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Whose side is Turkey on?

Patrick CockburnOver the summer Isis – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – defeated the Iraqi army, the Syrian army, the Syrian rebels and the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga; it established a state stretching from Baghdad to Aleppo and from Syria's northern border to the deserts of Iraq in the south. Ethnic and religious groups of which the world had barely heard – including the Yazidis of Sinjar and the Chaldean Christians of Mosul – became victims of Isis cruelty and sectarian bigotry. In September, Isis turned its attention to the two and a half million Syrian Kurds who had gained de facto autonomy in three cantons just south of the Turkish border. One of these cantons, centred on the town of Kobani, became the target of a determined assault. By 6 October, Isis fighters had fought their way into the centre of the town. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan predicted that its fall was imminent; John Kerry spoke of the 'tragedy' of Kobani, but claimed – implausibly – that its capture wouldn't be of great significance. A well-known Kurdish fighter, Arin Mirkan, blew herself up as the Isis fighters advanced: it looked like a sign of despair and impending defeat.


Critical Points on the Safar Film Festival

Rana BakerFor a whole week, from 19 to 25 September, one would indulge in rich filmic evenings, the likes of which one has either forgotten about or been longing to enjoy. The Safar film festival, promoted as the "festival of popular Arab cinema", was inaugurated in 2012 by the Arab British Centre, in collaboration with the Dubai International Film Festival and London's Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), where the films were screened. While London is well-known for its multiculturalism, it is also famous for its draining work schedules which make evenings such as those of Safar, where one can just sit and enjoy a film with peers and friends, in high demand.


Does America want to embarrass Turkey in front of the Arabs?

Does America want to involve Turkey in the Syrian swamp? This question does not carry surprises and its answer, whether yes or no, does not signify anything. Senior Turkish officials have made statements to the media saying, our entry into Syria is being likened to Saddam's entry into Kuwait and America's support for us does not prevent Russia from playing the role of America in 1991 and putting Turkey before international courts.


Palestinian options at the United Nations and the International Court of Justice

Palestinian flagAt last, it appears that the United Nations General Assembly's (UNGA) 138-9 majority vote in November 2012 to accord Palestine observer state status might finally be bearing fruit. Sweden's announcement that it will recognise Palestine, the House of Commons 274-12 majority vote calling on the British government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, the decision by Spanish lawmakers to hold a similar vote on recognising Palestine in their parliament, and France's announcement that it will recognise Palestine if negotiations with Israel fail are all steps in this direction.


Will Qatar withdraw its funds from London in the wake of the Telegraph's campaign?

HarrodsBritish newspaper The Telegraph, and its sister paper The Sunday Telegraph, have recently published a series of reports linking Qatar with support for terrorism around the world, including on account of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood. This despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is not designated a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom or in the European Union.