Articles by Brian Whitaker

Below is a collection of my articles about the Middle East, mostly written for The Guardian newspaper and its website. The articles are grouped chronologically and according to country.

Articles in chronological order:
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998

Articles listed by country:
Algeria | Bahrain | Egypt | Iran | Iraq | Kuwait | Lebanon | Libya | Oman | Palestine/Israel | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Syria | Tunisia | United Arab Emirates | Yemen

Archive: Lebanon

Lebanon and Israel need a proper border agreement
Comment Is Free, 4 Aug 2010

Focusing on a pact to calm border tensions is far better than arguing over who fired the first shot in this week's confrontation

Drawing conclusions
Comment Is Free, May 31, 2007

The investigation into Rafik Hariri's assassination sets an important precedent for Lebanon and the whole of the Middle East.

A new peril in Lebanon
Comment Is Free, February 13, 2007

Lebanon is no stranger to bombings, but today's attack is especially alarming.

A smoking gun
Comment Is Free, November 24, 2006

Pierre Gemayel's murder has been added to a list of 15 other attacks being investigated by the UN - but this case has one vital difference.

'This is the most panicked I've seen Lebanon'
Guardian, November 22 2006

Brian Whitaker, Clancy Chassay in Beirut and Hugh Macleod in Damascus

Amid all the destruction that Lebanon has witnessed over the years, the bulletholes in the window of Pierre Gemayel's car yesterday seemed almost insignificant - but their consequences may be tremendous.

Veering off the road to recovery
Comment Is Free, November 14, 2006

Lebanon has run into a political impasse, and the country may once again be heading for a period of government paralysis.

Hizbullah 'used cluster bombs'
Guardian, Friday October 20 2006

Hizbullah fired cluster bombs into civilian areas of northern Israel in the recent conflict, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

We still have 20,000 rockets, says Nasrallah
Guardian, September 23 2006

In a defiant "victory" speech in a bombed-out suburb of Beirut, the Hizbullah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said yesterday his organisation had recovered from its month-long war with Israel and now possessed more than 20,000 rockets.

In the lion's den
Comment Is Free, September 12, 2006

Tony Blair met with demonstrators on his trip to Lebanon - as well as criticism from an unlikely source.

A collective punishment
Comment Is Free, September 5, 2006

The argument for Israel's continuing blockade of Lebanon's air and seaports doesn't stand up to much scrutiny.

Lebanon asks for $500m to help build homes and clear bombs
Guardian, September 1 2006

Lebanon's prime minister appealed yesterday for $500m (£263m) in aid after "15 years of postwar development" were wiped out by Israeli bombs in a month of fighting with Hizbullah guerrillas.

Israel must pay
Comment Is Free, August 23, 2006

Lebanon is entitled to compensation for the devastation Israel has wrought.

Resolutions and irresolution
Comment Is Free, August 18, 2006

UN resolution 1559 calls for the independence of Lebanon from all outside interference - that means Israel too.

Reconstruction alone estimated at $7bn in Lebanon
Guardian, August 16 2006

With the tenuous ceasefire still holding, Lebanese government ministers met yesterday to begin the laborious process of estimating civilian damage caused by a month of Israeli bombing.

Beirut bombarded hours before start of ceasefire
Guardian, August 14 2006

Hours before a UN-brokered truce was due to take effect, Israeli forces pressed on with their offensive yesterday, battling with Hizbullah guerrillas in southern Lebanon and launching an unprecedented air strike against the capital, Beirut.

Resistance agrees truce, can it now resist a fight?
Guardian, August 14 2006

Twenty-four hours ahead of the Israeli cabinet's meeting to approve a ceasefire in the four-week-old war with Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shia organisation declared itself ready to abide by a truce, but with conditions.

14 die as bombardment goes on across Lebanon
Guardian, August 12, 2006

Israeli warplanes and artillery continued to bombard Lebanon yesterday, from the southern border to the far north of the country, killing at least 14 people. Hizbullah, meanwhile, said it fired 150 rockets into Israel, although Israeli rescue officials put the total at about 80 ...

War and peace
Comment Is Free, August 11, 2006

An intriguing email arrived the other day. It was headed "Call for peace" ...

Towards a Lebanese solution?
Comment Is Free, August 7, 2006

Talk of an international peacekeeping force as a buffer zone in South Lebanon is misguided. Only the Lebanese themselves can provide a sustainable solution.

Militants merge with mainstream
Guardian, August 5, 2006

Nour, a 19-year-old university student, came with two friends to one of Cairo's biggest squares on Thursday night carrying Lebanese and Hizbullah flags. "This is the first time I ever take part in a protest," she said ...

The world must rein in Israel
Comment Is Free, August 3, 2006

The onslaught on Lebanon is fuelling recruitment to terrorist groups and denials of the Jewish state's right to exist.

A 10-step programme for peace
Comment Is Free, August 1, 2006

The solution to the crisis in Lebanon involves Israel, Hizbullah, Syria, the UN, the EU, Russia and the US as well as Beirut.

