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Mouin Rabbani


The United Nations and Palestine: Biased?

United Nations Flag by sanjitbakshi via Creative Commons

It is common currency to accuse the United Nations (UN) of harboring an inveterate anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias. Israel, so the claim goes, is consistently held to a higher standard than other states that manage to escape the world body’s scrutiny despite their abysmal records, and is consistently condemned by the UN for engaging in a legitimate struggle for survival against the Palestinians and other Arabs. To an even greater extent than her predecessors, the ...

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Full Circles: Hamas Goes to Cairo

Hamas supporters out on parade. Credit to openDemocracy on Creative Commons.

During the past week, a Hamas delegation paid an official visit to Egypt, which these days is news in and of itself. During its time in Cairo, the delegation also met with former Fatah warlord Muhammad Dahlan, which is even bigger news. The Hamas delegation was led by Yahya Sinwar. A leader of Hamas’s Martyr Izz-al-Din Qassam Brigades – who served more than twenty years in Israel’s prisons until released in a 2011 exchange – Sinwar was recently elected to lead the movement ...

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Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council Crisis

[Logo of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)]

It is tempting, and not entirely inaccurate, to dismiss the escalating crisis between Qatar and a number of its neighbors as a petulant princely playground spat. Extending this tempting logic, one could conclude that decisive victory by each of the protagonists would be the optimal outcome. Yet the dispute also reflects deeper dynamics in Arab and regional politics that are shaping the increasingly turbulent and violent realities of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s Gulf ...

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The 1967 June War and the Palestinian National Movement

The June 1967 war did not create the contemporary Palestinian national movement, but did establish the conditions for its meteoric rise and ability to wrest custodianship of the Question of Palestine from the Arab states. This development has had far-reaching consequences to this day. From the conclusion of the 1936–39 Great Arab Revolt against the British Mandate in Palestine until the 1967 war, the Palestinians were often little more than spectators to the regional and ...

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Six Years: Roundtable on Arab Uprisings

The Arab world has been fundamentally transformed in the past six years, as part of ongoing processes that are certain to continue for some time to come. Throughout this period Jadaliyya has been providing analysis of the Arab uprisings, in their varied manifestations and in all their dimensions. This has included the events and people who set this train in motion, and the struggles and aspirations of the many that participated. Also covered were the new forms of governance ...

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A Damp Squib in Paris

As representatives of seventy nations gather in Paris this morning to discuss the moribund Middle East peace process, a healthy dose of scepticism is in order. Not so much about the conference’s prospects for success—it is not designed to succeed beyond the fact of being convened and producing a communiqué —but rather about the purpose of this exercise. According to its French convenors, the objective of the conference is to re-affirm the international community’s ...

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John Kerry’s Eureka Moment: The Mouse That Almost Roared

[US Secretary of State John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on 23 July 2014. Image by US Department of State]

It has been a bizarre week for US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On 23 December 2016, the Barack Obama administration narrowly avoided becoming the first since Harry Truman’s to leave office without a single United Nations Security Council resolution censuring Israel to its credit. Given that Washington has spent the past eight years relentlessly shielding what Secretary of State John Kerry on 28 December termed “the most right wing [government] in Israeli ...

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Quick Thoughts: Mouin Rabbani on Trump Pledge to Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem

[Donald Trump speaking at the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference. Image by Lorie Shaull via Wikimedia Commons]

[During the US presidential campaign, President-elect Trump said he would move the United States embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if he won. Other presidents like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also promised to move the embassy while campaigning for office, but did not follow through after assuming power. However, since becoming president-elect, senior advisors to Trump have said that he will do it and soon. Just a few days ago, former Trump campaign manager ...

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Fatah: The Disintegration Continues

[Official Fatah flag. Image by MrPenguin20 via Wikimedia Commons]

To Mahmoud Abbas’s credit, he has shown more interest in convening the General Conference, the supreme body of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) than did his predecessor Yasir Arafat. In 2009, albeit almost five years after taking charge of the movement, Abbas together with his closest associate, Muhammad Dahlan, convened the General Conference for the first time since 1989. Together, they remade Fatah in their image. During this past week, after an ...

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Quick Thoughts: Mouin Rabbani on Aleppo and the Syria Conflict

[Photo of Blown-out tank in Aleppo taken by Voice of America News uploaded from Wikimedia Commons]

[The ongoing full-scale assault by the Syrian military, Russian air force and allied militias on eastern Aleppo, which forms the most significant remaining opposition stronghold in the country, appears to portend a strategic turning point in the Syrian conflict. Jadaliyya turned to Co-Editor Mouin Rabbani, former head of political affairs for the office of the UN special envoy for Syria, to examine the various ramifications of these developments] Jadaliyya (J): What are ...

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What If?

