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inFOCUS Quarterly

Summer 2014

America's Global Withdrawal

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Memorable visit to the Yazidis shows promise of a modern Middle Eastern society

by Gabriel Scheinmann
August 18, 2014 | The Washington Post

The city of Lalish, as many refer to the holy center of the Yazidi faith, is a bit of a misnomer. Wedged into the side of a small hill several hours' drive north of Irbil in Kurdistan, the hamlet is remote and modest and has only one entry point, a partially paved strip that was guarded, at the time of my visit, by Kurdish pesh merga troops. The small group looked and acted more like parking attendants than hardened fighters. In the small valley between the hills, gas flares dotted an otherwise tranquil landscape seemingly undisturbed by modernity.

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The "Disengaged" President Punishes Israel

by Shoshana Bryen
August 15, 2014 | American Thinker (blog)

Google "president disengaged" and 1,290,000 entries pop up. Okay, fair enough. Google is not the best way to take the measure of President Obama's active engagement in the workings of the world. So note that today is the funeral of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, USA, the highest-ranking American military officer killed in Afghanistan, and the first Major General killed in combat since 1970.The president will be in Martha's Vineyard, not at Arlington Cemetery.

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The Arab-Israel War

by Shoshana Bryen
August 13, 2014 | American Thinker

To the president, the problem is Gaza poverty and the lack of a Palestinian State. That being the case, Israel has to "find a way" to live in peace with the neighbors; the neighbors have no reciprocal obligation. Israel has to legitimate Palestinian claims to land for a country, but Israel's claim to land for a state recognized as legitimate by the neighbors remains unaddressed. Missing from the president's understanding is that Israel still faces the century-long Arab determination to deny it as a permanent, legitimate part of the region. The wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973 were not about Palestinians; they were Arab attempts to destroy Israel. Smaller wars with non-state actors supported by Arab states -- 1982 and 2006 in Lebanon, 2001-4 in the West Bank, and 2008/9, 2012 and 2014 with Hamas in Gaza -- changed the impression of Israel from a small state facing large states to a militarily superior state facing ragtag guerrillas and poor refugees. But not the reality.

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Palestinian Poverty is not a Plague or an Earthquake

by Shoshana Bryen
August 11, 2014 | Gatestone Institute

Does Palestinian poverty obligate Israel to provide aid to Hamas and Fatah governments? Warfare against Israel is the best predictor of Palestinian economic difficulty. The best aid is a job. But Hamas remains in open war with the people best able to employ its people -- Israel. And war has consequences.

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"Gotcha"

by Stephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen
August 6, 2014 | American Thinker (blog)

Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, reported that Israel spied on Secretary of State John Kerry's phone calls while Kerry was in Paris with representatives of Qatar and Turkey, trying to arrange a ceasefire for Gaza. It appears straightforward. Oddly, though, there is no source for the story, no confirmation, just the old standby of "reliable sources." And the story isn't actually about Israel.

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Why a Cease Fire Doesn't Help

by Shoshana Bryen
July 28, 2014 | American Thinker

The Israeli Cabinet unanimously rejected the terms of a Gaza ceasefire proposed by Hamas front men Qatar and Turkey. Secretary of State Kerry expressed surprise and chagrin at the vote. The Israelis expressed surprise and chagrin at Kerry's support for a document that offered Hamas "arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer of funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees and address all security issues."

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The Doctrine of Proportionality

by Shoshana Bryen
July 20, 2014 | Gatestone

Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.

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inCONTEXT Blog

Erdogan Wins Turkish Presidency

by Michael Johnson
August 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey's first direct election for President on Sunday, allowing him to embark on further constitutional reform. The polarizing Prime Minister will be sworn into his new role on August 28th, with his ruling Islamist AK party nominating a successor.

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New Turmoil in Baghdad While IS Advances

by Michael Johnson
August 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Troops and tanks surged into Baghdad's Green Zone over the weekend, following new infighting between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and recently elected President Fuad Masum. The latest political turmoil in Iraq came as Islamic State (IS) militants took control of Jalawla, near the Iranian border.

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Russia Bans Some Food Imports from Europe

by Yael Rein
August 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Moscow banned certain food imports from the West on Thursday in retaliation for recently imposed U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia. The move escalates the Kremlin's row with the West over the Russian government's arming of Ukrainian separatists.

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Lebanese Army Agrees to Ceasefire with Sunni Militants

by Yael Rein
August 6, 2014 at 5:17 pm

The Lebanese Army agreed to a ceasefire with Sunni jihadists on Wednesday, allowing militants to withdraw from the besieged city of Arsal in northeastern Lebanon. As part of the deal, Sunni militants will release all captured government troops within 24 hours.

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U.S. General Killed in Afghan "Insider" Attack

by Yael Rein
August 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm

On Tuesday, a man dressed in an Afghan Army uniform opened fire on NATO troops at Camp Qargha military base west of Kabul. An American general was killed and 15 other NATO soldiers were wounded.

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Arab Leaders Show Contempt for Hamas Militancy

by Yael Rein
August 4, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Recent failed ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas highlight changing political trends that are rebalancing alliances across the Middle East. While Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have given Hamas a cold shoulder, other ostensible American allies, such as Turkey and Qatar, have become Hamas's main political supporters.

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