Libya: The war nobody can win | Al Jazeera

While the world’s attention has been fixed on the appalling developments in Syria and Iraq, Libya has quietly mirrored the Levant’s transformation into a proxy battlefield. A tug-of-war has emerged between the country’s two rival governments for control of key institutions, military supremacy, and ultimately legitimacy.

Most countries recognise the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) as Libya’s legitimate legislature, yet the HoR is haemorrhaging support. It is becoming increasingly marginalised as it hunkers down in its safe house a thousand miles from the capital while domestic support shifts towards Operation Dawn, a Misrata alliance that controls Tripoli and has been able to administer it semi-competently. [Read more]

From Jimmy Carter, a Rebuke to Egypt | New York Times

Over three decades, the Carter Center in Atlanta, led by former President Jimmy Carter, has established itself as a respected advocate for human rights and democracy. It has sent observers to 97 elections in 38 countries, worked to persuade governments to respect freedoms and human rights, and supported citizens who defend those principles. But it has thrown in the towel on Egypt.

In a statement last week, the center announced that it would close its Cairo office after nearly three years and would not send experts to monitor parliamentary elections later this year. “The current environment in Egypt is not conducive to genuine democratic elections and civic participation,” Mr. Carter said as part of the statement, which warned that political campaigning in an already polarized situation “could be extremely difficult, and possibly dangerous, for critics of the regime.” [Read more]

On the student protest movement in Egyptian universities since the military coup | Middle East Monitor

As the new academic year starts in Egyptian universities, a new wave of student demonstrations and activities condemning the military coup and demanding the release of detained students has begun. This is an effort to continue the work started by the students last year after the deposition of the democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi.

The following figures are the latest statistics charting the number of students killed, wounded, and detained since the military coup on July 3rd 2013 until October 14th 2014. [Read more]

Turkish forces crackdown on Kurdish Kobane protests | Middle East Eye

Fires blaze, as the heavy black smoke of burnt tyres combined with thick white clouds of tear gas in the district of Beyoglu, a neighbourhood here with a large Kurdish population. At the entrances to Kurdish-majority streets, heavily armoured police tanks and water cannon trucks hover, seemingly ever-present – a warning against the inevitable.

Protesters gather on the streets around dusk screaming for the Syrian town of Kobane, a Kurdish district on the Syrian-Turkey border, currently under Islamic State attack. They throw rocks at Turkish police and are met with high-powered streams of water and quick-release tear gas canisters. [Read More]

The children, the pain and the piano | Times of Israel

Late last night I wrote a Facebook post about a beautiful concert by the amazing pianist Liz Magnes at her home in Jaffa, where the goal was to raise money for the children of Gaza.

This morning at eight o’clock my friend Michel called and urged me to remove it as it had, in his words, offended many people, and might start a new wave of hatred against me. He claimed there were those who felt it was wrong to support the children of Gaza without at the same time supporting the children of Sderot or other cities in Israel which had been hurt by the war, and that I was “crazy” for waking up the dragon. He was worried about me. [Read more]

Kuwait: Government Critics Stripped of Citizenship | Human Rights Watch

Kuwaiti authorities have announced the third batch of citizenship revocations this year, during a general crackdown on dissent, Human Rights Watch said today. The group of 18 revocations announced on September 29, 2014, which the authorities said was based on a cabinet decision, included one that appeared politically motivated. A total of 33 people have lost their citizenship during 2014, of which three are thought to be for political reasons.

Kuwaiti authorities should immediately stop stripping nationals of their citizenship because they exercise free speech or other legitimate human rights, and reinstate the citizenship of people whose citizenship has been withdrawn on those grounds, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also amend the law concerning revocation of citizenship to ensure that the grounds are narrowly defined, the decision to revoke will be proportionate, and that those affected have the right to an independent review. [Read more]

A Train Ride Through Time: From Iraq’s Checkered Past Into an Uncertain Future | New York Times

Saad al-Tammimi is in his fourth decade working for Iraq’s railroads, a career that has taken him all around his country, and around the Middle East. Nowadays, though, he can go only from Baghdad to Basra, across the relatively calm Shiite-dominated south of this war-torn country.

“If we have a problem and have to stop, it’s safe,” he said on a recent evening as he drove his regular route. “Even the Sunnis feel comfortable going to Basra.”

With so much violence, neglect and political dysfunction here, it has been years since passenger trains leaving Baghdad went anywhere other than Basra. In recent years, however, grand ambitions to link the country by railroad had begun taking shape. Freight trains shuttled goods around Iraq, and a few years ago there were test runs of a new train service between Mosul and Turkey. But as the militants of the Islamic State have advanced around the country, those efforts have halted. [Read more]

Could Iraq’s tribes provide the glue that keeps the country from falling apart? | Christian Science Monitor

In recent weeks, the self-styled Islamic State has inched toward Baghdad, putting Iraq’s army and government under increasing pressure and challenging their ability to preserve any semblance of a cohesive Iraqi state.

Backed by Western airpower, the Shiite-dominated security forces and the Kurdish peshmerga are fighting back against the Sunni jihadists.

But when it comes to reversing the dramatic IS victories in Sunni areas, some leaders of Iraq’s influential tribes say they could prove a vital counterforce, at least until a proposed Iraqi national guard becomes a reality. [Read more]

When Journalism Isn’t Quite Enough | Global Voices

This headline must be one of the worst things a journalist could write, and this topic must be one of the least written-about, but for the subject I’m writing about I felt it necessary to abandon everything I’ve been taught and write primitively.

This article was going to be about the arrest of Zainab Alkhawaja, a prominent activist in Bahrain. I was going to start with the background, which is that she was arrested for a speech tweeted by her sister Maryam: [Read more]

Nine Days in the Caliphate: A Yazidi Woman’s Ordeal as an Islamic State Captive | Spon

During the ninth night of her captivity, Nadia seized an unexpected opportunity to flee.

Back on the first day, the men who kidnapped Nadia and the other young women as hostages and sex slaves had away taken their shoes. Escaping barefoot was out of the question. As the women could see from the windows, the surrounding terrain was rough and rocky, and they would end up with bleeding cuts and gashes all over their feet.

The house in which they were held captive had many rooms and the young women were frequently moved from one to another. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the frequent moves; they were apparently dependent on the whims of their captors. But in one room stood a wardrobe, inside of which Nadia found a pair of pink tennis shoes under some rags. Though they were a few sizes too small for her, they might just do. [Read more]


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