The Week: Most Recent middle-east recent posts.en-usFri, 22 Feb 2013 09:30:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent middle-east from THE WEEKFri, 22 Feb 2013 09:30:00 -0500Dispatch from Cairo: Egypt's president is under attack from all sides<img src="" /></P><p>Seven months after he was elected amidst celebrations and optimistic expectations, President Mohamad Morsi and his Islamist Freedom and Justice party are finding themselves increasingly embattled and isolated.</p><p>Morsi's much-lauded panel of advisors, initially made up of 21 luminaries from across the political spectrum, has been hit by a spate of resignations and dismissals, and has lost over half its members. The secularists and Christians began leaving late last year, complaining that Morsi was increasingly partisan and authoritarian. Now over the past week, ultra-conservative Salifi members of...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jacob-lippincott" ><span class="byline">Jacob Lippincott</span></a>Fri, 22 Feb 2013 09:30:00 -0500Did politics prevent President Obama from arming Syria's rebels?<img src="" /></P><p>In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday said he had supported a plan to arm rebels in Syria seeking to overthrow longtime leader Bashar&nbsp;al-Assad. In addition, he said General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had also backed the plan, but that it was eventually vetoed by the White House.</p><p>With Panetta's testimony, it's now clear that nearly the entire national security apparatus had supported the proposal, which would have seen the U.S. arm rebels who had been vetted to ensure that American weapons...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Fri, 08 Feb 2013 12:05:00 -0500Did Iran fake its space monkey mission?<img src="" /></P><p>On Monday, Iran proudly announced to the world that it had launched a monkey into space and successfully brought it back to Earth alive. But something is amiss: Upon further inspection, it appears the monkey that returned from space doesn't match the monkey that left. Images newly released from a press conference prior to the launch show a monkey with light fur and a conspicuous red mole above its eye. The mole is mysteriously missing on the monkey that returned, which also has notably darker hair.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">"It looks like a very different monkey, the nose, the features, everything is different,"...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jessica-hullinger" ><span class="byline">Jessica Hullinger</span></a>Fri, 01 Feb 2013 15:34:00 -0500Dispatch from Cairo: Egypt on the brink<img src="" /></P><p >CAIRO, EGYPT &mdash; While the situation in Egypt since the 2011 revolution has been consistently chaotic, the last week was calamitous even by Egyptian standards.</p><p>Urban centers near the Suez Canal, a vital international waterway, were engulfed in what appears to be a full-scale insurrection against state authority. Deadly street battles between the police and protesters flared up in downtown Cairo. And once again the country's fledgling democracy is teetering on the brink.</p><p>The Islamist government has already alienated liberals, secularists, and minority religious groups, and is now increasingly...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jacob-lippincott" ><span class="byline">Jacob Lippincott</span></a>Fri, 01 Feb 2013 08:37:00 -0500Israel's strike on the Syria-Lebanon border: 3 repercussions<img src="" /></P><p>Israeli warplanes have reportedly blasted a convoy of trucks driving across the border from Syria to Lebanon, according to several news outlets. Syria denies a convoy was attacked, and claims Israel bombed a military research center in Damascus province. Just Sunday, Israel had threatened to launch a pre-emptive strike, if necessary, to prevent Syria's chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Lebanon's Hezbollah or other Islamist groups, including al Qaeda affiliates. Israel has long worried that Syrian President Bashar Assad, locked in a 22-month civil war, could lose control of his stockpile...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Wed, 30 Jan 2013 16:10:00 -0500Is Egypt headed for another revolution?<img src="" /></P><p>Egypt has been rocked by five days of rioting that has killed at least 52 people, and the violence has only spread since the country's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, declared a state of emergency and imposed an overnight curfew. Morsi's political opponents, still fuming over how he rammed through a constitution written by his Islamist allies, rejected his call for a national dialogue to end the demonstrations, which erupted after a court sentenced 21 people to death for involvement in a deadly soccer riot in Port Said last year. On Tuesday, the head of the country's armed forces, General Abdel...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Tue, 29 Jan 2013 11:07:00 -0500Dispatch from Cairo: Will Egypt let Hosni Mubarak off the hook?<img src="" /></P><p>CAIRO, EGYPT &mdash; This week, a high court in Cairo ordered a retrial of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was sentenced to life in prison last summer in connection with the brutal crackdown against the 2011 revolution that left more than 800 civilians dead.&nbsp;</p><p>While this new trial has the potential to bring new charges against high-ranking members of the old regime who have so far escaped punishment, it could also significantly reduce Mubarak's sentence, and underscores the fact that major institutions in Egypt are still controlled by relics of the old regime.</p><p>The court did not give any...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jacob-lippincott" ><span class="byline">Jacob Lippincott</span></a>Thu, 17 Jan 2013 09:00:00 -0500Should Obama withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan?<img src="" /></P><p>With Afghan President Hamid&nbsp;Karzai meeting with President Obama in Washington on Friday, White House officials are saying for the first time that the U.S. might pull all of its soldiers out of Afghanistan after 2014 &mdash; the so-called zero option, which would come over the objection of military commanders. The Pentagon wants to leave up to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan to continue strengthening and training Afghan forces, and to keep al Qaeda from rebuilding in the war-torn country after the U.S. and its NATO allies withdraw at the end of 2014. (The U.S. has already reduced its troop strength...