Blog archive: All

  • 16th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The international dimension of Yemen’s Houthi rebellion came to the fore yesterday when Iranian media reported claims of Saudi military involvement. Yahya al-Houthi (a brother of the rebels’ dead leader) told Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency that Saudi Arabia “has gone so far as...
  • 16th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Two new (and differing) reports on the December/January  conflict in Gaza. The Operation in Gaza – Factual and Legal Aspects, from the Israeli foreign ministry: Israel deeply regrets the civilian losses that occurred during the Gaza operation. But Israel has both the...
  • 15th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Students of Arabic are usually amused to learn that the Arabic word for "grass" – the sort that grows in cracks between the paving stones – is hashish. The English word “cannabis”, meanwhile, comes from the Arabic qinnab al-hind - literally meaning “Indian hemp”. Some also claim the...
  • 15th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I’ll be presenting my new book, What’s Really Wrong with the Middle East at the Edinburgh Book Festival next Thursday (10:30am in the Scottish Power Studio Theatre). I have been asked several times whether the title alludes to Bernard Lewis’s book, What Went Wrong. Well...
  • 14th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    For a second consecutive day, Yemeni warplanes continued their bombardment of Saada province on Thursday. Various reports speak of “dozens” of casualties.  The Houthi rebels issued a video said to have been recorded in Haidan on Wednesday. One scene shows smoke rising...
  • 14th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Internet censorship in the Middle East and North African is increasing, according to the latest report from the OpenNet Initiative: Testing has revealed political filtering to be the common denominator across the region; however, social filtering is on the rise. Many Arab countries...
  • 14th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A survey by Human Rights Watch in Lebanon has found that 17 out of 27 beach clubs enforce some kind of restriction on migrants, the BBC reports. The ban is aimed at keeping out the domestic workers from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, etc, who are employed by many Lebanese families. The BBC...
  • 14th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    An update on events in Yemen. The governor of Saada province says Houthi rebels have kidnapped 15 Red Crescent workers – doctors, nurses and administrators – at a camp for displaced people in al-Anad district. Speaking on state-run television, he said they were blindfolded, beaten and...
  • 13th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Yemeni authorities have declared a state of emergency throughout Saada province and imposed an evening curfew on Saada city and surrounding towns, the German Press Agency (dpa) reports. Casualties in the government’s new “iron fist” offensive are unclear but dpa and ...
  • 13th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Vienna-based International Press Institute has issued a statement criticising the Iraqi government’s draft media law. I haven’t seen the full text (anyone who has a copy please sent it to me) but from what has been reported it contains the usual statements about protecting...
  • 12th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A few weeks ago I was chatting with my friend Nesrine Malik about the dearth of science fiction in Arabic literature. There are certainly elements of fantasy in Arabic literature, going right back to the 
  • 12th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    “Broad offensive”, “iron fist”, “all-out onslaught” … the news agencies are reporting a large-scale government attack on the Houthi rebels (Reuters and dpa) in northern Yemen.  The army launched “aerial, artillery and missile strikes on the strategic heights of Matra and Dhahian,...

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