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Grounded in Iraq?

Grounded in Iraq? Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Iraq, Middle East, Syria    

The United States and its allies have launched a military campaign whose stated goal is, in the words of US President Barack Obama, to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) established by Sunni jihadis in a contiguous land area stretching from western Iraq to the Syrian-Turkish border.

As the aerial campaign begins in earnest, many observers are wondering what exactly its tactical and strategic objectives are, and how they will be achieved.

 Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State

Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Op-eds, Terrorism    

The Islamic State is certainly dangerous and must be "degraded and ultimately destroyed", in Obama's words. But nothing could damage long-term regional and wider global stability, and Australian and American interests in the region, more than to allow the fight against the Islamic State to become the distraction that allows Tehran to develop nuclear weapons capabilities or extend its regional sphere of influence...

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Back to Iraq

Back to Iraq Author: Oded Eran Categories: America, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Syria    

President Obama's Sept. 10 address to the American nation regarding the new US strategy against ISIS leaves many issues unclear, chief among them, what underlies the change in US policy regarding the extremist organisation. Both Obama's speech and public statements by senior American officials offer a variety of reasons for this shift in posture.

Israel and the rise of ISIS Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Syria    

It is a landscape with which Jewish history is all too familiar. Here, in the flatlands abutting the Tigris and Euphrates, Jacob fell for Rachel, Jonah warned of approaching calamity, and Ezekiel saw a valley of bones come to life, as 26 centuries of intensive Jewish creation, crowned by the Talmud, unfolded.

Now, however, as its Islamist secessionists unsettle the Middle East and bewilder the entire world, Iraq seems to concern the rest of the world more than it concerns the Jewish state.

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ISIS and the Crisis Across Iraq

ISIS and the Crisis Across Iraq Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism    

With a new Gaza ceasefire in place until Monday, and apparently holding, this Update offers some analysis on the other major, but often under-reported, crisis, gripping the Middle East over recent weeks - the recent gains by the terrorist movement ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, now calling itself simply the Islamic State) in Syria, new attacks on Lebanon, but especially its advances in Iraq, where apparent genocide by ISIS against minority communities, especially the small Yazidi sect, led to an American decision to intervene with airstrikes last week. As the Washington Post reports, ISIS now controls territory and resources unmatched by any extremist group in recent history.

Scribblings: Proportionality Again

Scribblings: Proportionality Again Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Africa, Iraq, Israel, Palestinians    

In Nigeria, on July 19, the Boko Haram terror group reportedly took the town of Damboa, gunned down everyone they saw and burned most of the town to the ground. At least 100 people were killed - but the death toll may actually be considerably higher. Know about that one?

Further, more than 15,000 people were displaced over a few days around July 19-20 by Boko Haram attacks. It is estimated that at least 2,000 civilians have been killed in Boko Haram attacks this year.

Of course none of these tragic situations lessens the suffering of Gazans, or are themselves, a justification for Israel's action there (however, there are ample others).

Birth of an Islamist State?

Birth of an Islamist State? Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Syria    

In a stunning and deeply significant development, the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organisation captured the Iraqi city of Mosul in the second week of June. They then moved on to take Tikrit unopposed and according to reports, were headed toward the capital, Baghdad.

Five hundred thousand people fled Mosul in the wake of its conquest by the jihadis. The city, which has an Arab majority population along with large Kurdish and Turkmen minorities, is Iraq's second largest. Its capture was the latest and most significant success in an offensive launched by the ISIS jihadis a week ago.

Iran is not the solution in Iraq

Iran is not the solution in Iraq Author: Michael Singh Categories: Iran, Iraq    

During the second Iraq war, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was one of the United States' fiercest foes. The IRGC was responsible not only for organising, training and equipping Shiite militants who fought US troops, but also for manufacturing and importing into Iraq so-called explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, one of the chief banes of American forces there. Also courtesy of Teheran: mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad, designed to speed the American departure.

The Kurdish Moment

The Kurdish Moment Author: Ofra Bengio Categories: Iraq, Turkey    

In an interview, Rudaw Huseyin Celik, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), stated that "the Kurds of Iraq can decide for themselves the name and type of the entity they are living in."

Such a far-reaching statement should not come as a great surprise to those following developments in Iraq and the kind of relations that have been developing between the Kurds and Ankara.

Iran and the Iraq Crisis

Iran and the Iraq Crisis Categories: International Security, Iran, Iraq, Updates    

The subject of this Update is the Iranian role in the crisis in Iraq - and the suggestions being made that the US and its allies share a common interest with Iran in protecting the Baghdad government from the attacks of the Sunni Islamist groups ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which has succeeded in overrunning so much of the country.

