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Ed Webb

The Real Reason the Middle East Hates NGOs - Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • when pressed, the head of the officers’ delegation became red-faced with anger. Apparently, laying the groundwork for more open and just politics did not include human rights organizations, good-governance groups, environmentalists, private associations that provide aid to people in need, or other NGOs.
  • in Egypt, employees of NGOs have become virtual enemies of the state. In keeping with its reputation as the lone Arab Spring “success story,” Tunisia has created a more welcoming environment for these groups, but even there, the ability of NGOs to carry out their work can be constrained given that a state of emergency and other laws place restrictions on the right to assemble
  • the relentless pressure Middle Eastern governments have long applied to NGOs. Leaders in the region do not do well with ideas like “self-organizing,” “relatively autonomous from the state,” and the creation of associations and “solidarities” — and it is hard, without justifying repression, not to see why. Civil society groups have the potential to help people with common interests overcome the considerable obstacles to collective action that many Middle Eastern governments have put in place and, in the process, give greater voice to people’s grievances.
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  • It is a mistake to conclude that only narrowly self-serving authoritarianism explains the thuggish approach to NGOs around the Middle East. After all, the hounding of these groups (including in Israel) seems to be out of proportion to any evidence that they can create significant political change in the region. No doubt many NGOs have helped people in need throughout the Middle East, but those dedicated to governance and human rights, for example, have hardly had an impact. But then why do the Middle East’s commanders of tanks, planes, and missiles treat the Arab hippies who want to defend the freedom of association as such a problem? The threat isn’t about loosening the authoritarians’ grip on power, but something more abstract: the Middle East’s fragile sense of identity and sovereignty.
  • officials in the region have often boasted of the large number of nongovernmental organizations (even as they were cracking down on them) as a way to both deflect criticism from abroad and embed in the minds of their citizens the idea that reform was underway. It has hardly been believable and has not worked, which is why the default for Middle Eastern governments is to repress such groups.
  • Arab leaders essentially regard nongovernmental organizations, especially those with foreign funding, as agents of a neocolonial project. The hypocrisy of this position for governments that either receive copious amounts of foreign assistance or that rely on the West for their security is self-evident, but that does not necessarily diminish its effectiveness
  • Western-funded human rights campaigners and good-governance activists as the most recent manifestation of the civilizing mission that originally brought European colonialists to North Africa and the Levant
  • The related problem of sovereignty brings the matter into sharp relief. The European penetration of the Middle East in the late 18th and early 19th centuries began a long-term process of intellectual ferment and discovery among Middle Easterners about how best to confront this challenge. Islamic reformism, Arab nationalism, and Islamism, which emphasized identity, were the most politically effective (and enduring) regional responses
Ed Webb

Egyptian NGOs complain of being shut out of Cop27 climate summit | Cop27 | The Guardian - 0 views

  • A group of Egyptian civil society organisations have been prevented from attending the Cop27 climate summit by a covert registration process that filtered out groups critical of the Egyptian government.
  • “You don’t let a government tell the UN who is and who isn’t an NGO, certainly not the Egyptian government,” said Ahmad Abdallah, of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), one of five leading organisations unable to register to attend the conference due to the screening.
  • “the UN is colluding with the Egyptian government to whitewash this regime”
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  • The Egyptian authorities’ efforts to screen out prominent organisations with a record of criticising their rule, particularly on the issue of human rights, comes amid growing concern over their treatment of protests and civil society at the Cop in Sharm el-Sheikh in November.
  • The UNFCCC told the Guardian host nations were permitted to invite organisations at their discretion for one-time access, but that “there is no fixed written policy” on one-time registration. The UK did not recommend any NGOs for one-time admission to attend Cop26.
  • The secretariat does not consider itself to be competent to unilaterally identify additional organisations from the host country
  • Abdallah said the Egyptian government wished to use Cop27 “to portray a different image of Egypt, one where people are kept away from cities suffering from pollution, poverty or repression. Part of this image is keeping critical voices out so that the only ones heard in Sharm el-Sheikh are those praising the government.”
  • Since coming to power in a military coup in 2013, Sisi has moved to strangle civil society activity. The state has demanded that NGOs receive government approval to continue operating and has outlawed funding received from abroad as a way to curtail their operations.
  • Organisations tracking detentions by security services, use of torture by state bodies or the state’s crackdown on civil rights have found their offices raided, their founders targeted with asset freezes and travel bans or their premises forcibly closed by the authorities.
  • Abdallah told the Guardian the ECRF had applied to attend Cop27 not just to represent Egyptian citizens but also to provide legal assistance in Sharm el-Sheikh to anyone detained for protesting.“Not allowing ECRF to attend strips participants from our protection, meaning protection from a watchdog organisation that can actually support them,” he said. “No one else is doing this.”
  • Climate justice activists have said Egypt should not be allowed to host Cop27 while thousands of prisoners of conscience remain behind bars, particularly the British-Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah, now more than four months into a hunger strike. Abd El-Fattah, imprisoned on terrorism charges for a social media post, told his family during a recent visit that he believed he would die in prison.
Ed Webb

