Monday, October 8, 2012


I've been trying to come back and continue blogging about the Middle East, but honestly, my heart just isn't in it anymore.  For the most part, I'm only listing the Top Stories every Monday.  If that's all I'm going to do, then there's no reason to continue this blog.  I sincerely hope that one day I'll be able to return and make a contribution to blogging about the Middle East.  Until that time, thank you for reading my blog.  One day I will return, insha'allah.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Top Stories October 1, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  As race stands, Obama within reach of second term - Looks like everyone is watching the US elections.

Lebanon Daily Star:  couldn't access this morning

Haaretz (Israel):  Romney: Obama's lack of resolve on Middle East, Israel and Iran puts U.S. security at risk - Yep, more election coverage.

Turkish Daily News:  PM Erdogan vows to be 'in nation's service' until 2023 - 2023 is the 100th anniversary of the Turkish republic.  Erdogan wants to change how the presidency works too.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Free Speech Means Free Speech, at least in America

Great article on Slate about Free speech vs. hate speech.  I agree that it is hypocritical of many European countries to outlaw hate speech about the Holocaust or Jews or communist atrocities, but allow the denigration of Islam.  Which is why I think America has the best model - Free Speech for all.  You can make fun of anyone here.  You can hate anyone here.  Now, depending upon whom you are hating or making fun of, you may be ridiculed yourself.  But at least you have that right.

Americans have fought long and hard for these freedoms.  Because we realized that stopping these freedoms can start small.  It may sound like a good idea to make it illegal to use hate speech about Islam.  But if you include Islam, don't you have to include other religions?  What about  Baha'is?  In many Islamic countries Baha'is are discriminated against.  How many Muslims would support a law making hate speech against Baha'is illegal?  And it we outlawed hate speech against religions, then what about hate speech against our leaders?  Surely that would come next?  One of my favorite rights of being an American, is that if you hate the president, you can come right out and say so.  You just can't threaten his life.  As soon as you start curtailing such a simple right as what someone is allowed to say or think, you start down the road of telling them what they are allowed to say or think.  So think about that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Top Stories September 24, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Prince Miteb: National Day instills spirit of hard work - A celebration of Saudi Arabia and King Abdul Aziz.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Internal opposition seeks Syria transition - The Free Syrian Army claims to control much of Syria, and wants to take Damascus.  The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria met in Damascus to encourage a peaceful takeover, and are somewhat at odds with the rebels doing the actual fighting.  They worry about the influence of Turkey and the Gulf states.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israel working to avert collapse of ailing Palestinian economy - Israel is worried about the economy in the West Bank.  Hmm, I wonder why the economy could be so bad? [This is another article that requires registration.]

Turkish Daily News:  Deal for Cyprus not possible: Archbishop - The Greek Archbishop says that the Turks and Greeks on Cyprus want different things.  He says the Greeks want a unitary state, but the Turks want more power.  I don't see an end to this any time soon.  I've met Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and both of them told me how horrible the other side was.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What the Hell is going on in Bahrain?

And why isn't the American media covering it?

Juan Cole has an article on his site called America's Hypocrisy in Bahrain, written for TomDispatch.  It's very disturbing.  I had no idea that the situation in Bahrain had deteriorated so much.  That so many protests were still going on and people were being attacked and arrested and tortured for them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Safer America: An 18-year-old and a bomb

There have been a number of these cases over the last few years.  Cases where the FBI foils a terror attack and saves America.  But a lot of these cases also seem a bit odd.  In this one, an 18-year-old kid tried to set off a car bomb in Chicago.  But he got the fake bomb FROM the FBI.  AFTER the FBI contacted him and helped stir him up.  Which begs the question: Would this kid have ever actually done anything WITHOUT FBI help?  Or would he be just another impotent wacko spouting off on the Internet?  Is the FBI actually helping stop terror attacks, or is it creating stoppable terror attacks to prove its worth?

Top Stories September 17, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Turkish defense ties explored - There is not much in this article, except for a meeting between Prince Salman and the Turkish president's senior adviser.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Pope sends farewell message of unity - The pope spent 3 days in Lebanon and held a mass for 350,000 people.

Haaretz (Israel):  The intricate web of relationships that is Iran's leadership - This is another one that requires registration.

