Syria, Israel, Iran

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A striking feature of recent developments over Syria is that US congressional and public opinion appears not to have been much influenced by an intensive campaign by the Israeli lobby led by AIPAC to make the administration stand by its earlier determination to use force in Syria. This is unprecedented in recent years. Since it appears to reflect …

Lebanon: waiting on Syria

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Of all Syria's neighbours Lebanon is the most painfully affected by the civil war. The massive flow of refugees is putting Lebanese resources under unbearable strain. Violence such as the bombs which killed 42 outside Sunni mosques in the largely Sunni northern city of Tripoli, probably retaliation for a bomb in the largely Shia area of southern …

Kurdistan: stumbling

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Attempts by the Kurds in Turkey and Syria to link up with the success of the semi-independent Kurdish region in northern in Iraq have suffered two possible setbacks. According to the Istanbul-based Hürriyet Daily News of 11 September the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced on 10 September that it was halting the pullout of its militants from Turkey, putting the attempt to find a solution to the decades-long Kurdish problem in jeopardy. In a statement carried by the Fırat news agency, which is known to have close links with …

Syria: Drawing the poison

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It will take some time for the various parties concerned to assess the idea which appeared suddenly on the public agenda yesterday 9 September, that the Syrian crisis could be resolved if the Syrian government hands over its chemical weapons for destruction. Is it realistic? Does it solve the problem? First mentioned "rhetorically" by John Kerry in …

Syria: military action and its consequences

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Syria seems likely to top the agenda at the G 20 meeting in St Petersburg today 5 September. In Washington the administration are preparing for debates in Congress on 9 September. In a statement on 3 September President Obama said he had decided to take action, something limited and proportional which would …

Syria: reactions in the region

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Reports especially from Washington and London suggests that we are moving rapidly towards military action in Syria, possibly a one-off attack by cruise missiles intended to deter the Syrian government from using chemical weapons. The British Parliament has been recalled and will debate Syria tomorrow 29 August. Reactions in the region have of course been …

Syria: poison gas and its consequences

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UN weapons inspectors are continuing their work for a second day investigating the chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus. Expert reports published so far are inconclusive. An AFP report describes shocking evidence of suffering and death. ‘But specialists in the impact of chemical weapons said the video evidence was not entirely …

Syria: digging in

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Reuters reports that "Syrian troops drove insurgents from a central district of Homs on [29 July], tightening their siege on remaining rebel bastions in the city, which links Damascus to the Mediterranean heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect. The military's gains in Khalidiya district follow a counter-offensive by Assad's forces, which have pushed back rebels around the …

The Arab spring: what next?

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Developments in Egypt have driven even Syria off the headlines, but it is clear that the major changes throughout the Middle East which began in Tunisia in 2011 are still working themselves out. Below are three attempts to take a broader view. The first by Max Rodenbeck Cairo-based chief Middle East correspondent of the Economist attempts a comprehensive survey and concludes that the current feeling that the scorecard looks overwhelmingly negative is only the end of the beginning. The second published on the London Review of …