Blog archive: All

  • 23rd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Not before time, the US embassy in Sana’a issued a statementyesterday expressing “deep concern” at the continuing conflict between the Yemeni millitary and the Houthi rebels. The statement continued: We call on both parties to return to the ceasefire that was established last year. In the...
  • 23rd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Arabic has many expressions that you won’t find explained in a standard dictionary. This is not just a problem for foreigners: Moroccans talking to Saudis, or vice versa, can find themselves equally baffled. Abdullah Arif, a 23-year-old Saudi living in Dubai, has come up with a smart...
  • 22nd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Endemic corruption is a problem that Arabs grumble about endlessly, though it rarely gets analysed in much detail. All credit, then, to the Syria Comment blog for tackling this touchy subjecthead-on. "Though Syria is no exception," it says, "one cannot but be struck by how...
  • 22nd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Searching Arabic websites can be tricky if you don't have an Arabic keyboard. But now a new search engine called Linguos claims to have overcome that problem. You just type the words phonetically in the Roman alphabet. When Linguos is unsure what you mean it displays various...
  • 22nd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I can’t imagine why the Yemeni government’s news agency decided to publish this article, unless to show the disaffected citizens of Sana’a and Aden how fortunate they are. It’s an extraordinary description of life in Jawf province, just over 100 miles from the capital, which borders Saudi...
  • 21st August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The latest issue of the Yemen Times gives a rare glimpse of daily life in the Saada war zone: In the countryside of Saada, there is no electricity or phone service and generators can be deadly. According to one resident of rural Dhahyan, her neighbours communicate by hand-written...
  • 21st August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    With a presidential “election” coming up in Tunisia in October, you might think Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s position looks secure. The 72-year-old dictator has been in power since 1987 and the last time he sought a popular mandate, in 2004, he secured an incredible 94.48% of the votes. But...
  • 19th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    For what, hopefully, will be Hosni Mubarak’s last presidential visitto the United States, the ageing autocrat is allegedly paying US-based Egyptians to demonstrate their support for him. The going rate is said to be $100. Oh dear, the US is so expensive. Back in Egypt, I’m told, the usual...
  • 19th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Columbia Journalism Review has triggered a fascinating debate about the ever-blurring lines between journalism and blogging. In an article, "Blogging in the Middle East: Not Necessarily Journalistic", Lawrence Pintak (American University in Cairo) and Yosri...
  • 18th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    An American congressional delegation led by former Republican presidential candidate John McCain arrived in Yemen yesterday on a summer junket touring “post-war zones and forward operating bases” which also includes Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and … er … Iceland (!). Presumably...
  • 18th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Major news organisations (CNN, Washington Post, BBC) missed a key point yesterday in their coverage of the Human Rights Watchreport on sexual orientation and gender in Iraq, reducing the issue to one of attacks on “gay” men.  As I explained here yesterday, and as HRW...
  • 18th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    More than two months after the Lebanese election, the saga of trying to form a government continues. In the latest twist, ex-general Michel Aoun is insisting on the re-appointment of his son-in-law, Jibran Bassil, as minister of telecommunications. Bassil failed to win a seat in the...

Pages