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September 20, 2011
Al Jazeera’s news director resigns. Was it due to WIkiLeaks? Today’s big mystery revolves around the fate of Wadah Khanfar, the news director of the Qatar-based news organization, who resigned not long after some unflattering information linked from Wikileaks diplomatic cables. The cables suggested that Khanfar went out of his way to assure U.S. government officials that it was being fair in its coverage of the Iraq War, sharing information with a diplomat and going so far as to spike a story. So, was that it? BTW, Khanfar’s replacement is Sheik Ahmad bin Jasem bin Muhammad Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, which won’t help refute claims that the news organization is under the country’s influence. (thanks climateadaptation)

Al Jazeera’s news director resigns. Was it due to WIkiLeaks? Today’s big mystery revolves around the fate of Wadah Khanfar, the news director of the Qatar-based news organization, who resigned not long after some unflattering information linked from Wikileaks diplomatic cables. The cables suggested that Khanfar went out of his way to assure U.S. government officials that it was being fair in its coverage of the Iraq War, sharing information with a diplomat and going so far as to spike a story. So, was that it? BTW, Khanfar’s replacement is Sheik Ahmad bin Jasem bin Muhammad Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, which won’t help refute claims that the news organization is under the country’s influence. (thanks climateadaptation)

23:35 // 2 years ago
September 6, 2011
We are completely suspending all of these, trade relations, military relations, related with the defense industry. All of these are completely suspended and other measures will follow this process.
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan • Explaining why his country would be placing additional sanctions on Israel, which he compared to a “spoiled boy.” The two countries were once close allies, but one flotilla raid later, and all that’s out the window. It’s a pretty dramatic change if you ask us. source (viafollow)
10:33 // 2 years ago
August 18, 2011

Diplomatic boxing match of the day: The Georgetown Hoyas were playing a team in China today when this brawl broke out with just a couple minutes to go. Generally we don’t post a lot of sports stuff, but let’s face it: When a Chinese team gets into a fight with an American team, it looks more like a diplomatic problem than a sports problem. (Oh yeah: Biden was at the last game Georgetown played in China.)

14:34 // 3 years ago
July 11, 2011
23:50 // 3 years ago
June 15, 2011
Robert Gates: Hamid Karzai will leave power in 2014
The long Karzai goodbye: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that despite previous suggestions he might try to change the Afghan constitution to let him serve a third term, Hamid Karzai is now telling people privately he’ll leave power in 2014. What the nature of America’s presence in Afghanistan would be without Karzai is hard to say; whatever comes of the fight against the Taliban, the government he’s been running is thoroughly corrupt, if much less brutal than the alternative. Neither has his alliance with the U.S. seemed in good faith at times — remember when he threatened to join the Taliban, or admitted his administration was taking literal bags full of cash from Iran? Here’s hoping a different leader can stem the tide of corruption. source
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The long Karzai goodbye: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that despite previous suggestions he might try to change the Afghan constitution to let him serve a third term, Hamid Karzai is now telling people privately he’ll leave power in 2014. What the nature of America’s presence in Afghanistan would be without Karzai is hard to say; whatever comes of the fight against the Taliban, the government he’s been running is thoroughly corrupt, if much less brutal than the alternative. Neither has his alliance with the U.S. seemed in good faith at times — remember when he threatened to join the Taliban, or admitted his administration was taking literal bags full of cash from Iran? Here’s hoping a different leader can stem the tide of corruption. source

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17:37 // 3 years ago
June 5, 2011
We would be shortsighted to think this doesn’t pose short-term national security concerns. The likelihood is that [al-Qaeda operatives] will be raising their heads.
Frank J. Cilluffo, the head of, George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute • Describing the danger that the Saleh’s transition away from Yemeni leadership means for the War on Terror. A key terror cell — al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — could cause serious issues by taking advantage of the instability in the region, while Yemeni opposition leaders deny the group’s existence at all. (Which is troubling because two separate attacks have been tied to the group since late 2009 — including the underwear bomber.) Another way this could force the U.S. into a precarious position: Saleh was an ally of the U.S., and an unstable transition could force diplomats to scramble to make up for a transition that doesn’t favor Americans. A complicated issue all around — and one with difficult answers. source (viafollow)
21:49 // 3 years ago
May 19, 2011
Obama really had an opportunity to reshape and reframe the debate and … he gave it away. This speech was an opportunity to say to Arabs, ‘We as Americans made mistakes, we did not support democratic aspirations as much as we should have, but we’re going to do better.’ Obama didn’t say that.
Brookings Doha Center Director of Research Shadi Hamid • Approaching Obama’s Middle East speech today from an outside-looking-in angle. The problem he and others in the Middle East see? It didn’t offer a clear strong apology for American screw-ups nor a good reason for the cynical to give up their cynicism. Obama’s 2009 speech on the Middle East received a much different response, but many in the region feel that the president broke promises and acted too slow on the Arab Spring protests. We understand where they’re coming from, and agree … but unfortunately, the push Obama made for an Israel/Palestine split based upon the 1967 lines is as bold as the president will probably get, considering how divisive the issue remains among Americans. source (viafollow)
20:17 // 3 years ago
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Obama’s Mideast Speech: Join NPR’s @acarvin For A Twitter Conversation
@acarvin: I’m going to co-host a conversation on Twitter during and after the president’s speech, which is scheduled to begin Thursday at 11:40am ET (1540 GMT). I’ll be joined by Marc Lynch, also known on Twitter as @abuaardvark, of FP.com’s Mideast Channel.

lookhigh:

Obama’s Mideast Speech: Join NPR’s @acarvin For A Twitter Conversation

@acarvinI’m going to co-host a conversation on Twitter during and after the president’s speech, which is scheduled to begin Thursday at 11:40am ET (1540 GMT). I’ll be joined by Marc Lynch, also known on Twitter as @abuaardvark, of FP.com’s Mideast Channel.

(via npr)

12:05 // 3 years ago
May 18, 2011

Obama’s focus tomorrow: The quickly-changing Middle East

Obama’s giving a big speech tomorrow. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heading to town to discuss the long-gestating peace deal with Palestine, Obama will give a speech from the State Department intended for both the American public and the Middle East. There’s speculation that he may push for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation … or more surprisingly, endorse pushing back Israel’s borders to pre-1967 levels as a starting point in negotiations between Israel and Palestine. What’s he gonna say? One thing that’s pretty clear at this point is that Egypt’s getting some aid money — roughly $2 billion, to be exact — possibly as an anchor to encourage support of Israel. All in all, fun day ahead. source

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21:58 // 3 years ago