The Pakistan Taliban

by Graham Usher | published February 13, 2007

Winter of Lebanon’s Discontents

by Jim Quilty | published January 26, 2007

In the two months since the standoff between the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and the Hizballah-led opposition began in earnest, the atmosphere in the Lebanese capital of Beirut has oscillated between ambient anxiety and incongruous routine. Tensions exploded on January 25, when four Lebanese were killed and over 150 wounded in street fighting that began on the grounds of Beirut Arab University near the neighborhood of Tariq Jadideh, and largely pitted Sunnis against Shi‘a.

A Reckoning Deferred

by The Editors | published January 12, 2007

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? That haunting question, posed by John Kerry to Congress when he was a discharged Navy lieutenant in 1971, helped to slow, and eventually stop, a pointless, unpopular war in Vietnam. That question, in part because Kerry declined to pose it anew when he was a presidential candidate in 2004, has yet to slow the unpopular war in Iraq, if anything a more massive US strategic blunder than the Southeast Asian venture. But the question unmistakably haunts the senators who shuffle before the cameras to defend or denounce the planned “surge” of 21,500 additional American soldiers into Iraq as part of the White House’s latest ploy to postpone defeat.

Illusions of Unilateralism Dispelled in Israel

by Yoav Peled | published October 11, 2006

In 1967 Israel’s government was headed by Levi Eshkol, a politician said to be easygoing, weak and indecisive, who four years earlier had replaced the country’s founder, David Ben-Gurion, as prime minister. The Israeli public, tired of Ben-Gurion’s authoritarianism and constant exhortations to greater and greater sacrifice, had greeted Eshkol’s appointment with a sigh of relief. Israel’s chief Arab adversary at the time, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, sought to take advantage of the Eshkol government’s reputed lassitude in order to annul Israel’s achievements in the 1956 Suez campaign: the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula and the opening of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping.

The Election Yemen Was Supposed to Have

by Gregory Johnsen | published October 3, 2006

It was supposed to be the election that changed everything. The “90 percent presidency,” wherein the incumbent of 28 years won successive terms in office by laughably large margins, would be relegated to the past. Instead, a more credible accounting of the popular will would prove to Western governments and institutions that Yemen was capable of holding a vote that was both fiercely contested and fair. That Yemen’s presidential election on September 20 would also leave the status quo firmly in place was the unspoken caveat.

Hizballah: A Primer

by Lara Deeb | published July 31, 2006

Israel’s War Against Lebanon’s Shi‘a

by Jim Quilty | published July 25, 2006

When Israel undertook its aerial and naval bombardment of Lebanon on July 12, one announced goal was to recover two Israeli servicemen seized by Hizballah in a cross-border raid earlier that day. The attacks upon civilian infrastructure—beginning with Beirut International Airport and continuing with ancillary airstrips, bridges and roads, as well as port facilities in Beirut, Jounieh, Amshit and Tripoli—were necessary, Israeli officials claim, to prevent Hizballah from smuggling the prisoners out of Lebanon.

Letting Lebanon Burn

by The Editors | published July 21, 2006

Israel is raining destruction upon Lebanon in a purely defensive operation, according to the White House and most of Congress. Even some CNN anchors, habituated to mechanical reporting of “Middle East violence,” sound slightly incredulous. With over 300 Lebanese dead and easily 500,000 displaced, with the Beirut airport, bridges and power plants disabled, the enormous assault is more than a “disproportionate response” to Hizballah’s July 12 seizure of two soldiers and killing of three others on Israeli soil.

Converging Upon War

by Robert Blecher | published July 18, 2006

“WAR,” proclaimed the three-inch headline in Ma‘ariv, Israel’s leading daily, the day after Hizballah launched its cross-border attack on an Israeli army convoy on July 12. With the onset of Israel’s massive bombing campaign in Lebanon that evening, its aerial and ground incursions into Gaza were transformed into the southern front of a two-front conflict. But are the two fronts, in Lebanon and Gaza, part of a single war? Speaking in such terms risks misidentifying what really links Israel’s actions on its northern and southern borders.

Gaza in the Vise

by Omar Karmi | published July 11, 2006

Five-year-old Layan cupped her hands over her ears and screwed her eyes shut when she tried to describe the effect of a sonic boom. She said the sound scares her, even though her father, Muntasir Bahja, 32, a translator, has told her “a small lie to calm her”—that the boom is nothing more than a big balloon released by a plane and then popped.

Under the Veil of Ideology

The Israeli-Iranian Strategic Rivalry

by Trita Parsi | published June 9, 2006

When Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” in October 2005, the world appeared to be light years away from the end of history. It seemed that ideologues had once more taken the reins of power and rejoined a battle in which there could be no parley or negotiated truce—only the victory of one idea over the other.

Return of the Turkish “State of Exception”

by Kerem Öktem | published June 3, 2006

Diyarbakır, the political and cultural center of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces, displays its beauty in springtime. The surrounding plains and mountains, dusty and barren during the summer months, shine in shades of green and the rainbow colors of alpine flowers and herbs. Around the walls of the old city, parks bustle with schoolchildren, unemployed young men and refugees who were uprooted from their villages during the Kurdish insurgency in the 1990s.