Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts

May 26, 2016

Kurds One Hundred Years after Sykes-Picot

    Thursday, May 26, 2016   No comments
by Mohammad Ali Dastmali*

About one hundred years have passed since the conclusion of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and now neither Sykes is alive nor Picot.

Britain’s Sir Mark Sykes and France’s François Georges-Picot started a saga through conclusion of a short and apparently simple agreement, which later on affected the lives of many peoples and nations in the Middle East and became a turning point for determining the fate of Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Palestinians and other people in the Middle East.

June 8, 2014

Why have many Syrians voted for Bashar al-Assad and what is the U.S. administration’s alternative to elections it does not particularly like?

    Sunday, June 08, 2014   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
Syrians vote, June 3, 2014.

Most Western governments and some observers argue that the elections that took place in Syria on June 3, 2014 were not legitimate because not all Syrians were able (or willing) to participate, they were held under war conditions, and Syrians were coerced into voting for the current president. These would be reasonable arguments if they were consistently applied. A brief examination of similar cases and relevant facts reveals that this is not the case.

April 13, 2014

Is Ukraine becoming for the West what Syria has been for Russia?

    Sunday, April 13, 2014   No comments

Riding the wave of protests known as the Arab Spring, many Syrians rallied to demand more political and civil rights. Without the hesitancy that characterized their initial reaction to the protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt, Western administrations and some of the Persian Gulf regimes immediately threw their support behind the protesters. Assad’s regime belonged to the so-called non-moderate Arab governments and the protesters offered the West and its allies an opportunity to overthrow it. They formed the “Friends of Syria” group, now consisting of only eleven nations, to provide the opposition with all needed support, including deadly arms, to achieve that goal. After three years of brutal war, Syria’s economy and society are severely damaged and its allies, mainly Russia, China, and Iran have invested a huge political, economic, and military capital to help the Syrian government survive. The Friends of Syria claimed that Assad became illegitimate because he killed Syrians. Assad claimed that he was fighting armed terrorists and thugs.

Now fast-forward to 2013. 

October 15, 2013

A Moroccan view on Catalan independence: Madrid's continued support for the independence movement in the Western Sahara is hypocritical when compared with their attitude towards independence movements closer to home

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013   No comments
by Hassan Masiky*

Behind Spain’s European veil is a country struggling to deal with its painful history. Catalonians’ quest for independence exposes Spaniards’ agony over Franco’s legacy and the destructive historical ramifications of the dictator’s actions in Europe and North Africa. For Moroccans, Madrid’s opposition to Catalans’ rights to self-determination while Spain supports the same rights for the Western Sahara represents an example of Spain’s’ political hypocrisy and dual personality.

October 1, 2013

Syria's Kurds, hopes and fears: The civil war in Syria has put great strains on the country's Kurdish population. The Syrian Kurds' most powerful politician, Saleh Muslim Mohammad, talks to Vicken Cheterian about their position and future

    Tuesday, October 01, 2013   No comments
by Vicken Cheterian*
Saleh Muslim Mohammad is the head of the Partiya Yekitiya Demokrat (Democratic Union Party / PYD) and the most powerful politician among the Syrian Kurds. The party - founded in 2003, and closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a longstanding armed campaign in the Kurdish-majority regions of eastern Turkey - itself has a well-disciplined fighting force of several thousands among the Kurds of northern Syria. During a recent visit to Geneva to meet international organisations, I ask him for his assessment of the Kurds' situation in light of Syria's evolving war.

January 17, 2012

Impact of an embargo on Iranian oil

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012   No comments

Strait of Hormuz

International news has been dominated by the Iranian issue these days. Not only the nuclear dispute is present front and center, but military confrontation was moved from the threat level to active planning level. In return, Iran put its cards on the table. Any attack on its nuclear facility will force it to attack all parties involved and all military bases in the region. Then, Iran announced that even in the absence of war, and if an oil embargo is imposed, it will close the Strait of Hormuz because it sees such sanctions as a declaration of war. A recent study, published by Chatham House, an influential think tank based in London, discussed the possible outcomes of an EU embargo on oil exports from Iran. The author made five key conclusions:
  • The initial impact is that the EU countries will have to find alternative supplies to replace their imports of heavy, sour crude from Iran.
  • The hunt for alternative supplies will create transitional friction for oil prices. Thus prices for heavy source crude in the Atlantic basin markets would increase and in Asia-Pacific they would decrease as Iran tried to find alternative outlets for the crude originally destined for European markets. 
  • So far the analysis has assumed that Iran simply accepts the EU embargo without retaliation. This is extremely unlikely.
  • There has been much speculation that Iran's response would be to inhibit the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. This is unlikely. First, any closure would equally damage Iran's ability to export the oil on which its economy is so dependent. Second, serious and credible attempts to close the Strait are in effect Iran's 'big guns' on the issue of whether or not the United States (or Israel) would launch a military attack on      Iran. 
  • A more effective means of putting pressure on Iran would be for the United States to persuade the EU to extend sanctions to financial transactions. An oil embargo alone cannot succeed.

