Archive: Mideast

Jimmy Carter, Palestinian Sympathizer

Jimmy Carter has emerged as the most prominent pro-Palestinian public figure in America. In a new book, the former president offers a passionate defense of Palestinian aspirations rarely heard in the U.S. media and unprecedented from someone who once occupied...

By Jefferson Morley | December 6, 2006; 01:23 PM ET | Comments (287)

Lebanon: Civil War or Nasrallah's Peace?

As Middle East newspapers were warning this weekend that Lebanon is on the brink of civil war, Beirut enjoyed a moment of civility. As tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators began an indefinite occupation of the city's center last weekend,...

By Jefferson Morley | December 5, 2006; 01:53 AM ET | Comments (19)

Nasrallah's Brinksmanship

It has been just over three months since the United Nations brokered a cease-fire in the month-long war that left Lebanon battered and made Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah a hero to many in the Arab world. But Nasrallah's success is...

By Jefferson Morley | November 16, 2006; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (76)

Doubting Baker

While many in Washington expect former secretary of state James Baker to engineer a shift in U.S. Iraq policy, a variety of international online commentators doubt he can do it. Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton lead the Iraq...

By Jefferson Morley | November 15, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (21)

'Futile Ritual' Seen in U.S. Veto on Gaza Attack

The U.S. veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli attack that killed 20 Palestinian civilians last week has incensed Middle East commentators, including some Israelis. "This resolution does not display an evenhanded characterization of the recent events...

By Jefferson Morley | November 14, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (104)

In Arab World, Bitterness Over Hussein Verdict

News of Saddam Hussein's death sentence has drawn mixed reaction from throughout the world. But in the so-called "Arab Street," the reaction has been a unified bitterness. Azzaman and Al-Sabah, two of the biggest circulation papers in Baghdad, published news...

By Jefferson Morley | November 8, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (17)

More on Counting Civilian Casualties

The online debate continues about a recent report in a British medical journal estimating 655,000 civilian deaths since the U.S. led invasion in March 2003. After my column on the study last week, lead author Gilbert Burnham defended its methodology...

By Jefferson Morley | October 25, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (17)

Is Iraq's Civilian Death Toll 'Horrible' -- Or Worse?

A report published last week in the British medical journal Lancet which found that more than 600,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq elicited a prompt dismissal from President Bush. "I don't consider it a credible report," he said. "Neither...

By Jefferson Morley | October 19, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (73)

A Tough Mideast Tour for Rice

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's tour of the Middle East to enlist so-called "moderate" Arab governments to support Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the Western campaign to curb Iran's nuclear program faces pervasive skepticism, if not hostility, in the region's online...

By Jefferson Morley | October 5, 2006; 09:25 AM ET | Comments (67)

Partition Debate Splits Iraq

Last month, the White House dismissed the idea that Iraq should be divided into three countries as an impractical scenario that most Iraqis don't want. But the biggest Shiite party of the Iraqi parliament is calling for the creation of autonomous regions in Iraq, sparking a debate in the war-torn country's coalition government. Opponents -- namely Sunni Arab leaders and Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr -- say the plan amounts to the de facto partitioning of Iraq.

By Jefferson Morley | September 13, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (64)

Mixed Reviews for Nasrallah's Candor

Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah faces new criticism in the English-language Arab online media after admitting Sunday that he had not anticipated massive Israeli retaliation for his group's July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers. "Had I known that capturing...

By Jefferson Morley | August 31, 2006; 11:07 AM ET | Comments (54)

A Round of Recriminations in Israel

Israel seems to be in a foul mood. Recriminations about the 33-day war with Hezbollah have engulfed the country's online media. Commentators from across the political spectrum are blaming ineffectual civilian leaders, unprepared military commanders, weak-willed leftists, reckless rightists, U.S....

By Jefferson Morley | August 30, 2006; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (38)

Iran and the World: 'Diplomatic Chicken'

With Thursday's U.N. Security Council deadline for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment looming, both sides have hardened their public positions. Privately, the door to diplomacy is closing but perhaps not shut. * U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton...

By Jefferson Morley | August 29, 2006; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (198)

The Qana Conspiracy Theory

As Hezbollah wins support throughout the Middle East in the aftermath of the Israeli airstrike that killed at least 57 Lebanese civilians over the weekend, an alternative view of the attack is emerging in blogs -- that the incident was...

By Jefferson Morley | August 2, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (432)

The Qana Tipping Point

The Israeli air strike on the Lebanese village of Qana early Sunday morning did more than kill 57 civilians. According to a wide range of commentary in the international media, it inflamed already boiling public opinion in the Arab world...

