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In Depth

The New Drivers of Europe’s Geopolitics

By George Friedman for STRATFOR –  For the past two weeks, I have focused on the growing fragmentation of Europe. Two weeks ago, the murders in Paris prompted me to write about the fault line between Europe and the Islamic world. Last week, I wrote about the nationalism that is rising in …

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How the Houthis Did It

Regional rivalries and a botched post-Arab Spring political transition paved the way from the Houthis’ north Yemen base to the doors of the presidential palace. BY LAURA KASINOF for FOREIGN POLICY – Nearly four years ago, during the height of Yemen’s Arab Spring protests, when then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh was …

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Rolling Back Reforms in Riyadh

Will King Salman maintain Abdullah’s legacy of progress toward a more open and inclusive society in Saudi Arabia? BY CARYLE MURPHY for FOREIGN POLICY – Rolling Back Reforms in Riyadh King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, whose death was announced in Riyadh early on Jan. 23, led Saudi Arabia through …

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Saudi Arabia Faces Challenges in the New Year

By Michael Nayebi-Oskoui for Stratfor – The Middle East is one of the most volatile regions in the world — it is no stranger to upheaval. The 2009 uprisings in Iran and the brinksmanship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government were followed by the chaos of the Arab Spring, the spillover of …

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Saudi Arabia’s coming struggle

By David Ignatius for The Washington Post – Saudi watchers have been talking about the transition from King Abdullah for a decade, but now that it has arrived, it’s as mysterious as ever. The death of King Abdullah begins a period of generational change in the oil kingdom that may …

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Obama in the Middle East: All about ISIS and Iran

By Joyce Karam for Al Arabiya News – In his sixth and perhaps most eloquent State of the Union address to Congress, U.S. President Barack Obama left no doubt about his unwillingness to be drawn to wars and conflicts in the Middle East. Fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and …

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Why Is it Specifically Muslims Who are Resisting the West?

By Graham Fuller – Source: grahamefuller.com – Why Is it Specifically Muslims Who are Resisting the West? Many people ask why it appears to be specifically Muslims who are in confrontation with the West today, as compared to other ethnic groups who also bear historical grievances from treatment at the …

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Who Are the Houthis of Yemen?

Source: THE NEW YORK TIMES – The Houthis, an insurgent group based in northwestern Yemen, have been fighting the government intermittently since 2004, when the country was still led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a longtime autocrat and United States ally. While Yemen is mostly Sunni, the Houthis belong to …

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Golan attack ‘colossal failure’ for Hezbollah, analysts say

Source: Al Arabiya News – An Israeli helicopter attack killed five members of Hezbollah operating out of Syria over the weekend. Among the dead were senior Hezbollah figures and an Iranian general, raising tensions in Lebanon of a potential return to hostilities between the two neighboring countries. The attack – …

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How will Hezbollah respond to Israeli strike?

By Jean Aziz for Al-monitor – Translated by Pascale el-Khoury – Hezbollah announced the killing of six of its fighters in a raid Jan. 18 which it accused the Israeli air force of carrying out against a group of its members on Syrian territory. The incident has preoccupied the Lebanese …

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Graham Fuller’s Five Middle East Predictions for 2015

By Graham Fuller* – Source: grahamefuller.com – Only a fool offers longer term predictions about the Middle East. I offer the following longer terms predictions about the Middle East for 2015. 1- ISIS will decline in power and influence. I have stated earlier that I do not believe ISIS is …

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Why the War on Terror Isn’t Working?

By Ali Hashem for The Huffingtonpost – Why is the world still suffering from terrorism? There might be several answers, some that could be fitted in a book, or maybe books. Yet the reasons given are always the same, or to be specific, the answers aren’t convincing. No it’s not …

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The power of religion

Special Report – On a Sunday in early June Muhammad Qatta, a roadside coffee-seller in the Syrian city of Aleppo, refused to serve a would-be freeloader. Even the prophet himself would have to pay, he said. Some bearded rebel fighters overheard him. Crying blasphemy, they shot him dead. Muhammad was …

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Why does ISIS hate Shi’a?

By Graham E. Fuller Published first on Graham Fullet’s Blog – ISIS has particularly targeted Shi’a as a key part of their brutal onslaught against any practice of Islam that does not conform to their narrow ahistorical interpretation view of their religion. We hear a lot from western commentators about …

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The meaning of being a Sufi

The Levant Exclusive – By Khaled Mohammed Abdou* – The Sufi: The traveller in the way of love To be human first and before anything, to realise the meaning of “within you the big world exists”. To remember that no matter how high or low, awake or heedless, forgetful or …

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Ahmed Ghappour Liberty and Security: Post-9/11 Initiatives

  THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – Silicon Valley – Dr. Geoffrey Cook –   The second speaker at the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) fund-raising dinner here last spring which your scribe is examining in micro-detail (i.e., each individual presentation per article) is Ahmed Ghappour. Ahmed is a clinical (law) …

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What Is Genuine Leadership in the Middle East?

