Ed: 40: June/2015
This new book by the ever-controversial Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan is yet another example of his scholarship and prognostications about a Middle East that just will not stay pegged to standard leftist tropes. In this case, Cole attempts to capture the significance of the so-called Arab spring, which he believes to be an earth-shattering phenomenon. But his theories have been decisively overtaken by events.
The Christian communities of Syria and Iraq have survived 2,000 years of tumult and war. In some of them, prayers are still said in Aramaic, the language that Jesus used in daily life. These communities now tremble on the brink of destruction.
Christopher Hayes (ALP, Fowler) - May 14 - "Last year's Gaza War has had a profound impact on me - a conflict which saw Israel attempt to suppress Hamas rockets but resulted in the deaths of over 1,500 Palestinians, of whom 538 were children...I still find it hard to shake the image of the four boys playing on the beach in Gaza cut down. While I have serious misgivings about the scale of the Israeli response, I am equally disturbed by the fact that civilian sites were used by Hamas to shield militia, and I deplore the fact that over 3,000 rockets were fired by Hamas, threatening the lives of Israeli citizens...
Reaction to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's announcement, during her visit to Iran on April 18-19, of a proposed intelligence sharing deal with Teheran to fight Islamic State and handle prospective Iranian asylum seekers was largely sceptical.
On Channel Ten's "The Bolt Report" (April 26) Piers Akerman said the "most disturbing thing" about Bishop's visit was "her sort of naivety" in thinking that the "murderous Revolutionary Guard [is] going to really share any worthwhile intelligence with Australia".
In a recent issue of National Interest, former CIA analyst Paul Pillar lamented "the near-obligatory reference to Nazis in any anti-agreement writing about Iran." The comparison, he argues, is "an emotion-based effort to foster distaste for doing any business with such an ogre-like regime," which exaggerates the regime's sinister disposition at a moment when it is showing a clear desire to become "a more integrated member of the international community."
The annual report of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights says human rights for people living in the Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank and Gaza are the worst they have been for years. It said that several people died in Hamas detention, that Hamas killed 16 prisoners during the 2014 Gaza war and that other violations by authorities in both Hamas and Palestinian Authority-ruled areas - including bans on peaceful protests - had "increased in volume" over the past four years.
In early May, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported that they had located traces of sarin-type chemical weapons and ricin-type biological weapons in at least three sites in Syria which the Assad regime had not reported.
Saudi Arabia's military intervention in March against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen - without prior American coordination - indicates a new self-reliant foreign policy by the younger generation of the country's ruling family. They appear determined to curb an Iranian push for Shi'ite hegemony in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, leading Israeli experts have noted.
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley's edict that MPs travelling on subsidised study tours to Israel must spend equal time in the West Bank and Gaza prompted columnist Rowan Dean to imagine such a trip.
"Arrived at Lod Airport, after circling around to avoid being blasted out of the sky by IS, Hamas, Hezbollah...Meet some scientists who invented the smartphone industry... Palestine. Meet a bunch of dudes who invented the grievance industry. They explain how Israel has been oppressing them...‘by existing'...
Faced with the suffering of their own people, the Palestinians recently decided not to help. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a deal with Israel brokered by the United Nations that would allow Palestinian refugees living in Syria to resettle in the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas stated unequivocally that "we rejected that and said it's better they die in Syria than give up their right of return."
The Palestine Liberation Organisation has also ruled out any military action to help the 18,000 or more refugees who are trapped in the Yarmouk camp near Damascus.