By Jefferson Morley | August 1, 2006; 06:51 AM ET | Comments (175)

As Diplomacy Falters, Military Struggle Deepens

With the failure of an international conference in Rome to agree on a plan to end the war between Israel and the Shiite militia Hezbollah, leaders of the two fighting forces have redoubled their commitment to war. Two weeks into...

By Jefferson Morley | July 27, 2006; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (309)

How to Watch the War on the Web

You too can be a wartime news editor. With the ubiquity of streaming video on the Internet and advances in search engines, RSS and self-publishing tools, anyone can bypass the editorial hierarchies of Western news organizations and assemble a personal...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 26, 2006; 07:38 AM ET | Comments (37)

Iran -- Instigator or Bystander?

Tehran is more than 900 miles from the scene of the fight, but the Iranian government stands at the heart of the Hezbollah-Israeli war, according to some international online commentators. Whether Iran is instigator or target of the war now entering its third week is much disputed. The Israeli and American view that Iran is mainly responsible for Hezbollah's attacks runs counter to the common view in the Iranian and Arab news sites that the Islamic Republic supports but does not control the Shiite militia of Lebanon.

By Jefferson Morley | July 25, 2006; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (140)

A Conflict Viewed Through Very Different Lenses

Are Americans being given a very different view of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict than their counterparts in Europe and elsewhere? Yes, according to commentators in Muslim and European media. The editors of the Jordan Times are especially critical of the U.S....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 21, 2006; 06:18 AM ET | Comments (521)

Can Israel Defeat Hezbollah?

While Israel proclaims its military campaign in Lebanon will end in the decisive defeat of Hezbollah, many online commentators in the Arab world say the Israeli offensive is actually strengthening the Shiite militia and radical Islamists. As international diplomacy to...

By washingtonpost.com | July 18, 2006; 07:31 PM ET | Comments (439)

Where Is the Conflict Headed?

As the confrontation between Israel and Lebanon continues to escalate, online commentators are seeking to answer whether Israel and Hezbollah can achieve their stated goals. A quick look at where things stand going into the G8 weekend: Hezbollah secretary general...

By Jefferson Morley | July 15, 2006; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (234)

Nasrallah Gambles for Hezbollah

Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers is a trademark gambit of the group's secretary general Hasan Nasrallah, according to Middle East online observers. Nasrallah, who will be 46 years old on Friday, is seen by friend and foe alike as...

By Jefferson Morley | July 13, 2006; 06:36 PM ET | Comments (260)

The Hostage and the Picnic

The U.S. media coverage of the ongoing Israel incursion into Gaza "has been irresponsible in not covering much about the prologue to the present violence, the Israeli military's bombing of civilians on a Gaza beach earlier in the month," says...

By Jefferson Morley | June 29, 2006; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (289)

Israel's Hostage Crisis Sparks Both Joy, Anger

As Israeli tanks amass outside Gaza and diplomats from Washington to Paris to Cairo talk about the fate of a single Israeli hostage, the response of the online media in Israel and the occupied territories ranges from joy to rage,...

By Jefferson Morley | June 27, 2006; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (204)

Zarqawi's Death -- Just Who Does It Help?

Has the U.S. reached a turning point in its war on terror? That's the question at the heart of international online commentary on the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The death of the 39-year-old Jordanian insurgent who orchestrated suicide bombings and televised decapitations was "a rare and major success" for the United States and the Iraqi government, according to the BBC and many others.

By washingtonpost.com | June 8, 2006; 06:48 PM ET | Comments (120)

Support Seen for Jailhouse Letter

Some Israelis see it as a trick. Many Palestinians see it as common sense. "It," in fact, is a jailhouse letter that has landed at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The "Prisoners' Reconciliation Document," as it is known, is...

By washingtonpost.com | June 7, 2006; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (16)

How Haditha Helps Iran

The fallout from last November's deadly raid in Haditha has, in the words of Spiegel Online contributors Georg Mascolo and Gerhard Sporl, "destroyed much of any progress made" in recent weeks in establishing a new Iraqi government and starting negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.

By Jefferson Morley | June 6, 2006; 08:37 AM ET | Comments (20)

Rice's Big Move

Condoleezza Rice "calls Iran's bluff," headlines the Guardian's Simon Tisdall. This week's news that the U.S. will offer to negotiate with Iran directly over its nuclear program has thrust the U.S. Secretary of State into the full international limelight. But does her growing influence indicate a shift in strategy in the Bush White House?

By Jefferson Morley | June 1, 2006; 12:38 PM ET | Comments (55)

Chomsky at Home Abroad

Noam Chomsky, world-renowned linguist and fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy, does not get much coverage in the U.S. online media. But overseas, his utterances on war and peace regularly make headlines, for better or for worse.