Syria stands to gain from Lebanon's pain
Guardian, July 31 2006

The Bakdash ice-cream parlour is one of the great institutions of old Damascus, established in 1895 and renowned throughout the city. Among the more distinguished visitors to have sampled its produce is the king of Jordan, whose photo hangs prominently on the wall. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, may be too busy just now to drop in for a pistachio-sprinkled cornet ...

Muslims unite in anger over Lebanon
Guardian, July 28 2006

From Egypt to Indonesia there were outpourings of popular anger today against the continued Israeli bombardment of Lebanon - though there is also growing frustration in the Middle East at the apparent impotence of Arab leaders.

The T-shirt seller of Beirut
Guardian Unlimited, July 27 2006

The Phoenicians were the greatest traders of the ancient world and the Lebanese are their descendants. In Lebanon, every situation - no matter how dire - is an opportunity for someone to do business.

UN aid convoy heads to south Lebanon
Guardian, Wednesday July 26, 2006

The first UN relief convoy left Beirut today carrying emergency supplies to the devastated south of Lebanon, but without assurances from Israel that it would not be attacked.

Rice lacks recipe for success
Guardian Unlimited, Tuesday July 25, 2006

There's no denying her stamina. Less than 48 hours after painfully giving birth to a "New Middle East", Condoleezza Rice flew by helicopter into Beirut. At least, I think she did.

Scale of the human crisis emerges
Guardian, Tuesday July 25, 2006

The people of Lebanon are facing their "hour of greatest need", the UN said yesterday in launching an emergency appeal for $150m (£81m) to help an estimated 800,000 civilians whose lives have been disrupted by Israeli bombing of Lebanon.

Unfashionably late to leave
Guardian Unlimited, Monday July 24, 2006

I got to know Karim when I was based in Beirut for a few months last year. He lived nearby and, conveniently for me, he owned a brand new washing machine that his employer had given him as a sort of bonus. Karim (not his real name) was a Syrian who had been working in Beirut for several years ...

Bombs on a Starry Night
Guardian Unlimited, Friday July 21, 2006

I was just finishing work last night and feeling a bit tired when word went round that two British journalists had been kidnapped in central Beirut by Hizbullah. Oh no, I thought. That's all we need now.

Battered Lebanon counts the cost of Israeli onslaught
Guardian, July 21, 2006

The catastrophic scale of destruction inflicted on Lebanon's infrastructure and economy by the Israeli bombardment was becoming apparent yesterday as government officials released details to the Guardian of the damage so far.

Lebanese who fled as youngsters forced to flee again with own children
Guardian, July 20, 2006

Wearing a sweat-soaked vest and beach shorts and clutching a leather briefcase in one hand and a baffled five-year-old in the other, Joe Noujeim cut an odd figure as he walked down the gangplank of a 5,200 tonne British destroyer ...

The daily grind
Guardian Unlimited, July 20, 2006

Itis 8am on a beautiful summer's morning. Outside Cafe Younis, half a dozen men are sipping coffee and reading newspapers under the shade of the trees. Fifteen minutes later, somewhere not very far away, a bomb hits Beirut, but nobody flinches or even glances up from his newspaper. The Lebanese are accustomed to it.

Massive evacuation gathers pace
Guardian, July 19, 2006

Thousands of Lebanese nationals and western expats were scrambling to leave the country yesterday as Israel's week-long bombardment of Lebanon continued.

Relief as first group of Britons taken to Cyprus on Royal Navy warship
Guardian, July 19, 2006

British evacuees exchanged the perils of Beirut for the rough comforts of below decks on a Royal Navy destroyer last night ...

Mass evacuation from Beirut under way
Guardian, July 18, 2006

A mass evacuation of British, American and other foreign nationals from Beirut was under way today as Israel continued its bombardment of Lebanon.

Two sides of the war
Comment Is Free, July 17, 2006

Viewed from Lebanon, the TV coverage of destruction in Israel seems wildly out of proportion compared with what is happening across the border.

A competent military force that should not be underestimated, experts say
Guardian, July 17, 2006

Hizbullah will not only take war to Haifa, but "beyond Haifa, and beyond beyond Haifa", its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said in a televised speech last week - and some experts are prepared to believe him ...

As the bombs rain down, a refugee crisis unfolds on the streets of Beirut
Guardian, July 17, 2006

Lebanon was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis yesterday as Israeli forces continued their bombardment and thousands of Shia Muslims either fled their homes or found themselves trapped.

Rescue of Britons depends on ceasefire, FO says
Guardian, July 17, 2006

As the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and the assault ship HMS Bulwark headed towards the eastern Mediterranean, the advice from the Foreign Office to the estimated 10,000 Britons in Lebanon last night was to stay put.

A new war, but both sides recall old ones
Guardian, July 15, 2006

The three Syrian guest-workers arrived before dawn yesterday, as they did every morning, to set up their coffee stall beneath the flyover, hoping to catch the breakfast trade from early risers in the southern suburbs of Beirut. That was when the bomb blew them away, along with a large section of the road above their heads. Nobody seemed to remember their names ...

Blundering into Lebanon
Comment Is Free, July 14, 2006

Ehud Olmert has made some serious mistakes in his cross-border attacks.

