There’s No Such Thing as Precise Air Strikes in Modern Warfare

The final elimination of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is close, but welcome though the defeat of these monstrous movements may be, it has only been achieved at the cost of great destruction and loss of life. This is the new face of war which governments try to conceal: a limited number of combat troops …

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The US and Saudi Arabia Could Cause a War in the Middle East

I was in my room in the Baghdad Hotel on al-Sadoun street last Sunday evening, writing about the chances for stability in Iraq taking hold, when the walls and floor began to shake. They jerked sideways and up and down several times as if my room was the cabin of boat in a rough sea. …

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Donald Trump’s Best New Policy in the Middle East Would be No New Policy

President Trump’s stance on conflict in the Middle East is a mixture of bellicose threats and demonisation of opponents combined with rather more cautious and carefully calculated action or inaction on the ground. Leaders in Baghdad, Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran face the same problem as those in Tokyo and London, uncertain where the rhetoric ends and the reality …

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Greatest Threat to Peace in Iraq is Not ISIS – It’s Donald Trump

“Fake facts!” exclaimed a senior Iraqi official in exasperation as he pointed to photographs online allegedly showing the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Kirkuk, orchestrating the Iraqi government retaking of the city last month. He said that in reality the picture, tweeted by a Kurdish leader as evidence of Iranian hegemony, dates from 2014. The …

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Seizing Kirkuk

Elite Iraqi security forces have captured the Kurdish government headquarters buildings in the centre of Kirkuk with the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordering the Iraqi flag to be raised over Kirkuk and other disputed territories. An Iraqi Oil Ministry official said that it would be “a very short time” before the Iraqi military seized all the oilfields …

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The New Palestinian Unity Deal May Not Change Much

The unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah under which they will set up a joint administration that will, among other things, control Gaza is going to be regarded with scepticism in the region. The accord signed in the main intelligence headquarters in Cairo has come about because both the Palestinian sides are weak and have …

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The Kurdish Independence Referendum was a Political Miscalculation

The Iraqi government has banned international flights to the Kurdish capital Irbil from 6pm this Friday, isolating the Kurds in Iraq to a degree they have not experienced since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The isolation is political as well as geographical as traditional Kurdish allies, like the US, UK, France and Germany, …

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