Damascene Conversions – Isis, Assad And The Bombing Of Iraq | Media Lens

This time last year, Western corporate media were focused on a single, grave threat to human life and civilised values. An endless stream of atrocity claims – some real, some fabricated with ‘evidence’ posted on YouTube – depicted President Assad of Syria as the latest incarnation of Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, Gaddafi: namely, the Official Enemy to be targeted for destruction.

Once again, ‘quality’ media generated a sense of inevitability – this Enemy was also so monstrous that the US-UK alliance had to ‘intervene’, to ‘act’. It later transpired that the plan was to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’. [Read more]

Abbas rips ‘liar’ Mashaal in leaked Qatari minutes | Times of Israel

Two weeks after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas publicly accused Hamas of scheming to overthrow him, the reported leaked minutes of a meeting between Abbas and the ruler of Qatar revealed on Tuesday the extent of animosity harbored by the Palestinian leader toward his Islamist rivals and government partners.

Abbas met with Qatari Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad in Doha on August 21, three days after the Israeli Shin Bit announced that it had arrested 93 Hamas operatives who were planning to carry out terror attacks across the West Bank and topple his regime. [Read more]

Israel Says Hamas Is Hurt Significantly | New York Times

A senior Israeli military intelligence official acknowledged on Tuesday that only several hundred Hamas operatives out of a total that he put at 16,000 were killed during this summer’s 50-day war in Gaza, leaving the group’s fighting force largely intact.

The official, briefing reporters at military headquarters here on the condition of anonymity, in line with army protocol, added that the militant groups in Gaza were believed to have held on to 2,500 to 3,000 rockets, about a third of the stock they had before the fighting began on July 8. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and some smaller groups launched about 4,000 rockets, and the Israeli military estimates that it destroyed another 3,000 before a cease-fire halted the fighting a week ago. [Read more]

How Washington helped create Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal | Al Jazeera

Recently declassified documents reveal that consideration of how and when the White House can or should pressure Israel over policies damaging to the United States has been a contentious issue for quite some time. The 107 pages of formerly top secret memos, dating from 1968-9, relate to deliberations over what to do about the Israeli nuclear weapons programme. Prior to that time, the US position had been clear, supporting the principle that nuclear weapons should not be introduced into the Middle East. [Read more]

A comment too far? | The Economist

THERE are few more polarising figures in deeply polarised Libya than its elderly mufti. To his detractors, Sadiq al-Ghariani (pictured), the country’s highest religious authority, symbolises the power of religious hardliners and their allied militias who push for more conservative social values and call for schools, universities and workplaces to be segregated by gender.

He is often lampooned by al-Satour, one of the country’s most popular cartoonists, and regularly mocked on social media for being hopelessly out of touch. To his equally passionate supporters, who tune into his weekly television show, Mr Ghariani is a respected religious authority whose controversial fatwas (religious rulings) reflect their vision of what Libya should be. Several prominent sympathisers use his image in their social media profiles and fiercely defend him. [Read more]

Is Turkey’s long game in Iraq a success? | Al Jazeera

Turkey’s difficult relationship with Iraq’s outgoing prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, figured widely in discussions on its Middle East policies. Epitomised at times by the direct confrontation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Maliki, the tensions manifested themselves in issues ranging from the position of the Sunnis in Iraqi governance structure to oil exports by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Taking some high risk decisions on several occasions, Turkey challenged the way Maliki governed the country. Many took the deterioration in bilateral relations as an indication of the failure of Turkey’s Middle East policies and its loss of influence in the region, while Ankara was also accused by the West of undermining Iraq’s territorial integrity by developing closer ties with the Sunnis and Kurds. [Read more]

Yemen’s ‘blessed revolution’ edges towards a showdown | Middle East Eye

An attempt by Yemen’s president to defuse tensions with a mass Houthi-led protest movement quickly fell apart on Tuesday, with the group rejecting his offer to dismiss the government, reinstate fuel subsidies and tackle corruption.

Abd Rabbu Mandour Hadi had made the proposal on Tuesday afternoon, accepting a new initiative proposed by political forces that aimed to ease the rising tensions. [Read more]

Yemen teeters on the brink of implosion | Middle East Monitor

When the Arab Spring swept across the region in 2011, Yemen was already home to a complex web of factional and regonal tensions. In particular, a group of Zaidi Shia rebels known as the Houthis had been staging periodic uprisings since 2004, with the aim of winning greater autonomy for their province Saada, in northern Yemen. The group consolidated its control over Saada during the 2011 uprising, when mass protests – including Yemenis from different regions and tribes – forced long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down, as part of a US-backed deal giving him immunity from prosecution. [Read more]


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