Turkish Daily News:  Armenia hosts drill as tension continues - They are in the middle of 5 days of war games.  Armenia and Azerbaijan are having problems because an Azerbaijani soldier who killed an Armenian was extradited then pardoned.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Anti-Muslim Movie Part 2

By now you've probably heard that everything we knew about the maker of the movie is wrong.  He's not an Israeli Jew, but now claims to be a Coptic Egyptian.  He has been in jail for fraud.  And the actors in the movie had no idea what was going on.  They filmed a movie set a few thousand years ago, and this guy dubbed over their voices to make references to Muhammad.

This brings me to a great little article on Slate called: Don't let Internet videos drive you to violence.  No matter who you are, somewhere out there is a person or group who just doesn't like you.  And they may post videos just to upset you.  Hoping that you'll go crazy and even turn to violence.  Don't let them get away with it.  It's what they want.  Don't let them win.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Anti-Muslim Movie

I want to start by condemning the attacks in Libya, that resulted in US deaths.  There has also been violence in Cairo

What set off these attacks is a movie called "Innocence of Muslims."  The filmmaker is Israeli-American and says he made the film because "Islam is a cancer" (quoted from article).  The film was recently subtitled in Arabic, and started being mentioned on Egyptian television.

I don't condone the violence and deaths, but I can understand why people are so upset.  This is another one of those situations that I've blogged about before: Yes, in America we have Freedom of Speech.  But just because you CAN say something does not mean that you SHOULD say something.

If a Muslim made a movie about Jesus, and depicted him as a womanizer and pedophile, there would be boycotts and mass demonstrations, and probably even some violence in America. [I'm saying this to make a point, because most Americans don't realize Jesus is a Muslim prophet.]  The relationship between America and the Middle East is so tenuous at times, and historically rather rocky, so it's very easy to offend people.  My current concern is backlash over the backlash, as some Americans may become more Islamophobic and think that all Muslims are ultra-religious and violent.  Let's hope the situation cools off quickly.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Top Stories September 10, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Time to make 'real investment' in health - An international conference on non-communicable diseases started on Sunday.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Car bomb kills 27, wounds 64 in Aleppo - The bloodshed in Syria continues.  Total deaths so far are estimated at over 27,000.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israel to compensate Palestinian family whose sons were killed in Gaza war - The sons were killed during a truce in Operation Cast Lead.

Turkish Daily News:  PM calls on judiciary to nix BDP immunity - This is a continuation of the BDP meeting (intentionally or not) with the outlawed PKK.  The BDP currently has parliamentary immunity, which Erdogan wants removed.  The BDP has threatened to leave parliament if that happens.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Top Stories September 4, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Tough warning to Assad over chemical arms - The US and Europe are saying they will take action if Assad uses chemical or nerve agents.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Nasrallah: Cabinet's fall would rock stability - Nasrallah is the leader of Hezbollah.  He says Lebanon must keep the Cabinet, to avoid worse problems.  And that Hezbollah can defend Lebanon against Israel.

Haaretz (Israel):  Former CIA chief tells Haaretz: Decision on Iran strike can wait - Iran won't have nuclear capability until 2013 or 2014.  This article require login.

Turkish Daily News:  Terrorism abusing freedom: Top judge - The head of the Supreme Court of Appeals said that terrorists are taking advantage of freedoms.  He also condemned the media for influencing judicial cases.

Note: Monday was a holiday in America.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Top Stories August 27, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Daraya massacre an 'atrocity on a new scale' - Over 300 bodies of civilians were found killed.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Assad's forces accused of massacre near Syrian capital - This is also about Daraya.  Everyone in the Middle East is watching.  What about you, America?

Haaretz (Israel):  Netanyahu to Lebanon: Israel will strike in case of Hezbollah provocation - As if things aren't tense enough in the Middle East, Israel and Hezbollah are having problems.  An Israeli strike would include Lebanon's infrastructure, not just Hezbollah targets.

Turkish Daily News:  Tensions fuel debate over Syrian refugees - About 80,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey, and the number is rising.  A CHP (Republican People's Party) delegation was denied entry into a refugee camp by the government.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top Stories August 20, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Nation marks Eid with religious fervor - Eid Mubarak everyone!

