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Middle East In the Media October 22 – 28 2012

Weekly reading list:

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Hajj Pilgrimage

  • BBC: Mecca seeks "green Hajj" (Ahmed Maher, 28 October)
  • "Mecca during the Hajj may have become one of the most polluted cities in the world. All the waste from food, all the fumes from coaches and cars travelling around the city, all the energy used for powering hotels have a damaging environmental impact."

US & Al Qaeda

  • The New York Times: Al Qaeda-inspired groups, minus goal of striking US (Robert F. Worth, October 27)
  • "...But there is an important distinction: most of the newer jihadist groups have local agendas, and very few aspire to strike directly at the United States as Osama bin Laden’s core network did. They may interfere with American interests around the world — as in Syria, where the presence of militant Islamists among the rebels fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad has inhibited American efforts to support the uprising. But that is a far cry from terrorist plots aimed at the United States itself."

Afghanistan

  • Foreign Policy: The Not-So-Funny Papers: Exclusive cartoons from the Afghan mujahideen. (Matthew Trevithick, October 26)
  • "These political cartoons, never before published in the Western press, tell the story of the early days of the resistance against the Soviets in Afghanistan. They are part of a collection at the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University, which is compiling a record of the country's modern history, with a focus on the last 30 years. The collection encompasses everything from 1950s USAID agricultural studies to communist-era propaganda to Taliban-regime proclamations."

  • The New York Times: Reporting a fearful rift between Afghans and Americans (Alissa J. Rubin, October 24)
  • "How far is Kabul from the war? These days, if you drive south or west, no more than an hour and a half. You can go and be back for dinner — if you aren’t kidnapped or blown up. In the case of central Wardak Province, a place that has never fully been out of Taliban hands, it’s just 35 miles or so west of the capital."

Iran

  • Al Monitor: Why Khamenei will compromise (Meir Javedanfar, October 25)
  • "Khamenei is no Mohammad Mossadegh. In other words, he has failed to convert his nuclear policies into a nationalistic consensus issue as Mossadegh was able to do with his oil-nationalization policies. This is due to numerous reasons. Khamenei does not have the charisma and, more importantly, the nationalist credentials of the former prime minister, who was overthrown by the CIA and MI6 in 1953."

Iraq

  • Foreign Policy: The Backfire in Baghdad (Ben van Heuvelen, October 26)
  • "On Oct. 18, 2011, Exxon signed six exploration contracts in Kurdistan. The move represented a seismic shift in Iraq's balance of power: Exxon was by far the largest company to align with the Kurds, and it openly betrayed Baghdad to do so. Iraq's top oil official, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani, had warned Exxon that signing with the Kurds would be illegal, and constituted a breach of the West Qurna 1 contract. But Exxon's lawyers disagreed."

Israel

  • Al Monitor: Obama's Israel policy failure ensures settlement expansion (Geoffrey Aronson, October 25)
  • "Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the merger of his ruling Likud Party with its coalition partner "Israel is Our House” (Israel Beitanu), headed by foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. The deal gives Netanayhu a lock on the premiership in the election scheduled for early 2013, and cements in place an Israeli government committed to settlement expansion and the enfeeblement of the tottering Palestinian Authority headed by the long-suffering Mahmoud Abbas."

Lebanon

  • The Economist: Lebanon and Syria: Peering into the abyss (October 27)
  • "As Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, fights for survival in a conflict that increasingly looks like the vicious warfare between Lebanon’s sectarian militias a generation ago, many Lebanese have feared that the bloodshed would eventually spill across their meekly defended border. A deep polarisation adds to the sense of doom. "

Syria

  • Reuters: Village cafe shootout spells trouble for Assad (Khaled Yacoub Oweis, October 23)
  • "Recent events around Qardaha, however, suggest to some observers, including Western diplomats, that clan rivalries, thousands of deaths among Alawite fighters and economic crisis could break the loyalty of leading Alawite commanders, even as the community finds itself increasingly a target of rebel anger."

  • BBC: Syria crisis: Discord grows between Islamist and secular rebels (Lina Sinjab, October 25)
  • "Liwaa al-Islam is a conservative group applying Islamic Sharia. And this is what many in Syria - including many in the the opposition - do not want to see. "They have set up a Sharia court and they prosecute whoever they suspect as an agent of the regime or amongst the security themselves. In most cases they are killed," Um Ahmad said.Liwaa al-Islam is getting most of its funding from Saudi Arabia, mostly from Syrians living in the kingdom."

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