Security

Security


Kerry, Zarif meet at Iranian envoy's residence

The US secretary of state visits an Iranian diplomatic property in New York in a historic move related to the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on April 27

Hariri: Late Syrian security chief tried to speak out

A statement by Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Rustom Ghazaleh asked to go on television before his death suggests the former Syrian intelligence chief was about to break with the Syrian government.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on April 27

Abductions in Syria cause widespread fear

The Islamic State and the Kurdish People's Protection Units have been carrying out kidnappings in Syria, both seemingly working toward the same goal: terrorizing those who do not support them.
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 Massoud Hamed for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on April 27

Syrian army seeks to regain control of Jisr al-Shughour

After militants from Jabhat al-Nusra took control of Jisr al-Shughour in northern Syria, the army is preparing an operation to regain the city, in light of its strategic importance.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 27

Hamas reaches out to Egypt

Although Egypt's campaign to destroy the tunnels between Gaza and Sinai continues, Hamas, whose relations with other regional countries are even more strained, is working to restore ties with its neighbor.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on April 27

Should Saudi Arabia test Iran’s offer of diplomacy on Yemen?

Iranian officials offer diplomatic initiative and warnings on Yemen; book burning in Giza; Kremlin ignored Israeli objections on missile system sale to Iran; Russian "soft power" in the Middle East.
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on April 26

Former Iran negotiator: Better ties with US impossible

Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili argued that the United States and Iran cannot have ties because of America's policy to "consolidate its leadership over the world."
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 24

The Islamic State’s Baathist roots

Although the presence and strength of former Baathist officers in the Islamic State is unlikely to revive pan-Arab nationalism, it has implications for a strategy to counter the Islamic State and eventually stabilize Iraq.
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 Denise Natali for Al-Monitor on April 24

UNESCO resolutions raise Palestinian hopes

New UNESCO resolutions raises Palestinian hopes for more effective thwarting of Israeli violations of Palestinian land through illegal settlements and violation of historic sites.
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 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on April 24

MEK leader to testify before Congress

Maryam Rajavi will discuss the threat the Islamic State poses to members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) at Camp Liberty.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on April 23

How Bibi uses settlements to block Palestinian state

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that Israel is under a constant existential threat and thus perceives those who believe in peace as naive and unrealistic.
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 Uri Savir for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on April 26

Iran official warns against further strikes in Yemen

Iran is lauding its own efforts to achieve the cease-fire that temporarily halted Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen and warns that continued Saudi aggression threatens to block a political solution.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on April 23

Russia turns to soft power in the Middle East

While Russia is most commonly seen as a hard power state, regional developments since the Arab Spring have positioned it as a soft power force.
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 Maxim A. Suchkov for Al-Monitor on April 24

Israel's Gaza-war soul-searching

Those in the Arab world who claim that Israel lost many wars mistakenly perceive the democratic process of auto-criticizing and evaluating misjudgments during the war as admission of defeat.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on April 23

Bedouin honor IDF service, mourn fallen soldiers

Bedouin youths continue to demonstrate their commitment to Israel by enlisting, despite growing tensions with Jewish society as the demolition of Bedouin homes continues.
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 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on April 23

Jordan focuses on IS fight while Gulf allies pull back

Jordan's King Abdullah expresses strong differences from many of his allies on how best to deal with the Islamic State, fighting regional terrorism, developments in Syria and US Middle East policy.
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Osama Al Sharif for Al-Monitor on April 23

Tunisia’s new government shifts foreign policy

The Tunisian Foreign Ministry’s announcement that it would send a consul to Syria has been refuted by the president as the new government reconfigures Tunisia’s regional alliances.
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 Eric Reidy for Al-Monitor on April 24

Morocco, Algeria compete over Libya

Morocco may be exploiting Algerian weaknesses to raise the stature of its foreign diplomacy by hosting the UN-sponsored dialogue between the conflicting Libyan parties.
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 Imad Stitou for Al-Monitor on April 23

Controversy surrounds alleged violations by Shiite forces in Tikrit

Contradictory assertions have Iraqis divided on whether members of the Popular Mobilization Units are guilty of allegations that they looted and destroyed property in Tikrit during and after the city's liberation from the Islamic State.
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 Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 23

The Kremlin's unexpected decisions

Moscow’s current Middle East policy is characterized by, among other things, maintaining a strong focus on bilateral relations, striving to diversify or to develop relations with states that are at conflict and wishing to play a mediating role in conflict situations without claiming a monopoly or opposing other players, in particular the United Nations.
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 Vitaly Naumkin for Al-Monitor on April 23

Syria agrees to return highly enriched uranium to China

The recent decision by Syria to modify a small HEU-fueled research reactor will advance the possibility of a Middle East free of the civilian use of weapons-grade uranium.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on April 22

Lebanese army advances to secure border

The Lebanese army has received a substantial arms shipment from the United States, allowing it to advance against terrorist groups in the mountainous border regions.
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 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on April 22

Shiite militias' role in Anbar fight unclear

Although Shiite militia forces were withdrawn from the fight for Ramadi, they remain present and active in other areas of Anbar province.
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 Shelly Kittleson for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 22

The human cost of Yemen's war

As the war on the streets of Yemen is raging, 5,000 Yemenis remain stuck abroad, while those inside are suffering and on the brink of facing a major humanitarian crisis with no solution in sight.
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 Maysaa Shuja al-Deen for Al-Monitor on April 22

Why is Israel still silent on Armenian genocide?

Israel has not joined the EU Parliament and the pope in officially recognizing the Armenian genocide, partly because of its strategic alliance with Azerbaijan against Iran.
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 Arad Nir for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on April 22

Defense bill takes aim at Iran

The must-pass legislation requires Pentagon strategy for countering Iran's "growing unconventional warfare capabilities."
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on April 21

Sinai security stymied by continued terrorist attacks

Security forces in Egypt seem to be ineffective in defending the peninsula against terrorist attacks, and may be investing too little in their military defense.
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 A correspondent in Sinai for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on April 21

Bar-Lev: Israel needs diplomatic creativity

Ahead of Israel's Memorial Day, Knesset member Omer Bar-Lev explains in an interview with Al-Monitor that the 1973 Yom Kippur War instilled in him the understanding that only a diplomatic solution can bring Israel security and peace.
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 Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor on April 21

Daraa emerges as new flashpoint in Syrian war

In this article from As-Safir, Tarek al-Abed provides detailed updates on the field developments in Syria and the status and spreading of armed groups.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 21

IS courts Ninevah tribes in run-up to battle

The Islamic State is seeking allies among Iraq's tribes for the battle of Mosul and an opportunity to entrench itself in Iraqi tribal society.
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 Saleh Elias for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 23

First delivery of French weapons arrives in Lebanon

Nearly 16 months since the announcement of $3 billion in Saudi military aid to Lebanon, the first weapons shipment from France has already disappointed.
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 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on April 21

Saudi elites divided on Yemen war

A brief survey of Saudi opinion reveals that many elites consider Operation Decisive Storm a legitimate attempt to halt Iranian expansionism, while some view the intervention in Yemen as a sectarian war.
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 Bader al-Rashed for Al-Monitor on April 21

Jordan's Salafists switch allegiance to IS

As militant alliances continue to shift, Jordan's strategic stance on Salafist groups has become ever more complex.
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 Mona Alami for Al-Monitor on April 20

Libya looks to Russia for arms

Disillusioned with the West, the Libya government is exploring opportunities in Russia and says it is willing to accept limited participation by Islamists that agree to play by the rules.
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 Mustafa Fetouri for Al-Monitor on April 20

Palestine’s empty breadbasket

The Jordan Valley, once considered Palestine’s most fertile area, has been taken over by Israeli settlers who have barred Palestinians from using the land.
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 Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on April 20

Restitution of Armenian property remains unresolved

Some Turkish scholars have documented that the expropriation of Armenian property was a systematic and integral part of the genocide that began in 1915.
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 Susanne Güsten for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on April 20

MIT gun truck bust lands Turkish gendarmes in prison

Turkish gendarmes arrested and prosecuted for stopping and searching trucks — which were chartered by Turkish intelligence — feel they are unfairly prosecuted for obeying orders.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on April 20

Why does Netanyahu really want to sabotage the Iran deal?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to introduce non-nuclear-related demands in the negotiations with Iran is being dismissed as lacking credibility.
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 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on April 20

Saudi Arabia’s deepening isolation in Yemen

Saudi Arabia faces a quagmire in Yemen; a US-Iran “catalogue of cooperation” after a nuclear deal; Iranian activists skeptical on human rights progress; Israel unnerved by Russian decision on missile sale to Iran; the Good Friday massacre in Aleppo; is Erdogan shifting from sectarianism?
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on April 19

House probes Iran deal

A look at the Middle East issues Congress will be addressing the week of April 20.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on April 19

Nasrallah to Saudi Arabia: Enough is enough

In a recent address to his supporters Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah voiced his disapproval of Saudi Arabia's regional policies, blaming the kingdom for inciting destruction across the region.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on April 17

Will Russian missile deal complicate final Iran agreement?

The timing of Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a missile deal with Iran raises questions on the impact this may have on the final nuclear negotiations.
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 Paul J. Saunders for Al-Monitor on April 17

Leaked Israeli documents prompt suspicion from Hamas

A recent series of leaked documents from the Israeli government discuss changing Israel's official ruling on the Gaza war victors — but is it a blunder or a strategic move?
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on April 20

Egypt discovers record-length smuggling tunnel

The recent discovery of a 2.8 kilometer-long tunnel linking the Sinai to Gaza raised questions about the parties supporting digging operations, as such work requires expensive and advanced equipment, as well as an extensive labor force.
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 Ahmed Fouad for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on April 17

Turks link Armenia to US foes in bid to derail genocide nod

Ankara's allies raise concerns with Yerevan's ties to Iran and Russia.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on April 16

Iraqi PM walks back criticism of Saudi Arabia

On his first official visit to Washington, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi showed how hard it is for his country to juggle conflicting outside powers.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on April 16

Iran defense minister: Saudi Arabia will fail in Yemen

Iranian defense minister says that Saudi Arabia's military campaign in Yemen will fail and that it will prepare the collapse of the Saudi government.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 16

Aleppo's rebels brace for IS assault

Syrian rebels have been going above and beyond to ready their cities in the countryside of Aleppo for a possible attack by the Islamic State.
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 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on April 16

Lebanese driver shares story of his Nusra captivity

Fifty Lebanese truck drivers found themselves stuck in the middle of the firing range between the FSA and Jabhat al-Nusra on the one hand, and the regime forces on the other on the Jordanian-Syrian border, as eight of them were taken by Jabhat al-Nusra and one of them was able to convey their story to An-Nahar.
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Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on April 16

Iraq's brain drain continues

The lack of security and the poor economy are forcing many young Iraqis to think about emigrating to the West, even if illegally.
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 Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 19

After Tikrit victory, what's next for Iraqi forces?

Although the Islamic State was heavily defeated in Tikrit, to sustain the victory of the many groups that fought this battle seems far-fetched as confusion prevails among them.
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 Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 16

Saudi airport incident incites social media outrage in Iran

Iranian social media users have erupted in anger over the two Iranian pilgrims allegedly assaulted in Saudi Arabia, prompting calls for calm from journalists.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 15

Turkish soldiers target villagers' mules

Mules belonging to villagers living in the sensitive Uludere area have been shot by the Turkish military in its fight against what the state defines as smuggling and the locals see as legitimate trade over the Iraqi border.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on April 15

Saudi ambassador to Lebanon speaks out

In an interview with As-Safir, the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Awad Asiri, talked about the sensitivities with Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and the war in Yemen, among other regional issues.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 16

US relations with Egypt: one problem at a time

American-Egyptian relations are structured in a piecemeal fashion, lacking strategic thinking and planning for long-term stability.
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H.A. Hellyer for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on April 15

Tension renews between Hamas, IS in Gaza

Much speculation surrounds the purported animosity between Hamas and Islamic State militants in Gaza, further threatening Gaza’s security.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on April 15

Christian evacuees mourn Idlib

Idlib’s Christians have been the target of mounting attacks as Jabhat al-Nusra eyes their cities for its Islamic emirate, killing and expelling minorities to realize its goals.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 17

White House OKs Senate's Iran bill

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the congressional review of the Iranian deal into law.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on April 14

After nuclear deal, what's next for Iran?

In the run-up to the comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran, it is time for the United States and Iran to ease the political and security issues, which in turn will improve trade, technological and economic relations.
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 Seyed Hossein Mousavian for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on April 14

Soleimani: No more selfies

Commander of Iran's Quds Force Qasem Soleimani has written an open letter asking that a film about him not be produced and for officials to stop the "exaggeration" about him on social media.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 14

Turkish army clashes with PKK

The Turkish government is accused of deploying troops in a plan to break the cease-fire with the Kurdistan Workers Party.
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 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on April 15

Aleppo's Christians face rising violence

The recent happenings in Syria are far from promising as conflicts intensify and fighting increases.
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Edward Dark for Al-Monitor on April 15

Russian missile deal sets off alarm bells in Israel

Israel fears that the nuclear agreement, combined with Russian missiles, will strengthen Iran on all fronts, changing the balance of power of both Iran and Hezbollah vis-a-vis Israel.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on April 14

Syrian border closure deals blow to Jordan economy

The Free Syrian Army has taken over the strategic border crossing of Nasib, a main trade route between Jordan and Syria, pushing the Jordanian government to seek alternative transport options and export markets.
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 Elisa Oddone for Al-Monitor on April 14

Hamas warily eyes proposals for long-term truce with Israel

Negotiations are ongoing between Hamas and international envoys on a potential 15-year truce with Israel, a plan some Hamas and Fatah figures see as a way to split the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on April 14

Why Pakistan said no to King Salman

Pakistan's unanimous decision to stay out of the conflict brewing in Yemen, and to push for a political resolution rather than a military one, puts significant strain on bilateral relations, complicating Saudi-Pakistani diplomatic relations.
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 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on April 13

Israeli courts give free hand to Shin Bet

Lawyers specialized in human rights claim that ever since the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli youths in June 2014, the Israeli judicial system is more lenient concerning the Israeli security apparatus' interrogation methods.
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 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on April 13

Khamenei: Nuclear deal could allow talks 'on other issues'

Iran’s supreme leader hints at engagement with the West beyond the nuclear talks; al-Qaeda winning in Yemen; Turkey backs Iran framework agreement; questions about Morocco’s contribution to Clinton Foundation; lobbying series updates.
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on April 12

Is Iran outmaneuvering Saudi Arabia in Yemen?

Accusations that Iran is aiding Yemen's Houthis increased dramatically in 2009, in large part due to Saudi and Iranian media, though little evidence exists for direct Iranian influence.
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 Mohammad Ali Shabani for Al-Monitor on April 13

Iran dispatches diplomats to tackle Yemen crisis

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has presented steps to be taken to end the crisis in Yemen as Iran's diplomats have been dispatched to the region.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 10

Congress gets its say on Iran deal

A look at the Middle East issues Congress will be addressing the week of April 13
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on April 12

France steps up involvement on Iran, Palestine

France has been very proactive during talks on the Iranian framework agreement, and it intends to extend this proactive attitude to the Palestinian issue.
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 Uri Savir for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on April 12

Zionist Camp MK: Israel can maximize benefits from Iran deal

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Zionist Camp Knesset member Eyal Ben-Reuven says that the Iranian framework agreement does establish some limits on the nuclear project, and calls to focus on effective deterrence and tight control on Iran.
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 Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor on April 10

Khamenei criticizes Saudi airstrikes, nuclear agreement

In addition to opposing recent Saudi strikes on Yemen, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced dissatisfaction with the recent Iran nuclear talks milestone, expressing skepticism that coming talks will result in adequate sanctions relief.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on April 9

Iranian analyst questions policy toward Israel

In a debate about the Lausanne nuclear framework, an Iranian professor questioned the cost Iran has paid for its nuclear program and the country's destructive policy toward Israel.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 9

How Nespresso and a whiteboard sealed the Iran deal

An inside look at the marathon negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran that led to the provisional nuclear accord.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on April 9

Building on Iran deal to stem nuclear proliferation

Nonproliferation experts hope that an Iran agreement won’t encourage other countries to seek the nuclear fuel cycle and that a decade or more of restrictions on Iran’s program can be used to promote other measures to stem the spread of dangerous technologies and materials.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on April 9

Yemen war fuels Iraqi sectarianism

Operation Decisive Storm has stirred different positions within the Iraqi religious and political circles, be they Sunnis or Shiites.
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 Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 14

Arsal officials negotiate for kidnapped resident

The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra compete to win over Arsal communities as the Syrian army tightens control of Zabadani.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 9

Yazidis wary amid stalled Sinjar offensive

Peshmerga forces near the front line in Sinjar await KRG President Massoud Barzani's orders to advance on the Islamic State.
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 Shelly Kittleson for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 12

Israeli penalties threaten security cooperation with PA

Some senior Palestinian Authority officials are calling to cut off security cooperation with Israel in response to punitive measures such as deducting debts from the recently unfrozen tax revenues.
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 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on April 9

Egypt’s antiquities under constant threat

Archaeologists complain of a devastating and ongoing security failure as violations of Egypt’s most famous sites continue.
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 Walaa Hussein for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on April 10

Radicalized Western mothers lead children into Islamic State

Many Western women have joined the Islamic State, often bringing their children along with them to Syria, where they train and go to school.
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 Brenda Stoter for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on April 13

Iran official: framework deal welcomed

Senior officials in Iran told Al-Monitor that Iran and the United States ensured the framework deal was one that served their own interests first and foremost.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on April 8

Idlib waits for zero hour

The Syrian army prepares to try to retake the northern city of Idlib from Jabhat al-Nusra.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 8

Will Iranian nuclear deal impact Lebanon?

