Articles on Middle East

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Increased sanctions against Iran could weaken more than its national currency, the Rial. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

New sanctions could be hindering progress in Iran

Bob Carr’s announcement yesterday that Australia would increase sanctions against Iran will be greeted with praise from some quarters. There is a growing understanding among analysts, diplomats and leaders…
Palestinians gather around what is left of a destroyed house after an Israeli air strike this week. EPA/Ali Ali

Israel, Gaza and the tragic justifications for war

Gaza, ostracised, enclosed and pummelled, is being levelled – again. Israel’s case against Hamas, expressed both via air strikes and a social media war, is one of self-defence. Article 51 of the United…
Iranian students demonstrate in Tehran to mark the 33rd anniversary of US Embassy takeover. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Obama’s legacy could lie in the Middle East, but will he go for it?

The re-election of Barack Obama to a second term will have significant ramifications for an America struggling with economic and social difficulties. But will it have the same impact on residents of the…
President Barack Obama, pictured here with Chinese President Hu Jintao, will continue to ‘pivot’ to Asia. EPA/Alex Wong

Foreign affairs: what can we expect from Obama’s second term?

Sitting in New York, in the aftermath of an American election dominated by a domestic agenda, it is easy to lose sight of both the pressing external problems that the US continues to face, and the impact…
Australian Syrians protest in Hyde Park, Sydney, in February calling for the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down immediately. AAP Image/Lauren Farrow

The conflict at home and abroad: Australian involvement in Syria

In Syria, the optimism which accompanied the Arab Spring uprising has faded into the reality of a bloody sectarian civil war. Recent media reports have highlighted the involvement of foreign fighters in…
Syrian government forces during an operation in Aleppo. SANA

Bombs across the border: will Turkey intervene in the Syrian war?

The exchange of artillery fire between Turkish and Syrian forces over the past few days has seen a renewed focus on the possibility of an escalating war between Damascus and Ankara. It seems that not since…
President Obama’s charm offensive in the Middle East has been overtaken by the Arab Spring and growing instability in the region. EPA/Khaled El Fiqi

Obama and Romney face off over Middle East policy

When Barack Obama and Mitt Romney commenced their presidential campaigns, Middle East policy was not a top issue. But the Middle East has a propensity to thrust itself on US politics. True to form, the…
Residents inspect their damaged house after a bomb explosion in Baquba, Iraq. EPA/Ali Mohammed

Bombings in Iraq a sign of deep domestic problems

When US President Obama announced the end of America’s involvement in Iraq, he deliberately did not claim victory. But he did say, when welcoming the last contingent of combat troops home in October last…
Many Syrians prefer the stability of the Assad regime to the chaos they saw after dictators were deposed in Libya and Iraq. EPA/Youssef Badawi

The Syria roulette wheel – where nobody wins

The stench of hypocrisy is a hard one to wash out for the West in the Middle East. We shook Gadaffi’s hand and pretended we liked his outfits when he coughed up for Lockerbie and we snuggled with Mubarak…
Looking at the earth from above can reveal incredible secrets. delayed gratification

Googling the past: how I uncovered prehistoric remains from my office

Archaeology is the study of the remains of the past but has long been predatory on the sciences and their ever-growing technologies. I was brought up as a student in 1970s Britain, when we learned of the…
How can we stop people putting themselves in peril? AAP/Josh Jerga

Five ways to prevent more asylum seeker tragedies

Last weekend, an overcrowded fishing boat sank off the coast of Indonesia with more than 200 asylum seekers on board. In Australia, the political blame game started soon after with both sides trying to…
Egypt takes its first steps towards democracy but it’s not in the way many were hoping for. EPA/Amel Pain

The rise of Islamist parties in Egypt’s elections

After the overthrowing of dictator Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has had its first round of parliamentary elections, with two parties dominating the vote – the moderate Muslim Brotherhood and the religious conservative…
President Obama and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy were caught speaking of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in unflattering terms at the G20 summit. AAP/Stefan Rousseau

Careless whisper: what Obama and Sarkozy’s slip means for Israel

The recent Cannes G20 meeting was ostensibly about saving Europe from falling into economic oblivion. But a frank exchange between US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, caught…
People in Libya are desperate for change and the new government will have to manage expectations carefully. AFP/Abdullah Doma

The challenges for Libya now Gaddafi is gone

The relegation of Moammar Gaddafi to the meat-locker of history is a significant exorcism of Libya’s past. Whether it would have been better for him to face trial is a moot point. It’s doubtful that too…
Gilad Shalit speaks to his family following his release from captivity after five years. AFP/IDF

One against a thousand: The politics of the Gilad Shalit deal

When Gilad Shalit was dragged away in a cross-border raid in June 2006, it’s doubtful he or his captors would have imagined five years’ of negotiations lay ahead. Nor in their most fevered imaginings would…
Coptic Christians have long been discriminated against in Egypt, but the violence against them, and the government response to it, signals concerns for democracy in the country. EPA/Mohamed Omar

Democracy in peril: Egypt’s handling of Coptic unrest

The violence in Egypt involving Coptic demonstrators, military units and unidentified thugs shocked the country and rang alarms about prospects for transition to democracy. Egypt is going through a revolution…
Syrian troops withdraw from the city of Hama where they were quelling pro-democracy protests. AFP/STR

Solving the crisis in Syria. Where will the unrest end?

The United States has stepped up sanctions against Syria, targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s financial resources. Syria claims to have withdrawn its troops from the city of Hama, which has played a…

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