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Wed, 09 Jan 2013 10:40:00 -0500Syria's deepening humanitarian crisis: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>Nobody, it seems, was impressed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's speech on Sunday laying out his plan to end the bloody 22-month conflict pitting Assad's government against armed rebels trying to topple him. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dismissed Assad's proposal as a thinly veiled effort to stay in power, and the U.S. State Department said the speech shows that Assad is "detached from reality." But the unpalatable reality, says Simon Tisdall at Britain's <em>The Guardian</em>, is that "Assad is still in power, shows no sign of heeding demands to quit, and is far from beaten," and...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Wed, 09 Jan 2013 07:18:00 -0500'Palestine': What a new name means for the West Bank and Gaza<img src="" /></P><p>Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is flaunting the United Nations General Assembly's recognition of the Palestinian territories as a state, by announcing that his Palestinian Authority will be called the "State of Palestine" from now on. Abbas ordered that all official documents issued by his administration, which controls the West Bank, will be stamped with a new logo to mark the change. Israeli leaders are still fuming over Abbas' power play at the U.N. in November, as previous agreements established that a Palestinian state could only be created through a negotiated peace deal with Israel...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Tue, 08 Jan 2013 14:50:00 -0500How American inaction is killing Syrians<img src="" /></P><p>The international community is responsible for a myriad of failures in Syria, with 2012 marking a banner year of incompetence. Bad policy, no follow through, and the feckless leadership of President Obama have contributed greatly to the Syrian crisis, and there is little hope of course correction in 2013.</p><p>In January 2012, there was hope &mdash; no evidence, but hope &mdash; that Bashar al-Assad, the tyrannical president of Syria, might book a one-way flight to Dubai. The White House even began laying the groundwork for a victory lap by President Obama. Jay Carney, the president's spokesman, dismissively...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/david-w-brown" ><span class="byline">David W. Brown</span></a>Wed, 02 Jan 2013 08:40:00 -0500Dispatch from Cairo: Is Egypt ready for a return to normalcy?<img src="" /></P><p>CAIRO, EGYPT &mdash; Finally, Egypt has its first post-revolution constitution. The document was written by the Islamist government here, and Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, along with the majority of the country that approved Egypt's new governing document, surely have occasion to celebrate this victory.</p><p>However, despite the solid majority of 64 percent that backed Morsi's constitution, on the streets of Cairo it is clear political stability is a long way off.&nbsp;</p><p>Troublingly, experts estimate that this election had the worst voter turnout of any since the revolution, suggesting growing...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jacob-lippincott" ><span class="byline">Jacob Lippincott</span></a>Fri, 28 Dec 2012 08:15:00 -0500Is Bashar al-Assad nearly finished?<img src="" /></P><p>Syria's United Nations ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, told U.N. leaders in letters circulated Monday that opposition fighters might use chemical weapons against civilians, and try to blame the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. American officials, on the other hand, have said that intelligence sources suggest that Assad's military is getting so desperate that it's preparing deadly sarin gas for possible use against rebels &mdash; just one of a growing number of indications that Assad's grip on power is slipping. President Obama, who last week recognized a new opposition coalition as the legitimate...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Mon, 17 Dec 2012 15:00:00 -0500Syria's PR campaign failed -- and so did America's policy<img src="" /></P><p>This week will likely have proven to be the end of Bashar al-Assad, the tyrannical president of Syria. After a relentless military campaign against his own people, he has turned at last to directing Scud missiles&nbsp;at them, a crime against humanity to crown his previous feat of facilitating the deaths of some 50,000 Syrians.&nbsp;Even Russia, Syria's arms dealer, seemed to&nbsp;recognize&nbsp;the terminal status of the Syrian government on Thursday, though Moscow quickly backtracked on those statements.&nbsp;</p><p>Incredibly, as late as last year the Obama administration was&nbsp;still hailing&nbsp...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/david-w-brown" ><span class="byline">David W. Brown</span></a>Fri, 14 Dec 2012 11:50:00 -0500Has Bashar al-Assad lost control of Syria?<img src="" /></P><p>With rebels making gains across Syria, Russian leaders are saying for the first time that their ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is losing control and might lose his fight to retain power. The country's civil war has dragged on for nearly two years, costing an estimated 40,000 lives. Opposition fighters recently started seizing bigger and bigger chunks of turf in northern Syria, and gaining ground around Damascus, the capital and center of the regime's power. The rebels have also been making huge gains on the diplomatic front, as the U.S., Europe, and their allies recognized a newly formed...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Thu, 13 Dec 2012 15:08:00 -0500Can Egypt's opposition defeat Morsi's constitutional referendum?<img src="" /></P><p>The leaders of Egypt's opposition coalition don't think Saturday's planned referendum on a constitution written by Islamists is legitimate, but they're not boycotting the vote. Instead, they're urging Egyptians to go to the polls and vote "no." They're warning the government of embattled President Mohamed Morsi and his fellow Islamists that they'll call off their plans to participate unless several conditions are met, including full judicial supervision, adequate security, and the presence of independent monitors. Most analysts think the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies will be able to muster...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:31:00 -0500