The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged Lebanon
Sabra and Shatilia and the US

A Preventable Massacre - NYTimes.com

Seth Anziska on Sabra and Shatila:

While Israel’s role in the massacre has been closely examined, America’s actions have never been fully understood. This summer, at the Israel State Archives, I found recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre. The verbatim transcripts reveal that the Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps. Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so. As a result, Phalange militiamen were able to murder Palestinian civilians, whom America had pledged to protect just weeks earlier.
How Lebanon works, cont.

From the State Dept. via Wikileaks via FLC:

12. (S) The Saudis had come through with a USD 10 million cash injection to Jumblatt himself three months ago, he told us openly. Jumblatt, who employs a legion of retainers and security personnel and is obligated by his quasi-feudal position in Druze society not only to spread cash around but to outdo the patronage of his Druze rivals, had nearly run out of money in mid-late 2006. The new Saudi money, he said, would last him for "a couple of years only." (Comment: The revelation that Jumblatt had just received a cash lifeline might explain a number of observations about his recent behavior. Not only had he seemed calmer and more confident in the last few months but bolder, assailing Hizballah in public with allegations of involvement in Rafiq Hariri's assassination and the attempt on Marwan Hamadeh's life. Jumblatt told us in earlier meetings that Rafiq Hariri used to give him about $3 million a year to keep Druse loyalty on his side. End Comment.) Jumblatt said that he would visit Saudi Arabia following the Prime Minister's next visit.

The more I know about the sordid details of Middle Eastern politics the more I wonder if, ultimately, politics everywhere is the same. It's just that here we get the raw, unfiltered version.

Lebanon's al-Akhbar's English version

The English language version of the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar is out, promising to deliver English content of one fo the most dynamic new newspapers in the Arab world in the last decade. Al-Akhbar is sometimes described as radical leftist, pro-Hizbullah, pro-gay rights, Qatar-funded and more. It's often criticized as being too kind to March 8 in Lebanese. I read it from time to time, not working on Lebanon much, and was most struck by the variety and quality many of articles. Yes, it's opinionated and partisan, but also often critical of what it supposed to be its own camp. And it's been refreshingly anti-sectarian for a Lebanese newspaper. Worth bookmarking.

I saw this headline on its front page and thought it might perfectly capture it's essence: sympathetic to Hizbullah and the southern "resistance," but with typically Lebanese business acumen. 

"Southern Strawberries ‘Killed’ by Rumors and Weak Marketing"

Inconsiderate Middle East

Things are really heating up across the region — ongoing protests in Algeria, unstable situation in Tunisia, talk of extremely rare protests in Libya, today's protest in Egypt, weird ongoings in Sudan, the release of the Palestine Papers in Israel/Palestine and consequent war between the PA and Jazeera, disgruntlement in Jordan, and a worrying reprisal of sectarian brinksmanship in Lebanon as the STL is about to, probably, inculpate Hizbullah for the wave of killings of the last few years including that of Rafiq Hariir

All of this is distracting me from my work and my focus on what's happening in Tunis.

The Lebanese stuff in particular is the most difficult to follow, as usual if you haven't been raised on a diet of tabouleh and manaqeesh. On such matters I defer to Qifa Nakbi. A few years ago the French comedy group Les Inconnus did this sketch on Lebanon that still holds up perfectly today. Enjoy.

 

[Thanks, Adam.]

Alastair Crooke on Ahmedinejad in Lebanon

THE TRUE SIGNIFICANCE OF AHMADINEJAD’S LEBANON VISIT « The Race for Iran:

"Firstly, let us put to one side the nonsense: The President of Iran’s visit was not about embedding Lebanon as a part of the Iranian state, nor was it about paving the way for any Hizbullah ‘take-over’ of Lebanon; and nor can the visit be described as a ‘provocation’. It was of course self-evidently intended to express defiance towards Israeli military hegemony and to assert a stand of counter-deterrence to any Israeli military threat, but that it is very different from an ‘act of provocation’ deliberately intended to draw an Israeli response.  All these claims for the purpose of the visit are just a part of the psychological warfare mounted against Iran, and can be ignored.

The visit was, in fact, a State visit. The Iranian President was formally invited by the Maronite Christian President of Lebanon some while ago. Iran is a prominent regional state, just as Turkey is – whose Prime Minister happens to be visiting Beirut today.

