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Iraq: graveyard of the believers

What is it about Iraq? This poor benighted country has suffered from the consequences of tribalism, imperialism, factionalism, despotism, to say nothing of religious rivalries that still prevent the country…
The US’s refusal to track civilian casualties in the conflict against Islamic State represents a radical departure from established military protocol. EPA/Sedat Suna

The politics of (not) counting: why war on terror’s civilian toll matters

Lieutenant-General James L. Terry, commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria, recently admitted he had no idea how many civilians have died as a result of coalition airstrikes in the region. In a briefing…
The US plans to arm and train ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria in addition to air strikes to defeat Islamic State forces. EPA/US Air Force

US plan to train ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels raises troubling questions

The United States' reluctance to become decisively committed to the complex quagmire in Syria is understandable. However, its plan to insert a US-trained-and-equipped “moderate rebel” force into the mix…
Does King Salman have what it takes? Reuters

New Saudi king should reform economy before it’s too late

Ever since its unification as a nation state in 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been an oil-dominated economy. Most improvements and setbacks in its economic and social indicators can be invariably…
EPA/Paul Buck

Sucking up to the Saudis

International politics is no place for starry-eyed idealists at the best of times. But this week the leaders of what we used to know as the “free world” in the dark days of the Cold War have plumbed new…
Hold the line: Salman takes the helm. EPA/SPA

Salman’s Saudi Arabia is on course – but for how long?

On the evening of January 22 2015, King Abdullah, the 90-year-old ruler of Saudi Arabia, died. The announcement that the 79-year-old Salman al-Saud is to become king was unsurprising, but given his health…
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has passed away at age 90. EPA/Ahmad Yusni

Death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah: a succession story

The passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia will change little in the kingdom and its relations with the West. The monarch had been ailing and reclusive for some years and his anointed successor (and…
At the Israeli separation barrier in Bethlehem, Palestinians watch a projection of Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the UN General Assembly before a November 2012 vote that paved the way for ICC membership. EPA/Abed al Hashlamoun

What admitting Palestine to the International Criminal Court means

2015 began with Palestinian leaders having submitted the paperwork to become signatories to the Rome Statute, the document that governs the International Criminal Court (ICC). Last week, United Nations…
Yemen faces an ongoing insurgency by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – one of al-Qaeda’s most active and dangerous branches. EPA/Abdul-Rahman Hwais

Explainer: what is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula?

As the dust settles on a series of terrorist attacks in France, people will now look to understand the broader players of this grim drama. From their own statements and from external sources, it appears…
Time to call it: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. EPA/Gali Tibbon

Netanyahu’s gamble sets up Israel for messy election campaign

Israel’s Knesset has voted to dissolve itself, and a general election is due to be held on March 17 2015. Binyamin Netanyahu’s third government was a fractious one from the start, with many coalition members…
The Israeli government continues to undermine a two-state solution by expanding settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. EPA/Jim Hollander

Israel’s policy on statehood merits the same scrutiny as Hamas gets

Escalating confrontations in Jerusalem centred on the al-Aqsa Mosque, 1500 more homes to be built in settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and a sharp deterioration in Israel’s relations with Jordan have…
A military campaign against Islamic State forces will offer no long-term resolution to Iraq’s extremist problem. YouTube/VICE News

Islamic State knows its history; to defeat it, we must know ours

To explain the disaster befalling Iraq, as well as the rise of Islamic State (IS), you have to go back a century – before modern Iraq even existed. That’s not to discount the shared culpability of Iraq’s…

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