The study remains speculative and overlooks many other critical variables. Importantly, while the author gave ample space to western adaptation to the fallout of an oil embargo, it did not factor in Iran’s ability to adapt as well. The threat of closing the Strait alone increased the prices of oil. An actual instance of violence will devastate the world economy.

The author also estimated that Iran would not close the Strait because doing so would affect its own oil export. That may be true, but that neglects the fact that the closure of the Strait would impact other Gulf States more than Iran. Without the Strait being sealed, Iran’s export would be already impacted by the sanctions.  With the Strait sealed, other Gulf States will be effectively under an embargo as well. Specifically. Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar will not be able to export any oil for the duration of any violence in the Persian Gulf. In other words, 40% of world supply will be impacted; but 100% of the oil export of those three countries will be shut down.

Lastly, Iran’s revenues from oil export are about 60%, relatively high. But the Gulf States dependency on oil export is even higher.

In conclusion, western powers ought to revisit their math and assess the likelihood of imposing more sanctions on Iran would bring about change that would outweigh further damage to the global economy and bring about the desired outcome in terms of Iran's behavior.


January 5, 2012

Turkey and Iran navigate the Middle East tense issues

    Thursday, January 05, 2012   No comments
via RCReadersFeed

Ali Akbar Salihi and  Ahmet Davutoğlu 
Turkish Foreign Minister held a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salihi, in Tehran and reiterated his fear that the volatile Middle East might be headed for a new Cold War era unless a sectarian rift in Iraq is immediately mended. Ahmet Davutoğlu has urged Iranian officials to cooperate with Turkey in its efforts to stop the Sunni and Shiite sects from clashing in politically-fragile Iraq.
Before arriving in Tehran, Davutoğlu accused “certain actors” in the region of having sought to recreate the circumstances of the Cold War era, and reiterated Turkey's call for “overarching policies” for the region. To emphasized the similarity between the situations in Iraq and Syria, Davutoğlu stressed the “urgent need for solidarity." He argued:

"Turkey and Iran can contribute to a solution in Iraq and Syria. The regional awakening in the Middle East will make us and our relations stronger. We are now laying the foundations of an era that could last a century. States should not base their policies on sectarian and ethnic tensions.”

In a press conference on Thursday Davutoğlu affirmed the close partnership between Turkey and Iran, denying claims that the NATO defense shield Turkey permitted in eastern Anatolia was meant to target Iran, a country the US has made no secret that it labels as a threat. He contended that Turkish leaders trust Iranian leaders:  
“We do not regard any country a threat to us; we confide in Iran and Iran confides in us; the trust is mutual... This is for defensive purposes only. We guarantee that this is not a threat to Iran. We would never take any step that could negatively affect our relations with our neighbor."
The range of topics discussed during the two day visit highlights the complexity of issues facing the countries of the region, especially Turkey and Iran.

Read also:
Axis of... Power: emerging alliances in the Islamic world

January 1, 2012

U.S. sanctions on Iran are answered: announcement of new nuclear achievement

    Sunday, January 01, 2012   No comments
On the same day the U.S. president signed a bill containing new sanctions on Iran, the latter said its engineers have succeeded in producing a nuclear fuel rod, a major achievement for the country’s nuclear ambitions.

Nuclear fuel rods are used at power plants. They contain small pellets of fuel, usually low-enriched uranium, patterned in a way allowing them to give out heat produced by nuclear reaction without melting down. Building one is a technological challenge, which Iran was thought incapable of overcoming.

According to the Iranian Nuclear Agency, the first rod produced by the country domestically has already been inserted into a research reactor, although it did not specify whether the device was loaded with fuel or not.

On Saturday President Barack Obama signed a controversial multibillion-dollar defense bill that contained new sanctions on Iran, which was said to reduce Tehran’s oil revenues and is expected to force the country into making its nuclear program more transparent. An Iranian official, the head of Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Nahavandian dismissed the new sanctions as “unjustifiable.”

In the past several weeks, Iran has been in the news since the Israeli media broke a story that some Israeli leaders were actively drawing out plans for attacking Iranian nuclear sites. Then, mysterious explosions rocked two military sites in Iran before that country announced the downing of a top-secret U.S. spy drone. While the Iranian navy was conducting a ten day war games near the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran threatened to close if U.S. and EU impose sanctions on its oil export, the administration approved a $30 billion deal setting fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

Without doubt, even if Iran fails to shut down the Strait, any military tension in that region could raise the price of oil to at least $200—a blow to a fragile world economy.

December 8, 2011

Saudi rulers' depraved indifference

    Thursday, December 08, 2011   No comments

 The manufacturing and toleration of supremacism
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Even before 9-11, before the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and before the war in Iraq, suicide bombers had targeted civilian Shiite worshipers in mosques and public places in a number of countries. The state of lawlessness created by war merely expanded this heinous trend to Iraq. Now, months before the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the cruelty of supremacism was on display December 6, 2011 when a suicide bomber struck a crowd of Shiite worshipers at a mosque in Kabul, killing at least 57 people. Four other Shiites were killed in Mazar-i-Sharif when a bomb strapped to a bicycle exploded in a gathering celebrating `Ashura. The Kabul bomber blew himself up in the midst of a crowd of men, women and children gathered outside the Abul Fazl shrine to commemorate the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussain.

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