Iran’s popularity on the streets should not surprise anyone.  It is real, and it is heartfelt – and extends beyond the Shi’i of the south of Beirut.  Having been present here in Beirut throughout the war of 2006, I experienced the almost universal shock at how leaders and so-called ‘friends of Lebanon’ such as Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice tried to fend-off and delay a ceasefire – in order to allow Israel more time to ‘finish the job’, i.e. to destroy more bridges, more infrastructure and impose civilian casualties – as our ‘price’ to be paid for Hizbullah’s seizure of Israeli soldiers. Feelings here are still raw on this point, and all sectors of opinion know that the only real support for Lebanon in those dark hours came from Syria and Iran.  Unsurprisingly, there was a direct element of gratitude in expression to Iran in recent days both for the support then, and its subsequent economic assistance to repair the damage."

Glad someone is taking the time to debunk the "who invited him anyway" line coming out in Washington. But I'll have to beg to differ about Crooke's conclusion that Ahmedinejad articulates a global revolt against market capitalism or alienated elites — not only are Iran's elites at times as alienated from ordinary people as those anywhere else, but in that country you see two rival elite clusters (broadly identified around the Rafsanjani crowd and the Republican Guards) use corruption, state control and even violence to gain control.

Ahmedinejad in Lebanon

Note: This is much shorter version of  post written earlier and then lost because of #$@^!* system. Couldn't be bothered to redo it fully.


The above pic from the Lebanese blog Beirut Spring illustrates the division about Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's visit to Lebanon today. A bunch of Lebanese bloggers have decided to note the visit with humor, like this list of 10 things to expect during the visit.

See the FT, the WSJ, Reuters, and Rami Khouri who makes some interesting points about both the domestic Lebanese reaction and the nervousness in the US and the Arab world. The State Dept's response that Ahmedinejad's visit infringes on Lebanese sovereignty is rather mind-numbing, between 2006 and now they must have grown to care a lot about Lebanese sovereignty. 

My own take to the question of Iran-US relations will come in the form of this picture I took last May, near Times Square in New York. I think it explains everything pretty clearly.

 

Lebanon and the prospect of war

My new column in Masri al-Youm is out, about Lebanon and the prospects of war there, and outlines the rather twisted road of the past decade to get to the present situation.

But of course this is Lebanon, it's already superseded by the rather dramatic news of the clash between the Lebanese Army and the Israeli one yesterday, which claimed the lives of three Lebanese soldiers, a journalist from al-Akhbar, and a senior Israeli officer. Lebanon appears to have been in the wrong according to the UN, but of course it's all hotly contested.

I recently finished reading David Hirst's Beware of Small States (more about the book and Hirst later this week), one of whose central points is that Lebanon has been where the Arab-Israeli conflict has perdured since the last time an Arab army (rather than guerrilla) fought Israel: 1973. Well yesterday that (almost) 27 year break had ended, with Lebanese uniformed men confronting Israel's.

This is just one of the many signs of tension, and a possible third Lebanese war (which Hirst says could also very well be a regionalized seventh Arab-Israeli war) now appears ever more likely. Let's hope it can be avoided, as the latest ICG report calls for more effective diplomacy:

The key to unlocking this situation is – without neglecting the central Israeli-Palestinian track – to resume meaningful negotiations between Israel on the one hand and Syria and Lebanon on the other. This is the only realistic way to shift underlying dynamics and, in particular, affect Syria’s calculations. Without that, Damascus will continue to transfer weapons to Hizbollah, the Shiite movement will successfully resist pressure to disarm and Israel will keep on violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.

There is scant reason for optimism on the peace front, however. That means little can be achieved, not that nothing can be done. The most urgent tasks are to restore momentum on 1701 by focusing on the most realistic goals and to establish consultative mechanisms to defuse tensions, clarify red lines and minimise risks of an accidental confrontation. Better channels of communication would help. At present, the U.S. is talking mainly to one side (Israel), keeping another at arm’s length (Syria), ignoring a third (Hizbollah) and confronting the fourth (Iran). 

At the risk of repeating a bromide, it's hard to see a settlement of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict without some kind of solution to the Palestinian-Israeli one. We have had, for decades now, an Israel that simply does not want to return the Golan Heights to Syria or find a solution to the Palestinian question that is likely to ever satisfy the Palestinians. Its entire policies have been aimed at increasing its territory, fragmenting the West Bank and the overall Palestinian polity, and waging war to make its enemies accept peace on its own terms, i.e. surrender. It has also rejected the only serious offer for a comprehensive peace on the table, the 2002 Beirut Initiative.

