Articles on Middle East

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A woman protests in Britain against the stoning of people for sexual ‘crimes’. Brunei is moving to apply the Sharia law penalty to gay people. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

As region’s homophobia turns deadly, let’s stand up for rights

Although Australia does not yet allow same-sex couples to marry, it is not a country that is generally described as homophobic. The days of it being a crime to be gay here are, thankfully, a relic of a…
The UN has singled out Iran for discrimination against women, so why is it elected to the main UN body dedicated to gender equality? EPA/Stefan Zaklin

Having Iran as its standard-bearer for women’s rights discredits UN

In March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported to the General Assembly on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ban expressed concern that women in Iran “are subject to discrimination…
PLO representative Azzam Al Ahmad with Hamas prime minister Sheikh Ismael Haneiya and Ahmad Nahar. EPA/Mohammed Saber

Fatah’s reconciliation with Hamas is vital for Middle East peace

At a ceremony in Gaza on Wednesday, representatives of the two main rival Palestinian political factions, Fatah and Hamas, signed a reconciliation agreement. Predictably, the news was met with stern criticism…
Silencing dissent: al-Jazeera journalists in a court cage during their trial. Al-Masry al-Ayoum/EPA

Opinions are dangerous as Egypt cracks down on dissent

As I write this, 20 journalists – including several al-Jazeera reporters – are on trial in Cairo on charges of spreading disinformation and abetting terrorists. Their alleged crime includes operating without…
After destroying towns and cities, Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon. Christiaan Triebert

No end in sight as Syria misery spreads across region

The second round of the Geneva II talks on Syria have ended with no agreement and without even a decision on the date of a further meeting. The highly experienced UN mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, was clearly…
Despite much discussion, the Geneva peace talks between Syria’s warring parties did little more than illustrate the size of the chasm between the two parties. EPA/Arnd Wiegmann

Geneva 2 talks fail to achieve promised transition for Syria

The much-anticipated first round of the Geneva 2 Syrian peace talks wrapped up on Friday after ten days of tense discussions. The international community had hoped that the talks would pave the way for…
Foreign minister Julie Bishop made news in Israel by declaring Australia would like to see which international law made settlements in occupied Palestinian territories illegal. Times of Israel

Settlements illegal under what law? Take your pick, minister

The Australian government has become an apologist for Israeli war crimes and a wrecker of sacred international humanitarian law principles. Last week, Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop asked to…
Pope Francis’ journey to the Middle East will be a defining journey on the question of Catholic-Eastern Orthodox unity. EPA/L'Osservatore Romano

Making history personal: Pope Francis’ mission of unity to the Middle East

Pope Francis announced this month he will visit the Middle East in May this year. While it has been foreshadowed since the first weeks of his papacy, this event will place the Church’s first South American…
Such are the bitter divisions created by atrocities such as the car bombing that led to this mass funeral in Kafat village in Hama province that reconciliation cannot succeed as an afterthought. EPA/SANA

Want peace in Syria? Work on reconciliation from day one

When outsiders survey the devastation in Syria, reconciliation is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Millions of refugees and internally displaced people are desperate for humanitarian aid. Millions…
Ariel Sharon, right, with Menachem Begin. Israeli GPO

Ariel Sharon dies at 85 after decades as polarising presence

To his critics he will forever be the “Butcher of Beirut”, the master of Israel’s disastrous invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the man responsible for the horrendous massacre of hundreds of Palestinians…
Iraq now faces an assault on its sovereign integrity from Islamic extremists that is testing the organs of the state. EPA/Mohammed Jalil

Iraq and its extremist problem: what now for the troubled state?

The number of deaths in Iraq from attacks by extremist groups operating under the banner of Islam has been growing steadily since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011. In 2013, nearly 8900 people…
Land under threat: Palestinian shepherds in the Jordan valley. AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Latest Israel-Palestine talks likely to falter over land swap

When US secretary of state John Kerry returned to the Middle East last week, it was with the assurance from senior officials that “nobody has an intention of sticking a finger in Kerry’s eye” on the issue…
Protesters take a break during demonstrations in Yemen. Al-Jazeera English

Arabian Al-Qaeda struggles for influence in Yemen

The deadly attacks on Yemen’s defence ministry that killed 52 people in early December have renewed speculation about the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP, which has claimed…
Taking dictation: David Cameron vists Kazakh President Nazarbayev. Leon Neal/PA

Kazakhstan shows how dictators can survive diversity

Why do states and societies collapse? Efforts to explain the hugely complicated conflicts in Syria and Libya have understandably placed heavy emphasis on these nations’ ethnic or tribal diversity. Writers…
All smiles in Geneva: but there are some unhappy people in the Middle East. Carolyn Kaster/AP/Press Association Images

Iran’s nuclear weapons deal will rebalance the Middle East

Signed by the P5 + Germany and mediated by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, the deal achieved with Iran on the latter’s nuclear programme has important implications for regional…
Martin E Dempsey warns the fallout of the Arab Spring will take a long time to clear. Glenn Fawcett

Recovery from the Arab Spring will take a generation or more

At a meeting at the Wall Street Journal this week, Martin E Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that the United States’ ability to exercise influence in the Middle East had significantly…

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