Lebanon Daily  Star:  Assir and supporters demonstrate against Hezbollah, Syria - Sheikh Ahmad Assir and his supporters are protesting kidnappings and Hezbollah's weapons.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israeli Police: Hundreds watched attempt to lynch Palestinians in Jerusalem, did not interfere - This is really disgusting.  And it was done by teenagers!  It reminds me of the Jim Crow SouthHow dare these people be in our area.  They want our women.  They deserve it.  Those are not actual quotes, but an example of what some White Southerners used to say about Black Southerners.  And to hear something similar by Israelis about Palestinians is truly awful.  Here's an actual quote from a teenager who was there: "They shouldn't be here, it's our area. For what other reason would they come here if not to make passes at Jewish girls?"

Turkish Daily News:  BDP-PKK meeting adds to controversy - A meeting took place, but it's unclear whether it was intentional or just by chance.  Since the PKK is outlawed, the public prosecutor is looking into the matter.  The BDP is the Peace and Democracy Party.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Islamophobia in America Again

I think by now everyone has seen the shooting at the Sikh temple.  I'm including it here because right after  9-11 some Sikhs were killed because they were mistaken for Muslims.  Apparently if you wear a turban that means you're Muslim.

Another one:  A mosque in Joplin, Missouri has been burned down - for the second time this summer!

Last year a mosque in California was burned down.

An organization is putting up Islamorealism signs in New York, to expose terrorism.
Islamophobia Watch
Islamophobia Today

Edit: added website

Monday, August 13, 2012

Top Stories August 13, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Syria's UN human rights envoy defects in Geneva - Another government official leaves Assad.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Assad welcomes talks with opposition, says ambassador - As long as Assad is running the talks.

Haaretz (Israel):  Oil prices rise to nearly $94 amid concerns over Israel-Iran conflict - Netanyahu spoke again about the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Turkish Daily New:  PKK kidnaps Turkish lawmaker - A deputy of the CHP (Republican People's Party) was kidnapped.  It is suspected that members of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) are responsible.  The PKK is outlawed in Turkey.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Top Stories August 7, 2012 - a bit delayed

Sorry - distracted by  Olympics.

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia) - Iran backs Assad as Syrian forces choke off Aleppo - Assad was on TV with an official from Iran.

Lebanon  Daily Star - Assad vows to crush Syria rebellion - He keeps referring to the opposition as "terrorists."

Haaretz (Israel) - In the battle to restore order in Sinai, Hamas holds the key - Egypt is concerned after 16 soldiers were killed in Sinai.

Turkish Daily News - Having trouble connecting.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Muslim Women in the Olympics

Two Saudi women are competing.  Although it hasn't been easy for them.  One lives in the USA, the other has to train in private.  And they're getting hate mail for even competing.

Afghanistan has a female sprinter.  So does Brunei.  The female shooter from Qatar carried the flag.

It's about time more women from the Islamic world competed in sports.  There is no reason for them not to!  Many of these women follow Islamic dress codes when they compete, so why do so many Muslim men want to stop them?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Top Stories July 30, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Syrian fighters seek heavy arms as Assad unleashes 'killing machine' - The Syrian opposition is fighting in Aleppo, but needs heavier weapons.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Rebels hold off Syrian forces in Aleppo - Assad declares victory in Damascus but rebels still hold parts of Aleppo.

Haaretz (Israel):  In Jerusalem speech, it was Romney's voice but Netanyahu's words - A Haaretz blogger's take on Romney's visit to Israel.  NOTE: Haaretz is now requiring free registration.

Turkish Daily News:  Assad will go; terror can not prevail: CHP - The Republican People's Party (CHP) thinks Assad will go, but doesn't want Turkey to become entangled in Syria.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Okay to Joke on Twitter!

Some of you may remember when a disgruntled air passenger tweeted about blowing up an airport in 2010.  He was originally charged and found guilty of sending threatening messages.  Well, the UK High Court finally decided that yes, the man was joking.  This whole situation was of real concern to anyone interested in preserving free speech in the West.  Thank goodness for common sense!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

NYC Police Overstep Bounds

This story originally broke a while back, but new information is now available:  The 911 tape that started it all.  In 2009, the New York City Police Department was caught with a safe house in New Jersey.  Specifically, they were watching local Muslim groups and putting all their information into a database.  Then the NYC police department tried to claim that they weren't doing anything illegal, because the police officers weren't doing anything "official."

