Middle East News – July 23rd

Syria’s recent admission of having chemical weapons stockpiles has prompted stern international consternation.

– Members of the Arab League have offered Syrian president Assad a ‘safe haven’ if he hands over power to a new government in the coming days – Al-Bawaba

– Syria has announced that it will not use its chemical weapons stores against its own civilians, but only against foreign powers should they choose to intervene in the countries’ civil war – BBC – CNN

– Saudi parents have begun asking for sex education classes in schools, another sign that the conservative leanings of the state are slowly beginning to unravel – Al-Bawaba

– In addition to the devastating civilian losses Damascus residents are mourning the loss of the symbolic cactus forests on the outskirts of town that were seen as one of the last vestiges of normalcy in the war torn capital – BBC

– Many Muslims who are otherwise not devoutly religious grow more spiritual and filled with faith as the holy month of Ramadan descends on the Muslim world – Al-Bawaba

– A wave of bombings in Iraq have killed 107 in the past couple days, further signs that the Iraqi regime is not yet stable or wholly in control of the country – BBC

– Hundreds of Egyptian farmers are bringing the reigning agricultural minister to court over lands that were seized from them in the 90’s.  The farmers say they were never compensated for this illegally taken land while the agricultural minister says they were compensated long ago – Al-Jazeera

– A disabled Israeli veteran is in critical condition after lighting himself on fire in an act of self-immolation yesterday in Tel-Aviv.  The soldier was protesting the mal-distribution of wealth in present-day Israel and the lack of reforms as promised by current prime minister Netanyahu – BBC

– In an unprecedented move Egypt has announced the lessening of restrictions on Palestinians hoping to travel from the Gaza Strip into Egypt – Al-Jazeera

Middle East News – July 19th

The suicide blast on an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria has been blamed on Iran by Israeli media sources. Iran’s government has called these claims ‘ridiculous.’

– Russia and China voted yesterday against a UN resolution to introduce further sanction on Assad’s embattled Syrian regime.  Their veto prompted angry responses from Western nations who are ‘appalled’ by both countries’ apparent lack of concern for the Syrian situation – BBC

– Israel has announced that they will actively try to stop Syrian refugees from entering into Israel through the Golan Heights – Al-Bawaba

– Assad emerged on a state-wide Syrian television broadcast yesterday amid speculation as to his whereabouts following deadly attacks on high up members of his cabinet in the capital of Damascus – CNN – Meanwhile, Assad is staying away from Damascus due to the heavy fighting occurring there – Al-Bawaba

– Naharri Mohammed Ali Naharri, a 13-year old imprisoned for the last fourteen months for her role in Arab Spring protests in Yemen, has been released and spoken out about her jail sentence.  She says she was tortured and blindfolded repeatedly and showed off her many scars to the cameras. – Al-Bawaba

– Jews worldwide mourn the death of Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, age 102, a prominent orthodox rabbi who was one of the most respected voices on Torah law in the world – BBC

– Iran has denied Israeli claims that it was involved in the recent suicide attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, calling these claims ‘ridiculous’ – Al-Jazeera

Middle East News – July 18th

– Tens of thousands of textile labororers in northern Egypt have gone on strike to ask for higher wages.  This will be the first significant test for newly elected Mohamed Morsi, as spreading labor unrest will further handicap Egypt’s ability to pay back its international debts – Al-Jazeera

– Yesterday three top officials in the Assad regime were killed in Damascus, prompting US officials to declare that Assad is slowly ‘losing control’ of the country – BBC – Assad’s brother-in-law was among the dead in Damascus – Al-Bawaba

– An interesting spread about the Olympic athletes who persevered through the turmoil of the Arab Spring and hope to proudly represent their countries in the rapidly approaching London Olympics – CNN

– A bomb attack has killed seven Israeli tourists traveling near the Bulgarian city of Burgas.  The Israeli government has blamed Iran for this attack, the latest in a series of attacks blamed by Israel on Iran – BBC

– Relatives of three Americans killed in drone strikes on Al-Qaeda forces in Yemen have filed suit against the US government.  They allege that the attacks were illegal and unconstitutional – BBC

– Yemen’s president has announced the detainment of a group of terrorists apparently funded by Iran.  Following this arrest he released a strongly worded statement warning Iran to stay out of Yemen and quit interfering – BBC

Middle East News – July 16th

The USS Rappahannock, the vessel which fired on a small motor boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates as tensions between the United States and Iran heighten

– US Secretary of Defense, Hilary Clinton, has declared that the United States will do everything within its power in order to prevent Iran from finishing their nuclear weapons program – BBC

– Saudi Arabia’s intelligence has experienced a major leak in what has been called the equivalent of the security leak experienced by Syria in the past month – Al-Bawaba

– A US Navy vessel fired on a small motor boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates after the boat refused to acknowledge the hails of the US ship, killing one.  This comes as US naval presence is the Persian Gulf heightens in reaction to Iran’s threats to close the Straits of Hormuz – BBC

– Russia has issued a stern declaration against Saudi Arabia’s continued suppression of the pro-democracy protests in Eastern Saudi Arabia in the past week – Al-Bawaba

– Ex-Egyptian President Mubarak has been ordered back to prison after officials remarked that his health has improved dramatically – BBC

– A key defector from the Syria regime has stated that the Assad regime will not hesitate to use chemical weapons in its fight against rebel forces – BBC

– Relatives of inmates held in Gaza prisons have been allowed to visit those imprisoned for the first time in five years in a dramatic change in Israeli policy – BBC