By Jefferson Morley | May 31, 2006; 02:20 PM ET | Comments (63)

Saddam's Greatest Hits

The latest headline from Saddam Hussein's war crimes trial: "Uproar in court as judge ejects Saddam lawyer." Just over six months after proceedings began, the trial continues to be a platform the former Iraqi president to defy "occupation forces" and assert his authority. Here's a look at Hussein's courtroom proclamations, which illuminate the mind of a former dictator in the dock. On his current position in life: "I'm Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq. I am above all." (Feb. 20)

By washingtonpost.com | May 22, 2006; 02:42 PM ET | Comments (22)

Saddam Court on Trial

When Saddam Hussein was charged with war crimes two years ago, hopes ran high that his trial would bolster a new Iraq. "The trial also marks an important step in Iraqi efforts to regain international legitimacy and achieve some sort...

By Jefferson Morley | May 22, 2006; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (2)

Starving Hamas

The growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories around Israel has two faces in the global online media. In the U.S. press, the story focuses on the struggle of Washington policy makers to come to terms with the radical...

By Jefferson Morley | May 11, 2006; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (345)

Arab Media Sees Missed Opportunity in U.S. Rejection of Ahmadinejad

In the neighborhood of the Persian Gulf, Iran may be the biggest kid on the block. But it's hardly the most popular. The size of the Islamic Republic (69 million people), its state theology (revolutionary Shia), its influence in Iraq...

By Jefferson Morley | May 10, 2006; 11:24 AM ET | Comments (85)

Iran Letter's Surprising Result

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush offering "new ways" to resolve the international dispute over Iran's nuclear program, while brushed off by the White House, has achieved one clear result: more positive press coverage than he has ever gotten. With...

By Jefferson Morley | May 9, 2006; 01:24 PM ET | Comments (72)

BBC's Middle East Coverage Faulted

The BBC is failing to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict well, says an independent report. The British television network's coverage is inconsistent, incomplete and misleading, but there is "no deliberate or systematic bias" in its reporting of the Middle East. The...

By Jefferson Morley | May 5, 2006; 09:59 AM ET | Comments (50)

Israel's Unsettling Coalition

Come Thursday, Israel is expected to swear in a new government and the world will begin to learn what exactly Prime Minister Ehud Olmert means by "convergence." "Convergence" is the word Olmert used during the Israeli election campaign to describe...

By Jefferson Morley | May 2, 2006; 08:37 AM ET | Comments (44)

Death Penalty for Danish Cartoons?

The Danish cartoon story may have subsided in the West, but the controversy still reverberates around the world. Sixty delegates from youth groups in Denmark and the Persian Gulf met in Dubai this week to talk about the cartoons and...

By Jefferson Morley | April 18, 2006; 06:53 PM ET | Comments (125)

Down Under, Oil for Food Scandal Spins the Other Way

In Australia, the politics of the United Nations Oil for Food scandal have been reversed. In the United States and Europe, conservative commentators have played up the scandal, noting that that French, Russian and British officials who opposed the U.S.-led...

By Jefferson Morley | April 18, 2006; 06:15 PM ET | Comments (15)

Deadlock Breeds Despair in Iraq

The prospect of progress in Iraq was scuttled once again today when Iraq's top legislator postponed a parliamentary session meant to break deadlock. "Our government is fast asleep, snoring over pillows filled with ostrich feathers and if it wakes up - and that is a big if - it immerses itself in soft and luxurious armchairs," writes Jamal Mudhafar in today's edition of Azzaman, a Baghdad daily.

By Jefferson Morley | April 17, 2006; 01:38 PM ET | Comments (33)

Why the Iraqi Impasse Continues

Why doesn't Iraq have a government yet? Two answers predominate among commentators in the Middle East and elsewhere. Many in the Arab and Iranian press blame the U.S. occupation, saying the United States and Britain are trying to impose their...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | April 14, 2006; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (30)

As Iran Celebrates, Europe Worries

As the Iranian online media celebrates a nuclear technology breakthrough, European observers see a deepening confrontation between the Islamic Republic and the rest of the world. The disparate reaction to news that Iran has processed a small amount of uranium...

By Jefferson Morley | April 12, 2006; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (43)

Does Civil War Threat Loom Beyond Iraq?

Alarm about the possibility of civil war is not just limited to Iraq, say the Middle East online media. Harsh reaction to remarks made by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak about Iran's influence this weekend shows that the conflict between Shiites...

By Jefferson Morley | April 10, 2006; 11:06 AM ET | Comments (23)

Israeli Lobby Controversy Grows

The international debate about Prof. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's study of the influence of the Israel lobby continues to grow. The Post's Michael Powell reported on the controversy today while Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books, defended her decision to publish the piece. Israeli critics also continued to dispute the authors' findings.

By Jefferson Morley | April 3, 2006; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (183)

Israel's Arabs: Outsiders Within

Like many Israeli Arabs, Azmi Bishara feels like an outsider living in the Jewish state. He is a member of the Knesset and running for reelection to the Israeli parliament in the country's March 28 elections. But his newspaper column...