Although historically a change in regional dynamics has aided the political stalemate in Lebanon, it remains unclear whether this latest breakthrough will help the country elect a president.
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 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on April 8

Hamas treads carefully with support for Yemen war

Hamas’ stance on the war in Yemen may redraw the map of its political alliances in the region, repositioning itself toward the so-called Sunni axis.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on April 8

Differences emerge in US, Iran interpretations of nuclear deal

The statements issued by Iran and the United States after the Lausanne agreement have important discrepancies on key issues that need to be resolved before the June 30 deadline.
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 Shahir ShahidSaless for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on April 8

IRGC supports nuclear framework deal

The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has thrown his support behind Iran's nuclear negotiators and the framework deal announced on April 2, despite expressing doubts about the United States.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 7

Israel, Republicans clash with Obama over Iran deal

Israeli officials reject the US assumption by which a deal with Iran would draw it closer to the West and assist in resolving other Middle East conflicts.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on April 7

Egypt's ambassador to Yemen won't rule out ground troops

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Egyptian Ambassador Youssef al-Sharqawy says that despite his country's participation in Operation Decisive Storm, it will not play a political role in resolving the conflict in Yemen.
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 Enas Hamed for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on April 7

Iraqi army sets sights on Fallujah, Mosul

The battle for Mosul will be complicated by the Kurdish factor and the city's remaining population.
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 Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor on April 7

Will Syrian opposition move interim government to Idlib?

In an interview with An-Nahar, the Syrian coalition head argues that despite concerns of an "Islamist emirate," the time is ripe to move the government inside the country.
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Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on April 7

Zarif defends nuclear framework deal

While most officials and media in Iran have been supportive of the framework deal, some have expressed opposition.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on April 6

Russia eyes Iranian arms deal after Lausanne

Russian officials are promoting the prospect of major arms sales to Iran after the Lausanne agreement, but any such deals appear to be an impossibility in the near term.
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 Paul J. Saunders for Al-Monitor on April 6

Iran framework agreement should boost regional diplomacy

The P5+1 and Iran agree on "detailed political agreement" for nuclear deal; Saudi Arabia, Iran hasten Yemen’s collapse; Netanyahu, Erdogan weigh in on Yemen.
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on April 3

Al-Qaeda gains ground in Yemen war

The Yemen war has profound implications for the stability of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia and the broader region as al-Qaeda recruits and trains in the chaos.
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 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on April 3

Yadlin says Iran deal‎ isn't a bad agreement

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Yadlin claims that Israel should not panic when faced with the Iranian agreement, but focus on clarifying several of its clauses and rehabilitating ties with the United States.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on April 3

Iran, P5+1 reach 'historic' framework deal

Iran and six world powers announced a more detailed political agreement for a final Iran nuclear accord than was expected after turbulent nuclear talks.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on April 2

Breaking: Zarif, Rouhani announce preliminary Iran nuclear deal

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that "solutions have been found" to reach a political understanding with six world powers, and drafting would get underway immediately on a final Iran nuclear deal due by the end of June. "Found solutions," Zarif tweeted April 2, as journalists awaited a press conference here by him, the European Union...
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on April 2

Media pressure increases after prosecutor's killing

A government investigation is opened into Turkish newspapers that published photos that kidnappers released of a prosecutor who was later killed.
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 Mustafa Akyol for Al-Monitor on April 2

The Islamic State's child soldiers

The Islamic State has been recruiting child soldiers for quite some time now, and the world is finally taking notice.
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 Ash Gallagher for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on April 3

Kerry, Zarif hold all-night Iran negotiations

After all-night talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a preliminary agreement on a nuclear deal with Iran is still not finalized.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on April 2

Saudi airstrikes against Yemen a first

The new Saudi king has united the Arabs against the Houthis, with Qatar and Egypt now on the same side.
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 Farea al-Muslimi for Al-Monitor on April 2

Iraqi residents denied return to town seized from IS

Some four months after being retaken from Islamic State fighters, Jalawla, in the Kurdistan region, remains uninhabited and divided among peshmerga, Shiite militias and Asayish, with residents awaiting resolution of who will ultimately control it.
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 Shelly Kittleson for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 2

Iraqis turn to social media for IS coverage

Iraqis are shunning broadcast and print media in favor of social networking sites to spread and follow news about the fighting against the Islamic State.
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 Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 2

Hamas reacts to Abbas’ call for Arab strike against Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ call during the Arab Summit for an attack against Hamas in Gaza — similar to the one launched by Saudi Arabia against Yemen — has raised the ire of Hamas figures.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on April 2

Can Riyadh, Tehran find common ground in Yemen?

If Saudi Arabia and Iran were interested, the confrontation in Yemen could give way to a grand regional bargain.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on April 1

Erdogan takes swipe at Iran

Observers are wondering why Erdogan is trying to drag Turkey into the region’s growing sectarian conflict.
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 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on April 1

IS' Hama incursion threatens Nusra's gains

Looking to further overpower Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State continues to attack Syrian villages near the city of Hama.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 1

Bardo attack continues to weigh on Tunisia

Much speculation is still shrouding the Bardo Museum attack, further complicating a clear understanding of the particularities.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on April 1

Joint Arab force can't agree on 'terrorism'

Members of the Joint Arab force have differing opinions on who is and isn't a terrorist.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on April 1

Ninevah monastery hopes for liberation

Past regular visitors to St. George's Monastery, north of Mosul, have been saddened and horrified by the acts of destruction by Islamic State members at the site.
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 Saleh Elias for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on April 3

Jordan sharpens focus on IS as Gulf confronts Iran

Jordan may have Iranian fighters on its border but its No. 1 priority is still combating the Islamic State.
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Osama Al Sharif for Al-Monitor on April 1

Mistrust blinds Netanyahu to regional openings

The dangers Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu perceives in the region obstruct his ability to see opportunities favorable to Israel.
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 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on April 1

Saudi-caused chaos continues in Yemen

The complexities of the Yemeni state will stand in the way of a political settlement that might result from the military intervention launched by Saudi Arabia against the Houthis in Yemen.
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 Maysaa Shuja al-Deen for Al-Monitor on March 31

Iran talks may go into night

There were signs that Iran and the six world powers were preparing to announce a partial agreement for a final Iran nuclear deal, but diplomats said the talks could go on into the night or the next day, April 1.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 31

Tehran-Kabul relationship faces difficult road

As militants begin to prepare for the spring offensive, Iran will face new challenges in dealing with its neighbor to the east.
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 Mohammad Ali Shabani for Al-Monitor on March 31

Syria keen on Russian expansion in Middle East

Rattled by recent military events in Yemen, Syria once again extends an invitation to an expanded Russian presence, particularly in Tartus.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 31

Iraq's Rambo fights against IS

An Iraqi fighter who goes by the name "Abu Azrael" has been made into a legendary, fierce Shiite fighter by the Iraqi media in its coverage of the battle against the Islamic State.
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 Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 31

Will IS benefit from Operation Decisive Storm?

The Islamic State has been unremittingly trying to cast its influence over Yemen, so will Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm act to its benefit?
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 31

Why freezing Palestinian taxes won't help Israel

Israel's freezing of Palestinian tax revenues is contributing to the dire economic situation in the West Bank and could accelerate the beginning of another cycle of violence.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on March 31

Why did Israel side with Saudi Arabia on Yemen?

Rather than celebrating Saudi Arabia’s attack on Yemen, Israel should feel aversion toward it, since the destabilization of any Arab state can only lead to more and more terrorism and ultimately impacts Israel.
Read more»

 Jacky Hugi for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on March 31

Negotiators work through night on Iran deal

Foreign ministers from the P5+1 countries must now contend with the clock as they work out remaining hang-ups.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 30

Iranian conservatives say they're getting a bad deal

One of Iran's well-connected conservative editors said that the nuclear deal being negotiated could end Iran's ballistic missile program.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on March 30

Israelis trust Netanyahu on security, not the economy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's victory proved that the security issue is crucial for the Israelis, but when assembling a coalition Netanyahu must remember that the dire economic situation is still of great concern.
Read more»

 Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor on March 30

Idlib in the eye of the storm

Jabhat al-Nusra is steadily moving toward establishing its own entity, and there are indications that Syria’s Idlib might be the headquarters for its operations.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 30

Journalists still a target in Gaza

Wars and attacks often take the lives of Gazan journalists doing their job in the field.
Read more»

 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on March 30

Palestine’s lingering water crisis

Water resources in Palestine are threatened, and in the absence of an outline for a tangible agreement with Israel, the future does not look promising.
Read more»

 Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 31

Two issues remain in push for Iran deal

The last round of talks between the P5+1 and Iran are focusing on two sticking points as the deadline approaches.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 29

Will Russia disrupt Iran nuclear talks?

Russia could choose to escalate its relationship with the United States and Europe by interfering in the Iran nuclear negotiations.
Read more»

 Paul J. Saunders for Al-Monitor on March 29

Yemen's Saleh proves to be a survivor

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been central to the Houthis' success in Yemen and may determine the country's future.
Read more»

 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on March 29

Al-Monitor highlights diversity of Islamic feminism

Al-Monitor’s monthlong series on women concludes; Lebanese foreign minister appeals to UN Security Council for protection of Christians; members of Congress seek "formal dialogue" on future of Turkish democracy; the fault lines in Aleppo; have Israeli elections sparked long-stalled Palestinian reconciliation?; Ali Hashem profiles self-proclaimed Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on March 29

Time for decisions on Iran deal

The US and Iran signaled negotiations to reach a political agreement for an Iran nuclear deal are likely to go down to the wire March 31.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 27

Jabhat al-Nusra looks for battlefield breakout

Jabhat al-Nusra has opened up new offensive fronts in Syria’s Bosra al-Sham and Idlib.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 29

Riyadh's war on Yemen stokes Saudi nationalism

Saudi Arabia's war on Houthis in Yemen is key to rallying the domestic Saudi populace after the regime's repeated failures to obtain a victory over Iran.
Read more»

 Madawi Al-Rasheed for Al-Monitor on March 27

Will Iran respond to Saudi offense in Yemen?

Saudi Arabia's airstrikes against Houthis in Yemen come as a last resort, since Houthis have refused all dialogue.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on March 27

Rouhani writes Obama as Iran talks enter endgame

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote US President Obama and called other P5+1 leaders as foreign ministers from six world powers are expected to join Iran talks over the weekend to try to reach a political agreement on an Iran nuclear deal by March 31.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 26

Iran condemns Saudi bombing of Yemen

Hard-line Iranian officials have condemned the United States and Saudi Arabia for the bombing in Yemen and have warned of consequences for Saudi Arabia.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on March 26

Hamas hopes to expand regional relations

Hamas is seeking to expand its regional relations, namely with Egypt, which is seemingly trying to ease tensions with the movement.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 26

Are Turkey's young IS recruits now a domestic threat?

Young Turks are increasingly attracted to the Islamic State's radical doctrines, believing their own country's brand of political Islam to be superficial, yet the Turkish government remains unconcerned with the increasing radicalization.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on March 26

Israel takes Hezbollah threats seriously

The Israel Defense Forces have altered the topographical contours of the Western Galilee to create a steep cliff adjacent to the border with Lebanon, with the objective of turning the ground into a strategic advantage against Hezbollah.
Read more»

 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on March 26

Palestinian national unity priority after Israeli elections

In light of the results of the Israeli elections and amid a storm of accusations between Palestine and Israel, high-level Hamas leaders see Palestinian unity as a key component for enabling a possible solution to the deep-rooted conflict.
Read more»

 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on March 26

No 'deal' for Lebanese singer turned militant

Amid the speculation, public resentment and mixed views that have been surrounding the case of Fadel Shaker, will the former singer, now militant, manage to find a way out?
Read more»

 Esperance Ghanem for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on March 27

Inside Tunisia’s Bardo Museum attack

Having witnessed the tragic events of Tunisia’s "Black Wednesday," As-Safir’s Hassan al-Fathali provides rare reporting on the happenings of the terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis that took place March 18.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 26

Iraq accepts international support in its war against IS

Iraqis should dismiss criticism against the US role in the war against the Islamic State, because this war is international and the country needs any help it can get, whether foreign or local.
Read more»

 Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor on March 26

US sees path to Iran accord

US officials say they see a path forward to reaching an agreement with Iran by the end of March for a final nuclear deal.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 25

Bahrain asks Congress for help in restoring arms sales

Manama's embassy in Washington is circulating a letter calling for a united front against IS, Iran; Bahrain is courting Congress in its effort to get the Obama administration to unblock weapons sales that were suspended after its 2011 crackdown on Shiite-led protesters.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 25

Is Turkey doing all it can to secure its border?

Reports of 11 foreign medics joining the Islamic State have raised fresh questions on Turkey's enforcement of its Syrian border.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on March 25

Algeria buys Russian arms but keeps Moscow at arm's length

Despite a long-standing relationship whereby Algeria buys Russian weaponry, the two nations seem to have trouble seeing eye to eye.
Read more»

 Paul J. Saunders for Al-Monitor on March 25

Revisiting the ‘clash of civilizations’ theory

The grand mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul-Latif Derian, sees moderation as the best solution to unite Muslims and non-Muslims under the banner of coexistence and countering terrorism.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on March 25

Egypt terror attacks fail to scare investors

The Revolutionary Punishment Movement claimed responsibility for bombing banks that participated in the Egypt Economic Development Conference on March 13-15, in what seems to be a failed attempt at crippling investments in Egypt.
Read more»

 Ahmed Fouad for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on March 26

Will Congress arm Iraqi Kurds?

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs panel is lining up support for his bid to bypass Baghdad.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 24

Is the Shiite revival here?

Iran's support of religiously motivated forces in the Middle East has been viewed by many as a success while Saudi Arabia has struggled to find find reliable proxies.
Read more»

 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor on March 25

PM Barzani: Shiite militias should be regulated

In an interview with Al-Monitor, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani addresses the fight against IS, the rise of the Iraqi Shiite militas and relations with Baghdad.
Read more»

 Amberin Zaman for Al-Monitor on March 24

Will R&D agreement seal the Iran deal?

Research and development for Iran's nuclear program will play a large role in how the final nuclear agreement looks.
Read more»

 Mohammad Ali Shabani for Al-Monitor on March 24

After four years, Syrian revolution continues

Syrian rebels say that the shift to armed movements against Bashar al-Assad’s regime has pushed people away from the main purpose of the revolution that started in 2011 and called for achieving justice, equality and freedom for all.
Read more»

 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on March 24

Iran wages psychological war against IS

Iran is waging a psychological war against the Islamic State in Iraq, promoting and highlighting the prominent role of Iraqi fighters among the country's paramilitary groups.
Read more»

 Abbas Qaidaari for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on March 23

What is Khamenei thinking on removing sanctions?

