Middle East update: March 5 2018

SYRIA All you fans of superfluous American missile strikes might want to start getting ready for Operation Do Something About Syria, Volume 2: The Trump administration has considered new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of ongoing chemical weapons use, officials said, raising the prospect of a second U.S. strike on… Continue reading Middle East update: March 5 2018

World update: January 3 2018

ASIA AFGHANISTAN Indiana University’s Nazif Shahrani argues that one of Afghanistan’s problems is that the office of the president, regardless of who holds it, is too powerful: The 2004 Afghan constitution invests the president with more powers than former Afghan kings had before the republican period. Among them is the power to appoint all government officials,… Continue reading World update: January 3 2018

Middle East update: January 3 2018

SYRIA Russian media is reporting that at least seven Russian aircraft were destroyed on December 31 by rebel shelling at Khmeimim airbase, just south of Latakia. If true, it’s Russia’s biggest loss of materiel in one incident in their 2+ year long Syrian intervention. It also suggests some rebel movement in northwestern Syria that’s gone otherwise… Continue reading Middle East update: January 3 2018

Middle East update: December 8 2017

MIDDLE EAST IRAQ One of the positives that came out of the Mosul operation was the performance of Iraq’s elite “Golden Division” (Counterterrorism Service or CTS) special forces unit. That unit had received considerably more US training and materiel than other Iraqi units, and it clearly outperformed the rest of Iraq’s fighting forces. Outperformed them… Continue reading Middle East update: December 8 2017

Middle East update: November 29 2017

CLIMATE CHANGE While it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that climate change is expected to (already has, really) hit the Middle East and North Africa quite hard, it’s still helpful to see just how dire the projections are: MENA is the world’s most water-scarce region. While about five percent of the world’s population lives… Continue reading Middle East update: November 29 2017

Middle East update: November 11-12 2017

IRAQ Iraqi forces are moving against Rawa, the last town of any size in Iraq still under ISIS’s control. Initially I have to admit I thought the Iraqis would take Rawa before Qaim and work their way west to the Syrian border, but instead they opted to go around Rawa, take Qaim and close off… Continue reading Middle East update: November 11-12 2017

Middle East update: October 21-22 2017

SYRIA The Syrian Democratic Forces captured the Omar oil field in eastern Deir Ezzor province on Sunday, setting up a potentially awkward situation with respect to the Syrian army. The New York Times calls this development “a major blow” to ISIS, but it’s really a much bigger blow to the Syrian government. I mean, ISIS was… Continue reading Middle East update: October 21-22 2017