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The Middle East

Debate in Israel about the government’s strategy in the Gaza war is heating up.  While a majority of Israelis still support the war in Gaza, a growing minority are questioning whether continuing the war against Hamas will bring greater security to Israel or stability to the region, arguing that the government’s military campaign will perpetuate a conflict damaging all parties – not least Israelis themselves. Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to bring home the Israeli hostages has reinforced tensions and doubt among the public. But continuing the war suits the incumbent government, enabling them to remain in power.  Paradoxically, it also suits Hamas. Only when a majority of Israelis themselves conclude that the current strategy puts at risk rather than guarantees their …

We interviewed Raphaël Lefèvre about his new book Jihad in the City: Militant Islamism and Contentious Politics in Tripoli, available now. OxPol: What motivated you write your book? Raphaël Lefèvre: I wanted to shed light on a little-known historical event with large contemporary echo: the creation by a militant Islamist movement of an “Islamic Emirate” on the city of Tripoli, Lebanon in 1982-1985. This movement has modern parallels​ with the “Islamic Caliphate” created by ISIS in parts of Iraq and Syria after 2014 and with similar attempts by Al-Qaeda to create “Islamic Emirates” on the territories it has sporadically controlled recently, from Southern Yemen and Northern Mali to Northern Syria. I am not suggesting that the 1982-1985 “Islamic Emirate” in Tripoli …

In February 2020, the Trump administration made a deal with the Taliban. Under what became known as the Doha Agreement, the US and all foreign forces promised to depart Afghanistan by May 2021, so as long as the Taliban held up its side of the deal to 1) enter into peace talks with the US-backed Afghan government and 2) ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. So far, the agreement is technically being implemented. Peace negotiations began in September 2020, though they have yet to produce results. The Taliban have also stuck to the letter if not the spirit of the deal by holding off attacks against US and Allied forces (although attacks against the Afghan government and civilians have continued). However, with the May deadline fast approaching, President …
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at UN Headquarters in 2018

With the diversion of Israel’s military resources towards West Bank, Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territory appears imminent, pending approval from and coordination with the American administration. Struggling to rally right-wing voters amidst the fight for his political survival in the elections of April, September 2019 and March 2020, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that he would “apply Israeli sovereignty” over the West Bank, if re-elected. Bolstered by the reversal of decades of American policy on the issue and the subsequent release of Trump’s much criticized, one-sided ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ in January 2020, Netanyahu has aggressively pursued the annexation agenda with the emergency government formed with Benny Gantz in March 2020. Considering the expected blockage of the Security …

In October 2019, demonstrators took to the streets of Lebanon, chanting “all of them means all of them”— a cry for the entire government to resign. For the first time in years, the country witnessed the mobilisation of thousands of its citizens across every city. There were even Lebanese protests in major European cities and North America. Together, they formed a united front: citizens coming together regardless of religious affiliation, gender or age differences. Four months after the protests began, the country’s institutions are in shambles, a financial crisis worsens, and the media is in a near-total blackout. Unfortunately, Western attention has turned away from Lebanon. The situation, though, still warrants careful observation, as what happens next could mean a …

Global attention has focused on the Middle East once more after Turkey launched a military operation, named Peace Spring, moving into Northern Syria. The incursion was made possible by the prior withdrawal of US troops. Beforehand, there was little outwardly indication of the troubles to come: Daesh’s territory was conquered and the US and Turkey cooperated in the region. However, everything started to fall apart after the phone call between President Erdogan and President Trump, in which he agreed to withdraw US troops from Northern Syria, became public. Since then, commentators have criticized President Trump’s decision to withdraw, and Turkey’s actions and intentions. It has been claimed that Turkey is solely motivated by its conflict with Kurdish forces, who have …

In contemporary world politics, migration and refugee crises are among the most heartrending and vexatious issues. Syria represents one of the most significant humanitarian crises and disasters of our time. Since the conflict has started in 2011, thousands of civilians have been killed, and millions have been forced to flee from their homeland. Since its outbreak, civil war and terrorism have forced millions of people to seek refuge in neighboring countries, including Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. The massive inflow of refugees from Syria makes Turkey the largest host country for Syrian refugees in the region, and the country hosting most refugees in the world in absolute terms. Even though many Syrian refugees currently reside in refugee camps, the vast …

According to the official results, the coalition led by the ruling AKP has secured a parliamentary majority, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remains president following the first ever simultaneous parliamentary and presidential election on June 24. Below are some takeaways from Turkey’s historic election: Erdoğan was not built in a day, and neither will be Ince. Erdoğan was elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994 and undertook many practical reforms involving infrastructural improvements. He bided his time until 2002, when he led the AKP to power. Under his mayoral watch, the municipal water system was improved, metro lines were built, trash was picked up regularly, and a political machine was built slowly thanks to the support of small business owners and conservative migrants …