“The Arab Awakening of 2011 did not usher in an era of democracy, nor could it. The institutions of civil society were too weak; the political culture of winner-take-all too strong; sectarian differences too powerful; and a belief in pluralism too inchoate. Instead, the awakening produced political vacuums and a struggle over identity.”
— Dennis Ross
11:16 am • 12 September 2014 • 1 note
“I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, 15 of them with The New York Times. I interviewed numerous individuals deemed by the U.S. government to be terrorists and traveled with armed groups, including units of al-Qaida, labeled as terrorist organizations. When I reported the statements and activities of these individuals and groups, U.S. officialdom often made little distinction between them and me. This was true during the wars in Central America. It was true in the Middle East. And it was true when I covered global terrorism. There was no law at the time that permitted the government, because of my work as a reporter, to order the military to seize and detain me. Now there is. This law, if it is not struck down, will essentially replace our civilian judiciary with a military one. Those targeted under this law will not be warned beforehand that they will be arrested. They will not have a chance to get a lawyer. They will not see the inside of a courtroom. They will simply vanish.”
— Chris Hedges
9:32 pm • 2 April 2014 • 132 notes
“I get people like that coming to me for help all the time. Kilis is a zoo. But now I tell them tourism season is over.”
— A fixer on the Syria-Turkey border says of war tourists coming to see and experience the Syria conflict
11:12 am • 8 November 2013 • 1 note
The Middle East has the dimmest view of the United Nations
A median of 56% in seven Middle Eastern and North African countries had an unfavorable view of the United Nations.
2:10 pm • 26 September 2013 • 12 notes
AFP's developing public Google document of death tolls in Iraq's unrest
May 24th is the last day AFP recorded as a day with no death tolls. The days since have included one or more deaths as neighboring conflicts and sectarianism brews up violence in Iraq.
10:28 am • 23 September 2013
Sectarian violence reignites in an Iraqi town
Another personal post of reporting with shortformblog:
Villagers in Diyala Province saw much death during the worst of Iraq’s carnage over the past decade, but they say what is happening now is far worse.
The orange archway at the entrance to this farming community welcomes visitors in “peace.” The lush palm groves are heavy with ripe dates. For generations, Shiite and Sunni families worked the land, earning a living from their sheep and cows, their wheat fields and lemon trees.
On a recent morning, though, the only talk was of how to stop them from killing one another. The latest strategy: new concrete walls with separate entryways for the different sects.
“So there’s a Sunni way in, and a Shiite way in,” Abu Jassim, a Sunni resident who recently fled his home after sectarian revenge killings by Shiite gunmen, explained to a local representative in Parliament.
And now on Saturday September 21st, Reuters reports at least 65 were killed in an attack that involved three bombs at a Sadr City Shiite funeral gathering. While the focus is on Syria, the ongoing divisive and highly sectarian violence in Iraq is alarming as it confirms that Syria’s war is continuing to inflame conflicts in neighboring countries (also signal in Lebanon, and so on).
In Iraq, there’s so much.
ISIS, al-Qaida, rebel and militant fighters from Iraq are crossing in and out from Syria, constantly bringing the Syrian conflict into the nation. There’s the worrying sectarianism that seems to grow and grow not only as a seemingly permanent line of divide but as in deadly violence.
This is something to watch, especially after America’s spent so much time in there. And Syria is affecting neighboring countries more and more than we think it is.
9:14 am • 23 September 2013 • 31 notes
“As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that NATO’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.”
— Writer Patrick Cockburn gets to the point on Libya after 2011. Read it.
9:07 pm • 12 September 2013
“To me, the central question isn’t, “What are the risks of cruise missile strikes on Syria?” I grant that those risks are considerable, from errant missiles to Hezbollah retaliation. It’s this: “Are the risks greater if we launch missiles, or if we continue to sit on our hands?” Let’s be humble enough to acknowledge that we can’t be sure of the answer and that Syria will be bloody whatever we do. We Americans are often so self-absorbed as to think that what happens in Syria depends on us; in fact, it overwhelmingly depends on Syrians. Yet on balance, while I applaud the general reluctance to reach for the military toolbox, it seems to me that, in this case, the humanitarian and strategic risks of inaction are greater. We’re on a trajectory that leads to accelerating casualties, increasing regional instability, growing strength of Al Qaeda forces, and more chemical weapons usage.”
— Nicholas Kristof says on Syria
9:55 pm • 8 September 2013 • 159 notes