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Showing posts from July 30, 2014

Gaming Israel and Palestine

By George Friedman

We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas' rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel's Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis.
War Without a Military Outcome

The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently f…

In Yemen, a Rebel Advance Could Topple the Regime

Shia loyal to the al-Houthi movement ride past Yemeni soldiers near Yaz, Yemen, in May. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The success of a rebel campaign in northern Yemen is threatening to destabilize the already weak and overwhelmed government in Sanaa. After capturing the city of Amran, a mere 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, in early July, the rebels from the al-Houthi tribe are in their strongest position yet. The Yemeni government is developing plans to divide the country into six federal regions, and the rebels believe this is their chance to claim territory for the future bargaining.

The central government is nearly powerless to fend off the rebels; its forces are already stretched thin. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has intervened in Yemen before and still supports Sunni tribes in the north, but the risk of inciting a Shiite backlash or creating space for jihadists to move in could deter another intervention.

Analysis


Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…

Europe's New Sanctions Against Russia Carry More Weight

The European Union on Tuesday announced its strongest round of sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. The sanctions are meant to show Moscow that the Europeans are willing to punish Russia for supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine. But they are also meant to contain political fragmentation within the European Union at a time when countries in Central and Eastern Europe are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with what they perceive as a lack of action from the bloc's largest economies. A few hours after the announcement, the United States also adopted additional sanctions against Russia.

Europe's sanctions prohibit state-owned Russian banks from buying or selling bonds and equity in the European Union, place an embargo on new arms sales, prohibit exports of dual use goods (software and technology that can be used for both civilian and military purposes) to Russia and restrict the export of certain energy-related equipment and technology to R…