Oriente Próximo

Pakistani news channels live telecast of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif addressing an opposition parties meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sept. 21. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

An independent judiciary is one of the crucial pillars of any genuine liberal democracy. Here in Pakistan, a new scandal has ignited a firestorm of controversy precisely because it is reminding us that our judicial branch can make no claim to independence. Our country’s senior judges have intervened in politics again and again throughout history.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has disqualified sitting prime ministers many times. The judges even decreed the hanging of one prime minister during the reign of a military dictator. There was no public outcry against the judiciary’s dubious actions back then. But society is changing.

On Nov.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. military service members hold the hands of an Afghan refugee girl at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, N.M., on Nov. 4. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

I got the call in the evening, as the sun was going down over Rwanda: President Paul Kagame wants to meet you. Tomorrow. Please take a PCR test in the morning. You’ll meet the president in his office at 2 p.m.

Wonderful, I thought. There’s so much I want him to know. I started lining up anecdotes in my mind, stories that would highlight the extraordinary reception the Rwandan people have given every single member of SOLA, my Afghan girls’ school, since our arrival here in August. I wanted to speak about kindness, and sensitivity, and humanity.

And I decided the best way to do this was to tell him: Rwandans are merciless on the soccer field.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egyptian protesters shout slogans against the then-ruling military council during a rally in support of then-member of Parliament Zyad El-Elaimy in Cairo in February 2012. (Amr Nabil/AP)

On Wednesday, after more than two years in detention without trial, Zyad El-Elaimy, Hossam Monis and four other young politicians and activists were rushed to a “State Security Emergency Court” and sentenced to three to five years in prison. They were not tried for their original “crime” — plotting to undermine state security by running for legislative elections in 2020. Instead, they were charged with “spreading false news, threatening national security and spreading fear.”

The evidence consisted of an article or social media post by each figure, in which they criticized Egypt’s human rights record and economic policies. The trial began just a day after the charges were laid.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las negociaciones entre Irán y Estados Unidos sobre las actividades nucleares iraníes van a reanudarse el 29 de noviembre. Pero si bien muchos recibirán con beneplácito este desarrollo, deberían tener en mente que las conversaciones probablemente no tengan éxito. Y si lo tienen, ningún acuerdo resolverá la presión de Irán por una primacía regional –o por armas nucleares.

Primero, algo de historia. En 2015, Irán y Estados Unidos, junto con China, Francia, Alemania, Rusia, la Unión Europea y el Reino Unido, celebraron el Plan de Acción Integral Conjunto (PAIC), un acuerdo que redujo las reservas de uranio de Irán, el nivel hasta donde podía enriquecer su uranio y la cantidad de centrífugas que podía operar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nadav Bigelman, a former Israeli soldier featured in Rona Segal’s “Mission: Hebron.” Credit Rona Segal

Today, Times Opinion’s Op-Docs team published the award-winning short documentary “Mission: Hebron.” In it, six former Israeli soldiers offer eye-opening accounts of their recent service in Hebron, an overwhelmingly Palestinian city in the West Bank. Soldiers assigned there are responsible for protecting the security of a small community of Jewish settlers in an area of the city center known as H2. In practice, they exercise a high degree of authority over Palestinian civilian life and movement through the use of checkpoints, roadblocks, random searches, facial-recognition programs and other enforcement mechanisms.

In this film, Rona Segal, an acclaimed Israeli director and screenwriter who learned how to make films while serving in the Israeli Army, turns the camera on her fellow ex-soldiers, some of whom have never before spoken publicly about their experiences.…  Seguir leyendo »

El primer ministro israelí Naftali Bennett regresó exultante de la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático (COP26). Codearse con líderes mundiales en Escocia sumó credibilidad a su imagen proyectada de digno reemplazo de Binyamin Netanyahu, su carismático y divisivo predecesor, que dominó la política israelí por más de doce años. Pero el espaldarazo a Bennett (y su gobierno) pueden resultar efímeros si no exhibe un liderazgo prudente en los próximos meses.

En noviembre, la Knéset (parlamento) de Israel aprobó nuevos marcos presupuestarios para 2021 y 2022; es un logro inmenso para Bennett, ya que los legisladores no habían ratificado un plan fiscal desde marzo de 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad in March 2020. (B.K. Bangash/AP)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan seems more willing to talk to terrorists blamed for killing thousands of Pakistanis, including security personnel and schoolchildren, than sit down with his political opposition.

