Ramzy Baroud

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As much of the Middle East sinks deeper into division between competing political camps, the Islamic State militant group continues its unhindered march toward a twisted version of a Muslim caliphate. Many thousands have lost their lives, some in the most torturous ways, so that Islamic State may realize its nightmarish dream.

Of course, violence meted out by Islamic State is hardly an anomaly, considering that the group was spawned in a predominantly violent environment. It is difficult to imagine, for example, that, if the Syrian regime and its opposition had sought a political solution from the early days of the uprising, Islamic State would have found a stable foothold for itself in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

A dispossessed Palestinian advises a refugee from Syria

Whenever the word “refugee” is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and “cleansing” of the Palestinian Arab population from historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.

Back then, Zarefah was 6. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. She collected scrap metal to survive.

My grandmother, Mariam, would venture out to the “death zone” that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges.…  Seguir leyendo »

When the bodies of three Israeli settlers — Aftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 — were found on June 30 near Hebron in the southern West Bank, Israel went into a state of mourning, and a wave of sympathy flowed in from around the world. The three had disappeared 18 days earlier in circumstances that remain unclear.

The entire episode seemed to traumatize Israelis into ignoring harsh truths about the settlers and the militarization of their society. Amid a portrayal of the three as hapless youths, although one was a 19-year-old who had been in a pre-miliary program, commentators have failed to provide badly needed context to the events.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Iraq stands on the verge of a complete breakdown into sectarian states, former leading neoconservative and Iraq war advocate Richard Perle had made a sudden appearance on Newsmax TV. His statements in the interview were yet another testament to the intellectual degeneration of a group that had once promised a “new Middle East” — only to destabilize the region with violent consequences that continue to reverberate until this day.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which didn’t exist at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, has seized large swaths of Syria and, along with a brewing Sunni rebellion, stands in control of large chunks of western, northern and central Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

Labeiki ya Zaynab,” chanted Iraqi Shiite fighters as they swayed, dancing with their rifles before TV cameras in Baghdad on June 13. They were getting ready for a difficult fight ahead. For them, it seemed that a suitable war chant would be answering the call of Zaynab, the daughter of Imam Ali, the great Muslim caliph who lived in Medina 14 centuries ago. That was the period through which the Shiite sect slowly emerged, based on a political dispute whose consequences are still felt until this day.

That chant alone is enough to demonstrate the ugly sectarian nature of the war in Iraq, which has reached an unprecedented high point in recent days.…  Seguir leyendo »

For years, Palestinian factions have strived for unity, and for years unity has evaded them. Is it possible that following several failed attempts, Fatah and Hamas have finally found that elusive middle ground? And if they have done so, why, to what end, and at what cost?

On April 23, top Fatah and Hamas officials hammered out the final details of the Beach Refugee Camp agreement without any Arab mediation. All major grievances have purportedly been smoothed over, differences have been abridged and other sensitive issues have been referred to a specialized committee. One of these committees will be entrusted to incorporate Hamas and the Islamic Jihad into the fold of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry couldn’t hide his frustration anymore as the U.S.-sponsored peace process continued to falter. After eight months of wrangling to push talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority forward, he admitted while in a visit to Morocco on April 4 that the latest setback had served as a “reality check” for the peace process. But confining that reality check to the peace process is hardly representative of the painful reality through which the United States has been forced to subsist during the last few years.

The state of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, but also around the world, cannot be described with any buoyant language.…  Seguir leyendo »

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hurried to his helicopter ready to take off at the end of a visit to Iraq last year, it was becoming clearer that the Americans had lost control of a country they wished to mold to their liking. Kerry’s departure on March 24 was the conclusion of a surprise visit meant to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A decade earlier the United States had stormed Baghdad, unleashing a brutal, long conflict. Since then, Iraq has not ceased to bleed.

Kerry offered nothing of value on that visit, save the same predictable cliches about Iraq’s supposedly successful democracy, as a testament to some imagined triumph of American values.…  Seguir leyendo »

2013 was unexpectedly a terrible year for several Arab nations because the promise of greater freedoms and political reforms was reversed, most violently in some instances, by taking a few countries down the path of anarchy and complete chaos. Syria and Egypt are two cases in point.

Syria has been hit the hardest. For months, the United Nations has maintained that over 100,000 people have been killed in the 33 months of conflict. More recently, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights concluded that at least 125,835, of which more than third of them are civilians, have been killed.

The U.N.’s…  Seguir leyendo »

The warm waters of the Persian Gulf look quiet from where I am sitting, but such tranquility hardly reflects the conflicts this region continues to generate. The euphoria of the so-called Arab Spring is long gone, but what remains is a region that is rich with resources and burdened with easily manipulated history that is in a state of reckless transition. No one can see what the future will look like, but the possibilities are ample, and possibly tragic.

In my many visits to the region, I have never encountered such a lack of clarity regarding the future, despite the fact that battle lines have been drawn like never before.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Oct. 12, tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Eden in the south of the country, mostly demanding secession from the north. The date is significant, for it marks the 1967 independence of South Yemen, ending several decades of British colonialism. But for nearly five decades since then, Yemen has tried to find political stability, a semblance of economic prosperity and, most importantly, its national identity.

It has been two years and nine months since a large protest in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, initiated what was quickly named the Yemeni revolution, igniting media frenzy that Yemen had officially joined the so-called Arab Spring.…  Seguir leyendo »

“The revolution is dead. Long live the revolution,” wrote Eric Walberg, a Middle East political expert and author, shortly after the Egyptian military overthrew the country’s democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi on July 3.

But more accurately, the revolution was killed in an agonizingly slow death, and the murders were too many to count.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a liberal elitist with a dismal track record in service of Western powers during his glamorous career as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a stark example of the moral and political crisis that has befallen Egypt since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.…  Seguir leyendo »