Tag Archives: Middle East

What is terrorism?

Yesterday President Obama announced that Cuba would be taken off the US’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism, to which Cuba replied “thanks, about time“. It shows real progress towards better relations with Cuba, but also raising an interesting question – what does it mean to sponsor terrorism? More importantly, what is terrorism actually? In this adaption of an essay I wrote for university in my first year, I take a lot at how useless this word really is. Continue reading


Saudi Arabia’s dangerous war in Yemen

A week ago on this blog I wrote: “There is simply not a strong enough interest for the US, Arab League or Iran to want to protect in Yemen or Libya.” Turns out I was completely wrong. Over the last few days Saudi Arabia has led an Arab coalition in airstrikes on the Iranian backed Houthis in Yemen. Planes from nine Arab countries have been involved, Egypt, Jordan and even Sudan are prepared to commit troops to a ground offensive, and the US is providing intelligence. So what are the short-term and long-term aims of this attack? Will it be successful? And why did I get things so wrong?

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Republican dreams, harsh realities

I’ve got my midterm exam for Middle Eastern Politics tomorrow, so I figured I might as well combine study and writing! 

Strong words, little sense (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Recently 47 US Senators sent a letter to Iran ‘informing’ them that any deal with the US on their nuclear program would be worthless, because the Senate would refuse to cooperate, and a Republican President could scrap the deal in 2016. The letter caused outrage in the US, and it was seen as deliberately undermining Obama’s foreign policy. Iran itself responded by simply poking holes in the Senators’ logic and knowledge of law.

While the letter itself is ridiculous, it does show the way US Republicans are thinking. One of these Republicans is Marco Rubio – one of the expected front-runners for the presidential elections in 2016. Rubio took to Foreign Policy yesterday to defend his ideas on Iran. Let’s take a look at what a possible future president thinks. Continue reading

Islamic State – Remaining and Expanding?

The Islamic State’s motto may be “remaining and expanding”, but lately they haven’t been having too much success with that. Their advance in Iraq was halted by Iranian backed militias and US airstrikes, and they have been pushed back in the north by the Kurds. Even the Iraqi army has been getting back into action in the IS held city of Tikrit, though they’ve been taking heavy casualities. In Syria they’ve still got the ‘remaining’ part together, but their invincible image was dented by their failure to expand into the crucial town of Kobane. So is Islamic State on the back foot? Well not entirely…

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Turkey invades Syria – to get to Turkey

Last night Turkey invaded Syria – for a little while anyway. The Turkish army crossed the border with hundreds of troops and armoured vehicles, rolling through Kurdish and Islamic State territory. Their target – The Tomb of Suleyman Shah. So why did the Turks launch this sudden mission in force? What is the tomb? And what does this say about the state of Syria? Continue reading

The country without a government

Sometimes a conflict just doesn’t fit in to our idea of how life works. In Libya NATO intervened to protect heroic rebels, the capital fell and the mad dictator Gaddafi was overthrown. End of story, happy ending. The aftermath of what has happened isn’t so nice and clean, and doesn’t make for as good a story. This week though our attention went back, after the brutal murder of 21 Egyptian Christians by Libyan Islamists. Egypt’s response was to launch airstrikes on the militants, who also happen to be allied to Islamic State. With Egypt now looking for a UN resolution to support intervention, it’s a good time to look at what on earth happened in Libya, and how could it have been different.

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The murder of a Jordanian pilot

Just an hour ago Islamic State released a video showing the murder of the Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, shot down over Syria in December. Jordan has confirmed the death, saying that they believe the pilot was executed a month ago. The propaganda video shows Kasasbeh talking about his mission to bomb IS targets, before he is burned to death inside a cage. Continue reading