July 25, 2014

SYRIA’S SILENT WEAPONS

Components of a modern smallpox vaccination kit including the diluent, a vial of Dryvax vaccinia vaccine, and a bifurcated needle.

PDF version available here   The decommissioning of Syria’s vast chemical weapon arsenal has brought its weapons of mass destruction into the media spotlight. Far less attention has been paid to Syria’s admitted biological warfare program, one of the largest in the Middle East today. While Asad’s chemical weapons have been monitored for decades, biological weapons are silent weapons. There are no identifying heat signatures, no activities such as mixing precursor materials … [Read more...]

IN THE ARENA OF THE ZU’AMA – REVIEWING HIZBALLAHʼS ROLE IN LEBANON

Hizballah Anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda  ("Exhibition of the Lebanese resistance") Baalbek, Lebanon.

PDF version available here   Hizballah is usually defined as an Iranian group whose origins are found within the Shi’a and Iranian traditions. In this paper, however, we examine the activity of Hizballah as a Lebanese za’im, namely, within the context of the Lebanese elite families (zu’ama). We explore various aspects of Lebanese zu’ama that also typify Hizballah. These aspects include the provision of social services to the people, and the use of surveillance measures … [Read more...]

FROM STATION Z TO JERUSALEM

Figure 1. On July 15, 1942, at his East Prussian headquarters near Rastenburg, Hitler meets the former Iraqi premier Rashid Ali al-Kailani, a member of the al-Qadiriyya brotherhood, which to-gether with seven similar Islamist organizations played a key role in Berlin’s Middle East policy from 1894 on. On May 15, 1942, al-Kailani promised Hitler in a secret letter “to fight the common enemy until final victory.”

PDF version available here Excerpted from Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Barry Rubin & Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, published February 2014 by Yale University Press. Copyright © 2014 by Barry Rubin & Wolfgang G. Schwanitz. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press.   FROM STATION Z TO JERUSALEM   It began as another normal summer day in June 1942 at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, the place where SS trainees were taken to … [Read more...]

WHAT DOES THE ARAB NEWSPAPER THINK ABOUT ITSELF?

arab newspapers

PDF version available here Recent data appear to demonstrate the weakening of the Arab newspapers versus strengthening of the digital media. However, this weakening is less extensive than the corresponding erosion of Western newspapers in their own markets. This study examines the question of how Arab newspapers see themselves. A content and discourse analysis of articles in seven newspapers of different characteristics and distribution zones indicates an ambivalent attitude towards the … [Read more...]

PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION: THE CURRENT BALANCE OF FORCES IN THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR AND ISRAELI CONCERNS

Israeli soldiers in an abandoned military outpost overlooking the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria on Tal Hazika near Alonei Habshan.

PDF version available here Aided by Hizballah and Iraqi Shi’a volunteers, the Asad regime scored significant gains in the civil war in Syria in the first months of 2014.  The regime has completed its re-conquest of the Qalamoun mountains and driven the rebels out of Homs. These gains constitute a consolidation by the Asad regime of its area of control in Syria, which runs from Damascus to the western coastal area, and now includes all the country’s provincial capitals with the … [Read more...]

TURKEY’S TWISTS AND TURNS ON SYRIA

Syrian refugee center on the Turkish border 50 miles from Aleppo, Syria (August 2012).

PDF version available here Since 2008, Turkey has gone from supporting the Bashar al-Asad regime, to encouraging Asad to undertake democratic reforms, to shifting to a policy of regime change (RC)--a full 180-degree turn in less than three years. Given Turkey’s twists and turns, is it possible for Turkey to reverse course again, as Asad consolidates his victories on the ground, and effectively switch sides in the interest of reestablishing its economic links with Syria? This article … [Read more...]

FURTHER INSIGHT INTO GLOBAL AND ARAB MUSLIM OPINION STRUCTURES: STATISTICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE 2013 PEW REPORT “THE WORLD’S MUSLIMS”

Taliban religious police beating a woman in Kabul filmed by RAWA on August 26, 2001.

PDF version available here This article reevaluates the April 2013 PEW data on “The World’s Muslims” covering 23 countries and comprising at least 56.6 percent of the total global Muslim population. It presents population-weighted estimates of the 18 PEW indicators for the entire adult Muslim population in these 23 countries. The article also presents a UNDP type Index of Muslim Tolerance (Index of the emancipation of Muslim publics from authoritarian and Islamist thought … [Read more...]

THE ISSUE OF THE RECOGNITION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AS A POLITICAL PHENOMENON

2012 Brussels commemoration in front of the Memorial for the Armenian Genocide

PDF version available here This article focuses on the current perceptions of the Armenian genocide in the various countries involved, specifically within the EU, Armenia, and Turkey, in order to explore the political rationale behind the commitment of some states to recognize the historical events of 1915 as an act of genocide or the commitment of other states to refute this. A brief historical overview is followed by a discussion of internal EU perceptions of the essentiality of … [Read more...]

THE SHI’I CRESCENT’S PUSH FOR REGIONAL HEGEMONY AND THE SUNNI REACTION

Hassan Rouhani secured the presidency of Iran with 18 million votes, over 50% of the electorate, running on a campaign of “Hope and Wisdom”

PDF version available here In response to the September 11 attacks, the United States occupied Iraq. Baghdad effectively ended up in the hands of Iran, thus leading to the formation of the Shi’i Crescent. Riyadh has been leading the Sunni crusade to derail the march of Shi’ism. At the same time, to protect its nuclear facilities, Tehran has made Hizballah its Mediterranean defense line and Damascus its arms courier. The existence of an atomic bomb component in Iran’s nuclear … [Read more...]

THE SUNNI-SHI’I BALANCE IN LEBANON IN LIGHT OF THE WAR IN SYRIA AND REGIONAL CHANGES

Site of a car bomb explosion in the southern areas of Beirut on August 15, 2013.

PDF version available here In recent years, Lebanon has become an active front in the struggle between Sunni and Shi’i Muslims in the Middle East. While in previous decades, both sects were considered a single Muslim bloc in the political balance against Lebanon's Christians, over the 15 years of Syrian control in Lebanon following the end of the civil war in 1990, the relationship grew rocky, for political and geopolitical reasons. The assassination of Sunni ex-premier, Rafiq … [Read more...]