Syria's Disabled Future

by Edward Thomas | published May 14, 2013

Jamal is not yet a teenager. His school closed in 2011, soon after the Syrian revolution turned into an armed conflict, and his father found him a factory job. One day in 2012 as he returned from work there was a battle going on in the main street near his home. Jamal immediately started carrying wounded children smaller than he is to shelter in a mosque. Then Syrian army reinforcements arrived, clearing the streets with gunfire and hitting Jamal in the spine. The youngsters who took him to the hospital advised him to say that “terrorists” had caused his injury. But Jamal did not want to lie -- he told the doctors that a soldier had fired the bullet. The doctors told him to shut up and say it was the terrorists. But they treated him anyway.

The Syrian Heartbreak

by Peter Harling , Sarah Birke | published April 16, 2013

There was a distinctive sense of national pride in Syria. It flowed from the confidence of a civilization dating back to the times of the earliest alphabets and visible in the country’s wealth of archaeological sites, including some of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It came from the depth of local culture. It stemmed from the music of Syrian Arabic, the elegance of Syrian manners, the finesse of Syrian cuisine and the sincerity of Syrian hospitality. It proceeded from modern geopolitics, too, as Damascus carved out for itself a role bigger and bolder than its scarce resources should have allowed.

Viral Occupation

Cameras and Networked Human Rights in the West Bank

by Rebecca L. Stein | published March 20, 2013

When Israeli security forces arrived in the middle of the night at the Tamimi house in Nabi Salih, the occupied West Bank, the family was already in bed. The raid was not unexpected, as news had traveled around the village on that day in January 2011: Soldiers were coming to houses at night, demanding that young children be roused from sleep to be photographed for military records (to assist, they said, in the identification of stone throwers). Bilal Tamimi, Nabi Salih’s most experienced videographer, had his own camcorder at the ready by his bedside table when he was awoken by the knock on the door.

Israel’s Rightward Shift Leaves Palestinian Citizens Out in the Cold

by Jonathan Cook | published February 13, 2013

Shortly before polling day in Israel’s January general election, the Arab League issued a statement urging Israel’s large Palestinian minority, a fifth of the country’s population, to turn out en masse to vote. The League’s unprecedented intervention -- reportedly at the instigation of the League’s Palestinian delegation -- was motivated by two concerns.

The Jordanian State Buys Itself Time

by Nicholas Seeley | published February 12, 2013

For months prior to Jordan’s parliamentary elections, concluded on January 23, both the state apparatus and the opposition had been building up the contests as a moment of truth. The state presented the polls as a critical juncture in the execution of its strategy of gradual political reform; the opposition, riding the momentum of two years of concerted street protests, staged a boycott it hoped would delegitimize the whole endeavor.

The Many Roles of Turkey in the Syrian Crisis

by Aslı Ilgıt , Rochelle Davis | published January 28, 2013

On October 4, 2012, the Turkish Grand National Assembly approved a motion, by a vote of 320 to 129, authorizing deployment of the armed forces in “foreign countries,” essentially where and when the government saw fit. It was an expansive, vague-sounding mandate, but in fact there was only one target: Syria.

Workers, Trade Unions and Egypt's Political Future

by Joel Beinin | published January 18, 2013

During the week of December 15-22, 2012, between the two rounds of the referendum on Egypt’s newly adopted constitution, workers struck at three large, strategic industrial enterprises. At two, the strikers quickly achieved their main demands.

International Law and the Iran Impasse

by Aslı Bâli | published December 16, 2012

On any given day, provided her paper of choice still features international coverage, the average American newspaper reader can expect to be treated to one or two articles on attempts to halt advances in Iran’s nuclear program. These articles might cover efforts to levy fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic; they might relay news of discussions among Iran’s primary interlocutors on the nuclear question, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the so-called P5+1), about diplomatic overtures. Or the stories might echo the mounting calls for airstrikes or other military action to delay and disrupt the progress of Iranian nuclear research.