[Hillary Clinton. Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr]

I suspect I was hardly alone in putting more effort into considering the implications of a Clinton presidency than a Trump administration. The article below, written shortly before the 8 November election, focuses on Clinton’s foreign policy and what this might have portended for the Middle East. It serves as a useful reminder that the best Clinton had to offer the region was more of the same: Hillary Clinton will assume office at a time of profound global change and ...

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US Presidential Elections: Quick Reflections by Some Jadaliyya Co-Editors

[Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during United States presidential election 2016. Wikimedia Commons.]

The shocking victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential elections reflects important developments in US political culture just as it will have significant ramifications for US foreign policy. A world that had taken for granted four more years of neoliberal globalization and foreign intervention under Hillary Rodham Clinton now struggles to understand the extent to which the United States will pursue a different course, domestically and abroad, and what this means ...

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President-Elect Trump’s World View

[Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr]

President-elect Trump will assume office on the strength of his promise to fundamentally reconfigure US foreign policy and in so doing quickly resolve America’s growing list of foreign political and economic challenges. That he was able to successfully market this message, and himself as the individual most capable of achieving these objectives, makes the world a substantially more dangerous place. It is crucial to understand that Trump would not be where he is today ...

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Israel’s Defeat on the Iran Deal

[Image from]

Since the Iran nuclear agreement was signed on 14 July, Israel has consistently defined it as an existential threat. Demonstrating once again that Israel simply lacks the military capability to eliminate this alleged peril, the Netanyahu government has instead sought to scuttle the accord – since adopted by the United Nations Security Council – by invalidating the American signature on it. In what is perhaps the most intensive and divisive campaign ever undertaken by Israel ...

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Another Palestinian Uprising?

[Jabalia Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip in 1988. Image by Robert Croma via Flickr]

Predictions of a new Palestinian intifada in the Occupied Territories tend to accompany every breakdown in the diplomatic process, announcement of a new colonial expansion project, and Israeli violence against Palestinian life—such as the recent horrific murder of Palestinian infant Ali Dawabsheh by settler terrorists who set fire to his West Bank family home. Such projections are often prefaced by observations that Palestinians in the Occupied Territories today live under ...

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No Decisive Outcome on Syrian Horizon

[Image from]

The view that 2015 has not been a particularly good year for Syrian President Bashar Assad and may get considerably worse has much to recommend it. Within Syria, the government has lost control over most of the province of Idlib in the country’s northwest, including its key towns and military bases. More recently it was almost effortlessly dislodged from Palmyra by the Islamic State (IS) movement. The key cities of Aleppo in the north and Dar’a in the south remain under ...

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Not Much Special in UN Middle East Missions

Of the twenty-two members of the Arab League, no less than nine have been assigned a Special Advisor, Special Coordinator, Special Envoy, or Special Representative by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Their purpose, broadly speaking, is to promote conflict resolution in their respective area of operations. None have succeeded, and where peace has been achieved their contribution has generally been marginal. As unprecedented levels of death, destruction, and ...

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Mr. Freeze

[Staffan de Mistura, United Nations, Special Envoy for Syria. Image by Jean-Marc Ferré via Flickr]

Amid little anticipation and less expectation, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on Tuesday, 17 February, briefed the Security Council on the progress of the initiative he unveiled last year to “freeze” the conflict that has destroyed the country, extinguished perhaps 1 per cent of its population and displaced more than a quarter of the remainder. It would be an exaggeration to say that hubris has given way to humility, but his performance this ...

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The Un-Islamic State

[A Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devise (VBIED) after exploding on a street outside of the Al Sabah newspaper office in the Waziryia district of Baghdad, Iraq. Image by Eli J. Medellin.]

Since the Islamic State (IS) movement seized control of Iraq’s second city of Mosul in early June 2014 it has achieved unprecedented levels of success in Iraq and Syria, seized territory in Lebanon, and expanded to the border regions of most surrounding states. As a result the international community, which had virtually forgotten about Iraq and was growing increasingly uninterested in Syria, put these conflicts back at the top of its agenda virtually overnight. The U.S. is ...

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Israel's "Operation Status Quo": A Preliminary Assessment

[Aftermath of Israeli bombing in southern Gaza, 2009. Image by Flickr User RafahKid Kid.]

Israel’s massive onslaught on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014 has been a military and political fiasco. A regional superpower, it failed to impose its will on an isolated enemy operating in a besieged territory without advanced weaponry. Its sub-standard military performance was matched by a failure to reverse Palestinian reconciliation or deepen Palestinian fragmentation, and its overall strategic position has grown weaker. Led by a government too extreme to seize the ...

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Mouin Rabbani


Mouin Rabbani is a Contributing Editor of Middle East Report and has published and commented widely on Palestinian affairs and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was a Senior Analyst of the Middle East with the International Crisis Group. Previously he worked as Palestine Director of the Palestinian American Research Centre. He is Co-Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine.

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