Category Archives: Middle East

Here Are Five Lies About Iran That We Need to Refute to Stop Another Illegal War

Forget uranium enrichment: Has Iran mastered time travel?


Last month, the Trump White House put out a typically Orwellian statement, chock-filled with lies, distortions, and half-truths about Iran and the 2015 nuclear deal. One line in particular stood out from the rest: “There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”




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Posted by on August 19, 2019 in Middle East



In Jemen ontdekte ik de Arabische wereld die ik alleen kende van Europese borreltafels

Zij kan hier niet blijven slapen.’ De beheerder van de kazerne, die ons een paar uur eerder vriendelijk had ontvangen, is onverbiddelijk. We zijn in een kazerne in Mokka, een havenstad aan de Rode Zee in Jemen. Na een dagje aan het front, waarbij we op sleeptouw zijn genomen door qat kauwende strijders, ons konvooi zich schietend een weg naar de oorlog baande en de frontlijn zich onverwacht snel aandiende langs een strand met mijnen links en de vijand in de struiken rechts, is het te laat om nog veilig terug te rijden naar ons hotel. Wij –  mijn chauffeur, mijn fixer, een intelligente dertiger die fungeert als mijn gids, vertaler en lokale toeverlaat, en ikzelf –  blijven daarom slapen op twee uur rijden van het front, in de kazerne van Mokka.

Ik ben niet dol op overnachtingen in Arabische kazernes. Dat komt omdat ik een vrouw ben. Daar is in mijn beroep niets bijzonders aan. In de conflictjournalistiek zijn de tijden van Martha Gellhorn voorbij. Was een vrouwelijke journalist aan een Arabische frontlijn begin jaren negentig nog reden tot verwondering, tegenwoordig geldt dit als het summum van doorsnee. Meer dan de helft van de Midden-Oosten-correspondenten in mijn standplaats Beiroet, Libanon, is tegenwoordig vrouw, becijferde een Amerikaanse collega vorig jaar. Dat heeft een praktische reden. In Arabische landen, waar het voor een man cultureel vaak ongepast is om lokale vrouwen aan te spreken, is het voor een vrouw gemakkelijker werken. Zij kan in tegenstelling tot een man met iedereen praten. Met een hoofddoek om valt een vrouw ook nog eens minder op, wat in onveilige gebieden een voordeel is.

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Posted by on August 13, 2019 in Middle East, Reportages



No One Is Safe: How Saudi Arabia Makes Dissidents Disappear


Prince Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud sat in one of the few safe locations he frequents in Düsseldorf and ordered each of us a cup of coffee. With his close-cropped goatee and crisp gray suit, he looked surprisingly relaxed for a hunted man. He described his constant fear of being abducted, the precautions he takes when venturing outside, and how German law enforcement officials routinely check on him to make sure he is all right.

Recently, bin Farhan, who rarely grants interviews to Western reporters, had incensed the kingdom’s leaders with his calls for human rights reforms—an unusual grievance for a Saudi prince. What’s more, he spoke openly of his desire to establish a political movement that might eventually install an opposition leader, upending the kingdom’s dynastic rule.

As we sat over coffee, he relayed a story that at first sounded innocuous. One day in June 2018, his mother, who lives in Egypt, called him with what she thought was good news. The Saudi Embassy in Cairo had contacted her, she said, and had a proposal: The kingdom wanted to mend relations with the prince and was willing to offer him $5.5 million as a goodwill gesture. Since bin Farhan was struggling financially (reportedly due, in part, to a dispute with the ruling family), his mother welcomed this chance for a reconciliation. But as tempting as the overture was, he claimed he never considered it seriously. And when he followed up with Saudi officials, he realized the deal had a dangerous catch. They had told him he could collect his payment only if he personally came to a Saudi embassy or consulate. That immediately set off alarm bells. He declined the offer.

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Middle East, Reportages



The scorched corpses of Nagasaki should be a grim restraint to the chest beating in India, America and Iran

We like our anniversaries in blocks of 50 or 100 – at a push we’ll tolerate a 25. The 100th anniversary of the Somme (2016), the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain (2015). Next year, we’ll remember the end of the Second World War, the first – and so far the only – nuclear war in history.

This week marks only the 74th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It doesn’t fit in to our journalistic scorecards and “timelines”. Over the past few days, I’ve had to look hard to find a headline about the two Japanese cities.