Four More Years

by Mouin Rabbani , Chris Toensing | published December 5, 2012

The 2012 US presidential election elicited less interest among Palestinians than any such contest in living memory. While most Israelis, and their government in particular, expressed a clear preference for a Republican victory, Palestinians seemed resigned to continuity in US foreign policy irrespective of which party won the White House. The main reason was that President Barack Obama, self-proclaimed apostle of change and widely hailed as such in the region when he assumed office four years ago, has yet to demonstrate a meaningful inconsistency with his predecessor George W. Bush when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Events since the election have only confirmed this policy direction and thus the validity of Palestinians’ indifference.

Inside Israel's Twitter War Room

History of a Social Media Arsenal

by Rebecca L. Stein | published November 24, 2012

Within hours of the onset of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel’s latest military campaign in the Gaza Strip, global news outlets had already turned their spotlight on social media. A raft of stories led with the Israel Defense Forces’ use of the popular networking platforms to advance their public relations message, pointing to their use of Twitter to announce the army’s assassination of Hamas military commander Ahmad al-Ja‘bari and their slickly produced Facebook posts justifying the ongoing aerial bombardment.

Behind the Kurdish Hunger Strike in Turkey

by Jake Hess | published November 8, 2012

To hear Mazlum Tekdağ’s story is enough to understand why 700 Kurdish political prisoners have gone on hunger strike in Turkey. His father was murdered by the state in front of his Diyarbakır pastry shop in 1993, when Mazlum was just nine years old. His uncle Ali was kidnapped by an army-backed death squad known as JİTEM (the acronym for the Turkish phrase translating, roughly, as Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit) two years later. Mazlum never saw his uncle again, but a former JİTEM agent later claimed they tortured him for six months before killing him and burning his body by the side of a road in the Silvan district of Diyarbakır.

Looking for Revolution in Kuwait

by Mary Ann Tétreault | published November 1, 2012

In the New York Review of Books, Hussein Agha and Robert Malley imagine the results of the Arab revolts as the possible beginning of a reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire. They see the regional unrest as media-driven, with various partisans asserting their own versions of reality to mobilize popular support. Outsiders fumble for understanding as forces push back and forth, now winning and now losing. Some see Islamists as the only ones with moral standing, yet Islamists in power seem ready and eager to “compromise” with the West to attract money and space to pursue their domestic projects. Aside from the almost obligatory -- and quick -- nod to events in Bahrain and gerontocracy-ruled Saudi Arabia, the Gulf disappears from the conversation. The “non-revolution” Agha and Malley describe is centered elsewhere.

Fissures in Hizballah's Edifice of Control

by Mona Harb , Lara Deeb | published October 30, 2012

On August 15, Beirut awoke to the news that more than 20 alleged members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had been captured by a group calling itself “the military wing of the al-Miqdad family.” The group had sent footage to the al-Mayadin television network, which was quickly picked up by other local and international channels. In the clip, men dressed in camouflage and black ski masks, and gripping Kalashnikovs, surrounded two prisoners seated in a dark room. A man with his back to the camera posed questions to the prisoners, who replied that they worked for the FSA, on orders from Khalid al-Dahir, a Lebanese parliamentarian affiliated with the Future Movement, the Sunni-majority political party led by Saad al-Hariri.

A Separation at Iranian Universities

by Nazanin Shahrokni , Parastou Dokouhaki | published October 18, 2012

On August 6, with the new academic year approaching, the government-backed Mehr News Agency in Iran posted a bulletin that 36 universities in the country had excluded women from 77 fields of study. The reported restrictions aroused something of an international uproar.

Egyptian Politics Upended

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published August 20, 2012

When he took office on June 30, President Muhammad Mursi of Egypt looked to have been handed a poisoned chalice. The ruling generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had tolerated a clean presidential election but then had hollowed out the presidency, saddling Mursi with an executive’s accountability but little of the corresponding authority. The country resigned itself to the grim reality of dual government, with an elected civilian underdog toiling in the shadow of mighty military overlords. Then, just over a month later, Mursi turned the tables, dismissing Egypt’s top generals and taking back the powers they had usurped. The power play crystallizes the new dynamic of Egyptian politics: the onset of open contestation for the Egyptian state.