By Jefferson Morley | March 23, 2006; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (63)

Israel's Election Shows Kadima's 'Unilateral' Appeal

As its name implies, the Israeli-Palestinian Web site bitterlemons.org does not offer sweet reading. Launched in 2001 by Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher and Palestinian politician Ghassan Khatib, bitterlemons features hard-headed analysis from both sides of the Middle East conflict...

By Jefferson Morley | March 22, 2006; 11:14 AM ET | Comments (15)

Three Years On, British War Critics Crow

Three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the heated debate in the British media about the war has given way to a gloomier discussion about Iraq's dismal state. Even more than in the United States, opponents of the war...

By washingtonpost.com | March 20, 2006; 03:20 AM ET | Comments (79)

After Palestinian Vote, U.S. Democracy Campaign Questioned

The United States, declared President Bush in his 2005 inaugural address, seeks to "support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Later this month the...

By Jefferson Morley | March 17, 2006; 09:23 AM ET | Comments (22)

Dubai Fallout Deepens U.S.-Arab Rifts

The Arab online media sees an ugly America in a congressional decision to reject a Dubai-based company's bid to manage six U.S. ports. After weeks of controversy and mounting pressure, the firm announced Thursday that it would divest its U.S....

By Jefferson Morley | March 13, 2006; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (30)

Iran's Reformists Take on 'Neo-cons'

In the increasingly heated confrontation between Iran and the West, the reformist Web site Rooz is attempting to steer a middle course. The site, with commentary in English and Persian, is run by journalists both inside and outside the Islamic...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | March 9, 2006; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (23)

Arab Press on Trial Again

As freedom of the press in the Arab world grows, so do the challenges faced by independent journalists there. Yesterday, Kuwait passed one of the strongest press freedom laws in the Arab world. Tomorrow, Muhammad al Asadi, editor of the...

By Jefferson Morley | March 7, 2006; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (5)

Iraq's Sectarian Violence: Made in America?

"In a gesture of goodwill, Iraqi Sunnis in the northern city of Samarra are working tirelessly to rebuild the Golden Mosque, one of the holiest Shiite shrines which was devastated in an odious explosion last week," reports Islam Online. Whether...

By Jefferson Morley | February 28, 2006; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (31)

Helping Hand for Hamas

The U.S. effort to cut off international assistance to the Hamas-led Palestinian government is drawing near universal criticism in the Arab online media. A press survey by the reformist Middle East Times in Egypt finds that even news organizations critical...

By Jefferson Morley | February 27, 2006; 03:34 PM ET | Comments (21)

Arabs Blame 'Bigotry' for Port Storm

In the Arab online media, the furor in the United States over the Bush administration's decision to allow a Persian Gulf firm to manage several U.S. ports is seen almost unanimously as confirmation of American "bigotry" against Muslims. Criticism is...

By Jefferson Morley | February 23, 2006; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (43)

Hamas Bravado Breeds Israeli Worries

The United States and Israel say they won't talk to Hamas, the radical Islamic party preparing to take control of the Palestinian government this weekend. But the Israeli media is. Yesterday, Ynet News, the Web site of Israel's biggest circulation...

By Jefferson Morley | February 17, 2006; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (29)

Cartoon Debate Cont'd: Iran's Ebadi 'Fed Up'

Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has joined Muslim writers who see a Western "double standard" in the publication of Danish cartoons caricaturing the prophet Muhammed. But she also underscores her frustration...

By Jefferson Morley | February 16, 2006; 05:40 PM ET | Comments (37)

'Double Standards' and Dissenters

As the worldwide protests against Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad show no signs of subsiding, a debate within the Muslim world is also visible. While many online Islamic commentators accuse the West of hypocrisy about freedom of expression, a...

By Jefferson Morley | February 16, 2006; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (61)

Hans Blix on Iran's Nuclear Program

In the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, chief  U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix was often chastised in the Western media by supporters of the Bush administration who said the Swedish diplomat was "making excuses" for dictator...

By Jefferson Morley | February 1, 2006; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (52)

Spielberg's Foreign Policy

"'Munich' is definitely the most European film I have ever made," Steven Spielberg told Germany"s Spiegel Online this week. "I also think that 'Munich' will have an easier time here, that it will be understood more easily and better." The...

By Jefferson Morley | January 27, 2006; 09:10 AM ET | Comments (40)

'Earthquake' Rattles Israel

Israelis felt the ground move under their feet today when the radical Islamic group Hamas claimed victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. And many online commentators in the Jewish state are blaming President Bush for the shifting political grounds. "The...