On the other hand, a group like Hizbullah is not about to cease fighting Israel once the issue of the Shebaa Farms — its pretext for continued hostility since the liberation of South Lebanon (before that the area was not contested) — is resolved. The issue the Islamist camp really cares about, in the end, is Palestine and Jerusalem. An imposed peace will not satisfy it, only one that has full endorsement of a Palestinian majority as well as the Arab states and Iran (all of which agreed to under the Beirut initiative). This is why the crazed ideas of the neoconservatives and their friends in Israel (practically the whole establishment there) of imposing their own peace and creating a new Middle East will not work — what worked on Egypt or Jordan simply won't work with them.

Get that gas!
If anything positive is to come from rumored Saudi-Qatari reconciliation, I would love it to be a fast-track project to set up a rig on Lebanon's shore to get this gas out before the Israelis suck it all up. After all the Gulf states have a stake in Lebanon and the money and expertise to pull it off.

Trouble is brewing in the waters off the coast of Lebanon and Israel about the future of one of the largest discoveries of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean.

A field known as Leviathan might contain 16 trillion cubic feet of gas – enough to serve Israel’s domestic needs and make the country a substantial exporter.

But Lebanon is eyeing some of that income, badly needed to pay off its $50bn national debt. Some Lebanese politicians say the field may extend into their country’s as yet undeclared maritime zone.

Israel and Lebanon are still formally at war and the two neighbours have never agreed a maritime boundary.

Another problem is that Lebanon has not even passed an oil and gas law that would regulate drilling off its coast.

In spite of late night negotiations this week between Saad Hariri, the prime minister, and Nabih Berri, the speaker of parliament, the passage of any such legislation may still be months away.

In the meantime, Israel has unilaterally placed a line of buoys extending two miles into the sea off the two countries’ land border for what it describes as “security reasons”. Lebanon’s government has raised this with the United Nations, fearing that the floating line of Israeli-placed markers may encroach on its maritime territory.

Hizbollah, the armed Shia movement, and its allies have taken up the cause of what they call the defence of Lebanon’s natural resources – and they charge their western-backed political opponents with weakness in regard to the issue.

Mr Berri, from the Shia Amal movement, an ally of Hizbollah, has urged Mr Hariri’s government of national unity to counter what he sees as Israel’s designs on the country’s gas.

“Lebanon’s army, people, and resistance will be ready to thwart any attempt to steal its natural resources,” he said during a visit to neighbouring Syria.

In the meantime, things looking better in Lebanon — for now. I was there a few weeks ago, it looked positively bustling! Let's hope there not another summer war as some are predicting

On Fadlallah

I happened to be in Beirut when the news of Sheikh Fadlallah's death hit the news a few days ago, although since I was there for a wedding, I did not don my reporter hat or stay for the funeral yesterday, as I had a plane to catch back to Cairo and then another for Casablanca. I won't comment on the man — take a look at what Asa'ad AbuKhalil said, or Rami Khouri — but do want to touch on the American perception of him.

In Fadlallah, one had a spiritual leader for millions of Shias who was neither an ultra-conservative nor an apologist for autocracy. He was the only Shia figure with the authority not only to counter the Vilayet al-Faqih doctrine now dominant (and state-endorsed) in Iran, but also the political quietism and all-out conservatism of Iraq's Sistani. Yes, he was a political radical by the standards of of American hegemony in the region — he opposed occupations, backed armed action against occupiers include suicide bombings — but in some respects at least preferable to the alternative religious leaders in the region. He was not simply "Hizbullah's spirtual leader" as so many American journalists, and the American government, apparently continue to consider him as, despite the obvious fact that Hizbullah's leadership looks to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatolah Khameini.

To be fair, the story is not so simple as Hizbullah having as marja Ayatollah Khamenei — it's more complicated than that, as many of Hizbullah's rank and file surely thought highly of Fadlallah no matter what the party line was, and Hizbullah grandee Naim Qassem was receiving condolences in Beirut last Sunday.

