Middle East News – July 20th

Rafik Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon assassinated in 2005

– A UN backed court has set a date to begin the trial (March 25th, 2013) concerning the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – Al-Jazeera

– Assad forces have regained control of a key Damascus suburb after the bloodiest day yet of fighting during the Syrian civil war – Al-Bawaba

– An opinion column from CNN warning the United States to heed its previous experience interfering in Lebanon in the early 1980’s when considering Syrian intervention – CNN

– Soldiers in the Free Syria army have taken control of key border crossings on the Syria-Iraq border, including the crucial Damascus-Baghdad highway – Al-Jazeera

– Israel has released Aziz Dweik, a senior Hamas official and a member of Palestine’s Parliament.  Aziz had been held without charges since early January – Al-Jazeera

– The United States and United Kingdom have issued stern rebukes to Iran after Iran closed the strategic Straits of Hormuz – Al-Bawaba

– The UN has agreed to extend the observation mission in Syria that is supposed to oversee and help along the peace process – Al-Jazeera

– The use of drones and how they will affect the future legality of warfare – Al-Jazeera

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Middle East News – July 12th

Dalma Rushdi Malhas, one of the two female athletes that Saudi Arabia will be sending to the London Olympics for the first time.

– Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi made his first foreign visit as Egyptian president to Saudi Arabia yesterday to discuss security relations between the two nations – Al-Jazeera

– A key Syrian diplomat has defected from the regime and arrived in Qatar, another blow for the foundering Assad regime – Al-Bawaba

– Manaf Tlas, the Syrian general who defected last week, has begun talks with the opposition groups in Syria.  He could become a key component of the rebel groups with his extensive knowledge of the Syrian government – BBC

– The recent unrest in Saudi Arabia has prompted many to question the strength of the current political regime in the country.  Some think it is just scattered Shi’a unrest that will pass while others believe it is finally the beginning of the Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia – Al-Bawaba

– Al-Qaeda militants who continue to unleash attacks on Yemen’s infrastructure are severely disrupting the country’s political system and could pose a risk to international security, a UN report says – BBC

– An Israeli raid on Gaza has left one militant linked to Hamas dead in the first such Israeli raid in over a month – Al-Bawaba

– Saudi Arabia has officially announced that it will send two female athletes to the London Olympics in honor of the country’s promise to give more rights to females – BBC

Middle East News – July 6th

Syrian President Assad pictured with top general Manaf Tlas who surprisingly defected from the increasingly imperiled Syrian regime yesterday

– Hilary Clinton has slammed Russia and China for blocking international efforts to intervene in Syria, claiming that they are helping to prop up Assad’s flagging regime – CNN

– A haunting video about the recent ‘honor killings’ occurring in the desert communities of Northern Jordan and how it affects the women there – CNN

– Libya’s government has denied that it has extradited Gadaffi’s former Minister of Information back to the country for trial – Al-Bawaba

– An in-depth look from BBC at the men who surround Assad and have helped to keep him in power during the last year – BBC

– A film has been released in Israel depicting an Israeli border policeman kicking a nine year-old Palestinian boy, prompting outcries from Palestinians and a full-scale investigation from Israeli authorities – BBC

– Manaf Tlas, one of the highest generals in the Syrian army, has officially defected from Assad’s regime and fled to Paris – Al-Jazeera

– The Turkish government has announced that it has recovered the bodies of the pilots of the aircraft downed last week by Syrian anti-aircraft installations – BBC

– The Israeli government is looking to extend the military draft to the ultra-conservative Jewish groups that have long been excluded (and thusly resented) from the general military draft – Al-Jazeera

– Libyans of all demographics are excited about Libya’s first democratic elections in anyone’s lifetime – Al-Bawaba

– A week ago Saudi Arabia announced that women would be allowed to participate in all future Olympic games, a monumental step for this ultra-conservative country.  But, yesterday, the country’s Olympic committee released the ‘stipulations’ by which women will be allowed to compete, including needing the permission of a male guardian to enter into competition – CNN

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 – June 7th

Abid Hamid Mahmud, shown during his time in Saddam Hussein’s administration, was executed today by the Iraqi government

– Who are the ‘shabiha,’ the name given to state sponsored militia groups that have been blamed for much of the Syrian violence? – BBC

– Ten years after his capture, Abid Hamid Mahmud, Saddam Hussein’s top security aide, has been executed by the Iraqi government – BBC

– So, what’s the difference between the two remaining Egyptian presidential candidates, and who are their supporters? – BBC

– As reports surface of another mass murder by Assad’s Syrian army UN observers were directly blocked from investigating by soldiers at select checkpoints – This is the first time that Syria has directly stopped the investigative efforts of UN observers and shows a complete failure of the UN mission – Al-Jazeera

– Algeria, long one of the smallest players in OPEC, has announced that it is stepping up oil and natural gas production in order to raise its stock in OPEC – Al-Jazeera

