Note that if used properly, you can even go on to become a certain moustached celebrated columnist allowed to pontificate on the region with very little knowledge to go on. This is the mother of all phrases about Middle East politics. It is one of the most effective phrases in the context of Middle Eastern geopolitics and one that can explain everything. Just a reminder, a few countries here have none or nothing has been extracted so far, like Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian occupied territories…Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania are in north Africa.
These are typical exchanges that explain how to use this very effective phrase in the right context. For added emphasis, you can throw your hands up in the air when you say pffft.
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The beauty of the Shia crescent as a concept to explain Iranian expansion is that it actually looks like a crescent and therefore must be true. By calling them Persians instead of Iranians you gave the weight of history to an otherwise mundane statement.
See also the next item. Well, clearly the rules were biased against neo-Ottoman revivalist electro-pop. Who was responsible for giving the Muslim Brotherhood control over Egypt? Who was responsible for the coup that removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power?
While this might not be strictly true some of the time, America is a very popular choice that everyone can agree on holding responsible for everything. In order to use this correctly however, you must simultaneously hold two seemingly contradictory opinions: that America is a clever and scheming power that controls everything in the Middle East and that America is extremely stupid. On a similar note, you must remember that America is either completely controlled by Israel and does its bidding all the time, or is the puppet master using Israel as its tool in the Middle East, whichever is more convenient under the circumstances.
Everyone will agree with you. Sunnis and Shias? Ancient tribal rivalries. Saudi Arabia and Qatar? Fairouz or Um Kalthoum?
Clearly, colonialism, Western interventions, political rivalries and ideological conflicts have nothing to do with anything happening in the Middle East today. Because the Middle East is that simple. Lastly, remember not to attempt any nuance or complexity when using those phrases, that will completely ruin them. Posted by: adonis49 on: December 28, On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo , accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.
Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much. Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar , who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. For the past year, US, British and other western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying the hyper-sectarian terror group Islamic State formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq. This was after Isis overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate.
Last month, Isis rolled into the Iraqi city of Ramadi, while on the other side of the now nonexistent border its forces conquered the Syrian town of Palmyra. Vast swathes of desert land that could not be crossed easily without close cooperation from USA and Britain.
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The Americans insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties, and claim significant successes. Actually, the only remaining armed force to challenge Israel territorial expansion. Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later. But the implications are clear enough. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.
The calculus changed when Isis started beheading westerners and posting atrocities online, and the Gulf states are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. But this US and western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original al-Qaida under CIA tutelage. It was recalibrated during the occupation of Iraq, when US forces led by General Petraeus sponsored an El Salvador-style dirty war of sectarian death squads to weaken the Iraqi resistance.
In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule. However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria fit such an approach perfectly.
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Endless western military interventions in the Middle East have brought only destruction and division. Last summer in the occupied Golan Heights, an Israeli military ambulance ferrying wounded fighters from across the border in Syria came under attack by Druze. As the chaos of the Syrian civil war deepened, Al Nusra and other extremist groups have taken advantage of the security vacuum to rally support from external governments, reportedly including Turkey and the United States. As the Israeli ambulance sped towards a field hospital with two wounded Al Nusra fighters, it encountered a large group of Druze blocking the road.
Recently there has been sporadic fighting between the Druze and extremist groups like Al Nusra inside Syria. In June, Druze in Syria alerted their brethren on the other side of the border that the Israeli army was treating Al Nusra fighters who had been wounded fighting the Druze. On the Golan Heights, Druze attacked the Israeli ambulance convoy with stones, eventually attacking the wounded fighters. When the dust settled, one Nusra fighter was killed and another was unconscious from the blows of the mob. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu then held a special meeting with Druze leaders to keep the situation under control.
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Despite the fact that this episode was reported extensively in local and foreign press, the Israeli army continues to deny its links to Al Nusra. Hafez Al Assad, who ruled Syria before his son for 3 decades, often joked that the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights was the quietest in the Middle East, but since the outbreak of civil war in , things have steadily heated up.
While Israel has tried to keep its involvement in the Syrian war under wraps, there are several things we know about its participation. First, Israel has been carrying out air strikes against Hezbollah targets throughout Syria.
Ostensibly, these air strikes are tailored to keep Hezbollah from obtaining Syrian chemical weapons. In the Lebanon war, the Iranian-backed militia became the only Arab fighting force to unconditionally force Israel to retreat from Arab land occupied in the course of battle. In May , Israel withdrew from south Lebanon unilaterally and in great hurry after its occupation presence was made untenable by Hezbollah resistance fighters. Hezbollah has an extensive rockets cache that can reach any part of Israeli territory, as well as an elaborate network of underground bunkers in southern Lebanon that the Israeli military has never succeeded in fully destroying.
