Ed: 40: October/2015
At the height of negotiations with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program, Western advocates of a deal found themselves rationalising the Islamic Republic's uncompromising belligerence towards Israel. They did so as part of their bid to persuade a sceptical public that the mullahs would honour their agreements. Thus was born the "domestic consumption" theory of Iran's internal politics, advanced by, among others, US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The Queensland Labor Party conference's passage of a resolution, steered by the branch's vice-president Wendy Turner, exhorting a future federal Labor government to immediately recognise a Palestinian state, was roundly condemned in the Australian media.
Troy Bramston's report on the vote noted that "Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek refused to accept the Queensland motion. ‘State conferences don't make Labor foreign policy... This matter was resolved by Labor's national conference'" which committed to discuss recognising a Palestinian state only if there was no peace process progress and in the context of appropriate "conditions and timelines", Australian (Sept. 1).
Visiting the new POLIN Jewish Museum in Warsaw can be a challenging experience. In the heart of the destroyed ghetto, a site of immense evil, of persecution and deprivation, a walk through its many impressive exhibitions is a walk in the company of ghosts.
With cultural, historical and political reference points specifically Polish, it should help Jewish visitors learn as much about that nation as its gives Poles greater understanding of Jews.
By early September it was clear US President Barack Obama had secured the support of enough US Senators - 34, all of them from his own Democratic party - to guarantee that his promised veto of any Congressional rejection of the Iran nuclear deal - known as the JCPOA - would not be over-ridden. Indeed, he is attempting to obviate the need for a veto by having Democrats filibuster a Senate bill disapproving the deal.
The long-term Palestinian political perspective has long been a subject of much polemical speculation - but without much evidence on either side. Do most Palestinians hope for a small state of their own at peace with Israel, or do they still aspire to reclaim all of Palestine someday?
On June 10, 2014, a little over a year ago, the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) shocked the world by seizing Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. The government in Baghdad watched helplessly as its security forces crumbled and tens of thousands of residents fled their homes. Less than three weeks later, IS proclaimed itself the caliphate - that is, the legitimate successor to the state led by the Prophet Muhammad - thus casting its victory as the start of a new era of Islamic ascendancy.
Interview: Michael Weiss - co-author with Hassan Hassan of the New York Times bestseller ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror; Senior Editor at The Daily Beast and Editor of The Interpreter
Shirin Lotfi: How did you come to write this book?
Michael Weiss: I've been covering the Syria conflict since its inception. I started with a report on the Sunni opposition in June 2011 and got sucked in. I stayed with it as the crisis went from a peaceful protest movement to an armed insurgency to a mostly Jihadi-driven conflagration. My interest in ISIS derived from my reporting in Aleppo in summer 2012. I spent the night in a town called Al-Bab with a bunch of activists, Free Syrian Army (FSA) guys; Al-Bab had just been liberated from the regime...
Over a decade ago, information was released showing that Iran had a large and hidden nuclear program. This information was not discovered by Western or Israeli intelligence, which is worth remembering when people say our intelligence will always discover whatever secret program Iran has under way. Instead, the information was discovered by the Iranian resistance group, the MEK. Intelligence agencies followed up, and soon the scope and the danger were clear. Iran was developing centrifuges, enriching uranium, trying to build intercontinental ballistic missiles, and working on warheads.