– Amid the chaos in Syria, a similar humanitarian crisis in the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is occurring – Humanitarian groups say that foreign intervention is needed to save thousands of civilians from the daily aerial strikes that are occurring on the border between these two feuding nations – Al-Jazeera

– Should the Middle East be WMD free? – Al-Jazeera

– Taliban soldiers have been arrested in connection to the poisoning of well water at a school in Afghanistan in the first arrest of its kind in Afghanistan – Al-Jazeeera

– Amid the growing violence in Yemen there is talk of dividing the country into two nations, or rather a return to the North and South Yemen divide that existed until 1980 – Al-Jazeera

– In prison Mubarak has continued to suffer from ‘acute depression’ and ‘hypertension,’ though his condition is likely to garner little sympathy from thousands of Egyptian protesting his perceived light jail sentence – Al-bawaba

– The Saudi Arabian government has issued a call to its female students to ‘try harder’ and to tighten up their lax uniforms in the next week or they will face legal measures – Al-Bawaba

Middle East News – June 5th

Abu Yahya al-Libi, Al Qaeda’s number two man, has been the target of dozens of recent US drone attacks in Pakistan

– Egypt has moved forward with their trial of 43 NGO workers (many from the United States) who they say were operating illegally and disturbing the peace during last spring’s protests – if the trials continue Egypt could lose all of its aid money from the United States, well over a billion dollars annually – CNN

– For decades Syria has militarily and politically interfered in Lebanon and Iraq and is now threatening to become just like those divided, sectarian countries – CNN

– In reaction to international governments expelling Syrian diplomats, Syria has said that ambassadors from many western countries are no longer welcome within its borders – BBC – Meanwhile Syria has finally allowed for UN humanitarian aid to enter the country, a hopeful sign for the thousands of displaced citizens within its borders – Al-Jazeera

– The amped up drone strikes in Pakistan have apparently been targeted at Abu Yahya al-Libi, Al-Qaeda’s number two man – It is not yet known if the attacks hit their targets or not – CNN – Many in the Middle East feel that these drone attacks could lead to an era dominated by secret operations and a United States president who is no longer accountable for his actions – Al-Jazeera

– Many Syrian Kurds, mostly army defectors, have fled to northern and western Iraq – Ironic considering the traditional anti-Kurd attitude the Iraqi government has taken – Al-Jazeera

– A Kuwaiti man who allegedly insulted the Prophet on Twitter has been sentenced to ten years in prison in a landmark case on freedom of speech in a nominally Islamist country – Al-Bawaba

– When will America intervene in Syria? Huffington Post

– Thousands of Islamic clerics protested yesterday in Jordan over low salaries and a perceived government failure to give them autonomy from the political system – Al-Bawaba

Middle East News – June 4th

Ahmed Shafiq, one of the two remaining Egyptian presidential candidates, stated that he believes a Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt would be a return to the Middle Ages

– The International Monetary Fund has urged Saudi Arabia to concentrate on more targeted investments in order to improve the infrastructure of the nation – This is in reaction to the large stimulus that Saudi Arabia achieved last year, even amidst a global recession – Al-bawaba

– Syrian rebels have amped up attacks on the country’s state military, attacking checkpoints throughout the weekend – Over eighty soldiers from the Assad regime were killed, signaling that the rebels might be regaining the initiative in the conflict – BBC

– Immigration tensions continue to heighten in Israel as four African immigrants were hurt in an apparent arson attack on their Jerusalem homes – BBC

– A prominent Libyan militia group has taken over the airport in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, while demanding the release of one of their imprisoned leaders – This recent surge in violence highlights the precarious nature of Libya in the post-Gaddafi world, and has led for the upcoming elections to be delayed until July – Al-Jazeera

– During the Gaddafi administration the media was entirely controlled by the government, meaning that in a post-Gaddafi world Libya has struggled to create its own private and independent media outlets – Al-Jazeera

– The United States has increased drone attacks in Pakistan, leading to the deaths of over thirty suspected militants while drawing ire from local Pakistani residents who resent this foreign incursion – Al-Jazeera

– Recent United States action in Pakistan and elsewhere has been far too heavy-handed to satisfy the United States’ goal of destroying safe havens for terrorists – This editorial comes in response to a supposed ‘kill list’ released by the New York Times last week – Al-Jazeera

– Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq has retorted harshly to critics who say that his regime will merely continue Mubarak’s decade long rule – Shafiq argues that if the Muslim Brotherhood is elected Egypt will return to the Middle Ages with Islamic law dominating – Al-Bawaba

– The thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing across the border to Jordan are putting a strain on Jordan’s already precarious resources – Particularly, the meager water resources in Jordan are being put to the test – Al-Bawaba

– Madonna caused singer while performing a concert in the Middle East, when she brandished a (fake) AK-47 on stage – Al-Bawaba