January 28, 2021

IS and the Incoherence of Western Policy

Fathom Journal, October 2014 Western bombing of targets in the area controlled by the Islamic State (IS) organisation has commenced. US and allied planes have struck at both military and infrastructural targets in the area controlled by the IS and have had an impact. There are two main problems for Western policy-makers; the first tactical, the second strategic. The first problem is that the West has no ground assets in Syria capable of destroying the IS, but the West also hopes to avoid … [Read more...]

The Shia-Sunni War Reaches Lebanon

Jerusalem Post, 17/10 Hezbollah is under pressure as the consequences of its ongoing intervention in Syria have come back to bite the terrorist organization. There are increasing indications that the sectarian war raging in Iraq and Syria is now moving irrevocably into Lebanon. The Shi’ite group is currently seeking to shore up its legitimacy by reminding its constituents, and other Lebanese citizens, of the role that gains it the most domestic sympathy – resistance against Israel. … [Read more...]

War Across the Borders

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

It has become a commonplace to claim that the unrest in the Arab world is challenging the state borders laid down in the Arab world following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. This claim, however, is only very partially valid. It holds true in a specific section of the Middle East, namely the contiguous land area stretching from Iran’s western borders to the Mediterranean Sea, and taking in the states currently known as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In this area, a single sectarian … [Read more...]

War Across the Borders – One Sectarian War in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon

Saudi army in Jizan before war against the Houthis, November 2009.

A single sectarian war is currently under way across the Middle East.  This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others.  Its most intensive arena is the single land area taking in the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.  But this conflict is also manifest further afield – in Bahrain, in north Yemen, to some degree also in Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.    The core powers on each of the sides are the Islamic Republic of Iran for the Shia, and the … [Read more...]

Meanwhile on Israel’s Lebanese Border

Israel-Lebanon border

On December 15, an Israeli jeep was driving along the Israel-Lebanese border near the coast, in a quiet area, which hadn’t seen war for decades. Suddenly a shot rang out. A warrant officer fell dead, but he wasn't killed by a "terrorist." Apparently he had been shot by a uniformed soldier of the Lebanese army. Let's consider this situation under the America's supposed security protection of Israel. Is Lebanon going to court martial this soldier? Is the United States going to demand that he … [Read more...]

Lebanon Shaken by Car Bomb in Dahiyeh


Jerusalem Post, 12/7. A car bomb exploded on Tuesday of this week in the Bir al-Abed neighborhood of south Beirut. At least 53 people were wounded. There were no fatalities. The bomb left a crater 2 meters deep. Bir al-Abed is situated in the heart of the Dahiyeh section of the city – home to the headquarters of Hizballah and the place of residence of many of its most senior cadres. A little known Syrian rebel group, the ‘Brigade 313 Special Forces’ has claimed responsibility for the … [Read more...]

Saudi Arabia/United States: Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East


What is the difference between Saudi and U.S. policy in the Arabic-speaking Middle East? It’s complex but fascinating and if you can understand the weird twists and turns in this situation you can understand the Middle East. While the two countries may appear aligned in fact–and often when they have the same goals–their policies differ extensively. And the Saudis are not always wrong. Arguably, they are pursuing their own interests more effectively than is the United States. The Saudis … [Read more...]

The Demise of the Anti-Israel Card


For decades in the Middle East the most reliable political tool often seemed to be the Israel card, the idea that by condemning Israel, blaming it for the Arab world’s problems, and claiming that those who were insufficiently militant on the issue were traitors. But the Israel card doesn’t work anymore, at least not in the way it used to do so. True, the rise of revolutionary Islamism has focused more hatred against Israel. Yet at the same time—and this analogy is imperfect—it is less … [Read more...]

Snapshots from the Real Middle East


These are all personal observations, selected from a much longer personal list: –The Palestinian Christian man is desperate. Can I help him get out of the country? He’s scared of the Islamists. Can I help him  get his son to university in America? The situation is intolerable. Something is worked out with a little help from me. –The Druze woman is desperate. She has  a boyfriend her family doesn’t approve of. With help from some Israelis she is smuggled to a safe place. –The … [Read more...]

Why Israel Hit a Syria-Hizballah Convoy: Danger of Deadly Nerve Gas in Hands of Terrorist Organization


It has been reported that a number of Israeli planes flew over Lebanon and attacked a convoy near the Syrian-Lebanese border. The fact that this comes shortly after Hizballah and Syrian forces had moved in growing numbers toward known chemical weapons' storage areas implies that the Syrian regime was in the act of shipping chemical weapons to the Lebanese Shia Islamist group (which also happens to dominate the Lebanese government and to be involved in a lot of anti-Israel terrorism) Hizballah. … [Read more...]