Seeking Shelter in Jordan’s Cities

Housing Security and Urban Humanitarianism in the Syria Crisis

by Vicky Kelberer | published November 5, 2015

Umm Anas’ four-room apartment rings with the muffled laughter of children told to hush. Her six sons and daughters and four neighborhood children huddle around a tiny, rickety television in the otherwise unfurnished living room. Arabic-dubbed episodes of the “How to Train Your Dragon” television series play in the background while the little boys chase each other around the room with plastic toy guns. Umm Anas’ two-year old daughter clings to her mother’s skirts and watches as humanitarian workers survey the broken doors with no locks and the jagged remnants of windowpanes. The toilet behind the house is open to the rest of the complex, and the family’s water tank allows them only 20 gallons per week for seven people.

Operation Protective Edge

The War Crimes Case Against Israel’s Leaders

by Michael Thomas | published October 26, 2015

For 51 days in July and August 2014, Israel conducted a military operation in Gaza known as Protective Edge. It was the third major Gaza operation by the Israeli armed forces in seven years, and by far the most lethal and destructive. Some 2,205 Palestinians, including 722 militants and over 500 children, and 70 Israelis (64 of whom were soldiers) were killed. Thousands of Palestinians were wounded; over 18,000 of their homes were destroyed; some 470,000 were displaced; and large areas of Gaza were essentially razed.

Tunisia's Rotten Compromise

by Nadia Marzouki | published July 10, 2015

Since the 2011 Arab uprisings gave way to the dreadful combination of civil war and terrorism that has spread from Syria to Libya and Yemen, analysts and political actors from both the Arab world and West have felt an acute need for at least one success story in the region. Tunisia has provided such a tale—despite suffering two lethal terror attacks on its soil so far in 2015, the second being the killing of 38 tourists at a seaside resort in Sousse on June 26.

Matariyya, Egypt's New Theater of Dissent

by Amira Howeidy | published June 4, 2015

On June 6, two police officers will stand trial for torturing Karim Hamdi, a 27 year-old lawyer, to death on a cold February evening inside the Matariyya police station in eastern metropolitan Cairo. The identities of the officers are protected by a gag order, but the widely publicized images of their victim’s bruised and battered corpse have put the police station and its restive environs in the national spotlight.

Wadi Barada: Snapshot of a Civil War

by Mohammad Raba'a | published May 13, 2015

Sa‘id has always loved swimming. When he was little, he spent summer afternoons with his friends on the banks of Syria’s Barada River. When the river level started to drop, in the mid-1990s, he went to a swimming pool newly opened in the nearby village of Basima. The pool belongs to the Abu al-Nour Foundation, an Islamic organization based in the capital of Damascus, where thousands of students come from across the world to train as imams. Within a few months of his first visit to the pool, Sa‘id had started attending the twice-weekly lectures delivered by the grand mufti of Syria and founder of Abu al-Nour, the Sufi sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro.

Four Weddings and a Funeral in Yemen

by Susanne Dahlgren | published March 20, 2015

On February 21, 2015, the man most countries recognize as president of Yemen, ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, escaped house arrest in Sanaa and fled with his family to the southern city of Aden, which he soon declared the new capital. The Houthi movement, or Ansar Allah, that holds sway in Sanaa insists that the Yemen’s seat of government is still there. Perhaps equally confusing to outsiders, however, is the decision of the Southern Movement, or hirak, to suspend its long-standing campaign of protest and civil disobedience aimed at restoration of national independence for the southern provinces that once made up the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.

The Politics of Egyptian Migration to Libya

by Gerasimos Tsourapas | published March 17, 2015

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts working in Libya, as shown in video footage released by the Islamic State on February 12, 2015, made headlines across the world. The story was variously framed as one more vicious murder of Middle Eastern Christians by militant Islamists, one more index of chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya and one more opportunity for an Arab state, in this case Egypt, to enlist in the latest phase of the war on terror. What was left unaddressed was the deep and long-standing enmeshment of the Libyan and Egyptian economies, embodied in the tens of thousands of Egyptian workers who remain in Libya despite the civil war raging there.

Trapped in Refuge

The Syrian Crisis in Jordan Worsens

by Christiane Fröhlich , Matthew R. Stevens | published March 2, 2015

The daily lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan have always been difficult, but until the winter of 2014-2015, they were defined more by concern about making ends meet than outright panic.

