Stories about middle east

Drones, Pakistan’s worst kept secret

The current surge in drone strikes in FATA has reignited the infamous ‘drone debate’ and ‘Pakistan’s tacit agreement’ on intelligence sharing with the United States. Only a few months ago, Peter Bergen, a US expert on drones, had revealed that the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan may have finally come to an end. Not only Bergen, but even the current Nawaz-led PML-N government boasted of lobbying against drones and convincing the Obama administration to cease the strikes. Till June this year, one could believe these reports and revelations as there was a long hiatus in predator strikes. However, it was on June 11 when, negating such ...

Read Full Post

Is the New Silk Road really an economic corridor for China and Pakistan?

While the world is busy tackling the ISIS and its look-alikes in the Middle East, China, on the other hand, has other plans to chase. One such plan is reviving the centuries old Silk Route, or the New Silk Road – a series of routes that were important in the past for cultural interactions and trade between the East and the West. As part of this revival, China recently announced working on a high speed train from Lanzhou to Urumqi, capital of the troubled Xinjiang province. It is also rumoured that the train may, in future, reach out to regional states including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey, along with ...

Read Full Post

Why US is leading the war against ISIS

One of the ironies of geopolitics today is that, after spending the last decades complaining about US interference or the various interventions in the Middle East, everyone is now waiting for the US to lead in the conflict against ISIS. In ISIS we have a phenomenon that, for once, is uniting in a common cause every other state in the region, whether Sunni, Shia or secular. We also have regional players that, in principle, should be able to lead from the front on this issue, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, even Iran – if it comes to it. A coalition of ...

Read Full Post

Remembering Joan Rivers, the good, the bad and the ugly

“I ain’t afraid of death. I am in show business, I died a million times.” That is Joan Rivers for you, a woman so full of life that even the idea of biding ado to this world couldn’t dim her light. A dynamo, fashionista and a firm believer in happy endings, Joan passed away at the age of 81, after a throat complication and being taken off life support. Starting her glamorous career in 1959, she had the good fortune to experience it all. After getting her big break through The Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson, there was no looking back for her; ...

Read Full Post

The clash of civilisations: Is the ISIS promoting Islamophobia in Europe?

The Islamic State or IS (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) was born during the turmoil of Iraq – which was a melting pot of jihadist movements – in 2003 after the American invasion. However, it was only in June when the world really took notice of this eccentric organisation after militants with black flags took the strategically important city of Mosul and claimed it to be a part of their ‘caliphate’, defeating the Iraqi Army almost at will. According to conservative figures, the current number of IS fighters is estimated to be somewhere around 20,000 ...

Read Full Post

Is America undermining Pakistan’s importance as an ally?

United States strategic shift to the Asia Pacific from the Middle East thanks to President Barack Obama’s Asia Pivot has certainly changed the entire Middle Eastern geopolitical calculus. We are now witnessing a time period when, for the first time in history, the United States is on the verge of becoming energy sufficient as it surpassed Saudi Arabia in oil production in October, 2013. This happened while the wrapping up of military campaigns in the greater Middle East is translating into reduced military spending ergo, reduced military might in the said region. These two events are significant as they are a contributing factor in the reshaping of the US ...

Read Full Post

Be pro-Gaza, not anti-Jew

Repeat after me: “All Jews are not extremists.” “All Jews do not hate Palestine.” “All Jews do not want to eradicate Muslim identity.” Each “Jew joke” you share with your Whatsapp friends’ group insults the religious sentiments of at least 13,854,800 people in the world. Each ‘gas-the-Jews’ holocaust meme you forward reduces the inhuman slaughter of 11 million innocent people killed in one of the worst genocides in human history, to a derogatory laugh. The persecution of innocent people in Gaza is the direct result of a horrible territorial conflict. It has very little to do with the teachings of Judaism or Islam ...

Read Full Post

Tyrant: A ‘modern day Arabian Game of Thrones’?

After Prisoners of War, upon which the much acclaimed TV series Homeland is based on, prominent screenwriter and director, Gideon Raff brings us Tyrant. Set in present day civil-war-torn and fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin, it tells the story of the main protagonist Barry or Bassam Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner), son of the ruler of Abbudin. Because he never got along or agreed with the policies of his father, who ruled the country with an iron fist, he moved to the United States to pursue higher education in medicine and also to distance himself from the politics of his country and family. ...

Read Full Post

What will happen to the stock market if the PM resigns?

In 2007, I underwent a six-hour-long marathon panel interview at the London office of one of the (then) largest hedge funds in Europe called XYZ Capital*. A senior partner – perhaps a PhD holder – drew the entire map of the Middle East, East Asia and Europe, and tested my knowledge about the current affairs of each country turn by turn. After a gruelling session, the partner remarked, “An investor may have the best of quantitative minds but markets don’t make sense if the political factors don’t make sense.” I engraved it then but have only felt it now. Surviving through the minor speed breakers ...

Read Full Post

Are we going through the South Asian Complex?

When Israel resumed its onslaught on the people of Gaza, social networking sites became a medium of protests from around the world. But in Pakistan, there were mixed reactions. Some were quite exasperating, to be honest. Despite hearing the news about Israeli jets hovering over Gaza like death angels, carrying out experimental strikes on local residents, some Pakistanis have been quite thick-skinned. There were those who disregarded the issue as an international dispute, while others felt that Semitism is the root cause of the conflict, although both Arabs and Jews are Semites. But the most juvenile counter arguments I found were the ones which ...

Read Full Post