November 30, 2010
Posted: 942 GMT
It’s really impressive to look up at the flight board at Baghdad International Airport these days – Abu Dhabi, Amman, Beirut, Istanbul, Cairo, Tehran are a few of the available daily trips.
I remember the days when commercial flights were limited to the one or two Royal Jordanian ones that were usually overbooked and getting out on one of those was always an “inshalla” – “God willing” scenario.
I also remember the days when you would glance around the airport and your average passenger would be the tattooed private security guy , the journalist, or the Iraqi member of parliament who would spend more time in Amman than in Baghdad.
Today, it was a handful of the usual suspects and a different crowd - mostly Iraqi refugees, families who have packed their lives into one suitcase per person and set off on their journey to new homes.
As I queued up to get a coffee, a young Iraqi man approached me – I had met him a few years ago through work, he is now a refugee.
He asked me if I was going to the US – he was, along with his family.
Where are you going I asked – “Indiana” he said with a bit of a confused look, like he was not sure if I had heard of it. I told him I had visited Indiana a few years ago; “is it nice?” he asked.. I said yes, but very cold in the winter, we both laughed– Iraqis are more immune to the scorching heat of their country, not the harsh winters of the Midwest.
Why are you leaving I asked – he smiled and said “why would I stay? ...What should I stay for?” a familiar answer I have been hearing a lot lately from Iraqi colleagues, friends and people we meet—it’s also an answer that says it all and there was no reason to follow-up on that... I wished him luck as he walked away.
November 29, 2010
Posted: 1929 GMT
We had to be patient to get pictures of people casting their ballots at the Yahya Mashhad School for Languages in the gritty northern Cairo district of Shubra Al-Khaima.
One voter would enter the room every ten minutes or so, slip behind a black curtain to fill out their ballot, drop it in a battered wooden box, sign the register, and then dip their finger in pink ink. After another long wait, the next voter entered.
Outside, earnest supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition bloc, complained that their appointed observers had been denied the right to monitor the voting.
"There is no way we can ensure these elections were fair," Brotherhood supporter Mustafa told me.
Newspapers in Cairo Monday morning were full of reports of vote rigging and violence around the country.
According to the official Higher Elections Committee, turnout in Sunday¹s parliamentary elections was 25 percent. Independent observers say it was probably not even half that.
Initial results indicate the ruling National Democratic Party has cleaned up and that the Brotherhood has taken a serious beating. A round of run-off elections is scheduled for Dec. 5.
It's a dramatic turnaround from late 2005, when the Brotherhood surprised even many Egyptians by winning 88 seats, grabbing around 20 percent in the People¹s Assembly.
But that was then. In 2005 the administration of George W. Bush was at the height of its push for democratic reform in the Arab world, and President Mubarak¹s authoritarian government was squarely in the American cross hairs.
Posted: 1332 GMT
Hosted by Rima Maktabi from Doha, Qatar
Modern Art in Qatar
Sufis in Siwa
A Pilgrimage and a Royal Visit
Posted: 1055 GMT
By Tim Lister, CNN
(CNN) - U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by the website WikiLeaks and published by newspapers in the United States and Europe on Sunday reveal considerable anxiety among the Gulf states about Iran's nuclear program, with the Bahrain's king warning, "The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it."
The cables, many marked "Secret," were among several hundred thousand obtained by WikiLeaks and published by newspapers Sunday.
They reveal great concern among Arab states about Iran's regional ambitions. One cable describes a meeting between Saudi King Abdullah and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and other U.S. officials in March 2009.
According to the cable, the king told the Americans what he had just told the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. "You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters," the Saudi monarch was quoted as telling Mottaki. "Iran's goal is to cause problems," he told Brennan. "There is no doubt something unstable about them." Read full story...
November 28, 2010
Posted: 641 GMT
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, shakes hands with Iran's first vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi.
(CNN) - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Iran on Saturday as part of a two-day visit to the country aimed at expanding relations, Iranian state media reported.
It is Hariri's first visit to Iran as prime minister, state-run Press TV said, and the visit comes a month after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Lebanon on his first state visit to the country.
"We consider this visit to be very important and hope for further expansion of ties between Iran and Lebanon," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
During the trip, Hariri is expected to meet with Ahmadinejad, Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahibi, National Security Chairman Saeed Jalili and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Fars reported.
"Lebanon considers cooperation with Iran necessary for creating a common ground to fight the dangers that threaten the two countries and even the region," Press TV quoted Hariri as saying before departing Beirut for the Iranian capital, Tehran.
November 25, 2010
Posted: 1027 GMT
A Christian protester was killed and dozens others were wounded Wednesday in violent clashes with police that erupted over permission to build a church here.
Egyptian police fired tear gas. The 150 demonstrators answered with Molotov cocktails.
In the aftermath of the melee, the ground in front of a government building in suburban Giza was littered with rocks and knocked-over potted plants.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said 93 people were arrested.
Tensions have been running high between Egypt's Muslim majority and minority Christians who make up about 9 percent of the people.
Copts, who are adherents of an Egyptian sect of Christianity, complain of discrimination, including the lack of freedom to build houses of worship. The government denies those accusations.
However, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has expressed concern that the Egyptian government and media have deliberately promoted sectarian friction ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for December.
"We've seen a clear uptick in recent weeks of incitement coming from media outlets and clerics espousing sectarian hatred and violence," said Leonard Leo, chairman of the independent, bi-partisan commission. "This kind of rhetoric goes too far and stokes the fire of extremists looking for ammunition to justify violent acts against religious minorities." Read more...
November 24, 2010
Posted: 1219 GMT
Posted: 1126 GMT
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has arrived in the United States for medical treatment, the State Department said.
King Abdullah ruled Saudi Arabia since 2005.
The king left Saudi Arabia earlier Monday for treatment of a herniated spinal disc and a blood clot that was causing him back pain, state media said.
Saudi dignitaries met him when he arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.
The agency's report did not specify which hospital would be providing treatment to the ruler.
November 23, 2010
Posted: 811 GMT
Israel started building a barrier along its border with Egypt Monday. The Israeli government says it is to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing into the country and to stop smuggling.
November 22, 2010
Posted: 1139 GMT
While the search for inner beauty is this month drawing Muslims to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, a different kind of search - this time for beauty of a more obvious kind - is drawing many from the Middle East to another location.