Blog Middle East

Roundup: Our top five posts on the Middle East

The title says it all.

An IS mural in Tal Afar features a quote from Islamist ideologue Abdullah Azzam: "If you want to liberate a land, place in your gun ten bullets: nine for the traitors and one for the enemy."
An IS mural in Tal Afar features a quote from Islamist ideologue Abdullah Azzam: “If you want to liberate a land, place in your gun ten bullets: nine for the traitors and one for the enemy.”

The title says it all.

The death of Reyaad Khan: Richard Barrett examines the life and death of Reyaad Khan, a British man who turned from youth activist in Wales to ISIS member.

His killing brings into focus many aspects of the British response to the terrorist threat, and in particular to the challenges presented by the Islamic State. Perhaps the first question is why Reyaad Khan joined the Islamic State in the first place. The most recent official estimate of the number of UK citizens who have done the same is 700. Not a huge number compared to the many thousands who have made the journey from Arab States, but nonetheless a significant one when considering the opportunities and alternatives that exist in the UK and the lack of them in the Arab World.

On the Frontline of Terror: The Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Arab Spring: Here, Lara Fatah looks at the Kurdistan region before and after the uprisings of 2011.

Suffice to say that the two biggest impacts that the Arab spring has had on Kurdistan is firstly, that it is now home to over 1.5 million refugees and IDPs, which has increased the KRI’s population by approximately 25 per cent, placing a huge strain on the local economy and the available resources. Moreover, some politicians have expressed fear about the possible future impact on the region’s demographics.

Secondly and more ominously, Iraq’s Kurds are now the frontline of the global fight against the terror of ISIL. With the Iraqi Army all but collapsing on the northern fronts, the Kurdish Peshmerga and Counter Terrorism forces have been left to hold the line and stop further cities falling into ISIL’s grasp.

Oman’s independent foreign policy: a triumph for global diplomacy: Asha Castleberry explains why Oman’s foreign policy is so successful.

Oman’s 21st-century, independent foreign policy is a growing asset in peacemaking in the region. Nevertheless, Oman’s peacemaking role is often overshadowed by Saudi Arabia’s regional dominance.  When it comes to influence in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia remains the most powerful gulf state. Ranging from security issues like nuclear proliferation, countering ISIL, the Syrian and Yemeni crises and the Arab-Israeli conflict, Saudi Arabia’s position on every issue is critical for U.S. foreign policy. Since the passing of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Saudi Arabia has grown more militarily involved in Yemen conflict and aggressive in arming rebel groups in Syria.

For some young Syrians, war brings unexpected freedom: In this article, Rasha Elass uses interviews with young Syrian refugees along with her own experiences living and working in the region to explain the implications of the Syrian civil war on the country’s youth culture.

Ask a Frenchman what it means to be French, and he’ll say: “Equality. Liberty. Fraternity.”

Ask an American teenager what it means to be American, and she’ll invoke the Founding Fathers, separation of church and state, and the U.S. Constitution.

Ask Syrian school children, or Lebanese, or Iraqi, and each one will give a different answer depending on their politics, ethnicity, or religion.

It’s a revolution: the cultural outpouring fueled by Syrian war: On a related note, miriam cooke dives into some of the art that has been produced in the wake of the Syrian civil war.

The wall of fear that had crushed the souls of the people under the draconian regimes of Hafiz and Bashar al-Assad has indeed broken. Not only can the name of the president be mentioned, unthinkable before the revolution broke out in 2011, Bashar is consistently ridiculed and even openly attacked. The YouTube finger puppet series “Top Goon” shows Beeshu (a diminutive nickname for Bashar) to be a butcher and a coward. Caricaturists are having a heyday; in this image Amjad Wardeh depicts Beeshu getting high after an explosion as he snorts a noxious mix of crushed bones and building dust.

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