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Gaza reconstruction: The new Israeli strategy

This article has originally been published by Middle East Eye.

The Israeli military has arrived at the conclusion that its near-total blockade of the Gaza Strip “has done more harm than good”, Israeli website Ynet - the online presence of daily Yedioth Ahronoth - reported on Friday.

The report listed the details of what veteran military correspondent Ron Ben Yishai described as Israel’s comprehensive plan for the Gaza Strip in the wake of the summer’s war.

According to Ben Yishai, who relies throughout the piece on unnamed military and government sources in Israel, the new strategy represents a decisive shift away from the idea of negotiating an independent state for the Palestinians and toward a tightly monitored “conflict management” approach. Under this approach, Palestinians will be allowed greater freedom of movement and greater autonomy, but under close Israeli and

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Why fighting the “war on terror” in Libya is a mistake

Since the end of the Cold War, it has become common (and convenient) for Middle Eastern leaders to depict their opponents as “terrorists” as a way to gain support, military or otherwise, from powerful Western governments to act against them. American and European involvement in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) has only increased such practices.

Libya’s ruling elite is unfortunately no different. In his speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last week, acting Libyan head of state Ageela Saleh said that the international community had to provide arms and training to the Libyan army “in its war against terrorism”, noting that the Dawn coalition, which also happen to be the adversaries of the Tobruk government, included “Al-Qaeda ideologists”.

This “war on terror” narrative plays into the concern of most European governments that Libya’s large ungoverned

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Libyan state disintegration

Plumes of black smoke is seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi August 23, 2014. © REUTERS / Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Libya, just a few hundred kilometres from Europe, is now the site of the most violent crisis in North Africa. Like the conflicts in Syria or Iraq, the human suffering and displacement, the destruction and state failure involved are of great concern to Europe. The Libyan crisis, though, has an added immediacy for European states because it is from Libya’s shores that many of the migrants and refugees, but also human traffickers and foreign jihadists, set off. Like its southern border security, Europe’s energy security is also tied to Libya.

The security situation in Libya has been steadily deteriorating in the past

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Children and civilian casualties in Gaza and Syria

With the latest Gaza conflict now over, the total death toll after 50 days of fighting stands at 2,104 Palestinians, 69 Israelis and 1 Thai national, clearly, a dramatic tally. Yet some have criticised what they see as a disproportionate international focus on Gaza given the scale of suffering witnessed in Syria over the last three years. The conflict in Syria has claimed 191,369 lives (these numbers, the most reliable we have, only cover the period between March 2011 and April 2014), with an average of 165 killed each day (compared to 44/day in Gaza). It may have been this contrast in scale that led Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel to say that President Obama should leave Israel alone and “go focus on Syria”. Ariel was not alone in voicing such sentiments.

Yet as the infographic that ECFR put together demonstrates, international preoccupation with the situation in Gaza seems to

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ECFR on Iraq: warnings from the past

The current crisis in Iraq, like so many other crises before it, has demonstrated European governments’ lack of strategic foresight.  As Julien Barnes-Dacey noted earlier this month, the EU’s members ignored the growing power of ISIS in Syria and Iraq for too long, even though “the warning signs were flashing brightly.”  They were not alone: the U.S. also downplayed the rising threat.  But it is worth asking if European governments could have been better prepared for the Iraqi horror show.

Only a few politicians dared suggest that the EU had any long-term interest in Iraq.

Iraq has been a low priority for most European officials and security analysts for some years.  Memories of the EU’s divisions over the 2003 invasion cast a very long shadow (most foreign policy pundits said something more or less foolish about the war that they’d rather forget) and events elsewhere in the Arab

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