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Posts Tagged ‘ Middle East ’

Crisis Year: International Relations 2014

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In a morose way, 2014 has been a fascinating year for those with an interest in International Relations. Resurgent Russia and Islamic State have presented two prominent challenges to western liberal world order. The optimistic ‘end of history’ liberalism of the 1990’s now feels like a golden bygone era of stability and prosperity. In its place is a world where the hegemonic power of the United States is limited by insurgencies and despotic powers. In the field of international relations, realist scholars have had a long awaited ‘we told you so moment’. John Mearsheimer has ruffled many feathers with his article in Foreign Affairs ‘Why the Crisis in Ukraine is the West’s Fault’. Regardless of how palatable it is, Mearsheimer’s argument is frustratingly robust, and he presents credible counters to his critics. EU and NATO expansion has encroached into a region that Russia considers critical to its own security, and the latter has firmly drawn a line in the sand, violating international treaties and norms in a display of pure power politics. Although Russia is paying a price, it has asserted itself outside of its own borders in a way that the west cannot prevent. It seems that at long last, balancing is occurring, and the ‘rest’ are pushing back against the ‘west’ after a decade of diminishing US legitimacy and soft power. Continue reading

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The Evolution Of ISIS

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With $2 billion on hand the Islamic State is an extremely well-funded terrorist group that poses a major international crisis for the U.S. and the world.

They have come to prominence in recent months by carrying out large scale murders on Iraqi and Syrian soil while also using propaganda videos to show the beheadings of numerous western hostages and threatenin others in th process.

Last week Britain agreed to join a U.S led coalition backed heavily by countries from the Middle East as they attempt to destory ISIS once and for all. There is a long road ahead and with no British troops on the ground who knows if this mission will be successful.

This exclusive infographic from infographicworld.com depicts the rise to power of Islamic State and the effect they have had on society thus far.

World Cup Organiser Says Tournament Will Take Place In Qatar

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Nasser Al Khater, the Communications Director of the World Cup 2022 Supreme Committee, has told Al Jazeera that he’s confident “the World Cup will take place in Qatar.”

In his first interview since allegations of corruption during the World Cup bid in 2010, reports of migrant worker abuse in Qatar, and the constant debate on whether Qatar is fit to host the tournament, Al Khater spoke exclusively to Al Jazeera’s Lee Wellings in Brazil.

When asked about the FIFA ethics committee’s investigation into corruption during the bidding process for the right to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup, Al Khater said his country will comply with the investigation but stressed Qatar has nothing to hide: Continue reading

Saudi – Women In The Kingdom

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‘This is a man’s world’. Nowhere are James Brown’s words truer than in Saudi Arabia. While most women in Europe and America have the option to choose their careers and have equal rights, female Saudis in this Islamic monarchy that leads using strict ‘sharia’ law are still officially considered second class citizens. Their primary role is to support the man of the family and to bring up the children.

Saudi Arabia is a high income economy, its main products being oil, gas and other natural reserves. Its people have grown hugely wealthy due to the world’s reliance on oil. In a country filled with such riches, life should be wonderful for all 26 million of its citizens. However, the lack of equality for women in the Kingdom is shocking by today’s developed world’s standards. A quick browse of random websites on the internet throws up numerous examples of the injustices heaped upon women born into the constraints of life in the Kingdom. But women are standing up against this inequality, beginning to clamour for change. Continue reading

Captain Phillips

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Director Paul Greengrass is back and at his very best with his latest film Captain Phillips. Like in Green Zone he focuses on the emotional turmoil his main characters go through, creating a very personal insight into an action driven story.  Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea, written by Captain Richard Phillips himself, Greengrass’s film is exciting to watch, a little claustrophobic but always spellbinding.

When Captain Richard ‘Rich’ Phillips  (Tom Hanks) packs his bag to leave his Vermont home to catch a flight to the Middle East, there’s already a sense foreboding.  Once he boards his ship, the massive container ship Maersk Alabama, and leaves Oman bound for Mombasa, the unsettling feeling only increases. Continue reading

Obama’s Dilemma And World Hesitation

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Over a year ago I contributed a piece to this website which mentioned the use of torture by Syrian government forces in an organised fashion. It should be no surprise to us that the Assad regime has gone ahead and used gas on its own people. The Assad regime is without a doubt an evil regime hell-bent on maintaining power in any way possible. It is disheartening and tragic that this can continue in the twenty first century. We are essentially sitting watching another Rwanda happen, albeit over a longer period of time.

Living in the large shadow of the Gulf War II it is to be expected that western powers are going to be hesitant to intervene in another Middle East conflict. Assad’s regime is reportedly preparing for a U.S. strike, with reports coming through of troops, ordinance and sensitive documents being moved to civilian buildings and discreet locations. Obama’s decision to delay any possible action seems to be allowing time for Assad to prepare for this possibility. However the decision is hugely complex and Obama will have a number of motivations for his decision.

Following on Britain’s example, Obama is seeking Congressional approval for his action. One can easily see the allure of having a strong consensus built behind military action, given the disaster that was Iraq. Domestic factors may be present in the president’s mind. Intervening without Congressional approval (as in Libya) would leave Obama and the Democrats open to criticism from Rand Paul et al, hailing the UK as an example of how a democracy should decide on entering into a war. This would be an easy card to play to an American public which may balk at the prospect of another drawn out war. They have seen enough American boys come home in body bags.

Syria is also stocked full of new Russian anti-aircraft technology, and the supply chain will not halt any time soon. The UN is also unlikely to reach a strong consensus due to Russia and China’s position on the Security Council. This is an issue which needs to be changed as the current setup of the security council prevents it functioning to its full and proper potential.

There are numerous other complications so boggling that nobody can say with any certainty what will happen. The Islamic fundamentalist elements among the Syrian rebels are a mysterious threat. During this week, Iran threatened retaliation against Israel if Syria were struck. The war has already spilled over into Lebanon. Egypt, once reliable as a bastion of stability, is now more chaotic than any other point in recent years. One cannot blame America for being apprehensive about beginning to bomb a region that could inflame the whole region.

The great tragedy of these complications is that the carnage continues. This was the second gas attack by Syrian government forces, twice crossing Obama’s ‘Red Line’. The UK’s rash decision to avoid war, and America’s hesitation will send out the wrong message worldwide. This message is clear when we hear reports of the Syrian government taunting America’s aversion to war and loss of superpower status. To prevent mass war crimes against whole peoples in the future, perpetrators must understand they will be brought to justice. John Kerry has a reputation as a dull operator, but he has been an ardent supporter of intervention. He is one of a few prominent politicians with the conviction to call the Syrian government for what it is.

The firm line taken by France is hardly surprising given their willingness to become involved in former colonies like Chad and Mali.

Obama had missed the opportunity to be decisive and take a firm line on Syria. The UK has essentially forfeited its chance to help. The memories of Iraq, and the continuing deadlock of the U.N. Security Council means we are facing into more misery and more dead civilians with no end in sight.

Turkish Unrest Spreads As Erdogan Remains Defiant

Protesters clashed with police across Turkey overnight despite an apology for police violence from the Deputy Prime Minister designed to halt an unprecedented wave of protest against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Pro-government newspapers signaled a softening of Ankara’s line in the absence of Erdogan, who flew off on a state visit to north Africa on Monday night after a weekend of rioting critics were inflamed by his denunciations of protesters. Continue reading

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