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Australia joins UNHRC: Can Canberra help catalyse badly needed UN reform?

Australia joins UNHRC: Can Canberra help catalyse badly needed UN reform? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: United Nations, Updates    

Australia has achieved a significant international win in being elected to join the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for a three-year term starting in January 2018.  However, Australia may face great challenges in promoting its agenda for human rights at the UNHRC, as the Council has long been marred by politicisation and undermined by the election of members who are serial human rights offenders, and not human rights advocates.

The doomed Palestinian reconciliation plan
Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar: Signs of pragmatism

The doomed Palestinian reconciliation plan Author: Grant Rumley Categories: Fatah, Hamas, Palestinians    

The likeliest explanation for Hamas' sudden shift is the change in its leadership. Earlier this year, the results of the group's secret internal elections were announced as Ismail Haniyeh, a former prime minister in the unity government of 2007, and Yahya Sinwar, a hardline leader of Hamas' military wing, became the number one and number two leaders of the faction. Both represent a shift in Hamas' centre of gravity from the exiled political class abroad back to the Gaza-based military leadership.

Biblio File: Banlieues and Bombs
Islamist attacks in France have killed almost 250 people over the past two and a half years

Biblio File: Banlieues and Bombs Author: James Kirchick Categories: Europe, Terrorism    

Kepel is particularly knowledgeable about the history and process of radicalisation that takes place in his nation's heavily Muslim banlieues (the depressed housing projects ringing Paris and other major cities), and Terror in France is informed by decades of fieldwork in these volatile locales.

Print edition
Deconstruction Zone: The Story of a Teenage Terrorist
Qatiba Zahran: Victim of a culture steeped in the hatred of Jews and the glorification of “martyrdom”

Deconstruction Zone: The Story of a Teenage Terrorist Author: Stephen Flatow Categories: Palestinians, Terrorism    

A little-reported stabbing incident, coupled with a large dose of Palestinian Authority-generated fake news, has revealed pretty much everything you need to know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Assad's Pyrrhic Victory
Syrian independence is now in hock to Russia, Hezbollah and especially Iran

Assad's Pyrrhic Victory Author: Jacques Neriah Categories: Middle East, Syria    

Syria is now an Iranian-Russian satellite whose existence as a state depends on the military presence of its patrons. Indeed, six years later, the Alawite regime is on life-support provided by Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iranian satellite proxies.

Noted and Quoted - October 2017
Robert Fisk: Typically opinionated and ill-informed

Noted and Quoted - October 2017 Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Visiting Beirut-based British correspondent Robert Fisk was typically opinionated and ill-informed on Melbourne ABC Radio 774 "Conversation Hour" (Sept. 4).

According to Fisk, "when I go to Israel... I have the habit as most Westerners do who want to believe that Israel is a good state, of going to talk to Israelis who share my point of view. So I go and talk to leftist liberal Israelis... and I think ‘this is the Israel I believe in'... But when I take the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and I talk to people on that bus about the Palestinians, it is not necessarily the Israel I want to believe in."

Wow, so Fisk damns a nation of eight million people based on a bus ride.

Is Iran complying with the JCPOA?
Iran has “crossed the line” of the nuclear agreement several times

Is Iran complying with the JCPOA? Author: Tzvi Kahn Categories: International Security, Iran, United States    

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared on Sept. 17 that Iran is in "technical compliance" with the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This assertion ignores multiple Iranian violations of the letter of the accord. It overlooks the lack of transparency in the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) reporting on Teheran's nuclear conduct. It sidesteps the agency's failure to receive access to military sites where nuclear weaponisation activities may have occurred.

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Asia Watch: Myanmar crisis deepens
Rohingya militants: Denying links to al-Qaeda

Asia Watch: Myanmar crisis deepens Author: Michael Shannon Categories: Asia    

Amidst the army crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State that has seen about 300,000 of the Muslim minority Rohingyas flee to Bangladesh, there are signs that the conflict is set to steadily deepen as nationalist identities collide with ethnic and religious loyalties.

Behind the News - October 2017
Will a strengthened mandate enable UNIFIL to limit Hezbollah activity?

Behind the News - October 2017 Categories: Gulf states, Iran, Israel, Syria, Terrorism, United Nations    

The United Nations Security Council voted to renew the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for another year, one day before its mandate was set to expire. The UNIFIL force... is supposed to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which among things, bars all forces other than the Lebanese Army from southern Lebanon. However, Israel says UNIFIL has increasingly turned a blind eye to a massive Hezbollah presence in the area.

IDF signals its red lines in Syria
Netanyahu in Sochi: Trying to keep Russia in the loop on Israel’s Syria policy

IDF signals its red lines in Syria Author: Yaakov Amidror Categories: Israel, Russia, Syria    

Thanks to years of diplomacy between Moscow and Jerusalem, constant dialogue has been maintained to prevent a situation where the Kremlin is surprised by an Israeli move. Israel truly values this relationship and acts to safeguard it, both in cases where Russia does not approve of Israeli moves and where Israel does not approve of Russia's actions and arms deals.

