MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states hailed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s triumph over last week’s failed coup attempt. The Council’s powerhouse Saudi Arabia expressed support for Turkey’s “elected government” with “constitutional legitimacy.” By detaining Turkey’s military attaché to Kuwait on Sunday at Dammam Airport, at Ankara’s request, the Saudis also demonstrated their willingness to collaborate with Erdogan’s crackdown in the failed coup’s aftermath.

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The failed coup attempt last Friday challenged a number of key assumptions about the Turkish Republic. Turkey, a NATO ally since 1952, has always been a difficult partner for the United States to work with. However, its shared border with the Middle East has, since 1991, made it an important component of US combat operations, first during the first Gulf War, and, now, in the air war against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).

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This year’s Bastille Day will go down in France’s modern history as its most bloody. On July 14, 31-year-old Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel ploughed through festive crowds in the Mediterranean city of Nice, killing 84 and injuring 200 others. France’s struggles with terror—whether through lone attacks in Nice or the coordinated Islamic State attacks in Paris in November 2015—offer many lessons: the devolution of the organization to low tech terror means, its reliance on a growing supply of Jihadi returnees, and its exploitation of weaknesses of France’s intelligence system.  

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As Hillary Clinton emerges as the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential elections after an endorsement by rival Bernie Sanders, challenges loom ahead, both as policy issues and as strategies that need to be planned for when a potential presidential term begins.

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The results of a new comprehensive public opinion survey released by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Jordan show an increasing sense of dissatisfaction among citizens. Jordan, a Sunni Muslim-majority constitutional monarchy wedged between Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the West Bank is a key strategic ally of the United States and a recipient of a tremendous amount of American aid. The resource-deprived Kingdom plays an important stabilizing role in the region and is also a vital partner in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and other extremist groups working to establish power and influence throughout the Levant.

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In early June, forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed to have entered the city of Sirte. Indeed, fighting continues in the last strong hold of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya.  The defeat of ISIS in Sirte would be a significant development in the war against the group in Libya. However, the defeat would not mean the end of the group in Libya, and significant challenges and threats would still remain among the remaining forces in the Sirte region.  

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As the Arab world and Muslim communities worldwide react in horror to a suicide attack in Medina on the last eve of Ramadan—capping a violent few days that has taken close to 300 lives in Iraq, Turkey, and the Gulf kingdom—the world once again asks: what is this vigilante scourge that persists in engaging in wanton violence in the name of Islam? How to describe precisely what it is in words, particularly against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s previous demand that Hilary Clinton calls it ‘radical Islam’ – and how to explain its attractiveness?

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On July 6, the long-awaited British inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was released. In a 12 volume report that took seven years to complete, the public is given greater insight into then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision-making process, his relationship with then US President George W. Bush, and into the failure of the British government to consider the post-war impact on Iraq, and its role in rebuilding the country.

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On the third anniversary of the mass June 30 protests that led three days later to the army’s removal of Muslim Brotherhood leader and president, Mohamed Morsi, government officials were keen to stress that this was an occasion worth celebrating amid tight security measures. On what has just been announced a national holiday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivered a brief televised speech, congratulating the Egyptian people for “restoring their identity and confirming their will,” while Air Force jets took to the skies of Cairo and other major cities. Small rallies led by governors and local officials were also held in various cities across the country.

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As financial markets try to regain their footing in the wake of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union (or “Brexit”), many wonder the effect the reverberations might have on the politics and economics of other parts of the world. For the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), this divorce-between-nations could potentially have a serious impact on development and foreign assistance to the region.

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