By Jefferson Morley | January 26, 2006; 09:53 AM ET | Comments (86)

Palestinian Dissatisfaction Boosts Hamas

The story line on today's Palestinian elections is the rise of Hamas. Media accounts agree that the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas's formal name, will win a significant share of the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council. For most online observers, its success...

By Jefferson Morley | January 25, 2006; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (28)

What Does Israel Fear in Iran?

Trita Parsi, a Middle East specialist at the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, has a counterpoint to Niall Ferguson's nightmare scenario for "The Great War of 2007." What Israel fears from a nuclear Iran, Parsi...

By Jefferson Morley | January 24, 2006; 02:35 PM ET | Comments (90)

'The Great War of 2007'

Niall Ferguson, British-born historian at Harvard, envisions the current diplomatic impasse over Iran's nuclear program ending in a catastrophic nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel in August 2007 and a wider Middle East war. Ferguson's nightmare scenario, which he sketched...

By Jefferson Morley | January 24, 2006; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (44)

Iran's Nukes: 'Artificial' Crisis or Brink of War?

The gap between Iran and the rest of the world over nuclear issues is growing more obvious. As the veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council called on Iran to suspend its nuclear program Monday, the Iranian online media...

By Jefferson Morley | January 17, 2006; 10:17 AM ET | Comments (43)

Guardian Reporter Briefly Detained in Iraq

There's no doubt Iraq can be a difficult -- and dangerous -- place to practice independent journalism. Reporters Without Borders recently reported that 31 journalists were killed in Iraq in 2005 and last month, the U.S. Defense Department acknowledged...

By Jefferson Morley | January 10, 2006; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (10)

Syria's Assad Looks for 'Face Saving Solution'

"You want to bring a [new] Lebanese president...I will not allow you to do so. I will crush whoever tries to act against our decision." That was the message that Syrian president Bashar Assad allegedly delivered to Lebanese prime minister...

By Jefferson Morley | January 9, 2006; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (11)

Arab Media Quiet on Sharon

The failing health of a longtime foe holds limited interest for the Arab online media. Palestinians are "closely" following the hospitalization of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, according to Al Manar, the Lebanese news site. The Palestinian president  Mahmoud Abbas...

By Jefferson Morley | January 5, 2006; 01:54 PM ET | Comments (10)

Sharon's Last Chapter?

This is not the first time that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been close to death, observes commentator Yuri Lapid in Israel's YNet News. Sharon was shot in the stomach in the first Israeli-Arab war in 1948 and almost...

By Jefferson Morley | January 5, 2006; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (49)

Iran's Besieged Bloggers

In the land of the ayatollahs, online opinion journalism can be a dangerous pastime. "Iran has the grim distinction of having arrested and jailed the most bloggers," says the journalist watchdog group Reporters Without Borders in its annual report released...

By Jefferson Morley | January 4, 2006; 02:51 PM ET | Email a Comment

Lebanon's Media Landscape

Lebanon has perhaps the most diverse and interesting English-language media of any Middle Eastern country. That's good for U.S. observers, since this small country occupies a piece of geopolitically sensitive territory. The country borders on Israel and Syria. Its businessmen...

By Jefferson Morley | December 21, 2005; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Two Iraqis Doubt Vote's Impact

For two Iraqi journalists, Fatih Abdulsalam and Laith Saud, last week's elections may turn out to be less momentous than the American occupiers proclaim."Iraqis are wary that the 275 members of the forthcoming national parliament will once again fail to...

By Jefferson Morley | December 19, 2005; 08:46 AM ET | Comments (47)

Why Arabs Don't Condemn Ahmadinejad

"International condemnation has greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent comments that the Nazi Holocaust was 'a myth'," reports the BBC. But the indignation has distinct geographic limits, notes retired Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar in the Asia Times. "What is...

By Jefferson Morley | December 15, 2005; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (33)

Bitter in Baghdad

Along with the hopefulness expressed by Iraqis on the eve of national elections, there's a current of hostility toward the United States. Nowhere is this attitude expressed more often or more pointedly than in Azzaman, a leading newspaper in Baghdad,...

By Jefferson Morley | December 14, 2005; 03:33 PM ET | Comments (21)

Iraq: Varieties of Optimism

Iraq's parliamentary elections are inspiring hope among online commentators in neighboring countries -- but for very different reasons.  Here are very different answers to what the elections will bring from four observers: Iran News: Real Democracy "The long and hard...

By Jefferson Morley | December 14, 2005; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (9)

Iraqi Optimism Not Necessarily Benefiting U.S.

Is optimism among Iraqis a victory for the United States? While two BBC analysts differ over the meaning of a new survey of Iraqis, another media sponsor of the poll, Germany's Spiegel Online, offered this take: While the United States...

