December 2nd – December 8th, 2013

Each week, the Middle East News Review looks at the top five stories impacting the Middle East.  For the week ending December 8, 2013, the top five stories include the escalating sectarian violence in Iraq; the assassination of a senior Hezbollah commander; increasing violence in Yemen; a Day of Rage against Bedouin resettlement in Israel; and reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela.
MC_5 Death Toll Rises as Violence in Iraq Continues
The increasing violence in Iraq continued this week and was punctuated by a series of bombing around Baghdad province on Sunday, December 8th that left at least 33 dead and dozens wounded. This spike in violence, which left nearly 950 dead in the month of November, appears to fall on sectarian lines. Sunnis who have long felt disenfranchised by the Shia-dominated government have been protesting over the past several months with few concessions offered by the authorities. Analysts believe this current wave of violence, which is the most deadly Iraq has experienced since 2008, originates in the Sunni community.
Bombings kill 33 in and around Iraqi capital (Washington Post)

Deadly bombings hit Baghdad province (Al Jazeera)

 Car bomb near Iraqi cafe used by Sunni militia kills 11 (Reuters)


MC_4 Hezbollah’s Technology & Arms Chief Assassinated Outside Home
Hassan al-Laqis, a senior commander in Hezbollah, was killed as he arrived home late on the evening of December 3, 2013. His death was seen as a major blow to the Lebanese militia group and perhaps the most significant loss since the  assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in 2008. Hezbollah immediately accused Israel of the assassination; a charge that Israeli officials have denied.

Hezbollah commander gunned down in Beirut (Daily Star – Lebanon)

Hezbollah: Israel assassinated organization’s arms chief near Beirut (Haaretz)

Senior Hezbollah leader killed in Beirut (Al Jazeera)


MC_3 Violence in Yemen on the Rise
Late last week the violence in North Yemen made the news as more than 120 people were killed in Saada province. This week, the violence continued with the bombing of the Defense Ministry in Sanaa, which left scores dead. The increased violence lays bare the fragile position of the national government that must contend with sectarian violence between Sunni Salafis and Shia Houthi and a persistent Al Qaeda presence.
Assailants Launch Two-Pronged Attack on Yemen Defense Ministry (NY Times)

Yemen’s ‘hidden wars’ threaten peace process (Al Jazeera)

Deadly attacks hit Yemen defence ministry in Sanaa (BBC)


MC_2 Day of Rage in Israel Against Bedouin Resettlement Plan
The Israeli government’s plan to resettle Bedouin of the northern Negev in government-approved towns drew large protests and demonstrations this week. Activists claim that the plan is a thinly veiled attempt to dispossess Bedouin of their traditional land holdings. Government officials counter that Bedouin settlement fails to conform to Israeli law and this would not be allowed to occur anywhere else throughout Israel. Furthermore, advocates for the plan in the government contend that by resettling to approved towns, the Bedouin will receive increased access to social programs provided by the government. Critics challenge this by arguing that Bedouin populations have been historically neglected by the government and the offering of additional social services is simply a distraction from the appropriation of land by state mandate.

Thousands protest controversial Beduin resettlement plan (Jerusalem Post)
 Israel’s Bedouin eviction plan opposed (Al Jazeera)
Israel’s plan to forcibly resettle Negev Bedouins prompts global protests (The Guardian)


MC_1 The Middle East Eulogizes Nelson Mandela
The death of Nelson Mandela was clearly the most significant news event of the week and throughout the Middle East there was an outpouring of statements by political leaders offering their thoughts on the 95-year old South African leader’s passing. Reactions by officials ranged from the deeply heart-felt to the mealy-mouthed, the politically-opportunistic and even the preposterous. Below are several examples from across the spectrum.
Syria’s Assad calls Mandela’s life a lesson to tyrants (Jerusalem Post)Egyptian presidency declares national mourning for the death of Nelson Mandela (Ahram Online)
Netanyahu: Mandela was the father of his nation (Israel Hayom)
Abbas hails Mandela’s commitment to Palestinian cause (Daily Star – Lebanon)

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October 18th, 2015

Mapping the Dead in the Latest Israeli-Palestinian Violence

Basma Atassi at Al-Jazeera has put together a great storymap that explores the latest violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Complete with pictures, text and place location, this resource allows you to get a good sense of where, when and how the violence is occurring. Definitely worth a look.

