Blog archive: All

  • 15th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Tapes attributed to Osama bin Laden rarely cause much of a stir these days, and the latest one is being interpreted (perhaps correctly) as evidence of al-Qaeda's current weakness. However, Marc Lynch on the Foreign Policy blog suggests "it deserves attention in ways which...
  • 15th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Under the headline "Areas outside state control", the Yemen Post has published a round-up of the country's multiple security problems, noting that in most governorates, the state controls only the main cities. Some key points: Bani Dhabian, Sanaa: "Bani Dhabian is a tribal...
  • 14th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In theory it’s very simple. A group of people get together to form a political party, then the voters decide if their policies are worth supporting. But in those Arab countries where parties are allowed – which rules out Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for a start –...
  • 13th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    There's an intriguing tale about Tunisia on the French-language blog, Chakchouka Tunisienne, and I'm hoping readers may be able to shed some more light on it. It says a businessman in Sfax was getting married and invited  Belhassen Trabelsi, the president's brother-in-law to his...
  • 13th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A shocking report in the Observer by Afif Sarhan and Jason Burke: Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new...
  • 13th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    "Operation Scorched Earth" against the Houthi rebels in Yemen has been going on for a month now, with no end in sight. The  government media continues with its vague reports of military successes and "heavy losses" inflicted on the rebels (the latter may well be true).  The...
  • 12th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Arabist blog makes some interesting observations about jihadist groups in North Africa and elsewhere who have recently been persuaded to renounce violence. It comments: "Even if they eschew violence, the ideology of these groups remains extremely radical, intolerant, bigoted ..." I...
  • 12th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Economist is the latest publication to raise serious questions about the future of Yemen.  It says (rightly, I think) that much of the reason for the Houthi rebels' success lies with the Yemeni army: "Its aerial bombing and artillery fire have proved better at enraging locals...
  • 12th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Four men in two cars were stopped near the US embassy in Sanaa on Tuesday and found to have in their possession nine grenades, a machine gun, 296 bullets, five detonators, a siren device as used by ambulances and 20 fuel containers. According to a security source they were just...
  • 11th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    There's a rumpus in Egypt over reports that police in various parts of the country have arrested more than 150 people for publicly breaking the fast during Ramadan. Unlike some Muslim countries, Egypt has no specific law against fast-breaking and the wave of arrests seems to be the work of some...
  • 11th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The idea that suicide bombers are insane or religious fanatics is challenged by some controversial new research that has been reported over that last few days in a variety of publications, from  Yale Global in the US to the Daily Star in Lebanon and the Daily Times in...
  • 9th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, today issues itsfindings on the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The figures, which it says are the result of “months of meticulous investigation and cross-checks” sharply conflict with those...

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