Mustard gas – the original WMD – is set to stage a return

After an absence of almost a century, mustard gas is about to return to the modern battlefield

Mustard gas – the original WMD – is set to stage a returnA little more than 100 years ago, at the Second Battle of Ypres, the German Army unleashed the first large scale use of poison gas on the Western Front. Following a two-day bombardment, the German Army simultaneously released 168 tons of chlorine gas over a four-mile front. The panic that resulted opened a four-mile gap…

Mosul’s fate can only be devastatingly tragic

The liberation of Mosul is going to be the bloodiest, most bitterly-fought urban campaign since Stalingrad

Mosul’s fate can only be devastatingly tragicThe battle for Mosul will end in tragedy for hundreds of thousands of the city's inhabitants. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi recently told the UN that the campaign to liberate Mosul would begin within weeks. He predicted victory by year’s end. U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has confirmed an imminent campaign. The…

Yet another Syrian ceasefire without good prospects

Even if the U.S. succeeds in rolling back the Islamic State, one or more rebel alliances committed to Sharia law will rise up in its place

Yet another Syrian ceasefire without good prospectsU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have announced another ceasefire in the Syrian civil war. The end result is unlikely to be positive. Ostensibly, the purpose of the ceasefire is to allow aid convoys from Turkey to bring badly-needed supplies to the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. Some 250,000 people…

Turkey incursion upends Syrian battlefield

The objective is to prevent the seizure of the portion of Aleppo province by U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces

Turkey incursion upends Syrian battlefieldTurkish military forces have crossed into Syria to oust Islamic State (IS) militants from the border area. The first objective was Jarabulus, an IS stronghold along the Turkish-Syrian border. It has been used to bring jihadists into Syria and smuggle out antiquities and oil. The Turkish intervention, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, is being supported by U.S. and…

Turkey and Egypt: a tale of two coups

The coups may have ended differently, but both are consequential for Middle East stability

Turkey and Egypt: a tale of two coupsThe eastern Mediterranean has witnessed two coups in the last three years: Egypt’s on July 3, 2013, and Turkey’s on July 16, 2016. In both, the military opposed a president committed to the steady centralization and Islamization of the country’s government. Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) had…

Reining in Iran: Middle East politics at a crossroads

If the arc of Iran's influence grows, on the strength of new nuclear capacity, the whole dynamic in the region will change

Reining in Iran: Middle East politics at a crossroadsThe prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the steady expansion of Tehran’s influence, increasingly prompts the reorientation of Middle East politics along a Sunni-Shia axis. A recent report claimed a secret agreement allows Iran to restore “its full uranium enrichment capacity,” on the 10th anniversary of signing the nuclear agreement. The leak came from the International Atomic Energy Agency,…

Islamic State is a big business machine

Despite vast revenue sources – from taxes to extortion to the sale of antiquities to ramsom – the terrorist group faces a cash crunch

Islamic State is a big business machineThe Islamic State (IS) has been described as either one of the world’s richest terrorist organizations or one of its poorest countries. Neither is quite true. It is a hybrid – half destitute quasi-nation state and half wealthy jihadist organization. What it does have, however, are considerable financial assets. The assets are a combination of…

Divvying up the Middle East after First World War

Beating-up on Britain’s Sir Mark Sykes and France’s Francois Georges-Picot for today's mess in the Middle East is just plain silly

Divvying up the Middle East after First World WarIt was 100 years ago this May that two diplomats – Britain’s Sir Mark Sykes and France’s Francois Georges-Picot – concluded a secret agreement dividing the (prospective) post-war Middle East into British and French spheres of influence. And by virtue of ignoring local demographic realities, their agreement has been blamed for many of the region’s…

Operation Desert Storm 25 years later

Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the American response dramatically impacted the politics of the Middle East

Operation Desert Storm 25 years laterI don’t know about you, but Operation Desert Storm – the name the Americans gave to the campaign that evicted Saddam Hussein’s invading army from Kuwait – doesn’t feel like a full quarter-century ago to me. I clearly remember the surrounding tension, the prevailing idea that somehow it was going to produce a global cataclysm.…

Trudeau should push for a Kurdish state

A unified Kurdish state western interests because it would create a moderate majority-Muslim state that is largely pro-western

Trudeau should push for a Kurdish statePrime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau could establish a legacy for himself by helping solve the problem of the world’s largest stateless nation. Trudeau should expend political capital on a newly energized foreign policy goal of unified Kurdish statehood. This state would serve Canadian and western interests. There are about 30 to 32 million Kurds. They are…