October 16th, 2015

Netanyahu, Context & Responsibility

At the center of this current iteration of violence in Israel and Palestine stands the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has reacted to this violence as if he was surprised that Palestinians would resort to violence when for decades he has done everything within his power to thwart the establishment and growth of a responsible Palestinian civil society, expanded settlements with the explicit aim of crippling an emerging Palestinian state, and undermining the responsible leadership of Mahmoud Abbas at every possible opportunity.

October 8th, 2015

Abbas, Netanyahu and Responsible Leadership

Abbas is demonstrating his commitment to deescalating tensions and calming the violence that is a direct result of Netanyahu’s persistent efforts to whip Israeli society into a panicked frenzy about an existential threat lurking behind every corner.

June 30th, 2015

Our Dictator in Cairo – Abdel Fatah el-Sisi

So, once again, the foreign policy of the US has chosen perceived immediate stability over the somewhat more bumpy and unpredictable evolution of democracy in the Middle East. It’s not the first time we’ve done this… it’s sort of our thing at this point… we’re pro’s out it.

June 22nd, 2015

The Many Victims at Mother Emmanuel

The problem with Gosnell and others who make these arguments is that they believe intentionality serves as some magical “Get out of Jail Free” card that absolves perpetrators of the violence they commit. Further, and in many ways far more problematic, is the realization that Gosnell and others only want to use this logical canard to absolve themselves or other like them. No such compassion regarding intentionality and the multiplicity of victims derived from violence will ever be used with the families of the 9-11 hijackers. In the end, the fundamental mistake that Gosnell and others make over and over again is that they focus on issues of intentionality rather than on issues of responsibility.

March 4th, 2015

Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Congress

There are two things to never forget when considering Netanyahu’s views of regional threats. First, he is desperately seeking his “Churchill moment”. Second, he has a record of being blinded by his own biases and is never, ever a sober analyst of a situation

February 16th, 2015

Cursed Be The Peacemakers?

This video, produced by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, has been released as part of the current Israeli political contest where the extreme right wing of Israel is attempting to maintain the rightist complexion of the Israeli government. For me, the truly offensive aspect of this video is how it makes the case that working for peace between Israelis and Palestinians or defending Palestinian and Israeli human rights somehow makes you a threat to the country.

February 14th, 2015

The Danger of Molly White’s Islamophobia

Rep. White is the new poster child for the anti-Muslim bigotry, Islamic hatred and Islamophobia that is so deeply embedded in American society that it can hide in plain sight.

July 15th, 2014

In Focus: The Gaza Strip

As Israeli bombs are dropped throughout the Gaza Strip and Hamas missiles are launched into Israel, the media coverage has focused on discussing Gaza as a known yet ill-defined entity. We are made aware of roughly where it is (next to Israel), who lives there (Hamas) and what happens there (rockets are made and launched). But this reductionist view of Gaza doesn’t provide any insights into the common, everyday lived experience of the 1.8 million Palestinians who live in the 360 sq. km that makes up the Gaza Strip.

July 14th, 2014

Middle East News Review #28

The Middle East was plagued with news of violence this week. In Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Libya, episodes of violence resulted in death and destruction. Iran continued its negotiations with the US and EU this week in the hopes of reaching an agreement over the country’s nuclear program and removing the economic sanctions that have crippled its economy. In Iraq, violence between the militant group ISIS and the Baghdad government reached new heights as 29 people were found massacred in an apartment and Human Rights Watch condemned the government for mass executions carried out earlier this year. The direct physical violence in Iraq was mirrored this week with political turmoil as the government of Nouri al-Maliki erupted into conflict with the semi-autonomous Kurdish government.