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said that the removal of sanctions has to be part of the nuclear agreement, not something that happens after the deal.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on March 23

Hamas wonders if Bibi victory will lead to war

As soon as the Israeli elections results were announced, Hamas expressed its concern that Benjamin Netanyahu might start a fourth war against Palestinians.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 23

Russia keeps close watch on Yemen

Russia is not likely to get too involved in the Yemen crisis, preferring instead to monitor developments from afar and choose its allies carefully.
Read more»

 Maxim A. Suchkov for Al-Monitor on March 23

Saudi anguish over Iranian gains

The withdrawal of the remaining US military personnel from Yemen only adds to Riyadh's desperation, with Riyadh worried that Washington's priority is a nuclear deal with Tehran, not stopping Iranian subversion in the Arab world.
Read more»

 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on March 23

Yemen’s Hadi tries to get back into the game

Giving it the old college try, it seems like former Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is going above and beyond to regain clout and ameliorate his reputation, but will he succeed?
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 23

Netanyahu’s charm offensive

Palestinians need to be united and move forward with their decisions to join the ICC and suspend the security coordination with Israel, as Benjamin Netantyahu will try, following his victory in the elections, to show political moderation.
Read more»

 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on March 23

Turkey sidelines itself in US-led coalition against IS

Turkey prefers to be a "reluctant subcontractor" rather than active participant in the international coalition against the Islamic State; US envoy seems to contradict Kerry on Syria diplomacy; Israel faces possible "diplomatic siege" after election; majority of Americans back US negotiations with Iran; Al-Monitor endorses new global standards to protect freelance journalists.
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on March 22

The many names of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Al-Monitor traces the journey that led an unremarkable religious student to become head of the Islamic State and self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on March 23

Egypt’s security forces look to cooperate with Bedouins

The economic conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh surprisingly went through with no security incidents, as some Sinai residents say that the Egyptian security forces imposed strict measures to prevent any armed attack.
Read more»

 A correspondent in Sinai for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on March 20

National reconciliation in Iraq remains elusive

Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the national reconciliation project has been subject to several interpretations, as the separation between the innocent and “those who have Iraqi blood on their hands” is still ambiguous.
Read more»

 Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 20

Is Bardo attack a sign IS is gaining foothold in Tunisia?

The 18 terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 23 people heightened fears among the public about the Islamic State presence in Tunisia.
Read more»

 Eric Reidy for Al-Monitor on March 20

#AskHamas campaign reaches out on Twitter

Hamas started on March 13 a social media campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #AskHamas to reach out to the Western public in a bid to move closer to talks with European countries.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 20

Will Hifter's Libyan army fail?

Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s attempt to mobilize an army against the Islamic State in Libya might backfire if its members are comprised of former militiamen who lack discipline.
Read more»

 Mustafa Fetouri for Al-Monitor on March 19

Syrian woman flees Raqqa after filming in IS territory

A young woman, whose rare footage of life in Islamic State-held Syria was beamed across the globe, is the subject of a France 24 documentary.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on March 22

Palestinian focus on isolating Israel, continuing ICC efforts

With Palestine joining the International Criminal Court and suspending the security cooperation with Israel, Palestinians hope to isolate the Israeli state internationally and make it pay for its occupation and war crimes.
Read more»

 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on March 19

Iran, P5+1 tackle final hurdles to accord

While progress has been made, Iran negotiators are looking to resolve differences with the P5+1 on the issues of research and development and lifting of UN Security Council resolutions.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 18

Where is Turkey’s place in strategy against IS?

Turkey is absent from the Iraqi leg of the strategy to defeat the Islamic State, and stands no chance of any major role in the Syrian leg, too, as long as it remains obsessed with toppling Assad.
Read more»

 Kadri Gursel for Al-Monitor on March 18

Rouhani adviser summoned over Iraq comments

Despite clarification by Pesident Hassan Rouhani's adviser, conservative critics of Ali Younesi are asking him to step down.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on March 18

Libyan minister: Solution to crisis lies in supporting army

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Libyan Minister of Information and Culture Omar al-Qweri stressed that the solution in Libya is not political, but rather military, and can only be achieved by lifting the ban on arming the Libyan army.
Read more»

 Ayah Aman for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on March 18

Noose tightens around Jabhat al-Nusra

Jabhat al-Nusra has been facing increasing rejection, criticism and arrests of its members.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 18

No sign of Turkey-Syria border reopening

On March 9, Turkish authorities closed the Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa border crossings with Syria, a move some say may be linked to security measures ahead of Turkey’s parliamentary elections in June.
Read more»

 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on March 18

Iraqi Christians find safe haven in Jordan’s churches

Many Iraqi Christian refugees have given up on the Middle East and refuse to ever go back to Iraq, even if the Islamic State is completely annihilated.
Read more»

 Brenda Stoter for Al-Monitor on March 19

'Roller coaster' Iran talks show progress

US officials expect talks may have to resume next week to conclude a political accord on an Iran nuclear deal by the end of the month.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 17

US, E3 lawmakers pen joint warning on Iran

Lawmakers from the United States, France, United Kingdom and Germany warn that bad deal will result in more sanctions "without fail."
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 17

Does Iran have a card to play in Bahrain?

While protests in Bahrain have remained largely peaceful, does Iran have any influence among the various Bahrain opposition groups?
Read more»

 Abbas Qaidaari for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on March 17

Ankara sidelined on Syria

Ankara has hardly any influence left over events in Syria and its goal of deposing President Bashar al-Assad is no closer now than four years ago, while the persisting conflict poses ever-increasing headaches for Turkey.
Read more»

 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on March 17

Terror groups struggle with internal divisions

Jihadist movements are struggling to quell their internal conflicts and attempting to acquire the lion’s share of influence and control.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 17

Iraqis split over digging of security trenches

While some Iraqis argue that digging trenches between cities is an effective way to stop the infiltration of militants and achieve security, others claim they only further divide the nation and promote sectarianism.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 19

Is there hope for long-term truce between Hamas, Israel?

There is talk about implementing the initiative proposed by UN special coordinator Robert Serry to impose a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel, in return of ending the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Read more»

 Hazem Balousha for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 17

Iran gathers power in Iraq as US further sidelined

Iran has succeeded in expanding its influence in Iraq by supporting the Shiite paramilitary forces there, a move that the United States has avoided since 2003.
Read more»

 Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 17

What next for Iraq?

The Islamic State may be routed in Iraq, but the question of what is next remains unanswered.
Read more»

 Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor on March 18

Iraq’s Shiite forces claim victory over IS

Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi, the leader of Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a major Iraqi Shiite resistance movement fighting IS, tells Al-Monitor in an exclusive interview that his group will target US planes if they get near his forces.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on March 16

West Bank refugee camp threatens Palestinian leadership

Clashes between armed militants and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank's Balata camp could threaten the existence of the Palestinian government.
Read more»

 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on March 16

90% of Iran MPs: All sanctions must be removed

260 members of parliament signed on to a statement saying that, in case of a nuclear deal, all sanctions against Iran must be removed.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on March 16

Islamic State erases centuries of history

According to a sociology professor, extremist groups such as the Islamic State seek to return society to the early Middle Ages, when little to no art, science and culture existed.
Read more»

 Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 16

Pakistan warns Turkey: Don’t make our mistakes

The chairman of the Pakistani Senate's Defense Committee has cautioned that Turkey is repeating in Syria Pakistan's missteps in Afghanistan.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on March 16

Can Gaza's Islamic Jihad ease tensions with Egypt?

Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been exerting efforts to open the Rafah crossing, angering Hamas, which believes the initiative will divide the Palestinian resistance.
Read more»

 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on March 16

Despite congressional threats, Iran negotiators resume talks

US and Iranian negotiators are meeting in Lausanne to work toward a potential nuclear deal.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on March 15

Pakistan declines to join Saudi Arabia's anti-Iran alliance

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected, at least for now, Saudi Arabia's entreaties for Pakistani troops to help guard the Saudi border with northern Yemen, controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite forces.
Read more»

 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on March 15

US 'working through' extent of support for Syrian rebels

The resolution being considered by Congress does not address protection of vetted Syrian rebels against Syrian government forces; nuclear talks with Iran enter decisive phase amid challenges by Republicans in Congress; Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani determines fate of reconciliation in Iraq; Israeli election is verdict on Benjamin Netanyahu.
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on March 15

'Big Brother' to move into Erdogan’s palace

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting up a massive electronic surveillance center in his palace to monitor the entire county.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on March 13

Mosul residents prepare for battle

The Islamic State plans to use Mosul's 1.5 million residents as a human shield in its inevitable battle against the Iraqi army and international forces.
Read more»

 Saleh Elias for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 13

Turkey to support Mosul operation from sidelines

Turkey will provide assistance to the forces organizing to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, but will not engage directly in military conflict.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on March 13

Europeans worry Senate letter gives Iran edge in nuclear talks

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the "open letter" to Iran by Senate Republicans undermines Western credibility in nuclear negotiations that are approaching a denouement.
Read more»

 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on March 12

Rebels advance in Aleppo

After a string of defeats in Aleppo, the rebels are making some progress against the regime.
Read more»

 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on March 12

Kurdish refugees reject government-run camp in Turkey

Kurdish refugees from Kobani are shunning the well-funded and staffed AFAD Suruc camp to stay in nearby municipal-run camps with fewer facilities.
Read more»

Jasper Mortimer for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on March 13

On Iran deal, Republicans cut off their nose to spite their face

A letter written by 47 Republican senators to the Iranian government highlights the deepening divide in US Congress on the pending Iran nuclear agreement.
Read more»

 Seyed Hossein Mousavian for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on March 12

Will Sistani be able to control popular mobilization forces?

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has distanced himself from politics, while stressing the need for the Iraqi government to build a strong state in which all sects feel equal.
Read more»

 Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor on March 12

Libya’s IS expansion puts Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria under threat

Already weakened by years of instability and collapse of their economic resources, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria are the neighboring countries most affected by the Islamic State’s control over Libyan cities.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on March 15

Jabhat al-Nusra slammed for not severing ties with al-Qaeda

There seems to be growing tension between various Islamist factions and Jabhat al-Nusra over the latter’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda, portending a possible escalation in Daraa after the Islamic Muthanna Movement backed the Islamic State.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 11

Russia indicates it might take anti-IS action in Libya

Russia — worried about the Islamic State — indicates that if the UN approves a naval blockade against Islamist militants in Libya, the Russian navy could participate.
Read more»

 Paul J. Saunders for Al-Monitor on March 11

Israel should be wary of Hamas' truce proposal

The dire situation in Gaza has apparently prompted Hamas' political leaders to offer Israel a long-term cease-fire, but the dominance of the movement's military wing casts doubt on such a truce holding.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on March 11

Israel tightens control on Erez crossing

The Israeli authorities have arrested at the Erez crossing Palestinian and Israeli merchants who were accused of smuggling prohibited goods to the resistance in Gaza, which is said to be using these materials to rebuild the tunnels destroyed during the war in summer 2014.
Read more»

 Hana Salah for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 11

Jumblatt blames Maronites for presidential vacuum

In an interview with As-Safir, Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt discussed his stance toward Jabhat al-Nusra, his impending appearance before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, regional politics and Lebanon’s presidential vacuum.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 11

Why is Israel still blind to settler violence against Palestinians?

Despite resolutions by Israeli administrations to adopt the 2003 Road map for Peace and the Sason report on illegal West Bank outposts, settler violence against Palestinians continues unabated.
Read more»

 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on March 11

Would 'sunset' of nuclear deal end restrictions on Iran?

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would restrain Iran's actions in several ways after the terms of a prospective nuclear deal expire.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 10

Concerns rise over plots to oust Abbas

With security tensions on the rise in the West Bank, there is talk of conspiracy in which Hamas, Israel and ex-Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan are spreading chaos with the goal of toppling President Mahmoud Abbas.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 10

Bibi's fantastic feats of flip-flopping

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personality allows him to promise things but not follow through, and at the end of the day, he will always return to his political base on the right.
Read more»

 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on March 10

Imprisoned IS members open up to Lebanese social workers

Two Lebanese sisters have been taking great risks to research the reasons people turn to extremism, interviewing members of IS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Roumieh prison for their side of the story.
Read more»

 Tara Kangarlou for Al-Monitor on March 10

Aboul Fotouh: Egyptians will start revolution if dictatorship persists

Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, head of the Strong Egypt Party and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, shared with Al-Monitor his views about Egypt's current regime.
Read more»

 Enas Hamed for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on March 9

Lebanese groups affiliated with IS

This inclusive breakdown from As-Safir provides a detailed account of fighters that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, their dispersion throughout Lebanon’s mountainous regions, their supply chains and weapons.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 9

Political deadlock could lead to security escalation in West Bank

Palestinian officials view Israel's recent military maneuvers in the West Bank and its prediction of an uprising as attempts to escalate the security situation.
Read more»

 Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 10

Turkey's 'flying coffins'

Turkey's loss of six pilots in the crash of three F-4Es has led to a public outcry as the nation awaits answers and the air force works on replacing the fleet.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on March 9

Lebanese interior minister speaks out

Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq tells As-Safir that Gen. Michel Aoun has two choices: nominate a presidential candidate or become a consensus candidate.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 9

Saudi Arabia prepares for Iran nuclear deal

Saudi Arabia has been pulling out the diplomatic stops in an effort to contain Iran in anticipation of what it sees as an unfavorable nuclear deal between the West and the Islamic republic.
Read more»

 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on March 8

Obama administration: US 'will protect' Syrian rebel forces

John Allen, US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, suggests a deeper US military commitment in Syria; Turkey’s "precious loneliness"; Egypt closes 27,000 places of worship to counter militancy and extremism; Al-Monitor’s series on Women in the Middle East continues.
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on March 8

Libyan cities increasingly isolated

As cities become strongholds for the Islamic State or the government in exile, Libya appears more segregated.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on March 8

Syrian Kurds prepare for new Middle East

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party believes that federalism is a practical alternative to the nation-state model.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 8

Senate seeks to unblock path for war on Islamic State

A look at the Middle East issues Congress will address the week of March 9.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 6

Hamas reacts to potential Egyptian attack

Hamas is discussing steps it could take if Egypt decides to attack the Gaza Strip, as hinted by the Egyptian army, following the country's decision to declare Hamas a terrorist organization.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 6

Egyptian workers endangered in Libya

Poor Egyptian workers in Libya have been threatened and killed by Islamic militias, while Egypt has announced its official support for the Libyan army against the terrorists.
Read more»

 Ayah Aman for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on March 6

300 days at the Tomb of Suleiman Shah

Speaking with Al-Monitor, Turkish special forces officers share their experiences, observations and insights into Islamic State activities near the Tomb of Suleiman Shah and the origins of the Turkish government's decision to evacuate its soldiers.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on March 6

Hezbollah-Hariri at stalemate

The dialogue between Hezbollah and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri does not seem to be getting anywhere, as security and political issues such as the resistance’s weapons and the presidential vacuum remain unresolved.
Read more»

 Sami Nader for Al-Monitor on March 6

Battle for Tikrit highlights challenges of war on IS

While the Iraqi army has made some progress on the ground in its battle to liberate Tikrit from Islamic State (IS) forces, the war against IS will not be fully resolved until all concerned parties come together with a unified strategic plan.
Read more»

 Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 6

Militarization of Iraqi society is intensifying

The fight against the Islamic State is leading increasing numbers of civilians to take up arms and defend their territory.
Read more»

 Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 6

Syria dissident groups still not united

Despite reaching significant milestones in terms of expansion and battles, dissident coalition groups have been struggling to overcome differences and unite.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 5

Hamas focuses on rebuilding tunnels as Gazans suffer

Hamas' focus on reconstructing its tunnel infrastructure and rearming, while ignoring the lack of housing in Gaza and the general misery of Gaza residents, points to the military wing's dominance in the organization.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on March 5

Democrats slam brakes on Iran action

Forget about voting on anything before March 24 deadline, House and Senate Democrats warn.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 4

Retired Israeli general combats stereotypes

In an interview with Al-Monitor, retired Brig. Gen. Israela Oron emphasizes that contrary to traditional Israeli perception, men have no superiority over women in matters of security.
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 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on March 16

IS eager to confront US ground forces in Iraq

Islamic State propaganda makes clear its desire to draw the United States into deploying combat troops, setting up a potentially direct confrontation.
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 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor on March 4

The female 'rock stars' of terror

Women such as Saja al-Dulaimi and Joumana Hmayed are often used for smuggling messages, money and arms by extremist groups in addition to suicide bombing operations.
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 Mona Alami for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on March 17

US still considering no-fly zone for Syria

Two top US officials differ about the prospects for identifying, training and equipping a new moderate Syrian force to oppose the group that calls itself the Islamic State.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on March 3

Congress races to act on Iran after Bibi's speech

The Senate is to take up a bill demanding a say on the nuclear deal next week.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 3

