Why in the world is Donald Trump undoing decades of US policy on Jerusalem?

It is almost impossible to see the logic behind Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and possibly moving the US embassy to Israel there – before it even unveils what’s certain to be a controversial plan for Middle East peace, which will be tough enough to sell. The White House is probably betting that, despite the noises in the Arab world against such a move, their key allies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt will limit their opposition – already publicly voiced – to lip service, as they are all interested in protecting relations with Trump over more urgent issues, such as fighting militancy ...

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Varanasi: The city of the living dead and nirvana

“Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” – Mark Twain I’d say that Twain was quite accurate in his description of this eerie city, founded 5,000 years ago by the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva. That is, if you believe in legends. Modern historians more accurately date Varanasi, also known as Benares, to around 3,000 years old, which still makes it one of the oldest cities in the world. I’d love to write a blog post about my entire experience in India, but as I’d like ...

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Is it really the end of the Islamic State?

On November 21, 2017, media outlets reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared the end of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Soon after, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met with Syria’s Bashar al Assad, and then with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, all three intent on reinforcing their hegemonies. Regime change in Syria now seems even more unlikely, not to mention justice for the victims of Assad’s war crimes. Erdogan will continue to silence opposition and allocate more resources in his offensive against the Kurds, while Putin strengthens ties with two allies in the Middle East. Thus, even without the IS, the ...

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Dubai – a city of countless distractions and all the pleasures money can buy, yet no sense of congruity

As I stood in the line behind the passport control counter, a security personnel menacingly shouted at a person ahead of me, who had the unmistakeable look of a working class labourer, “Gulf resident?” Before the poor guy had the chance to get his bearings right, the security personnel added perhaps the only two Urdu words that he knew, “Chalo niklo!” (Get out!) The person quickly gathered himself and hurried in the direction pointed by the security personnel, like a flock of sheep guided with the urgency and indifference of a shepherd. The line we were standing in was for visit visa holders. ...

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A life sentence for Ratko Mladic, the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, is no cause for celebration

The Bosnian war is one of my earliest childhood memories. I remember watching the coverage on our small TV screen in our living room. It was the 90s – I must have been seven or eight-years-old – and I distinctly remember it was the first time I saw my dad cry. It was around this time that I also remember some newcomers to our class at school. I had overheard one of my teachers saying, “Exciting day today, the Bosnian refugees are joining!” He seemed genuinely jubilant, in a kind and anxious sort of way. I will never forget the bright blue parka coat ...

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Announcing a bounty for beheading Deepika Padukone proves that India is not as ‘democratic’, ‘liberal’ and ‘tolerant’ as it claims to be

The ideology of the Taliban is in an expansionist mode –  it is no longer confined to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but has started capturing territory in India as well. And it is being ably assisted by none other than the ruling party in Delhi. How else can you explain the announcement of head money for the director and the lead actress of the upcoming movie, Padmavati, by a senior member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)? How else will you explain the open endorsement by some members of the BJP for the fringe militant caste group, Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which has threatened to create ...

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The truth about why Saudi Arabia and Israel are forming an alliance to destabilise Lebanon

Despite Saudi Arabia’s tough rhetoric and brutal assault against its neighbour, Yemen (the poorest country in the region), the unfortunate reality is that Saudi Arabia is not the strongman it has hopelessly painted itself to be. This isn’t conjecture, nor is it an attempt to needlessly bolster and promote regional rivals such as Iran, as has become the trend among anti-imperialist  commentators. Yes, Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich country who uses its money to great effect on the international level. Saudi Arabia’s relationships with the nuclear powers, Russia and China, have also been intensifying. However, what the media won’t tell you is that there is actually ...

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Kathmandu: The city of dogs, falafels, singing bowls and unexpected magic

While reading about the countries where one can get visa on arrival, Nepal suddenly caught my attention. Nepal is both affordable and beautiful, which was exactly what I was looking for. A switch went off in my mind and I became ceaselessly preoccupied with my upcoming travel. I didn’t know then that this trip to Nepal would leave a lasting imprint on my mind. The same way I did not know that the spicy topping on my favourite enchiladas, from the best café in Kathmandu, would forever hold my taste buds. Before I departed, I already secured a confirmation email ...

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A year after the most important election: Donald Trump and a series of unfortunate events

Donald Trump shocked the world last November by defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential election, making him next in line to take the title of the President of the United States (POTUS).   He came into power after running an extremely negative campaign where he belittled all his competitors by calling them derogatory names, vilified the diversity America is known for, and was openly misogynistic. Nobody, not even the Republicans, expected Trump to actually win, since Clinton had been projected to win by a wide margin. The reasons for his victory, attributed largely to racism and misogyny present in ...

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No, my ripped jeans do not allow you to believe that it is your right to harass and rape me

They are just clothes, I tell my father, when he passes a comment about my ripped jeans. He doesn’t understand – perhaps he never will. I run my hands along the tiny rips, feeling bits of skin and wondering if the freedom I feel is the oppression they want me to see. I see my legs in a pair of jeans, they see skin that is fighting the patriarchy. I see my choice, they see my rebellion. On November 3, 2017, Egyptian lawyer, Nabih al-Wahsh, stated that any woman wearing ripped jeans deserves to be harassed and raped. He ...

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