Do read David Kenner's piece at Foreign Policy, which touches on this ambiguity:

 

In 1995, Fadlallah declared himself a marja, the highest religious authority within Shiism -- a step that was opposed by the Iranian religious establishment, which saw Khamenei as the proper source of emulation for the Shiite world. Although both Iran and Hezbollah issued statements praising Fadlallah upon his death, they studiously avoided referring to him as a marja.
For this reason, Western claims that Fadlallah was "the spiritual advisor" to Hezbollah were particularly ironic: Although he was clearly influential, it was on precisely the issue of Fadlallah's ultimate religious authority that he and the Party of God parted ways.
Starting in the 1990s, Fadlallah began to preach a more self-consciously modern version of Shiism, placing particular emphasis on scientific and rational methods. He opposed the practice of self-flagellation on the Shiite holy day of Ashura, arguing that it accentuated sectarian differences in Lebanon rather than promoting coexistence. His rulings in the field of gender relations have also been important: He asserted that women were qualified to lead men in prayer and were fully capable of moving up the ranks of the Shiite clergy, up to the post of ayatollah. In 2007, he issued a fatwa saying that a woman could fight back in self-defense if she were beaten by her husband.
This debate was more than an internecine feud over religious principles -- it had important repercussions for the political balance of power within Lebanon's Shiite community. Fadlallah criticized Hezbollah openly at times, notably picking a fight with the group after it declared to its supporters that voting for the party in the 2005 parliamentary election was a religious obligation. He argued that such "perverted practices" would eventually delegitimize religious authority. His extensive network of schools throughout Lebanon, which enrolled 14,300 students in 2000, produces its own religious textbooks rather than use those approved by Iran's religious leadership.

In 1995, Fadlallah declared himself a marja, the highest religious authority within Shiism -- a step that was opposed by the Iranian religious establishment, which saw Khamenei as the proper source of emulation for the Shiite world. Although both Iran and Hezbollah issued statements praising Fadlallah upon his death, they studiously avoided referring to him as a marja.
For this reason, Western claims that Fadlallah was "the spiritual advisor" to Hezbollah were particularly ironic: Although he was clearly influential, it was on precisely the issue of Fadlallah's ultimate religious authority that he and the Party of God parted ways.
Starting in the 1990s, Fadlallah began to preach a more self-consciously modern version of Shiism, placing particular emphasis on scientific and rational methods. He opposed the practice of self-flagellation on the Shiite holy day of Ashura, arguing that it accentuated sectarian differences in Lebanon rather than promoting coexistence. His rulings in the field of gender relations have also been important: He asserted that women were qualified to lead men in prayer and were fully capable of moving up the ranks of the Shiite clergy, up to the post of ayatollah. In 2007, he issued a fatwa saying that a woman could fight back in self-defense if she were beaten by her husband.
This debate was more than an internecine feud over religious principles -- it had important repercussions for the political balance of power within Lebanon's Shiite community. Fadlallah criticized Hezbollah openly at times, notably picking a fight with the group after it declared to its supporters that voting for the party in the 2005 parliamentary election was a religious obligation. He argued that such "perverted practices" would eventually delegitimize religious authority. His extensive network of schools throughout Lebanon, which enrolled 14,300 students in 2000, produces its own religious textbooks rather than use those approved by Iran's religious leadership.

It also provides some juicy details about the 1985 CIA-backed attempt on Fadlallah's life, which Bob Woodward revealed (but misinterpreted since he continued to describe Fadlallah as an "archterrorist".)

In other words, Fadlallah was not just an important person, but a complex player who tried to stand aloof from politicking, even if he still had a political role. The fact that he spent some thirty years as a "Specially Designated Terrorist" shows the American foreign policy establishment rather black-and-white, un-nimble approach to the Middle East: an approach that it is the very opposite of the way Middle Eastern politics work most of the time. 

And the American media follows: CNN's Octavia Nasr has now been forced to resign because she tweeted sadness at Fadlallah's passing. The irony is that although she understood that he had had a positive role on some religious issues, she still identified him with Hizbullah. Here's her tweet:

"Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

Do you think Deborah Solomon of the NYT will now resign because she finds the Irgun romantic? This resignation/firing is so stupid I'm tempted to think cash-strapped CNN wanted to let go a 20-year veteran and hire someone cheaper.

Syria's scuds

How exciting to see all the hullabaloo about reports that Syria gave scuds to Hizbullah! And to see somber-faced officials in Washington (although few) and Tel Aviv speak of this as some kind of provocation. Funny that this move, if true (US and Israeli officials don't have a great track record on these things — remember Saddam's WMDs?) would apparently justify a bombing raid on Lebanon.

