On Jan. 21, days before the fifth anniversary of Egypt’s fabled revolution, police in Cairo raided a slum in the crowded Ahram neighborhood. Booby-trapped bombs went off in a scene more reminiscent of Fallujah, Iraq, than Egypt’s capital. Six officers and three civilians were killed, and an entire floor of the mid-size apartment block was leveled. The bombing was the latest in a string of attacks claimed by a new Islamic State group that calls itself “Misr” — or “Egypt” in Arabic.
The Misr network is an ominously peculiar militant creation. It is not designated as an official “province,” an Islamic State-controlled territory, or wilaya, like the group’s Sinai and Libyan counterparts.… Seguir leyendo »
When the current resurgence of fighting eventually dies down again and both sides are brought back to the negotiating table, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will have two paths before him to bring an end to the four-week-old conflict in Gaza. He can agree to a shortsighted and surely only temporary truce by partly giving in to Hamas’s demands, as in previous deals. Or he can tackle the two core issues fueling the violence by demanding that Palestinian militants disarm once and for all — in exchange for lifting the economically crippling blockade.
Israel isn’t the only player in the region that wants to disarm Hamas.… Seguir leyendo »
For the past two weeks the Syrian conflict has put the Jewish state on an emotional roller coaster. It began with the massive chemical attack which occurred four hours’ drive from Tel Aviv and continued with the debate over military intervention which prompted Bashar al-Assad and his allies to threaten retaliation against Israel.
The Assad regime, Hezbollah and their loyalists in Gaza have tens of thousands of rockets pointed at Israel, with the trigger for much of that arsenal located in Tehran. Combine that with Assad’s apparent willingness to gas his own capital and you’ve got enough of a threat to send Israelis scrambling to grab gas masks and ready their bomb shelters.… Seguir leyendo »
After two years of increasing violence along its border with Syria, Turkey would be within its rights to go to war with the Assad regime. On May 11, top officials in Ankara blamed one of the worst terrorist attacks in their country’s history squarely on Damascus. The car bombs that killed more than 50 people in the town of Reyhanli marked the second such attack near the border and were preceded by numerous incidents of cross-border shelling, the alleged downing of a Turkish warplane last June, and an unprecedented refugee crisis in Turkish territory.
The spillover of violence and the flood of refugees isn’t just a side effect of the Syrian conflict — it is a core component of the Assad regime’s strategy to deter its neighbors from intervening in its deadly crackdown on rebels.… Seguir leyendo »
Not more than two years ago, the concept of reform in Saudi Arabia would have been as much an oxymoron as business ethics or airline cuisine. In recent months, however, the Arab Spring’s uncertain winds of change have finally begun to sweep into the world’s last forbidden kingdom. Finding themselves alone in a crowd (of revolution) in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s monarchs are quickly realizing that their secret police and petrodollars may be no match for their citizens’ technology-driven empowerment.
On March 1, Saudi security forces cracked down on a woman-led protest in the city of Buraidah, known as the nerve center of Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative Wahabbist ideology.… Seguir leyendo »
“The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.” Henry Kissinger’s observation, made during the Vietnam War, should be haunting Hezbollah, the Middle East’s most capable guerrilla force, as it becomes embroiled in an increasingly costly effort to save the Assad regime.
In a meticulously planned operation in October, units linked to the Free Syrian Army in the city of Qusayr near the Lebanon border killed Ali Hussein Nassif, who was quickly exposed as commander of all Hezbollah forces in Syria. His death shed light on the extent of the group’s involvement in the conflict.… Seguir leyendo »