The Crisis in Iraq

The Crisis in Iraq Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

This Update is devoted to analysis of the crisis in Iraq, where this week an extremist Islamist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), took control of the second largest city, Mosul, and then moved to take other major towns, with the Iraqi Army apparently doing little to stop them. (The ISIS success is illustrated in maps here.) Moreover, reports say the ISIS not only captured major weapons stockpiles in the process, but as much as US$425 million from the Iraqi central bank and other banks in Mosul.

An Al-Qaeda Resurgence? / Iraq Deteriorates

An Al-Qaeda Resurgence? / Iraq Deteriorates Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Africa, Iraq, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update discusses the apparent resurgence of al-Qaeda after 22 US diplomatic missions across the Middle East were forced to close due to intelligence of a serious al-Qaeda plot allegedly originating in Yemen and ordered by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. It goes on to discuss the deteriorating situation in Iraq - in part due to al-Qaeda's increasing efforts there....

The Truth about Iraq WMD "Lies"

The Truth about Iraq WMD "Lies" Author: Talia Katz Categories: America, Iraq, Media/ Academia, Middle East, United Kingdom, Updates    

The release of The Art of Betrayal, by Gordon Corera, the highly-regarded veteran BBC journalist, should, if our media indeed has the commitment to truth which it constantly proclaims, rightfully see the last decade of often conspiratorial rhetoric about the 2003 war in Iraq fade to reveal a different and more complex and nuanced reality.

Shhh, Australia is resettling Palestinians

Shhh, Australia is resettling Palestinians Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Palestinians, Updates    

Even as some Australian Palestinians and their supporters spent Tuesday evening disrupting commuters in Sydney in the course of their Nakba Day protests against Israel, SBS World News ran a segment on the recent resettlement of several dozen Iraqi Palestinian refugees in Australia.

(While the video will only be accessible on the SBS website for the next week, a transcript of the segment has been created for the purposes of this blog and can be referenced here.)

While the segment was framed by the SBS presenters as an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of Palestinian refugees on the anniversary of Israel's creation, in reality the story had very little to do with Israel.

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Not so new Middle East for Jews

Not so new Middle East for Jews Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

It would appear that there is no room for Jews in the Arab Spring.

Last year, before the Arab Spring, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas caused outrage when she recommended that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."

As an American of Lebanese descent, the 89-year-old Thomas should have known that the Arab Middle East was home to approximately 850,000 Jews known as Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews for thousands of years.

 

What of Turkey if the Palestinians and Kurds get their way?

What of Turkey if the Palestinians and Kurds get their way? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Updates    

If two million Palestinians in the West Bank deserve a state, what of the 18 million Kurds in the region who have endured 100 years of persecution?

This is the tantalising question posed by Israeli analyst Dr. Guy Bechor who argues that Turkey should be careful what it advocates on behalf of Palestinians as it seeks regional popularity and leadership.

 

Syria’s Iraqi refugees flee Syria, highlighting regional changes

Syria’s Iraqi refugees flee Syria, highlighting regional changes Author: Geoffrey Levin Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

While Turkey has attracted much media attention for its willingness to take in Syrian refugees in the camps it has set up near the border, many Syrians have fled to other neighbouring countries such as Iraq. Thousands of Iraqi refugees who fled Iraq for Syria due to the war are now fleeing Syria, heading back to their home country. Agence France-Presse reports:

Hayat Saad, legal officer at the Baghdad Refugee Centre, said "every day we deal with between 60 to 70 cases of families who have returned to the country...Daily, about 20 come from Syria -- the largest contingent -- followed by Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Libya," she added.

 

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Is Iran really not at war with the West?

Is Iran really not at war with the West? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, International Security, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Updates    

Since the bulk of US forces in Iraq have been withdrawn, the country has been seeing an increasingly worrying spike in violence. What is especially concerning is the alleged source of this renewed upsurge in the conflict. As reported in The Washington Post last week:

BAGHDAD - Three U.S. soldiers were killed this week in a rocket attack at a U.S. base near the Iranian border, the military said Thursday, bringing June's death toll to 15 and marking the bloodiest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in two years....

Moral Victory

Moral Victory Author: Walter Russell Mead Categories: America, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Terrorism    

And the Sunni Arabs of Iraq made a choice. They saw al-Qaeda at its best - volunteer freedom fighters come from around the world to fight for them - and they saw America at its worst, incompetent, insensitive, vacillating and violent. And they chose the United States. They decided that the future of their families, their children and their values was better served by aligning with the United States against the terrorists and against the fanatics.

