At Jordan border, Damascus seeks to revive trade

Author:  daniel fountain ID:  1540152033728886100 Sun, 2018-10-21 23:08 BEIRUT: By reopening a key land crossing with Jordan this month, the Syrian regime is inching toward a return to trade with the wider region as it looks to boost its war-ravaged economy. The government of President Bashar Assad took back control of the Nassib border post in July from rebels
| News |

​Turkey to host Syria summit in Istanbul next week

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host a summit on the Syria conflict with the leaders of Russia, Germany and France on Oct. 27 in Istanbul, his spokesman said on Friday, the first such gathering with key EU leaders
| News |

Jared Kushner says the Khashoggi 'scandal will pass'. The worst thing is he might be right

A recurring pattern during the Trump administration has been that while public outrage can be effective in the short-term, it rarely brings about long-term policy changes. “The scandal will pass,” President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is alleged to have said of the gruesome murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Under mounting pressure, Donald Trump is finally taking
| News |

Kushner says the Khashoggi “scandal will pass”. Worse still, he might be right

A recurring pattern during the Trump administration has been that while public outrage can be effective in the short-term, it rarely brings about long-term policy changes. “The scandal will pass,” President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is alleged to have said of the gruesome murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Under mounting pressure, Donald Trump is finally taking
| News |

Afghan voting, Ugandan mudslides and Burundi’s rusty old signs: The Cheat Sheet

Here’s the IRIN team’s weekly take on humanitarian news, trends, and developments from around the globe. */ On our radar A vote for stability in Afghanistan   This weekend, analysts will be keeping an eye on voter turnout for parliamentary elections – seen as a harbinger of public confidence ahead of presidential elections scheduled for next April – as well as signs of voter fraud, which has
| News |

U.N. Syria Envoy Staffan De Mistura Is Stepping Down

De Mistura told the U.N. Security Council he was leaving for "purely personal reasons." In his final month, he plans to make a major push to try to lay the groundwork for a new constitution in Syria.
| News |

Russian President Vladimir Putin reports 700 hostages seized by IS in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin said IS fighters have captured hundreds of hostages, including several US and European nationals. He said they were taken from an area controlled by US-backed forces.
| News |

UN Syria Envoy de Mistura to step down next month

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday he would step down at the end of next month for personal reasons, after four years and four months on the job.
| News |

Drinking whisky in the ruins of Idlib, Syria’s last bastion of resistance

When the city falls to the regime, through blood or by negotiation, the war against Assad will, finally, be lost. Many people in the Middle East like to grab a few moments of peace by listening to the songs of the great Lebanese diva Fayrouz. Her quavering voice induces an air of calm. In the mornings, especially, you can hear her songs
| News |

Jamal Khashoggi, MBS and the myth of the youthful reformer

The brutal killing of a Saudi journalist has exposed so many Western observers as fools for buying into the Saudi crown prince's own hype. This much we know for sure: on 2 October, the Saudi journalist and Washington Post op-ed writer Jamal Khashoggi left his fiancée waiting outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul while he picked up some documents. He
| News |

It would be a big mistake for May to rely on Labour MPs to push through her Brexit deal

A Brexit that is too soft to secure the support of Tory ultra-Brexiteers will also struggle to retain the support of Labour’s band of Leavers.  In December 2015, when David Cameron wanted parliamentary approval to join air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Syria, he knew that he would be unable to win the vote with the support of Conservative MPs alone. So
| News |

​Israel, Syria to reopen Golan crossing on Monday

Israel, Syria and the United Nations have agreed to open the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights on Monday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday
| News |

Iraq names oil minister as head of new National Oil Company

Author:  Reuters ID:  1539256437586080100 Thu, 2018-10-11 10:54 IRBIL: Iraq’s government has named Oil Minister Jabar Al-Luaibi as head of a new National Oil Company which will serve as an umbrella organization for state oil firms, an oil ministry spokesman told Reuters on Thursday. Parliament voted in March to establish the company, which is meant to manage Iraq’s upstream operations,
| News |

