Alastair Crooke

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El ISIS como chivo expiatorio

Luchar contra el llamado Estado Islámico (ISIS, en sus siglas en inglés), según la versión que circula en Occidente y en los Estados suníes del Golfo, está empezando a ser visto como algo “abiertamente sectario”, como escribió en el Financial Timesel comentarista sobre Siria, con base en Washington, Hassan Hassan. Los combates en Faluya y la previsible batalla para hacerse con Raqa, observó, “ofrecen al ISIS la oportunidad de presentarse como custodio de lo suní, especialmente en Irak, donde se ha establecido como el único grupo de militancia suní capaz de hacer frente a las tropas que apoyan a un Gobierno dominado por chiíes”.…  Seguir leyendo »

On examining the US assessment of Syria's alleged chemical weapons use, Vladimir Putin's top foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said: "What was presented to us by the Americans does not look convincing. It would be hard to even call them facts."

Unwelcome as it may be to the French and British governments, who have been leading the push for this finding, he is right. The White House statement says that laboratory analyses of samples "reveal exposure to sarin" (which the NY Times reports amounts to two individuals, who have been shown to have traces of the agent sarin in their bodies), but then goes on to add the qualifier that "each positive result indicates that an individual was exposed to sarin, but it does not tell us how or where the individuals were exposed, or who was responsible for the dissemination".…  Seguir leyendo »

This summer a senior Saudi official told John Hannah, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, that from the outset of the upheaval in Syria, the king has believed that regime change would be highly beneficial to Saudi interests: "The king knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria."

This is today's "great game" – losing Syria. And this is how it is played: set up a hurried transitional council as sole representative of the Syrian people, irrespective of whether it has any real legs inside Syria; feed in armed insurgents from neighbouring states; impose sanctions that will hurt the middle classes; mount a media campaign to denigrate any Syrian efforts at reform; try to instigate divisions within the army and the elite; and ultimately President Assad will fall – so its initiators insist.…  Seguir leyendo »

“This is language that we have not heard since the time of Gamal Abdul Nasser.” Thus wrote the influential chief editor of Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, referring to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fiery response to the Israeli assault on the Gaza flotilla — adding that such “manly” positions and rhetoric had “disappeared from the dictionaries of our Arab leaders.” He lamented that “Arab regimes now represent the only friends left to Israel.”

There is no doubt that it is President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Nasser’s successor, to whom the editor, Abdel Bari Atwan, principally refers. There is no doubt, too, that the “flotilla affair” marks a watershed for Egypt — and to a lesser extent for Saudi Arabia.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Saturday evening, Israel announced not a ceasefire - in the sense of an agreement between the parties to end a conflict - but a decision that its forces will unilaterally halt their fire. It said it would await the Hamas response, any timetable for a withdrawal of Israeli forces being contingent on an end to rocket fire from Gaza.

Yesterday, the resistance movements in Gaza, including Hamas, unilaterally announced a cessation of military action for one week, by the end of which time they demand that all Israeli forces should have departed Gaza. Implicit in this initiative is the threat that, were they to fail to leave within seven days, Hamas and the other groups would resume the firing of rockets into Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

The French philosopher Michel Foucault notes that in all societies discourse is controlled - imperceptibly constrained, perhaps, but constrained nonetheless. We are not free to say exactly what we like. The norms set by institutions, convention and our need to keep within the boundaries of accepted behaviour and thought limit what may be touched upon. The Archbishop of Canterbury experienced the backlash from stepping outside these conventions when he spoke about aspects of Islamic law that might be imported into British life.

Once, a man was held to be mad if he strayed from this discourse - even if his utterings were credited with revealing some hidden truth.…  Seguir leyendo »