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"Iran reaffirms support for Houthis as rift splits Saudi coalition"

Der Iran hat seine Unterstützung der Huthi-Rebellen in Jemen noch einmal bekräftigt und sieht sich angesichts der Brüche in der von Saudi-Arabien angeführten Koalition auf der Siegerstraße. "Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei once again threw his full weight behind Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, urging them to further intensify resistance against the Saudi-led 'aggression' in their country. (...) To Iran's hard-liners, the recent crack within the Saud-led coalition is but a sign that triumph is imminent. Javan, a hard-line, IRGC-affiliated newspaper, called the latest infighting a 'coup de grace' against the coalition. Elsewhere, Kayhan, which voices Khamenei's political views, wrote that clashes 'between the aggressors … indicate how worn out they have been by the powerful Houthis, who have been adamantly fighting back for 52 months.'"

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"Intel: Why a military confrontation between Turkey and the Kurds in Syria might be good news for Russia"

Ruslan Mamedov erläutert, warum eine von vielen Beobachtern befürchtete militärische Konfrontation zwischen der Türkei und den Kurden in Syrien Russland nicht ungelegen kommen würde. "The calculation is that once Turkey launches its assault and the Americans are unable to provide a cover for them, the Kurds may turn to Russia, empowering Moscow to try to create the conditions for yet another attempt at a rapprochement between the Kurds and Bashar al-Assad’s government. Until now, Russia sees the Kurds as having adopted 'maximalist positions' in their dealings with the Syrian government. 'Of course, we’d like to avoid casualties. But the Turkish operation could, perhaps, help us settle some issues,' a senior Russian diplomat told Al-Monitor on the basis of anonymity. 'If the Turks attack the Kurds, this may make the latter more flexible in terms of reaching an agreement with Damascus.'"

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"Tehran issues deadline for bypass to US sanctions"

Die iranische Führung hat der EU ein erneutes Ultimatum zur Umsetzung der zugesagten Sanktionserleichterungen gestellt. Rohollah Faghihi berichtet, dass sich Frankreich hinter den Kulissen um einen Kompromiss mit Teheran bemühe. "Iran announced Aug. 5 that it will give Europe one month to rescue it from economically devastating US sanctions before Tehran pulls back further from its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). (...) While many in Tehran have lost faith in Europe’s ability to salvage the nuclear deal — owing to the latter’s past failed attempt to launch an instrument such as INSTEX that would cover Iran oil sales — the next few weeks seem crucial to the life of the JCPOA, which was the result of a decade of negotiations."

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"How Turkey is planning to handle US blowback over S-400s"

Die türkische Regierung ziehe die Lieferung der russischen S-400-Raketenabwehrsysteme mit Absicht in die Länge, um angemessen auf amerikanische Gegenmaßnahmen reagieren zu können, schreibt Metin Gurcan. Ankara sehe US-Präsident Trump dabei durchaus als Verbündeten: "Simply put, Ankara plans to get missiles in late September and fully activate the S-400 batteries at the end of the year, a kind of slow-motion activation that could spread the crisis out over the months to gain more time and manage Washington's responses with Trump's help. As I noted in an earlier article, Ankara is counting heavily on Trump to limit restrictions on F-35 jets and to keep the CAATSA sanctions off Turkey. The answers most people are looking for are whether Trump entered into a commitment at Osaka, and, if he did, what he is going to get from Ankara. What can Trump do for Turkey? He can delay the CAATSA process as much as possible to give time to Ankara, and also work to lighten possible sanctions."

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"Russia eyes big picture with S-400 sale to Turkey"

Russland verfolge mit dem geplanten Verkauf seiner S-400-Raketensysteme in Länder des Nahen Ostens auch das Ziel, die Abhängigkeit der Region von den USA zu reduzieren, schreibt Maxim A. Suchkov. "Moscow long ago figured out that the American grip on the region hinges to a large degree on its military component. Being unable to compete with the United States in physical presence nor in military procurements — and, frankly, seeing no need to pursue this path — Russia has nonetheless gradually filled niches by selling arms and forging associated military-technical partnerships. (...) Just like 'Russian interference' in the US elections, 'S-400' has become a buzzword for Russia’s perceived potency and exposes Western discomfiture. The interference issue is understood as Moscow's attempt to divide (predominately Western) societies to bring populist forces to power. The S-400 and Russia's other military-technical proposals serve to 'diversify and conquer.' Moscow wins its partners by providing them a political, military or technological alternative to what the United States has to offer. Technologically it may be not as advanced as the American products, yet at least as Moscow sees it, many world elites today prioritize strategic independence over technology (...)."