I couldn’t be more glad that the Doctor is at last a woman

Rachel Cooke reviews Doctor Who and A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad.   The documentary series A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad seeks to find out how a mild-mannered eye doctor with a receding chin and a marked lisp ended up being responsible for the deaths of thousands of people (9pm, 9 October). It begins
| News |

Nikki Haley’s advice to an anonymous official offers a clue to her resignation

The US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will be leaving her post at the end of the year. In yet another shock development within the chaotic Trump administration, the president has confirmed that the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will be leaving her post at the end of the year, confirming early morning media reports that she
| News |

Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to fine ‘opportunists’ who raise prices

Author:  Reuters ID:  1538816253375154400 Sat, 2018-10-06 08:39 ANKARA, Oct 6 : Turkey will impose fines on “opportunists” who use volatility in the foreign exchange rate to raise prices, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday. “We will not abandon our people to the mercy of opportunists,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party at a retreat on the outskirts
| News |

Death toll rises to 341 as Daesh, SDF battle continues in Syria

Clashes between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Daesh militants have raged on in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ez-Zor, bringing the death toll from both sides to at least 341, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). An aerial and ground campaign conducted by the SDF and the US-led coalition on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River was launched last month to tackle a pocket of Daesh militants in the Al-Shafah and Hajin area. The
| News |

“I’d rather be killed than be a killer”: How the Assad regime erased peaceful protesters

On 22 July 2011, a young Syrian protester approached regime soldiers to offer them roses. He was not seen again. At the start of Syria’s popular uprising in 2011, a group of young activists from Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, became known for their philosophy of non-violence. They protested with flowers and offered bottles of water to the soldiers. The flowers represented
| News |

Syria and the S-300s: Re-Centering the People in the Global Struggles for Power

The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world [….] No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity, much less dissent. — Gore Vidal, A View from the Diner’s Club, 1991 One of the most amusing elements of the current […]
| News |

Turkey will not leave Syria until Syrian people have an election, Erdogan says

Turkey will not leave Syria until the Syrian people hold an election, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday. “Whenever the Syrian people hold an election, we will leave Syria to its owners after they hold their elections,” Erdogan said at a forum in Istanbul. Erdogan agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month to set up a demilitarized zone between rebel and government fighters in northern Syria. It also has a presence in the northwest Afrin region and further
| News |

Journalist’s Disappearance Challenges Fragile Middle Eastern Pragmatism

by James M. Dorsey Saudi Arabia and Turkey, despite being on opposite sides of Middle Eastern divides, are cooperating in Syria to enable youth and women to acquire skills that would either allow them to compete in the job market or turn… Continue Reading  
| News |

Iran faces sensitive time due to America, economic woes – leader says

The people of Iran face a sensitive time because of the pressure from America and economic problems, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a key address broadcast by state television on Thursday. Khamenei was speaking to tens of thousands of members of the Basij militia and top Revolutionary Guards leaders gathered in a stadium in Tehran. Iran will deliver a slap and defeat America by defeating sanctions – Iran supreme leader Discord between Iran and the United States has
| News |

Ahvaz terror attack points to deteriorating security in Iran

The terror attack in Iran’s south-western city of Ahvaz on 22 September has multiple local, national, regional and international layers in terms of causality and consequences. All point to an escalation of tension between Iran and its adversaries. The much-vaunted “retaliation” by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) against allegedly Daesh targets in eastern Syria may be a credible demonstration of force, but it is unlikely to diminish the terror threat in the foreseeable future. Iran’s immediate security challenge is
| News |

How the New Democrats Could End the Drone Wars

One spring during the Obama administration, I sat with a group of Yemeni farmers in Sana’a. I’d contacted them after a U.S. drone flying over the village of al-Sabool struck a bus full of shoppers, killing twelve civilians. One of the farmers, Abdullah, told me how he’d rushed to the scene to find his neighbors, grievously wounded, struggling out of the wreckage. He carried survivors to hospital.   A man reached into his pocket and pulled up a grainy video on his phone. Together
| News |

Syria and the myth of the regime’s recovery

What is happening in Syria does not indicate that the regime will recover and emerge victorious from the ordeal which has struck the Syrian people and affected all the conflicting parties in the
| News |

Prominent Saudi commentator disappears after entering Istanbul consulate – friends

