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Even the most pessimistic political leaders in Hamas could not have foreseen the repercussions of the involvement of Gazan Salafi jihadists in an Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) operation targeting an Egyptian security checkpoint at al-Barth (south of Rafah in Sinai) on July 7, 2017. The timing is critical because Hamas-Egyptian relations are experiencing an unprecedented breakthrough by trying to enforce stricter procedures to control the borders with Egypt and has arrested dozens of pro-Islamic State Palestinians in Gaza. Additionally, Hamas responded positively to Egyptian efforts towards achieving national reconciliation with the Fattah movement. Furthermore, Hamas announced the dissolution of the administrative committee that it had formed to administer Gaza strip. It also stated its readiness to formulate a national unity government.  

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Despite the two previous unsuccessful attempts to pass a draft resolution to establish a UN independent international investigation commission into possible Yemen war crimes, sixty-seven Human Rights groups recently initiated another call demanding the establishment of the inquiry commission. The call for a commission is unlikely to be successful, but if it is formed it runs the risk of being hijacked by state interests and failing to hold accountable certain actors, particularly members of the Saudi-led coalition who wield influence at the United Nations.

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 US President Donald Trump waived economic sanctions on Iran’s banks and oil exports on September 14, as part of a law passed by Congress in 2015, following the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement—or Iran nuclear deal. The law requires every 120 days for the US president to decide whether to waive the renewal of economic sanctions. The more significant deadline in October is whether Iran is in compliance with the deal and which Trump seems intent on ending the agreement. The ever-mounting aggressive rhetoric and actions of the current US administration towards Iran signal a potential shift in the Obama legacy of the Iran deal. The US could further disrupt the balance in the region if it ends the Iran deal, yet in stark contrast, European allies continue to advocate for a pragmatic solution to save it.

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The subject of extremist Islamism, and refuting it, remains a live one—and it is unlikely that it will change anytime soon. If there is ever a comprehensive and thorough response to extremist Islamism, it will have to take on board the need to deconstruct religious arguments from within religion.

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On September 12, during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, Egypt’s Defense Minister reportedly announced that Egypt would be severing military ties with the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. The alleged announcement and subsequent speculation, which was not immediately confirmed by the Egyptian government, comes as the United States and other members of the international community have repeatedly called on the Egyptian government to cut ties with the isolated hermit state.

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Water scarcity may not be the most apparent driver of conflict, yet in Syria and Yemen, the water crisis is an important factor that continues to impact both countries. While the violence and political turmoil in these countries may seem more pressing, the conflicts themselves are linked with water shortages, and exacerbated by this underlying issue. The control, provision, and weaponization of water further enflames tribal and regional divides. Water scarcity, though, also offers a chance for cooperation between different groups, and provision of clean water is a path towards political legitimacy.

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The failed coup-attempt on July 15, 2016 upended the Turkish Air Force and prompted the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to purge pilots and air crews from the military. The Air Force played a central part in the failed coup attempt. Although only some two-dozen F-16 pilots took part in the coup in 11 aircraft, alongside tanker and transportation aircraft that refueled rogue fighter jets and moved troops around the country, the repercussions were dramatic and widespread for Turkey’s entire F-16 fleet.

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When President Donald Trump won the US presidential election late last year, Egyptian media coverage praising his stunning rise to power suggested that Egypt was embarking on a new era of much improved relations with its long-time ally. Trump and his Egypt counterpart Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi exchanged words of praise on many occasions, and the media in the North African country, which heavily relies on support from the United States, prematurely rejoiced at what it deemed the end of the Democrats’ “antagonistic policy” towards Egypt under President Barack Obama. But Egypt was stung earlier in August when the US decided to deny it almost $100 million in aid and withhold another $195 million pending improvement in the country’s human rights record.

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August is usually a quiet month in the DC Beltway. Of course, that has not been the case at all this year, with President Donald Trump’s comments over Charlottesville and the aftermath; the crisis with North Korea; Pakistan and Afghanistan; and yet others. On Tuesday, another issue was thrown into the mix, though far less crucial in the grander scheme of American democracy and international relations. Reuters released a story that indicated the United States has decided to deny 95.7 million dollars in aid, and delay a further 195 million. Within twenty-four hours, the story had the makings of a full blown diplomatic crisis between Cairo and DC. The Egyptian foreign ministry issued a stern statement insisting that Egypt’s economic and security challenges were not being taken seriously enough—and it is still only Wednesday.

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The United States does not have a Turkey policy. The current US approach to its NATO ally is subordinate to the needs of the war against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh), and the need for an effective local ground force to partner with US special operations forces. The result: the United States military has partnered with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is an insurgent group active in southeastern Turkey for close to four decades. The PYD’s militia, the YPG, is the main component of the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Ankara, too, has no US policy. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has vacillated between two extremes: effusive praise for the Trump administration, while also blaming the United States for being part of the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

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