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  • The saying 'you have the watches but we have the time' is often attributed to the Taliban (or Mauritanian immigration officials ), but it is representative of the fact that indigenous armed groups understand that occupations are temporary, while the population is permanent. The UK and France...
    17 December 2014
  • They're baaaaack... UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond used the Bahraini Government-funded Manama dialogue on the weekend to announce the signing of a Defence Agreement with the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is sometimes difficult to discern substance from symbolism in these types of announcements. In...
    10 December 2014
  • As part of the 'Sectarianism and Religiously Motivated Violence' Masters course which I run at ANU's National Security College, students were asked to write a post on a contemporary sectarian conflict. This piece by Sophie Wolfer was judged the best of those submitted. The end of a 40-year...
    2 December 2014
  • Kurdish Peshmerga advance towards Kobani, Syria. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis.) ISIS is a transitory organisation whose aspiration to lead an Islamic reconquista is doomed to fail. It will eventually be degraded and splinter, some of its members joining the myriad other groups within the jihadist...
    19 November 2014
  • While Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have all felt the heavy burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian civil war refugees on their soil, Lebanon has felt the largest impact on its security from the fighting. Lebanon's complex patchwork of religious communities each has their own external...
    13 November 2014
  • Having just spent a few days doing research in Kuwait, it was interesting to see how relatively relaxed Kuwaitis appeared to be about events in neighbouring Iraq. Kuwait would quite naturally be concerned about the possibility of the conflict spreading further south, as well as the impact it may...
    11 November 2014
  • When you are an observer and student of a place like the Middle East, it is easy to mix several interests. Does religion, history and politics push your buttons? You won't find a better region for it. Are you a security analyst? There is a surfeit of riches here. A gastronome perhaps? Come on in...
    10 November 2014
  • If you relied only on the media, you could be forgiven for thinking that the focus of the fight against ISIS has been on the Syrian city of Kobane. This is thanks to the easy access for international media to the Turkish side of the border near Kobane and the resulting images, as well as the work...
    23 October 2014
  • The question of defining a 'moderate' rebel in Syria's civil war bedevils the US as it works to fulfill its plan, announced by President Obama on 10 September, to arm and train anti-ISIS groups in Syria. The term 'moderate' is thrown around with gay abandon without anyone defining exactly what they...
    15 October 2014
  • Questions abound over what to do about ISIS and whether it should be pursued into Syria (the US has now started hitting ISIS targets in Syria ). Concentrating simply on ISIS though, risks misunderstanding the regional nature of the problem and the fact that ISIS is just the strongest of numerous...
    23 September 2014

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