Middle East update: December 18 2017

IRAQ The Kurdistan Regional Government says that Baghdad is building up forces southwest of Erbil in preparation for a renewed military offensive against the Kurds. Baghdad denies this claim, but it’s worth noting that the dispute over the Kurdistan independence referendum has never really been resolved, just frozen. Baghdad still wants the referendum’s results “cancelled”… Continue reading Middle East update: December 18 2017

Middle East update: December 15 2017

IMPORTANT SITE UPDATE: All this time, without realizing it, I’ve had accelerated mobile posting turned on and as a result anybody coming to this site via a mobile link has been landing on a dull AMP page rather than the nice premium (as in I’m paying for it) theme page that I specifically chose for this… Continue reading Middle East update: December 15 2017

Middle East update: December 14 2017

SYRIA United Nations-brokered peace talks in Geneva–stop me if you’ve heard this one before–collapsed on Thursday having made no progress. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura laid the blame squarely on Damascus, saying that its delegates were “not willing to meet anyone who has a different opinion” and had squandered “a golden big opportunity.” That last… Continue reading Middle East update: December 14 2017

Middle East update: December 13 2017

IRAQ Regular readers will know what a big fan I am of Patrick Wing’s “Musings on Iraq” blog, which does invaluable work digesting Iraqi media for English-speaking audiences. Wing today is arguing that the Iraqis fudged the completion of their Jazeera operation, the effort to sweep the western Anbar desert for remaining ISIS members, to… Continue reading Middle East update: December 13 2017

Middle East update: December 12 2017

Happy Hanukkah to those readers who are celebrating! Now on to the bad news: SYRIA Syrian opposition negotiators say the government’s negotiating team is refusing direct talks and will not engage on any issue at all other than “combatting terrorism.” Which, under Damascus’s definition, presumably includes everybody in the opposition delegation. Obviously there’s no particular… Continue reading Middle East update: December 12 2017

Middle East update: December 9-10 2017

IRAQ The Iraqi government on Saturday declared that its war with ISIS is over. On Sunday, it even held a big happy victory parade through downtown Baghdad. Before you get too excited, what this apparently signifies is that Baghdad has taken control over its side of the Iraq-Syrian border from ISIS. So territorially the group… Continue reading Middle East update: December 9-10 2017

Middle East update: December 7 2017

YEMEN Saudi-aligned Yemeni fighters captured Khoukha, a coastal region around 220 miles southwest of Sanaa, from the Houthis on Thursday. Khoukha is not that far south of Hudaydah, if you’re wondering how the Saudis might be planning to make Yemen even more of a hellscape than it already is. If they attack Yemen, all those people… Continue reading Middle East update: December 7 2017