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"Rouhani out of time, support for revised nuclear deal"

Präsident Rohani sehe sich im Konflikt um das Atomabkommen zwei Fronten gegenüber, schreibt der iranische Journalist Rohollah Faghihi. Die US-Sanktionen, aber auch das europäische Versagen bei der Umsetzung des zugesagten speziellen Zahlungskanals Instex, führten im Iran zu einer spürbaren Radikalisierung. "(...) Iranians apparently aren't the only ones disappointed with Instex. A European diplomat told Al-Monitor, 'Even China doesn't believe Instex is useful. They're going to establish their own system.' (...) Domestically, Rouhani is losing a six-year battle to hard-liners and has been seriously weakened by the dire economic situation, which is rooted in the US undermining of the JCPOA. According to some reports, Rouhani’s popularity has fallen below 10%, which is unprecedented. (...) Moderates in Tehran risk being accused of betraying their country. They are being undermined and isolated, and their positions are being taken away one by one. (...) Rouhani is in such a difficult place right now that it would be hard for him to sell even his preferred version of Instex, which would allow oil sales. This isn't 2015, when Rouhani enjoyed vast public support and was able to force the establishment and hard-liners to cave in. Now, he doesn't have ordinary Iranians standing behind him to pave his way to a compromise with Europe. If he had that support, he could at least give Europe and Instex one more shot."

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"Iraq orders militias to fully integrate into state security forces"

Die irakische Regierung hat per Dekret angeordnet, dass sich die Milizen der Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) vollständig in die staatlichen Sicherheitskräfte integrieren müssen. "According to the decree, all the military factions within the PMU must retire their political and military affiliations and come under the full control of the prime minister as the commander in chief of the armed forces. Former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a similar decree in May 2018, but it has not been fully implemented, as some factions in the PMU are still affiliated with political parties and are under Iranian influence. (...) Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has frequently requested that the Iraqi government not dissolve or integrate the PMU into the Iraqi army. As a parallel force, the PMU factions are able to operate separate from the army, perhaps leading to activities that could cause trouble for Iraq with the United States or regional powers. (...) Although Abdul Mahdi's move is an important step to prevent Iraq from becoming a battleground between Iran and the United States, there is no guarantee that the pro-Iran militias will abide by the decree."

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"With 'Chernobyl,' Iranians talk other people's nuclear problems, for a change"

Die hochgelobte HBO-Serie "Chernobyl" habe auch im Iran eine angeregte Diskussion ausgelöst, berichtet Rohollah Faghihi. "The debate got started the day after the series premiered, when presidential adviser Hesameddin Ashena tweeted that politicians and members of the establishment should watch 'Chernobyl' and 'learn a lesson' from it. He underscored that the final episode raised a key issue: 'The main point of [the series] is the shocking question 'What is the cost of lies?'' (...) Choosing sides, others jumped into the debate in no time. The Reformist daily Shahrvand argued on June 17 that Farasati had used 'Chernobyl' to make a point about 'capitalist plotting and propaganda,' while Ashena had used it as a lesson for officials on transparency. The Reformist newspaper Sazandegi wrote on June 10, 'The controversy that this five-episode series has created is beyond reviewing a tragic occurrence … [The series] caused many for the first time to think about nuclear energy and its possible dangers.'"

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"Why Erdogan’s historic Istanbul defeat is irreparable"

Der Niederlage der Erdogan-Partei AKP bei der Kommunalwahl in Istanbul sei ein "politisches Erdbeben", das der Herrschaft des Präsidenten schweren Schaden zugefügt habe, meint Kadri Gursel. Er erinnert daran, dass Erdogans politischer Aufstieg ebenfalls in Istanbul begonnen habe. "(...) Erdogan’s election as Istanbul mayor in 1994 heralded the ascent of political Islam to the top echelons of power. His loss of Istanbul now is a clear sign that the trend has reversed. The threat of losing Turkey next is very real, for Erdogan is short of tools to stop or reverse the downward momentum. (...) To fend off the threat of losing Turkey, Erdogan must find a remedy to the main trouble that cost him Istanbul, namely the skyrocketing prices and joblessness. The impact of those two highly damaging factors has been amplified by the government’s failure to put up a comprehensive and credible package of measures against a deepening economic crisis. (...) All in all, the Istanbul defeat will further accelerate the descending momentum of Erdogan’s government. June 23 marks not the beginning of the end, as many say, but something more — the end of the beginning of the end, with the next stage underway."

