US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

The National


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"Why the 1648 Peace of Westphalia treaty merits scrutiny today"

Angesichts der bereits vor ihrem Beginn verfahrenen Friedensgespräche zur Beendigung des Syrienkonflikts empfiehlt Alan Philps einen Blick auf den Westfälischen Frieden von 1648. "There are some similarities between then and now. The Thirty Years War took place in the heart of Europe, inside the German states – Germany had yet to be unified – just as the focus of today’s war is Damascus, the 'beating heart of Arabism'. (...) The cause of the war was the Protestant reformation in Europe a century earlier, in which fundamentalist sects such as Lutheranism broke the monopoly of the Catholic Church and weakened the great powers. (...) As today, the Thirty Years War was not purely about religion. It was a set of interlocking political-religious struggles, with the contest for power sharpening and deepening religious differences. (...) But the key issue is how it was brought to an end. Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state and a noted proponent of the parallels with the 17th century, offers a simple explanation. 'The various Christian groups had been killing each other until they finally decided that they had to live together, but in separate units.' There was no clear winner or loser. The peace was based on 'the necessity to come to an arrangement with each other, not on some sort of superior morality'."

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"Mexico's endless war on drugs has important lessons for the Middle East"

Die erneute Verhaftung des Drogenbosses Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman durch mexikanische Sicherheitskräfte sei durch die Regierung als Bestätigung ihres Krieges gegen Drogen gefeiert worden, schreibt Joseph Dana. Damit werde das offensichtliche Scheitern einer Strategie ausgeblendet, die wichtige Lehren für den amerikanischen "Krieg gegen den Terror" im Nahen Osten bereithalte. "The unwinnable nature of the drug war is the wellspring of corruption and without clearly defined goals, the same will be said of the war on terror that has no clear start or finish. This is one reason why the El Chapo saga is so fascinating. In an attempt to control the narrative of the drug war as something winnable, Mexico has elevated El Chapo and his Sinaloa cartel to the status of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in popular imagination. He is a figurehead who has become larger than the war itself, despite the fact that his involvement in the drug trade will not determine the success or failure of the war on drugs. Similar to Al Qaeda, the Sinaloa cartel now operates on a cell-based model that allows the group to function smoothly regardless of the capture or assassination of any of its primary leaders."

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"Old myths perpetuate poor analysis of Saudi"

Hassan Hassan meint, dass die westliche Analyse der saudi-arabischen Außenpolitik von Stereotypen und "alten Mythen" aus den 1990er Jahren verzerrt werde. Iran sei der tatsächliche Aggressor in der Region. "Perpetuating old stereotypes about Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy ignores the progress – and indeed the drastic changes – that have taken place over the past decade. More importantly, they also reduce Iran’s role in the neighbourhood to a geopolitical rivalry with its neighbours, rather than casting this role in its true light, as an aggressive sectarian agenda that claimed the lives of thousands of people and perpetuated conflict and civil strife. (...) Whatever one’s stance on the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the former's moderate foreign policy has been in clear display for many years. Unfortunately, Iran is an outright regional bully that seeks to force its sectarian agenda on the region through its 'pilgrims' of hate and savagery."

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"After Paris, ISIL will now have to fight its own radicals"

Innerhalb des "Islamischen Staates" gibt es Faisal Al Yafai zufolge eine Debatte darüber, ob die Errichtung eines Kalifats oder der globale Dschihad wichtiger für die Terrormiliz sei. Nach den Anschlägen von Paris werde sich diese Diskussion verschärfen. "By attacking Paris, ISIL may have empowered those within the group who seek a global jihad, rather than those seeking a more limited fight to establish a state. This tension is ongoing, between the remnants of the Saddam regime inside ISIL, the intelligence officers and military men who actually make the decisions, and those who staff the jihad, who are drawn from around the world. The former appear to dream of recapturing power in the form of a nation-state. The latter are fuelled by dreams of a global apocalyptic conflict."

