Blog entries from: MEI Editor's Blog

A Blog by the Editor of the Middle East Journal

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October 25 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Sat Oct 25 2014, 00:31:00

On Sunday, Tunisia will go to the pollsto elect its second legislative body since the Revolution and its first inder the new constitution.That alone deserves attention. Though technically, Libya has already held two Parliamentary elections since Arab Spring, the second resulted in two governments,  one of which is on a ship in Tobruk. This election ,ay be imperfect, but it offers hope,

The Al-Nahda (Ennahda) Islamist party held a plurality in the previous government but yielded power for new elections. As was not the case in 2011, the secularist sides that have dominated much of Tunisia's post-independence history are better organized to compete with Ennahda, which has lost some support to more radical groups (and Tunisia is reportedly the largest dource of foreign fighters to ISIS). ...

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October 24 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Fri Oct 24 2014, 20:57:00

This report notes the US is moving ahead with the idea of creating a new Syrian resistance movement from the ground up to fight ISIS. This has been discussed for  couple of weeks now, and the decisioin seems to have been to address the problem of a fragmented, factionalized opposition by creating yet another faction. We're being warned it will take 18 months or more.

Meanwhile, in case no one noticed, just as we were stepping up air strikes in Syria, so was the Asad regime, reportedly striking 210 targets in just 36 hours, suggesting a sortie rate many would have thought the Syrian Air Force incapable of achieving. That probably includes barrel-bombs dropped from helicopters. But of course, many of the targets are Free Syrian Army targets, not ISIS, and it may be that while the world ...

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From MEI Editor's Blog Fri Oct 24 2014, 19:37:00

At Al-Monitor, Arash Kamani notes in "All Eyes on Soleimani," the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander of the al-Quds Force for overseas operations, Gen. Qasim Suleimani, was the darling of the Iranian media during a recent return to Tehran. Earlier his exploits against ISIS in Iraq had similarly received star treatment in the media. As Kamani Western media may have to find a new adjective to replace "shadowy" for Suleimani, now that he's a media superstar.

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October 23 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Oct 23 2014, 20:08:00

This picture of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei appeared on the Facebook Page of al-'Ahed News, one of Hizbullah's outlets:

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From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Oct 23 2014, 17:50:00

As Matthew Barber recently noted at Syria Comment, the Islamic State's English magazine Dabiq, which we've discussed here before,  has not only acknowledged enslaving Yazidi women, but has justified it. The article in Dabiq's issue 4 is entitled "The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour." Besides spending many paragraphs defending enslaving and selling women, they conclude, "May Allah bless this Islamic State with the revival of other aspects of the religion at its hands."

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October 22 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Oct 22 2014, 08:38:00

By late October 1914, it was increasingly clear that the Ottoman Empire was going to join the Great War on the side of the Central Powers, Germany and Austria. Since the closing of the Straits to the Triple Entente Powers on September 26, the Ottoman Government was already in violation of treaties, but throughout October the Allies tread lightly in hopes that Turkey might not come in formally.

I will be dealing in coming days with the war plans and key strategic interests and objectives of each side. But I want to begin with a particularly quirky situation: the highly anomalous legal position of Egypt.

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October 21 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Oct 21 2014, 14:15:00

On October 21, 1914, a hundred years ago today, a young, 26-year-old Oxford scholar, linguist, sometime archaeologist and former clandestine intelligence officer, reported for a new job in the Cartographic Section of MO4, the Geographical Division of the Imperial General Staff at Horse Guards, Whitehall. It was a civilian job and designed to be temporary, but it was beginning of his role in the Great War.

His name was Thomas Edward Lawrence.

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From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Oct 21 2014, 08:55:00

BBC map showing Tal Shair

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October 20 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Oct 20 2014, 23:03:00

Since the Huthi (or Houthi) Zaydi movement took control of Sana'a', they have moved stedily to occupy much of what was one (before 1990) North Yemen, recently taking the port city of Hodeida and other Sunni areas.

As a result, the separatist movemnt in what was once South Yemen, al-Harik al-Jnubi ("the Southern Movement," but usually just called Harik) has been pressing for a separation. On October 14 (the date South Yemen launched its struggle against British rule in 1963) the movement held a big rally in Aden, demanding separation by November 30, the date former South Yemen won independence in 1967.

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