A New Phase in Iraq / Peace Advice Categories: Iraq, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

US President Barack Obama gave a major speech on Iraq last week to mark the promised withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraq by the end of August. However, rather than discuss the speech itself, this Update looks at the future of Iraq now that coalition forces are no longer doing most of the fighting, and the Western foreign policy challenge given the changed situation in the country.

Hope and Change in Iraq Author: Reuel Marc Gerecht Categories: Iraq    

In Iraq we are now where we should have been in 2005 if the Sunni Arab community had not staged a bloody revanchist insurrection. The parliamentary elections on March 7 gave us a good snapshot of the real Iraq.

Iraq's watershed March 7 election Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Updates    

Iraq has received less news coverage in recent months as the security situation there has continued to improve, but on March 7, Iraq goes to the polls for national parliamentary election for the second time.

Scribblings: Indyk-ations Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: America, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

As readers may recall, the AIR published a review in March of Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in The Middle East, by Dr. Martin Indyk... Having now read the book myself, I agree with most of what reviewer Jonathan Schanzer had to say

Yes, We Can Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Max Boot & Kimberly Kagan Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East, Terrorism    

Fears of impending disaster are hard to sustain, however, if you actually spend some time in Afghanistan, as we did recently at the invitation of General David Petraeus, chief of US Central Command. We spent eight days travelling from the snow-capped peaks of Kunar province near the border with Pakistan in the east to the wind-blown deserts of Farah province in the west near the border with Iran.

Symposium: Perceptions of the Middle East and the Gaza War - Australia Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Monographs/ Submissions    

The reaction of Australia's government, media, and elite, and public opinion to Israel's December 2008-January 2009 military operations against Hamas in Gaza was mixed. At the government level, both the Labor government as well as the Liberal opposition voiced strong, consistent, and principled support for Israel's right to defend itself.

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Editorial: Election shaped by consensus Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East    

As the close result and large number of late-deciders demonstrated, there is a lack of clear ideological or policy distinctions between Israel's major parties. Moreover, a wide consensus has developed in Israeli politics and public opinion on the desirability of a two-state resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Asia Watch: Witness Protection Author: Michael Shannon Categories: Asia, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East    

What was a small news item back in November blew-up in a big way at the height of the Israeli military offensive in Gaza. The Indonesian internet was abuzz for several weeks as Islamist-oriented websites like Hidayatullah.com, Arrahmah.com and Eramuslim.com attacked Muhammadiyah for its supposed ties with Israel.

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Iran's the winner if ceasefire fails Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

This latest fighting was part of the region-wide struggle between moderate Arab states on the one side, and Iran and its terrorist proxies on the other. A successful military operation against Hamas, followed by an effective ceasefire, will set back Tehran's regional ambitions and attempts to destabilise the region, and help prospects for a two-state resolution to the conflict.

Teheran's Gaza Gambit Author: Yoram Schweitzer Categories: Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Palestinians    

Behind the scenes in the war between Hamas and Israel, there was a party playing a key role that aspires to be the big winner in the fighting - Iran. As in the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Iran is gaining precious time to promote the leading strategic goal of its policy in recent years: attaining nuclear weapons capability.

A Year of Turmoil Author: Allon Lee Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria    

Israeli analyst and journalist Ehud Ya'ari is known not only for his encyclopaedic knowledge of everything going on across the whole Middle East, but for his extraordinary personal contacts throughout the region extending even into the ranks of many of Israel's most bitter enemies.

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On the Iraqi SOFA Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Iraq, Updates    

This Update deals with the situation in Iraq, and the policy framework there for the Obama Administration, following the passage by the Iraqi parliament of the "Status of Forces Agreement" (SOFA) with the US last week.

Scribblings: The Talking Cure Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: America, Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

US President-elect Barack Obama is going to change US policy toward Iran and end the Bush Administration approach of refusing to directly engage Teheran diplomatically, right? Actually, things are not nearly so cut and dried as this conventional wisdom holds.

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Editorial: Election Fever Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Iraq, Israel, Middle East    

Whether the person inaugurated in Washington is Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain, and whoever emerges as prime minister in Israel, it is already clear that the new leadership in each country will immediately face a myriad of challenges.

Crash Course Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Iraq, Middle East    

The first and most obvious reason why the Arab world is particularly vulnerable to the financial crisis is that a disproportionately large amount of Arab wealth is invested in global stock markets. Since the 1970s, the Arab world (or parts of it) has enjoyed a long windfall of oil wealth.

