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Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and Peshmerga on the border. Rudaw News Agency

Islamic State has united Kurds in a national war of survival

After overrunning Mosul in June 2014, Islamic State (IS) hastily and brutally occupied soft targets in poorly protected areas of ethnic minorities – the villages of Kurds, Christians, and Yezidis on the…
Are these members of the Nusra Front fighting in Syria still loyal to Al-Qaeda? Hosam Katan/Reuters

Was Al-Qaeda a winner or loser from the Arab uprisings?

At first glance it appears that the Arab uprisings have strengthened Al-Qaeda and similar groups that fly the black banner. With the possible exception of Tunisia, the rest of the “Arab Spring” countries…
A negotiated end to Syria crisis might allow this child to go back home. Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

How will the Syrian War be resolved?

The most serious attempt to bring the Syrian regime and representatives of the opposition together around a negotiating table together took place at the 2014 Geneva II peace talks. The talks were based…
Iranian president Hassan Rohani with his old mate Vladimir Putin. EPA

Russia’s borders: Iran’s cautious friendship with Moscow

This week’s instalment in our series on Russia’s relations with its neighbours turns the spotlight on Iran. Clément Therme, a specialist in relations between the two countries, looks at how Ukraine and…
In Syria everything coming in, and everything going out is watched. momente/Shutterstock

Lessons on censorship from Syria’s internet filter machines

Norwegian writer Mette Newth once wrote that: “censorship has followed the free expressions of men and women like a shadow throughout history.” As we develop new means to gather and create information…
From the Turkish side of the border, residents watch an attack on Islamic State positions in the Syrian town of Kobane. EPA/Sedat Suna

Turkey has its own good reasons for not intervening in Kobane

As the Kurdish town of Kobane continues to defy Islamic State (IS) forces, many pundits have condemned Turkey’s unwillingness to help the People’s Protection Units (YPG) keep the forces of “evil” at bay…
They are all Republicans but do these senators agree on US foreign policy? Larry Downing/Reuters

GOP: united against Obama, divided on American foreign policy

The midterm elections have come and gone. After months of speculation, the results were largely predictable. The Republicans solidified their position in the House and took the Senate. A sixth year president’s…
Female members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) helped patrol the outskirts of Makhmur, a northern Iraqi town that was seized back from Islamic State militants in August. AAP/Eddie Gerald

Our forgotten allies against Islamic State: Iraqi and Syrian women

Women and girls living in Syria and Iraq have been subject to gross sexual violence, economic strife and the psychological trauma of a war that, to them, seems endless. But women in these countries are…
Locking up convicted extremists does not prevent marginalised and angry youth from being radicalised. AAP/Julian Smith

Third wave of global ‘jihad’ challenges community as a whole

The dreadful events in Iraq and Syria and counter-terrorism raids in Australia have alarmed Australians, including the 500,000-strong Muslim community. These incidents represent a new episode of the “third…
Turkish police use tear gas on Kurdish protesters. EPA/Sedat Suna

Everything’s at stake for the Kurds in the battle for Kobanê

In recent weeks, the Kurdish town of Kobanê on the Turkey-Syria border has become centre stage in the struggle against IS (Islamic State). The latest round of attacks on the town and its surrounding areas…
“We’re supposed to negotiate with them?” Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint. EPA/Ali Mohammed

Islamic State: no-one wants to talk to terrorists, but we always do – and sometimes it works

The Islamic State (IS) now occupies significant swaths of Iraq and Syria, has pushed as far as the border with Turkey, and has succeeded in dragging “the West” into two civil wars in the Middle East. The…
An Australian Super Hornet refuels from a KC30 tanker while flying over Iraq. @VCDF_Australia/Twitter

Why Western boots should stay out of Iraq and Syria

There are two reasons why we should ignore the growing calls in the United States, Canada and Australia for Western “boots on ground” – meaning ground troops – to fight and destroy the Islamic State (IS…
Islamic State flags flown by militants in the east of the Syrian city of Kobanê, within sight of the Turkish border. EPA/SEDAT SUNA

Kobanê teeters on the brink in a fight to the end against ISIS

The black flag of ISIS has been sighted in the Syrian city of Kobanê. For three weeks, heavily armed ISIS gangs have advanced on Kobanê – also known as Ayn al-Arab – steadily pushing back the local YPG…

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