Greater Middle East

Turkey: re-escalation in Kurdish conflict

From DPA, April 3:

ANKARA - Three people were killed and one badly injured when suspected Kurdish assailants threw Molotov cocktails at a bus in Istanbul Sunday night, the NTV television station reported.

Vatican confab "rehabilitates" Crusades

How heartwarming to see the new Pontiff lining up with Europe's current Islamophobic zeitgeist. From the London Times, March 20:

Vatican change of heart over 'barbaric' Crusades
The Vatican has begun moves to rehabilitate the Crusaders by sponsoring a conference at the weekend that portrays the Crusades as wars fought with the "noble aim" of regaining the Holy Land for Christianity.

US "left nationalism" and the cartoon crisis

Our contributor Mahmood Ketabchi offers another critique of the US left's reponse to the "cartoon controversy." Interestingly, he finds reflexive support for any forces ostensibly opposing the US to be a paradoxical form of nationalism, that places the United States at the center of the moral universe. He explains his term "left nationalism" in a footnote:

US to fund Syria "regime change"

As we recently noted in the case of Iran, the Bush administration seems divided between Pentagon hardliners who seek a military solution and State Department pragmatists who would pursue a peaceful "regime change" scenario in Syria. But these are not mutually exclusive options, of course. In most recent cases of Washington effecting a power transfer in a targeted country—from Nicaragua in 1989 to Yugoslavia in 2000—a combination of external military pressure and internal political support was brought to bear.

The cartoon controversy deconstructed

The overwhelming majority of those protesting the notorious Danish cartoons have, of course, never seen them. The same goes for the overwhelming majority of those defending them. Whatever one thinks of them, there is a strong case that newspapers by this point have a responsibility to print them just to let their readers see what is at the center of a global protest wave. But, with depressing predictability, in the US and much of Europe this falls to the ideological conservative press, which then get to smirk and gloat about how the rest of the world is too intimidated by the Muslim menace. A sneering case in point is Human Events, "the National Conservative Weekly," which has all twelve cartoons on its website.

Arab dissent in cartoon controversy

From Reuters, via The Star of Malaysia, Feb. 14 (emphasis added):

BEIRUT - Uproar in the Islamic world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad has prompted many in the Middle East to ask why Muslims have rarely mobilised to address other pressing issues such as democracy and human rights.

Violence escalates in cartoon imbroglio

Violence continues to grow throughout the Muslim world in protests against the anti-Islamic cartoons published in Denmark. In Nairobi, police opened fire as hundreds of protesters advanced on the Danish ambassador's residence, leaving one injured. Another was killed and four more injured in an apparent accident involving the ambulance taking the wounded protester away. (AP, Feb. 10) A German journalist from ARD Radio was also reportedly assaulted by protesters in Nairobi, and had his car windows smashed as he tried to leave the scene. (Expatica, Feb. 10)

Propaganda and the cartoon controversy, Pt. 2

An informative and insightful, if somewhat problematic, commentary from Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly. Anjali Kamat argues that the cartoons are not merely "offensive" but propagandistic, and that leaving racism out of the simplistic "free speech/Islamic intolerance" equation is to miss the critical point:

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