EGYPT

VASILY MAXIMOV via Getty Images

Why Would ISIS Target A Russian Airliner Instead Of An American One?

The "Wilayet Sinai", or Sinai Province (SP) offshoot of ISIS, took credit for downing a Russian-owned Metrojet airliner on 31 October. All 224 passengers flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg died in the crash. In its self-congratulatory tweet, SP referred to those killed as "Russian crusaders". Curiously, if SP reports to the ISIS nerve-centre in Raqqa, why target Russia at all? The US-led Operation Inherent Resolve has been far more damaging to the group's activities in Syria and Iraq than recent Russian airstrikes.
BEHROUZ MEHRI via Getty Images

Saudi-Israeli Secret Talks And Joint Diplomacy

Ostensibly, both Saudi Arabia and Israel are worried about a nuclear Iran because they see the latter has having expansionist imperial ambitions. Of course, like everybody else in the neighbourhood Iran has proxy groups but perhaps it is not the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran that worries the Saudis and Israelis as much as the fact that a sanction-free Iran would perhaps be Asia's fastest growing economy with its natural gas, oil and mineral deposits coupled with a highly educated young population.
HAIDAR HAMDANI via Getty Images

The Shifting Sands Of The Middle East

There are currently four all-out wars in the Middle East in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen with blowback of this in Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Sudan amongst other places. The contexts of each of these situations is different and perhaps the one and only feature that states across the region share is that for various reasons most countries have denied their citizens the opportunity to form democratic civil society movements that participate in government and governance.