This really upsets me.  It reminds me of McCarthyism in the 1950s, when people were terrified of being accused of being a Red.  Except, most Muslims tend to have darker skin.  If the police were doing this to Catholics, people would be horrified. So why is it acceptable to treat Muslims this way?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Top Stories July 23, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Syrian rebels say fight for Aleppo has begun - The Kingdom may be funding the rebels, and is starting a campaign to raise more money.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Hezbollah may get chemical arms if Assad falls: Netanyahu- The Israelis are growing increasingly concerned about the conflict in Syria.

Haaretz (Israel):  Egypt begins allowing Palestinians free entry into country - Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem may now enter Egypt.  This ends a 5-year closure of Gaza.

Turkish Daily News:  Ankara mulls options to 'dead' Geneva deal - Turkey has been hoping for a transitional government in Syria, but Russia and China vetoed the UN resolution.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sexy Australian Hurdler

By now you've probably all seen this video - the sexy hurdler from Australia doing a little dance before the race.  This is the link that showed up on my Yahoo! page.  What I found amusing is that if you look in the top right corner, you can see what looks like the Al-Jazeera logo.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tennessee Mosque Opens

Finally!  That mosque in Tennessee that seems to have a lot of Tennesseans freaked out, may finally be able to open.  This has been going on for TWO YEARS.  The range of Islamophobia in this country really makes me think of McCarthyism in the 1950s.  It's pathetic.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top Stories July 16, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Fisherman killed as US ship fires on boat off Dubai - Four Indians were fishing on a small boat that approached a US Navy ship that was refueling.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Syrian army briefly enters east Lebanon, clashes with armed group - The soldiers entered Mashari al-Qaa then returned, after fighting with an unknown group.

Haaretz (Israel):  Clinton: U.S., Israel on the same page regarding Iran -  The US prefers diplomacy at this point.

Turkish Daily News:  CHP eyeing return to social democrat roots - The leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) will release a "Democracy and Freedom Manifesto."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

YemenWatch July 12, 2012

A suicide bomber killed 10 soldiers at the police college in Sana'a.

Two of the AQAP escapees from Hodeida have been captured.

Sharaf Mahfooz, a leader in the Southern Movement, was killed in Aden.

Repairs are about done on the oil pipeline that keeps getting sabotaged.

The UAE Red Crescent has opened 5 new food centers in Sana'a to aid poor families.  Which is a lot of Yemen at this point.

Some current statistics on life in Yemen.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Top Stories July 9, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  King receives director of CIA - The director of the American CIA is visiting King Abdullah.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Hezbollah uncovers Beirut-based spy network: report - It's a little fuzzy, but Hizbollah may have found CIA operatives in Beirut.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israel Navy demands NIS 3 billion for protection of gas rigs - This is to protect Israeli natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean.

Turkish Daily News:  6.0 quake hits near Rhodes, felt in Turkey - It happened around 5 pm.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Islam is a Religion?

A really sad article from the US state of Louisiana.  A state representative there was supporting a program to allow kids to use educational vouchers to go to private religious schools.  Because everyone deserves a Christian education in Louisiana!  Apparently, she did not understand that Islam is also a religion, and it is also protected by the US Constitution.  So some kids were going to use those vouchers to go to a Muslim school.  Once the representative discovered this, she was very upset and now wants to cancel the whole voucher program.

This is probably the biggest problem that I have with the far right religious group in America.  They want all of these religious protections and exceptions, or whatever, but they believe that religion = Christianity.  It never occurs to them that if prayer is allowed in public schools, it might be a Hindu prayer, or a Muslim prayer, or any other prayer.  For them, everything is Christian.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

YemenWatch: July 5, 2012

Things really went crazy in Yemen right after I went on hiatus.  Sorry I wasn't here to keep you apprised of the situation.  Here's a summary of current events.

More clashes in Ta'iz.  It's not quite clear who is doing the fighting.  It looks like the military attacked a neighborhood affiliated with Sheikh al-Mikhlafi.  Iran is also getting into the picture, with money and even possibly weapons training for certain Yemenis in Ta'iz.

Abyan Province is in horrible condition after fighting with the AQAP-group Ansar al-Sharia.  As many as 200,000 people have been displaced and land mines are a severe problem.