He was absent from a five-hour, closed-door special meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security on Monday because he probably didn’t want to shake hands with his nonviolent rivals. Why is he digging a big hole for himself?

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, the director general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have informed parliamentarians from the government and the opposition that the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan was facilitating talks with the banned group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).…  Seguir leyendo »

A sticker of US president Joe Biden satirically placed at a gas station pointing at the price of gasoline. Photo by Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

A short and productive November meeting saw OPEC+ quickly trot out a series of eloquently crafted messages which emphasized that, in spite of rising oil prices and short-term growth demand, the group would be holding firm to its current production plans.

Each communique chimed soundly with the chief cheerleader Saudi energy minister Abdelaziz bin Salman Al Saud’s (AbS) lengthy exposition of the meeting where he made it clear OPEC+ would only increase production by 400kbd per month – as agreed in July – and resist the pressure from the US or other major consuming countries to pump more.

AbS argued that because global demand will ease off and inventories start to fill in December and Q1 of 2022, the market will find a natural balance to serve interests of producers and consumers alike.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel Moves to Silence the Stalwarts of Palestinian Civil Society

El 19 de octubre, usando evidencia secreta, y por lo tanto insuficiente, el Ministerio de Defensa de Israel acusó a seis de las organizaciones más prominentes de derechos humanos y de la sociedad civil de Palestina de ser organizaciones “terroristas” vinculadas con un grupo militante. Tan solo unos días después, Israel aprobó la construcción de más de 3000 nuevas unidades de asentamientos en el territorio ocupado de Cisjordania y anunció planes para duplicar la población judía-israelí en el Valle del Jordán para 2026.

La criminalización real de las instituciones palestinas y la expansión de los asentamientos son dos lados de la misma moneda.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cómo se perdió realmente Afganistán

Supongamos que usted no supiera nada sobre un determinado país de bajos ingresos excepto los siguientes datos. Su ingreso anual per cápita en 2020 fue de apenas 509 dólares, el séptimo más bajo del mundo. En los diez años previos a 2019, los flujos de ayuda se habían reducido a la mitad, a apenas 114 dólares per cápita, o 31 centavos de dólar por persona por día. Como resultado de ello, su PIB per cápita cayó 14% en este período. Mientras tanto, las importaciones anuales per cápita también se desmoronaron a la mitad entre 2012 y 2020, a 179 dólares, o apenas 49 centavos de dólar por persona por día –uno de los niveles más bajos en el mundo-.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 26 de agosto del 2019 fue un día caluroso en Israel. El rabino Eitan Shnerb, de 49 años, organizó una excursión con su hijo Svir, de 19, y su hija Rina, de 17, a un manantial cerca de Dolev, una zona muy popular entre excursionistas. Al llegar la familia al lugar, un terrorista del Frente Popular para la Liberación de Palestina (FPLP) hizo estallar de forma remota una bomba que había escondido previamente cerca del manantial. La explosión alcanzó de lleno a Rina, que murió en el lugar sin que los servicios de emergencia pudieran salvarla. Su padre y su hermano resultaron heridos de gravedad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi poses in his office during an interview with the Associated Press in Baghdad on July 23. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

Even by the brutal political rules of Baghdad, the recent attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi appears to have shocked many Iraqis — and undermined the Iranian-sponsored militias who had been trying to drive him from power.

The “cowardly” attack, as Kadhimi described it, has been condemned by the United Nations, the Biden administration, a wide range of Iraqi politicians — and even Iran, a prime suspect in the strike by three drones early Sunday morning. Two of the drones were shot down, but one hit Kadhimi’s residence, a small villa decorated with modern art where I met with him just a few months ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anti-Saudi regime graffiti painted on the wall of Saudi Arabia's embassy in Sana'a, Yemen. Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images.

Some diplomats at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are asking if Oman, the country which has facilitated the ‘backdoor channel’ between the Houthis in Sana’a and the rest of the world since 2015, has been abusing its leverage by using it to pursue its own interests towards the Saudis and the international community.

This question of leverage over the Houthis comes up in every round of negotiations, most recently as a discussion about pushing back against their diversion of humanitarian aid. But in reality, the current situation is a consequence of a poor diplomatic decision to isolate the Houthis and abandon Sana’a by international diplomats in early 2015.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel Moves to Silence the Stalwarts of Palestinian Civil Society

On Oct. 19, the Israeli Ministry of Defense singled out six of the most prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations, using secret, and thus far insufficient, evidence to accuse them of being “terrorist” organizations with links to a militant group. Just days later, Israel approved the construction of more than 3,000 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank and announced plans to double the Jewish-Israeli population in the Jordan Valley by 2026.