Iraq, post-Petraeus, post-Surge Author: AIJAC staff Categories: America, Iraq, Updates    

Today, we offer some pieces on the state of Iraq as the US Commander there, Gen. David Petraeus, this week handed over to his deputy and successor, Gen. Raymond Odierno, and a new book by Washington journalist Bob Woodward revealed new details about the White House and Pentagon decision-making that led to the successful "surge" change in strategy adopted under Petraeus in 2006.

The Anbar Handover in Iraq Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Updates    

On Monday, a major milestone occurred in Iraq. Anbar province, once the heartland of the insurgency, was handed back to Iraqi security control, the 11th province which has been turned over to Iraqi security forces.

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Is It Over? Author: Max Boot Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East, Terrorism    

The thinning of its ranks and the loss of central direction have had an obvious impact on al-Qaeda's operational effectiveness. A new study from Simon Fraser University ... finds that since 2001, there has been a net decline of 40% in casualties from terrorism around the world.

Al-Qaeda Today/ Syria's Nuclear Secrets Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East, Multimedia, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

Today's Update features two new pieces detailing expert debates about the current status and capabilities of al-Qaeda. First up, Peter Bergen discusses the controversy between analysts who argue that the organisation has become largely localised and leaderless and those who argue that the central organisation in northern Pakistan is getting stronger.

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The State of Iraq Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Updates    

The situation in Iraq continues to be trending in largely positive directions, despite the occasional major act of violence, with even the venerable Associated Press concluding that US-led coalition forces there are now "winning"...

Scribblings: Mixed Messages on Iran Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Australasia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

In my view, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got his policy message on Iran pretty much right the other day in remarks to Greg Sheridan in the Australian (July 19). He endorsed diplomacy as "a critical means by which to secure an outcome" but he also, according to Sheridan, appeared to agree with the American position of refusing to take a military option off the table as a last resort.

Lessons and Learning Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Syria    

As thousands followed the coffins of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose bodies arrived in Israel two years after the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, a sense of sobriety, introspection and catharsis descended on the Jewish state.

Essay: At the Core Author: Martin Kramer Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

It is obvious that conflict involving Israel is not the longest, or the bloodiest, or the most widespread of the region's conflicts. In large part, these many conflicts are symptoms of the same malaise: The absence of a Middle Eastern order, to replace the old Islamic and European empires.

Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is the issue Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Op-eds    

IN the nuclear crisis with Iran, the focus of the international community must be to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, full stop. It is cavalier and dangerous to assume that we can "manage" the threats from a nuclear armed Iran by strategies such as deterrence.

The New Reality in Iraq/ Oil Prices and the Middle East Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Updates    

This Update offers some new and very optimistic assessments of the situation in Iraq. First up, if you haven't seen it in today's Australian, don't miss academic military experts Kimberley and Frederick Kagan, together with retired senior US General Jack Keane's report in the Wall Street Journal on the findings of their recent visit to Iraq.

Iran's response to the latest nuclear offer Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, International Security, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Updates    

Today's Update offers analysis of the ostensibly ambiguous, but actually very negative, Iranian response to the latest international offer of incentives (called the "P5+1" proposal, because it is signed by the 5 permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany) to halt its nuclear enrichment efforts - which have been repeatedly declared illegal by the UN Security Council.

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Myth busting Author: Bren Carlill Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

It's time to debunk some myths. Israel did not replace or destroy any country. It did not prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian refugee crisis occurred because of the actions of Palestinian and other Arab fighters.

Israel and Syria / Arab World reacts to Olmert's legal problems Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Multimedia, Syria, Updates    

Today's Update contains some more differing analysis and opinion on the new indirect Israeli-Syrian talks. First up, top Israeli journalist and author Yossi Klein Halevi explains the sceptical view that appears to be predominant in Israel about the talks and the prospects of an Israeli-Syrian agreement.

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Al-Qaeda in Iraq "at its weakest" Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East, Terrorism, Updates    

According to the latest US reports and statistics, last week Iraq saw the lowest casualty figures, civilian and military, for four years. According to US military sources, part of the explanation is that al-Qaeda in Iraq is at its "weakest", especially in the wake of the recent military operations which cleared al-Qaeda out of Mosul, its last major stronghold in Iraq.

Assessing the Iraq War - Again Author: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Bill Roggio Categories: Iraq    

The testimony delivered in the US Congress on April 8 by US Commander in Iraq General David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker provides an opportunity to assess progress in Iraq since last September (the last time the two men were in Washington, DC). Last fall's testimonies noted the initial improvements that resulted from the US troop "surge"...

