Near & Middle East

Washington is now ‘involved’. Following a string of high-profile victories by Syrian government forces, the Obama Administration has announced that it will begin distributing ‘non-lethal aid’ to rebel factions. Although its justifications include four uses of chemical weapons by Syria, it is clear that Assad’s renewed momentum, with Russian and Iranian support, has changed Obama’s outlook. (More…)

June is shaping to be a very eventful month. The crisis in Syria continues to swell, with no end in sight. The dilemmas facing the United States, Israel and Europe seem to be getting more complicated by the day. Iran will hold its next presidential election, and with the departure of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from that office the United States will be faced with a new set of questions, depending on the outcome. (More…)

Truer words are rarely spoken: “…the State of Israel is already a bi-national state – a state in which two nationalities reside, Jews and Arabs. The advocates of the establishment of a Palestinian state … simply oppose the addition of any more Arabs to the existing Arab population of the State of Israel. (More…)

There’s only one word that can raise the blood pressure of apologists for the Israeli occupation. That word is “boycott.” Their hysterical reaction to Stephen Hawking’s decision to pull out of a Jerusalem conference is a perfect example. (More…)

The two-state solution has one to two years left before it is finished. So stated John Kerry to Congress. That the Secretary of State even hints at the possibility reinforces the idea that a new era is upon us, which many have been proclaiming for some time. The two-state solution is in fact dead. The question is where to go from here. (More…)

Of all the empty statements that US leaders have made about the Israel-Palestine conflict, “We can’t want peace more than the parties themselves” is the worst. The most egregious part of it is that it absolves Washington for its responsibility for the current state of affairs. In fact, if the Israeli occupation is Frankenstein’s monster, its mad scientist creator is entirely clothed in the Stars and Stripes. (More…)

The Shah inspired a new kind of pluralism.  Nationalism, secularism, Islam and communism all fed off the resentment fostered by the Pahlavi regime. “What became the Islamic Revolution occurred because a coalition of many shades of political opinions took to the streets, demanding a share in decision-making and a better distribution of wealth,” observed Asef Bayat. (More…)

It would be wonderful if real life were like a Hollywood movie, where we have the good who are pure ,and the bad who are irredeemable. In Syria, life is all too real and the combatants are complex figures. You’d hardly know that, though, from the rhetoric coming from the United States. (More…)

Tehran’s modernization continued into the Second Pahlavi period. The redesigned city, with its new pattern of streets, prepared the urban setting for the first comprehensive master plan of the capitol. In 1966, the Iranian government asked the American firm Gruen Associates to draw up a comprehensive plan for the city, together with celebrated Iranian architect Abdolaziz Farmanfarmaian. (More…)

When Barack Obama landed in Israel, he pointed out its similarity with the United States. “We stand together because we share a common story — patriots determined ‘to be a free people in our land,’” he said. “Pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies.” (More…)

Tehran is synonymous with turmoil. Since the 19th century, the city has been subject to everything from bouts of nationalism, to monarchism and religious revivals. This history intersects with a growing population, of distinct cultural and geographic origins, that emigrated from other parts of the country, after forced modernization during the 1930s. (More…)

“You’re on your own.” Behind all his words of support and friendship, the message Barack Obama delivered in both Jerusalem and Ramallah this week was clear. “Pivot to Asia,” would likely have been its most appropriate title. If only the US President had been that specific. (More…)