But, especially in the Middle East and what we like to call southeast Asia, we should be remembering these gruesome anniversaries every month. Hiroshima was atomic-bombed 74 years ago on Tuesday, Nagasaki 74 years ago on Friday. Given the extent of the casualty figures, you’d think they’d be unforgettable. But we don’t quite know (nor ever will) what they were.


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Attack on Iran would be an attack on Russia

Russia is meticulously advancing Eurasian chessboard moves that should be observed in conjunction, as Moscow proposes to the Global South an approach diametrically opposed to Western sanctions, threats and economic war. Here are three recent examples.

Ten days ago, via a document officially approved by the United Nations, the Russian Foreign Ministry advanced a new concept of collective security for the Persian Gulf.

Moscow stresses that “practical work on launching the process of creating a security system in the Persian Gulf” should start with “bilateral and multilateral consultations between interested parties, including countries both within the region and outside of it,” as well as organizations such as the UN Security Council, League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Gulf Cooperation Council.

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Europe, Middle East


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Bruisend Bagdad: zo schudt de hoofdstad van Irak de verlammende angst van zich af

In een jaar tijd is de sfeer in Bagdad compleet veranderd. De vrees voor
aanslagen heeft plaatsgemaakt voor bruisende energie. Overal komen
sportscholen, kunstcafés en jonge bedrijfjes op. Bagdad heeft weer

Nu de Iraakse hoofdstad ­Bagdad zich ­losmaakt uit de oorlog, zie je hier
dingen die heel gewoon zijn en toch ook weer niet. Zoals in sportschool
Wolf Gym, waar een jonge vrouw met een hoofddoek fitnesst in een zaal
vol mannen. Niemand kijkt daarvan op, zo normaal is dat. Zoals de
sportschool­beheerder uitlegt: wie, man of vrouw, een probleem heeft met
gemengde klasjes, is natuurlijk altijd welkom om te betalen voor

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Middle East, Reportages



Saudi crown prince seeks to fast track trial of Khashoggi suspects

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman is determined to “fast track” court proceedings against the murder squad sent to kill Jamal Khashoggi, before Donald Trump’s re-election campaign starts in earnest.

Mohammed bin Salman, who is thought by the CIA and Turkish investigators to have ordered the killing of Saudi journalist Khashoggi, wants to close the chapter as soon as possible, according to a report based on Emirati intelligence.

“It was a wise step for Riyadh to move quickly to close the case and indict those responsible before the start of the American presidential election,” the document says. “Otherwise the killing could have been turned into one of the presidential debate topics.”

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized



Saudi Arabia’s ‘strategic plan’ to take Turkey down

Saudi Arabia has begun implementing a “strategic plan” to confront the Turkish government, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided he was being “too patient” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

The plan is detailed in a confidential report based on open- and closed-source intelligence prepared by the kingdom’s ally, the United Arab Emirates.

The intelligence report is one of a monthly series written by the Emirates Policy Centre, a think tank with close links to the Emirati government and security services.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Middle East


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US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

All bets are off in the geopolitical insanity stakes when we have the President of the United States (POTUS) glibly announcing he could launch a nuclear first strike to end the war in Afghanistan and wipe it “off the face of the earth” in one week. But he’d rather not, so he doesn’t have to kill 10 million people.

Apart from the fact that not even a nuclear strike would subdue the legendary fighting spirit of Afghan Pashtuns, the same warped logic ordering a nuclear first strike as one orders a cheeseburger could apply to Iran instead of Afghanistan.

Trump once again flip-flopped by declaring that the prospect of a potential war in the Persian Gulf “could go either way, and I’m OK either way it goes,” much to the delight of Beltway-related psychopaths who peddle the notion that Iran is begging to be bombed.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Middle East, North America


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Trump is powering the UK’s preparations for war – it is he who needs to be deterred, not Iran

It’s about time we wised up to what is going on in this utterly farcical “crisis” in the Gulf, this charade of lies and pomposity which Trump and his doggies in London are presenting to us.

An American president who is a racist, misogynist, dishonest and psychologically disturbed man – assisted by two vicious and equally dishonourable and delusional advisers – is threatening to go to war with Iran while a kipper-waving and equally serial-lying buffoon, who is probably the future British prime minister, prefers to concentrate on the self-destruction of his country rather than the hijacking of his ships.


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