On the one hand, if I were Lebanese, I would certainly to increase my country's defensive capabilities considering that Israel destroyed half the place in 2006. I would be focusing first on air defenses to take down aircrafts coming into my airspace, but longer-range rockets that can do similar damage to what Israel did to me (and it invaded me three times, occupied me for two and half decades, and regularly violates my sovereignty) would seem a good dissuasive measure.

On the other hand, when does anyone complain about Israel's weapons acquisitions or its ability to annihilate the entire neighborhood?

In other words, I am all for any actor in Lebanon making it more costly for Israel to repeat its 2006 exercise in collective punishment.

Syria, of course, is a nasty little regime and has done tremendous damage to Lebanon. At one time, though, it was seen as a stabilizer in Lebanon and actually committed enough to the status-quo that it would not risk any confrontation with Israel. Perhaps these calculations have changed, but considering the low effectiveness of Scuds (remember the Gulf War and the Israeli panic that didn't amount to much) I don't see how this can be construed as a game-changer. Lebanon and Syria both endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative and back the peace in exchange for the return of land. We are being told by some experts in America and Israel that it's not reasonable for Syria to expect the Golan Heights back. These are the same people who essentially argue it's not reasonable for the Palestinians to expect a viable state. Is everyone in the region supposed to accept a belligerent Israel, protected from any responsibility under international law, that refuses to make clear what its own borders are and regularly engages in attacks on its neighbors' territory?

Here's some commentary:

Links for Jan.10.10 to Jan.11.10
“Lorsque je commençais mon enquête sur le tourisme au Sahara marocain, je n’imaginais pas être prise à témoin d’échanges sexuels” « Ibn Kafka's obiter dicta – divagations d'un juriste marocain en liberté surveillée | On sexual tourism in Western Sahara.
What the "Eurabia" Authors Get Wrong About Islam in Europe - By Justin Vaïsse | Foreign Policy | Critique of Eurabia theory.
The Trials of Tony Judt - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education |
U.S. to store $800m in military gear in Israel - Haaretz | To keep in mind in context of Iran.
Israel and Iran: The gathering storm | The Economist | Interesting story with background on Osirak bombing, Israeli prospects against Iran.
Executive | Magazine has new books section.
Strong reaction to warning of coup - The National Newspaper | Iraqis react to UK ambassador's testimony to Chilcot Enquiry that coup to purge Iran influence still possible in Iraq.
the arabophile | New blog.
Joe Sacco: Graphic History | Mother Jones | Interview with the cartoonist and author of "Footnotes from Gaza."
High cost of living means more unmarried in Egypt | Bikya Masr | Stats on why Egyptians are marrying later.
Arab Reform Initiative | Report on constitutional reforms in the Arab world.
The architecture of apartheid | SocialistWorker.org | On the bantustanization of Palestine.
The Venture of Marty Peretz’s bigotry: Arabs, Muslims, Berbers and more « The Moor Next Door | Kal on the New Republic editor's Islamophobia.
The Forgotten Recantation — jihadica | Interesting post on the recantation of Abbud al-Zommor.
'Bush sold Arab states arms in violation of deal with Israel' - Haaretz - Israel News | Obama, more pro-Israel than Bush: "The Bush administration violated security related agreements with Israel in which the U.S. promised to preserve the IDF's qualitative edge over Arab armies, according to senior officials in the Obama administration and Israel."

Links for Dec.26.09 to Dec.28.09
Get Elected; or, al-Baradei Tryin’ (Part 1 of ???) « THE BOURSA EXCHANGE | TBE translates that ElBaradei interview from al-Shorouq.
Could the Mullahs Fall This Time? - The Daily Beast | Interesting ruminations on whether Iran is near a revolution and the importance of Ashura as a symbol of the fight for justice.
Op-Ed Columnist - The Big Zero - NYTimes.com | Economically, the decade produced nothing.
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Saudi Wahhabi Physiognomy: this man should be teaching at KAUST | Funny.
Rasheed el-Enany on modern Arabic lit: not quite a Renaissance | Al-Masry Al-Youm | "I think the status of translated Arabic literature is better than it's ever been."
Two Hamas members killed in Beirut explosion | Unusual... this attack was in a safe, Hizbullah-controlled area.
Activists appeal to Mubarak over entry into Gaza - Yahoo! News |
Egypt said it would prevent their passage because of the "sensitive situation" in Gaza and warned Monday of legal repercussions for anyone defying the ban.
Around 1,300 international delegates from 42 countries have signed up to join the Gaza Freedom March which was due to enter Gaza via Egypt during the last week of December.