The Yemeni military, tribal fighters, and the United States have been trying to drive AQAP forces out of Abyan Province.  Yesterday the Yemeni air force carried out several air strikes.

The US has accused Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani of supporting terrorism, which he denies.  Sheikh al-Zindani is a member of the Islah Party and founder of Al-Iman University in Sana'a.

The Marib oil pipeline is almost repaired following attacks last year and this year by saboteurs.

Yemeni security forces arrested 14 suspected Al-Qa'eda members, 9 of them non-Yemeni.

Three Yemeni fishing vessels were arrested by Eritrean forces, although it's unclear if they were actually encroaching on Eritrean waters.

Saudi Arabia no longer has an embassy in Yemen, since it's vice-consul was kidnapped in March.  Many Yemenis are very upset that they may not be able to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.  The Kingdom is not allowing Yemenis in on tourist or work visas.  A number of prospective pilgrims held marches in Sana'a and Tai'zz.  There was a new video this week from vice-consul Al-Khalidi asking for the release of female AQAP prisoners in exchange for him.

I'm not sure what's going on in Aden.  There are reports of the southern separatist movement (Al-Harak) fighting the military.  There was also a prison break.

There was a prison break in Al-Hodeida.  Five AQAP member escaped.

Something is going on with some security forces and the Transportation Minister (Waeed Bazeeb of the Yemeni Socialist Party).  This is the 3rd time his convoy has been shot at.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Top Stories July 2, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Cabinet approves new mortgage laws - Mortgages can now be sold.

Lebanon Daily Star:  S&P: High debt a factor in Lebanon downgrade - Standard and Poor downgraded Lebanon's outlook in May.  It went from Stable to Negative.

Haaretz (Israel):  Romney to visit Israel ahead of U.S. presidential vote, Netanyahu aide says -Romney will meet with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers

Turkish Daily News:  Turkish football guilty of match-fixing, court rules - A number of football people are going to jail over this.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm back!

Sorry for the long delay.  My May exam was pushed to June, so now it's over.  But I have another in September, so when that rolls around I may not be around much either.

Friday, April 6, 2012


I'm back in town now, but I'm so busy studying for exams that I won't be blogging much (if at all).  I hope to start back up again later in May.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Top Stories March 5, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Greater GCC integration to play key role in economic arena - Gulf economists met to discuss a better integration of GCC economies.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Homs siege drives 2,000 Syrians to Lebanon - The Red Cross still can't get into Homs to help people.

Haaretz (Israel):  Assad's father-in-law says he is 'horrified,' as violence in Syria escalates - More info on Syria.  And a British website has rumors about Asma Assad being a possible prisoner.

Turkish Daily News:  Turkish police secret files password '123456,' hackers reveal - Yet another government agency using the worst possible password.  RedHack is the group responsible.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Top Stories February 27, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  G20 meet focuses on dialogue - The UAE, Jordan, and Morocco also had representatives attending the conference.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Divisive issues cast pall over Cabinet session - Cabinet was suspended for about a month, but is now meeting again.  The main issues causing problems are civil service appointments and some extra spending (about $6 billion).

Haaretz (Israel):  Israeli intelligence reports warn of increased Palestinian violence - With the way things are going right now in the Middle East and the peace process, there could be more violence from Palestinians.  And if the Israelis react too harshly in Gaza, Egypt might get involved.

Turkish Daily News:  Main opposition CHP strives for new track - The Republican People's Party (CHP) held a convention and the opposition leader won.  There's a lot of infighting going on; it's a mess.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

US & Iran

There's so much crap going on right now that it's difficult to keep track of it all. 

A few nights ago there was a Republican presidential debate, and most of the candidates warned America about the danger of Iran and its dictator, Ahmadinejad.  Where do you even begin with people like that?  Juan Cole has a good breakdown on that subject as well as Santorum's earlier remarks.

And the latest is weird reports about Iran and Al-Qa'eda that may or may not be real.

Meanwhile, parliamentary elections are this coming week.  And Ahmadinejad is not some kind of beloved dictator, as some Americans think.  It will be interesting to see which parties gain control.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top Stories February 20, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  International prize for renal research instituted - This happened at the Fifth Saudi International Conference on Nephrology and Transplantation.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Cabinet crisis solution expected this week, say ministers - The cabinet has been stalled since February 1st, but that may finally be changing.