Iraq: Basra and Beyond Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Updates    

This Update features two articles on the aftermath of the Iraqi army's recent battles with the Iranian-backed Shi'ite extremist Mahdi Army, led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraq - Five Years On Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Updates    

Today's Update features some examples from the many retrospectives that have been appearing in the international media in recognition of the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq.

Counterinsurgency 101 Author: Frederick Kagan & Kimberley Kagan Categories: Iraq, Terrorism    

Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno took command of Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) on December 14, 2006. Iraq was in flames. Insurgents and death squads were killing 3,000 civilians a month. Coalition forces were sustaining more than 1,200 attacks per week.

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Iran's Parliamentary Election/ Iraq and Al-Qaeda Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Iraq, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update opens with a good backgrounder and summary on the Iranian parliamentary elections, held last Friday. Prepared by the British/Israel Communications and Research Institute (BICOM), the backgrounder makes it clear that these elections must be seen in the context of the Iranian political system, where the parliament has very limited power and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, predominates.

Iran and Israel / Iran and Iraq Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update leads with an important new piece by the top Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi, in which he points out that the current Israeli conflict with Palestinian terror groups, and standoff with Hezbollah in Lebanon, can rightly be seen as a limited war with Iran.

Scribblings: Saddam's Confession Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iraq, Middle East, Terrorism    

The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 1) has pointed to some important revelations made on the American version of "60 Minutes" by George Piro. Piro is an Arabic-speaking FBI agent who was responsible for questioning Saddam Hussein between his Dec. 2003 capture and his handing over to the Iraqi government for trial in 2006.

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Editorial: After Annapolis, The Work Begins Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

In a welcome development, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) successfully relaunched Middle East peace negotiations at November's Annapolis conference. The United States, the conference host, worked extremely hard to secure the attendance of the parties and much of the international community - including 16 members of the Arab League.

Canberra and Jerusalem: A New Era begins Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Middle East    

A change of government always ushers in new emphases, personnel, policies and preferences. AIR therefore sought the views of a number of knowledgeable and interested figures in Australia and Israel, asking them both to evaluate the current state of Australia-Israel relations and assess how the new Rudd Government might affect the current state of affairs.

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Editorial: Australia's Next Three Years Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Asia, Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

This month's issue of AIR goes to press as Australians head to the polls. Whichever party has won government, John Howard's and Kevin Rudd's answers to the AIR's policy questionnaire in the October issue allow us to say with confidence that Australia will be in good hands on the key issues important to the Australian Jewish community.

How They Did It Author: Kimberley Kagan Categories: Iraq    

The surge of operations that American and Iraqi forces began on June 15 has dramatically improved security in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. US commanders and soldiers have reversed the negative trends of 2006, some of which date back to 2005.

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Europa Europa: Blaired Vision Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Middle East    

The tectonic plates are shifting in the Middle East. Shi'ites are challenging Sunnis; Saudis are squaring up to Iranians; Iraq is drifting inexorably towards fragmentation; Lebanon is sliding back into Syria's clutches; the Palestinians are in violent free-fall; major players in the region - galvanised by Teheran - are scrambling to acquire nuclear capability; and radical Islamism is casting a sinister pall over the entire scene.

AIJAC welcomes Annapolis Conference as a "Promising First Step" Categories: Iraq, Israel, Media Releases, Middle East, Palestinians    

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has welcomed as a promising first step the Annapolis Middle East peace conference. AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said reports from the conference indicated it had successfully provided a platform to relaunch negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Howard's achievements, Rudd's promise Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds    

The new Rudd Government gives every indication of not only seeking to match, but if possible, even improve on the excellent record of the Howard Government in terms of both willingness to act on Jewish domestic concerns and also Australia's support for Israel's security and peacemaking efforts.

Primary Colours Author: Adam Frey Categories: America, Iraq, Middle East    

Though the US presidential election is still a year away, the Democratic and Republican primary campaigns have been in full swing for some time. And, owing to a new and severely front-loaded primary schedule beginning in January, the parties may know their nominee by mid-February.

The Biblio File: The Usual Suspect Author: Jeffery Goldberg Categories: America, Iraq, Middle East    

The villains in The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy are almost entirely Jewish. Many of the chapters of the book contain extensive lists of Jews (even Rothschilds) who, the authors claim, act against the best interests of the United States. And act effectively: the Israel lobby in this book is an invincible juggernaut.

