Monday, May 26, 2008


There's a ton of stuff going on right now, but I'm packing for a small vacation to visit my parents, so I thought I'd leave you with the main link to the BBC Middle East section. I get a lot of my news from them, because they actually cover a lot. I should be back by the end of next week. My apologies for not posting more today. I'm really tired and I really need a vacation. I hope to return refreshed and ready to write!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sniping the Koran: Update #1

See original post here. According to the BBC, President Bush apologized for the incident. And the incident set off a protest in Afghanistan that killed several people. Using the Koran for target practice is just a bad idea, and pretty damn rude too.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Top Stories 5/19

Turkish Daily News: Iraqi Kurdish prime minister visits US

Yemen Times: State Security Court jails Al-Banna - you may want to check this story out. Al-Banna is on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list. Apparently he showed up in court, on his own, when he was accused of attacks. Then he showed up at court again, and paid bail. And then he surrendered to the president of Yemen? And then the Court decided to put his butt in jail. I feel like I should say "only in Yemen..."

Azzaman (Iraq): U.S. troops bomb hospital and refuse to pay for damages

Khaleej Times (Dubai, UAE): Hamas officials in Egypt for Israel truce talks

More Baha'i Arrests

Iran just arrested 7 Baha'i leaders. The Baha'is are a religious group that started in Iran in the 1800s. From what I've read (and I have Baha'i friends), they are pacifists and they believe the Baha'i religion is the next revelation from God after Islam. And that all religions are basically one: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are the main ones, I think. They're very peaceful and nice and the conservatives in Iran can't stand them. I think it's because most Baha'i's in Iran probably started out Islamic and then converted - and converting away from Islam is illegal. If you want more information, here's the World Baha'i website.

Sniping the Koran

Okay, this one really ticks me off. A US sniper in Baghdad was using a Koran for target practice. The US general in Baghdad had to personally apologize for that. I don't understand how someone could do something like this. I mean, would this sniper have used a Bible or Torah for target practice? And if not, then how could he do it to the Koran? The Koran is the Islamic Bible. And Islam is from the same family as Christianity and Judaism. I don't know why so many people think Islam is some weird, heathen religion, when it is based on the same principles as Christianity and Judaism. It even has the same prophets! And, assuming that the soldier didn't know or care about Islam, using the Koran for target practice while you're in an Islamic country is just plain stupid!

Kuwaiti Elections

Kuwait had elections over the weekend. Yes, an Arab country with elections - they do exist. This is a relatively recent phenomenon and it's still pretty new to them. The conservatives won a bunch of seats, but no woman won a seat. That is a problem in a lot of countries - men thinking women should stay at home and take care of the kids and not get involved. And before I get anyone telling me "that's the problem with Islam" I would like to point that it's also "the problem" with Christianity. There are a number of US politicians (male) who think that their wives should stay at home and take care of the kids and not get involved. The US has had a parliament (Congress) since before the US was a country - and yet, today, we still have only a handful of
women in office. But we expect countries that have never had a parliament to suddenly allow voting and elect women overnight.

Lebanon is Breaking

The factions went to Qatar to talk things over. Qatar proposed a unity cabinet, but it doesn't seem to be going over well. Let's hope this doesn't descend into another civil war.

Will This Story Ever End? More on BAE.

Yes, I have yet one more article about the BAE-Saudi-US scandal. Here are the previous posts, and here's the new article. Two executives flew into the US and were "briefly detained." Not much seems to have happened, but the article summarizes what's been going on.

[Edit:] Apparently they received subpoenas at the airport, and if you've been paying attention, they can now copy your laptop (and anything else electronic) when you enter the country. So these executives probably had their laptops copied.

Info on Palestinians

The BBC has been doing a lot of articles on Israel and Palestinians, since the state of Israel just turned 60. Inside a Palestinian Refugee Camp has maps, interviews, a slide show, and key figures. And if you haven't checked out the Jerusalem Diary, you might want to.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Top Stories 5/12

Al-Ahram: Bittersweet medicine: State employees will get a salary increase - 30%!, but it 's being paid for with a gas tax.

Asia Times: Another D-Day for Pakistan over Militants: Just what it sounds like - al-Qaeda and Pakistan face off.

Gulf Times: North Field output set for major expansion: Expanded output from Qatar's natural gas field.

Tehran Times: Iran protests against Britain's decision to remove MKO from terrorist list: Again, just what it sounds like. Apparently Britain still thinks the MKO is a terrorist organization, but it's being removed from the list. Your guess is as good as mine about why.


BBC has an article about Zionism: Has Zionism Worked? since it is the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bye-Bye Beirut

Well, Beirut is heading back into civil war. I was so happy when the fighting stopped in the the early 90s. Beirut used to be a beautiful city - it was basically the Paris of the Middle East. It's been recovering since the early 90s, and then there were the problems with Syria, the fighting between Hizbollah and Israel, and now this mess. I was hoping to be able to visit there soon, but apparently not.

The Story That Just Won't End - BAE

Yes, it is still going on. Read my old posts here. Now the US is worried that top secret American technology might get out there. This is a huge fiasco on all sides.

The Story That Just Won

Monday, May 5, 2008

Top Stories 5/05

Islamic Republic News Agency - Iran ready to play active role in promoting peace in Horn of Africa: Mottaki - this is about Eritrea.

Syria Today - PM opens tourism fair - the Fourth International Tourism Investment Market Forum in Damascus opened on April 29th.

Yemen Times - Minister of Local Administration calls on Yemeni's to help governors' elections succeed - the first governors' elections are on Wednesday.

Middle East Newsline - Syria Orders Mig-31 From Russia - Syria is upgrading its air force with some new Russian fighters.

Malaysian Travel Restrictions

Malaysia has decided that women can't be trusted to travel abroad on their own. They should get written permission from their families or employers. Supposedly, this is because single women are being used by gangs to smuggle drugs. What I want to know is, how would a permission slip stop this? They seem to think that if the family agrees to a trip and gives a woman written permission, then somehow she's not involved with drug smuggling. What?!? So if a women is pretending to go abroad for a conference, now all she has to do is tell her family that and get a permission slip signed. And she can still smuggle drugs. I really do wonder if this is for real, or if it's an attempt to restrict female travel and they needed some kind of excuse for it.

Yemen's Woes

If you've paid any attention to Yemen, they've had a lot of problems over the last few years. And not all of it is al-Qaeda. There's been a tribal uprising in the north, and now Qatar is trying to mediate between the government and the Shi'ite rebels. So it's also a religious problem. I believe the current government is Sunni. These rebels are Shi'ite - but they're not the same type of Shi'ite as Iran. Iran is 12er Shi'ite (they believe in 12 Imams) and the ones in Yemen are Zaidis, which is 5er Shi'ism. Qatar is Sunni and Shi'ite, but I believe they are 12ers.

Happy Anniversary?

Next week is the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. The BBC has an article looking back at the creation, and brief interviews with people living in Israel. It's part of a series called Jerusalem Diary - if you go to the article, the right side links to the other "diary" entries.