Middle East News – July 15th

Field Marshal Tantawi, the Egyptian general who has vowed to keep ‘certain political groups’ from gaining too much control in the country

– The Syrian government is actively moving around chemical weapons stockpiles in order to keep them safe and away from ‘rebel’ hands – CNN

– The United Arab Emirates has completed a pipeline that allows oil to be shipped passed the Straits of Hormuz, meaning that Iranian threats the block the straits are no longer a threat to the region’s oil supplies – Al-Jazeera

– The United States’ influence in the Middle East is rapidly waning, especially in Egypt and Israel – CNN

– Field Marshall Tantawi, leader of Egypt’s military, says that he will ‘push back’ against political groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, to make sure no particular group takes control of the country – Al-Jazeera

– One of Syria’s top diplomats who recently defected has publicly said that the only way to topple the Assad regime will be through force, not diplomacy – CNN

– Religious police in Iran have begun to target cafes all over the culture for sponsoring ‘anti-religious’ activity, such as the smoking of hookah by women – Al-Jazeera

– Arab youths are not reading as much as in generation’s past, continuing a decade of literacy decline in the Arab world – Al-Bawaba

– Iran has offered to host diplomatic talks relating to the Syrian conflicts, though no other countries have yet taken them up on their offer – CNN

– The Red Cross has officially (and finally) declared that the conflict in Syria is a civil war, which means that international humanitarian aid can now be sent to the country – Al-Jazeera

– Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has accused the Iranian government of sponsoring a recently foiled terrorist attack on ‘Israeli interests’ in Cyprus – Al-Bawaba

Middle East News – July 5th

Kuwait’s Emir Sabah who recently asked the reigning Prime Minister to form a new government and prepare for elections. Many believe this is a sign that the Sabah family will begin to relinquish power in Kuwait in the coming years.

– President Assad says that Syria’s protestors were unsuccessful in their attempts to generate the mass appeal of protests in countries like Egypt and Tunisa – CNN

– Wikileaks is releasing over two million e-mails from Syrian government officials that it says are ’embarrassing’ to the regime – BBC

– Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, emir of Kuwait, has asked his Prime Minister to form a new government and prepare for new elections in the coming months – this is a further sign that the Sabah family, which has ruled Kuwait for over 250 years, may finally be giving up its power – Al-Bawaba

– International charity Oxfam has issued a stern condemnation of Israel’s continuing settlement building in Palestinian territory.  The charity says that this is severely hampering economic development for Palestinians in the region – BBC

– Iraq’s foreign minister says that Al-Qaeda members are flooding into Syria as that country further descends into internal turmoil and is unable to fully police its borders – Al-Jazeera

– Tunisia has joined the call of Arab states for a renewed investigation into the death of form PLO leader Yasser Arafat amid reports that he may have been poisoned – Al-Jazeera

– A meeting of Syrian opposition groups to decide upon united strategic and political front in the conflict against the Assad regime ended in arguments and scuffles.  This showcases the disorganized nature of the Syrian resistance movements. – Al-Bawaba

– An 11-year old boy arrested in connection to protests in Bahrain has been released from jail today.  However, the government has declared that he must be closely watched as punishment for aiding in the ‘blocking’ of roads during a May anti-government protest – Al-Jazeera

– Archaeologists in Israel have discovered an immaculately preserved fourth century Synagogue with mosaics depicting Samon’s exploits from the Torah – This represents one of the finest mosaics ever discovered from this era – BBC

– More and more women are playing basketball in Saudi Arabia, going against the time honored taboo against females participating in sports – this comes on the heels of Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would allow women to participate in future Olympic Games – CNN

Middle East News – July 3rd

Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity has been recently added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in a move condemned by the United States and Israel for political reasons

– The Human Rights Watch has released a monumental publication detailing the intricate state-sponsored torture of the Assad regime in Syria. According to the report there are twenty seven state facilities used to conduct horrifying torture on political dissidents and even senior citizens, women and children.  Though the Assad administration has continually denied such torture accusations, the mounting pile of evidence to the contrary makes these statements hard to believe – CNN

– Four members of the International Criminal Court have been allowed to leave Libya after they were briefly detained by the Libyan government on accusations of spying – BBC

– Assad has publicly apologized for Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet fighter and said that he will not allow the incident to bring the countries to war – Al-Bawaba

– Iran has begun to publicly discuss passing legistlation that would ban Western ships from entering through the Straits of Hormuz, which would be a monumental act for the consistently sanctioned country – Al-Bawaba – Iran has also shrugged off the latest oil embargo imposed against it by the UN, though outside observers say exports and profits are already falling – Al-Bawaba

– UNESCO, which recently added Palestine’s Church of the Nativity to its World Heritage List, has now agreed to give funds for the necessary repairs to Palestine’s hallowed religious site.  This happens over heated objections by Israel and the United States that UNESCO is doing this for political, and not cultural, reasons – Al-Jazeera

– Richard Falk, a key watchdog for Palestinian human rights for the United Nations, released a scathing indictment of the international community’s latest efforts in the region.  He says that the recent peace process is nothing more than a trick to allow Israel to continue building settlements in Palestine – Al-Bawaba

– In post-Gaddafi Libya there is already open warfare occurring between the splintered tribal groups that were once held together by Gaddafi’s strong armed rule.  This violence could succeed in destabilizing Libya’s new transitional regime and hampering further development – BBC

– Britain has sent a team of advisors to help the Bahraini government to investigate a 100 kg find of explosives.  This find could signal that the dissidents in Bahrain are ‘stepping up’ their resistance to the government with  more sophisticated weapons – BBC