By Jefferson Morley | December 13, 2005; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (13)

BBC Pundits Diverge on Iraqi Poll

Does an opinion poll sponsored by a handful of international media organizations vindicate President George W. Bush's Iraq policies? Two BBC correspondents have very different views. The poll, says a BBC news report, "suggests Iraqis are generally optimistic about their...

By Jefferson Morley | December 13, 2005; 09:08 AM ET | Comments (10)

Anti-Syrian Editor Assassinated in Lebanon

The dangerous profession of journalism in Lebanon turned deadly Monday morning when Gebran Tueni, general manager of An Nahar, a leading Beirut newspaper, was killed by a car bomb. His colleagues at the paper's Web site, Naharnet, are reporting the...

By Jefferson Morley | December 12, 2005; 01:50 PM ET | Comments (8)

Iraq: Withdrawal Talk Leaves Some Uneasy

The U.S. political debate about the future of the American military presence in Iraq is prompting mixed feelings in the Middle East media. When Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi met and shook hands with Iran's hard line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday,...

By Jefferson Morley | November 30, 2005; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (33)

When Is a 'Chemical' Weapon Not a Chemical Weapon?

Reader Graham Bell offers a documentary contribution to the discussion of the U.S. military's use of white phosphorous, or WP, in Iraq last year, first reported earlier this month in the Italian RAI TV documentary "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" (in...

By Jefferson Morley | November 23, 2005; 08:21 AM ET | Comments (8)

Newcomer Triggers Israeli Political Earthquake

"Israel's creaking, turgid political system is breaking up and on the move," says Debkafile, an Israeli news and commentary site. "The decades-old Likud and Labor parties which have dominated all the national governments are crumbling." With Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...

By Jefferson Morley | November 21, 2005; 03:41 PM ET | Comments (7)

Amman Bombing: Spinning a Conspiracy Theory

One Palestinian online columnist is rejecting news reports that Abu Musab Zarqawi was responsible for the hotel bombings in Jordan last week that killed 57 people, many of them Palestinians. "Israeli operatives" were behind the blasts, claims Elias Akleh on...

By Jefferson Morley | November 15, 2005; 04:45 PM ET | Comments (27)

Lebanese Media Worry About U.N. Action

The U.N. Security Council's efforts to press Syria to cooperate with the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri is prompting worries among the very Lebanese groups committed to ending Syrian domination of their country's affairs....

By Jefferson Morley | October 31, 2005; 02:22 PM ET | Comments (12)

Guest Comment

From Ian: "Future historians will shake their heads in disbelief that the USA spent billions of dollars and accepted (so far) 2,000 deaths and 15,000 wounded in order to hand over on a silver platter a Shia statelet to the...

By Jefferson Morley | October 26, 2005; 08:11 PM ET | Comments (25)

Beyond 2,000 Deaths and Ratification

Percolating behind the story of the milestone death of the 2,000th U.S. serviceman and the ratification of the Iraqi constitution lies the emerging irony of Iraq's next round of elections in December. While President Bush declares his intention to "stay...

By Jefferson Morley | October 26, 2005; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (19)

Iraq: About That Poll...

A couple of readers wanted to know more about methodology and coverage of the British Ministry of Defense poll of Iraqis, which found 40 percent of respondents saying attacks on coalition troops are justified. The poll was conducted by ......

By Jefferson Morley | October 25, 2005; 03:01 PM ET | Comments (24)

Faith and Fear

"The constitution seems temporary rather than permanent," an editorial in the Baghdad daily Al Sabah concluded last week, but the piece went on to insist that's a good thing. "It is positive because it keeps the document open to changes...

By Jefferson Morley | October 25, 2005; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (5)

Spin or Not? You Decide

Reader RC writes of the previous item: "It would [be] upfront and honest for Morley to give us a little background on Telegraph reporter [Sean] Rayment -- like maybe he could tell us that Rayment has never written a story...

By Jefferson Morley | October 24, 2005; 05:50 PM ET | Comments (3)

U.K. Poll: Iraqis Oppose Foreign Troops

Four out of five Iraqis oppose the presence of U.S. and British troops in their country, and two out of five believe insurgent attacks on those troops are justified, according to a "secret" poll conducted by the British Ministry of...

By Jefferson Morley | October 24, 2005; 08:10 AM ET | Comments (43)

The Noose Tightens

The Mehlis report implicating Syrian officials in the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, has triggered a new wave of commentary that the Syrian government is in deep trouble amidst a new wave of anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon. ...

By Jefferson Morley | October 22, 2005; 01:03 PM ET | Comments (34)

Syria's 'Death Throes'?

The U.N. report implicating top Syrian officials in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri signals two things for online commentators in Lebanon. 1) Syria is in trouble, which means hope is rising. 2) Syria is in trouble,...

