A United Nations report stated that ‘torture in Lebanon is a pervasive practice that is routinely used by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies’. In October 2016, the parliament even adopted a new law establishing a National Human Rights Institute that will include a committee to investigate the use of torture. However, the recent deaths of the four Syrian detainees in army custody have raised fresh concerns about the army’s tactics and public criticism of it.
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In the years since, the UAE has considered fighting the Muslim Brotherhood locally, regionally and globally a top priority. Using its financial influence and political links, the UAE has been turning decision makers in the United States and Western Europe against political Islam in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular.
Observers have described the relationship between China and the Middle East as politically ‘baggage free’. Since it became a net importer of oil in 1992 and subsequently the world’s largest importer of crude oil, China has been predominantly interested in securing long-term oil supplies and has avoided becoming entangled in the internal politics of the countries with which is does business.
That night, on the president’s orders, the US military launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat airbase in western Syria, from which the planes carrying the chemical weapons originated. It was the first time an American administration had taken military action against the Syrian regime, representing a major escalation of American military involvement in the Middle East in the post-Obama era.
However, despite this smoothing of tensions, somewhat serendipitously, thawing Turkish-Israeli relations provide both countries with a level of economic insurance in the midst of continued regional turmoil. Part of the initial negotiations between Turkey and Israel included a natural gas pipeline under the Mediterranean, presumably intended as a foil against a total break with Russia. Economics is just as much a driver of this rapprochement as politics, and animosity is a luxury that neither can afford.
Representatives from France and Great Britain negotiated what came to be known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a tentative agreement on the division of spheres of influence in the territories of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire. The agreement was eventually concluded on 19 May 1916. However, The British gained control of Palestine in 1920 and ruled it from 1923 until 1948. They also ruled Mandatory Iraq from 1920 until 1932. The French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon lasted from 1923 to 1946.
It has already become clear that intensifying trade relations with the countries of the Gulf ranks very high on Britain’s list of strategic priorities. In a December speech 2016 outlining British foreign policy post-Brexit, Secretary for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson stressed free trade as a key interest of a ‘global Britain’.
The meeting’s final statement paved the way for the Geneva talks in late February 2017, between the political opposition and the regime. The statement also stressed the countries’ conviction ‘that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it can only be solved through a political process. Moreover, Ankara, Moscow and Tehran agreed to join forces to combat ISIS and to work on separating terrorist factions from armed opposition groups. Both sides welcomed the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 of December 2015, which sets out a roadmap for a peace process in Syria.
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.