News, Notes & Links | 07.03.2016


More than 130,000 crossed the Mediterranean in January and February, UNHCR says.

Turkey has killed 1250 PKK militants in southeastern province since July 2015.

Mosul dam engineers warns that it could collapse at any time.

Drought in the Middle East from 1998-2012 worst in 900 years, NASA says.

Turkish government takes control with top-selling newspaper Zaman.

Syria opposition will attend Geneva peace talks.

Powerful Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr calls for government to be overthrown.


Recommended Reads:

How Iran’s Moderate Triumphed | By Mohsen Milani, Foreign Affairs

A year after signing a landmark nuclear deal with the P5+1, Iran held two elections, one for its parliament, the Majlis, and one for the Assembly of Experts, a clerical council that selects the supreme leader. The vote, which coincided with the 110th anniversary of Iran’s first parliamentary election, saw some 62 percent of the Iranian electorate—or 34 million people—peacefully demonstrate their commitment to the ballots. Unlike the disputed election of 2009, in which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was accused of electoral fraud and which sparked weeks of protests, the vote seems to have been relatively clean. All in all, it should leave Iran even more politically stable than it already is.

End Times for the Caliphate? | By Patrick Cockburn, London Review of Books

The rise of the Kurdish states isn’t welcomed by any country in the region, though some – including the governments in Baghdad and Damascus – have found the development to be temporarily in their interest and are in any case too weak to resist it. But Turkey has been appalled to find that the Syrian uprising of 2011, which it hoped would usher in an era of Turkish influence spreading across the Middle East, has instead produced a Kurdish state that controls half of the Syrian side of Turkey’s 550-mile southern border.

When elephants battle | The Economist

AS SAUDI ARABIA and Iran jostle for power in the Middle East, Lebanon has managed to maintain an uncomfortable balance between the two. Saudi Arabia has long been chummy with Lebanon’s Sunni politicians and some of its Christians. Iran supports the Lebanese Shia, not least through Hizbullah, a militia-cum-political party. It has also snuggled up to some Lebanese Christian groups. Nonetheless, an uneasy calm prevailed between Lebanon and the two regional powers. Apparently no longer.



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