Haaretz (Israel):  U.S. concerned that Barak is pushing for Israeli attack on Iran - A lot of American officials have been meeting with Israeli officials to prevent an attack at this time.

Turkish Daily News:  PM Erdogan: Nobody should pray for crisis - The government investigations of other parts of the government is really causing problems in Turkey.  [See last week's top stories.]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

War with Iran?

I'm getting very concerned with the direction of talk in America.  There's more and more about the threat that Iran poses to the US, and Israel, and to everyone else.  Be afraid.  Be more afraid!  Iran is a threat!  We must do something!

There were some attacks on Israelis recently, and Israel is vowing retaliation for the one in Bangkok.  While I deplore terror attacks (of ANY kind) I was happy to see that ABC News did report that these attacks were in response to the assassination of Iranian scientists in Iran.

The US has sent more ships into the Arabian Gulf, including an aircraft carrier.  They were watched by Iranian forces.

Iran is putting nuclear fuel rods that it manufactured into their reactor in Tehran today.

Oliver Stone's son has accepted Islam while working on a documentary in Iran.

Let's hope that calmer heads prevail and the US does not attack Iran, preemptively or otherwise.  But the rhetoric is really heating up.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Top Stories February 13, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Saudi Arabia: How long will we watch Syrian massacres? - That's a quote from the Saudi foreign minister.  The Arab League is ready to do something.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Arabs seek U.N. intervention in Syria - Another article about Syria and a possible Arab-UN mission.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israeli officials: West Bank outpost relocation plan isn't feasible - Apparently if the outpost is relocated, it needs various planning approvals which may take a long time.

Turkish Daily News:  Probe exposed PKK spy ring: Deputy PM - An investigation in the government appears to have outed some spies who infiltrated the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization.  Some of them may have committed crimes, in the process of infiltration.  This is turning into a big mess.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I haven't posted much about Syria because the US news has actually been reporting a lot about the situation there.  Here are a few links though:

Slate has a neat article detailing the Assad family tree.

The Arab League wants a joint Arab-UN peacekeeping mission.  They will also begin talking with the opposition in Syria. 

And now Al-Qa'eda has come out in support of the Syrian opposition, in a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Top Stories February 6, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Abbas to head new unity Palestinian government - Fatah and Hamas met in Qatar and actually agreed to let Abbas be the unity leader.

Lebanon Daily Star:  U.S. closes embassy in Syria - The United States is now out of Syria, following the UN vote that was vetoed by Russia and China.

Haaretz (Israel):  Netanyahu: PA President must choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas - Netanyahu refers to Hamas as a "terrorist organization."  When did Fatah stop being one?  Apparently they are now a legitimate entity.  Why not Hamas?

Turkish Daily News:  Turkey summons Swiss envoy over investigation into minister - Turkey's EU minister denied there being an Armenian genocide, so the Swiss are investigating that incident.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What's going on with Iran?

I was watching ABC News a few nights ago and at first I thought I had misheard the report.  Martha Raddatz was talking about Hizbollah operating in Latin America (video link).  I started searching around and here's what I've found so far:

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article about how the threat of Hizbollah in Latin America is probably over-hyped.  Some men funneling money to Hizbollah does not mean Hizbollah has terror cells operating there.

US intelligence seems to be split over whether or not Iran may be willing to attack on US soil.  Some cite the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US last year.  I'm a bit concerned by this quote from the Director of National Intelligence:
The plot "shows that some Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime."
First of all, there's a big difference between plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador in America and plotting to kill Americans in America.  Secondly, by directly saying Ali Khamenei's name, the DNI is laying the way for an attack against Iran.  Too many people are starting to understand that Ahmadinejad is NOT in charge of Iran.  The DNI used the political method of saying "probably" instead of outright accusing Khamenei.  But most Americans won't hear that word anyway.  All they'll hear is that Iran is using terrors cells to attack America.  And if Al-Qa'eda is hurting, then I guess we need somebody to be scared of.  I'm getting deja vu (again)!

Israel is putting all its offices worldwide on alert and warning Jewish organizations to be careful.

More on the possible Iran threat from DangerRoom.

Finally, here's an amusing look at the US-Iran situation, through the looking glass.

