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US official met Syrian security chief in Damascus

November 3, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

A senior US official met Syria’s national security chief in Damascus this week in the highest-ranking visit to Syria by a US official since the start of the war in 2011, a senior regional official close to Damascus told Reuters on Friday. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar first reported the visit earlier on Friday, saying that the US official discussed security matters including Americans missing in Syria. Among them are operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The regional office did not name the US official who met Ali Mamlouk, Syria’s national security chief. “It is an important step, but Damascus does not have confidence in the American position,” the regional official said. The US official travelled to Damascus via Lebanon. The United […]

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Sitting Priti as minister is protected by Tel Aviv

The British Parliament is in a crisis, engulfed by yet more sleaze and sex scandals which have already led to the departure of one high profile secretary of state and many other senior politicians facing forensic scrutiny. Presiding over all of this is Theresa May; the Prime Minister is regarded as a leader who is in office but not power. She cannot operate without the fragile pact that she made with the hard-line Ulster unionists of the DUP. In these unprecedented times, then, the last thing that she needs is for another minister to go rogue and flaunt the fact openly, but that is exactly what has happened. To make the issue even more complicated for the government and opposition, […]

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Aftermath of Somalia’s 9/11 counter-terrorism quandary

The bomber who was responsible for killing more than 300 people in a truck suicide attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu was a former soldier in the army. It appears that the attack may have been revenge for a botched raid by US and local troops on his home village, which killed ten civilians as they ran to take cover under banana trees. On 25 August, the botched raid occurred in the bomber’s village in Bariire, southern Somalia. I penned down back then that it would lead to blowback towards government forces as family members impacted by the counter-terrorism raid may be inspired to join armed groups to spearhead their anger. It transpired, according to officials, that the bomber defected […]

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100 years since the Balfour Declaration: Symbolic humiliation and the creation of tragedy

Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930) was a prominent statesman in the eyes of his compatriots through his eminent positions. However, for the Palestinian people, he remains a clear embodiment of injustice and arrogance, being one of the major figures responsible for the Palestinian tragedy. The Palestinians did not hear Arthur Balfour speaking. They only know about him through a rigid black and white picture. Each time they see this picture, in which he appears with his rectangular face and his extended moustache, it reminds them of the tragedy that this minister inflicted on them using a few lines in his infamous letter to the Zionist leadership through Lord Rothschild. The British Foreign Secretary wrote his letter on 2 November 1917 and […]

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Corbyn urges ‘increasing pressure’ on Israel in Balfour centenary statement

November 3, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged “increasing international pressure” to be brought to bear to end Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in a statement released yesterday evening to mark the Balfour Declaration centenary. The full statement by the Leader of the Opposition is as follows: Today marks the centenary of the British government’s Balfour Declaration, which has shaped the modern history of the Middle East. The fact that this promise by what was then colonial Britain is celebrated by one side and commemorated as a disaster by the other reflects the continuing tragedy at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Balfour promised to help establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine […]

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Tunisia best in Arab world for gender equality

November 3, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa is at its best in Tunisia and the country is currently ranked 117th out of 144 countries surveyed by the latest Global Gender Gap Index. After ten years of progress, the gender gap is widening for the first time in almost a decade and the gap between men and women in the areas of health, education, politics and employment is further accentuated, according to the latest report on gender equality prepared by World Economic Forum. Tunisia has improved slightly with a score of 0.651 from 0.629 ten years ago (the score of 1 representing total parity) and is currently ahead of other Arab states. The United Arab Emirates ranked at 120th, Bahrain (126th), Algeria […]

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1,000 Ethiopia troops to fight Al-Shabaab in Somalia

November 3, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Ethiopia sent a new batch of fighters to Somalia to battle Al-Shabaab yesterday, Garowe Online reported. Some 1,000 troops crossed the Ethiopia-Somalia border in the Gedo region, southern Somalia. The Somali national army, alongside Ethiopian forces, are preparing for a major offensive against Al-Shabaab’s stronghold in the Lower Shebelle region. This comes off the back of the brutal truck bomb attack in Mogadishu which killed more than 300 people. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The United States has already increased its military presence in support of Somalia by executing drone strikes at a frequent rate. Al-Shabaab’s latest attack on a hotel in Mogadishu killed 29 people last week. Since 2012, Al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, triggering brutal […]

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Shafik denies receiving UAE offer to return to Egypt

November 3, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Former Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik has not received an Emirati offer which would allow him to return to Cairo if he does not contest President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during next year’s election, his party said yesterday. The Egyptian Patriotic Movement’s deputy chairman, Major General Raouf El Sayed Ali, said in a statement that “the party is currently organising a news conference to be held this month with the aim of answering all the questions and concerns raised over the past few months.” “The party operates in accordance with the constitution and the institutional law,” he stressed. Al-Araby Al-Jadeed recently revealed reports about an offer submitted to Al-Sisi by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which stipulates that Shafik “would not run […]

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The Balfour Declaration and contemporary echoes of imperialism

The Balfour Declaration, which has its centenary this week, is part of Palestine’s present, imposing itself upon almost every aspect of everyday life. This is quite clearly not the only historical continuity. The emergency laws which Israel uses to justify its illegal conquest of the Palestinian West Bank can be traced back to the British Mandate period. Similarly, the actions of former Israeli prime ministers such as David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin bore more than a slight resemblance to imperial antecedents. When Rabin called upon Israeli soldiers to “break the bones” of Palestinian protestors, he invoked an established colonial article of faith, reproduced in colonial contexts the world over, which holds that “the natives only understand force”. This […]

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