently captured al-Nusra Front training sites and military positions, and describe how they’ve been able to clear the area of the jihadis. They pick …

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Why Saudi Arabia is vulnerable to ISIS

By Bruce Riedel for AL-MONITOR –The Islamic State (IS) is targeting the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide in Saudi Arabia to create discord and undermine the royal family’s rule. The kingdom is vulnerable to sectarian strife given the family’s intimate connections to the Wahhabi Sunni clerical establishment, years of suppression of Shiite …

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Can Turkey Survive Erdoğan?

by Graham E. Fuller Source: grahamefuller.com– On 7 June Turkey’s democratic system will be deeply tested in a fateful parliamentary election; at stake is preservation of rule of law and liberal democracy against an increasingly authoritarian-minded President. Bottom line: if President Erdoğan’s AKP party is able to win big, the …

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Hamas struggling with emerging Islamist parties

Author: Hana Salah – Translator: Pascale el-Khoury for AL-MONITOR — Gaza Strip — Tensions are ongoing between the Hamas movement and the Salafist Ansar al-Dawla movement, which in February publicly declared its support for the Islamic State (IS), to which Hamas is opposed and which in turn does not look …

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Iran and al Qaeda: More Enemies Than Allies

BY Barbara Slavin FOR AL-MONITOR — Newly released correspondence from Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan contradicts U.S. assertions that al-Qaeda has a close relationship with Iran. According to a U.S. analysis of letters found in the Abbottabad compound when U.S. Special Forces killed bin Laden a year ago, “the …

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Iran’s new strategy in Syria

By Ali Hashem for Al-MONITOR — For the past four years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been involved thoroughly in the developments taking place in Syria. The Iranian role reached its peak with the decision to defend the Syrian regime with all possible means, defining the war taking place …

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Saudi Arabia—This is Leadership?

By Graham E. Fuller Source: grahamefuller.com — President Obama has good reason to try to reassure GCC leaders this week at Camp David that America has not abandoned them; they represent an important economic force. But they cannot, as constituted, represent a positive force for leadership in the region. The …

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The Shiite Religious Authority of Najaf

By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem — The hawza (seminary) in Najaf, which consists of religious schools where Shiite clerics are trained, was founded by the most prominent Shiite religious scholar, Sheikh Muhammad al-Tusi, in 1028 — even though some tend to believe that the hawza was established in Najaf decades before …

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The Shias in Lebanon: A Short History

THE LEVANT NEWS EXCLUSIVE – By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem* — The Shias of Lebanon gained global reputation in the early 1980s of the 20th century with the emergence of Hezbollah and its military operations against the Israeli occupation in Lebanon. Hence; their destiny came to be synonymous with that of …

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Stability’s a Good Thing, Isn’t It?

by Graham E. Fuller Source: grahamefuller.com — Who doesn’t want stability? If there is anything feared by virtually all humans, it is living in anarchy, chaos, lawlessness. When you can’t even go out to buy a loaf of bread without risking your life. When times are troubled political leaders naturally …

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EDGE OF EVIL

 Story by Justin Salhani Published on Jan 16, 2015 Source: latterlymagazine.com — RAS BAALBEK, Lebanon –Tucked away in the rocky hills that divide Lebanon and Syria, a gunman ordered Makhoul Mrad out of his truck.Despite his age — getting up toward 70 — and his infirm heart, Mrad was a quarry worker and regularly made …

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The Islamic State Hostages The World Mostly Ignored

BY JUSTIN SALHANI FOR THINKPROGRESS.ORG — Ten months ago, the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front kidnapped around 30 Lebanese police and military men. Since then eight men have been released and four have been executed – either beheaded or with a gunshot to the back of the head. …

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The Global Crisis of Refugees—The Ultimate Security Issue

by Graham E. Fuller – Source: grahamefuller.com — The latest heart-wrenching images of desperate refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean for life and livelihood have finally sparked broader EU awareness of a shared problem. But it’s not just about the EU; it’s a global problem, sharing familiar and common symptoms. The …

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The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of ISIS

By Christoph Reuter for Spiegel.de — An Iraqi officer planned Islamic State’s takeover in Syria and SPIEGEL has been given exclusive access to his papers. They portray an organization that, while seemingly driven by religious fanaticism, is actually coldly calculating. Aloof. Polite. Cajoling. Extremely attentive. Restrained. Dishonest. Inscrutable. Malicious. The …

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Catastrophe in Yemen

By THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD– Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen’s civil war was always a risky gamble. Now there’s evidence showing just how damaging four weeks of airstrikes have been: more than 1,000 civilians killed, more than 4,000 wounded, and 150,000 displaced. Meanwhile, the fighting and a …

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Has Yemen reshaped the Middle East geopolitical map?

by Graham E. Fuller Source: grahamefuller.com — Does anybody remember the old Cold War geopolitical concept of the “Northern Tier states?” They consisted of three countries—Turkey, Iran and Pakistan (sometimes Afghanistan) that lay along the southern border of the Soviet Union; they were perceived in the West as a potential …

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Pentagon Map Hides ISIS Gains

By Tim Mack for the Daily Beast– The U.S. military presented evidence that it was beating back the so-called Islamic State but it doesn’t even count coalition setbacks. The Defense Department released a map last week showing territory where it is has pushed ISIS back, claiming that the terrorist group …

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Mohammad Javad Zarif: A Message From Iran

  By MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIFAPRIL for THE NEW YORK TIMES — TEHRAN — WE made important progress in Switzerland earlier this month. With the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, we agreed on parameters to remove any doubt about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s …

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After nuclear deal, what’s next for Iran?

By Seyed Hossein Mousavian for AL-MONITOR — The historic political framework between Iran and the world powers April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Iran’s nuclear program — to be developed into a comprehensive agreement by the end of June — has indeed changed the entire landscape. After more than a decade of roller-coaster …

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