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Posts Tagged ‘ARAB WORLD’

Christians Persecuted at Alarming Rate in Iran, Arab world, US Report Says

May 9, 2014 Leave a comment
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Four Iranian Christians were reportedly sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking wine for communion, a shocking punishment.

Christians are under siege in the Middle East, and the Obama administration is not doing enough to stop religious persecution by its allies, according to a new report from a bipartisan federal commission.

The report, from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, faulted usual suspects Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as well as North Korea. The number of Christians in the Middle East has plunged to just 10 percent of the overall population from more than 25 percent in 2011. Read more…

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The Middle East Power Vacuum

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Despite the surface froth, the Middle East has been frozen in place for the last few months. Nothing of consequence has happened in Egypt since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s 180227852military coup and the blood clearing of the Rabaa sit-in.  Syria’s civil war remains the grinding, destructive stalemate which was inevitable the moment the revolution morphed into an insurgency. Iran and the United States have made some tantalizing diplomatic moves, but nothing tangible has changed. When Foreign Policy is dominated by gawking at a Twitter troll’s downfall and parsing an impotent tantrum by Saudi Arabia’s Bandar bin Cheney, it’s probably a good time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The key structural feature shaping today’s Middle East, it seems to me, is the dissolution of power.  During the early days of the Arab uprising, this could be seen in the fall of long-ruling leaders and the surge of popular protests against the old order. Read more…

Imagining a Remapped Middle East

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

THE map of the modern Middle East, a political and economic pivot in the international order, is in tatters. Syria’s ruinous war is the turning point. But the centrifugal forces of rival9-29-2013 6-42-07 PM beliefs, tribes and ethnicities — empowered by unintended consequences of the Arab Spring — are also pulling apart a region defined by European colonial powers a century ago and defended by Arab autocrats ever since.

A different map would be a strategic game changer for just about everybody, potentially reconfiguring alliances, security challenges, trade and energy flows for much of the world, too.

Syria’s prime location and muscle make it the strategic center of the Middle East. But it is a complex country, rich in religious and ethnic variety, and therefore fragile. After independence, Syria reeled from more than a half-dozen coups between 1949 and 1970, when the Assad dynasty seized full control. Now, after 30 months of bloodletting, Read more…

Strange Bedfellows

August 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Is the turbulent Middle East bringing Sunni and Shiite jihadis together, or driving them to war?sunnishiite169704160_0

Fifteen years ago this month, al Qaeda operatives executed two devastating, simultaneous car bomb attacks targeting the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The attacks in East Africa killed 223 people, injured more than 4,000, and brought international infamy to al Qaeda — among other repercussions, they earned Osama bin Laden a place on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

U.S. embassies are still targets for violent extremists today — as shown by the recent closure of 19 U.S. diplomatic outposts across the Middle East in response to intercepted communications from al Qaeda leaders — but the nature of the terrorist threat has evolved over time. The relationship between al Qaeda Central and its regional franchises has changed dramatically, and the relationship between Sunni and Shiite terrorists is changing as well. Read more…

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2013

December 29, 2012 Leave a comment

From Turkey to Congo, next year’s wars threaten global stability.121221_intro_RS

Every year, around the world, old conflicts worsen, new ones emerge and, occasionally, some situations improve. There is no shortage of storm clouds looming over 2013: Once again, hotspots old and new will present a challenge to the security of people across the globe.

There is, of course, an arbitrariness to most lists — and this list of crises to watch out for in 2013 is no different. One person’s priority might well be another’s sideshow, one analyst’s early warning cry is another’s fear-mongering. In some situations — Central Asia, perhaps — preventive action has genuine meaning: The collapse into chaos has yet to happen. More complicated is anticipating when it will happen, what will trigger it, and how bad it will be. In others — Syria, obviously — the catastrophe is already upon us, so the very notion of prevention can seem absurd. It has no meaning save in the sense of preventing the nightmare from worsening or spreading. Read more…