Blog archive: All

  • 19th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    After a delay of more than two years Lebanon finally has a new government and, for the first time, it includes a minister for women's affairs. He – yes, he – is Jean Oghassabian, a 62-year-old Armenian who has held posts in several previous governments. Reuters notes that the new...
  • 16th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Egyptian investigators announced yesterday that "traces of an explosive substance" had been found on the bodies of "some" victims of Egyptair flight MS804 which crashed into the Mediterranean sea last May. The claim, which hints at a terrorist attack, has been greeted with scepticism...
  • 14th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Amid concern about civilian casualties in Yemen, the United States is cutting back on arms sales to Saudi Arabia – at a time when the Britain, the kingdom's other main supplier, is trying to increase them. The US has decided not to go ahead with a $350 million sale of 16,000 guidance systems...
  • 11th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The death was reported today of Mohamed Tamalt who had been serving a two-year jail sentence in Algeria for insulting President Bouteflika on Facebook. Tamalt, 42, who had dual British and Algerian nationality and had been living in Britain before his imprisonment, was arrested on June...
  • 8th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A British flag flying shamelessly alongside those of repressive Gulf regimes at the GCC summit in Bahrain yesterday signalled the opening of what prime minister Theresa May hails as "a new chapter" in foreign relations. Mrs May has decided that when Britain extricates itself from Europe the...
  • 6th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Britain's prime minister, Theresa May, is in Bahrain today for the annual summit of the rich autocrats' club, the Gulf Cooperation Council. As the official announcement from Downing Street excitedly points out, she is the first British prime minister – and the first woman – ever to attend...
  • 5th December 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Doha Centre for Media Freedom was set up by the emir of Qatar in 2007. Press freedom and quality journalism, its mission statement says, "are vital for empowering citizens to participate in social and political life. Well functioning media are crucial for healthy societies and...
  • 21st November 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Visiting Syria in 2004, Brad Hoff, an ex-Marine from Texas, went looking for cheap beer and chanced upon a bar where – to his surprise – most of the customers were gay. The existence of such a bar in Damascus, Hoff writes after visiting it again recently, is "symbolic of the nuance and...
  • 16th November 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Amid chants of "Allahu akbar", huge and angry crowds gathered outside the Supreme Court in Mauritania on Tuesday demanding the execution of a man who complained about religion being used to justify social discrimination. In December 2013 engineer Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir wrote...
  • 15th November 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The war in Yemen has reached a point where all parties now want to halt the fighting, former vice-president Khaled Bahah said on Monday. But he warned that if they fail to seize the moment there may not be another opportunity for six months. The latest peace efforts are focused around a...
  • 10th November 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Four weeks ago there was a flurry of media excitement over Iranian warships that were supposedly about to confront the US Navy off the coast of Yemen. In case you are wondering how the battle went, it didn't happen and was never likely to happen. On October 13, Fox News reported...
  • 6th November 2016
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    At the end of June the UN Human Rights Council decided it needed someone to monitor "protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity" and voted to appoint an "independent expert". In September, the role was assigned to Vitit Muntarbhorn, a...

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