Two people close to Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi, who left for the United States last year fearing retribution for his views, said they were concerned about his whereabouts 24 hours after he failed to emerge from a meeting at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée as well as a close friend contacted by Reuters said he had not been seen after entering the diplomatic mission on Tuesday to secure documentation of his divorce so that he could remarry.
| News |

Will Jordan and Syria Normalize Ties?

by Giorgio Cafiero After Syria’s crisis erupted in 2011, Jordanian-Syrian relations suffered immensely. Early in the conflict, Damascus began accusing Amman of financing and training “terrorist” organizations fighting against the Syrian regime. In May 2014, the Hashemite kingdom expelled Syria’s… Continue Reading  
| News |

Iran reaches 400 mln euro deal with Syria to build a power plant — ISNA

Author:  Reuters ID:  1538488606454692900 Tue, 2018-10-02 13:09 LONDON: Iran has struck a deal with Damascus to build a 400 million euro ($460 million) power plant in Syria’s coastal city of Latakia, a potentially lucrative deal for Tehran to deepen its economic role after years of fighting in the Syrian conflict. Shunned by Western powers, the Syrian government is looking
| News |

Headlines for October 2, 2018

White House Expands Kavanaugh FBI Probe, NBC: Kavanaugh Contacted Ex-Classmates to Refute 2nd Accuser's Claims, Former Kavanaugh Classmate Recalls 1985 Drunken Bar Fight, Kavanaugh Protesters Take to the Streets, Confront Senators, President Trump to ABC News's Cecilia Vega: "You're Not Thinking", SCOTUS Opens Session with 8 Judges, Rejects Uranium Mining Appeal, Indonesia: Death Toll from Earthquake and Tsunami Tops 1,200, Iran Fires Missiles into Syria in Response to Sept. 22 Ahvaz Attack, Israel Injures Scores of Protesters in Occupied Territories
| News |

Limiting Israel: Russia Deploys the S-300 to Syria

Relations between Russia and Israel have been those of an estranged couple punctuated by occasional breakouts of tense understanding. As with other such couples, a public row does not necessarily reflect the more placid, if stern, discussion that might happen behind closed doors. On the public side of things, Russia’s decision to deploy the S-300 […]
| News |

IRGC Launches Missile Strikes On Terrorists In Syria In Retaliation For Ahwaz Attack

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired 6 ballistic ground-to-ground missiles and launched drone attacks on terrorists’ positions in Eastern
| News |

Iran fires Ballistics Missiles in Syria for 1st Time, Punishing ISIL for Ahvaz Attack

Co-Author: Amir Havasi | – Tehran (AFP) – Iran said it struck jihadists on Monday in Syria with ballistic missiles and combat drones in retaliation for a deadly attack on an Iranian military parade, warning the “real punishment” was still to come. Last month’s shooting in the Iranian city of Ahvaz killed 24 people and […]
| News |

Moscow’s Middle East Balancing Act Is Getting Harder

by Mark N. Katz So far, Moscow has managed to maintain good relations with opposing sides in several Middle East conflict situations, including Iran vs. Israel, Israel vs. Syria and Hezbollah, Israel vs. the Palestinians, Iran vs. Saudi Arabia and… Continue Reading  
| News |

Iran’s choice: Between Syria and Pakistan

A week after the attack on a military parade in Ahwaz, southwest Iran, left dozens dead, there is still no consensus on who was responsible. As in all such cases, conspiracy theories abound. While
| News |

What is Bellingcat? Behind the tactics revealing the Skripal suspect and Cameroon killers

How a collection of amateur investigators pioneered a technique that exposes state secrets and unmasks criminals. “Skripal Suspect Boshirov Identified as GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga”. As headlines go, it’s a biggie. One of the men accused of poisoning the Skripals with Novichok nerve agent – and killing another Salisbury resident – has been identified as a senior officer in the Russian military intelligence
| News |

Abbas and Netanyahu present competing visions of peace, and Trump, at UN General Assembly

Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday in New York. While Netanyahu spent most of his speech boasting of Israel’s raid on an alleged secret Iranian nuclear facility, railing into the Obama-administration's Iran deal, and criticizing Iran’s influence in Syria and Lebanon, Abbas presented a lackluster criticism of Israel, the Trump administration, and the international community.
| News |

