Imagine one of the poorest areas of Syria, namely the east of the country where for years very few if any could afford foreign-made products.
Now imagine one of the most fundamentalist and puritanical movements in the world, namely ISIS living there.
Recently, demand for the latest technological products such as the iphone6 and western snacks such as Red Bull and Pringles have shot up in that part of Syria.
How does that work?
The podcast below from the Financial Times asks Erika Solomon, the FT correspondent in Beirut about this interesting phenomenon.
You can listen here
I have tremendous respect for Ehud Barak as a soldier and a strategist.
Israel and Israelis owe him much for his service and contribution to this country, especially the decision to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000, which he headed as prime minister.
It’s unfortunate that such a brilliant man also happened to be such a difficult person (please note that I am being polite). Almost all the politicians who worked with him fell out with him. His personality was a major reason. You hear about how badly he treated people. This is one reason why he no longer has a future in Israeli politics. Almost no one can or is willing to work with him.
This recent interview with Russia Today is recommended. You can agree or disagree with him, but he is someone who deserves to be listened to. He is a very clear thinker. He also seems to be a Putin fan..say what?
The annual Arab league conference just took place in Kuwait.
Where are the Arab leaders when many Arabs are being massacred in Syria and Egypt?
Which country in the Arab world is moving towards Islamic Jihad while trying to repair relations with Syria?
What about Pakistan? how does it play a part in the politics of the Arab world? How does Iran fit in all this?
With the Shiite – Sunni war raging in Syria, is the Palestine – Israel peace process still relevant? What should Israel do?
And last but not least: we know about the concept of Democracy, now meet its new Egyptian version called Democra-sisi. (Trademark Meir Javedanfar :-) )
To discuss these and more, Dr. Bruce Maddy – Weitzman of the Tel Aviv University Moshe Dayan centre and I took part in the I24 news “The Daily Debate” program.
Map: Syria’s Kurdish inhabited areas
One of the lesser discussed angles of Syria’s current civil war is the Kurdish angle.
The country’s Kurds are an important minority. The political outcome of the current civil war for Syria’s Kurds could impact other Kurdish minorities in the region. It could also impact the region’s geopolitical map.
For now, Syria’s Kurds are facing an important and powerful enemy in Syria: Jihadist groups.
The documentary below looks at the Syrian Kurdish PYD party and its YPG militia, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in neighboring Turkey.
According to VICE, which produced the documentary:
In September of 2013, VICE crossed the border into Syria’s Kurdish region to document the YPG’s counteroffensive against the jihadists, who had struck deep into rural Hassakeh in an attempt to surround and capture Ras al-Ayn.
You can watch the documentary below. I highly recommend it.
If Assad goes, so does Nasrallah’s biggest weapon route from Iran, as well as a loyal ally. Therefore Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah does have some genuine geopolitical reasons for wanting Assad to stay.
But Nasrallah should have supported Assad with more discretion. When Assad is killing Sunni civilians en mass in Syria, sometimes even gassing them, Nasrallah standing politically by Assad’s side and declaring public support for him is only going to create more intense animosity towards Hezbollah in the Sunni world. And Al Qaeda and its Saudi sponsors are bound to take advantage from this opportunity for they have been waiting for many years to settle scores with Hezbollah. An example of this was witnessed today when Al Qaeda affiliated groups attacked Iran’s embassy which is situated in a Hezbollah stronghold.
If Nasrallah had no choice in the matter, which is also possible, then this only reinforces the belief that he is the Iranian regime’s puppet in Lebanon. Nasrallah should not have allowed Khamenei to have such a strong hold on him.
It would not be the first time Nasrallah has made a major mistake.
In 2006 he made the mistake of starting a war against Israel by crossing inside Israel’s border and killing two of its soldiers and then kidnapping their bodies. After the war, which cost Lebanon’s economy billions of dollars Nasrallah publicly regretted his decision.
Although not publicly, perhaps privately he is regretting Hezbollah’s support for Assad as well, or for having to listen to his Iranian commanders telling him to support Assad.
The Iranian government and the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in particular are paying a price with the lives of Iranian soldiers inside Iranian territory for their support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
This seems to be the gist of the statement from Jaish al-Adl, which killed 14 Iranian border guards on the 26th of October.
My latest article explains:
As I mentioned five days ago, I am not optimistic about the Russian sponsored deal regarding Syria’s chemical weapons. I have great doubts that Assad will actually live up to his commitment.
My sense of pessimism only grew yesterday after Putin’s remarks at the plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Novgorod Region on the 19th of September.
First was his comment that:
“I am not 100% sure that the Syrian cabinet will comply with the US-Russian chemical weapons deal, but I think there is hope”
Putin has close relations with Assad, yet he is not sure that he will comply. This only strengthens the pessimists among us in countries who have no relations with Syria or influence over it, such as Israel.
The Russian president also stated in the same speech:
“I just want to remind [everyone] that Syria’s chemical weapons cache was built up in response to Israel’s nuclear capabilities,” said Putin, adding that “Israel has technological superiority and doesn’t need nuclear weapons.”
To me this is Putin’s way of justifying the possibility that Assad will hold some of his chemical weapons back and not declare them to the UN. Otherwise why say this? Assad has used his chemical weapons against his own people. What has Israel got to do with this?
Little chance before that Assad would give up his entire chemical weapons stock, even less now.