By Graham E. Fuller – A supreme challenge to US policies in the Middle East—especially in the Arab world—has been dealing with the no-win dilemma of leadership in the Arab world. As we look out across the wreckage of the present scene in the Middle East, many observers, including myself, …

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Power struggle rages in Yemen

By Adel Moujahed al-Shurbaji for Assafir – Translated by Cynthia Milan for al-monitor- “Ruling Yemen is like dancing on snake heads,” former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said, according to British researcher Victoria Clark. Poet Ibrahim al-Hadrani wrote, “The saddest and grouchiest people in the world are the ones who …

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Understanding Hizbullah in Lebanon

By Justin Salhani for the Media Line – [Beirut] — In American policy making circles, the name Hizbullah cuts a shadowy figure of a radical Islamist terrorist group, hell-bent on Israel’s destruction. Hizbullah, which translates to “Party of God,” describes itself as a Shiite-Muslim political and social movement that first …

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The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra: A Looming Grand Jihadi Alliance?

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi – The international coalition- led by the U.S.- against the Islamic State [IS], with additional American airstrikes targeting the ‘Khorasan’ al-Qa’ida group in Syria (in reality just al-Qa’ida veterans from the Afghanistan-Pakistan embedded with Syria’s al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra [JN])- has prompted media speculation …

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Saudi blames Al-Qaeda for deadly anti-Shiite attack

THE LEVANT – Saudi authorities have blamed militants linked to Al-Qaeda for an unprecedented attack that killed Shiite worshippers and stoked sectarian tensions in the Sunni-dominated kingdom. Saudi authorities have blamed militants linked to Al-Qaeda for an unprecedented attack that killed Shiite worshippers and highlighted sectarian tensions in the Sunni-dominated …

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The chaos that is Libya

THE LEVANT – Libya’s supreme court on Thursday invalidated the internationally recognised parliament, setting the stage for deepening political chaos in the violence-wracked North African nation. The ruling, which cannot be appealed, prompted celebratory gunfire in the capital Tripoli where Islamist-led militias have been in control since August, an AFP …

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Assad’ Syria, truncated, battered but defiant

THE LEVANT – Syrian businessmen start from scratch after their shops and factories were destroyed. Families who lost their homes struggle to rent new dwellings and make ends meet. Along highways stretching through government-controlled areas are the bombed ruins of once-rebellious towns, now dotted with checkpoints. Government-controlled Syria is truncated …

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Lebanese Politics: Feast in a Time of War

THE LEVANT – By Alexey Sarabyev  – In Lebanon, fighting continues in Tripoli. Currently all indications are that this is just another instance of restoring order to the chaotic city, a battle with insurgents and terrorists. As always, the Lebanese army and militants are in opposition, and the population itself of …

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First Iraqi Kurdish fighters bound for Kobane arrive in Turkey

THE LEVANT – Crowds of flag-waving Kurds greeted Iraqi peshmerga fighters travelling through Turkey Wednesday to join opposition rebels reinforcing the Syrian town of Kobane against an attack by the Islamic State jihadist group. Flashing victory signs, the fighters armed with machineguns, heavy artillery and rocket launchers received a euphoric …

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Jihadists flock to Libya’s remote south

THE LEVANT – Libya’s remote desert south has become a haven for North African jihadists who have set up training camps in what has traditionally been a hotbed of arms smuggling, experts say. Oil-rich Libya slid into chaos after veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed …

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Houthi gains in Yemen: Regional and local dimensions

THE LEVANT – By Afro-Middle East Centre – The striking advances of Houthis in Yemen, having already taken de facto control of the capital Sana’a last month, has implications for Yemen as well as for the greater Middle East. Within Yemen, they signal the return to political prominence of the Zaidi-Shia, …

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Regional dimensions to the Libyan conflict

THE LEVANT – By Afro-Middle East Centre – Air strikesaimed at the Libya Dawn militia in recentmonths could further escalate and regionalise the conflict in Libya. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is widely reported as having launched the air strikes, but the bombings seem to be part of increasing intervention in Libya …

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18 dead in clashes in Libya’s Benghazi

THE LEVANT – Fierce clashes raged in Benghazi on Friday, killing at least 18 people, on the third day of an offensive by pro-government forces to recapture Libya’s second city from Islamist militias. An AFP correspondent said the latest fighting was the most violent since forces of former general Khalifa …

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What Makes Islamic State So Formidable?

THE LEVANT  – By Charles Recknagel –  From the use of suicide car bombs against enemy front lines to slaughtering prisoners of war to frighten opponents, Islamic State militants have proven brutally effective on the battlefield. Here are five things that make the group a formidable force. Suicide Bombers Many …

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