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"Vienna talks may have delivered a gift to Assad"

Hassan Hassan schreibt, dass der in Wien beschlossene Fahrplan zur Beendigung des Bürgerkriegs in Syrien dem Assad-Regime in die Hände spiele und an den Interessen moderater Rebellengruppen vorbeigehe. "The Vienna statement is a gift to the regime. It essentially categorises the anti-government forces as those willing to work with the regime towards an Assad-friendly transition and the rejectionist terrorists. This complicates the situation for non-extremist groups, especially those amiable to foreign leverage. If they are compelled to agree to the botched process, they will lose credibility, and influence, among people. And if they refuse to oblige, they might lose foreign support. Both scenarios will strengthen extremists. The prominence of extremists in the conflict is a product of this conditional support for foreign-backed factions in the first place."

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"How long will Russia be given a free hand in Syria?"

Hussein Ibish vom Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington ist darüber enttäuscht, dass die russische Unterstützung des syrischen Assad-Regimes in der arabischen Welt kaum Entrüstung ausgelöst habe. Auch in Europa schienen sich Stimmen zu mehren, die Assad als Gegengewicht zum "Islamischen Staat" betrachten. "That would be a tragic error. The forces that have brought us the Syrian calamity, including the rise of ISIL, are intensifying their intervention and their determination to shape the future of that country. The question for everybody else is whether they will continue to have a relatively free hand. Or will they finally face concerted, coordinated opposition that, at the very least, forces them to accept a political compromise that involves the end of a brutal dictatorship that has been willing to crucify its own society in the name of raw power?"

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"Tehran may be planning a foreign policy reversal"

Eine erfolgreiche Umsetzung des internationalen Atomabkommens könnte zu einem regionalpolitischen Kurswechsel Irans führen, schreibt Hassan Hassan. "Iran’s next move will probably be to steadily revert to its pre-2011 outlook regarding its neighbourhood. This has been indicated by the diplomatic activity over the past few days: Iran offered a revised proposal for resolving the Syrian conflict; Syrian foreign minister Walid Al Moallem visited Oman; Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk reportedly visited Saudi Arabia; and Adel Al Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, is due to visit Moscow today."

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"Israel must figure out the true cost of occupation"

Das Atomabkommen mit dem Iran sei dabei, die strategische Landkarte im Nahen Osten zu verändern, schreibt Hussein Ibish. Auch Israel versuche, neue Allianzen mit Saudi-Arabien und anderen Golfstaaten einzugehen. Diese Politik werde jedoch aufgrund der israelischen Besatzung der palästinensischen Gebiete schnell an ihre Grenzen stoßen. "(...) the occupation remains absolutely unacceptable to the Arab world (...). Limited progress might be possible in specific areas. (...) But despite the diversity in their policies none of the Gulf states will be prepared to enter into anything remotely resembling an alliance with Israel, despite the threat of Iranian hegemony, as long as the occupation continues with no end in sight. Israelis often debate the cost of the occupation. The fact that it precludes them from building strong working relationships with Arab states with whom they share powerful strategic concerns needs to be factored in as a very high cost indeed."

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"Will Fifa’s shame end in a post-dollar world order?"

Der FIFA-Skandal könnte langfristige geopolitische Konsequenzen haben, schreibt Alan Philps. Die US-Regierung nutze die Verwicklung amerikanischer Banken und die internationale Vorherrschaft des US-Dollars, um die Reichweite ihres Justizministeriums global auszuweiten. Dies könnte Länder wie China und Russland veranlassen, sich noch stärker für die Ablösung des US-Dollars als führende Weltwährung einzusetzen. "US control of the financial system is prompting the world to seek a permanent way to do business outside the grasp of the US Treasury. This means the creation of another global currency. The euro will not be it – its stability is unproven and eurozone countries are susceptible to US pressure. China has a plan to turn its renminbi into an international currency. It is already the 5th most used for global payments. Washington, however, is still jealously guarding the financial privileges it has enjoyed since 1945. (...) In the longer term, there is no true independence for a country that seeks to challenge US supremacy if it still relies on the dollar. As the Fifa scandal shows, the dollar is a hidden source of power equal to the aircraft carrier. A multiplicity of global currencies would change the world’s power balance – and not just make it possible to pay backhanders without Uncle Sam knowing."