Iraq's Hopeful Numbers Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Updates    

The casualty figures from Iraq, both military and civilian, over the last couple of months have shown a major improvement - involving an overall decline of more than 50% and in Baghdad, over 80%.

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Gaza as "Enemy territory"/ Mission Accomplished in Iraq? Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Iraq, Israel, Palestinians    

The bulk of this Update analyses the Israeli cabinet decision two weeks ago to declare Gaza "enemy territory" potentially opening the way to using a variety of sanctions as a response to ongoing rocket attacks from there with the support of the Hamas authorities. In particular, it attempts to address some of the myths being spread about this decision.

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The Petraeus-Crocker Report: An Assessment Author: Michael Eisenstadt Categories: Iraq    

In mid-September, a series of congressional hearings and media interviews by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, offered insights into the US strategy in Iraq, and several yardsticks by which future progress there may be evaluated.

Head to Head Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Immigration/ Multiculturalism, International Jewry, International Security, Iraq, Middle East, Terrorism, United Nations    

As has become traditional in the lead-up to a federal election, the Australia/Israel Review posed a series of questions to Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd focusing on international security, the Middle East, and domestic polices of special interest to the Australian Jewish community.

Petraeus Reports on Iraq Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Iraq    

The long-awaited reports on the state of the Iraq troop "surge" strategy were made in Washington yesterday by the US Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, plus the US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who dealt with military and political progress respectively.

Scribblings: Yvonne's New Job Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Media/ Academia, Middle East    

Readers may recall the visit to Australia in 2004 of Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist who was captured by the Taliban, converted to Islam, and began defending Islamist terrorism and terrorists, including the leader of the Beslan school massacre, al-Qaeda bombings of weddings in Jordanian hotels, and the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

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Middle East Mediation: Tony, Condi and Friends Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

It's been a week of intense international diplomacy for Israel and the Palestinians, with first Quartet envoy Tony Blair, then the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers, ostensibly representing the Arab League, and now US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defence Secretary Robert Gates arriving for talks.

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The Future of Fatah/The Regional Context Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert is currently at a Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, along with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, where they will discuss what Israel and Fatah, which still controls the West Bank, can cooperate on. While we will have more on the aftermath of this Summit in future, this Update deals with the prospects for Fatah, now that Hamas controls Gaza.

Starting to "Surge" in Iraq? Author: Frederick W. Kagan Categories: Iraq    

The new effort to establish security in Iraq has begun. At this early stage, the most important positive development is a rise in hostility to al-Qaeda in the Sunni community.

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Trouble along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border/ Holocaust Inversion Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Antisemitism, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Terrorism    

As widely reported, a major renewal of fighting in Afghanistan is expected shortly. The Taliban, based across the border with Pakistan, are expected to make large scale incursions as soon as the mountain snows allow. This Update leads with two pieces on Pakistan's invidious role in encouraging this problem.

The Other Iraq Author: Michael J. Totten Categories: Iraq    

What a difference a year makes. Fourteen months ago I flew to Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, from Beirut, Lebanon, on the dubiously named Flying Carpet Airlines. Flying Carpet?s entire fleet is one small noisy plane with propellers, cramped seats, and thin cabin pressure.

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The Return of the Mediator

The Return of the Mediator Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: America, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

The Review spoke to Ambassador Dennis Ross in May 2001, a bare six months after he was a central player in the US Clinton Administrations last-ditch attempt to create an Israeli-Palestinian peace in December 2000. At the time, he remained the unflappable diplomats diplomat, controlled and punctilious in speech.

Iran Crises Escalates Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1747 on the weekend, imposing additional sanctions on Iran after it failed to comply with a previous resolution, passed in December, demanding Iran halt uranium enrichment which is widely viewed as part of Iran's program to illegally build nuclear weapons.

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The Execution of Saddam Hussein Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Iraq    

The end of year hiatus in Updates witnessed a number of events which invite comment and analysis - not least the continuing conflict and kidnappings in the Palestinian territories and the passage at last of long-discussed (but very limited) UN sanctions on Iran's nuclear program.

Editorial: The ISG?s Unrealism Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Iraq, Middle East    

The bipartisan Iraq Survey Group (ISG) report to US President Bush set out the grim reality of the situation in Iraq and made some plausible, even if predictable and contested, recommendations about military strategy there. However it also includes two recommendations about wider Middle Eastern policy that are fundamentally flawed.

The ISG Unplugged Author: Eliot Cohen Categories: America, Iraq, Middle East    

The theory of the thing is very peculiar indeed. You are in the middle of a war - a hard war, a war that is going badly. If the government has bogged down, if the people inside have gone stale, you would say that the sound thing ... would be, first, to fire a bunch of officials (generals as well as top civilians), promote or bring in fresh talent, and put together a small group of people to take a new and unillusioned look.

