Albawaba: Middle East News Brief

Al Bawaba Insights is a weekly newsletter featuring research, geopolitical analysis and a fresh perspective on current affairs from inside the Middle East. We’re based in Jordan, with writers in Oxford, London, Washington DC and Europe.

Erdogan is Using Syrian Mercenaries as a Foreign Policy Bludgeon 

Ty Joplin

In a disputed region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, fighters from Syria have been spotted. Reportedly deployed there by Turkey to aid Azerbaijan, their presence signals yet again that Turkey is using its control over northwestern Syria as a recruitment pool for expendable troops.

Previously, Turkey had organized Syrian fighters to battle Kurds. Shortly thereafter, Ankara sent thousands of Syrian mercenaries to fight for the U.N.-backed government in the ongoing Libyan civil war. Now, hundreds Syrians find themselves fighting alongside Azerbaijan’s military in another border flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Analysts and journalists are focusing on the link between Syrian mercenaries and Turkish president Erdogan’s aggressive foreign policy, but a broader dimension underlying the move remains: countries are increasingly turning to mercenaries, paramilitaries, and unofficial auxiliary forces to do the job of war-making

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Turkish Backed Syrian Mercenaries Appear in the Nagorno-Karabakh

Ty Joplin

Syrians have signed up to work for a Turkish private military contractor in Azerbaijan. Initial reports suggested that they had been hired to work as bodyguards and have been travelling by land over the border. The long-standing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over disputed territorial claims has led to fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, where three Syrian soldiers have been reported killed.

The largest outbreak of violence since the signing of a peace deal in 1994 broke out his week. Nagorno-Karabakh is a separatist enclave inside of Azerbaijan and controlled by ethnic Armenians. At least three civilians have been killed inside the area since fighting broke out, reports say. Fears are that another conflict could arise in the region, one that would draw international military backing from Turkey, Russia, Iran and other regional powers

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Beirut’s Explosion and the Death of the Resilience Narrative, with Sara Mourad

A word that gets tossed around international press coverage of conflicts, poverty, or general deprivation is “resilience,” which refers to the ability for a society to endure hardship.
Stories of unmitigated disasters and unspeakable horror can be turned into hopeful human-interest stories simply by packaging the tragedy within a narrative of ‘resilience,’ and overcoming.

Today I’m speaking with Sara Mourad, an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the American University of Beirut, on how this ‘resilience’ narrative took hold in post-war Lebanon, and how it naturalizes otherwise preventable injustices.

Read the summary or listen here.

With The Gateway, we’ll go in-depth on developments submerged under the ocean of breaking news developments and explore issues poorly or under-reported on. 
Listen to the Gateway Podcast

‘Biden Spoke Arabic’: 5 Things That Will Blow Your Mind About the First Presidential Debate

Heba Y. Amin – When I See the Future, I Close My Eyes- Solo Exhibit at the Mosaic Rooms in London

Lebanon’s Political Class and the Road to Nowhere

Nick Pritchard

Counting Down the Days to the US Election Whilst Lebanon Suffers After the resignation of Mustapha Adib, Lebanon’s Prime Minister-delegate, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Lebanese leaders of “collective betrayal” after the parliament failed to form a government in a time of continuing economic strife, economic strife, protests, and the port explosion in August which killed 190 people and left thousands injured.

Macron had been pushing for a resolution to the crises to reassert French influence in the region and has answered calls for France, the ex-colonial power in Lebanon, to come to the aid of the country in a time of crisis. It was agreed that if Lebanon could enact reforms then international aid would flow, debts could be restructured, and the leadership could avoid sanctions. “I did not come today to give a warning, but I returned to help Lebanon and accompany it to its future,” Macron said in early September.

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Uğur Gallenkuş: A Digital Artist Creating ‘Parallel Universes’

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