Middle East

66 articles
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Iraq, ten years later: Sectarian assassins, posing as bodyguards, are baffled by an egg-laying rabbit. Translated by Jonathan Wright.

"The rabbit had been with us for a month and I had already spent two months with Salsal in this fancy villa in the north of the Green Zone. The villa was detached, surrounded by a high wall and with a gate fitted with a sophisticated electronic security system. We didn’t know when zero hour would come. Salsal was a professional, whereas they called me duckling because this was my first operation."

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An inquiry into the assassination of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister.

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The Syrian civil war crosses into Lebanon.

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Life and death in an underground economy.

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Zaranj: the bloody border of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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On living in Saudi Arabia.

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A profile of Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister.

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Iran’s sex-obsessed old guard reacts to a state where “the majority of the population is young.… Young people by nature are horny. Because they are horny, they like to watch satellite channels where there are films or programs they can jerk off to.… We have to do something about satellite television to keep society free from this horny jerk-off situation.”

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A clandestine meeting between Western journalists and Hezbollah fighters in a Beirut strip mall.

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The United States, which took a forceful stance on other Arab revolts, remained relatively passive in the face of the kingdom’s unrest and crackdown. To many who are familiar with the region, this came as no surprise: of all the Arab states that saw revolts last year, Bahrain is arguably the most closely tied to American strategic interests.

A report on Bahrain, the Arab Spring’s most ill-fated uprising.

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All violence is not like all other violence. Every Jewish death is not like every other Jewish death. To believe otherwise is to revive the old typological thinking about Jewish history, according to which every enemy of the Jews is the same enemy, and there is only one war, and it is a war against extinction, and it is a timeless war.
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A reporter makes it his mission to track down all 42 members of a platoon after their service in Iraq.

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The tiny, insular Tehran rap scene.

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How the contradiction-rich “country the size of Connecticut” that birthed Al-Jazeera has played an integral and surprising role in the revolutions of the Arab Spring.

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How an academic found herself imprisoned by Qaddafi.

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A motorcycle trip through Syria as it descends into chaos.

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Inside the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan:

The U.S. government has lied to itself, and to its citizens, about the nature and actions of successive Pakistani governments. Pakistani behavior over the past 20 years has rendered the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism effectively meaningless.

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An interview with the author.

"We live in a frightened time and people self-censor all the time and are afraid of going into some subjects because they are worried about violent reactions. That is one of the great damaging aspects of what has happened in the last 20 years. Someone asked me if I was afraid to write my memoirs. I told him: 'We have to stop drawing up accounts of fear! We live in a society in which people are allowed to tell their story, and that is what I do.' I am a writer. I write books."

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N.K.: So when you saw the photo of Neda Soltan, what did you think? M.A.: It was incredibly sad, due to many reasons. First we have proof that that scene was staged, and she was killed later, at a later point. This footage was shown for the first time by BBC. Our security officers and officials had no information of such a thing. but if BBC makes the complete footage from beginning to end available to us, we will analyze it, we will research it because we do search for those who are truly guilty of murdering this young lady. And also, a scene fairly close to this—almost a photocopy I would say—was repeated previously in a South American country—in a Latin American country. this is not a new scene. And they previously tell those who are due to participate, they tell them that “you will be participating in making a short footage, a short movie, a short clip.” After their participation is finished they take them to some place and they kill them. If BBC is willing to broadcast this film, this footage in its entirety, any viewer would be able to distinguish whether it is as we say or it is as they maintain.
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On a group of teenage believers raised in settlements on the West Bank:

They say it takes one generation to found a new language. These girls are a new language, believing that they belong to the land on which they were born, and sponsored by the government they despise, which pays for their roads and electricity.

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At a dinner party, the author meets one of Afghanistan’s last remaining maskhara  an entertainer, thief and murderer.

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The truth and consequences of reporting from a war zone.

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The story of the Abbottabad raid, in detail.

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Yemen on the brink of hell:

In a sense, south Yemen itself offers a grim cautionary tale about the events now unfolding in Taiz and across the country. Until 1990, when the two Yemens merged, South Yemen was a beacon of development and order. Under the British, who ruled the south as a colony until 1967, and the Socialists, who ran it for two decades afterward, South Yemen had much higher literacy rates than the north. Child marriage and other degrading tribal practices came to an end; women entered the work force, and the full facial veil became a rarity. It was only after Ali Abdullah Saleh imposed his writ that things began to change. When the south dared to rebel against him in 1994, Saleh sent bands of jihadis to punish it. The north began treating the south like a slave state, expropriating vast plots of private and public land for northerners, along with the oil profits. Tribal practices returned. Violent jihadism began to grow.

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In Afghanistan and other zones of international crisis with John Kerry:

Why, then, does Kerry bother? Why is he racing back and forth to put out the fires being set by a serial arsonist? I asked him about this on the short flight from Kabul to Islamabad. Kerry tried to put the best possible face on what he had learned. Despite the warlords in Kabul, he said, Karzai had appointed some talented officials at the provincial and district levels. “It’s a mixed bag,” he concluded gamely. Kerry knew Karzai’s failings as well as anyone, but he was not prepared to abandon Afghanistan’s president, because he was not prepared to abandon Afghanistan. But why not?

