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!