Borderline beneficiaries
Comment Is Free, July 12, 2006

Israel's UN resolution-breaching incursion strengthens the hands of the Lebanese government's enemies.

Flashpoint farmland
Guardian Unlimited, Wednesday May 10 2006

The Lebanese prime minister, Fuad Siniora, has just ended a three-day visit to London that included talks with Tony Blair. Among other things, Mr Siniora was seeking Britain's help over the obscure but thorny issue of the Shebaa Farms, a contentious bit of territory where the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet.

Assad pledges support for UN Hariri inquiry
Guardian, Friday March 17 2006

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, said last night he would meet a UN commission investigating the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

UN wants to question Assad in Hariri inquiry
The Guardian, January 03 2006

The UN commission investigating the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri has asked to interview Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, the commission said yesterday.

Syria accuses former vice-president of treason for Hariri claim
The Guardian, January 02 2006

Syria's ruling Ba'ath party has expelled the former vice-president Abdel-Halim Khaddam and intends to put him on trial for treason, the country's official news agency, Sana, said yesterday.

Middle East tension rises as UN prepares to accuse Syria of Hariri assassination
The Guardian, September 23 2005

UN investigators will next month directly implicate the Syrian government in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, potentially igniting a new Middle East crisis.

Damascene subversion
Guardian Unlimited, September 19 2005

An extraordinary sense of foreboding has developed among Syria-watchers over the last few days - a feeling that momentous events are just around the corner. Some even suggest the regime of the president, Bashar al-Assad, could fall within a matter of months.

Long shadow of the Beirut massacre
The Guardian, September 06 2005

The arrest last week of four Lebanese generals on charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism is an unprecedented event in the Middle East: high-ranking officers have been arrested before - often on trumped-up charges

Beirut murder mystery
The Guardian, June 22 2005

The international investigation into the murder of Rafik Hariri finally got under way last week, four months and two days after the devastating explosion that killed the former Lebanese prime minister along with at least 20 other people as he drove along

Unnatural selection
The Guardian, June 13 2005

What happened, I sometimes wonder, to all those Lebanese flags? Earlier this year they were everywhere in Beirut; draped from balconies, fluttering from cars and motorbikes, and waved by demonstrators in their hundreds of thousands.

Picnic protest
The Guardian, April 11 2005

It was the dinner party of the century. In the colonnaded streets of Beirut's city centre, the packed open air restaurants were turning customers away. Thousands more had to make do with ice creams or sandwiches bought from stalls.

Anti-Syrians outdo Hizbullah in street protests
The Guardian, March 15 2005

The battle for the streets of Lebanon reached new heights yesterday when hundreds of thousands of anti-Syria protesters, some with Lebanese flags painted on their faces, swamped the centre of Beirut.

Crisis unites protesters in Beirut's tent city
The Guardian, March 12 2005

After a night sleeping out in Beirut's tent city, anti-Syria demonstrators sneak into the Virgin Megastore across the road for a wash and brush-up. Three lads from the camp are in the toilets talking politics and one is re-gelling his hair.

Writing on the wall
The Guardian, March 09 2005

Beirut, the morning after. The Hizbullah demonstrators who packed Riad al-Solh square yesterday have gone, and so have most of the anti-Syrian demonstrators from the day before.

500,000 mass for Hizbullah in Beirut
The Guardian, March 09 2005

Syria's supporters in Lebanon struck back against the "cedar revolution" yesterday with a show of strength which easily dwarfed anything their opponents have been able muster.

Farewell to Lebanon's Mr Fix-it
The Guardian, February 15 2005

Rafik Hariri was more than a politician; in many ways he was Mr Lebanon. Besides serving as prime minster for 10 of the last 14 years, he was a hyperactive businessman, a self-made billionaire who, through his television station and daily newspaper, controlled ...

The power of words
The Guardian, November 23 2004

Damascus would do well to defuse anti-Syrian sentiment in Beirut and the wider world with an offer of dialogue ...

By unpopular demand
The Guardian, September 06 2004

Last Friday the Lebanese parliament decided, by 96 votes to 29, to give President Emile Lahoud three more years in office.

Green gold
The Guardian, June 11 2001

High in the Bekaa valley, relaxing under a fig tree's shade, farmer Ali pours glasses of tea. This year, God willing - and the Lebanese army permitting - his harvest will be good. The spring rains have been generous and now even the gravel at the roadside is flecked with green.

Triumphant Hizbullah face the test of peace
June 08 2000

Abdullah Qasir, a Hizbullah member of the Lebanese parliament, quotes a Koranic verse: "If you are rude, people will not like you."

Hizbullah heroes face the test of peace
June 01 2000

Abdullah Qasir, a Hizbullah member of the Lebanese parliament, quotes a Koranic verse: "If you are rude, people will not like you."

Picnics and pilgrimages on day of victory
May 29 2000

From all over Lebanon they came in their tens of thousands. Banners along the road proclaimed "the day of victory". A silver Buick had its boot lid tied down over a picnic table, the flag of Hizbullah fluttering gaily from its roof.