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Middle East in the Media January 14 – 20 2013

Weekly reading list


Al Qaeda

  • Foreign Policy: Al Qaeda is alive in Africa (Daniel Byman, January 17)
  • "In Mali, U.S. concern is heightened by reports that some among the wide range of local jihadi groups like Ansar Dine have ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). If groups in Mali and other local fighters are best thought of as part of al Qaeda, then an aggressive effort is warranted. But if these groups, however brutal -- and despite the allegiances to the mother ship they claim -- are really only fighting to advance local or regional ambitions, then the case for direct U.S. involvement is weak."

  • Reuters: Veteran jihadist claims bloody Algeria siege for al Qaeda (Lamine Chikhi and Abdelaziz Boumzar, January 20)
  • "A veteran Islamist fighter claimed responsibility on behalf of al Qaeda for the Algerian hostage crisis, a regional website reported on Sunday, tying the bloody desert siege to France's intervention across the Sahara in Mali."

  • The New York Times: Jihadists’ Surge in North Africa Reveals Grim Side of Arab Spring (Robert F. Worth, January 19)
  • "Coming just four months after an American ambassador was killed by jihadists in Libya, those assaults have contributed to a sense that North Africa — long a dormant backwater for Al Qaeda — is turning into another zone of dangerous instability, much like Syria, site of an increasingly bloody civil war. The mayhem in this vast desert region has many roots, but it is also a sobering reminder that the euphoric toppling of dictators in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt has come at a price."

The Kurds

  • Bloomberg: Turkey and its rebel Kurds may want peace this time (Hugh Pope, January 16)
  • "Instead of engulfing the country with Kurdish anger, Turkish cynicism and a new cycle of violence, the killings have revealed the depth of public and political support behind efforts to negotiate an end to three decades of insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, better known as the PKK. "


  • Foreign Policy: Mutiny in Kabul (Adam Zagorin, January 17)
  • "Private guards responsible for protecting what may be the most at-risk U.S. diplomatic mission in the world -- the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan -- say security weaknesses have left it dangerously vulnerable to attack. "


  • The Economist: Which way for Binyamin Netanyahu? (January 19)

    "All the pollsters say that the party led by Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s incumbent prime minister, is set to win the most seats in a general election on January 22nd, and that he will probably, after the haggling that usually lasts several weeks, keep his post at the head of a nationalist-religious coalition government."

  • The Guardian: Obama's dysfunctional relationship with Netanyahu likely to trundle on (Chris McGreal, January 20)
  • "As Obama begins his second term there is little sign of the determination to break the deadlock in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict when he took office in 2008, which he then characterised as an open sore afflicting the whole Middle East."

  • The Guardian: Arab gloom as Israel shifts rightwards (Ian Black, January 20)
  • "Arabs are awaiting Israel's parliamentary elections with a mixture of apprehension, indifference and an understandable preoccupation with their own turbulent affairs at a time of extraordinary change."


  • The New York Times: Syrian rebels find hearts and minds elusive (Anne Barnard, January 15)
  • "As the Syrian civil war nears the two-year mark, the opponents of President Bashar al-Assad and their international backers have failed to win the backing of many government supporters, including minorities, a slice of the population whose help is essential not only to resolve the conflict, but also to keep Syria from becoming a failed state, analysts say. "

  • The Guardian: Syrian rebels accuse jihadist groups of trying to hijack revolution (Martin Chulov, January 17)
  • "Rebel commanders who fight under the Free Syrian Army banner say they have become increasingly angered by the behaviour of jihadist groups, especially the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra, who they say aim to hijack the goals of the revolution."

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