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Middle East

Turkey & Russia Chessboard Power Play.

They share too many interests to engage in direct conflict over Syria. But there are many risks. After a six-hour long summit in Moscow last March 5, Presidents  Putin and Tayyip Erdogan adopted a joint document, reaffirming their commitment to the ‘Astana format’, announcing a ceasefire. The summit became necessary after Syrian government forces, fresh…

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Father Jacques Mourad held hostage by jihadists.

He was rector of the Mar Elian shrine and parish priest of the Syrian Catholic community of Qaryatayn in central Syria when, on 21 May, 2015, he was kidnapped by ISIS militants. Father Jacques Mourad tells us his story and also gives us a picture of the reality of life today in Syria. The sanctuary…

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Economy and Refugees.

Jordan has few resources. It is one of the world’s leading exporters of phosphate, but prices for this commodity fluctuate frequently and in the past ten years they have dropped considerably. Recently, the Hashemite Kingdom has discovered substantial quantities of high-quality shale-oil in many areas south and east of the capital Amman. Their exploitation could…

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The ‘Deal of the Century’ .

The latest ‘Peace’ plan, the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ by US President Donald Trump has added more pressure on King Abdullah. Jordan plays a crucial role in President Trump’s ‘project’, which at its essence implies the retirement of the two-state solution (Israel and a Palestinian State, entirely independent, comprising of the entire West Bank,…

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Jordan at the Crossroads.

Jordan is a country marked by ‘artificial’ borders, drawn on a map in the wake of World War I and the new world order that emerged from it. These borders extend from the fertile lands of the Jordan River and the shores of the Dead Sea, to the desert of Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.…

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The custodian of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Inevitably, the Jordanian government – and the political arrangement, which has taken decades to craft in order to achieve the present equilibrium among the Jordanian tribes, the Palestinians and the religious authorities – will lose legitimacy. The Jordanian monarch, pressed with the difficult decision of having to compromise the interests of the various political actors,…

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Middle East on Fire.

What are the implications of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani. U.S. Forces in Iraq at risk. Conflict with Iran. Instability in all region. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) had just arrived on a flight from Syria. Seconds after he went through the exit, the…

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Middle East 2020. The real ‘Arab Spring’?

Syria and Iraq. The central role of the Russia in the region. The possible new nuclear deal. A peace solution in Yemen. The intensification of the street protests. President Bashar al Assad has won the war in Syria; he and the Ba’ath party shall remain in power and the West’s drive for regime change have…

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Middle East. Will Oil and Gas Save Lebanon?

A large oil and gas deposits off the Lebanese coast. Tensions with Israel. A massive immigration crisis, pending from the Syrian civil war. On September 14, an U.S. Navy ship, in this case the destroyer, USS Ramage, docked in Lebanon’s capital Beirut. No American military vessel had performed such a maneuver since 1984 (when U.S.…

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Which Kurdish populations?

There has never been a Kurdish State. But, there has been and still exists a Kurdish nation. The Kurds have occupied the mountains that extend from western Iran to eastern Turkey through Iraq and Syria for centuries.  because political boundaries have worked that way, and there is no Kurdish nation, as such, although they have…

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The Shi’a Movement.

There has been a tendency on the side of the mainstream media to describe this movement as a monolithic entity, and interested in adopting the model of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, the Shi’a movement in Iraq is more complex, having responded almost exclusively to specific indigenous socio-economic Iraqi mechanisms. While, one of…

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Ba’ath Party Dominance and Mistakes.

As the Ba’ath increasingly dominated the State, the Communists faced greater restrictions on their activities. By the early 1980’s they had been virtually silenced. Indeed, the Ba’ath Party suppressed all secular opposition. The effect was that all political grievances were increasingly channelled through the Shiite Islamic movement. The Shi’a were poor, but well represented politically…

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Advocacy

Money as a mission.

St. Basil the Great, in the 4th century would call money ‘the devil’s dung,’  an epithet reused by Pope Francis last year. Oscar Wilde said…

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Baobab

The Hare, the Hippo and the Fire.

The hare and the hippo were great friends. They walked together in the veld and visited each other in their homes. The hippo was very proud…

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Youth & Mission

The Virus of Racism.

The world is seeing once again the upsurge of a vicious “virus” that has spread to every corner of the world. This time, the “virus” is…

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