The barriers to peace in Middle East Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians, Syria    

The resurgence of internal Palestinian conflict in recent days sheds some light on the assertion advanced again by the report of the Iraq Study Group in Washington. This claim is that the Israeli/Palestinian question is the "core" of the problems radiating out of the Middle East. Everyone of goodwill wants Israeli-Palestinian peace as quickly as possible. However, the belief that it is the key to the region's problems is not only incorrect, it is counter productive.

Too high a price for peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: America, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

The bipartisan Iraq Survey Group report to US President George Bush makes some reasonable if unsurprising recommendations about military strategy in Iraq, but also two recommendations about wider Middle Eastern policy that are fundamentally flawed.

Editorial: First Things First Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

Outgoing British PM Tony Blair has been very compelling in explaining the reality of Islamist extremist terrorism and the need to counter its totalitarian ideology at its place of origin in the Middle East. He has also been a sincere friend of Israel.

Going Ballistic Author: External author Categories: International Security, Iraq, Israel, Middle East    

Although there have been limited missile sales by Russia and the Ukraine (to Iran), Pakistan (to Saudi Arabia) and China (to Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia), by far, the biggest supplier of missile technology to the Middle East is North Korea.

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Scribblings: Papal Bull Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East    

As many people, including moderate Muslims, have pointed out, the violent response by some Muslims to a quote used in remarks by Pope Benedict XVI, which was alleged to present Islam as violent and ?inhuman,? was more than a bit ironic. These responses were essentially variations on the theme, ?How dare you imply that Islam is a violent religion? I?ll kill you and any other Christian I can get my hands on!?

Hezbollah stands in way of peace Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

When the Hezbollah-Israel war began in mid-July, many in the Arab world made some startling comments. "The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community," wrote the editor of the Kuwaiti Arab Times. Milder statements in the same vein - blaming Hezbollah for the violence - came from across the Arab world, including the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

War as an extension of politics Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

General Patton once observed that you don't win wars by dying for your country; you win them by making the other poor bastard die for his. But Hezbollah has turned that pearl of military wisdom on its head. These jihadists are trying to defeat Israel, not by killing Jews, but by engineering a slaughter of the Lebanese populace.

Want Mideast Peace? Get the right ceasefire in Lebanon Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Op-eds, Syria    

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "I genuinely believe the outcome of the present [conflict] and the emergence of a new order that will provide more stability, will help create the necessary environment that will allow me ... to create a new momentum between us and the Palestinians." He added, "We want to separate from the Palestinians. I'm ready to do it." The connection between the conflict in Lebanon and Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations may not seem obvious, but Olmert is right. So it is absolutely crucial that any ceasefire in Lebanon does more than simply halt the immediate bloodshed.

Pro-Israel lobby: helping or hindering policy making? Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Anti-Zionism, Australasia, Iraq, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Op-eds, Palestinians    

TONY JONES: Well, to discuss the role of the pro-Israel lobby and its degree of influence and whether it exists here in the same way as the US, we're joined now by Ted Lapkin, director of policy analysis at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. He's in our Melbourne studio. And with me in Sydney is the author of My Israel Question, Antony Loewenstein.

The Real Iraq Author: Amir Taheri Categories: Iraq    

Spending time in the United States after a tour of Iraq can be a disorienting experience these days.

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Editorial: The Axis of Terror Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iraq, Middle East, Terrorism    

Those still arguing that Iran poses no danger to the outside world should take note of an article that ran on April 23 in London's Sunday Times. The paper reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took a breather from uttering verbal threats against Israel to go on a trip to see what he could do about putting those words into action.

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No Exit Author: External author Categories: Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Iraq    

Yeah. Victory. Almost forgot about that one. Only time and continued effort will tell whether President Bush can retake the high ground in the debate over the Iraq war...

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Fratricide Author: External author Categories: Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Iraq, Israel, Terrorism    

In the Middle East last month the cats came out of their bags. The truth is out, with teeth bared and claws flashing to reveal the direction of an extremism far too mainstream in the region. But first it is important to emphasise that the main problem in the area is not terrorism. Indeed, the concept of terrorism is starting to get in the way of understanding what is actually happening.

Fighting Faiths Author: External author Categories: Europe, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Middle East    

If there is one thing that everybody knows about the Crusades, it is that they were a Bad Thing. Even in the eyes of most Christians, let alone others, the Crusades were a crime against humanity, one for which apologies are due, especially to Muslims.