Cyprus port deal gives Russian navy alternative to Tartus

An agreement allowing the Russian navy access to ports in Cyprus sends a message to the EU and gives Moscow an alternative to its facility at Tartus, Syria.
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 Paul J. Saunders for Al-Monitor on March 3

Jabhat al-Nusra overtakes Hazm in Aleppo countryside

Some “moderate” leaders had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which questions the West and US’ support to these factions.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on March 3

US persuaded Turkey to include Israel in NATO drills

Leaked emails between the Obama administration and Turkish senior officials reflect US efforts at reconciling Israel and Turkey — when the latter objected to Israel's participation at a NATO sea drill.
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 Arad Nir for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on March 3

War puts Syrians on unexpected career paths

Young graduates in Damascus are having a hard time securing a job in their field, thus turning to nongovernmental organizations and volunteer work.
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Mustafa al-Haj for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on March 3

Palestinian factions maintain fragile stability in Sidon camp

Although Salafist fugitives have found refuge in Ain al-Hilweh, competing Palestinian factions appear intent on maintaining stability in the refugee camp.
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Nicolas Lupo for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on March 4

US, EU battle Netanyahu for public's trust on Iran

Israeli leader sees Congress as crucial backstop against "bad deal."
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 2

IRGC: Naval exercise also 'media-psychological' operation

The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps public relations has said that Iran's publicized naval exercises were meant to prepare for threats from countries beyond the region and praised the media coverage of them.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on March 2

Kurds brace for Tell Abyad battle

The Kurds in northern Syria are preparing themselves for the next battle that will take place in Tell Abyad, a strategic area stretching on the Turkish border and which constitutes a supply route for terrorist organizations.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on March 2

Hamas denies abuse, detainment of Fatah leaders

Several Fatah leaders told Al-Monitor that the Hamas-affiliated security apparatuses in Gaza arrested them and violated their basic human rights, which Hamas rushed to deny.
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 Mohammed Othman for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on March 2

Recommendations released for reconstructing Kobani

The Diyarbakir Chamber of Architects and Engineers published a report on how to reconstruct Kobani.
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Translated from Radikal (Turkey) on March 2

IS takes over Assyrian village Tal al-Jazira

The village of Tal al-Jazira, which lies between Hasakah and Tal Tamr, had enjoyed relative calm until IS took over about a week ago, so Assyrian inhabitants did not flee, as most Assyrian inhabitants of other villages had.
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Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on March 2

Egypt’s terrorism law whittles down opposition

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a new decision regarding Egypt’s anti-terrorism law, running the risk of labeling most opposition groups and human rights organizations as terrorist entities.
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 Enas Hamed for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on March 2

What is Obama's secret weapon against Bibi?

It’s hard to understand why President Barack Obama doesn’t translate the criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s congressional speech into action, such as hinting at a change in his position on the Israeli nuclear program.
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 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on March 2

Iraqi archaeological sites remain at risk

Following a recently released video of Islamic State militants destroying important artifacts at the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, there are fears that the city’s archaeological sites are at risk of destruction.
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 Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on March 2

Here comes Bibi!

Congress turns its attention away from other business this week as it prepares for the addres of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on March 1

Turkey has 'other priorities' than battling Islamic State

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper does not expect Turkey to become "more engaged" in the anti-Islamic State coalition; are al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, or Assad and Hezbollah, a greater threat to Israel?; Israeli prime minister expects to "cash in" on Iran nuclear deal on March 17; Al-Monitor launches a series focused on women in the Middle East.
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on March 1

New Iran bill doesn’t mandate up-or-down vote on nuclear deal

Legislation from the Senate Foreign Relations chairman would authorize — but not require — Congress to weigh in before sanctions can be lifted.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 27

Hasakah attack shows Islamic State not remaining on defensive

Although the international coalition airstrikes made progress against the Islamic State, the latter is still capable of gaining new lands.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 27

Lebanese army goes on offensive near border

The Lebanese army has launched wide attacks against extremist groups in Arsal and its surroundings, thus changing the rules of engagement
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 27

PA clamps down on security amid unrest in West Bank

Recent clashes in the West Bank between security officials and protesters have triggered Palestinian fears that stability will be difficult to restore.
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 Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 27

Iran's cooperation with IAEA at risk if nuclear talks fail

A breakdown in nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 would likely mean far fewer inspections in Iran.
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 Mohammad Ali Shabani for Al-Monitor on February 27

Morocco promotes role as mediator of moderate Islam

Rabat is working to extend its sphere of influence in the Sahel by a promoting a form of Islam embraced by Western states.
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Translated from TelQuel (Morocco) on March 1

Turkish military wages war on social media

Turkey's military is still struggling to come to terms with the rules of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on March 1

Shooting of Fatah activist could doom security cooperation

The security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is in jeopardy after Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Fatah activist in the Dheisheh refugee camp.
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 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on February 27

Islamic State conspiracy theories sway Iraqis

Past events in US-Iraqi relations and the prevalence of conspiracy theories spread by the media as well as politicians have led Iraqis to doubt the sincerity of the US fight against the Islamic State.
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 Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 27

With eye on Mosul, coalition advisers train peshmerga

The international coalition against the Islamic State has provided weeks of training to prepare peshmerga fighters for a ground offensive to regain control of Mosul.
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 Kaylyn Hlavaty for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 27

Kurds push for delay of Mosul attack

Some in Congress share concerns that Sunnis aren't ready to take on the Islamic State.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 26

Why did Israel decide to support Syrian rebels?

After four years of fighting in Syria, Israel no longer seems neutral, and though the Israeli security establishment won't discuss it with the public, signs actually indicate that Israel has chosen to support the Sunni rebels.
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 Jacky Hugi for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on February 26

Iran 'bound' to complete talks by March 31

Iranian media outlets believe that progress was made in the nuclear talks and that the nuclear talks are reaching a conclusion.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on February 26

Turkey’s 'strategic depth' in Syria

The controversy around Turkish military intrusion into Syria to remove the alleged sanctuary of Suleiman Shah continues.
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 Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor on February 26

Does Assad meeting signal a shift in France's policy?

A secret visit by French parliamentarians to Damascus is raising questions about a possible major shift in France's Syria policy.
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Arzu Cakir Morin for Al-Monitor on February 27

Qatar rejects Egypt’s war on terrorism

The Egyptian request to carry out, under international cover, airstrikes against Islamic State strongholds in Libya was rejected by Qatar, which reveals the emergence of new alliances in the Middle East.
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 Walaa Hussein for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on March 1

Arab leaders speak out on Sisi's Arab army

Following Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s call for the formation of a joint Arab force to fight terrorism in the region, An-Nahar talked with Arab officials and figures about the possibility of establishing such a force and its chances of survival.
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Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on February 26

America’s neglected asset in fight for Mosul

The Pentagon recently declared its 2015 plan to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State, an operation that may be effective only if the resistance groups already operating in Mosul are involved.
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Ben Decker Iraq Pulse on February 26

Sinai residents feel betrayed by Egyptian media

Egyptian media has been accused of trivializing the situation in Sinai, which either castigates or ignores residents while they are being beheaded by Islamic extremists for cooperating with the army in its anti-terrorism campaign against them.
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 A correspondent in Sinai for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on February 26

One man's return to Gaza

In an interview with Al-Monitor, the journalist Majdi Arbid, who fled Gaza eight years ago, tells of the dire situation he encountered when he returned.
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 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on February 26

Is Congress backing Sisi's battle against Islamists?

Lawmakers declined to grill Secretary of State John Kerry on military assistance to Egypt.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 25

Flurry of IS attacks divert Iraqi army's attention

The Islamic State is taking advantage of the fact that the Iraqi army, the peshmerga and tribes are unable to establish a unified command against it by opening several fronts.
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 Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 25

French-Syrian relations thaw

Four French members of parliament are on a diplomatic visit to Damascus after a period of frozen relations, in search of political and security solutions.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 26

Israeli violations of truce keep Gazans on edge

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports that violations of the truce continue, with Israeli forces still firing across the border, hitting civilians and houses and making the entire area unlivable.
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 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on February 25

Kurdish peshmerga, IS reach stalemate

The Kurdish peshmerga forces stationed in Mula Abdula are just a few meters away from the Islamic State militants subject to the international coalition’s airstrikes.
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 Fazel Hawramy for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 25

Congress starts to question UN arms embargo on Libya

The shift follows a heavy push by Egypt and Jordan after the Islamic State beheading of Coptic Christians.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 24

Why Lebanon skipped anti-terror meeting in Washington

Lebanon decided not to attend the international summit on counterterrorism in Washington when certain Lebanese parties, such as Hezbollah, balked at cooperating with Israel, among other issues.
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 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on February 25

Questions remain over Turkey's training of Syrian opposition

Many argue that Ankara’s prime motive in signing the accord is to improve strained ties with Washington.
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 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on February 24

US experts converge on breakout formula for Iran talks

There isn’t much daylight between the Barack Obama administration’s breakout estimates for Iran and that of David Albright, a so-called gatekeeper who is influential on nuclear issues within the expert community and on Capitol Hill.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on February 24

Syrian regime, allies lose decisive battles in Aleppo

The regime and its allies have suffered heavy losses in an offensive against the opposition’s largest stronghold in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
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 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on February 24

Liberman, Yadlin: speech won't stop Iranian nuke

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Zionist Camp's Gen. Amos Yadlin differ on the best reaction to current negotiations with Iran, but both agree that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech in the US Congress is not the way to go.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on February 24

Traffic snarls, violence accompany Iraqi motorcades

The Iraqi prime minister has taken steps to confront the ministerial and official convoys that often act as though they are above the law, but the problems the enormous security details cause are unlikely to end.
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 Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 24

IS’ leader assassinated from within

IS members have been drifting apart in Qalamoun, Syria, as disputes among top commanders have been escalating, leading to the dismissal of one emir and the probable assassination of another.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 24

What did Libyans gain from the revolution?

Four years into the Libyan civil war and the revolution that toppled Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, thousands of Libyans remain displaced in their own country as political, social and economic problems continue to worsen.
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 Mustafa Fetouri for Al-Monitor on February 24

Palestinian girl recounts imprisonment

Israel has circumvented international law to classify Palestinian children as minors only up to the age of 16, in clear violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in order to arrest and detain Palestinian youths.
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 Rasha Abou Jalal for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 26

Kurdish journalists use IS media strategy to their advantage

Kurdish journalists are trying to counter Islamic State propaganda by showing the world the horrors that the group has committed.
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 Massoud Hamed for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on February 26

Ankara averts pre-election crisis over tomb in Syria

Turkey’s evacuation of the Tomb of Suleiman Shah in Syria was meant to remove the risk of an Islamic State attack that would have cost the government dearly in upcoming general elections.
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 Kadri Gursel for Al-Monitor on February 23

Netanyahu has no 'smoking gun' on Iran

With his speech to Congress, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to breathe new life into the "Iranian existential threat" to improve his chances of being re-elected as the one person who can stop the Iranians.
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 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on February 23

Libyan FM speaks out

Mohammed al-Dairi, the Libyan foreign minister, sits down for a wide-ranging interview with Al-Hayat in which Dairi outlines the needs of the fragile post-revolution nation in fighting the Islamic State and other extremist groups in the country.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on February 23

Turkish army enters Syria to evacuate tomb

The Turkish army successfully evacuated its soldiers from the Tomb of Suleiman Shah in Syria in coordination with Kurdish forces on the ground.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on February 22

Can returned extremist fighters be rehabilitated?

Participants in a White House summit on countering violent extremism say the most useful aspect was exchanging information on the sidelines of the meetings about how to prevent recruitment of vulnerable youth and rehabilitate foreign fighters returning home from Syria and Iraq.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on February 22

Should US back UN plan for cease-fire in Aleppo?

UN Syria envoy says that "assurances will not be enough" to end fighting; Turkey’s border a "strategic problem" in anti-Islamic State campaign.
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on February 22

Kerry says deal not imminent as Iran, US energy chiefs join talks

Iran atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz joined Iran nuclear negotiations in Geneva, but US Secretary of State John Kerry tamped down expectations that a deal could be imminent.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on February 21

Would Iran deal set new nuclear proliferation standard?

The nuclear negotiations have entered a critical stage with Iran, which for years has defended its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) rights, committed to the NPT by providing unprecedented transparency of its nuclear program.
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 Seyed Hossein Mousavian for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on February 22

Turkey’s jailed university students

Hundreds of Turkish university students have landed behind bars on such dubious grounds as making press statements, demanding free transport and health care, celebrating Women’s Day and even reading Marx.
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 Tulay Cetingulec for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on February 22

Syria opposition forces claim regime attack in Daraa futile

The opposition forces in southern Syria say that the regime, which has launched a battle with its allies Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is not advancing there.
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Mustafa al-Haj for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on February 20

Egyptian students launch anti-harassment campaigns

The administration and activist students at Cairo University are making progress against harassment and have started campaigns to encourage victims to speak up and to identify offenders.
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 Ahmed Fouad for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on February 20

The importance of Sunni unity in Iraq

Instead of exchanging accusations, all Iraqi components should deploy efforts in a bid to unify their ranks in the face of the Islamic State, and to avoid sectarian partition.
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 Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor on February 20

Turkey's MIT warns IS has infiltrated Turkey

News reports say Turkey’s national intelligence service has issued a warning that the Islamic State is preparing for bomb attacks against embassies and consulates in Ankara and Istanbul.
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Translated from Taraf (Turkey) on February 20

Have AKP's policies caused rise in violence against women?

Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed solidarity with the victim’s family, the Justice and Development Party insists on useless populist policies on women’s issues.
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 Pinar Tremblay for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on February 20

Jordan rejects land offensive against IS, for now

Observers believe that Jordan is being dragged into a land offensive against the Islamic State in Syria, using the execution of its pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh as cover.
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Osama Al Sharif for Al-Monitor on February 20

Why is Bibi's speech to Congress key for Israel's security?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has headed the battle against nuclear Iran for many years, and his upcoming speech to Congress fits in with his concerns for Israel's existence.
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 Arye Mekel for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on February 20

In Turkey, divisive politics leads to more violence

Turkey's political scene is already extremely polarized; as an abundance of individual incidents of violence indicate, it is fast becoming a political powder keg.
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 Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor on February 19

Syrian army's advances near border rattle Ankara

If the Syrian regime army captures Aleppo, the Turkish border will come under heavy pressure.
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 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on February 19

Islamist preacher: military action against IS will not work

Speaking to An-Nahar, Islamist preacher and founder of the Bridges Foundation Fadel Soliman warns that military action against the Islamic State will only increase extremism, and says the solution lies in providing other opportunities to youths.
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Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on February 19

Who holds the real power in IS?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be caliph of the Islamic State, but he does not rule alone.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on February 19

Internal unrest threatens Gaza

As violence and general lawlessness increase in the Gaza Strip, Fatah and Hamas are accusing each other of being behind the turmoil.
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 Hazem Balousha for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 19

Egypt acts as middleman for Russia-Libya arms deal

Egypt is mediating efforts to supply the Libyan army with Russian weapons to fight the Islamic State, a move that might lead to a end to UN Resolution 1973, which bans the provision of arms to Libya.
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 Ayah Aman for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on February 19

Gazans forced to sell their belongings

The harsh economic crisis that has been worsening in the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli blockade and the PA’s financial deficit has forced Gazans to sell their belongings to avoid begging for money.
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 Rasha Abou Jalal for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 20

Wiretaps reveal Turkey's attacks on Syrian regime positions

Court documents reveal that last year, when the Syrian opposition captured the Armenian town of Kassab, the Turkish army shelled the Syrian army.
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 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on February 18

Is Europe closing door to refugees?

With smuggling tragedies increasing in the Mediterranean, Europe is looking for ways to stem the tide of human smuggling from North Africa.
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 Tom Rollins for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on February 18

Disagreement keeps Hamas-Iran rapprochement on ice

Reports that Iran is insisting on the resignation of Hamas’ political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal in exchange for the resumption of relations between the parties seems to have stalled reconciliation talks for now.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 18

Some see snubs, Erdogan sees envy

While Erdogan remains unconcerned, diplomats say Turkey's isolation is hurting the country.
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 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on February 17

Could Libya's IS suck Egypt into endless war?