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"ISIL is a nuisance, not a global strategic threat"

Tony Karon kritisiert, dass der Islamische Staat in den USA als globale Bedrohung aufgebaut werde. Die "absurde" Debatte erinnere an die "hysterische" Stimmung nach dem 11. September 2001. Verglichen mit anderen Bedrohungen für die internationale Sicherheit handele es sich beim IS lediglich um ein "Ärgernis". "Of course, the Obama administration is not talking about a war on ISIL. The US involvement in fighting ISIL is largely confined to airstrikes, and the talk of a 'coalition' of upwards of 40 countries is fatuous. (...) But there’s a conceptual continuity between the era of Mr Bush’s 'war on terror' and Mr Obama’s countering violent extremism (CVE) campaign. The continuity lies in the idea that small groups of people can become a national security priority by the dissemination of video imagery depicting grotesque acts of violence. (...) There’s no strategic challenge here. It requires a singular lack of perspective to put the actions of the marginalised individuals who executed attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen on a par with such epoch-shaping events as the Depression, the Second World War II and the Cold War."

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"ISIL’s South Asia branch threatens Pakistan"Titel

Der Islamische Staat ist diesem Bericht von Tom Hussain zufolge eine militärische Allianz mit den pakistanischen Taliban eingegangen. "The recently formed South Asian chapter of ISIL has made a military alliance with the Pakistani Taliban and other militants to resist advancing security forces in the Khyber tribal area bordering Afghanistan, militants and security analysts said. The alliance has been formed to marshal scattered manpower and weapons, and deploy them under a unified military command supervised by a committee of representatives of the four member factions: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Khyber-based Lashkar-i-Islam, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and ISIL 'Khorasan'."

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"There will be no swift victory over ISIL in Mosul"

Nach der Niederlage des Islamischen Staats in der syrischen Stadt Kobane hat sich der Blick auf andere Städte unter der Kontrolle der Terrormiliz gerichtet. Alan Philps weist allerdings darauf hin, sich die Situation in Städten wie dem irakischen Mosul kaum mit Kobane vergleichen ließe. "Two other concerns militate against a swift liberation of Mosul. One gets to the heart of ISIL: if its virtual footprint is bigger – and more dangerous for global security – than its strength on the ground, then the way to beat it is to restrict its access to the internet and its reach to its global support base. This is largely uncharted territory. The second issue is better known: Iran and the Shia sectarian militias it supports in Iraq have been prominent in the fightback against ISIL. This made sense when the Iraqi army was in ruins, but the sectarian element is always going to be a plus for ISIL, which can portray itself as the defender of the Sunni minority."

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"Netanyahu and Europe’s far right find common ground"

In der Diskussion um die Zukunft der französischen Juden sei eine "paradoxe" Allianz zwischen Israels Regierung und rechten Bewegungen in Frankreich entstanden, schreibt Jonathan Cook. Premierminister Netanjahu wolle Israel als ethnischen Nationalstaat definieren und habe jüdische Franzosen deshalb zur Auswanderung ermuntert. "Paradoxically, that view is shared by Europe’s far-right, including groups like France’s National Front, whose popularity has been growing on the back of attacks like the one in Paris. They argue that minorities are inherently suspect and that Europe is better off without them. In this regard, Mr Netanyahu and the far-right share much common ground. He wants a Europe free of Jews – as well as Muslims who undermine Europe’s support for Israel – because he thinks that is in Jewish interests. The far-right wants the same because it believes it will be in the interests of a supposed 'native' white majority."

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"The Middle East faces a faceless threat, bigger and more challenging than ISIL"

Faisal Al Yafai fürchtet, dass die hohe Zahl der Flüchtlinge aus Syrien die Aufnahmeländer im Nahen Osten dauerhaft destabilisieren könnte. Die Folgen könnten gefährlicher sein als die Bedrohung durch den Islamischen Staat. "No one should be in any doubt about the seriousness of the Syrian refugee crisis. Nothing – not extremism, not climate change – has the potential to reshape the Middle East’s politics and society as much as the Syrian crisis. (...) We have been here before. The Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and again in 1967 reshaped the politics of the region, in particular in Jordan. There is no reason to imagine this much greater exodus will not have a similar or greater effect, if the issue is not resolved and the war is not ended."

