A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 8, 2009

More Weekend Reading

I've been signing off on Fridays by offering a selection of online stories to hold you over the weekend, so I'll do so yet again, and do bear in mind that I offer a variety of opinions of all political and ideological leanings, and that my linking to an article does not mean I endorse all its arguments:
  • Yemen has banned eight newspapers, apparently in an effort to crack down on recent separatist protests in the former South Yemen. More on growing dissidence here. Yemen, with a marginal economy in the best of times, has been hit hard by the global economic downturn, and the strains are starting to show.
  • The folks at MERIP have a new Middle East Report Online piece up on the Shi‘a of Saudi Arabia. I haven't posted, to date, about the recent stirrings among the Shi‘a of the Saudi Eastern Province, including sinister references to secession, because I can't comment on everything that's happening everywhere, and it seemed to be mostly polemical. But if you're looking for a backgrounder (from the usual MERIP point of view), this is worth reading. (And "usual MERIP point of view" is not meant as some sort of snide dismissal: from their earliest days back when I was in grad school and dinosaurs roamed the earth, they've provided a consistent and scholarly leftist critique: I don't always agree with them, but I do usually read them and learn.)
"We've had better and worse presidents, but we've never had a president who served as government propagandist. Now we do: Shimon Peres has appointed himself to the unworthy task. Since the new government formed - the most right-wing government in Israel's history - the (seemingly) left-wing (former) peace man has become its public relations agent."
  • A commentor recently asked why I hadn't mentioned the (reported) capture of the head of Al-Qa‘ida in Iraq, Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi. One reason is the sheer confusion about who he is, if he is in fact in custody. For some background see this posting at Jihadica, and this one at Long War Journal. The guys who do nothing but watch al-Qa‘ida full time aren't sure who's been captured or even if Baghdadi is a real person, so I have refrained from speculation. But I refer you to those better informed, who still aren't sure either. Confused? So am I. Here's more if you want to be more confused.

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