The massacre committed by the Islamic State against Egyptian Copts has raised talk about a new military intervention in Libya, while Egypt is calling for military action against the terrorists.
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 Mustafa Fetouri for Al-Monitor on February 17

Fear of Shiites on the rise in Turkey

The Justice and Development Party government is indifferent to the increase in Shiite-phobia in Turkey.
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 Pinar Tremblay for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on February 17

Four years on, civilian deaths continue in Syria

Civilians in Syria are paying the cost of the four-year conflict, often losing their lives, be it at the hands of the regime, opposition forces or jihadists.
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Edward Dark for Al-Monitor on February 17

Lebanon holds IS at bay, for now

The failure of the Islamic State’s plan to control territory and create an emirate in Lebanon bodes well, says a Lebanese security official who claims that Lebanon has clamped down on the major three terrorist hotbeds in the country.
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 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on February 17

Concern in Iraq grows over unregulated Shiite forces

The popular mobilization forces in Iraq have made positive contributions to the fight against the Islamic State, but allegations of killings require that they be brought under the government's security umbrella.
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 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor on February 17

War separates lovers in Aleppo

The conflict in Aleppo has divided the city, making it nearly impossible for people in one half to visit people in the other after the closure of the Bustan al-Qasr crossing.
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 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on February 16

What's next for Hakan Fidan?

Turkey's recently resigned intelligence czar Hakan Fidan is widely expected to found a new National Security Ministry and redesign the country’s entire security apparatus.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on February 17

UN, Russia take lead in Syria diplomacy

Russia-Egypt ties enter "new phase"; UN and Russian initiatives offer only hope so far for Syria political settlement; Erdogan promotes the "Internal Security Law."
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on February 15

Barzani: The region's new borders will be drawn in blood

Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani speaks about the current conflict with the Islamic State, relations with Baghdad and his predictions on what's next.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on February 15

US optimism on Iran nuclear deal rises

The US administration believes that prospects for reaching an Iran nuclear deal have increased in recent days.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on February 14

Anbar officials reject Shiite popular mobilization forces

Officials in Iraq's Anbar province are concerned about the increase in revenge operations carried out by popular mobilization forces.
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 Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 15

Al-Qaeda makes its presence known in Syria

Four Syrian factions pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda as the group takes a more public role in the conflict.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 13

Hezbollah, Future Movement find 'delicate stability' for now

The dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement continues despite the limited results it has yielded so far.
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 Sami Nader for Al-Monitor on February 13

Egypt sees al-Azhar as key to Africa

Egypt is seeking to reinvigorate its role on the African continent and restore its influence through missions by al-Azhar clerics.
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 Ayah Aman for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on February 13

Palestinian government allows entry of Israeli goods into Gaza

The Palestinian government has said that the decision is a temporary measure made necessary by the destruction to factories during the last Gaza war.
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 Hana Salah for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 13

Is Hamas planning a strike from Lebanon's refugee camps?

A senior Hamas leader's call to open new fronts against Israel from Lebanon was neither confirmed nor denied by the movement, raising questions about the possibility of forming cells on the ground.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 13

Does Iran really control Yemen?

Statements by Iranian officials about the importance of the rise of Houthis in Yemen demonstrates that Iran would like to give the perception that there is a new member of the axis of resistance.
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 Shahir ShahidSaless for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on February 12

Khamenei agrees with Congress: no deal better than a bad deal

While there's talk of a preliminary deal in March, Iran's supreme leader says he is opposed to a multistep agreement.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on February 12

Hollande-PYD meeting challenges Erdogan

French President Francois Hollande, by hosting at Elysee Palace two Kurdish female leaders from Kobani, sends a strong message to Ankara.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on February 12

Congress eyes military aid boost for Jordan

Key House members are seeking to expedite the delivery of precision weapons to fight the Islamic State.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 12

Bennett, Liberman battle for defense portfolio

The next Israeli defense minister, be it Moshe Ya'alon, Avigdor Liberman or Naftali Bennett, will have to cope, together with new IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, with a new reality in which Hezbollah targets Israel from the Syrian border.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on February 12

Shiite faithful defy danger to visit shrines

Shiites continue to risk their lives to visit their shrines, not only for religious purposes but also because they represent the sacrifices their ancestors endured under Sunni oppression.
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 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor on February 12

Hamas, Dahlan share rivalry toward Abbas

Although officials say relations between former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan and Hamas are limited to aid provided by Dahlan to the Palestinians in Gaza, the shared enmity toward President Mahmoud Abbas shows otherwise.
Read more»

 Hazem Balousha for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 12

Palestinians rush to condemn murder of Jordanian pilot

Right after the gruesome killing of the Jordanian pilot, Jordan’s TV broadcast the Palestinian imam’s condemnation of the crime, which indicates a rapprochement between Palestinians and Jordanians.
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 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on February 12

Kurds reject proposed rival force in Kirkuk

The law to establish the National Guard forces in Iraq raised the ire of Kurds in northern Iraq who would rather remain in full control of their areas.
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 Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 12

Arms shipment to Lebanon to arrive in April

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has announced that the first arms shipment of the Saudi grant, which has been stalled for more than year, will arrive to Lebanon on April 1.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on February 12

Russia and Egypt's 'new partnership'

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's new relationship could shift the dynamics of the Middle East.
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 Vitaly Naumkin for Al-Monitor on February 11

Rouhani challenges Iran deal detractors

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that "only the Zionists" are opposed to a nuclear deal, and those not supporting the negotiators are guilty of "betrayal."
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on February 11

Syrian Turkmens are forgotten ally in war against Islamic State

Syrian Turkmens say they can play key role in fighting IS in northern Syria.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on February 11

Egyptian army struggles to address terrorism in Sinai

Despite the Egyptian army's claims to victory over terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, terrorist attacks have increased, a trend many attribute to the failure of the army's strategy.
Read more»

 A correspondent in Sinai for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on February 11

Delay of French-Saudi military aid to Lebanon a mystery

US military aid has filled a crucial gap in Lebanon as a Saudi-French aid package has been delayed for unknown reasons.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on February 11

Why Salafists see Shiites as their greatest enemy

Many Salafists see Shiites, not Jews and Israel, as the greatest threat to Islam.
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 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor on February 11

Iraqis play politics with Mosul investigation

Altering the committee investigating the fall of Mosul to reflect the political quota system serves the interests of the political parties and blocs, not finding the truth.
Read more»

 Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 11

Saudis struggle to reconcile IS fight, Wahhabism

While it might not be what the West wants to hear, Wahhabism and Salafism offer young Saudis clear boundaries and a blueprint for changing the self and the world through action.
Read more»

 Madawi Al-Rasheed for Al-Monitor on February 11

Is Turkey becoming a police state?

Critics say a proposed law will turn Turkey into a police state by providing security forces with extensive powers to suppress the government’s opponents.
Read more»

 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on February 10

Iraqi tribes slowly become 'state within a state'

As political parties try to put tribes under their sway for electoral gains, Iraqi tribes have become “a state within a state,” where laws are powerless over their armament, authority and power.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on February 10

Hamas condemns killing of Jordanian pilot

Hamas speaks out in support of Jordan following the Islamic State’s brutal killing of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh and also looks to repair relations with the Hashemite kingdom following a tense period.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 10

36 years after the revolution, where is Iran now?

Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution has faced many challenges, with lifespan, access to education and standard of living having improved significantly, while corruption and the country's human rights situation remain a cause of concern.
Read more»

 Seyed Hossein Mousavian for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on February 10

Hamas makes release of detainees condition for negotiations

Hamas is making the release of the detainees of the 2011 prisoner exchange deal a condition for any future negotiations, saying that Israel did not abide by the agreements.
Read more»

 Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 11

Hezbollah fears being squeezed from Syrian-Israeli borders

With Jabhat al-Nusra controlling the southern border area of Syria and reports on cooperation between the group and Israel, the Syrian-Israeli border has become an area of concern for Hezbollah and Iran.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on February 10

Learning from history with Iran

As the extended deadline set for nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 approaches, the P5+1 needs to embrace Iran as a reliable partner, leaving behind the mentality of pressure and coercion.
Read more»

 Behzad Saberi for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on February 10

Shiite militias mixed blessing in Iraq, Syria

US experts warn about the “Hezbollization” of Iraq and Syria but there is little alternative now to Iranian-backed Shiite militias to push back the group that calls itself the Islamic State.
Read more»

 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on February 9

Unity government a recipe for diplomatic disaster

Zionist Camp co-chair Isaac Herzog has refused to reject joining a unity government with the Likud, although the leftist parties in such governments typically end up serving as "defense attorney" for right-wing policies.
Read more»

 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on February 9

Obama: 'Iran’s program has not advanced'

US allies puzzled by March deadline for consideration of Senate sanctions bill; Iran’s gesture to Saudi Arabia; Iran’s man in Beirut; Erdogan’s anti-Western pivot; Aleppo’s fuel shortage; Israel reconciling to Hamas?
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on February 8

Aleppo's displaced find refuge in Kurdish regions

The residents of Aleppo are fleeing the regime’s shelling toward the north, mainly to Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood, where the local council tries its best to meet their needs.
Read more»

 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on February 9

Should Lebanon execute convicted terrorists?

After Jordan executed two Iraqi prisoners in response to the brutal killing of a Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State, a debate arose in Lebanon about why the government does not do the same when the organization kills one of the Lebanese soldiers it is holding captive.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on February 8

Syrian Kurdish journalists confront danger to report on war

Kurdish journalists talked to Al-Monitor about their experiences on the battlefield in Syria's northeastern provinces.
Read more»

 Massoud Hamed for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on February 8

Congress may re-examine special arms deals with Israel

The US policy of giving Israel a Qualitative Military Edge policy over its neighbors has been called into question now that they are fighting on the same side against the Islamic State.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 5

What does Iran’s choice of UN envoy reveal?

Iran's appointment of Gholamali Khoshroo as its UN envoy signals a desire for broader engagement with the West.
Read more»

 Mohammad Ali Shabani for Al-Monitor on February 6

Will 'Kurdish Spring' redraw Middle East map?

A critic looks at “Kurdish Spring: A New Map for the Middle East,” a new book by David Phillips that could become a main reference on the Kurdish struggle.
Read more»

 Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor on February 5

Are Turkish troops guardians or accidental hostages at Syrian tomb?

Delayed rotation of Turkish troops guarding the Tomb of Suleiman Shah in Syria is causing frustration.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on February 5

Jaysh al-Islam confronts Islamic State in Arsal

The spillover of the conflict between Jaysh al-Islam and the Islamic State (IS) to Arsal became apparent with the attacks perpetrated by the former against IS members in the area.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 5

Hamas declares opening of Gaza seaport

Hamas is working to open and operate its Gaza seaport, especially since countries such as Turkey, Cyprus and Greece apparently have agreed to send and receive ships from Gaza.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 4

Rouhani: We don’t need a nuclear bomb

In a speech in Esfahan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran does not need a nuclear bomb to secure its safety.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on February 4

Conspiracies, victimhood cloud Turks' views of Hebdo killings

A survey reveals that conspiratorial theories prevent Turks from seeing the "real victims" in the Charlie Hebdo killings, but also that the majority of Turks oppose such violence in the name of Islam.
Read more»

 Mustafa Akyol for Al-Monitor on February 4

Tribes ready to take on terror in Sinai

As the government devotes more resources to containing unrest in Sinai, tribal leaders have suggested that Cairo take advantage of the roles traditionally played by the tribes in the area's security.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 4

Jordan's king tells Congress 'gloves are off' in fight against IS

Key lawmakers endorse $1 billion aid package after airman slain.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 3

Wilayat Sinai targets Egyptian army stronghold

According to sources, Wilayat Sinai carried out an organized attack against the largest headquarters of the Egyptian army in the peninsula.
Read more»

 A correspondent in Sinai for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on February 4

Iranian nuclear negotiators face further criticism

Iran's nuclear negotiators are coming under more criticism and some believe that the supreme leader will soon take a hard line on the talks.
Read more»

 A correspondent in Tehran for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on February 4

Iran denies US claim that nuclear talks include missiles

Iran's deputy foreign minister has denied claims by the US State Department that Iran’s missile program is under discussion during the nuclear talks.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on February 3

Kurdish rivalry delays victory in Sinjar

Kurdish forces celebrated a joint victory at Kobani, but they have become rivals in the fight against the Islamic State in the Mount Sinjar area.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on February 3

Fate of Gazans is in Hamas' hands

The Hamas movement is at a decisive crossroads: either it relinquishes its military control and concentrates on rehabilitating the Gaza Strip or it risks destroying all of Gaza's residents.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on February 3

Israel reluctantly accepts Hamas rule

Israel has quietly changed its stance toward Gaza with a loosening of the blockade to improve the transfer of goods and movement of people in the hope of averting another explosion in the enclave.
Read more»

 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on February 3

What was behind Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Lebanon?

Lebanese media reported that the commander of the Iranian Quds forces, Qasem Soleimani, met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, perhaps prompting the latter's changing the unwritten, retaliatory "rules of engagement" with Israel.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on February 3

Gaza’s fishermen confront multiple dangers

Not only are fishermen from Gaza subject to being shot by Israeli sailors, they also struggle against potentially fatal weather conditions.
Read more»

 Rasha Abou Jalal for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 3

French ambassador to Lebanon speaks out

The French ambassador to Lebanon, Patrice Paoli, spoke to An-Nahar about the Lebanese presidential elections and stressed that France will not get involved, since the president should be approved by the majority of Lebanese parties.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on February 4

US allies puzzled by March deadline for Iran deal

The Obama administration, in negotiations with Congress, "bought two months, but sold three," for negotiations for a final Iran nuclear deal, according to a Western diplomat.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on February 2

Islamic State covets Libya as global terror base, envoy warns

Libyan diplomat Aref Ali Nayed urges Washington to step up its involvement in the country.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on February 2

What turned Erdogan against the West?

The Turkish ruling party’s fast-rising anti-Western rhetoric may be a reaction to Western “meddling in our domestic affairs” rather than opposition to the West’s “imperialist” foreign policy.
Read more»

 Mustafa Akyol for Al-Monitor on February 2

Tough choices ahead for US-Saudi relationship

The longstanding relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is in need of review, for Saudi human rights abuses and its domestic politics, for instance, are increasingly talked about topics by Americans and the world.
Read more»

 Madawi Al-Rasheed for Al-Monitor on February 2

Ankara turns wary eye on Greece's new defense minister

Greece's new Defense Minister Kammenos led the Turkish and Greek navies and air forces into an unfriendly confrontation on Jan. 30, in what Ankara hopes was a one-time provocation.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on February 2

Inside one of Hamas' youth training camps

Hamas’ military wing has started organizing youth camps across Gaza to train the younger generation to defend itself and fight the occupation, some say promoting a culture of violence among the youth.
Read more»

 Hazem Balousha for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on February 2

Latest attack in Lebanon sends message on IS endgame

Clues about the militants’ ultimate designs for the country can be found in the most recent attack by insurgents on the Lebanese border.
Read more»

 Esperance Ghanem for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on February 2

Barzani joins front as peshmerga approach Mosul

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, has decided to stay close to the battlefield around Mosul Dam in northern Iraq to direct operations and encourage peshmerga fighters.
Read more»

 Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor on February 2

Ghouta on edge over talk of reconciliation with regime

Tensions are high in eastern Ghouta as the Islamic State looks to make a comeback and some factions are looking to replicate Aleppo's cessation of fighting in the area.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on February 2

Captured pilot serious challenge for Jordan's king

As negotiations with the Islamic State for a prisoner swap for Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh falter, the Jordanian public is directing its anger against the kingdom’s decision to participate in the anti-IS coalition.
Read more»

Osama Al Sharif for Al-Monitor on February 2

Israel offers to mediate talks between Ukraine, Russia

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman believes his country is uniquely positioned to negotiate with Russia and Ukraine.
Read more»

 Maxim A. Suchkov for Al-Monitor on February 1

Hezbollah, Israel claim victory, reset deterrence

Nasrallah steps back from confrontation with Israel after attack; Iran sanctions in perspective; Netanyahu plan may backfire; Kurdish victory in Kobani a setback for Turkey; Are Iraqi Kurdish land grabs sowing future conflict?
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on February 1

Nasrallah vows to confront Israel at any time and place

In a broadcast speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah tried to re-establish deterrence with Israel after the two sides traded strikes.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on January 30

Hezbollah strike was 'minimum response,' warns Iran commander

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also stated that Israel should 'await a stronger response.'
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on January 30

Syrian journalism co-opted by warring factions

Syrian factions have recruited journalists and media activists to their cause, making unbiased journalism nearly impossible.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on January 30

Security issues become tool for delay

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security conditions for any future agreement with the Palestinians would preclude a Palestinian state all together.
Read more»

 Uri Savir for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on February 1

Disputed Alawite village caught between Israel, Hezbollah

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Bilal Khatib of the Ghajar municipal council explains the unique situation of the village; located on the Israel-Lebanon-Syria border and residents' fear of being targeted.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 30

Southern Algeria protests fracking plans

Officials in Algeria were taken by surprise by the protests in the poor south against the exploitation of shale gas using methods that could have catastrophic environmental and health repercussions.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 30

Threat of violence silences Palestinian journalists

In light of physical assaults and abuses in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, some Palestinian journalists are avoiding sensitive political and security issues.
Read more»

 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on February 3

Why is Turkey censoring lingerie, antique books?

