Al-Fadl Shalaq
Despite IS threat, region should be wary of intervention

The existence of the Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates is important for the world order to succeed in deluding us into thinking that this Islamist human savagery — which has committed the most heinous and unimaginable crimes — is threatening humanity.
It was also important for IS to threaten a region — known over the years for its pluralism — to justify calls for Western intervention, not for the sake of domination but for the sake of civilization. IS was also important for the world to forget the controversies and tragedies of capitalism and for the people of the Levant to forget that the West has already led invasions in the name of religion, civilization and human rights, along with other pretexts. It was important for IS to be created for the people of the region to forget their demands to live with dignity and justice in the face of tyrants and dictatorships.
A global alliance was formed to counter terrorism, incorporating conflicting parties that had, until recently, been at each other’s throats. This alliance includes the West, Russia, Turkey, Iran, the Arab dictatorship governments, secular forces and revolutionary forces. It is not enough to be against IS and its affiliates and to fight them, but one should go out of one's way to show good faith.
IS is committing various crimes, from murder to destruction and displacement. It has displaced minorities with historical rights in the region, whose right to survive is as important as their historical presence — a presence that preceded Islam. The loss of pluralism in the region is as tragic as IS’ other crimes. Pluralism can only exist under the state, where an individual can live uniquely, face the state without a religious or ethnic mediator and face God as a believer who chooses to live by his own identity without being categorized under religious affiliations.

After Tabaqa airport, what is IS' next target?
Abdullah Suleiman Ali

The unexpected end and thunderous fall of the Tabaqa Military Airport in Raqqa to the Islamic State (IS) has reshuffled the cards on the ground and opened the eastern and central parts of Syria to endless, dangerous possibilities. Meanwhile, the Christian majority city of Mhardeh, in the countryside of Hama, was under the fiercest offensives by Jabhat al-Nusra several days ago, amid fears that the scenario of [the capture of] Maaloula could be repeated.
Regardless of how you describe what happened at the military airport, whether it was to retreat and regroup the Syrian troops outside the airport, a withdrawal and defeat, the inevitable truth is that Raqqa province as a whole has become devoid of any presence of the Syrian army, which is a precedent since the start of the Syrian war three and a half years ago. This gives IS greater freedom of movement and mobility and allows it to secure supply routes between Mosul and the city of Raqqa.
The fall of the military airport is expected to result in dangerous repercussions on several areas, stretching from the countryside of Hama — which is, according to estimations, probably the next target for IS — through the Deir ez-Zor military airport — which is severely endangered following the loss of the 24th air defense brigade — to some Iraqi areas where fierce battles are taking place. IS may now be able to bring additional fighters after it managed to get rid of the threats posed by the aircraft of the Tabaqa Military Airport, by targeting its fighter jets and inflicting great damage to them.

Egypt’s rival parties prepare for parliamentary elections
Mustafa Bassiouni

Parliamentary elections, which are being prepared in Egypt now, consist of the third and last milestone in the “road map” that was declared by the armed forces when former President Mohammed Morsi was ousted.
Yet, this milestone is different from previous ones, at least when it comes to political alliances among parties. The constitutional referendum (January 2014) and presidential elections (May 2014) have seen a satisfactory degree of consensus and partnership between most of the forces that took part in the July 3 coalition that overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood, following the June 30 revolution. The competition among those forces was not the norm, even in the presidential elections where there was not a real competition between presidential candidates (Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi) as the final election’s results have shown.
In terms of parliamentary elections, the coalition opposing the Brotherhood has been divided into rival alliances, where each seeks to reap the benefits of its participation in the confrontation against the Islamic regime. Obviously, any party will necessarily have as its adversary a former ally.
In the past months, the political forces that were united on July 3, 2013, to bring down the Brotherhood regime succeeded in putting off differences and contradictions. Yet, with the preparations of parliamentary elections, a struggle for seats has started to loom on the horizon.

Syrian factions join forces to fight IS
Alaa Halabi

The Islamic State (IS) has achieved a rapid and surprising advance in the countryside of northern Aleppo.
Several strategic villages fell into the grip of IS, which marked its territory in the village of Dabeq, which is considered a symbol for the regime. IS also has its eye set on Azaz, its former stronghold. Meanwhile, the factions fighting the group are shocked, while others have withdrawn and disappeared. The battles stopped at Marea city border, where the cards were being reshuffled amid speculation that a decisive and bloody battle would take place in the region — a battle that would also decide the fate of the other fighting factions.
There have been many changes in the countryside of northern Aleppo which has been caused by IS fronts. Moreover, this organization constitutes an existential threat for the factions fighting it and for the families of militants. Fear of massacres that might claim the lives of thousands of people has risen, especially since these battles happened after the IS massacres of the people of the Sheaitat tribe in the Deir ez-Zor countryside. As a result, a spirit of vengeance prevailed over the organization’s battles, thus making yesterday’s foe a temporary friend.
In Marea city, which recently appeared as the most important stronghold for the armed factions fighting IS, thousands of militants from Jaysh al-Islam, Jaysh al-Mujahedeen, Liwa al-Tawhid, Ahrar Souria, Noureddine al-Zinki and the Kurdish front have rallied, and militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) later joined them. They (PKK) came from Afreen region, which was besieged by the same factions until recently. Meanwhile, Jabhat al-Nusra, which was active around the region, disappeared.

Nouakchott faces perils of climate change
Ahmed Jedou

Nouakchott was simply a dream for the generation that participated in the establishment of the state of Mauritania.
The Mauritanian government’s first meeting was held in this city, during the French occupation, on July 12, 1957. In 1958, Moktar Ould Daddah, Mauritania’s first president, laid the foundation stone as he declared the city the capital of Mauritania. Charles de Gaulle, then president of France, was attending. On July 24, 1957, before laying the city’s foundation stone, a decree was issued to declare it the capital of the Mauritanian region, instead of Saint-Louis, Senegal.
Nouakchott residents only numbered a few hundred back then, and the city lacked even the slightest elements of a modern city. It was a small village on the Atlantic Ocean with a desert climate, sitting on a land with no water.
In his memoirs, President Ould Daddah explained the reason behind picking Nouakchott as the capital. He wrote: "Since there was no adequate place in the center of Mauritania, Nouakchott was unquestionably the right city. Despite the distance that separates it from the eastern and northern regions, this city has several significant advantages. It is less than 200 kilometers [124 miles] away from the river. … The fact that Nouakchott is situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean should make it a seaport. This would be a great advantage for the future capital. The city of Nouadhibou also has this same advantage, but Nouakchott is better, since it is neither close to the north nor isolated."
The city's founding generation expected residents of Nouakchott to reach 20,000 by 1975. However, climate change begged to differ. Mauritania was hit by drought at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. Living became impossible in many villages, and their residents were displaced to Nouakchott. The capital's population reached 130,000 in 1957. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the population reached half a million in approximately a decade. Thus, the capital started its journey with chaos, without any consideration for modern city plans. Signs of poverty increased and the city spirit diminished, mainly due to the Desert War (1975-91) and the overthrow of the civil order in a 1978 military coup.

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