Fatah-Hamas Deal Highlights Regional ‘Third Way’

Predictably, Israel and the U.S. have reacted to the news of a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal using an outdated lens, whereby the inclusion of Hamas in any Palestinian government rules out the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution. That is most likely true, but it is also irrelevant. The real impact for Israel of the Hamas-Fatah deal, assuming it holds up, is not in its effect on the short-term possibilities, where no peace deal was forthcoming regardless. The impact is on the long-term choices Israel faces. Before the deal, the alternative to a two-state solution was a one-state apartheid system that […]

Syrian Soldiers ‘Switching Allegiances’

Reports are coming out of Syria that some soldiers are siding with the anti-government protesters. Amateur footage is said to show that some troops have been shot at from within their own ranks for refusing to fire upon protesters in the city of Deraa. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the footage, which is said to have been filmed on Wednesday.

South Sudan at Risk of Becoming a Stillborn State

Fierce fighting between rebel groups in South Sudan has prompted some to wonder whether the territory is at risk of becoming a failed state upon achieving its independence from Khartoum this July. With the South slated to take control of 75 percent of Sudan’s oil fields upon secession, observers say the bloodshed is the result of a widening power vacuum in which Southern tribes and local warlordsare jockeying for influence in theterritory’s nascent government. “The main violence is South-on-South, and it has to do with who is going to benefit under the new state and how the money is going […]

The worsening crisis battering Syria threatens more than the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. It also carries with it the potential to recast the balance of power in the Middle East, with damaging results for Iran and conceivably disastrous consequences for its allies — Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Given the magnitude of the stakes for these players, one can argue that it would make strategic sense from their perspective to try to lure Israel into a more intense armed conflict: not an all-out war, but clashes powerful enough to garner headlines and capture the attention and emotions […]

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Since the morning of April 22, Thai and Cambodian troops have waged a series of heated firefights along sections of their shared border. The two sides have now traded artillery and small-arms fire for a week, leaving at least 13 soldiers dead on both sides and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from border areas. The initial skirmishes were confined to areas close to Ta Krabey and Ta Moan, two Angkorian temple ruins lying close to the border, but the fighting quickly spread to Preah Vihear, a cliff-top temple some 93 miles to […]

U.S.-Pakistan Alliance Under Increasing Strain

With drone attacks, CIA activities and a lack of progress in Afghanistan widening the rift between the United States and Pakistan, the delicate counterterrorism alliance forged between the two after Sept. 11 is coming under increasing scrutiny. “It’s a mistake to presume the U.S. and Pakistan were ever entirely on the same page,” says Stephen Tankel a visiting scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. Tankel, who spoke with Trend Lines this morning, explains that, initially, the U.S. was rather narrowly focused on targeting al-Qaida, and was careful not to push then-Pakistani […]

More Clashes on Thai-Cambodian Border

Thai and Cambodian troops have exchanged rockets and gunfire near to a sacred temple in South East Asia’s bloodiest border dispute in years. At least 13 people are reported dead in the confrontation that has been simmering for the past five days.

Assad’s Crackdown Could Drive Syrian Opposition to Armed Revolt

The sudden deployment of tanks and infantry into the Syrian city of Daraa on Monday has some observers wondering whether the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may soon devolve into a civil war comparable to the one raging a few hundreds miles away in Libya. “If the opposition wants to continue to press its cause, there’s only one way to do it, and that’s through armed struggle,” says Joshua Landis, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma. Landis, who maintains Syria Comment, a leading English-language blog on Syrian politics and society, tells Trend Lines that […]

Syrian Forces in Crackdown on Protesters

Syrian government tanks and troops have gone on the offensive in the southern town of Deraa, the cradle of the protests which began last month. Residents say the forces moved in just after dawn prayers, opened fire at random, while bodies were left lying in the street.

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Visits Pakistan

The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, has made a visit to Pakistan to meet with his military counterpart in the nation. According to this report by the U.S. Defense Department’s own news channel, military relations between the U.S. and Pakistan remain strong.

The Obama administration has begun talks with Afghanistan designed to quell the Karzai government’s fears about being abandoned by the West come 2014. Those talks are said to involve negotiations for long-term basing of U.S. troops involved in training Afghan security forces and supporting future counterterrorism operations. This can be seen as a realistic course of action, given our continuing lack of success in nation-building there, as well as our inability — although perhaps unwillingness is a better term — to erect some regional security architecture that might replace our presence. But there are good reasons to question this course. […]

Global Insider: Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Forum

Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan conducted a joint military exercise in Tuzla, Turkey, last month. The joint exercise had been decided on at a summit meeting in December under the auspices of the Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Forum. In an email interview, Ishtiaq Ahmad, the Quaid-i-Azam Fellow at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, discussed the trilateral forum. WPR: What is the background of the trilateral forum, and to what extent has it been formally institutionalized? Ishtiaq Ahmad: The Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Forum was launched in April 2007 as a regional effort to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan by fostering multifaceted cooperation among three […]

Reporters Without Borders Condemns Killing of Reporters in Libya

Reporters Without Borders — a media rights group — is condemning Wednesday’s killing of two reporters in Libya. The NGO says the killing of journalists in Libya is a way for the authorities to eliminate independent reporting of the conflict.

Libya Is not a Quagmire in the Making

The Libyan intervention is now reaching an inflection point, with the limited initial commitment of force apparently incapable of achieving the expressed — and universally desired — strategic outcome of driving Moammar Gadhafi from power. As a result, Britain and France will send small teams of military advisers in an effort to improve the rebels’ fighting capability, and the U.S. has decided to commit UAV drones to the intervention. But neither measure is likely to have a rapidly decisive impact on the fighting, which has now devolved into a war of attrition that neither side seems poised to win, which […]

Iraq’s Violence Plays Into Maliki’s Hands

The wave of violence gripping Iraq intensified Monday when a double suicide car bombing killed at least six people and wounded 20 outside the heavily fortified entrance of Baghdad’s Green Zone. The bombings — likely carried out by Sunni groups linked to al-Qaida — could allow Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to strengthen his hold on power, says J. Edward Conway, a World Politics Review contributor and former U.S. Defense Department analyst covering Iraq. “With the ongoing attacks, he’s basically allowed to play the security card,” Conway told Trend Lines this morning. “Some are worried that al-Maliki is acting more […]

Libya’s Rebel Army — Who Is in Charge?

This report focuses on squabbling over control of the rebels between Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, who headed Libyan Special Forces under Gadhafi until February when he resigned to join the uprising and Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who served as a commander under Gadhafi during the early-1980s.

The NATO campaign in Libya has just begun its second month, and the situation on the ground is not improving. The defenses of Misurata are deteriorating, and rebel forces appear to be falling back from Adjadibya. In spite of the deteriorating tactical situation, however, the leaders of France, the United Kingdom and the United States have formulated in very certain terms the maximalist strategic goals of the campaign: the end of Moammar Gadhafi’s grip on power. The basic problem remains one of complete incoherence between strategic goals and operational means. Paris, London and Washington want Gadhafi gone. However, none of […]

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