Blog entries from: MEI Editor's Blog

A Blog by the Editor of the Middle East Journal

1 to 10 of 362

October 1 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Oct 1 2014, 17:52:00

Here are two prescriptions for Syrian policy, both by veteran Middle East analysts who know the turf, but arriving at vastly different conclusions.

Longtime Beirut-based journalist Michael Young, writing at the Now website, offers "Toward a Syrian endgame? The anti-ISIS campaign may lead to an Assad exit."

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From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Oct 1 2014, 17:27:00

Via Karl Sharro, some Middle East historical humor:

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September 30 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Sep 30 2014, 22:17:00

 Hafez Makhlouf, cousin of Bashar al-Asad and until recentlyhead of the General Security Directorate's Damascus branch, has now been reported as having moved to Belarus. Besides being a maternal cousin of the President, he is also the brother of Rami Makhlouf, who, as I mentioned the other day, is the richest man in Syria and the moneyman for the regime.

Earlier this month, after reports that Hafez Makhlouf had been fired from his security job circulated, regime sources reported that he had not been fired but promoted from colonel to general, and was in line for a new job. The move to Belarus would suggest that was not the case. Is there dissent within the extended Asad/Makhlouf families?

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From MEI Editor's Blog Tue Sep 30 2014, 20:48:00

Turkey's standoffish approach to the coalition campaign against ISIS appears to be rapidly eroding as the fighting increasingly engages direct Turkish security interests.  The Turkish government has asked the Grand National Assembly (Parliament) to approve possible intervention in both Iraq and Syria, and the government has indicated this could include opening Turkish bases to foreign troops or aircraft; in recent days Turkey has increased troop levels along the border and has deployed tanks on a hill on the border overlooking the ongoing battle at Kobanê, where a huge flow of refugees have already poured into Turkey. Parliament, which is dominated by the ruling AKP, will debate the issue Thursday. But since the reluctant party in Turkey has been the AKP itself, it seems likely ...

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September 29 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Sep 29 2014, 23:47:00

This is one of the official photos from the opening of the Fourth Caspian Sea Summit in Astrakhan.

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From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Sep 29 2014, 23:19:00

My very old friend Hisham Melhem  ("very old" in the sense of friends for a very long time, since graduate school, not in the geriatric sense, since he's a couple of years younger than I am), the Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Arabiya, is a veteran Arab journalist in Washington; in fact, the very first post on this blog dealt with his interview with President Obama just days after his first inauguration, the first granted to an Arab journalist.

He has had a series of rather gloomy columns of late at Al-Arabiya, including one that has drawn US attention because it appeared at Politico: "The Barbarians within Our Gates: Arab civilization has collapsed. It won't recover in my lifetime."

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September 26 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Fri Sep 26 2014, 08:52:00

In July and August, I posted a lengthy series of posts dealing with the seizure of Turkish dreadnoughts by the Royal Navy on the eve of the European war in 1914 (see here), the flight of the German battle cruiser and cruiser Goeben and Breslau to Constantinople and their incorporation in the Turkish fleet, and the secret German Treaty of Alliance between the Ottoman Empire and the German Reich (Part I; Part I; Part III; and Part IV). Even at the end of all that, Turkey maintained its officially neutral status, despite its Navy now being under German officers. Throughout September, as Turkey mobilized, the Western powers continued to believe that Turkey's allegiance was still undetermined. No one was eager to force the issue, since the Turkish Straits were Russia's lifeline.

Early in ...

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September 25 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Sep 25 2014, 19:48:00

Egyptian President Sisi's visit to New York for the General Assemblynhas seen him openly supporting the anti-ISIS colition (though has anyone noticed that ISIS spelled backwards is ...oh, never mind). And despite continuing anti-American conspiracy theories in Egyptian media, the US and Egypt seem to be one big happy family again:

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