Middle East

Activists shut down drone factory

Instro Precision, a factory in Kent, England, owned by Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems was shut down on February 17 by four activists occupying the roof while others blockaded the entrance.

Instro Precision is a manufacturer of military targeting systems. Its optical equipment is used in drones such as those Israel used to bombard Gaza during the summer of 2014, say the activists. Such surveillance equipment has also been installed in Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.

Free Palestinian political prisoner Lina Khattab!

Palestinian student Lina Khattab, 18, a first-year media student at Birzeit University, was sentenced by an Israeli military court to six months imprisonment, a NIS6000 (US$1500) fine and three years probation on February 17.

She is also a folkloric dancer with the world-renowned El-Funoun Popular Palestinian Dance Troupe and is active in other cultural and political student activities at the university.

US to send more than 4,000 troops to Kuwait

US media reported on February 14 that more than 4000 ground combat troops are heading to Kuwait. Reports indicate it could be the US’ largest ground force in the region.

The move comes as President Barack Obama is petitioning Congress for an Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State group.

Obama sent Congress the AUMF petition denying plans for a ground war, however the troops in Kuwait are prepared for any “contingency,” a Pentagon military source said.

Libya: Western intervention help pave way to chaos

When Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 by US forces, advocates of the Iraq War boastfully celebrated the event as proof that they were right and used it to mock war opponents.

When Muammar Gaddafi was forced by NATO bombing in August 2011 to flee Tripoli, advocates of US intervention played the same game. ThinkProgress, for instance, gleefully exploited the occasion to try to shame those who objected to the illegality of Obama’s waging the war even after Congress voted against its authorisation — as though Gadaffi’s fleeing could render legal Obama’s plainly illegal intervention.

Hypocrisy abounds as US drone burns Yemeni boy alive

The New York Times reported on January 26 that “a CIA drone strike in Yemen … killed three suspected al Qaeda fighters on Monday.”

How did they know the identity of the dead? As usual, it was in part because “American officials said.”

There was not a whiff of scepticism about this claim despite the fact that “a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declined to confirm the names of the victims” and “a CIA spokesman declined to comment”.

Turkish union mobilises thousands to rebuild Kobane

A statement released by the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) in Diyarbakir says the union has 12,000 members who have pledged their willingness to assist in the reconstruction of Kobanê following the offensive from ISIS which left much of the city in ruins.

Who is defeating the ‘Islamic State’?

The self-styled Islamic State (IS) may be one of the few unifying forces in the Middle East.

A range of mutually antagonistic regional and global powers and non-state groups have joined the fight against them. While Western politicians’ pronouncements that the IS has declared war on the world are clichéd, they are echoed by the group’s own statements.

How Al Qaeda’s biggest enemy took over Yemen

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, his prime minister and entire cabinet resigned en masse on January 23, just 24 hours after Houthi rebels occupied the presidential compound in Sana'a. The resignations give unprecedented power to the Houthis, a Shi'ite minority from the country’s isolated northern highlands.

The political crisis also opens the door to an all-out war over control of the Yemeni capital, involving Sunni political factions and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The conflict could also draw in Saudi Arabia, the United States and Iran.

Syria: Why Rojava is different

The world has started looking at Kobane and the other two liberated cantons of what the Kurds call Rojava (Western, or Syrian, Kurdistan) since the resistance in Kobane liberated the town from the brutal Islamic State (IS) forces.

Their success is not good news for Turkish President Recip Tayyep Erdogan, achieving a symbolic victory against an underhanded ploy by Turkey’s regime to crush Kurdish resistance in Syria and weaken the Kurdish resistance against the Turkish state.

Saudi Arabia: 'Reforming' dictator dies, crackdown goes on

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has died at the age of 90. Abdullah was one of the world’s most powerful men and a key US ally in the region, controlling a fifth of the known global petroleum reserves.

In a statement, President Barack Obama praised Abdullah for his “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”

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