Turkey's Web watchdog is turning into a "wicked" censorship monster that can arbitrarily target any website, from global prosperity indexes to LGBT forums.
Read more»

 Emre Kizilkaya for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on January 29

Iraqi Kurdish land grabs anger Sunni Arabs

As Iraqi Kurds benefit from coalition airstrikes and take control of former IS safe havens, they are aggravating tensions with some Sunni Arab communities.
Read more»

 Denise Natali for Al-Monitor on January 29

The battle for Syria

Armed factions in Syria are waging a war over emirates, with Jaysh al-Islam mounting an attack against Damascus and Jabhat al-Nusra expanding its influence in northern Syria.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 29

Rockets fall on Damascus

Jaysh al-Islam began a wide-scale rocket attack on Damascus in response to the Syrian regime’s shelling of eastern Ghouta, which allegedly killed civilians.
Read more»

Mustafa al-Haj for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on January 29

Hezbollah answers Israeli attack

Al-Monitor reports on the ground from the site of Wednesday's confrontation.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on January 29

Al-Qassam youth training camps open again

The Vanguards of Liberation camps, previously organized under the supervision of the Education and Interior Ministries in Hamas-run Gaza, are now under the control of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which some think might be using the camps to recruit young men as fighters.
Read more»

 Hana Salah for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 29

Israel shows restraint in Hezbollah retaliation

Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli patrol in Lebanon’s occupied Shebaa Farms was expected to break into an all-out war on Lebanon, but sources told Al-Monitor that Israel was asked not to engage in such a war.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on January 29

Fake bomb detectors still endanger Iraqis

Despite the exposure and imprisonment of British businessman James McCormick for selling fake bomb detectors to several countries, Iraqi security officials continue to justify the use of these devices.
Read more»

 Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 29

Summit to focus on reducing terror recruitment

Some analysts say the use of the term “violent extremists” reflects excessive political correctness and that the US government is not properly organized to prevent young people from joining jihadist groups.
Read more»

 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on January 28

Living among the dead in Gaza

The Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing has failed to provide housing for Gaza’s families, forcing some to live in cemeteries and beg for money.
Read more»

 Rasha Abou Jalal for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 28

Mosul deteriorates under IS occupation

Mosul has become an impoverished, broken city whose residents face great risks when they try to contact their loved ones in other Iraqi cities, fearing their Islamic State occupiers' retaliation.
Read more»

 Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 28

Kurdish victory in Kobani defeat for Turkish policy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressly ruled out the northern Iraq model for Syria's Kurds.
Read more»

 Amberin Zaman for Al-Monitor on January 28

Yazidis ask Israel for help

Desperate Yazidis are reaching out to Israel, asking for understanding and assistance, especially in the military domain for their fight against the Islamic State.
Read more»

 Jacky Hugi for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse on January 28

Netanyahu's Iranian boomerang

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rejection of an agreement with Iran will result in Israel losing the support of its Western allies and in Iran being legitimized as a nuclear threshold state by its Arab neighbors.
Read more»

 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 28

Lebanese army faces war of attrition

The Lebanese army waits for the authorities to take decisive action and cooperate with Hezbollah and the Syrian regime to fight radical groups in Lebanon.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on January 28

Turkey’s arms procurement raises questions

There are questions being raised about the wisdom of Turkey's expensive defense expenditures — but not by the public.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on January 27

Iran warned US of 'consequences' for killing general

Iran's deputy foreign minister has said that Iran told the United States that there will be "consequences" for Israel over the Jan. 18 killing of an Iranian general.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on January 27

Erdogan's Saudi dilemma

Experts say Ankara will maintain cordial, if not warm, ties with Riyadh, disregarding deep differences over Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Read more»

 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on January 27

Kurdish leader: It is necessary to establish Kurdish federal state in Syria

In an interview with Al-Hayat, Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly, talked about the necessity to establish a Kurdish federal state, and said he does not support the Moscow conference, because the Syrian people will pay the price.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on January 27

Hamas begins rapprochement with Hezbollah, Iran

A series of meetings in Beirut have brought Hamas and Hezbollah closer, after their divided stances on the Syrian issue and in light of a possible conflict between Hezbollah and Israel.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 27

Fatah leader speaks out during visit to Beirut

An interview with Fatah Central Committee member and general supervisor for Lebanon, Azzam al-Ahmad, who expressly visited Beirut, on orders from Mahmoud Abbas, to find out the truth about the presence of the most-wanted two terrorists in Ain al-Hilweh.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 27

The Riyadh-Damascus divide

Two old regional allies, albeit ones with a strained history, have been pushed violently apart by the Syrian crisis. However, whether this will last is questionable.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 27

Turkey’s leftists, Kurds celebrate Syriza victory

The election victory of Greece's leftist Syriza party was cause for celebration among Turkey's Kurds and its marginalized left wing, both of which are seeking more electoral power.
Read more»

 Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor on January 27

Muhammed al-Deif lives

Commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades Muhammed al-Deif is responsible for some of the most murderous terror attacks against Israelis, yet during the Gaza war the IDF failed again to eliminate him.
Read more»

 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on January 27

Yazidi girls tell of escape from IS

Yazidi girls recount their harsh ordeal and the scars remaining from being captured by Islamic State militants.
Read more»

 Fazel Hawramy for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 27

Sinai residents prepare for the worst

Amid a deteriorating security situation the people of Sinai are raising their voices against the oppressive campaigns practiced by the Egyptian army and police that breed extremism and violence.
Read more»

 A correspondent in Sinai for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on January 26

The new Saudi power triangle

While King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Crown Prince Muqrin and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef are the official positions of power in Saudi Arabia, the real power triangle consists of third-generation princes Mohammed bin Salman, Mutib bin Abdullah and Mohammed bin Nayef.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 27

Is the new National Guard the key to unifying Iraq?

Proponents of an Iraqi National Guard envision it serving as a counterterrorism force, bringing militias under state control and helping rid the country of the Islamic State.
Read more»

 Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 26

Aleppo residents tested by snowstorm, war

The snowstorm that blanketed the Middle East added to the misery of Aleppo’s residents and refugees, as children died from a lack of power, water and heating.
Read more»

Edward Dark for Al-Monitor on January 26

Islamic Jihad takes mediator role between Hamas, Fatah

Islamic Jihad is considering joining a Hamas-led administrative committee in Gaza, as it breaks its silence in a bid to resolve the Hamas-Fatah feud that's crippling the Gaza Strip.
Read more»

 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on January 26

Will Arbin be part of the settlement agreements?

Recent days have witnessed reconciliation efforts in Arbin, Ghouta, but some consider these an attempt to empty the region of civilians.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 26

Why Erdogan’s media sees British conspiracy in Somalia

The delusional, conspiratorial narrative in Turkey’s pro-AKP media raises questions about the capacity of the ruling elites of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "New Turkey" to understand the world as it really is.
Read more»

 Mustafa Akyol for Al-Monitor on January 27

After Qaboos, who will be Oman's next sultan?

Now that Saudi Arabia has seen its succession through, attention has moved to who will succeed Oman's Sultan Qaboos, who has been in Munich since the summer for unspecified health reasons.
Read more»

 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on January 25

Why did Iran, Morocco resume relations?

Economics, Iran's desire for greater international standing, the Islamic State and Western Sahara may be factors in Iran naming an ambassador to Morocco after a nearly six-year break in ties.
Read more»

 Sophie Claudet for Al-Monitor on January 25

Could Israel’s strike on Hezbollah in Syria spark Iran nuclear talks?

The latest Israel-Hezbollah confrontation might be a catalyst for a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran; Iran can ease Saudi Arabia’s security predicament; Netanyahu sees electoral gain in snubbing Obama.
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on January 25

Finally, Senate action on Iran sanctions?

A look at the Middle East issues Congress will be addressing the week of Jan. 26
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on January 23

Islamic State lists conditions to free Lebanese soldiers

An anonymous Lebanese government source informed Al-Monitor that negotiations between Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra militants and the Lebanese government are reaping results, though with conditions.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on January 25

Obama snubs, Netanyahu scores

Despite the damage to his relations with President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coming congressional address is expected to strengthen his status within his Israeli right-wing electoral base.
Read more»

 Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor on January 23

Lebanese interior minister warns of 'death triangle'

The Islamic State is taking refuge within Lebanon’s borders, where the group appears to be taking advantage of impoverished Lebanese citizens to execute suicide bombings.
Read more»

 Sami Nader for Al-Monitor on January 23

Obama, Kerry freeze out Bibi over impromptu Hill visit

The upcoming meeting to reach an Iran nuclear deal raises tensions between the Obama administration and Israel.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on January 22

FSA vows to continue fighting Hezbollah

Free Syrian Army Col. Abdullah al-Rifai said that the FSA opposed the intervention in Lebanon and Arsal, and that its main objective is to fight the Syrian regime, not the Lebanese army.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on January 22

Why Israel's Hezbollah strike didn't bother Turkey's Islamists

The latest Israeli attack on Hezbollah reveals Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s anti-Assad stance is stronger than his anti-Israel rhetoric.
Read more»

 Pinar Tremblay for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on January 22

Poor Tripoli district becomes hotbed for extremists

Mankoubin is one of the impoverished neighborhoods of Tripoli, producing youths who have joined such extremist groups as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State and have carried out attacks in Syria and Iraq, as well as in Lebanon.
Read more»

 Mona Alami for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on January 23

Egypt forgives Iraqi debt in exchange for oil

During Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s visit to Cairo, the Egyptian government agreed to drop the Iraqi debt owed to Egypt, in exchange for oil shares that would come in handy in light of the energy crisis plaguing Egypt.
Read more»

 Ayah Aman for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on January 23

Gaza water desalination plants cause severe health risks

The lack of supervision over water desalination plants and the Israeli siege contribute to the contamination of drinking water available to Gaza’s residents.
Read more»

 Rasha Abou Jalal for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 22

Congress blindsides Obama, inviting Netanyahu to speak

Inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on Iran sanctions without the White House’s knowledge was seen as an unprecedented slap at President Barack Obama.
Read more»

 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on January 22

Arsal kidnappers break silence, contact Lebanese mediator

After a 36-hour silence following the storming of Roumieh prison, the Arsal terrorists holding Lebanese soldiers resumed contact with the government's mediator.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on January 22

US maintains intelligence relationship with Houthis

Despite alarmist news reports, the Barack Obama administration appears to have adjusted to the rise of the Houthis in Yemen and is continuing attacks on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Read more»

 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on January 22

Egypt’s large homeless population suffering

Amid corruption allegations, the state has been accused of failing to properly provide for the homeless and those living in makeshift housing.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 25

After Kobani, where is Islamic State's next target?

The besieged strategic Kurdish town of Hasakah, swollen by an influx of refugees and barrel-bombed by Syrian regime forces, is coming under fire from the Islamic State.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on January 21

Lebanese visa regulations cause more distress for Syrians

The announcement of new regulations requiring Syrians to obtain visas to enter Lebanon has caused consternation and confusion among Syrians as well as in the Lebanese government.
Read more»

 Esperance Ghanem for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on January 22

IRGC vows revenge after Israeli attack

Iranian military commanders say that the Israeli strike against a Hezbollah convoy in Syria will not deter them.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on January 21

Should Israel protect Jewish Diaspora or its own citizens?

Israel must concentrate on protecting its own citizens, in spite of the risks for the Jews of the world, focusing on military targets and not potential reprisals against Jewish targets outside its borders.
Read more»

 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 21

Egypt uses church to bolster ties with Ethiopia

Egypt is taking advantage of the rapprochement between the Ethiopian and Egyptian Coptic churches in negotiations over the Renaissance Dam, although some criticize the church’s involvement in politics, especially since Ethiopia is moving forward with the dam’s construction.
Read more»

 Walaa Hussein for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on January 21

Hezbollah's three options on Israel

The Lebanese Shiite group has only a few options for responding to the Israeli strike against it in Syria and wants to be careful not to cause an expansion of the conflict onto Lebanese territory.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on January 21

Turkey's 'pink prison'

LGBT organizations strongly oppose a prison being built for LGBT inmates, who often end up in solitary confinement for reasons of security, which is illegal.
Read more»

 Sibel Hurtas for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on January 21

Gaza bombings deepen Hamas-Fatah rift

Fatah believes Hamas is behind the recent spate of explosions in the Gaza Strip in an effort to add pressure on the Palestinian unity government.
Read more»

 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 21

Israeli Bedouin call for inquiry over police conduct

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Talal al-Krenawi, mayor of the Bedouin town Rahat, accuses the Israeli police of using unnecessary force in riots that erupted over the past two days instead of trying to calm the situation.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 20

Israel anticipates Hezbollah's reaction

Israeli security experts estimate that although Hezbollah is not interested in raising tensions with Israel, it will respond to the Jan. 18 attack on its convoy, either in the Golan Heights or against Israeli targets abroad.
Read more»

 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on January 20

Decentralization of powers weakens IS

The Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is forced to limit his movements while relying on primitive means of communication, which weakens the organization.
Read more»

 Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 20

Children freeze to death in Aleppo refugee camp

At least four children have died from the cold in the Bab al-Salameh camp in the Aleppo countryside as supplies run low for Syria’s internally displaced.
Read more»

 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on January 20

Amid nuclear talks, Iran still trying to swap prisoners

US officials say there is no equivalence between Americans detained in Iran and Iranians jailed in the United States, and that the issue is separate from slow-moving nuclear talks.
Read more»

 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on January 20

Lebanese foreign minister speaks out

In his interview with An-Nahar, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said that Hezbollah’s statement regarding Bahrain does not reflect the government’s stance, which rejects any interference in the affairs of foreign countries.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on January 20

Russia looks for ‘concrete results’ at Moscow talks

Russia's ambassador to Beirut says his country is looking to improve the situation on the ground in Syria at the forthcoming Moscow conference.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 20

Hope for Libya after first round of talks

After months of painful lobbying, the UN’s special envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, managed to get opposing sides to the negotiating table, with Libya’s main warring factions declaring a cease-fire to give the talks a chance.
Read more»

 Mustafa Fetouri for Al-Monitor on January 20

Charlie Hebdo finds support in Gaza

The victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack found sympathy in Gaza, until Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in the Paris unity march and the magazine published a cover with a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.
Read more»

 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on January 20

New visa regulations confuse Syrians

Syrians in Lebanon who have legal residency permits are worried that new regulations will not protect them from being deported.
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 Justin Salhani for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on January 20

Moscow prepares for meeting of Syrian leaders

Russia is set to proctor a meeting of Syrian opposition figures, who will then meet with representatives of the Syrian regime in an inclusive and open dialogue with no preconditions, as a step toward resuming the Geneva deliberations.
Read more»

 Vitaly Naumkin for Al-Monitor on January 20

Oppressed by China, Uighurs drawn to Salafist ideas

China’s oppressive policies and the increasing influence of extreme Salafist currents are inflating radicalization among the Uighur population.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on January 19

Hezbollah figure killed in Syria had ties to Soleimani

Jihad Mughniyah, a Hezbollah member among those killed the recent Israeli strike in Syria, had a close relationship with Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on January 19

Four years later, Egypt's January 25 Revolution is faded dream

The Muslim Brotherhood continues to challenge President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the buildup to the four-year anniversary of the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 19

How will Hezbollah respond to Israeli strike?

Speculation has arisen as to how Hezbollah will respond following the Israeli raid on its location in Syrian territory, which led to the killing of six of its members.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on January 19

Iraqi agriculture drops 40% under IS control

Iraq's minister of agriculture told Al-Hayat that Iraq had hoped to announce agricultural self-sufficiency, but security conditions brought the sector back to square one.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on January 19

Netanyahu makes ICC decision campaign issue

While Europeans are suspending their criticisms until after the Israeli elections in fear of providing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with political ammunition, the ICC decision to open an investigation is being used by the Israeli right to present the Europeans as enemies.
Read more»

 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 19

Slow progress on Iran talks

In the Jan. 18 Iran nuclear talks, top officials expressed concern about making sufficient progress to meet the March 24 agreement deadline.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on January 18

Congress takes first step on Iran sanctions

A look at the Middle East issues Congress will be addressing the week of Jan. 19.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on January 18

Did Nasrallah blur red line on Assad?