The effective criminalization of Palestinian institutions and the expansion of the settlements are two sides of the same coin. The goal is clear: to silence the independent monitoring of Israel’s human rights violations that stand between total annexation of the occupied West Bank and international accountability.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las políticas climáticas son políticas sociales

La cantidad de días al año en que la temperatura supera los 50 °C (122 °F) se duplicó desde la década de 1980 y nunca antes había ocurrido en tantos sitios. Este calor extremo tiene un efecto dramático sobre la salud de las personas, los animales y el ambiente. Según un informe reciente del Banco Mundial sobre la migración climática, durante los próximos 30 años, 216 millones de personas podrían tener que desplazarse debido al aumento de las temperaturas, la escasez del agua y la caída en la productividad de los cultivos. Se verán obligadas a abandonar sus comunidades y sustento para buscar mejores alternativas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian man during a protest on Oct. 29 in the al-Yusufiye cemetery near the Lion's Gate entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem, where several graves have been demolished to establish a national park. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

When the Israeli government last week slapped a “terrorism” designation on six Palestinian human rights groups that have worked closely with Western governments and international advocacy groups, it was met with widespread outrage from global civil society actors as well as surprise from the U.S. State Department.

But anyone surprised by this step has not been paying attention, as it represents just the latest depth the Israeli government has been willing to sink to in order to intimidate, silence and repress dissent against its apartheid policies.

The repression of Palestinian civil society actors has been a policy of the Israeli government and its military since 1948.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘The charges against me are the product of a failed system where corruption is rampant … where sectarian allegiances deprive the people of their god-given rights.’ Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

I have never walked away from a fight involving the wellbeing of children. I have never abandoned the right for Palestinian health workers to train in Israel for the benefit of those same children.

Why is this something I need to speak about publicly now?

In August I discovered through media reports that a military tribunal in Lebanon – the country of my birth – tried me in absentia on the charge of treason. My “crimes” were to fraternise with the enemy (Zionists) and to enter enemy territory (Israel) without authorisation. I am, according to the judgement, a traitor and a collaborator.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Iran, it would seem, testifying about torture can get you killed.

Last month, a 49-year-old man named Shahin Naseri died in prison under suspicious circumstances after he provided witness testimony about the torture of wrestler Navid Afkari. Afkari, a high-profile protester, was unjustly arrested by state agents, sentenced to death following a grossly unfair trial and executed in secret in September 2020.

This is not an isolated incident. In August, footage released from Tehran’s Evin Prison showed horrific scenes of torture and other ill treatment. Iranian officials characterized the abuses as the acts of rogue prison guards. But Amnesty International and other human rights groups have repeatedly showed that torture and other forms of cruel and inhuman treatment are an integral part of the Iranian criminal justice system, not an exception to it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqis arrive to cast their vote at a polling station in Baghdad during the 2021 general election. Photo by Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Several big stories came out of Iraq’s sixth election since the 2003 US-led invasion. The first is low voter turnout which officially at 36 per cent of eligible voters is the lowest recorded in the country’s post-2003 electoral history. With many Iraqis disillusioned with a political system which entrenches a corrupt political elite at their expense, this was expected, reflecting a trajectory of fewer Iraqis voting in each election.

More surprising is the relative success of Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement, which increased its seat tally from 54 in 2018 to 73 according to preliminary results, while its main rival from the previous election Fateh – which represents the Popular Mobilization Forces – saw a decrease from 48 to only 16.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lebanese anti-government protesters shout slogans during an Oct. 17 rally in downtown Beirut to mark the second anniversary of the beginning of the protest movement. (Wael Hamzeh/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Last week in Beirut, gunmen opened fire on protesters objecting to the pace of the investigation into the city’s port explosion more than a year ago. Six people were killed and dozens wounded in deadly street fighting that echoed the country’s past civil war. Just a week earlier, Lebanon’s electricity grid collapsed for four hours a day — the latest visible sign of Lebanon’s economic crisis, which the World Bank called one of the “most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century.”

How bad is it? In March 2020, the government defaulted on its foreign debt. Over the past two years Lebanon’s lira lost more than 90 percent of its value.…  Seguir leyendo »