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"War-averse Trump looks for off ramp with Iran"

Nach der gefährlichen Eskalation des Konflikts mit dem Iran suche US-Präsident Trump offensichtlich einen Weg zur Vermeidung eines offenen Kriegs, schreibt Laura Rozen. Allerdings sei Trump von vielen Beratern umgeben, die kaum Interesse an entsprechenden diplomatischen Optionen haben. "Trump has said numerous times and former advisers attest that he is averse to getting drawn into another military conflict in the Middle East. But it is not clear that he has the team in place to effectively advise him how to get to the table with Iran or the limits of the maximum pressure campaign that has no serious direct diplomatic engagement. (...) Trump may have some internal administration support for an effort to pursue diplomatic negotiations with Iran but is also being undermined by skeptics on his own side, said former George W. Bush administration State Department Iran adviser Suzanne Maloney. (...) 'I do think the State [Department] crowd wants some kind of talks,' Maloney continued. 'I'm not convinced that they have invested much work in devising a framework for talks, but I do think there is a constituency for diplomacy beyond Trump himself.' 'On the other hand, there is some evidence that this administration is so dysfunctional in terms of process and that there are so many ideological opponents of diplomacy that anything other than 'more of the same' is doomed,' she said."

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"Intel: Latest UN Khashoggi report could up pressure on Saudis"

Al-Monitor erläutert die politische Bedeutung des neuen Berichts der UN-Sonderberichterstatterin Agnes Callamard zum Mord am Journalisten Jamal Khashoggi. "Callamard’s report confers global legitimacy to Turkey’s claims that the crown prince was directly responsible for Khashoggi’s death, a position upheld by Western intelligence in their own assessments. (...) Bin Salman was bruised by the scandal but ultimately survived it, thanks in no small part to the Donald Trump administration, which took no action against the crown prince. The UN report will serve as fodder for his multiple enemies both at home and in the region. (...) Callamard called on the FBI to open an investigation and said Washington needs to establish whether the crown prince was indeed responsible under US law. In the unlikely event that the United States complies, his doting father King Salman bin Adulaziz Al Saud may finally shove him aside."

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"Russia, Iran in tug of war over Syria military reform"

Kirill Semenov macht darauf aufmerksam, dass pro-iranische Milizen sich nicht an der laufenden Offensive syrischer und russischer Truppen in der Idlib-Provinz beteiligen. Dies habe Spekulationen über mögliche Spannungen zwischen Russland und Iran ausgelöst. Beiden Seiten hätten z.B. unterschiedliche Pläne zur Reform der syrischen Streitkräfte. "(...) Russia acknowledges that Iran is deeply rooted in the Syrian military and security apparatuses. If the structures Iran created in Syria are not replaced with pro-Russian equivalents, the combat effectiveness of the army would be severely diminished. In order to remove Iranian influence from the army structures, those structures must be reformed: first by integrating the pro-regime militia squads, which make up the majority of Assad’s troops, into the regular Syrian army. Next, their staffing and management structures should be updated to meet modern-day requirements. However, as of yet, Iran is the only party effectively working to merge militias with regular army divisions. As a result, Iran is erecting even more obstacles to the separation of its proxy structures from the government's army."

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"Democrats want to tie Trump’s hands on Iran. Here are their options."

Die Demokraten im US-Kongress wollen verhindern, dass Präsident Trump dem Iran ohne parlamentarische Einwilligung den Krieg erklären kann. Bryant Harris erläutert die gesetzlichen Optionen, die den Demokraten dafür offen stehen. "The Donald Trump administration's aggressive stance against Iran has left Congress scrambling to reclaim some say on foreign policy. But after ceding power to the president for decades, lawmakers face an uphill battle. Democrats have invoked the Vietnam-era War Powers Act to try to limit US participation in the war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, but did not have enough support to override the president’s veto. Lawmakers of both parties are also challenging the administration’s attempt to do an end run around Congress in selling weapons to Iran’s Arab foes. Finally, several legislators are invoking the proverbial power of the purse to cut off funding for kinetic action against Iran."