As if Hezbollah ever used chemical weapons that are easily manufactured. In a sign of its dwindling human capital, the group has recently ratcheted up recruitment with promises of cash for new fighters. Now that those groups are fighting a draining war in Syria, Israel is taking the opportunity to hit them with air strikes. The objective of Israel is to divide Syria into small cantons in order to impose its military dominion in the region. A Moveable Feast? Reflections on the French Coverage of the Paris Attacks.
By Muriam Haleh Davis. Posted on Jadaliyya. Writing on the relationship between acts of terror and the mystification of liberalism in , Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote that,. He was not writing about religious fanatics, but he was rather concerned with another specter that once faced Europe: Communism. We should not be surprised then, that responses to this war have come in the form of hashtags , online prayers, and a public show of solidarity by figures such as Justin Bieber.
Other misunderstandings also occurred in the Anglophone coverage: Saint-Denis and the banlieue were portrayed as remote, exotic, and dangerous locales as journalists denied the realities of time in , it is mainly historians that remain obsessed with the Algerian War and space line thirteen of the metro. In fairness to my linguistic compatriots, there have been some excellent articles by a few writers— such as Adam Shatz and the ParisSyllabus hashtag organized by a group of historians who work on France —who actually knew what a banlieue was before the unrest.
While French reporters have also provided plenty of ignorant commentary on the attacks, some of the domestic and regional context of the attacks seems to have been lost in translation.
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Along with the death of individuals, the Paris attacks had a more technocratic victim: the Schengen Zone. Unlike the proverbial dead horse that is killed first, and beaten later, the Schengen Zone had already received a number of swift kicks before the interior ministers of the European Union gave it a near death sentence.
Already under pressure due to the refugee crisis, the introduction of the security measures inspired by the War on Terror crushed the dream of a borderless Europe. Even if mainstream news sources implicitly recognize that Islamic State IS was born from the American invasion of Iraq, it has largely fallen to alternative news sources to criticize the folly of copying American strategies in the domains of security measures and military aggression. But the FN, poised to profit from the attacks in the upcoming regional elections , are finding ways to erect internal boundaries in novel ways.
While Anglophone commentators such as Robert Fisk have focused on the erasure of borders in the Middle East, a reading of the French media shows that a re-territorialization is also occurring in Europe. We might think of the introduction of terrorscapes that connect spaces in new ways. Social media has been a particularly unpleasant place for many of us who felt personally connected to the attacks.
Cries of hypocrisy resounded. Attempts to reestablish or dismantle hierarchies of suffering hailed from Beirut to Baghdad and beyond. Nadia Marzouki , a political scientist particularly well-suited to think about suffering in a comparative and connected frame, asked in Le Monde :. Is it not pretentious and orientalist to depict the citizens of the Arab world only as victims of attacks and of a lack of empathy in the West? The citizens in the Arab world have no need for the pity of the West to affirm themselves as sovereign actors regarding their future.
Another prominent political scientist— Jean-Pierre Filiu —wrote off any attempt to explain the attacks through the lens of politics, preferring to explain the violence by focusing on the apocalyptic beliefs of the perpetrators. Threats of European eurocentricism are everywhere, it seems. The question of how to account for the multiple spaces in which these acts were incubated might start by asking: what is France in the first place?
Indeed, a more radical take sees the clash as a war between two global ideologies : the first is organized around the economy and prioritizes the neoliberal gospel that prioritizes work, productivity, and social capital, while the other is Islamic fundamentalism. Far from being an expression of nihilism , the attacks thus appear as a mark of a deeper set of divisions that are not limited to territory or identity.
It also allows the hashtag JeSuisEnTerrasse I am having a drink on a terrace to appear as an act of resistance. Rejecting the economistic argument above, it would seem that these commentators view Paris as an overflow of joy, of life, and of entertainment. Yet the symbolism of this target is not, as it might seem, diametrically opposed to the attack that was allegedly planned but not carried out on the financial center of Paris at la Defense. Unlike Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who refused any explanation social, sociological, or cultural of the attacks, Macron converted the violence into a platform to introduce more neoliberal reforms.
The rise in Islamophonic acts has also been striking. The State of Emergency, first introduced during the Algerian War, has prompted protests and raised questions about the abuses of state power that are already underway. But on the other hand, one has the impression of technocrats that doth protest too much. What emerges from the evidence presented in the French media points to overwhelming proof of bureaucratic ineffectiveness rather than a lack of existing procedures. Another one of the attackers, Salah Abdeslam, was pulled over on a highway the day after the attacks and then Belgian authorities subsequently released him.