Blog archive: All

  • 9th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Qatar, which is reportedly paying a public relations firm $50,000 month to "improve ties with the Jewish community worldwide", has accused the UAE of employing "Zionists" to organise an anti-Qatar conference. A news item published in Arabic by the Qatari-owned al-Jazeera on Thursday began...
  • 8th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Saudi/Emirati squabble with Qatar which began in May with a fake news item on a hacked website has continued in the form of a virtual reality game which almost nobody outside the Gulf views as seriously as the protagonists themselves.  The latest round of cat-fighting relates to a...
  • 7th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Seymour Hersh, the American journalist who wrote an error-strewn article about the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria, is this year's winner of an annual prize for truth-telling. He is due to be presented with the Sam Adams Award for Integrity on September 22 during a...
  • 6th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In 2012, as armed conflict raged in Syria, the Assad regime gave assurances it would never use chemical weapons against its own people, "no matter what the internal developments in this crisis are". Speaking at a news conference, foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi insisted the country...
  • 5th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A public relations firm which became notorious for assisting dodgy regimes – including several in the Middle East – has finally got its comeuppance. London-based Bell Pottinger has been expelled from the PRCA (the trade body for "respectable" PR firms) for bringing the industry into...
  • 31st August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Writing about conflicts in the Middle East for the New York Times yesterday, columnist Thomas Friedman talked of "the power that is lost to a society like Syria or Iraq that needs an iron fist to make its many into one, and when that fist is removed, how the society fractures into small shards"....
  • 29th August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    On August 8 Muhammad Fadli, a fashion photographer from Singapore, arrived in Abu Dhabi for a photo shoot, accompanied by his friend, Nur Ibrahim. The next day they were arrested in the food court of a shopping mall for the allegedly indecent act of "wearing women's clothes in public". Both...
  • 28th August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Russia has "just finished dismantling Syria's chemical arsenal" according to a headline on the "alternative" website Voltaire Network. The story says Russian forces have destroyed two chemical weapons sites belonging to the Syrian army which "had been occupied by jihadists".  A...
  • 25th August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Iraq's education ministry has quietly dropped a chapter about evolution from its biology textbooks. The ministry has so far given no explanation but the change has brought complaints and ridicule from Iraqis on social media. Among the complainers, Dr Mohammed Fawzi, who studied genetic...
  • 17th August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    At a news conference in Damascus yesterday, Syria's deputy foreign minister accused the US and Britain of supplying rebel fighters with chemical weapons. The claim has excited Russian media – especially Sputnik News which has published multiple stories on the topic. Sputnik wonders if...
  • 11th August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Bahrain recently joined Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt in calling for the Qatari broadcaster, al-Jazeera, to be shut down. But a more obvious candidate for closure would surely be the Bahraini government's official mouthpiece, the misleadingly-named Bahrain News Agency (BNA). Whatever you...
  • 10th August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Covering the face with a burqa has become a contentious issue, and several countries have imposed bans or restrictions. The debate, to quote a BBC report, "takes in religious freedom, female equality, secular traditions and even fears of terrorism". What people usually have in mind...

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