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"Why Turkey is closing down Syrian refugee camps"

Metin Gurcan berichtet, dass die türkische Regierung Ende des vergangenen Jahres mit der Schließung von Lagern für syrische Flüchtlinge begonnen hat. "The Turkish government cites the high costs of the camps and the integration problems of Syrians to justify its decision. However, according to experts and human right activists, the real reason is different. Turkey has closed six refugee camps in Gaziantep, Adiyaman and Kilis. Syrian refugees compelled to leave the camps have two choices: go to bigger cities in Turkey, or return to Syria. (...) According to Omar Kadkoy, a policy analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), the decision to close down the camps has less to do with the government’s integration policy and more with contextualizing Syrians’ repatriation. 'The decision also stems from the associated costs of running camps,' Kadkoy, who is Syrian himself, told Al-Monitor. 'Refugee encampment in Turkey means full governmental accommodation, which is a difficult situation to sustain, especially with the ongoing economic limbo.' He continued, 'Thus, Syrians are left with three options: become urban dwellers and receive financial aid for rent, which is ambiguous in terms of sustainability; relocate temporarily to another camp and wait for its turn to be closed; or return to Syria. The fact remains that refugees living in camps are among the most vulnerable.'"

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"Idlib exposes Turkey’s weak hand against Russia"

Die aktuelle Offensive syrischer Regierungstruppen in der von Rebellen gehaltenen Idlib-Provinz habe den begrenzten Charakter der türkisch-russischen Kooperation vor Ort offenbart, schreibt der türkische Kolumnist Semih Idiz. "Given its position over the S-400s, which is clearly intended to send a strong message to the United States — with whom Turkey also has deep differences in Syria — Ankara is unlikely to take a position on any topic that will anger Moscow. However, this reluctance weakens Turkey’s hand in Syria, where it hoped that closer cooperation with Russia would enable it to upset American plans east of the Euphrates River in territory held by the US-supported YPG. (...) Security analyst Nihat Ali Ozcan believes that Ankara’s burgeoning ties with Moscow cover a wide area ranging from military and economic cooperation to energy cooperation, and argues that this is preventing it from openly criticizing Russia for its actions in Syria. 'Turkey is also in an embarrassing position with regard to Russia because it has failed to realize the commitments it undertook at Sochi,' Ozcan told Al-Monitor. Referring to Turkey’s silence over Russian attacks in Idlib that it blames on the Assad regime, he invoked an old Turkish saying: 'He who can’t beat his donkey will end up beating its saddle.' The bottom line is that Turkey's ties with Russia have effectively given Moscow the upper hand against Ankara, which the Russian side is clearly intent on using to its advantage."

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"US prepares new pressure campaign on Assad"

Die US-Regierung will den Druck auf die syrische Regierung in den kommenden Monaten nach Informationen von Al-Monitor erneut verstärken, um Zugeständnisse in den stagnierenden Verhandlungen unter Führung der UN zu erzwingen. "A senior State Department official told Al-Monitor that the Trump administration plans to intensify political and economic pressure on Syria in the coming months to compel the Bashar al-Assad government to 'see reality and make concessions' regarding the stalled UN-backed peace process. (...) The pressure campaign comes as Assad’s forces are stepping up their offensive against the last rebel-held province of Idlib, which is largely under the control of al-Qaeda breakaway group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham."

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"Long-expected battle for Idlib may have begun"

Die Einnahme der strategisch wichtigen Stadt Kfar Nabudah durch syrische Regierungstruppen könnte den lange erwarteten Beginn der Offensive zur Eroberung der Idlib-Provinz markieren, schreibt Shelly Kittleson. "Idlib had an estimated population of approximately 1.5 million in 2011; but several waves of forcibly displaced and internally displaced persons have swelled it to an estimated over 3 million. There has been virtually no international media inside the province since early 2015, when the Turkish authorities closed the border to journalists. Exceptional authorization has occasionally been granted, but mainly only for short reporting trips by Turkish state broadcaster TRT. Independent documentation is thus exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. (...) The minimal participation of Iranian-backed militias of foreign origin in the fighting also hints at the offensive being Russia-directed. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin claimed May 9 that Russia was 'reacting along with government forces in response to terrorist attacks' in Idlib and that 'we are doing all this in coordination with the Turkish side.'"