At the Centre Author: External author Categories: Immigration/ Multiculturalism, Iraq, Israel    

I landed in Israel on Tuesday, July 12. Just before my plane touched down a suicide bomber blew himself up in Netanya, proclaiming his arrival in paradise, and Ã?Â?Ã?Â? as a certification of his entitlement to paradise Ã?Â?Ã?Â? announcing that he had taken the lives of five Jews with him.

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Hamas Delusion Author: External author Categories: Europe, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

The wishful thinking that has long characterised European diplomacy in the Middle East has made one of its periodic ocean crossings and regained a foothold in Washington. Reflecting their eagerness to see "progress" in relations between Palestinians and Israelis, some American officials have adopted the myth of Hamas moderation.

Editorial: Much Ado About Nothing Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

The presidential elections in Iran have been about as fairly played as a crooked hand of blackjack. The deck was stacked through an edict of the unelected Council of Guardians that disqualified the candidacy of anyone who did not toe the line of the ruling Islamic theocracy in Teheran. And bottom dealing appeared in the form of ballot stuffing and graveyard voting incidents that were rampant throughout the country.

The Evacuees Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

Virtually everyone agrees that Israel?s evacuation of settlements in Gaza and the northern West Bank, scheduled to begin in early September, is going to be physically difficult, emotionally fraught and that a real risk of armed violence will be present. While majority Israeli opinion has generally favoured the move as part of PM Ariel Sharon?s policy of disengagment, opponents are vehemently against the move on religious, strategic, and ethical grounds, and have made it very clear that they will do everything in their power to make the process as difficult as possible. To understand exactly how difficult things are likely to get in coming months, The Review spoke to a number of leaders of the anti-disengagement movement in an effort to gauge both their worldview and their tactical intentions.

Editorial: Endgame Iran & Crime and Punishment Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Iraq, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Middle East    

It has all the drama of a Melbourne Cup, but it is infinitely more important. The outcome of a horse race can be measured in dollars and cents. We are witnessing a contest between a simmering grassroots yearning for democracy in Iran and an obsessive pursuit of nuclear weapons by the junta of Islamic extremists who rule that nation.

Dead Parrot Author: External author Categories: International Security, Iraq, Middle East    

The negotiations attempting to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons are on the verge of collapse. Unless some new pretended arrangement is developed to conceal the fact, it should soon be clear that nothing stands between Teheran and the possession of atomic bombs except the final stages of technical development.

A Democratic Momentum Author: External author Categories: Iraq, Middle East    

Anyone with experience of the Arab Middle East will have found a civilisation that does not know what to do with itself. Freedom and democracy have been unknown quantities. The manners and grace of the past are almost irrecoverable.

DECONSTRUCTION ZONE: Middle East Ostriches Author: Ted Lapkin Categories: Iraq, Middle East    

During the 1950s, Stanford psychologist Leon Festinger studied a small religious cult that was preaching a doctrine of impending global apocalypse. The appointed hour of doom came and went, and the rhythms of normal life continued without pause.

Essay: The Case for Democracy Author: External author Categories: Iraq, Middle East    

Neoconservatives hope that a democratic Iraq and Afghanistan can usher in a new age of Middle Eastern consensual government that will cool down a century-old cauldron of hatred. Realists counter that democratic roots will surely starve in sterile Middle East soil...

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Looking Ahead Author: External author Categories: America, Iraq, Middle East    

The outlines of the second Bush Administration's approach to the Middle East began emerging from an American-Israel dialogue held in Washington in early December.

Bomb Threat Author: Douglas Davis Categories: International Security, Iran, Iraq, Middle East    

The Middle East is on the brink of going nuclear, and the rest of the world is fiddling or looking the other way. The United States is draining its energies in Iraq, the Europeans are fussing over "soft power" diplomacy, and the UN monitoring agencies are dithering.

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The Dissident and the President Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Iraq, Israel, Middle East    

During his nine-and-a-half years in the Soviet gulag, much of it in solitary confinement, Anatoly Sharansky withstood physical and psychological torture by maintaining a fierce belief in freedom and justice.

SBS-TV and the Middle East Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Australasia, Iraq, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Monographs/ Submissions    

This report originates in the long-running concern of the Australian Jewish community that SBS exhibits an entrenched and strongly pronounced bias against Israel in its news, reportage and selection of documentary material and in the lack of responsiveness, indeed negativity, of SBS to reasoned and documented complaints. It examines the problem of bias in SBS news and current affairs coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.