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20 dead in ISIS clashes with rivals in eastern Libya

Source: REUTERS — At least 20 fighters were killed in clashes in eastern Libya between Islamic State and another Islamist force that later declared jihad against its hardline rival, residents and medical sources said on Wednesday. Fighting erupted in the city of Derna after a leader in the Islamist umbrella …

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Our Ever Blest Rachel Corrie

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE — By Geoffrey Cook — Your writer is in the great American Pacific Northwest, in the State just south of Rachel Corrie’s home, the State of Washington. I am revisiting/revising an article of over decade ago because of the unjust verdict on the appeal in the Israeli …

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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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Group sues to compel U.S. to evacuate Americans from Yemen

Group sues to compel U.S. to evacuate Americans from Yemen DETROIT | BY SERENA MARIA DANIELS Lawyers representing a group of Yemeni Americans on Wednesday sought to have a federal judge force the government to order emergency evacuations of 37 American citizens stranded in Yemen since a deadly conflict broke …

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How Islamic State Victories Shape the Syrian Civil War

Source: Stratfor.com The Islamic State will prioritize the defense of its core supply lines, used to provide equipment and much-needed recruits. The Islamic State will continue to demonstrate considerable flexibility in its offensive operations. The Syrian government and rebel forces will have to increasingly devote their attention and resources to …

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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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Hezbollah backs Aoun on security appointments: report

Source: The Daily Star — Hezbollah will support “any decision” Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun makes on key security appointments, local newspaper As-Safir said Monday. According to the report, Hezbollah’s stance has been conveyed to Lebanese political officials. Information Minister Ramzi Joreige said efforts were underway to ease tensions …

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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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ISIS claims Damam mosque bombing

Source: Reuters– ISIS militants claimed responsibility for an attack Friday on a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia’s Dammam in which four people were killed. A statement by ISIS posted on Twitter named the suicide bomber who carried out the attack as Abu Jandal al-Jizrawi, saying he had managed to reach …

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France warns Iran over nuclear deal as deadline nears

Source: Reuters — France warned on Wednesday it was ready to block a final deal between Iran and the six major powers unless Tehran provided inspectors access to all installations, including military sites. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last week ruled out international inspection of Iran’s military sites or …

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Iraqi Forces Start Anbar Operation

Agence France Presse– The operation by Iraqi government and allied forces to liberate Anbar and its capital Ramadi from ISIS was launched too soon, Parliament Speaker Salim al-Juburi said Wednesday. “Zero hour was announced but this important battle should have been better prepared, especially because Anbar is a bastion,” he …

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ISIS shoots dead 20 at Palmyra amphitheater

Reuters — ISIS militants shot dead around 20 men inside an ancient amphitheater in the Syrian city of Palmyra Wednesday, accusing them of being government supporters, an activist group monitoring the conflict said. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the report from the Britain-based activist group, the Syrian Observatory for …

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Hezbollah strike Qalamoun jihadis with help of drone

The Daily Star– A Hezbollah missile annihilated a group of at least three Islamist militants in Syria’s Qalamoun region along the border with Lebanon Wednesday after being spotted by a drone, Al-Manar reported. “All members of a group of Nusra takfiri [militants] were killed in an ambush by the resistance” …

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Senior Hezbollah official speaks out

Al-Monitor interviewed Mohammad Raad, one of the founders of Hezbollah and the leader of the group’s parliamentary bloc in Lebanon. Raad, who has a degree in philosophy from the Lebanese University, played a role in developing Hezbollah’s internal constitution as well as its 1985 “Open Letter to the World,” a …

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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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Syrian rebels ‘seize hospital holding 150 soldiers’

Source: AFP– Islamist rebels on Friday overran a hospital in northwest Syria where at least 150 regime forces and dozens of civilians were trapped for nearly a month, a monitor said. The monitoring group’s head said “dozens” of people had managed to flee but others were killed, wounded or taken …

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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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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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Syrian army captures area on Lebanon border: Hezbollah

Reuters- – The Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters captured a mountainous area on Syria’s border with Lebanon on Thursday and killed dozens of insurgents including from al Qaeda’s Nusra Front wing, a Hezbollah official told Reuters. The area, Assal al-Ward, is a strategic position that overlooks Lebanese border towns where …

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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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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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US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone

By Juan Cole — The tragic deaths last January, just now being revealed, of two Western hostages in drone strikes on a relatively empty housing complex in northern Pakistan near the Afghanistan border underlines that the Obama administration is killing people from the air without knowing who they are and …

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Yemen: Operation Cross-Purposes

Saudi Arabia just stopped bombing Iranian-backed forces in Yemen. That’s making Obama’s life easier as the administration’s nuclear talks with Tehran reach their most critical phase. BY YOCHI DREAZEN for FOREIGN POLICY — Saudi Arabia’s decision to abruptly end its air war against Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen will reverberate …

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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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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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The Red Lines of U.S. Strategy Towards ISIS

  THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Dr. Saif Nusrat Al-hermezi* – Translator: Hadi Nehme —     This article evokes an important problematic dilemma regarding the link between ISIS’ protraction in the region and the boundaries the United States has set before the organization. The term “red lines”, frequently mentioned in …

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The New Saudi Foreign Policy

Author: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies – Source: Council on Foreign Relations — Saudi Arabia’s incursion into Yemen reflects a new foreign policy that assertively presses Saudi claims in the Middle East and even uses its own armed forces to ensure its interests. After centuries of relying …

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