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"Democrats move to defund Yemen war after veto defeat"

Der Kongressbeschluss zur Einstellung der amerikanischen Unterstützung Saudi-Arabiens im Jemen-Krieg ist durch das Veto des US-Präsidenten zurückgewiesen worden. Die Demokraten wollen nun Bryant Harris zufolge versuchen, die amerikanische Rolle in Jemen über den Weg der bereitgestellten Finanzmittel zu reduzieren. "'What we’re hoping is that Congress overrides the veto through other legislative means,' said Kate Kizer, the policy director for Win Without War, a coalition of activist groups that pushed Congress to pass the war powers legislation. 'We’re hoping that they’ll also try to ban weapons sales to the coalition for at least a two-year basis, probably through the appropriations process.' (...) Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., who controls the House floor as chairman of the Rules Committee, has introduced a separate bill banning Saudi Arabia from US arms sales, training and defense cooperation. And Menendez continues to block a $2 million arms sale for Saudi Arabia, which includes $1 million in precision-guided munitions. 'At some point the Saudis are going to run out of the munitions,' Murphy said. 'They’re going to need to be restocked.'"

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"Are Trump, Netanyahu planning to 'buy off' the Palestinians?"

Ben Caspit warnt vor einem imminenten Kollaps der palästinensischen Autonomiebehörde, da die bisherigen Mechanismen zur Rettung des Status Quo nicht mehr funktionierten. Vor diesem Hintergrund könnte US-Präsident Trump versuchen, die Palästinenser mit finanziellen Versprechen von seinem kommenden "Jahrhundert-Deal" zu überzeugen. "A host of mitigating factors has disappeared; checks and balances have collapsed. Both sides cry 'help me,' but there is no one to come to the rescue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trapped in the most right-wing coalition that has ever existed, and is thus held hostage by the extremists. President Abbas is dispirited, sick, at the twilight of his tenure and striving for a dramatic way to leave his mark. The world leaders who usually know how to push the two sides into each other’s arms at the right moment are tired of the game. Special circumstances will be needed to avert a free fall. (...) At this dramatic moment, when everything is falling apart, the American program will be unfurled. It is believed by Israeli and American officials that the program will include an especially generous international Marshall Plan to rehabilitate the PA’s territories with enormous investments and massive economic assistance. According to this theory, the timing will be perfect. One moment before bankruptcy and chaos, a new option will be presented to the Palestinians that can transform Ramallah and other Palestinian cities into the Middle East version of Singapore. (...) The problem is that anyone who is really familiar with the people involved knows that the chances of success are very low, at least in the current generation."

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"Why was Arab voter turnout so low in Israel’s elections?"

Bei den jüngsten israelischen Parlamentswahlen ist die Wahlbeteiligung arabischer Israelis erneut gesunken. Daoud Kuttab hält dies für die Folge einer zunehmenden Verzweiflung und des Vertrauensverlustes. "Botrus Mansour, director general of the Nazareth Baptist School, told Al-Monitor that even though Palestinian citizens have done well economically and their legislators have performed solidly in the Knesset, those factors have failed to boost turnout. 'Nazareth had the biggest drop in voting,' he said of the largest Arab city in Israel. 'While some intellectuals boycotted [the elections] on an ideological basis, most stayed away out of apathy and desperation.' Mansour blames political marginalization for the low turnout. 'The marginalization of Arabs and their lack of influence, despite their abilities, is a major reason for this feeling of desperation,' he said."

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"US eyes bigger role for Libyan warlord as civil war looms"

Die US-Regierung kann sich Jack Detsch zufolge vorstellen, General Khalifa Hafter eine führende Position in einer neuen libyschen Einheitsregierung anzubieten, um den Vormarsch der Libyschen Nationalarmee (LNA) auf Tripolis zu stoppen. "'The US doesn’t want Hifter to continue with this campaign,' a former US official told Al-Monitor. 'I think they’d like to see him in a powerful position within the security apparatus of a unified Libyan state, but they want him to be incorporated into the state via a political solution to the conflict.' (...) Despite the United States signing on to a five-country statement rebuking Hifter’s advance on Monday, experts say Washington realizes the military map may be changing faster than the administration can draw up a policy response. Alice Hunt Friend, a former Pentagon official who’s now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the United States has displayed a 'real pragmatism' about 'tolerating' Hifter."

