Stories about middle east

Running away from our saviours

When George Fulton says he is returning to the UK for security reasons, it is understandable. When Pakistani men say they want to go to another country for the sake of someone else’s security, it’s unfortunate. When I read a story about reports on how scores of young men were applying for jobs to serve as security officers in a Middle Eastern country my first reaction was don’t these people realise that they are needed in their own country. Later, I came to know my maid’s son had applied for the same job. I was flabbergasted. She said: “It is better that ...

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Muammar Qaddafi: The coolest dictator ever!

Libya has turned into a warzone, the global media, led by Al Jazeera has gone rabid against Muammar Qaddafi. Twitter and Facebook have erupted with Qaddafi hatred – but hold on, there are a whole bunch of reasons why Qaddafi is really a great guy. 1. His dress sense. Who can hate someone who defines his own style, and sticks with it year-after-year? I personally think any man who can carry off swathes of cloth wrapped around him with a messy unkempt I’m-a-70s-rocker hairdo deserves some credit, no? 2. Call me Pakistani, but I find dictators who usurp power and hold onto it ...

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After Mubarak: Will Egypt survive democracy?

As dissidence swept the Middle East, events in Egypt turned sour. Hosni Mubarak was rumored to step down in a press conference yesterday but he disappointed many with his attempts to prolong his rule. Things in Egypt could have gotten really ugly. My guess was that crowds would march towards the Presidential Palace pressuring him to step down – and they did. What does democracy mean to Egyptians This movement is  based on political ideas as opposed to personalities. ElBaradei should draw an agreement with the consensus of leaders of the brotherhood, and the Ghad party among others, mapping demands for ...

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Egypt unrest: Where now from here?

As we go into the twelfth day of protests in Egypt, the only authority left in the country seems to be the people themselves. They have spoken and they will not be silenced till their demands are met. However, the fundamental changes to Egypt and the region’s political landscape are yet to be determined. Who will take over and where do we go from here? Similar to Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pehalvi, President Hosni Mubarak served as a friendly arbitrator of US relations and strained Israeli relations in the Middle East. To establish the future direction, ignoring US interests would ...

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Smells like revolution, but not in Pakistan

I recently visited Egypt with friends. Our trip started in Luxor (once known as the city of Thebes) where we gazed in awe at some of the wonders of the ancient world. We munched on falafels, sipped on mint tea, smoked shisha, and sailed along the Nile. We drove along the Sinai coast, snorkelled in the Red Sea, and sunbathed in Sharm el Sheikh. In the metropolis of Cairo we shopped at the Khan el Khalili market, visited the Egyptian Museum, and made difficult dinner choices from an array of international cuisines. We had a fantastic time – good ...

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Talking about revolution: The domino effect

Strolling down the streets of Cairo, I notice the elegant mansions lining the banks of the river Nile and the well-heeled Egyptians in cafes. But the rows of slums and crowds of animated, ragged beggars running alongside asking for “baksheesh” were hard to miss. The yawning gap between the disempowered and the prosperous is all too evident in this bustling and colourful city. But the Cairo I remember from a long ago visit hardly bears any resemblance to the pulsating and fearless Cairo of today. Crowds roaring back at low-flying fighter jets in an effort to intimidate; valiant protestors forcing police back as ...

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Will the real America please stand up?

Here’s an amusing little nugget: “Now a final note: The left blogosphere seems to have wigged out over the suggestion that George W Bush and the successful emergence of a secular, democratic Iraq has anything to do with all this. For starters, it is amusing to see that those voices, fresh from the smear on conservatives regarding the Arizona shooting, are now all about “causation.” But more seriously, had democracy failed in Iraq, had the country descended into chaos, and had Iraqis labouring for a secular, democratic Muslim country been killed and exiled, do we imagine this would have been ...

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Tolerance & understanding: Learning from Egypt

Just before Christmas last year, I passed a group of children arranging themselves in two straight lines outside the big church in F-8, Islamabad. They had a special program planned and were waiting to welcome their guests with flowers. I caught a glimpse of laughter and nervous excitement and nearly smiled, before seeing the police van, ambulance and fire engine parked on the curb. Then there was a sudden stab of panic and I wished I could stop to usher them all inside. “Please, God, let them be safe,” was all I could think on the way home. Is it ironic ...

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Israel’s weak debate

The ongoing stalemate in Middle East peace talks has led to another op-ed in the New York Times by Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the US. As is often the case with Oren’s op-eds, the piece is full of weak arguments, hyperbole and hypocrisy. The introduction sets the tone for the entire piece: Nearly 63 years after the United Nations recognized the right of the Jewish people to independence in their homeland — and more than 62 years since Israel’s creation — the Palestinians are still denying the Jewish nature of the state. This, like the entire article, tries to oversimplify an incredibly ...

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How far away is the next Israel-Lebanon war?

This is a question that has been discussed for years, arguably since the last open conflict in 2006 ended in an Israeli withdrawal and an expanded UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) mandate to keep peace in the southern part of the country. That conflict may have ended but its after-effects linger on. Long after the cluster munitions fired from both sides settled into the earth, many of them remain unexploded and continue to kill civilians. Long after the withdrawal, the near-universal consensus that Israel was not the clear ‘winner’ it intended to be and the Winograd Commission’s ...

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