Hezbollah’s leader says a political solution could include Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure “after the end of his term”; Kerry supports Russia, UN diplomacy on Syria; Who does Israel back in Syria?; Did Turkey arm Jabhat al-Nusra?; Iran’s shallow influence in Yemen.
Read more»

 Al-Monitor Week in Review on January 18

US, Iran struggle to speed up nuclear deal

US and Iranian negotiators worked intensively all week on a document to try to speed up a nuclear accord, but are still finding difficulties.
Read more»

 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on January 17

Al-Qaeda's Paris attack not the first to target cartoonists

Al-Qaeda's attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris is not the group's first targeting of European cartoonists, as the group had planned to attack the offices of a Danish newspaper in 2009.
Read more»

 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on January 18

Lebanese Druze caught in competing dialogues

Dialogues between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, as well as between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces, are re-evaluating the role of the Druze in the political system.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on January 19

Obama vows to veto Iran sanctions as Zarif sees Kerry

Strong words from US President Obama in support of negotiations instead of sanctions accompanied the second meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on January 16

Nasrallah: 'The game is over'

In an interview with pan-Arab news channel Al-Mayadeen, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah talked about sensitive regional issues, mainly the Syrian crisis, saying that "the game is over" there with the failure of hostile plans.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on January 16

Iranian ambassador: We must fight terrorism

Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fathali told As-Safir that the region needs to unite its efforts in the fight against terrorism.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 15

War-ravaged Gaza families marrying in-laws for support

It is common practice in Gaza for a widow or widower to marry an in-law to keep the family together, and often they are being promised financial assistance to do so.
Read more»

 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on January 15

Iranian killed in Iraq subject of 2009 controversy

An Iranian killed in Iraq was incorrectly labelled a Lebanese Hezbollah commander by activists during the 2009 election protests, and some news reports of his death still contain the error.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on January 15

Iraqi hospitals under IS suffer lack of medicine, staff

The state of hospitals in Iraqi areas under IS control face shortage of medicine and staff, and are sometimes forced to treat the wounded from among the organization’s ranks.
Read more»

 Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 15

Turkish military says MIT shipped weapons to al-Qaeda

New documents have been leaked online, prompting the government to immediatey ban reporting on the scandal and order the content deleted.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on January 15

Former House Intel chair: Turkey can't have it both ways in NATO

Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also sees economic pressure on Russia as presenting a “unique opportunity” for Moscow’s help in Syria.
Read more»

 Andrew Parasiliti for Al-Monitor on January 14

US House preps its own Iran sanctions bill

The lower chamber says it won't just pass whatever bill the Senate comes up with.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on January 14

Turkish Kurds' electoral strategy is a high-wire act

Rumors of electoral collusion between the government and the Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) gain momentum.
Read more»

 Amberin Zaman for Al-Monitor on January 14

Lebanese await outcome of prisoner swap deal

Lebanon has witnessed three interrelated security developments in the past few days that will prove decisive in the prisoner swap deal between the Lebanese government and Jabhat al-Nusra.
Read more»

 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on January 14

Rising domestic oil consumption challenges Arab states

Statistics indicate that domestic oil and gas demand in the Arab states will outstrip current production in two decades, posing a major challenge to these economies.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on January 15

Are Israel, Jabhat al-Nusra coordinating on attacks in Syria?

Syrian opposition activists in southern Syria say Israel has played a vital role in Jabhat al-Nusra’s recent gains in Quneitra and Daraa.
Read more»

Khaled Atallah for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on January 14

Egypt’s cybersecurity council prompts privacy concerns

Egypt has launched a new cybersecurity division to protect its ministries and institutions from cyberattacks, but some political groups and activists are concerned it might also be used to curtail speech and monitor their online activities.
Read more»

 Amr Abdelatty for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on January 15

Ya'alon: Abbas barely controls Jenin

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon argued that the Gaza war last summer prevented a Hamas takeover of the West Bank: "Mahmoud Abbas does not control Gaza, he barely controls Jenin."
Read more»

 Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor on January 13

Kobani hospitals overflow as battle continues

Makeshift hospitals are being set up in basements and schools across Kobani to treat fighters and civilians while armed groups have targeted the city’s main hospitals.
Read more»

 Massoud Hamed for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on January 15

Has the Islamic State's defeat already begun?

In the war against the Islamic State, the key issue is how to translate recent optimism on the strategic picture into tactical achievements on the ground.
Read more»

 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on January 15

Are there any prospects for Moscow-Libya cooperation?

Russian officials are taking a wait-and-see attitude to developments in Libya.
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 Vitaly Naumkin for Al-Monitor on January 13

Jabhat al-Nusra tank commander sees little alternative to group

While Aleppo is not entirely under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra, the group has a strong presence in many of the city's neighborhoods and is currently fighting to take hold of villages north of Aleppo province, where they are facing Lebanese Hezbollah troops that are fighting alongside the Syrian regime.
Read more»

 Shelly Kittleson for Al-Monitor on January 13

Hamas, Fatah bicker over Gaza crossings

The Palestinian government says that Hamas is delaying the handover of the Gaza crossings, while Hamas insists on a partnership to manage the transition.
Read more»

 Hazem Balousha for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 13

Turkey cannot secure Syrian border alone

Turkish officials say Turkey is doing its best to prevent crossings into and out of Syria by Islamic militants, blaming European countries for not furnishing useful intelligence.
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 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on January 13

Lebanon cracks down on prison 'terrorist command centers'

A large security operation has begun inside Lebanon's central prison to dismantle the organizations that have taken control of the prison and spread their influence across the country — including planning and orchestrating terrorist attacks.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 13

Kurdish peshmerga divisions hamper war effort

The majority of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces are divided between the two main rival political parties, hindering efforts in the fight against the Islamic State.
Read more»

 Fazel Hawramy for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 13

Will Paris attacks overshadow quest for Palestinian statehood?

President Mahmoud Abbas' constant objection to violence earned him a first-row place among world leaders at the Paris march against terror, but won't guarantee that the Palestinian issue remains a top priority.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 13

Israeli experts: If Europe won't wiretap, they won't know

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror, former Mossad official Rami Igra and a former Israeli army intelligence head warn Europe that the only way to combat global jihad is collecting and coordinating intelligence information on its citizens.
Read more»

 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on January 13

Egypt hosts summit against extremism

Egypt hosts a summit of politicians, religious leaders, community leaders and journalists in Alexandria to discuss the rise of extremism.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on January 13

Israeli right campaigns on Paris terror attack

When calling on Europe to stand by Israel and when calling French Jews to immigrate to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is harnessing the Paris terror attacks for his electoral needs.
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 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 12

How foreign journalists become 'spies' in Turkey

Journalism in Turkey is increasingly becoming a nightmare for foreign reporters, too, while the president personally leads psychological lynching campaigns.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on January 12

Iran’s shallow influence in Yemen

Iran believes its influence is spreading to a new country with the rise of the Houthis in Yemen in September 2014; however, Yemen is different from other Iranian-influenced countries (Syria, Lebanon and Iraq), where sectarian compositions differ.
Read more»

 Maysaa Shuja al-Deen for Al-Monitor on January 12

Islamic State announces new province in Syria

Jabhat al-Nusra is concerned about IS expansion into Yemen and Algeria as well as the news of the reestablishment in Hama province in Syria — an area from which they were pushed when they first tried to establish a wilaya in the area.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 12

International aid lags for Lebanon’s displaced

Lebanon bears the biggest number of Syrian refugees, yet still receives the smallest portion of the international aid pledged to host countries.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 12

How Cizre became a combat zone?

Turkey's predominantly Kurdish town of Cizre has emerged as the site of conflict between Islamist and secular Kurds.
Read more»

Translated from Radikal (Turkey) on January 12

Dempsey says Iran’s role in Iraq might be 'positive'

Americans consider Islamic State, not Iran, as top threat to US in Mideast; terrorists in Syria planning “mass casualty attacks” in West; Salafists in Gaza look to Islamic State.
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 Al-Monitor Week in Review on January 11

Mixed Turkish reactions to Paris massacre

The government’s attempt to be politically correct in its condemnation of the attack on Charlie Hebdo is not reflected by all elements of the ruling party and the Islamist media.
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 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on January 11

Negotiations to free Lebanese soldiers remain at impasse

The hostage takers have demanded the demilitarization of areas on the Lebanese-Syrian border and the release of prisoners, both of which have been met with significant opposition by the Lebanese political establishment.
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 Esperance Ghanem for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on January 11

Divisions in Iran stall nuclear deal, says ex-US negotiator

Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Iran Foreign Minister Zarif in Geneva Jan. 14, ahead of a new round of nuclear talks.
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on January 9

Iran's new group in Iraq: Saraya al-Khorasani

Saraya al-Khorasani appears to have more direct contact and cooperation with Iran than other groups and militias it has ties with.
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 Abbas Qaidaari for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on January 11

Yemen’s revolutionary ideals stumble

Many of the goals of Yemen's revolution have not been achieved, and those who hold power echo the aims and tactics of the old regime.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 11

Lapid: Abbas can't compromise without Arab support

In an interview with Al-Monitor, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid argues that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas needs Arab support to compromise on the Palestinian right of return and on Jerusalem.
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 Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor on January 9

Turkey faces demining delays

Having stalled for a decade, Turkey risks further delays in meeting its international obligations to clear vast minefields, most of them along the Syrian border.
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 Sibel Utku Bila for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on January 9

Post-Paris: perilous future for Turkey, Muslims

A grave future is waiting for Turkey and Muslims after the Charlie Hebdo shootings on Jan. 7 in France.
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 Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor on January 9

Turkish cartoonists threatened after Charlie Hebdo attacks

Turkish satirical journalists and cartoonists have been warned via phone and over social media to "learn" from the attack on Charlie Hebdo and be careful who they antagonize.
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 Pinar Tremblay for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on January 9

Egypt’s buffer zone expansion hurts Hamas’ arms supplies

Egypt’s decision to expand its buffer zone along its border with the Gaza Strip is a sign that relations with Hamas are no closer to improving.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 9

A look back at Israel's 2014 startups

The Israeli cyberindustry issued IPOs in the amount of $2.3 billion in 2014, but it is also showing signs of a bubble, with the Chinese already at its doorstep.
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Translated from Calcalist (Israel) on January 9

Al-Qaeda challenges Islamic State with Paris attack

Al-Qaeda's deadly terror attack in Paris may have been an attempt to restate its relevance and effectiveness in its global jihadist struggle with the Islamic State.
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 Antoun Issa for Al-Monitor on January 8

Lebanon’s economic outlook for 2015

The economic situation in Lebanon does not bode well for the coming year, but hope remains if governing political forces move away from the region's conflicts.
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 Sami Nader for Al-Monitor on January 9

Israelis wonder how Europe will change after Paris attack

Many Israelis think that the terror attack in Paris could be a watershed moment, when the Europeans have to change their human rights approach in the face of fighting radical Islamic terrorism.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on January 8

Palestinian officials give contradictory media statements

Senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub contradicted his colleague Saeb Erekat’s statements earlier in the week that the Palestinian Authority could be dissolved, raising questions over the PA’s communication strategy.
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 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on January 8

Egyptian town welcomes ban on Jewish festival

Egyptians are pleased with a court decision to ban the festival celebrating the birth of Rabbi Abu Hasira because, they say, security for it turned their village into a "military barracks."
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 Ayah Aman for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on January 8

Regional powers fighting proxy war in Libya

The world’s major powers are doing little to stop rival regional blocs from exacerbating the violence in Libya, despite having several UN Security Council resolutions at their disposal to help them do so.
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 Mustafa Fetouri for Al-Monitor on January 8

What's holding up Iran nuclear deal?

The US Congress must give diplomacy a real chance and not hinder nuclear negotiations with Iran.
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 Seyed Hossein Mousavian for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on January 7

Turkey's AKP pits Kurd against Kurd

Attempts by the leaders of Turkey's ruling party to cast a Kurdish Islamist party as an alternative to the PKK are raising serious questions and feeding old rivalries.
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 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on January 7

Why Israel's PA tax freeze will backfire

Israeli politicians cling to the assumption that punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority will create deterrence and prevent its leadership from diplomatic moves, not realizing that such an approach causes Israel strategic damage.
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 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on January 7

Egypt forces Brotherhood judges to retire

To rid the Egyptian judiciary system of any opposition party, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued three presidential decrees forcing Muslim Brotherhood judges to retire.
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 Reham Mokbel for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on January 7

Jordanians' response to executions mixed

Jordan’s execution of 11 prisoners last month took the kingdom by surprise and drew a mixed response, including among the royal family, with one prince criticizing it as a “step backward” for the country.
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 Elisa Oddone for Al-Monitor on January 7

Libya conflict threatens entire Maghreb

As Libya descends further into chaos, and the likelihood of any political or military intervention seems unlikely, the whole of North Africa is threatened with a Syria-Iraq style takeover by Islamic State militants.
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Translated from Al-Khaleej (U.A.E.) on January 7

Yemen falling out of Saudis' grasp

Saudi Arabia is struggling to form an effective Yemen strategy as its three main adversaries — the Shiite Houthis, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood — continue to dominate the Yemeni arena.
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 Ibrahim al-Hatlani for Al-Monitor on January 7

Islamic State rejected Gaza jihadists' offer of allegiance

A prominent pro-Islamic State Salafist leader in Gaza says the militant group refused pledges of allegiance from jihadists in Gaza because of disagreements and divisiveness among them.
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 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on January 7

Teenage suicide bomber hopes for second chance

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Usaid Barho, a teenaged suicide bomber dispatched by the Islamic State, tells of his odyssey from an Aleppo mosque to the gates of a Shiite house of worship in Baghdad wearing an explosive vest.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on January 6

PLO factions irked by Abbas’ unilateral decisions

Although the decision to join the International Criminal Court has been welcomed by all in the PLO, several factions are irritated that President Mahmoud Abbas was not consulting the PLO on such major decisions.
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 Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 6

Russia and the Kurds

Russia balances its relationships with various Kurdish groups with its support for the states the Kurds live under.
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 Vitaly Naumkin for Al-Monitor on January 5

Will next Saudi king seize opportunity for change?