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"The backstory to Hifter's march on Tripoli"

Khalifa Hifter, Anführer der Libyan National Army (LNA), hat angekündigt, in die libysche Hauptstadt Tripoli einmarschieren zu wollen. Der Libyen-Experte Jason Pack hält diese Entwicklung des Bürgerkriegs nicht für überraschend. "It is actually the tail end of a five-year process since Hifter launched Operation Dignity with the proximal aim of ridding Benghazi of jihadists and a distal aim of conquering the whole country. Does this announcement represent a fundamental change in Libya’s war or just a natural culmination? Is Hifter on the precipice of victory? As this article goes to press, the country is truly holding their collective breaths in fear of a new phase of violence in which a genuine hot war would engulf Tripoli, possibly destroying prospects of a political agreement that was supposed to be formalized and endorsed 'by the Libyan people' at an upcoming National Conference only 10 days from now. My 11 years of work in and on Libya leads me to believe that we are not on the verge of something genuinely new, but only another iteration in a long, drawn-out process."

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"Syria's Kurds increasingly isolated as Arab tribes cut deals with regime"

Arabische Stämme in Syrien, die bisher an der Seite der Kurden mit amerikanischer Unterstützung gegen den IS gekämpft haben, seien zunehmend zu Gesprächen und Kompromissen mit Präsident Assad bereit, berichtet Amberin Zaman. "Over the past several months, a growing number of Arab tribal leaders residing in SDF-controlled areas have been reaching out to the Assad regime and cutting individual deals, according to Syrian Kurdish officials and Arab notables interviewed by Al-Monitor. In the mainly Arab town of Manbij, which is run by local allies of the US-backed SDF, the shift among the sheikhs is palpable. (...) The Kurds, who arguably are the biggest beneficiaries of US protection after beating back the jihadis and expanding the territories under their control to include the strategic Tabqa dam and oil fields in Rmeilan and Hassakah, are in the stickiest position of all. 'The US doesn’t want us to talk to the regime, but at the same time they are not offering us an alternative plan for the future; they are not willing to engage with us politically,' complained Fawza Yusuf, a senior figure in the Kurdish-led administration running the US-protected zone."

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"Intel: Why Netanyahu can’t go too far in responding to Hamas rockets"

Al-Monitor stellt fest, dass die israelische Regierung in ihrer Reaktion auf den erneuten Raketenbeschuss aus Gaza bisher darauf achte, nicht zu weit zu gehen. "A stronger response — such as bombing heavily populated areas, sending in ground forces or targeting Hamas leaders — could lead to full-scale war and mass military and civilian casualties. The goal of such an operation would have to be to topple Hamas in Gaza, with unpredictable costs. And if international uproar once again forces an end to Israeli operations before they’re complete, that would be the death knell of the Netanyahu government’s efforts to reach a long-term agreement with Hamas. Once again, the prime minister’s short-term political interests are clashing with the country’s long-term strategic plans. (...) It seems Netanyahu has decided to stick with his security advisers’ recommendations and keep talks with Hamas alive. To reduce political damage, the prime minister has taken to attacking his opponent, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, for failing to rein in Hamas when he was chief of staff of the army."

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"Russia seeks to hold reluctant Turkey accountable in Syria"

Fehim Tastekin schreibt, dass sich die Türkei nach wie vor der russischen Forderung gegenübersehe, die Kontrolle der Idlib-Provinz an syrische Regierungstruppen zu übertragen. Der Vereinbarung vom 17. September 2018 zufolge sollte die Türkei dort eine demilitarisierte Zone schaffen, was nicht gelungen sei. "To summarize the latest situation in Idlib: Although unwillingly adhering to Russia's operations plan, Turkey still hopes HTS will be freed from the terrorist label, so a new 'terror-free' structure can take over control of Idlib and preserve the status quo until a political solution is reached. Russia still hopes Turkey will contribute to the Syrian regime's takeover of the region. Russia is paying much attention to keeping Turkey on its side while trying to sort out the Idlib mess."

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"2020 Democrats vow to re-enter Iran nuclear deal"

Fünf Präsidentschaftskandidaten der US-Demokraten haben angekündigt, im Fall ihres Wahlsiegs das Atomabkommen mit dem Iran neu aufleben zu lassen. "Re-entry into the nuclear deal with Iran is fast becoming a litmus test for Democrats hoping to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. No fewer than five declared candidates have told Al-Monitor over the past few weeks that they would rejoin the deal without preconditions should they win the presidency — as long as Iran continues to live up to its end of the 2015 pact. These include well-known lawmakers such as Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who both voted for the deal in 2015, along with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who was elected in 2016. The trend comes as pro-deal advocacy groups are ramping up their outreach to Democrats ahead of the first primary debate in June."

