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The Gulf and Iran: New realities, new strategies (By Bulent Aras)

10 Feb

The Gulf and Iran: New realities, new strategies

The Gulf and Iran: New realities, new strategies Arab Gulf countries should have a common regional strategy to deal with Iran’s rising power.

Recent tensions between the GCC countries have loosened the cohesiveness of the Council [EPA] An Iranian nuclear deal is likely to put an end to the status quo between the Gulf and Iran. While the US withdrawal from Iraq shook the balances, a nuclear deal would mean an unprecedented rise in Iran’s power in the region. This development has put a political distance between the countries in the Gulf region.


But not all members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are on the same wavelength. Oman has adopted a neutral approach, while playing the role of facilitator in US-Iran relations when it hosted preparatory diplomacy for the nuclear deal. Qatar is vying to position itself as a key regional and international player. The UAE is confused and has sided with Saudi Arabia, while also attempting to ease its own tensions with Iran. Saudi Arabia has intensified its proxy wars against Iran, feeling both threatened and betrayed by the recent US-Iran rapprochement.

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From Ankara to Tehran; the “Persian-Ottoman” rivalry is back (by Yeghig Tashjian)

29 Aug

From Ankara to Tehran; the “Persian-Ottoman” rivalry is back

Turkish-Iranian rivalry goes back centuries, to the Ottoman sultans and Persian shahs. The tensions somehow decreased in the 20th century due to Turkey’s isolationist foreign policy which left a power vacuum in the Middle East. As AKP reached to power in Turkey and the country’s economic and political influence grew in the region and as the Sunni-Baathists were overthrown from Iraq and in the absence of united Arab front against Israel, two regional countries tried to shape the balance of power in the region. As the Arab Uprising broke up, Iran and Turkey tried to contain each other and they turned Syria to chess table, these tensions lead to the emergence of so called a new “Sunni and Shia axis”. Therefore in order to assume the geopolitical borders of the post-Arab Uprising one should ask and see what are the cards that these two countries can play, on the domestic and regional level, to deter each other  and how costly and dangerous can it be to both of them and others?

Among the numerous treaties between Persia and Ottoman Turkey, the Treaty of Zuhab of 1639 is usually considered as the most important one, as it fixed present Turkey–Iran and Iraq–Iran borders and created a balance of power between the two Middle Eastern giants in the region. As this balance started to shake after the Arab Uprising, the neo-Ottomans and neo-Persians started to redraw the political map of the New Middle East, therefore the clash of interests between the two rivals is inevitable, both of them can use dangerous cards against each other that could threaten their domestic stability and regional hegemony.

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Hezbollah: Terrorism or Resistance? By Kevork Elmassian

21 Feb

 Hezbollah: Terrorism or Resistance? 




A research about Terrorism and Resistance needs careful examination of each term, both terms need conceptualization to draw lines of differences between both terms. After the process of conceptualization an application is needed on Hezbollah the “Party of God” to decide whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organization or a legitimate resistance.

The terms terrorism and resistance have been debated in the media and are major source of uncertainty amongst academics and the general public[1]. Defining these terms are embedded in the people and nations philosophy, experience, culture, etc[2]  and the distinction between terrorism, guerilla warfare, and terrorism is often blurry. During my research about terrorism, I found innumerable definitions. However, Brian Jenkins a world renowned expert on terrorism gave a simplistic definition of terrorism by saying “Terrorism is violence or the threat of violence calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm – in a word, to terrorize – and thereby bring about some social or political change.” [3]

Walter Laqueur an American historian and political commentator added to Jenkins’s definition the requirement of targeting “innocent people”. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also defined terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”[4].

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