Annelle Sheline

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Warships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France participate in joint military exercises from Aug. 26 to 28 south of Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean sea. (Greek Defense MiniStry/AP)

Last weekend, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that Greece engage in talks over escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, warning that “they’re either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or in the field with painful experiences.” The Greek government, meanwhile, announced further steps this week to bolster the country’s defenses.

New tensions between the two longtime rivals flared up in mid-August, when Turkey deployed the research vessel Oruç Reis, flanked by two warships, to explore for oil and gas in contested waters between the islands of Crete and Cyprus. Greece accused Turkey of violating its sovereign rights — and dispatched warships of its own, precipitating a collision between a Greek frigate and a Turkish warship.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muslim clerics from around the world gathered in Morocco in January 2016 to draft the Marrakesh Declaration on religious tolerance. A reaction to the Islamic State’s highly public brutalization of religious minorities, the document harked back to the prophet Muhammad’s constitution of Medina, which enshrined the rights of non-Muslims in the first Muslim community in 622 CE.

While sponsors presented the declaration as an official form of moderate Islam to counter extremism, other domestic and international political goals also drove it. My interviews with government officials and religious leaders in the Middle East shed light on the murky politics surrounding regimes’ strategic use of “moderate” Islam.…  Seguir leyendo »