Arab Spring Not Quite in the Air

BEIRUT – Taking a cue from the 1968 uprising in former Czechoslovakia, many pundits are wondering whether the new breeze of democracy in various Middle East countries is an Arab spring. The jury is still out on the question, but many hope that the "spring" such as it is does not lead on to gloomy … Continue reading “Arab Spring Not Quite in the Air”

Hezbollah May Hold the Key in Lebanon

BEIRUT – Ever since the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri earlier this month, the radical Shi’ite group Hezbollah has been much sought after by politicians opposed to the Syrian presence. Hezbollah, a group that few took seriously when it was created with the help of Iran and Syria in early 1980s, is … Continue reading “Hezbollah May Hold the Key in Lebanon”

Saudi Democratization to Include Women?

DUBAI – When conservative Saudi Arabia announced last year that it would hold partial municipal elections in which people for the first time could vote directly, the reaction of many in and out of the country was nothing less than shock. Now reform-minded activists are pushing the envelope even further by announcing that several women … Continue reading “Saudi Democratization to Include Women?”

Afghanistan Baiting the Well-Heeled Diaspora to Return

DUBAI – While the influential U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan predicts terrorist attacks before the presidential elections next week, he urged investors not to shy away from the war-ravaged country. "Enemies of Afghanistan’s success have initiated an effort against the Oct. 9 presidential elections," Zalmay Khalilzad told a gathering of the Afghan community in Dubai late … Continue reading “Afghanistan Baiting the Well-Heeled Diaspora to Return”

‘Garden of Eden’ Has Become a Mess

BAGHDAD – The Bible suggests that the Iraqi marshlands were once the Garden of Eden. But the garden, if it ever existed, is long gone, and so, mostly, are the marshlands. These marshlands once spread over 20,000 sq. km (7,722 sq. mi.) in the south of Iraq. They formed around the basin where the Tigris … Continue reading “‘Garden of Eden’ Has Become a Mess”

Doubts Rise Over Partial Elections in Iraq

BAGHDAD – Iraqi leaders and officials are getting jittery over the now-partial elections proposed for January next year. The government of U.S.-appointed prime minister Iyad Allawi has said, with U.S. and British backing, that elections will be held as planned even if people in areas under rebel control do not vote. That is a growing … Continue reading “Doubts Rise Over Partial Elections in Iraq”

Unfettered Iraqi Media Denies Being Biased

BAGHDAD – Since the fall of Saddam Hussein and his dictatorial regime last year, one of the clearest signs that a new Iraq is born is the flourishing media business. But their coverage, and that of international Arabic-language satellite channels such as al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera, has been subject to much debate. U.S. and many Iraqi … Continue reading “Unfettered Iraqi Media Denies Being Biased”

Iraqi Rebels Expand Area of Control

BAGHDAD – Armed groups and foreign terrorists have established new camps in central Iraq as government forces attack rebels in the north and south, officials say. The reports follow an admission by U.S. central command chief Gen. John Abizaid that there are more areas in Iraq under rebel control today than there were last year. … Continue reading “Iraqi Rebels Expand Area of Control”

Sadr City Peace Talks Fall Apart

BAGHDAD – The new outbreak of violence in Baghdad has shattered ceasefire talks between Shia militants and the Iraqi government. Following a successful if fragile ceasefire in the holy city Najaf, it was hoped that talks in the impoverished Sadr City of Baghdad would become a model for further negotiations between the government and followers … Continue reading “Sadr City Peace Talks Fall Apart”

Iraq: A Real Crossfire for Journalists

BAGHDAD – How does a journalist report from a country like Iraq, where the dynamics of the situation and the danger level change so rapidly? That question is put often to journalists. There is no simple answer, but the following words come to mind: flexibility, caution, experience, judgment, and calm. Few journalists rely on a … Continue reading “Iraq: A Real Crossfire for Journalists”