Category Archives: Middle East

Does a Senate-Passed Bill give the Military too much Power?

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill 61 to 37 to require the U.S. Military to take control of all suspected terrorist arrested overseas and now, in the United States. The bill also allows the Military to hold detainees in Military custody indefinitely, and without the guarantee of a trial.

Now I know that Guantanamo Bay concerns dramatically died down a few years ago, but this new bill definitely raises some worries. First, yes, we are at war and the treatment of suspected terrorists is murkier. However, there remain clear international laws , including but not limited to the Geneva Conventions on the Treatment of Prisoners, that stipulate how a prisoner is meant to be treated. Does the United States have the right to hold suspects for an unlimited amount of time and without a trial? My guess is that many lawyers and human rights activists would argue that these rules are inhumane and illegal. I would argue that treating suspects this way in the United States could elicit similar treatment overseas of American prisoners, and the U.S. would not longer have an argument about reciprocal treatment on its side. Continue reading

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Filed under Human Rights, Middle East, North America, U.S Foreign Policy

How Much Did the Arab Spring Cost?

$55 billion dollars, according to a new report released by consulting group Geopolicity. The report reveals that Egypt, Syria, and Libya were hit the hardest financially by the protests in North Africa and the Middle East. So what do these astronomical prices mean for the region now? Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Arab Spring, Economics, Human Rights, Middle East

What to do about torture in Afghanistan?

A devastating report published by the U.N. on Monday shows widespread torture methods have been used by the Afghan intelligence service against detainees held in camps in the war-torn country. The report highlights that methods including beatings, twisting of genitals, and hanging people by their hands have been used to gain information from prisoners in the country. According to the New York Times, the information, released in draft form several months ago, was apparently discouraging enough to convince NATO to stop sending terrorist suspects to Afghan intelligence. The report raises many questions about the proper response to torture claims, as well as questions about whether the United States pulling out of Afghanistan is the proper move. Continue reading

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Filed under Human Rights, Middle East, U.S Foreign Policy, Uncategorized

House Rebukes Obama on Libya

The war-making powers of Congress and the president have come into constitutional conflict time and time again. What’s the battlefield this time? Hostilities — or, perhaps, lack thereof — in Libya.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives denied President Obama’s proposal for authorization for a year-long mission in Libya. In fact, the House decisively voted to deny Obama the authority to wage war in Libya altogether; Republicans were unable, however, to cut off funds for any and all operations in Libya. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, Middle East, U.S. Politics

How You Can Support Saudi Women

courtesy American Bedu

You’ve probably heard by now about the group Saudi Women for Driving, who are protesting Saudi Arabia’s ban against women driving by taking to the roads, uploading videos to YouTube, and tweeting. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women from driving and is ranked 129th out of 134 nations for its gender disparities by the Global Gender Gap Report. The movement has been gaining momentum and international support over the past week–so what can you do to contribute?

1. Sign this petition to encourage Subaru to pull out of Saudi Arabia in order to show solidarity with the women. “It is our hope that this will put huge pressure on the Saudi royal family and shine a bright light on the ‘gender apartheid’ in our country,” Saudi Women for Driving said.

2. Send (pre-written) letters to UN and Saudi Arabian officials expressing your support for the movement here. This site is organized by the Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine.

3. Upload a video to the HonkforSaudiWomen YouTube channel–you can send videos with your own statements of support to honkforsaudiwomen@change.org.

4. Facebook (or Tweet or blog or just talk about) it! Spread the word in any way you can, just like these women have done.

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Filed under Human Rights, Middle East, Uncategorized, Women's Rights

Egyptians Favor Osama to Obama

Yesterday Foreign Policy reported on a public poll in Egypt, conducted in the aftermath of the uprising that ousted former leader Hosni Mubarak. The good news from the polls? President Obama is more than twice as popular as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad.

But don’t get too excited; the other news is quite sobering. It turns out Obama’s popularity ratings have never been lower in Egypt, dropping drastically in the three years since his election to office. The numbers are so low in fact, that slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is actually more popular than Obama is — and by a 9 percent margin. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, Middle East, U.S. Politics

Obama on Israel

At a fundraiser for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign yesterday, President Obama warned that possible “tactical” disagreements may be in the near future between Israel and Washington. He was speaking on the complex peace process between Israel and Palestine at the fundraiser, which gathered Democratic friends of Israel.

Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have been on pause since September 2010, when the partial freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank expired. Israel declined to renew the freeze and continued to build settlements, provoking the Palestinians to refuse to negotiate until the freeze is reinstalled. Continue reading

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Filed under Middle East, U.S Foreign Policy