Exclusive excerpt from Joe Sacco’s groundbreaking new book: Footnotes in Gaza | I'm awaiting my copy of this book from this great cartoonist.
Sic Semper Tyrannis : Men on Horseback | Pat Lang on the Afghan policy war inside the Obama administration.
Ardebili's laptop - Laura Rozen - POLITICO.com | Iran holding hikers and others because US holding Iranians?
Anis Sayigh: and Israeli history of letter bombs | Angry Arab has an interesting post on the Israeli use of letter bombs against civilians.
Officials Point to Suspect’s Claim of Qaeda Ties in Yemen - NYTimes.com | Rather suspicious, this Yemen angle at a time when people are trying to confuse the Huthis and al-Qaeda...
The Lives They Lived - Ben Ali - The Chili That Shaped a Family - NYTimes.com | Sausages and chilli, served to Obama by an Indian Muslim Trinidadian.
Mainstreaming the Mad Iran Bombers | Marc Lynch | Lynch on NYT op-ed's call for war.
The Nevada gambler, al-Qaida, the CIA and the mother of all cons | The Guardian | "Playboy magazine has revealed that the CIA fell victim to an elaborate con by a compulsive gambler who claimed to have developed software that discovered al-Jazeera broadcasts were being used to transmit messages to terrorists buried deep in America."

Links for Dec.24.09
LRB · Adam Shatz · Wanting to Be Something Else | Adam Shatz on Orhan Pamuk.
UN gives mud brick huts to Gaza war homeless | I'm not sure Hassan Fathi-style mud brick homes will work in Gaza - doesn't it rain a lot there? This story also does not say whether they are building with mud bricks because the blockade makes other materials unavailable.
Renewed Lebanese drug trade hikes Mideast tensions - Yahoo! News | Return of cannabis and poppy cultivation in the Bekaa (but had it really ever gone away?)
الآراء من الغرب Views from the Occident: 'Ashura Artwork: Part I | Graphic posters from Shia martyrology.
BBC News - Lockheed secures $842m Morocco contract | For a bunch of F-16s.
FT.com / UK - Moussavi sacked as pressure mounts for a trial | Challenger to Ahmedinejad targeted.
Cameron under pressure to explain £100,000 funding linked to Lebanese former arms dealer | Politics | guardian.co.uk | Those European politicians sure love Arab money.

Links for 11.30.09 to 12.02.09
Why they hate us (II): How many Muslims has the U.S. killed in the past 30 years? | Stephen M. Walt | 288,000, Walt estimates.
Libya convicts Swiss pair in apparent revenge for arrest of Gaddafi's son | World news | guardian.co.uk | Good timing.
Israel strips more Palestinians of Jerusalem status (Reuters) | "Reuters - Israel stripped Palestinians of Jerusalem residency status last year at a faster rate than at any time in the history of the Jewish state, an Israeli rights group said on Wednesday, citing official Israeli statistics."
Dubai model was the vision of one man | Reuters | Andrew Hammond's writes: "The "Dubai vision," which has suffered a crushing blow from the freewheeling Gulf emirate's sudden debt crisis, is the creation of one man who failed to apply the rules of open governance."
Arab disappointment with Obama | Marc Lynch | Arabs disappointed with mideast policy, not democracy. Americans disappointed with everything.
Spreading Shiism to the Moon Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | This is about Iranian ambitions over the Comoros Islands, but I link because the intro is funny.
Jewish Nationalists and Palestinians Clash in East Jerusalem - NYTimes.com | This headline makes it sounds like the Jews are the natives. Plus it's in East Jerusalem, which is Palestinian under international law.
Obama's Middle East Policies: the Persistence of the Bush Doctrine on Vimeo | A lecture by the Angry Arab, Asa'ad Abu Khalil.
Israel attacks Sweden on Jerusalem plan | I think this Swedish position on Jerusalem, if the EU takes it up, is important.
What to listen for in Obama's speech | What Walt says on Afghanistan.
The New Inquisition | Laila Lalami in The Nation.
Arab journalist throws shoe at Iraqi shoe thrower - Yahoo! News | He missed, too.
Views from the Occident: Hizbullah Announces New Party Platform | Hizbullah peddles its national vision.
ei: "We will have to kill them all": Effie Eitam, thug messiah | Buffalo, NY Jews welcome Elie Eitam, murderer and Eretz Israeler.
Super Emo Friends | Diskursdisko | Comic book humor - should appeal to those emos in Egypt.