By Jefferson Morley | October 21, 2005; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (67)

And the Not-So-Quiet Arab Media

There's a burst of Arab online commentary today on Saddam Hussein's trial -- as if in response to the evident uneasiness in the region. The trial is proof that "change" is coming to the Arab world, says columnist Randa Takieddine...

By Jefferson Morley | October 20, 2005; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (10)

The Quiet Arab Media

The opening day of Saddam Hussein's trial evoked uneasiness and, at times, little interest in the Arab online media. The sight of a once-formidable Sunni Arab leader facing charges from a court in a country under U.S. occupation now run...

By Jefferson Morley | October 20, 2005; 08:15 AM ET | Comments (2)

Antiwar Europe Worries About Saddam Hussein Trial

For European online commentators who opposed the invasion of Iraq, the trial of Saddam Hussein is a welcome event, with worrisome undertones.  Two concerns stand out: International legal norms may not be observed because of U.S. influence and the proceedings...

By Jefferson Morley | October 19, 2005; 07:19 AM ET | Comments (24)

Israel's Online Debate

Israeli reaction to Monday's drive-by attack in which Palestinian gunmen killed three Israelis illuminates the wide spectrum of opinion in that country's online media. Collectively, these sites publish a much wider range of debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than is...

By Jefferson Morley | October 18, 2005; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (81)

'Artificial' Iraq?

Abu Khaleel is probably the only farmer-blogger in Iraq. But his hybrid background gives him some authority to talk about "the land between the two rivers." In the most recent post in his thoughtful blog, A Glimpse of Iraq, Khaleel...

By Jefferson Morley | October 17, 2005; 07:00 PM ET | Comments (3)

More on Iraqi Civilian Casualties

A U.S. airstrike in western Iraq that U.S. officials said killed 70 insurgents today raises the issue of Iraqi civilian casualties yet again. Witnesses said 39 of the dead were civilians, according a wire service account carried by aljazeera.net and...

By Jefferson Morley | October 17, 2005; 02:27 PM ET | Comments (22)

Mideast Media Link Constitution, U.S. Withdrawal

"It is difficult for commentators to be objective about Iraq's constitution," opines the Daily Telegraph of London today. "Like every development in that country, it is viewed through the prism of the invasion. Those who supported the war hate the...

By Jefferson Morley | October 17, 2005; 09:10 AM ET | Comments (15)

Withdrawal Symptoms

"Flailing away with a stick at a hornets' nest while loudly proclaiming 'I will stay the course' is an exercise in catastrophic leadership," writes former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in today's edition of the Australian. Brzezinski calls for "a...

By Jefferson Morley | October 14, 2005; 01:55 PM ET | Comments (9)

Does the Constitution Matter?

Saturday's referendum on Iraq's constitution will do less to shape the country's future than its escalating level of violence, say two war correspondents. Iraq is descending into anarchy, says Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent of the London Independent. The...

By Jefferson Morley | October 14, 2005; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (6)

When the 'Great Satan' and 'Axis of Evil' Agree

Iraqis may be split on the proposed constitution that will be subject to a nationwide referendum on Saturday, but Iran and the United States are firmly in the "vote yes" camp -- two countries that often portray each other as...

By Jefferson Morley | October 13, 2005; 04:42 PM ET | Comments (1)

Iraq: Referendum Preparations Weakest in Sunni Areas

Several new polls show that support for Iraq's proposed constitution is running strong among the country's Kurds and Shiites, and preparations for Saturday's vote appear to be further along in the Kurdish and Shiite regions of the country than in...

By Jefferson Morley | October 13, 2005; 09:55 AM ET | Email a Comment

Iraqi Corruption Watch

As the prospects for approval of the Iraqi constitution grow, so does the story of Iraqi corruption on the U.S. watch. Iraq issued arrest warrants Tuesday for 27 officials allegedly involved in the embezzlement of more than $1 billion from...

By Jefferson Morley | October 12, 2005; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (7)

Women Fear Iraq's New Order

In southern Iraq, London Independent correspondent Kim Sengupta reports on a "new, public mood of defiance and nationalism among the Shia ... as they prepare for power for the first time in 100 years." Having survived Saddam Hussein's repression, the...

By Jefferson Morley | October 12, 2005; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (7)

The Nobel Plot

Iran isn't cheering last week's announcement that the Nobel Peace Prize is going to Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency any more than the Bush administration. While some Western observers felt the prize was "a slap in the...

By Jefferson Morley | October 12, 2005; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Follow-up on Smut-For-Gore Story

"The operator of a Web site which posted grisly pictures of people killed in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts was arrested on obscenity charges unrelated to the war photos," Reuters reported over the weekend. The Reuters story stated .......