From Sinai to Lampedusa: An Eritrean Journey

by Dan Connell | published January 19, 2015

Two human tragedies will forever scar Eritreans’ memories of the past decade, during which hundreds of thousands fled repression and despair in their homeland to seek sanctuary in more open, democratic societies: the brutal kidnapping, torture and ransom of refugees in the Egyptian Sinai and the drowning of hundreds more in the Mediterranean Sea when their criminally unseaworthy and overcrowded boats went down, a running disaster epitomized by the October 2013 Lampedusa shipwreck.

Ghosts of the Future

Fears of a Phantom Referendum Haunt the Turkish-Syrian Border

by Noga Malkin , Nick Danforth | published October 24, 2014

Hatay -- a Turkish province on the border with Syria that is now flooded with Syrian refugees -- has a special status in Turkey. In the words of a Syrian doctor to whom we spoke in the summer of 2014 and who failed to get a residency permit to live there, “It’s like [the province] is not exactly part of Turkey yet.” The doctor, a refugee for the past three years, explained that according to a secret international agreement, the province’s final status is to be determined by a referendum in 2039, a century after a complex population registry commonly thought of as a plebiscite ceded the area to Turkey.

The Cold Realities of US Policy in Israel-Palestine

by Mitchell Plitnick | published October 15, 2014

During the summertime war in Gaza, the two most progressive members of the US Senate stirred up controversy among their backers with expressions of uncritical support for Israel. At a town hall meeting, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the lone Senate independent, responded to a questioner that Israel had “overreacted” with its 52-day bombardment and ground incursion, but then proceeded to justify Israel’s actions with the usual pro-Israel talking points about “missiles fired from populated areas” and “sophisticated tunnels.” [1] An audience member began to shout objections, to which Sanders said, “Shut up.”

Security and Resilience Among Syrian Refugees in Jordan

by Denis Sullivan , Sarah Tobin | published October 14, 2014

Imagine living in a refugee camp. For most, that phrase is enough to conjure images of makeshift tents, dusty pathways, queues for water and food, and above all, fear. Now imagine living in Zaatari refugee camp in a northern part of Jordan 7.5 miles from the Syrian border and Dar‘a region, sharing an area only about three square miles with 100,000 other refugees in one of the most densely populated “cities” in the Arab world, with near-constant shuffling and reshuffling of households, food and water distribution points, and other services, and refugees arriving and leaving all the time. Who, would you imagine, is responsible for keeping you and your family safe, fed and housed? Who will help you make sure your children can go to school, and do so safely?

Jerusalem Mixed and Unmixed

by Michelle Campos | published August 8, 2014

The popular Israeli television series, Arab Labor, follows the lives of the fictional journalist Amjad and his family, all of whom are Palestinian citizens of Israel. Season one of the series, which first aired on Israeli public television in 2007, introduces Amjad and his endearingly unquenchable faith in humanity. Tired of living in his natal village, Amjad moves his family to a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, replete with strong water pressure in the shower, manicured parks and gardens, and what he thinks is the freedom to live out his dream of integration into Israeli society.

New President, Old Pattern of Sexual Violence in Egypt

by Vickie Langohr | published July 7, 2014

On June 3, the day that the Elections Commission announced the victory of ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt’s presidential race, television announcer Radwa Ruhayyim covered the festivities in Tahrir Square. Surrounded by ululating revelers, she noted that, amidst the celebrations, several women had been assaulted. [1] Live coverage of the June 8 inauguration festivities also included references to assaults that day. Tragically, the story of mass sexual assaults at large political gatherings is nothing new. Between November 2012 and August 2013, over 200 women were assaulted at political events including celebrations of the second anniversary of the January 25 uprising against Husni Mubarak and protests against President Muhammad Mursi in 2012 and 2013.

A New Normal for Iraqi Kurds?

by Denise Natali | published July 3, 2014

At first glance, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) seems to have come out ahead from the takeover of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Taking advantage of the power vacuum left by the flight of the Iraqi security forces from Mosul and its environs, the autonomous Kurdish authority has sent its peshmerga fighters into large swathes of northern Iraq, most notably Kirkuk and its oilfields. These gains have given the KRG new forms of leverage with Baghdad in negotiating Kurdish nationalist demands. They also have triggered expectations of Kurdish statehood among the Kurdish population of Iraq, a long-sought goal that could be bankrolled by large-scale, independent Kurdish oil exports.