“White Saviors” & a “Secular Jihad”: Why Westerners are drawn to fight in Middle Eastern conflicts -al Jazeera


The following two articles both place a lot of emphasis on a romantic attraction to war as an adventure, as captured by a reference to a TE Lawrence quote: “All men dream, but not equally.Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act upon their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”

“Yet inexplicable as it may seem to many, the mere thrill of combat is often the primary motivating factor. While ideological reasons are cited in justification, the real reason many individuals travel abroad to fight is an age old search of adventure. This more than anything may have played its part in luring westerners to the Kurdish cause, just as others before them went to Bosnia or Rhodesia. The difference being, this time the war against ISIL provides a useful pretext for their actions.”

“Would [these Western volunteers] fight in the Middle East if they were content at home? I don’t think the temptation would be very strong. For each person who goes there must be personal reasons – perhaps religion, perhaps some deeply held political conviction like the foreign volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War. That said, there is probably a sprinkling of pure adventurers – the kind of people who might otherwise become mercenaries.”

Stop Trying to Save the World Big ideas are destroying international development -The New Republic


“The repeated “success, scale, fail” experience of the last 20 years of development practice suggests something super boring: Development projects thrive or tank according to the specific dynamics of the place in which they’re applied. It’s not that you test something in one place, then scale it up to 50. It’s that you test it in one place, then test it in another, then another. No one will ever be invited to explain that in a TED talk.”


Iran nuclear talks: Optimism as deadline is extended -BBC


No surprise. The Iran-US nuclear talks did not produce a deal by Monday’s deadline. Although a disappointment, both sides maintain that a deal is within reach if they continue to talk. The bottom line is that while a deal would be nice, the status quo is acceptable to both Iran and the US. Conversely, if the talks were to collapse completely it would cause a crisis that both sides want to avoid, particularly because they also have to deal with the IS crisis.


Post Arab-Spring Elections -BBC


Bahrain has just held elections, but the Shi’a opposition dismissed them as a sham and boycotted the process:
“Bahrain holds disputed election amid Shia boycott calls”

Meanwhile, Tunisia prepares for its first post-Arab spring presidential elections, hot on the heals of parliamentary elections. Whereas few people expected much from the Bahraini process, the democratic dream remains alive in Tunisia. Regardless of who wins, many people will be following events closely hoping that the process goes smoothly:
“Tunisia holds first post-revolution presidential poll”

From Ataturk to Erdogan: Turks rewrite history


Interesting article discussing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claim that “Muslims discovered the Americas three centuries before Christopher Columbus” as an attempt to reshape Turkey’s national identity and narrative.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/11/turkey-historical-revisionism-ataturk-erdogan.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=1100a4ffb3-November_21_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-1100a4ffb3-93109553#ixzz3JmP4THkH