Tag Archives: Middle East

Bombing in the Middle East again: three easy questions

The West is a couple of weeks into the latest air campaign in the Middle East, targeting the group we know among other names as ISIS. It is too early to see an outcome on the ground. The first test of its success is Kobane on northern Syria’s border with Turkey. As the fighting goes on, it seems the bombing could not halt ISIS’ continuing advance to the town though there are claims it has started to have an impact on the street-to-street fighting. Amid the uncertainties on the ground, three questions remain relevant.

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The Middle East – who cares?

Or at least, who cares enough to try to start thinking anew? The region is burning. Apart from the parties to the conflicts who want to win, nobody seems to have any idea of what to do. Continue reading

Tony Blair, conflict and religion: a case of Huntington redux

Last weekend’s Observer carried an article by Tony Blair headlined, ‘Religious difference, not ideology, will fuel this century’s epic battles.’ Hmm, really? Continue reading

The sabotage of Geneva II

If you want to achieve a negotiated end to violent conflict, all the parties have to first agree to talk. Seen in that light, rescinding the invitation to Iran to attend the Geneva II conference on Syria is very bad news. Continue reading

Syria: CW disarmament enters critical phase as hell breaks loose

In Syria in the coming weeks, 600 tons of the ‘precursor chemicals’ from which chemical weapons (CW) are made will be convoyed over land so they can be shipped out. The route goes through areas now being fought over. To remove CW from a war zone will be an unprecedented feat if successful – and equally without parallel if it goes wrong. Continue reading

The US-Iranian-Syrian diplomatic dance

The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent. Continue reading

The Review of the External Action Service

When the European External Action Service was formally set up in July 2010, it was agreed that the High Representative Catherine Ashton should present a review of it this summer. As Brussels descended into summer slumber, that is what she did. Continue reading