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  • The Syrian Government's successful effort to re-take the Qalamoun area from opposition forces was designed with two aims in mind: to reassert government control over an area abutting Lebanon that resupplied opposition forces close to Damascus, and to maintain military momentum in advance of...
    22 April 2014
  • The Australian reported on its front page this morning that two Australian citizens were killed in a drone strike in Yemen in November last year. The Australian reports that, according to a 'senior counter-terrorism source', the two men were 'foot soldiers for al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula',...
    16 April 2014
  • When I worked as a Defence Attaché in the Gulf, my local military driver was often not who I thought he was. Resplendent in his dishdasha and with excellent Arabic, I was surprised to find out that he was a Pakistani Baluch. When I asked my interlocutors how many Pakistanis there were in Gulf...
    3 April 2014
  • Syrian Defence Minister General Fahad Jassim al Freij (centre) visits the township of Yabroud, 16 March 2014. Last week, the Syrian civil war entered its fourth year. Two events highlighted how intractable this conflict has become. First, the Syrian parliament passed an electoral law setting the...
    17 March 2014
  • Part 1 here . Two events last week added to rising temperatures between governments in the Gulf region. The first was another Gulf Arab diplomatic spat, this time involving Iraqi claims about un-neighbourly interference in its internal security affairs. Prime Minister Maliki took the rather...
    13 March 2014
  • The first of a two-part post on security concerns among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Events in the past week in the Persian Gulf have illustrated how national rivalries, internal security concerns and the sectarian question have the potential to cause ruptures in the region’s...
    10 March 2014
  • This weekend's blast at an army checkpoint on the outskirts of Hermel , claimed by Sunni jihadists, is just the latest in a series of vehicle-borne suicide attacks aimed at largely Shi'a areas in Lebanon. Last month a suicide bomber got through to Hermel and killed four people . And things could...
    24 February 2014
  • The Vietnamese, in their battles with US forces, used to talk of the need to 'hug the belt', or to engage so closely with US ground forces that the Americans' overwhelmingly superior firepower would be blunted through fear of hitting their own men. In Syria, the opposition has largely 'hugged the...
    18 February 2014
  • One of many great scenes from The Life of Brian was the depiction of the schism among anti-Roman groups that resulted in the standoff between the Judean People's Front, the Judean Popular People's Front (splitters!), and the People's Front of Judea (splitters!). It was a not-so subtle reminder that...
    6 February 2014
  • The so-called Geneva II conference ended last Friday. The key to any negotiation regarding Syria is to aim low and keep one's expectations realistic. It is fair to say that UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi's (pictured) aim was simply to get two of the sides in a room. His claim that he didn't expect to...
    3 February 2014

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