The KRG has continued to grow in stature and international standing, even as ISIS has harassed its borders and threatened its very existence. But the greatest threat to a prosperous future remains an internal one. The demon of internecine strife has not disappeared and, while the fault lines of Kurdish politics continue to undercut the region’s potential, any talk of truly stable and steady progress remains just that: talk.
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in 2017, IS’ ambitions and objectives seem to have changed. It now appears that the Islamic State is honing its efforts to inspire followers, and focusing on more careful planning and coordination in its attacks. Its increase in complex mass-casualty attacks in Iraq and Syria therefore became a routine to terrorise the populations and seek control.
Today, Russia has a presence in almost all of the Soviet Union’s former zones of influence, namely Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Algeria. Furthermore, it is getting closer to the other non-Arab hegemon apart from Iran; Turkey. The Middle East therefore represented the best forum for a show of force by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ironically, it is the Arab Spring – which Russian media outlets criticize continuously – that has allowed Putin to achieve his goal.
The Islamic State sustains itself by using diverse and sophisticated financing strategies. IS was able to develop a qualitative economic system that relies on diverse sources of income and significantly minimize its reliance on foreign donations that even the mother organization of Al-Qa’ida used to rely on.
President Putin may feel justified in permitting himself a smile when reflecting on his foreign policy achievements in West Asia. Egypt has now moved closer to Russia and is prepared to further enhance its economic, military and political ties with Moscow. Turkey, a NATO member, appears to feel it could benefit from warmer relations with the Kremlin. And Syria, whatever shape or form a solution to the conflict there may take, has afforded Russia a direct military presence, and a firm foothold, in the eastern Mediterranean.
Obama’s strategy of avoiding direct military engagement in conflicts in the Middle East was a departure from his predecessor’s policy, whose invasion of Iraq in 2003 many consider as having directly led to the birth of ISIS. Instead, the president has encouraged his allies in the Middle East to take the lead in “fighting their own battles” against terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere instead of “spoon-feeding them” with the military assistance to which they had grown accustomed.
Islamic State’s occupation and tight measures have had a major impact on the Christian minority and their lives. The UN stressed that the practices of IS against religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians, is “a systematic and large scale policy” that aims to repress and expel minorities permanently, as IS is depriving them of their basic rights and deliberately subjecting them to all kinds of abuses in blatant contravention of the international humanitarian law and human rights laws.”
The relationship between Muslims and Christians in Palestine is different from that in other Arab countries, according to some Christians. The Israeli occupation and all aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, irrespective of religious background, have added to Palestinian solidarity and unity. There is no question about the patriotism of Palestinian Christians, their pride in their Palestinian identity, and their contribution to the resistance to the Israeli occupation by sacrificing their lives or risking arrest.