So why are we so terrified of Iran getting nukes?  Pakistan has nukes.  Even North Korea has nukes!  The main reason I think we don't want Iran to get nuclear weapons is because of Israel.  At some point the United States is going to have to take a step back and reassess what's going on.  If the US truly wants peace in the Middle East, then it needs to realize that supporting the Israelis above everyone else is not going to achieve that end. 

To clarify my position:  Israel has been around too long for it to go away.  The Middle East is going to have to accept the existence of Israel.  But Israel is going to have to accept the existence of displaced Palestinians.  And the US will too.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Top Stories January 30, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Oil may hit $150 on EU ban: Tehran - Iran is also posturing by putting a bill in parliament that would ban sales to the EU for years.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Mikati says Lebanon closer to launching electricity plan - Electricity is being rationed in Lebanon, and Iran is offering to sell them some for a cheaper price.

Haaretz (Israel):  Panetta: Iran is one year away from producing nuclear weapons - The United States says that Iran could have nuclear weapons in a year, but it would take several more for a delivery device.

Turkish Daily News:  Arab Spring breeze swaying Hamas too - Hamas has had its headquarters in Syria, but is looking to move elsewhere as the situation there deteriorates.  They may now be welcome in Turkey, as Turkey is still mad at Israel over the Gaza Flotilla.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Iran News

Turkey is trying to figure out what to do, if it can't get oil from Iran because of the embargo.  There are also fewer Iranian tourists visiting Turkey, as the Iranian rial has fallen in value.  The central bank in Iran is trying to fix that with a single fixed exchange rate.

An Iranian university professor was arrested in the United States.  He's accused of sending lab equipment to Iran.

Three Iranian opposition leaders have been under house arrest for almost a year now.

The Institute for Science and International Security released a report saying that Iran will not make nuclear weapons this year.

Israel is very concerned about a nuclear Iran.  A former IDF chief said that Israel should try to stop Iran, and military action may be needed.  But according to Time magazine, a senior IDF official has already said that Israel can't stop Iran's nuclear program, only delay it some.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Top Stories January 23, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Arabs agree on new Syria plan, urge UN support - The Arab League observers will be in Syria for one more month, while everyone tries to find a solution.

Lebanon Daily Star:  U.S. warship passes through Hormuz without incident - It was an aircraft carrier.  The last one left in late December.  So far, no big problems with Iran.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israeli settlers reject Netanyahu's request to evacuate largest outpost in West Bank - The Migron outpost has been ordered to evacuate by the end of March.  This is a ruling from the Israeli High Court, and a new outpost will be built on Israeli lands.  But the settlers don't want to leave and are threatening the government politically.

Turkish Daily News:  'He'll smile in new bodies,' organ donor's family says - A man's body parts were donated to 2 different patients.  According to the article, one patient got a new face, and the other got both his arms and 1 leg.  I've never heard of transplants like that before.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quick News Roundup

Another earthquake in Van, Turkey.  This was a smaller 4.9.

A Bangladeshi man in Oman died of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF).  Apparently some animals in Oman carry the animal version.  A Pakistani man died of similar symptoms several weeks ago.  It is thought they both contracted CCHF from handling contaminated meat.  It's not common, but it does happen.  In 1995-1996 there were 4 cases.

A small passenger ship sank off the coast of Iran today.  Rescue efforts are underway.

The Egyptian election is over.  The Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood) won the most seats.  Their speaker will be Saad al-Katatni.

Fun News Roundup

Italy just returned a statue head to Libya.  It's about 2,000 years old and was stolen in the 1960s.

Karbala, Iraq is asking Guiness World Records to visit during the next Arbaeen to verify the high number of Shi'ite pilgrims.

A British company is in trouble for trying to sell a piece of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad.  Apparently they have a 2-foot piece of buttock.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

YemenWatch: Wednesday January 17, 2012

It's been awhile since I've written about Yemen.  Things there are still in a state of flux, to put it mildly.  So what's going on?

In late December President Saleh said he was going to the United States.  Yemenis, along with the UN and human rights organizations, are upset about an immunity deal for Saleh.  The United States is worried that AQAP (Al-Qa'eda Arabian Peninsula) may make inroads during the unrest and power vacuum.

AQAP has taken over the town of Rada.  Saleh's party and the Islamic Islah party are blaming each other for this event.