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On the brother of the Sultan of Brunei, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, who has “probably gone through more cash than any other human being on earth.”

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With Osama dead, U.S. intelligence is zeroing in on the remaining most dangerous terrorists alive, and one man is at the top of the list. Of the eighteen terror attacks attempted in the United States over the past two years, Anwar al-Awlaki’s fingerprints are on eight of them. The moderate turned radical is eloquent, he is popular— and he’s American.

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On the Birthright Israel program, which sends young American Jews on a tour of Israel free of charge, thanks to massive funding from both the Israeli government and philanthropists like the conservative casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

A new era is dawning for Birthright. What began as an identity booster has become an ideology machine, pumping out not only Jewish baby-makers but defenders of Israel. Or that’s the hope.

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In the early years of the Iraq war, the U.S. military developed a technology so secret that soldiers would refuse to acknowledge its existence, and reporters mentioning the gear were promptly escorted out of the country. That equipment—a radio-frequency jammer—was upgraded several times, and eventually robbed the Iraq insurgency of its most potent weapon, the remote-controlled bomb.
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When a CIA operation in Pakistan went bad, leaving three men dead, the episode offered a rare glimpse inside a shadowy world of espionage. It also jeopardized America’s most critical outpost in the war against terrorism.

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The year of the revolution, from behind the camera.

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Since being revealed as a CIA operative and selling Blackwater, Erik Prince has set to work building U.A.E. a mercenary army, made up heavily of Colombian and South African troops, to be used “if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.”

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The unintended consequences of American funding in Pakistan.

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Why has the Palestinian cause failed to produce a Martin Luther King-like leader with a platform based on non-violence?

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The sudden, bloody transformation of normal citizens into rebels.

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No one really knows the script for days like these, and neither did we.
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The surreal afterlife of the once-ascendant Dubai, where “the legacy of oil has made everything worthless.”

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On the future of the liberal Israeli newspaper Haartez.

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One of most popular Libyan figures amongst Western intellectuals and democracy advocates is… Qaddafi’s second son, Saif.

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On Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, “the permanent revolutionary,” and his son Seif.

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Omar Mohammed (most certainly not his real name), a former Iraqi cop, is widely believed to be the most skilled and prolific terrorist hunter alive. Recently, he personally killed two of Al-Qaeda’s senior commanders in Iraq. He has already been shot and blown up, and with U.S. forces on their way out, his chances of survival in Baghdad are slim.

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How an Iraqi expat conned the United States, without ever once being interviewed by an American official, into making the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq.”

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The story of three months spent training reporters in Saudi Arabia, where the press is far from free. “I suspected that behind the closed gates of Saudi society there was a social revolution in the making. With some guidance, I thought, these journalists could help inspire change.”

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An opinion piece on the structural causes of unrest in Egypt; the business fraternity, globalization, and the fate of Egyptian women.

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On the Cairo knifing of 82-year-old Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz and its aftermath.

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February 1st, 2011. Tahrir Square, Cairo.

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Reporting from Kuwait on the week of its liberation, a brutal account of the atrocities committed during seven months of Iraqi occupation.

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A primer on Egypt’s political landscape.

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A primer on Peretz, longtime owner/editor of The New Republic, committed Zionist, and author of the line “Muslim life is cheap.”

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The diary of a Scranton, PA National Guardsmen tasked with guarding the highest profile prisoner in U.S history: a surprisingly amiable Saddam Hussein.

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On gay life in Saudi Arabia.

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Last year, an Mossad hit squad traveled to Dubai to assassinate a Hamas leader. They completed their mission, but were later humiliated when a twenty-seven minute video of their movements was posted online. How their cover got blown.

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Anatomy of an international incident; how three idealistic young American hikers wandered across the Kurdistan-Iran border and ended up in Iranian prison charged with spying.

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The amiable international arms dealer and the sting.

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Published on the eve of Iran’s 2009 presidential election and subsequent protests, a look at the booze-fueled, hijab-less underground party scene in the capital.

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How to spend $1.2 million per month on your laundry in Kuwait; the system of kickbacks and non-competitive contracts that made Halliburton/KBR the near-exclusive contractor in the Iraq war zone.

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Nineteenth century Muslim-Christian hero Abd el-Kader, the “Algerian George Washington.”

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Foreign policy as architecture; how embassies went from lavish social hubs to reinforced strongholds.

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A year after dozens died protesting his election and hundreds more were imprisoned, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad grants a rare interview to an American journalist.

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An interview with an ex-CIA agent who is a world expert on the history of car bombing.

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The battle to contain the Asian tiger mosquito–one suburban, above-ground pool at a time.

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The daily life of Saddam Hussein.

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In the wake of 9/11, terrorist networks moved their recruitment and training efforts online, giving birth to Jihad-geeks like Irhabi_007.

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Seized passports, debtor’s prison, and slave labor prop up a Disneyland in the desert now in decline.

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Al-Jazeera English dominated the international coverage of the 2008-2009 Gaza war. And now it’s poised to invade North America.