Monthly Archives: January 2015

America’s Silent Partnership With Iran And The Contest For Middle Eastern Order: Part Two

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 29, 2015

Assad meeting with the boss

Assad meeting with the boss

This is the second of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. This first part looked at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq. This part will look at the policy’s application in Syria; part three will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading

America’s Silent Partnership With Iran And The Contest For Middle Eastern Order: Part One

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 25, 2015

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This is the first of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. This first part looks at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq. Part two will look at the policy’s application in Syria; part three will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading

Film Review: JFK (1991)

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 23, 2015

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It was shockingly bad. One had known the contours of the story going in, but even bracing oneself for a Grassy Knoll enterprise will not prepare one for how sheerly dull and ludicrous is this film. Add to that the two-hundred minutes running time, and it is unbearable. Continue reading

A Debate On America’s Role In Syria’s Future

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 21, 2015

Devastation in Deir Ezzor, June 2013

Devastation in Deir Ezzor, June 2013

The McCain Institute hosted a debate last Thursday on the question, “Syria: Should the United States Do More?” Arguing in favour of the motion that the United States should do more was Michael Doran and Andrew Tabler. Arguing against were Joshua Landis and Aaron David Miller. Continue reading

The Long History of Middle Eastern State-Terrorism In Paris

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 19, 2015

Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi

Last week, Lee Smith wrote of the reasons that it was likely that there was a foreign hand, quite probably that of a State, in the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish deli in Paris. Smith noted that the French believe that the funding and weapons for the attacks came from abroad. Smith pointed to the historical record, in which terrorism in Paris is typically not carried out because of religion—or not directly: it might come from States that see themselves as god’s representatives on earth—or community grievances, but “because you’re getting paid to stage an operation on behalf of a particular cause or regime.” Smith gave three cases, and they seemed worth expanding on. Continue reading

Book Review: Introduction to the Qur’an (1953) by Richard Bell

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 13, 2015

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Richard Bell’s Introduction to the Qur’an is, at less than 200 pages, a brief and easily-digestible explanation of the context in which Islam’s “holy” book arose, and the problems of reconciling theological orthodoxy with historical accuracy. More than six decades after publication, the book remains influential in scholarship of the Qur’an. Continue reading

Freedom Is The Jihadists’ Grievance

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 8, 2015

One of the cartoons that cost Charlie Hebdo's staff their lives

One of the cartoons that cost Charlie Hebdo’s staff their lives

So it has come to this. At about 11 a.m. local time yesterday, black-masked Islamic extremists stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine that has frequently enraged the faithful with its caricatures, murdering the receptionist and then massacring eight members of staff, one guest, and a police officer serving as bodyguard to the magazine’s editor-in-chief, during the weekly editorial meeting. After the killers—at least two, possibly three—fled the building, they were heard to say (in French): “We have avenged Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo.” After getting into a car, the holy warriors got into a gunfight with French police in the next street. One police officer was injured, and video has emerged showing his execution-style murder. The policeman turned out to be a Muslim named Ahmed Merabet. Today, a second police officer has been killed as the French police close in on the suspects. This brings the death toll to thirteen. Continue reading