Stories about middle east

The Pakistan Army and Iran: A new dawn or a message for the Saudis?

The Pakistan Army has been drawing closer to Iran under its new chief, General Qamar Bajwa. Is Pakistan moving out from under Saudi Arabia’s orbit? Something quite remarkable happened with regards to Pakistan’s defence diplomacy recently – Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, made an official trip to Iran. It was the first visit by a Pakistani army chief in almost three decades. General Pervez Musharraf visited; not in his capacity as head of the armed forces, but rather as a president attending a regional summit. Similarly, General Raheel Sharif visited in January 2016, but it was just for a couple of ...

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Why in the world is Donald Trump undoing decades of US policy on Jerusalem?

It is almost impossible to see the logic behind Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and possibly moving the US embassy to Israel there – before it even unveils what’s certain to be a controversial plan for Middle East peace, which will be tough enough to sell. The White House is probably betting that, despite the noises in the Arab world against such a move, their key allies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt will limit their opposition – already publicly voiced – to lip service, as they are all interested in protecting relations with Trump over more urgent issues, such as fighting militancy ...

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The truth about why Saudi Arabia and Israel are forming an alliance to destabilise Lebanon

Despite Saudi Arabia’s tough rhetoric and brutal assault against its neighbour, Yemen (the poorest country in the region), the unfortunate reality is that Saudi Arabia is not the strongman it has hopelessly painted itself to be. This isn’t conjecture, nor is it an attempt to needlessly bolster and promote regional rivals such as Iran, as has become the trend among anti-imperialist  commentators. Yes, Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich country who uses its money to great effect on the international level. Saudi Arabia’s relationships with the nuclear powers, Russia and China, have also been intensifying. However, what the media won’t tell you is that there is actually ...

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer the main game in the Middle East; it is now merely an irritant in the Arab backyard

The recently announced deal between Hamas and Al Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, is being lauded as a historic move for the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Through this political reconciliation, Hamas would cede control of Gaza’s borders and allow the rival Palestinian authority to take over the day-to-day running of the territory. A broad Arab coalition is backing the deal, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Hamas expecting substantial help from the Emirati and the Saudis and also getting a green light from America. One positive aspect of the deal is that it will ease ...

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Are vehicle attacks the new form of terrorism?

The horrific events this week in Spain and Finland are a tragic recurrence of major terror incidents in the western nations. Once more we bear witness to the sort of nihilistic savagery that indiscriminately murders innocents with impunity. Let us be very clear about this. Those who carried out these attacks are not just murderers, they are immoral ingrates who have slaughtered the citizens of a nation that took them in and gave them the opportunities their own countries had failed to provide them. In 2017 alone, there have been numerous terror attacks involving vehicles. From the London Bridge attack, to the Drottninggatan, Stockholm attack to the Paris attack ...

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The shared experience of being tampered with as a child

Jack* did not have much of a childhood to write home about. That obviously did not hinder his meteoric rise, because as a young professional, he was already on top of his game. He was quite successful, with a six digit salary, vacations pre-planned for a year in advance, and stocks and bonds neatly sorted out. While he could hold onto investments with alacrity, what he couldn’t hold on to, for dear life, were relationships. Friends, men or women, would come and go from his life, with surprising frequency. To him, even his biological family, the little he had, felt like it was on borrowed time. I think the lack ...

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Why should Pakistan observe neutrality when it can dominate the political discourse in the Middle East?

The Gulf States have an existential reason to not make their armies strong because if they do, it would mean that the heads – quite literally – of the various kings, princes and other royals would be on the line. Enter the United States (US) armed forces and the 600,000 strong land, sea and air forces of their strongest Muslim ally, Pakistan. While the presence of the US armed forces is known by all and sundry, a lesser known piece of information is how crucial Pakistan is to the precarious balance of power and peace in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia sees the Pakistani Army as the defender of the ...

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Who is a Pakistani? A Muslim? A desperate migrant? Different from an Indian? A caged woman?

Over the past two years, I have travelled to 15 countries, either by myself or with friends. Before this nomadic lifestyle of mine, I had lived my entire life within a bubble in Pakistan, and honestly, the question of what it meant to be a Pakistani never occurred to me. But as I travelled and met more people whose cultures and values were as foreign to me as mine were to them, my innate assumptions about the notion of the Pakistani identity were challenged. Numerous people helped me reflect on the overarching perceptions of my country. I was a medium through which they could know more about a ...

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It is about time General Raheel Sharif recuses himself from the Saudi-led military alliance

When former General Raheel Sharif, shortly after taking office, started and pursued Operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists, the entire country applauded his efforts. Similarly, when Operation ‘clean up’ started in Karachi, large sections of the Urdu speaking population applauded General Sharif’s efforts despite the sometimes heavy handed tactics of the Rangers. This even included some long-time supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The lawlessness and violence in the streets of Karachi had just become too much for everyone. If it took the dismantling of some formations of the MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) (for example, the Aman committee) to bring it down, so be it. General Sharif’s single-minded devotion to his job and his statement that he will not ask ...

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What globalisation?

Although globalism itself remains safe from doomsayers, they have started congregating at the gates of globalisation. Take the bogged down Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) designed to remove 98% of trade tariffs between Canada and the European Union (EU). It was stuck there by the dissenting voices of three of Belgium’s French-speaking regions. Consequently, Belgium had to withhold assent, thus preventing EU unanimity, a prerequisite for ratification. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council tweeted: Together with PM @JustinTrudeau, we think Thursday's summit still possible. We encourage all parties to find a solution. There's yet time. — Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) ...

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