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"Turkey and US head to new crisis over Ankara’s S-400 purchase"

Die Türkei will trotz der Warnungen aus den USA auf dem Kauf russischer S-400-Raketen bestehen und könnte das Verhältnis zum NATO-Partner damit vor neue Probleme stellen, schreibt Semih Idiz. "Many expect Turkey’s deployment of the S-400s to rekindle the debate on whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey belongs in the Western alliance. The ultimate decision on the S-400s rests with Erdogan, as the sole authority in Turkey today, and he appears determined to go ahead with the deal concluded with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. 'There is no point in discussing this anymore because we have concluded the deal with Mr. Putin and Russia,' Erdogan said in a jointly televised interview with Turkish channels last week. 'There is no turning back because such an immoral move would be unseemly. If we make an agreement, we stand by it,' he said. (...) A day before Erdogan’s comments, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who is NATO’s supreme allied commander and also commands US forces in Europe, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington that the sale of F-35 jets to Turkey should be stopped if Ankara goes ahead with the S-400 deal. Scaparrotti pointed out that the S-400s were not interoperable with NATO systems and would pose a problem for the security of the F-35."

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"Why Algerian protesters aren't satisfied with Bouteflika's latest 'concession'"

Das Zugeständnis des algerischen Präsidenten Bouteflika, auf eine fünfte Amtszeit zu verzichten, wird Simon Speakman Cordall zufolge von vielen Demonstranten als ungenügend betrachtet. "Within Algiers, few appeared willing to even consider the limited concessions offered in early March. 'The proposal is ridiculous because they are just trying to make time to find a plan,' a spokesperson for the youth-led 'No to a Fifth Term' told Al-Monitor, before rejecting the notion that any further poll would take place ahead of the next electoral round in five years. (...) 'Really, people are just looking for the rule of law,' [Jessica Northey of Coventry University] said. 'They just want the government to respect the [Algerian] Constitution they spent years writing. It’s hardly surprising that they’ve lost confidence in Bouteflika. Not just because he’s so ill or that they hardly ever see him, but because the constitution keeps getting amended to keep him in power.'"

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"Two-state solution loses champion as Livni drops from race"

Mit der Oppositionspolitikerin Tzipi Livni habe sich die letzte wichtige Vertreterin einer Zweistaatenlösung als Kandidatin bei den israelischen Parlamentswahlen zurückgezogen, berichtet Mazal Mualem. "Livni could be described as someone who jumped from party to party in order to survive. She could even be called an opportunist for joining the Netanyahu government in 2013. But what can never be taken from her is her diplomatic agenda. More than anyone else in Israeli politics over the last few years, Livni came to be identified with the two-state solution. It’s not that Meretz or the Labor Party didn’t talk about it; she was simply its best spokesperson, particularly because she grew up in a Revisionist (right-wing) home and was so deeply entrenched in the Likud. To her credit, it must be said that she never abandoned her diplomatic vision. In many ways, she sacrificed herself for it. Politics is a brutal game, and this week Livni reached the end. But this is not just the personal saga of a rise and fall, but the end of an era in Israeli politics. A decade of Netanyahu rule have made dust of the notion that the Palestinians are legitimate partners for peace, leaving Livni without a political base. Her retirement is the final blow to her quest for a two-state solution."

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"Jihadists of Idlib splitting under Turkish pressure"

Der türkische Journalist Fehim Tastekin erklärt das komplexe Beziehungsgeflecht der rivalisierenden Rebellenfraktionen in der Idlib-Provinz im Nordwesten Syriens. Er erwartet, dass Russland nur noch den angekündigten Abzug der US-Truppen abwarten will, um die Provinz wieder unter die Kontrolle der syrischen Regierung zu bringen. "An Idlib operation is waiting for the United States to complete its Syria withdrawal. If the United States withdraws before the end of April, an Idlib operation will be seriously on the table. Even if HTS is included in the Turkey-guided Syrian National Army (formed from factions of the Free Syrian Army) as discussed, Russia will stick to the option used in eastern Aleppo, eastern Ghouta, Daraa and Quneitra: Factions will hand over their weapons and allow the Syrian regime army to return."

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