Political

Political blog posts

Allies and Opponents of the Islamic State

The Wikipedia page for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has a sidebar displaying the group’s banner, coat of arms, force strength, and a list of its allies and opponents.
Among ISIL’s many enemies are included the following powers and their own enemies:

The Army must not enter Syria’s war

There are several versions of what happened in Arsal last Saturday. But whichever one applies, the Army must avoid being drawn into the Syrian conflict and taking one side against the other. It will not be able to manage the consequences.

For example, what Michel Aoun proposed on Tuesday is precisely what Lebanon should not do. Aoun declared, “I warn against carrying out negotiations with terrorists as we should negotiate with Damascus, not the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.” He added, “Monitoring the border is the responsibility of Lebanon and Syria, based on past agreements between the two countries.”

The fear of another civil war hangs heavily over Lebanon

The outbreak of fighting in the Lebanese town of Arsal last Saturday threatens to draw Lebanon further into the Syrian war, exacerbate already tense Sunni-Shia relations and lead to a potentially devastating internal conflict.

The fighting began after the Lebanese army arrested a Syrian, Imad Jomaa, who was a Jabhat Al Nusra commander until he switched allegiance to the Islamic State. According to early news reports, after the arrest, Mr Jomaa’s partisans took over army positions in Arsal, forcing the military to mount an offensive to retake them.

Thinking About a Post-Conflict Syria

Photo used courtesy of CreativeSyria.comPhoto used courtesy of CreativeSyria.com

Lucky Rima


It's easy to get the depressed with all the violence in the news these days and the knee-jerk jingoism to accompany it. But it's nice to know love still finds a way in Beirut, somehow.

Arabs, Israelis and the tragedy of Arab denial

You want to know the difference between Israelis and Arabs? Israelis might be fierce with their actions and reactions, but you cannot say they aren’t people with a strong sense of loyalty to their own people: One common history, one religion and a strong sense of shared fate. There might be political diversity within Israel, as well as criticism of how the IDF conducts its business, but there is no denying that Israelis win by just being themselves. Brutal or not.

Arabs, Israelis and the tragedy of Arab denial

Israel 1948You want to know the difference between Israelis and Arabs? Israelis might be fierce with their actions and reactions, but you cannot say they aren’t people with a strong sense of loyalty to their own people: One common history, one religion and a strong sense of shared fate. There might be political diversity within Israel, as well as criticism of how the IDF conducts its business, but there is no denying that Israelis win by just being themselves. Brutal or not.

Panic on the radio

8 Lebanese Art Exhibitions You Should See this Summer

Contre Nature, 2014, Courtesy of Beirut Art CentreContre Nature, 2014, Courtesy of Beirut Art Centre
Lebanon has all the necessary ingredients for a journey of cultural discovery. It is a unique nation, yet one deeply connected to the realities of the surrounding region; this complex and geographically specific identity is highly visible even in the art exhibitions taking place in the country this summer. Enjoy our virtual tour through some of the best exhibitions happening in the coming months in Lebanon’s best galleries and museums.

Return of the native - Why we may see Muhammad Dahlan back in Gaza

As the war in Gaza grinds on, it remains unclear what kind of political order will govern the territory once the fighting stops.

The American secretary of state, John Kerry, faced criticism last week when he formulated a ceasefire plan in consultation with Turkey and Qatar, two states regarded as particularly close to Hamas. Kerry’s plan was to stop the fighting, with the more contentious issues left to be discussed at a later stage. This angered the Israelis, but also Hamas’s opponents in the Arab world, who view the conflict as an opportunity to reassert their influence in Gaza, at Hamas’s expense.

Hamas and the Peace Process

hamas-fatahOn May 13, 2008, Yuval Diskin, the director of the Israeli Internal Security Service, Shin Bet, met with U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones to discuss the prospect of a “cooling down” period with Hamas.

The limits of Hezbollah’s conciliation

As Iran continues to absorb its recent setbacks in Iraq, one place where both the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia appear to be aiming to contain any Sunni-Shiite confrontation is Lebanon. That should be good news.

Hezbollah has toned down its rhetoric of late, preferring to push to the forefront the speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, who has taken on greater prominence in the search for a new president. In Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech last week on Jerusalem Day, he spoke about Gaza, steering clear of domestic politics.

Ruins discovered under Saifi 477

It's not been easy to post about Beirut with all the carnage happening in Gaza. But that doesn't mean Lebanese developers have paused their activities. Here are some pictures I took a few weeks ago in Gemmayaze, where a new tower is coming up.

US policy reflects America’s lack of interest in the world

Hardly a day goes by in the United States without the publication of a commentary critical of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The general tenor of these pieces is that Mr Obama, in reducing American intervention overseas, has created a dangerous void that threatens American interests.

Yet the American president is under little pressure at home to change his ways. Polls suggest that a significant percentage of his countrymen are even more reluctant to intervene in the world than he is. For instance, a recent Politico poll showed that a substantial majority of Americans, around two-thirds, supported either current levels of American involvement or less involvement in Syria, Iraq or Ukraine.

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