The successor to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz needs to make real political reforms, whether pressured by citizens or not.
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 Madawi Al-Rasheed for Al-Monitor on January 5

Gaza Salafist leader: 'We are following Islamic State ideology'

Only a small number of Salafists from Gaza have traveled to Syria and died fighting for the Islamic State.
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 Mohammed Othman for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on January 6

Hezbollah starts 2015 facing setbacks

Hezbollah is set to face what could be an eventful year, after it has had a number of significant setbacks over the last few weeks.
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 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on January 5

Bombs, shells mark Aleppo’s new year

There were no signs of New Year's Eve celebrations in Aleppo’s rebel-held areas, as locals expressed their desire for the war to end.
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 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on January 5

Islamic State book burnings target minorities

The Islamic State has imposed strict conditions for books entering Iraq by land, confiscating all those related to Christianity and slowly destroying cultural pluralism in Iraqi society.
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 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor on January 6

Jordan to arm Sunni tribes in Iraq, Syria

Jordan is concerned airstrikes alone will not defeat the Islamic State threat, and is considering arming Sunni tribes in Iraq and Syria to prevent the jihadists from reaching its borders.
Read more»

Osama Al Sharif for Al-Monitor on January 5

Netanyahu’s threats won’t sway Abbas

The Israeli prime minister’s angry response to the Palestinian decision to sign the Rome Statute, including withholding Palestinian tax revenue, is unlikely to deter President Mahmoud Abbas from persisting with his plan for greater recognition of Palestine.
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 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on January 5

China planning Silk Road 2.0 through the Middle East

China wants to rebuild the Silk Road to bridge East and West across the Arab lands of the Middle East, but volatility in the region is an obstacle to investment and route selection.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Khaleej (U.A.E.) on January 5

Homs beginning to rise from the ashes

Residents are returning to Homs, and engineers are beginning the rehabilitation of its archaeological sites, churches and prominent mosques as the city struggles back to life.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 6

UNIFIL commander denies illegal weapons south of Litani

UNFIL's Gen. Luciano Portolano said that there is no indication that the Shebaa region is being infiltrated by jihadists from Syria.
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Translated from Al-Nahar (Lebanon) on January 5

Battles continue in Homs countryside

In the village of Mishirfeh, residents take up arms to resist Syrian rebels.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 4

Turkish, Greek warplanes tangle in mock dogfights over Aegean

The Aegean Sea overheated in 2014 because of frequent mock dogfights between Greek and Turkish warplanes, which require serious diplomacy and confidence-building measures to calm down.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on January 2

Iraqi town celebrates victory over Islamic State

The Iraqi army, with the help of local tribes and the pro-Iran Badr Brigades, drove out the Islamic State from Dhuluiya, a town north of Baghdad.
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 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on January 2

Daily life in Homs

Homs residents have adapted to the harsh conditions of daily life.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on January 4

Turkey's new legal definitions lead to increase in arrests

A new legal provision to facilitate police action against government opponents in Turkey has victimized scores of people in a short period of time.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on January 4

Rubio predicts no immediate vote on Iran sanctions

The new Republican Senate will likely start by demanding an up-or-down vote on any Iran nuclear deal, Sen. Marco Rubio tells NPR.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on December 31

Iran mourns general killed by IS in Iraq

Iranian Gen. Hamid Taghavi, killed in Iraq, played in important role in Iran's efforts in the country.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on December 31

Turkey's internal Kurdish tensions flare

Deep-rooted strains between secular-nationalist Kurds and Islamist Kurds may reignite in the wake of the civil war in Iraq and Syria.
Read more»

 Mustafa Akyol for Al-Monitor on December 31

Why the world doesn't see Palestine's suffering

The failed vote at the UN Security Council exposes the Palestinians' problem of conveying the daily suffering of life under Israeli occupation to the world.
Read more»

 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on December 31

Iraqi youths embrace religious traditions

In the historic towns of Babil and Karbala, religion has come to determine every aspect of social life.
Read more»

 Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on January 4

2015 promises showdown between Obama, Congress

With Republicans in control of both chambers, President Barack Obama will lose the ability to deal with Iran and Islamic State on his own terms.
Read more»

 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on December 31

Jerusalem's Arab bus drivers speak out

Jerusalem has seemingly calmed down after several weeks of unrest, but Arab bus drivers tell Al-Monitor that they are constantly subjected to insults and attacks by extremist Jewish passengers.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on December 30

Basra moving toward independence

It has become clear that Iraq is moving further toward division and disassociation, but how this federalism process would play out remains unclear.
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 Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor on December 30

Saudis work together to head off sectarian violence

The November attack against Saudi Shiites in al-Ahsa governorate drew unanimous condemnation from conservative Sunnis and Shiites alike, who are determined to prevent sectarian strife.
Read more»

 Bader al-Rashed for Al-Monitor on December 30

Iraq's 2 million IDPs struggling

The Islamic State’s offensive this year, and the subsequent conflict that has followed, has spawned nearly 2 million internally displaced persons, many of whom live in run-down, squalid refugee camps and are desperate for aid.
Read more»

 Sarah El-Rashidi for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on December 30

Corruption lets Iraqi criminals off the hook

Weak institutions and corruption mean that major crimes in Iraq are not being investigated or prosecuted.
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 Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on December 30

Lebanon's prime minister speaks out

As-Safir interviewed Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and discussed the presidential vacuum, negotiations surrounding oil and gas in Lebanon, environmental issues and kidnapped Lebanese soldiers.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on December 30

Iraq’s peaceful protests

Sit-ins in Sunni strongholds in Iraq have evolved from peaceful demonstrations into a political platform that politicians have taken advantage of.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on December 30

Iraqis bicker over liberating Mosul

Arab disputes over leadership and relations with Baghdad and the Kurds, as well as Kurdish disinterest in defending Sunni Arab territories, are complicating efforts to defeat the Islamic State in a highly fragmented Iraq.
Read more»

 Denise Natali for Al-Monitor on December 29

Ongoing instability hurts Yemeni businesses

The Yemeni economy continues its downward spiral, with Yemeni entrepreneurs finding it difficult to get financing for projects while the country’s political instability worsens.
Read more»

 A correspondent in Yemen for Al-Monitor on December 29

Village by village, Iraq pushes back against Islamic State

After the Islamic State took control of 45% of the country, Iraq's army, police and volunteer forces have been fighting hard to retake areas alongside their international allies. Many have died in the fighting, which was inching forward one small village at time.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on December 29

Algeria's winter of discontent

Algeria is facing economic challenges that largely depend on the price of oil, and therefore President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is pushing Saudi Arabia to cut its oil production to force up prices, which would benefit Algeria.
Read more»

 Bruce Riedel for Al-Monitor on December 29

Lebanon's dialogue aims to break deadlock

Lebanon has been mired in political and security strife for some time; however, new talks could lead to resolution of the major issues plaguing the Lebanese people.
Read more»

Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on December 29

Israel must address growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza

The Israeli leadership must realize that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza increases every day, and react appropriately despite the upcoming elections that might delay a solution by almost half a year.
Read more»

 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on December 29

Aleppo’s shelters become underground schools

After being bombed more than once, the basement of the Noor Al-Shuhadaa Mosque in Aleppo has turn into a school for many young Syrian boys and girls eager to learn.
Read more»

 Mohammed al-Khatieb for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on December 29

Syria threatened by food insecurity

The shelling of arable land during the Syrian conflict has forced farmers to flee abroad and left Syrians without enough wheat.
Read more»

Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on December 28

Kurds seek to fast-track peace process

To prevent things from getting out of hand in Turkey's peace process, both the government and the Kurds need to be acutely aware that they have much to lose from a total collapse of the talks.
Read more»

 Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor on December 26

Hezbollah, Future Movement eye presidency

Hezbollah and the Future Movement have begun a dialogue on filling Lebanon's presidency, offering some reason for hope.
Read more»

 Sami Nader for Al-Monitor on December 26

Kurdish Sinjar offensive too late for some Yazidis

Whatever the outcome of the battle of Sinjar, it will take a while for Yazidis to regain confidence in the peshmerga, whom they blame for abandoning the town to the Islamic State.
Read more»

 Fazel Hawramy for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on December 26

Larijani offers Iran's support in visit to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq

Head of Iran's parliament Ali Larijani traveled to Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, where he met with top religious and political officials.
Read more»

 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on December 24

Santa trumps Islamic State in Baghdad

Iraqi security officials are on high alert against Islamic State attacks during the holidays, but Iraqis appear to be going about business as usual.
Read more»

 Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor on December 24

The massacre Turkey hopes Alevis will forget

The government is obstructing memorial observances for the 1978 anti-Alevi massacre in Maras, hoping it will be forgotten.
Read more»

 Fehim Taştekin for Al-Monitor on December 24

Challenges ahead for Fatah

Fatah is preparing for its seventh congress to be held in January, which will provide it with an opportunity to clearly spell out its strategy to end Israel’s occupation and reinvigorate the movement with new blood.
Read more»

 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on December 24

Is Palestinian state only guarantee against Hamas?

The Israeli right fears the campaign has moved from the “Iran nuke danger” to “Hamas’ takeover of the West Bank,” ignoring regional concerns for Israel’s security and aligning with their wish to avoid Hamas empowerment.
Read more»

 Akiva Eldar for Al-Monitor on December 24

Israeli expert: 'cyberspace has become a battlefield'

In an interview with Al-Monitor, the head of the INSS Cyber Security Program, Gabi Siboni, states that after the recent hacking of Sony Pictures, Western countries should consider cyberattacks as a real threat to their sovereignty.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on December 23

IS, Assad, Iran dominated 2014 on Capitol Hill

A look back at the Middle East issues Congress tackled over the past year.
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 Julian Pecquet for Al-Monitor on December 24

Baghdad's 'blind eye' leads to IS routs in Anbar

The Islamic State continues to extend its control in Anbar as the Iraqi army falls back.
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 Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on December 23

Qatar's Egypt reconciliation embarrasses Erdogan

Doha’s moves to improve ties with Egypt deal a fresh blow to Erdogan’s seemingly futile efforts to isolate Sisi internationally.
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 Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor on December 23

Kurds draw pride from defense of Kobani

Al-Monitor's visit to the besieged Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani found Kurdish fighters optimistic about their chances of reclaiming the town and expelling Islamic State forces.
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 Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor on December 23

France waters down Arab draft resolution on Palestine

There are stark differences between the French and Arab UN Security Council draft resolutions on Palestine.
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 Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor on December 23

Catholic leader: time to move past mistakes in Syria

Andrea Riccardi, head and founder of the Sant'Egidio community in Rome, says Aleppo could become a blueprint for peace in the region.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on December 23

US to accept thousands of Syrian refugees for resettlement

The low number of Syrian refugees accepted so far by the United States, attributable in part to Germany and Sweden offering to "take a lot," will increase significantly in 2015, a US State Department official says.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on December 22

WikiLeaks sheds light on Turkey’s mysterious ‘Annotators’

Were the "Annotators" really terrorists connected to al-Qaeda? Or were they victims of a conspiracy by the “parallel state”? WikiLeaks offers some hints.
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 Mustafa Akyol for Al-Monitor on December 22

Obama: Diplomacy with Iran has restrained nuclear program

US President Barack Obama says that since the start of the nuclear talks with Iran, it is "probably the first year-and-a-half in which Iran has not advanced its nuclear program in the last decade."
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 Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on December 22

Lebanon, Argentina arrive at consensus over 1992 attack

Lebanese and Argentine officials recently discussed the 1992 suicide bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, with both sides arriving at the conclusion that Lebanon held no responsibility.
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 Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor on December 22

Under crackdown, Turkish media close ranks

Under government attack, Gulenist journalists are seeking support from colleagues whose imprisonment they once supported, warning that they could be next.
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 Sibel Utku Bila for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse on December 22

Syrian regime pursues draft dodgers

The Syrian regime is imposing tough new measures to prevent young men in regime-held areas from avoiding military conscription.
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 A correspondent in Damascus for Al-Monitor on December 22

Egypt, Hezbollah improve relations

In light of an Iranian-Egyptian rapprochement, Hezbollah and Cairo seem to be getting closer after a standstill following Egypt's June 30 revolution.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on December 22

Responding to the Islamic State with music

Rhetorical songs are becoming an increasingly popular way to resist the Islamic State's brutality.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on December 22

Critics condemn AKP's tough police overhaul proposals

For some, the AKP-drafted internal security legislation is needed to preserve Turkey's public order; for others it is a chaos package that will allow arbitrary action by the state.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on December 19

Can Israel, Palestine exist in one space?

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Dan Goldenblatt, co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, presents his vision of two states in one space, arguing that this proposed solution could be accepted by both the Israeli right and the Palestinians.
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 Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor on December 19

Iraqi volunteers' victories don't justify atrocities

The popular mobilization, which is formed of Shiite volunteers to fight the Islamic State, has been both sanctified and demonized in Iraqi media, in light of its success in warding off IS from certain cities, while at the same time committing violations on the battlefield.
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 Mustafa al-Kadhimi for Al-Monitor on December 22

Jabhat al-Nusra deals Syrian regime major blow in Idlib

Jabhat al-Nusra’s seizure of the two camps of al-Hamidiyya and Wadi al-Daif in Idlib province from the Syrian army’s control is an important victory for the al-Qaeda branch, as it continues to consolidate its control over Idlib.
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Mustafa al-Haj for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on December 19

Hamas scores diplomatic victory in Europe

Senior Hamas officials run a department in Gaza whose sole mission is to have the movement removed from terror lists.
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 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on December 19

Syrian authorities halt ferries to Turkey

It’s become even harder for Syrians to flee the war-ravaged country after Syrian authorities stopped the ferry service between Tartus and the Turkish port city of Mersin.
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 A correspondent in Damascus for Al-Monitor on December 19

Why won't Hamas label Islamic State as terrorists?

Hamas officials say the word “terrorism” is a politicized Western term and there is no international consensus, which is why it won’t label the Islamic State a terrorist group.
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 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on December 19

Sisi amends traffic laws to curb fatal road accidents

Dangerous drivers face harsher sanctions with amendments to Egypt's traffic law in light of increasing road accidents.
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 Muhammad Ghamrawy for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on December 21

Why should Iran accept US presence in Afghanistan?

Iran has an interest in keeping a military presence in Afghanistan to keep its enemy the Taliban in check, and should drop its rhetoric against US troops being stationed there for much of the same objectives.
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 Alex Vatanka for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse on December 19

Is an Algerian uprising near?

Some believe that recent Algerian protests of unfair wealth distribution could spawn a violent uprising.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on December 18

Iraqis wage new battle for freedoms

A controversial draft law that curbs freedoms of expression and assembly has been resubmitted to the Iraqi parliament, sparking a wave of criticism from activists and civil society organizations.
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 Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on December 18

Israel exiles nonviolent Palestinian activists

Five Palestinian community activists in Jerusalem were surprised to learn they had been temporarily exiled from their city by Israeli authorities without being provided a reason.
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 Charlie Hoyle for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on December 18

Egypt universities outsource security

Falcon Group International, a private contractor, is responsible for security in 12 Egyptian universities, but its presence has sparked controversy among students and administrators alike.
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 Amr Abdelatty for Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse on December 18

Are Israeli voters worried more about security or the economy?

Some Israeli left-wing politicians have hinted lately that the reported attack on Syria well serves Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party ahead of the elections, shifting public focus away from an economic agenda back to security threats.
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 Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor on December 18

As Yemen changes, Russia's position stays the same

While Yemen has undergone upheaval, Russia has remained focused on containing Sunni Islamic extremism.
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 Paul J. Saunders for Al-Monitor on December 17

Who keeps bombing the French Cultural Center in Gaza?

The French Cultural Center in Gaza has been targeted twice in two months, raising suspicions about who is behind the attacks, since the center is located near Hamas security headquarters and the unity government's Interior Ministry.
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 Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor on December 17

Expanding defense budgets feed fears of Middle East arms race

A new report on arms-producing companies offers insight into the Middle East, where military experts say the armament race is likely to continue at an increasing pace.
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 Metin Gurcan for Al-Monitor on December 17

Hamas asks Iran for money, weapons

A senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran last week to ask Iran to resume its financial and military aid to the beleaguered Palestinian Islamist movement.
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 Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on December 17

After Damascus talks, Moscow pressures Syria

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov’s Dec. 10-11 visit to Damascus and increased contact with Turkey signal a shift in Russian-Syrian relations as Moscow looks for a political solution.
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 A correspondent in Beirut for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse on December 17

Sanctions, sabotage, science delay Iran's missile program

Experts say Iran’s missile program should not be an impediment to a comprehensive nuclear deal, but that Iran should be encouraged to keep its pledges not to build long-range ballistic missiles.
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 Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor on December 17

How foreign imams radicalized Syria's war

When eastern Aleppo fell to rebel factions, radical preachers from abroad quickly moved in and began proselytizing extremist views to the local population, raising fears that such effects may linger for years to come.
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Edward Dark for Al-Monitor on December 17

Baghdad struggles in its role as mediator

The Iraqi government is still struggling to present itself as a neutral intermediary between the various sectarian and regional forces, while the United States has started talks with Sunni parties on security cooperation.
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 Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse on December 17

Hamas official confirms Qassam rocket tests

Hamas' testing of Qassam rockets points to the movement's failure to draw the right conclusions or lessons from its last confrontation with Israel.
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 Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor on December 17

De Mistura: Aleppo freeze could be applied elsewhere

In an interview with Al-Hayat, UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks about his efforts to reach a "freeze" agreement in Aleppo, and says that such a plan would not be a precursor for a division of the country.
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Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) on December 17

PA all talk, no action on Abu Ein’s death

The PA’s tough statements in the aftermath of Ziad Abu Ein’s death appear nothing more than hot air, as it has refused to follow through with its threats to cut security coordination with Israel or accelerate steps to join international conventions.
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 Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse on December 16

Iran warned Australia about Sydney attacker

Sydney hostage-taker Man Haron Monis had long been wanted by Iran for fraud.
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 Arash Karami for Al-Monitor on December 16

Mothers of missing Syrians look for answers

Thousands of Syrians remain missing, either abducted by armed groups or held in government prisons, leaving their anguished families distraught.
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Khaled Atallah for Al-Monitor Syria Pulse on December 16

Jabhat al-Nusra, IS clash in Daraa

As Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State continue to openly clash in many areas of Syria, the fate of the two groups in the Western Qalamoun is uncertain. If they come to blows, Daraa and western Qalamoun risk becoming engulfed.
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Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon) on December 16