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"Israel’s baffling policies only encourage a third intifada"

Nach den jüngsten Zusammenstößen in Ost-Jerusalem schreibt Hussein Ibish, dass Israel eine neue palästinensische Intifada geradezu herausfordere. Die Regierung scheine sich lediglich darauf zu konzentrieren, den Status Quo zu stabilisieren, eine Strategie zur Entspannung der Situation sei dagegen nicht zu erkennen. "Israel’s reaction to rising unrest in Jerusalem, and the prospect of another uprising in the West Bank, evinces a similar strange dichotomy between highly aggressive street-level and day-to-day security concerns but no apparent plan – apart from additional provocative settlement activity – to help shape the long-term future. This apparent passivity and trust in fate might be politically convenient for certain Israeli leaders. But strategically, and as a matter of national policy, especially for such a powerful and historically aggressive state, it seems utterly inexplicable."

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"Lebanon getting drawn into war with ISIL"

Der Libanon habe sich trotz sporadischer Zusammenstösse lange aus den chaotischen Kämpfen im benachbarten Syrien heraushalten können, schreibt die Zeitung The National aus Abu Dhabi. Zuletzt sei es allerdings immer häufiger zu Kämpfen zwischen libanesischen Soldaten bzw. schiitischen Hisbollah-Kämpfern und sunnitischen Gruppen entlang der Grenze gekommen. "Analysts agree that in Lebanon, ISIL fighters also see an opportunity to strike at Hizbollah’s patron, the Shiite powerhouse Iran but that they are not too eager to immediately embark on yet another war. 'The territory of Lebanon is a longer-term goal,' said David Schenker, director of the programme on Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But there are fears that eventually, Mr Schenker said, ISIL could stage a spectacular bombing of, for example, the Hizbollah stronghold of Dahyeh south of Beirut, recreating an incident similar to a 2006 attack in the Iraqi city of Samarra, and 'unleash this incredible sectarian tension that results in a resumption of civil war'."

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"Already wounded, Hamas ill prepared to resist Israeli onslaught"

Eine in vielerlei Hinsicht geschwächte Hamas könne den israelischen Angriffen in Gaza kaum etwas entgegen setzen, stellt Hugh Naylor fest. "Egypt’s military systematically destroyed the roughly 1,200 tunnels that used to supply Gaza’s 1.7 million residents with subsidised-Egyptian fuel, medicine and building material to circumvent an Israeli siege on the territory. Hamas also benefited greatly from the tunnels, taxing them while using them to bring through rockets and firearms for fighting Israel. (...) The group had already lost crucial financial support from former allies in Tehran and Damascus over its decision to back the rebellion against the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. It also has long been shunned by the West, with the United States and European Union classifying it as a terrorist organisation. (...) 'What you’re seeing now is Hamas being backed into a corner,' said [Talal Okal, an independent analyst who lives in Gaza]."

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"After success in Iraq and Syria, ISIL will find it tougher to crack Jordan"

Nach Syrien und dem Irak könnte Jordanien zum nächsten Ziel der radikalislamischen ISIS werden, schreibt Taylor Luck. "Sharing a 370-kilometre border with Syria to the north and 180 kilometres with Iraq to the east, ISIL has identified Jordan as a vital 'linchpin' to uniting its young caliphate, whose position would allow the movement to open up new routes for fighters and arms between Iraq and Syria – a move that has been singled out by its leadership as key to widening its wars on Baghdad and Damascus. Yet even more attractive to ISIL is the 220km stretch of Jordan Valley farmland separating Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian territories – with leaders eyeing a push into Palestine and possible 'liberation of Jerusalem' as key to winning over ISIL’s doubters."