Essay: The Virtual Caliphate

Essay: The Virtual Caliphate Author: Mina Hamblet Categories: Islamic Extremism, Terrorism    

Al-Qaeda has been all but eclipsed by the Islamic State (ISIS), which has skilfully used social media to become the foremost purveyor of jihadist indoctrination in the West, creating a "virtual caliphate," extremely dangerous and easily accessible to vulnerable men and women from a variety of backgrounds in a manner al-Qaeda was never able to achieve...

Media Microscope: Split Decision
Reports of Hamas reconciling with Fatah brought rare coverage of intra-Palestinian politics

Media Microscope: Split Decision Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Media/ Academia    

Whether it was genuine or a publicity stunt, Hamas' announcement that it is willing to talk about a unity government with its secular Fatah rival and even hold elections certainly was a rare example of Palestinian internal politics that made the mainstream media sit up and pay attention.

Europa Europa: Terms of Engagement
Europol counter-terror chief Gilles de Kerchove

Europa Europa: Terms of Engagement Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Terrorism    

The good burghers of Europe have long assumed that the decline of the ISIS caliphate would diminish the terrorist threat they face. They know better now. ISIS is no longer encouraging activists to join its ranks in Iraq and Syria. Instead, it is advising them to wreak havoc in their home countries.

The pendulum swings back in Jakarta
The mass demonstrations of the past year are gone, giving the Indonesian Government some room to manouevre

The pendulum swings back in Jakarta Author: Giora Eliraz Categories: Asia, Islamic Extremism    

The Government has begun taking concrete actions against the hardline elements that were alleged to be involved in orchestrating the massive show of bigotry and intolerance in the public sphere of Jakarta late last year and early this year.

How to "Fix or Nix" the Iran nuclear deal
Netanyahu and Trump in New York: Of one mind on Iran

How to "Fix or Nix" the Iran nuclear deal Author: Sean Savage Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, United States    

As a presidential candidate, Trump vowed to "rip up" the "disastrous" deal. Yet his administration has not taken any concrete steps to either renegotiate or pull the US out. However, a key deadline looms in mid-October that has led to a flurry of speculation whether the Trump Administration may make a major shift in strategy regarding the deal.

Scribblings: Defective Inspection
Weapons inspectors in Syria clearly have little chance of fulfilling their mission

Scribblings: Defective Inspection Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Security, Iran, Israel, Syria    

Israel has apparently struck many targets in Syria over the past few years as part of its quest to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. What was notable about this one is that Syria is not supposed to have such facilities at all.

The Kurdistan referendum – the aftermath

The Kurdistan referendum – the aftermath Author: Shmuel Levin Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Updates    

As discussed here on FreshAIR a few weeks ago, despite significant opposition, Iraq's Kurds proceeded on 25 September with an independence referendum resulting in an overwhelming ‘yes' vote of 93%. The referendum was opposed with near-unanimity from multiple countries, including most prominently, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Now these countries are threatening retaliation.

The Last Word: Alternatives in Germany

The Last Word: Alternatives in Germany Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Holocaust/ War Crimes    

During my most recent visit to Germany, I spent time at dignified, moving memorials to Jews, Roma and Sinti, and other victims of Nazism. I heard locals explain to visitors, calmly and rationally, why the monuments and museums existed.

Now the third largest party in the German Parliament is one which sees sophisticated understanding of history as an unnecessary burden.

Print edition
Assad is Winning

Assad is Winning Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel, Middle East, Syria    

What until two years ago seemed like the younger Assad's imminent collapse has now given way to his apparent victory. While this development has its positive elements, especially in terms of ending the terrible bloodshed in Syria, from Israel's viewpoint it is alarming.

Editorial: The Road to Kurdistan

Editorial: The Road to Kurdistan Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Europe, Middle East    

Amidst the chaos and turmoil of the volatile Middle East, there is a long-suffering people that have been denied self-determination continuously for almost a century...

I am not referring to the Palestinians, who have rejected several opportunities to establish their own state... I am talking about the Kurds, who in northern Iraq have demonstrated that they are more than capable of running a stable, comparatively if imperfectly democratic and pro-Western political entity.

Kulturkampf in Merkel's Germany

Kulturkampf in Merkel's Germany Author: Dominic Green Categories: Europe, Far Right    

In the 2013 elections, the AfD narrowly failed to cross the 5% threshold for representation in the Bundestag. On Sunday, it won 13.5% of the vote nationally, and more than 20% in the economically depressed areas of the old East Germany. The AfD will be the third-largest party in the new Bundestag, with up to 89 seats. This is the strongest showing by a new party since 1949.

Why the winner in Syria is ... Iran
Iran: The key player in recent developments

Why the winner in Syria is ... Iran Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Syria    

A flurry of diplomatic activity is currently taking place in the Syrian and Iraqi arenas. While the moves are occurring on separate and superficially unrelated fronts, taken together they produce an emergent picture. That picture is of two camps, one of which works as a united force on essential interests, the other of which at present does not.

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AfD and the Jewish community

AfD and the Jewish community Author: Shmuel Levin Categories: Antisemitism, Europe, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Updates    

The big news of Germany's recent election is the rise of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) with 12.6% of the vote. AfD is regularly described as far-right and has campaigned strongly on an anti-immigrant and anti-Islam platform. Despite some overtures by AfD leaders towards the Jewish community, Jewish community leaders both inside and outside of the country have sounded the alarm.