Armageddon Postponed: Syria's Idlib Province Gets New Lease on Life

The looming military offensive on the Idlib province in Syria has been called off for now. People there are yearning to return to normal life and rapidly planning for the future. But how long with the peace last?
| News |

Russian-Israeli Conflict in the Skies of Syria

by Paul R. Pillar The sudden ruffling of Israeli-Russian relations over the accidental shootdown by Syria of a Russian surveillance aircraft, killing 15 crew members, is the sort of incident apt to happen when a modus vivendi joins parties with… Continue Reading  
| News |

In Idlib, a father’s dreams hang on the Turkey-Russia deal

The last rebel stronghold in Syria has survived – for now.  The doors of fear and hope have revolved again. For weeks, Dr Mahmoud would rush his daughters into the basement at night, or tuck them in a corner in the lavatory, improvised shelters against the impact of airstrikes by the Syrian government and its Russian allies. That is, if he was
| News |

Iran says Israel will ‘regret’ further attacks on Syria

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has said Israel will be sorry if it continues to attack Syria’s army and its allies. Iran and Russia have both backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a seven-year war against rebels. But Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in its neighbour, says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years. “The Zionist regime has
| News |

Far from home, a Syrian rebel group starts over

Syrian rebels forced from their towns when government forces retook eastern Ghouta near Damascus are starting over in the far north, aiming to build hundreds of homes for displaced fighters and civilians on opposition-held land near the Turkish border. Jaish al-Islam, one of Syria’s most prominent rebel groups, likens the project to a new town for people from eastern Ghouta who have been living in camps since President Bashar al-Assad recaptured their area in April. The project near the city
| News |

Turkey not to follow US in sanctioning Iran: Turkish FM

Turkey will not stand alongside the US to impose sanctions on Iran, said the foreign minister of Turkey. ‘Turkey will not support any sanctions and will keep its trade with Iran, Russia and other countries; Turkey is an independent country and has sovereignty,’ Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters following the trilateral meeting with Iran and Russia’s foreign ministers, respectively Mohammad-Javad Zarif and Sergei Lavrov in New York on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly. ‘Turkey will continue commerce
| News |

In Syria, it’s a regime issue, not a missile issue!

Whether Russia provides the Syrian regime with S-300 missiles or not, this is not the issue. Russia’s problem in Syria lies somewhere else and has nothing to do with weapons and missiles
| News |

Syria: Israel should ‘Think Twice’ about Bombing after Russian S-300 Air Defence Installed

Damascus (AFP) – A top Syrian official has said a new air defence system from ally Russia will force Israel to “think carefully” before carrying out any more air strikes in the country. Moscow announced on Monday it would deliver the advanced S-300 air defence system, a week after the Syrian military downed a Russian […]
| News |

Qatar's emir says blockade has damaged the GCC's reputation

At the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Arab leaders are drawing attention to the conflicts flaring up in the Middle East, from the GCC crisis to civil wars Yemen and Syria.
| News |

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour conference speech: “We represent the new common sense of our time”

The Labour leader declared that “where the Tories have divided and ruled, we will unite and govern”. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speaking at Labour Party Conference today, said: Thank you for that welcome. I want to start by thanking the workers, the fantastic staff at the Conference Centre and hotels, the Labour Party staff who make this
| News |

Netanyahu says Israel will continue operations in Syria against Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Israel would continue its military operations in Syria, after Russia announced it would supply an advanced anti-aircraft system to its Syrian ally. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem September 16, 2018 Sebastian Scheiner/Pool via Reuters “We will continue to act to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and we will continue the military coordination between the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) and the
| News |

Tunisia reforms face fresh strain after president ends Islamist tie-up

Efforts to rescue Tunisia’s ailing economy face the prospect of fresh turmoil after the president declared his alliance with moderate Islamists at an end, deepening divisions in a fragile coalition managing the country’s transition from autocracy. Political analysts say Monday evening’s announcement by President Beji Caid Essebsi could make it difficult for the government to enact tough economic reforms sought by international lenders. “There will be no real risk of toppling the government in parliament, but the problem is that
| News |