HOOD (Yemeni human rights organization) says that hundreds of people, many of them soldiers, are being tortured in camps belonging to Saleh.

The current capital of Yemen, is Sana'a, but there is talk of moving it to Aden.  Aden is a port city, and was the capital city of South Yemen, before unification.  It also has an international airport (like Sana'a).

I'll have more later.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Top Stories January 16, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Kingdom, China ink nuclear cooperation pact -  China and SA will be working on nuclear energy for non-military purposes.  There may also be a symposium between China and the "Muslim world" in the works for later this year.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Ban: Era of one-man rule in Middle East is over - The UN Secretary-General has been visiting Lebanon.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israel's local authorities launch open-ended general strike - They are worried about lost revenue due to the government reducing their income.

Turkish Daily News:  Doubts grow on ship as Qatar urges Syria action - A Russian ship may have just delivered weapons to Syria, breaking the EU embargo.  And Qatar thinks the Arab state should intervene in Syria.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Queen Beatrix in Oman

Queen Beatrix (Netherlands) is currently visiting Oman.  The visit focuses on economic and trade relations.  There are a lot of Dutch in and around the Middle East.  People often forget that.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Top Stories January 9, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Car dealers blamed for crashes due to defects - Wow.  Read this quote:

"The Ministry of Commerce and Industry emphasized that car dealers in the Kingdom would be responsible for any defects in design or manufacture as a result of non-compliance with Saudi specifications and measurements."

Lebanon Daily Star:  Parties head toward final resolution on wages - The private sector and labor unions may be reaching an agreement on wage increases.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israel navy to devote majority of missile boats to secure offshore drilling rafts - Israel has oil and gas platforms outside of its territorial waters, and the navy and air force will help defend them.

Turkish Daily News:  US official in Ankara as Iran tensions soar - The US wants Turkey to join in sanctions against Iran.  But Turkey gets 1/3 of its oil from Iran.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Strait of Hormuz

You've probably seen the latest information about Iran threatening to close the Strait, which is already affecting oil prices.  Here's a good commentary by a professor.  And a guest commentary on Juan Cole's site.  And the nearby Gulf States are of course, worried.

I'm getting rather concerned myself.  Over the last year, Iran and the US have really seemed to be sniping at each other more than usual.  And now the US military is out of Iraq, freeing them up for another confrontation.  Originally, I was more worried about a war between Iran and Israel, but now I'm not sure where we are headed.  Let's hope that calmer heads prevail in all three countries.  It would not take much to start another war in the Middle East, and most of us don't want that.  I'm mainly worried about some of the US politicians on the right, who don't seem to understand that Iran is NOT Iraq.

 Courtesy of Wikimedia

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Island

I thought this was interesting:  a new island was created in the Red Sea.  It was formed from a volcano there.  The island may or may not be stable and survive.  If it does, it might belong to Yemen.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Top Stories January 2, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Mubarak trial resumes amid acquittal speculation - Hosni Mubarak is on trial, but people are worried he may be acquitted, because several policemen who killed protesters were just acquitted.  I don't think it will go over well if he is acquitted.  The Egyptian people are still pretty upset.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Hariri: Credibility of observers in Syria at stake - Hariri is speaking about the Arab League observers, whom he accuses of not telling the entire truth about what it happening in Syria.

Haaretz (Israel):  Hamas calls on Palestinian Authority to boycott peace talks with Israel - Negotiators for Israel and the PA are to meet in Jordan tomorrow.  They haven't spoken in over a year.  Hamas says that negotiation hasn't worked in the past, so why do it now?

Turkish Daily News:  Prosecutor launches probe on former chief of staff - Wow.  I hadn't heard about the "Internet Memorandum" case.  Apparently the General Staff was going to set up numerous websites for propaganda against the current ruling party, the outlawed PKK party, and Greeks and Armenians.

2012: A New Year

It's now 2012 in the Western calendar, and generally we try to make resolutions for the New Year.  Here are some of mine:

1) Blog more consistently.  I have had several hard years, but things have been looking up recently.  I will try to stay on top of news and blogging.

2) I hope to add some more analysis and not just be a news aggregate.  In some areas that won't be possible, because I don't have the necessary background.  But where I do have the background, I'd like to use it more.

Believe it or not, this blog is now 5 years old!  I've taken a hiatus here and there, but overall I love blogging and do plan to continue!