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Middle East

Obama’s Challenging Mission

President Barack Obama has promised to “systematically degrade” and “ultimately destroy” the Sunni jihadist organization Islamic State, and now he must make good on his ambitious pledge. It’s a tall and complex order and it won’t be easy to fulfill. Indeed, Obama may fail. “This isn’t going to be fireworks over Baghdad,” said Obama in […]

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Middle East

Influential Oil Pipeline

Oil and water don’t mix, but business and politics do, judging by the 942 kilometre-long oil pipeline from Kirkuk in Iraq to Haifa in Palestine, construction of which was completed in the mid-1930s. Built by the Iraq Petroleum Company and operational from 1935 to 1948, the strategically important pipeline drove British policy in the Middle […]

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Middle East

Iran And Hamas

Iran maintained a relatively low profile during the recent war in the Gaza Strip, but the few public comments its ferociously anti-Israel leaders uttered strongly suggest that the Iranian government is fully behind Hamas and intends to arm Palestinians in the West Bank. As the fighting raged, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, called on […]

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Middle East

Strategic Consensus

Testifying before a U.S. Senate committee in March 1981, Alexander Haig, the American secretary of state in President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet, said he would work to achieve “a consensus of strategic concerns” among the warring nations in the Middle East in a bid to check Soviet influence. Haig, a former army general, said his goal […]

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Middle East

Islamic State Spreads Terror

Two weeks after freelance journalist James Foley was beheaded by the Sunni┬ájihadist outfit Islamic State, the same gruesome fate befell the reporter Steven Sotloff, also an American. Before he was decapitated by a masked man wielding a knife, Sotloff, a Jew taken hostage in Syria last August, said he was “paying the price” for U.S. […]

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Middle East

Foreign Fighters In Syria

Syria is the new Afghanistan. Following the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979, thousands of foreign volunteers, many of them Muslims from the Arab world, streamed into that country to join American and Saudi-backed fighters battling the Red army. Three decades on, a similar phenomenon is unfolding in Syria as foreigners, mainly […]

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Middle East

Gaza: Back To Square One

Tranquility has belatedly returned to southern Israel and the Gaza Strip now that the Israeli government and Hamas have begun observing an open-ended Egyptian cease fire plan that went into effect on Aug. 26. In other words, we’re back to square one — to the situation that prevailed before the eruption of fullscale war on […]

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Middle East

Barack Obama’s Dilemma

U.S. President Barack Obama finds himself on the sharp horns of a dilemma following the barbaric beheading of James Foley, an American freelance journalist, on Aug. 19. Foley was the second American reporter since Daniel Pearl to be killed by crazed Islamic radicals. Foley was murdered by Islamic State, an extremist, bloodthirsty outfit bent on […]

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Middle East

Israel Faces War Of Attrition

Israel and Hamas have resumed fighting, having rejected each other’s irreconcilable demands at fruitless talks in Cairo under the auspices of Egypt. On Aug. 19, eight hours before the latest truce was to have expired, gunmen in the Gaza Strip fired rockets into Israel. In response, the Israeli and Palestinian delegations left Cairo, while Israel […]

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Middle East

War Curriculum

Since 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, a body supported by the international community, has spent billions of dollars tending to the humanitarian needs of more than one million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. The refugees, having been displaced from their homes in 1948 and 1967, certainly require assistance. But should the […]