MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: A PERSPECTIVE FOR KURDISTAN-IRAQ?-  by Bilal Wahab  – PolicyWatch 3550 December 1, 2021

With militias on the back foot, the United States should lean on Kurdish and Iraqi leaders to find unity of purpose in confronting the destabilizing actions of pro-Iran groups.

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Iran is not Leaving Syria any time soon

MESOP MIDEAST WATCH ANALYSIS BY Jonathan Spyer – Middle East Analysis and Reportage

November 20, 2021 JERUSALEM POST

The departure of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander from Syria this month has led to some speculation in regional media that the Syrian regime is seeking to recalibrate its relations with Teheran.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: The Secretive Prisons That Keep Migrants Out of Europe

Tired of migrants arriving from Africa, the E.U. has created a shadow immigration system that captures them before they reach its shores, and sends them to brutal Libyan detention centers run by militias.

By Ian Urbina November 28, 2021 THE NEW YORKER – A collection of makeshift warehouses sits along the highway in Ghout al-Shaal, a worn neighborhood of auto-repair shops and scrap yards in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Formerly a storage depot for cement, the site was reopened in January, 2021, its outer walls heightened and topped with barbed wire.

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MESOP WATCH NEW “HOW TO BE LUCKY WITH OMICRON!!” – The good news about the Omicron variant

Vaccine passports won’t end the pandemic – Tom Chivers is UnHerd’s Science Editor. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now. November 29, 2021 UNHERD MAGAZINE UK

It may not feel like it, but with Omicron, the new Covid variant, we need to count our blessings.

Omicron has been detected — and may have first arisen — in Gauteng province, South Africa.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Islamic State down but not out in Syria and Iraq: Pentagon report

Islamic State ‘entrenched as low-level insurgency’ AL MONITOR  28-11-2021

The most recent report from the Pentagon’s Inspector General on Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led diplomatic and military operation against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, indicates that IS has weakened but remains a priority for US national security interests in the region.

These quarterly reports provide the most comprehensive reporting and assessment of the US-led mission against IS and therefore deserve attention. Among the latest findings:

  • The report makes clear that the United States and its coalition partners remain essential to the continued success of the mission.
  • The Iraq-Syria border remains an area of concern for IS activity.
  • Economic hardship, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating drought, especially in Syria, will continue to shape the environment.
  • The Iraqi elections and the prospect for continued political stability and progress there is good news for Iraq and the anti-IS coalition effort.
  • Iran-backed proxy forces and militias in both countries remain a threat to coalition forces and operations.
  • Both the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will continue to depend on US training and support in “conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), intelligence integration and airstrikes.”

There are also country-specific highlights:

In Iraq:

  • The US mission in Iraq will transition to “training, advising and intelligence gathering” on Dec. 31.
  • There are no expected changes in the numbers of US troops in Iraq, currently at approximately 2,500.
  • While IS has carried out a decreasing number of attacks, in some cases it has shown unusual complexity and a “higher level of operational maturity.”

In Syria:

  • The United States maintains approximately 900 troops, and the US mission to work “with, by and through” the SDF to defeat IS has not changed.
  • The pace and number of counter-IS operations carried out by the US-allied SDF has decreased, and the SDF alone “lacked the ability to conduct persistent surveillance or maintain situational awareness.”
  • IS appeared to be “consolidating in the desert and poised for increased activity in what the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) termed “the next stage of its insurgency.”
  • IS continued its focus activity in the al-Hol displaced persons camp for recruitment and indoctrination.

Al-Monitor provides unmatched reporting and analysis on the security situation in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere in the region, including:

  • An Iran-linked militia has called for volunteers to fight US troops in Iraq after Dec. 31, reports Shelly Kittleson.
  • Iraqi populist leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who seeks to form a majority government in Iraq, has called for the “liquidation” of pro-Iran militias, Ali Mamouri reports.
  • How the Turkish lira crisis is affecting the residents of Idlib, which started using the lira last year, reports Khaled al-Khateb.
  • How a devastating drought is affecting the lives of Syrians, reports Khateb and Amberin Zaman.
  • Reports of a planned attack on a prison in Syria that houses thousands of Iraqi IS operatives, reports Kittleson.
  • The backstory on why the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander in Syria was removed, perhaps at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s request, Ali Hashem reports.
  • Islamic State attacks in Iraq’s Diyala province seek to spark sectarian bloodletting, Kittleson reports.

Giving credit where due

Operation Inherent Resolve has been a massive success story since it was launched by the Obama administration in 2014, and it deserves repeating — as it has occurred amid steady criticism from both the right and left and in the region — that the United States was stepping back from its commitments in the Middle East.

It may be easy to forget that IS in 2014 had overrun large parts of Iraq and Syria, instituting a brutal reign of terror. IS took Raqqa, the seventh-largest city in Syria, and Mosul, the third-largest city in Iraq, and murdered, raped, tortured and beheaded those who crossed them.

The Obama administration went all in on its commitment to defeat IS and never wavered. As we wrote here in February, the execution of the US-led policy has been mostly textbook: The mission sustained bipartisan congressional support across three (both Republican and Democrat) administrations and near-flawless civilian and military coordination both within the US government and across the coalition as well as with local partners of varying capabilities.

By March 2019, the US-led coalition had “territorially defeated” IS, and more than two years later, IS still holds no ground in either country. The intense coordination between the United States and Iraqi Security Forces over these past seven years has also been instrumental in deepening the US-Iraq strategic partnership and the steady progress that has occurred in Iraq, including in the October elections that, according to the United Nations and other observers, may have set a new standard for transparency in the region.

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What the COVID Omicron Variant Really Means, and What Experts Are Worried About  – The new COVID omicron variant – discovered in South Africa and identified in Israel – has a very large number of mutations in critical parts of its spike protein

Ido Efrati HAARETZ – Nov. 26, 2021Various COVID-19 variants have been discovered around the world during the nearly two years of the pandemic – the vast majority being expressions of random and insignificant changes in the virus’s genome.

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Unheimliche Brüder, bigotte Schwestern – wie die Muslimbruderschaft die Öffentlichkeit und die islamischen Verbände beeinflusst

Die islamistische Muslimbruderschaft und ihre Sympathisanten streben in Europa nach Macht und Einfluss. Offiziell hat niemand etwas mit ihnen zu tun, aber die Realität sieht anders aus. Lucien Scherrer 26.11.2021,NZZ  «Wenn man nichts zu essen hat, denkt man nicht an Homosexualität»: Nadia Karmous im Museum der islamischen Zivilisationen, 2016.

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by Calvin Wilder and Kenneth R. Rosen PolicyWatch 3547 November 24, 2021

If the Biden administration moves forward with canceling the company’s license, it will need to prepare for increased military and economic pressure in the northeast amid further encroachment by

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Erdogan seeks foreign policy score amid currency crisis – Despite its currency’s meltdown, Turkey’s President has still room to maneuver in the foreign policy field.

MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Erdogan seeks foreign policy score amid currency crisis

Despite its currency’s meltdown, Turkey’s President has still room to maneuver in the foreign policy field. –Cengiz CandarNovember 24, 2021 AL MONITOR

Turkey’s economy might be going through its darkest days in decades, yet foreign policy still allows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to score points.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: BLAMING JOE BIDEN & PRAISING DONALD TRUMP -Former envoy on Abraham Accords: ‘We should reward the peacemakers’

Aryeh Lightstone, who was chief of staff to former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, offers his unique perspective on the historic normalization agreements.BY JOSH HASTEN JEWISH NEWS SYNDICATE 24-11-2021

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