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"Dysfunction of Arab states puts stress on colonial borders"

Die erfolgreiche Einnahme der irakischen Stadt Mosul durch die extremistische Terrorgruppe Isis werfe ein neues Licht auf die Fragilität staatlicher Grenzen in der Region, meint Michael Young. Verantwortlich sei dabei weniger das koloniale Erbe als die gescheiterten Herrschaftsmodelle autoritärer Regierungen. "The fear of fragmentation in the region derives from an understanding not that its states were created by Western colonial powers, but from the fact that they have become more contested by their own citizens. This has been true of Syria, Iraq, Libya and even Lebanon, which yet remained one country despite a terrible civil war. This dysfunctional nature of the Arab state is the consequence mainly of social contracts that promise citizens only intimidation and repression, usually under the eye of a brutal ruling class, with little by way of rights or economic and human development."

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"Despite the narrative, Syria’s rebels may be gaining ground"

Trotz des Rückzugs der syrischen Rebellen aus Homs und zahlreichen Berichten über andere Fortschritte des Assad-Regimes stellt Hassan Hassan fest, dass die Rebellen insgesamt auf dem Vormarsch seien. "Almost everywhere in Syria – with the exception of the human tragedy that is Homs – the rebels are making surprisingly steady progress. On Monday, armed groups in Idlib bombed a key checkpoint, an action that paves the way for anti-Assad forces to push through Wadi al Dhaif, one of the regime’s largest military bases in the north of the country. Regime-controlled areas in Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa, Rif Dimashq have also come under pressure. These gains arrive as the political opposition reached a landmark, with the US recognising its offices in Washington as a foreign mission, an upgrade that confers a sense of legitimacy to the National Coalition. (...) These developments and gains on the ground hardly dominate the headlines about the conflict. The reason is partly because outsiders appear to be content with the current narrative, which is that the rebels cannot win the war."

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"Events in Syria and outside have turned in Assad’s favour"

Die innen- und außenpolitische Situation des syrischen Machthabers Assad habe sich in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten erheblich verbessert, schreibt Michael Young. Assad habe gegenwärtig nur zwei mögliche Entwicklungen zu fürchten: "The first is that Syria has failed to respect several deadlines for the removal and destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal. If it continues to do so, this could trigger American military retaliation, particularly in a key Congressional election year for Barack Obama. Both Mr Al Assad and Vladimir Putin seek to avoid such an eventuality. (...) A second risk for Mr Al Assad is the purported spring offensive planned by rebels based in southern Syria. News reports have suggested that southern rebel groups have been armed by Saudi Arabia and trained by the Americans and Jordanians. Significantly, they are to be supplied with anti-aircraft missiles stored in warehouses in Jordan. Their principal objective would be to attack Damascus and force Mr Al Assad to negotiate."

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"Why Israelis are content to live in a bubble of denial"

Trotz der öffentlich ausgetauschten Freundlichkeiten während des Besuchs von Bundeskanzlerin Merkel in Israel befänden sich die deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen auf einem Tiefpunkt, schreibt Jonathan Cook. Nicht nur die israelische Reaktion auf die jüngste Rede des EU-Parlamentspräsidenten Martin Schulz in der Knesset zeige, dass das Land in einer "Blase" lebe. "Israelis have grown content to live in a large bubble of denial. Mr Netanyahu and his ministers are making every effort to reinforce that bubble, just as they have tried to shield Israelis from the fact that they live in the Middle East, not Europe, by building walls on every side – both physical and bureaucratic – to exclude Palestinians, Arab neighbours, foreign workers and asylum seekers."

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"With truce offer, Assad has left his regime exposed"

Syriens Machthaber Assad habe mit seinem neuen Angebot eines Waffenstillstands einen Regimewechsel wahrscheinlicher gemacht, meint Faisal Al Yafai. Zum einen habe Assad die Opposition implizit als politische Alternative anerkannt, zum andern sei denkbar, dass ein Waffenstillstand durch internationale Truppen kontrolliert werden könnte. "That’s why the Aleppo truce is so important. If the opposition and its backers in the international community are canny, they will push the Security Council to adopt a resolution deciding ceasefire terms for the city. Russia, as Syria’s backer among the permanent five members, can hardly object to such a resolution. With a resolution in hand and with international backing, there could be all sorts of opportunities to police the ceasefire – with the ability, later, to go back to the Security Council for a further resolution if Mr Al Assad were in breach. The door to strong international action is suddenly open again."

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