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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East

Stratfor: Defining al Qaeda

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“Defining al Qaeda is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By Scott Stewart

The Obama administration’s efforts to counter the threat posed by al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement have been a contentious topic in the U.S. presidential race. Political rhetoric abounds on both sides; administration officials claim that al Qaeda has been seriously crippled, while some critics of the administration allege that the group is stronger than ever. As with most political rhetoric, both claims bear elements of truth, but the truth depends largely on how al Qaeda and jihadism are defined. Unfortunately, politicians and the media tend to define al Qaeda loosely and incorrectly.

The jihadist threat will persist regardless of who is elected president, so understanding the actors involved is critical. But a true understanding of those actors requires taxonomical acuity. It seems worthwhile, then, to revisit Stratfor’s definitions of al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

October 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

Stratfor: From Gadhafi to Benghazi

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“From Gadhafi to Benghazi is republished with permission of  Stratfor.””

By George Friedman

Last week, four American diplomats were killed when armed men attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attackers’ apparent motivation was that someone, apparently American but with an uncertain identity, posted a video on YouTube several months ago that deliberately defamed the Prophet Mohammed. The attack in Benghazi was portrayed as retribution for the defamation, with the attackers holding all Americans equally guilty for the video, though it was likely a pretext for deeper grievances. The riots spread to other countries, including Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, although no American casualties were reported in the other riots. The unrest appears to have subsided over the weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

September 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

The Israeli Crisis

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“The Israeli Crisis is republished with permission of  Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

Crises are normally short, sharp and intense affairs. Israel’s predicament has developed on a different time frame, is more diffuse than most crises and has not reached a decisive and intense moment. But it is still a crisis. It is not a crisis solely about Iran, although the Israeli government focuses on that issue. Rather, it is over Israel’s strategic reality since 1978, when it signed the Camp David accords with Egypt.

Perhaps the deepest aspect of the crisis is that Israel has no internal consensus on whether it is in fact a crisis, or if so, what the crisis is about. The Israeli government speaks of an existential threat from Iranian nuclear weapons. I would argue that the existential threat is broader and deeper, part of it very new, and part of it embedded in the founding of Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

August 15, 2012 at 11:56 am

Stratfor: Putin’s Visit and Israeli-Russian Relations

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By George Friedman

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Israel on June 25 for his first state visit since retaking the presidency. The visit was arranged in mid-May, and so at least part of the agenda was set, given events in Syria and Egypt. The interesting thing about Israel and Russia is that while they seem to be operating in the same areas of interest and their agendas seem disconnected, their interests are not always opposed. It is easy to identify places they both care about but more difficult to identify ways in which they connect. It is therefore difficult to identify the significance of the visit beyond that it happened. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 27, 2012 at 9:22 am

Putin: Don’t rush to strike Iran

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President Vladimir Putin expressed his reservations over the prospect of a military strike in Iran, urging Israel Monday to learn from negative US experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. Putin’s comments were made in a meeting with Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, after Israel’s president asked the visiting leader to speak out on the Iran issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

Reuters: New limits for U.S. influence in Middle East

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(Reuters) – Events in Egypt, Bahrain and Syria illustrate the limits of U.S. influence in the Middle East following the Arab Spring and a U.S. reluctance, at times, to exercise such clout as it has. Court rulings in Egypt and in Bahrain this week, analysts say, show the ruling authorities’ desire to maintain their grip on power and the United States’ limited ability to shape events despite its general support for democracy. After decades in which Washington has been the region’s dominant outside player, deploying its military to guarantee the flow of oil and its diplomatic muscle to advance peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the pro-democracy demonstrations of the Arab Spring appear to have changed the equation. President Barack Obama’s early hopes of brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal have foundered. And U.S. blunders in Iraq, where violence persists nine years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, have also eroded U.S. credibility, Middle East analysts said. “When questions become ones of life and death, people are less interested in what the United States has to say,” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington. “We have had a long relationship with the Egyptian military and when it comes to existential issues, they will listen politely but they strongly believe that they understand both their population and their national interest better than well-meaning Americans,” Alterman added. Read more  –  Reuters portal.

Written by Theophyle

June 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

Egypt’s military ruler orders parliament dissolved

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In line with court ruling, Field Marshal Tantawi says no MP should be allowed to enter building. [Muslim] Brotherhood: Coup against democratic process.

Egypt’s military ruler has ordered the dissolution of parliament, an official said, in line with a court ruling which Islamists who dominate the assembly condemn as a coup by the generals who took charge when Hosni Mubarak was ousted. The Supreme Constitutional Court declared the lower house election invalid on Thursday, dissolving a body seen as one of the few substantive gains from a messy and often bloody transition to democracy overseen by the army. An official in the speaker of parliament’s office told Reuters on Saturday that a letter had been sent a day earlier by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi ordering parliament dissolved and saying no member should be allowed to enter the building. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 17, 2012 at 8:49 am