By Jefferson Morley | October 11, 2005; 06:36 PM ET | Comments (1)

Saddam in the Polling Place

Saddam Hussein may be sitting in an Iraqi prison awaiting trial, but that won't stop him from participating in his country's constitution referendum this Saturday.  Tuesday's Times of London reported that the ousted Iraqi president will be able to cast...

By Jefferson Morley | October 11, 2005; 05:40 PM ET | Email a Comment

Constitution Supporters Seem to Have the Upper Hand

"We the sons of Mesopotamia." So begins Iraq's draft constitution. You can read it here, but bear in mind, political leaders are still tinkering with the language just four days before the country votes. The proposed national charter would establish...

By Jefferson Morley | October 11, 2005; 08:55 AM ET | Comments (4)

Who's In Charge?

The disarray of the U.S.-backed government in Baghad deepened Thursday when the country's Kurdish president and Shiite prime minister took diametrically opposed positions on President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair's allegations of Iranian interference. Iraqi president Jalal Talabani stood...

By Jefferson Morley | October 7, 2005; 11:00 AM ET | Email a Comment

Reporting on Iraqi Politics in Disarray

With U.S. media coverage of the Iraq war focusing on the most-recent U.S. military offensive, several recent political events that have put the United States' Iraq policy on the defensive have been overshadowed. First, as London's Financial Times reported, "late...

By Jefferson Morley | October 5, 2005; 09:54 AM ET | Comments (4)

Online Media Break Gore-for-Smut Story

La Republica and Corriere della Serra, two of Italy's top dailies, reported in August about an online "gallery of horrors" -- photos of mutilated Iraqis and Afghans that U.S. soldiers had posted on the Internet in return for access to...

By Jefferson Morley | September 30, 2005; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

Syria Still Squirming

U.N. investigator Detlef Mehlis has not found definitive evidence to prove Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, the Daily Star of Lebanon reported today. Mehlis, who visited Syria last week to interview senior Syrian...

By Jefferson Morley | September 29, 2005; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (4)

Karen Hughes Catches Flak

In her first foreign trip to improve the image of the United States, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes impressed international online media commentators with her message discipline -- and her naivete. Hughes found her message greeted...

By Jefferson Morley | September 27, 2005; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (51)

Syria Squirming

The autocratic government of Syria is on edge about its future and that, say online commentators in the Middle East, is both good and worrisome news. Detlev Mehlis is the head of a United Nations team investigating the assassination of...

By Jefferson Morley | September 23, 2005; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

Iran Grows Bolder

It's about 2,100 miles from Basra, a dusty city in southern Iraq, to Vienna, a marbled capital in Central Europe, but their political connection is vivid. Today both cities are showcases for Iran's assertive foreign policy and the West's inability...

By Jefferson Morley | September 22, 2005; 09:08 AM ET | Comments (19)

The Basra Setback

On the clash in Basra, reader David Patrick from the United Kingdom asks the right question:  "where does this leave our exit strategy?" A senior Iraqi official admitted today to the BBC that the country's security forces have been infiltrated...

By Jefferson Morley | September 21, 2005; 08:23 AM ET | Comments (10)

'Fragile' Basra

Southern Iraq was supposed to be a bright spot for President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair;  the one place where coalition troops and Iraqi security forces were working in harmony toward an eventual handover of power that...

By Jefferson Morley | September 20, 2005; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (4)

Iraqi Corruption on the U.S. Watch

Stories about massive corruption on the U.S. watch in Iraq are not new. Nor are they going away. Iraqi officials told The Washington Post and other news organizations yesterday that they will soon bring charges against the country's former minister...

By Jefferson Morley | September 20, 2005; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (18)

Iran Finds Friends

"Does Iran want to become the new North Korea?" asked the conservative French daily Le Figaro (in French) on Monday. Probably not. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's uncompromising speech at the United Nations summit last week asserting Iran's "inalienable right" to...

By Jefferson Morley | September 19, 2005; 03:48 PM ET | Comments (4)

Halliburton's Man in Iran

As the United States and Iran clash over the nuclear issue at the United Nations summit, the Islamic republic is pursuing a corruption investigation against a former top official on its nuclear negotiating team for his ties to Halliburton, the...

By Jefferson Morley | September 16, 2005; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

Tall Afar: Victory or Symptom?

U.S. and Iraqi military forces drove Sunni insurgents out of the northern Iraqi city of Tall Afar earlier this week and, with the help of hooded Shiite informants, captured many more suspected fighters. But, while the Pentagon concluded that "the...

By Jefferson Morley | September 15, 2005; 03:14 PM ET | Comments (5)

Israeli vs. Israeli

On Monday, Israeli retired Maj. Gen. Doron Almog decided not to disembark from an airplane at London's Heathrow airport out of fear that he would be arrested by British authorities for war crimes allegedly committed against Palestinian civilians. That was...

By Jefferson Morley | September 15, 2005; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (72)

 

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