Why Breaking the Silence is prime target for Israeli right - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of t... - 0 views

  • only the activists of one organization, Breaking the Silence, have the dubious honor of being labeled “traitors.” That organization, which has documented and published testimony by military veterans about human rights violations in the territories since 2004, draws more fire than all the other organizations put together.
  • There are those who explain that the reason this group of former soldiers has become the punching bag of the country stems from the fact that it is no longer limiting itself to activity within Israel’s borders. Not only does it publish reports in Hebrew, it translates them into English, gets funding from foreign organizations and individuals, and appears before foreign parliaments. To put it bluntly, many believe that dirty laundry should be washed at home. Not in the foreign media, not in the offices of the European Union in Brussels and not in testimony before an investigative panel of the UN Human Rights Committee. By the same logic, even if the average Israeli concedes that the occupation is a pollutant, he must put up with the smell. A good Israeli must shut the windows and keep the stench at home.
  • Unlike Netanyahu, Breaking the Silence is careful to publish information only after clearing it with military censors. Details that the censor bans from publication or those that are not verified do not see the light of day. The organization made it clear that the censor’s office had approved the publication of most of the testimony recorded by Ad Kan activists and aired on a Channel 2 television investigative report. It was this report that initially claimed that Breaking the Silence was gathering classified operational information unrelated to soldiers’ testimony about human rights violations.
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  • Breaking the Silence is being picked on for cynical political reasons. For Israeli Jews, there is no cow more sacred than the IDF. A clear majority, including this writer, served, are serving or will serve in the armed forces, just like their parents, children and even their grandchildren. When Defense Minister Lt. Gen.  (res.) Moshe Ya'alon declares that the members of Breaking the Silence are traitors, he means that they betrayed all Israelis. This is not an argument about occupation, ethics or Israel’s international standing. It's about our lives. Ya'alon was the commander-in-chief of the military, a respected authority on the matter.
  • The tacit conventional wisdom since the start of the so-called “knife intifada” is based on Talmudic teachings: “If a man comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first.” Or in common parlance, neutralize him first. Israeli politicians have called for people to do just this when confronted with a possible terrorist. There are even Jews who have already ascribed a broad interpretation to this order. Anyone coming to kill you, in their interpretation, may be a Jew willing to hand over territory to non-Jews. Assassin Yigal Amir, for instance, shot Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after rabbis and politicians incited against him and his peace policy. Netanyahu himself took part in a demonstration at which a Rabin cutout dressed in a Nazi SS uniform was held aloft. Today, in his dressing down of the organization, he is dressing Breaking the Silence in the uniform of a kapo.
  • “Patriots” who beat up Palestinians for kicks on city streets and set a bilingual school on fire have already started sending threats to Breaking the Silence activists and their families, including their elderly grandparents. If, God forbid, anyone is hurt, Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid will rush to issue “sharp condemnations” of the criminals. They will surely not forget to attack those spreading incitement, but they might forget or ignore their own past contributions.
Ed Webb

Blight on the landscape: 'Racist' Israeli cable car set to wreck Jerusalem's skyline | ... - 0 views

  • Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO researching the Israeli-Palestinians conflict over Jerusalem, told MEE that a cable car is not the answer to the heavy traffic and that the project has political layers aimed at giving legitimacy to settlers in the area. Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war, and settled hundreds of its citizens there in contravention of international law. The Old City and the adjacent neighbourhood of Silwan lie in the city's east, which the Palestinians seek as the capital of any future state. “The project is a way to whitewash Israel’s taking of areas in Silwan to use for archaeological and touristic reasons," Tatarsky said.
  • Some 2,500 Israeli settlers live in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Silwan, Ras al-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah, dwarfed by the 150,000 Palestinian residents there. In Silwan, 500 settlers live under heavy police and private security protection, among 25,000 Palestinians.
  • Several Palestinian families that have lived in Silwan for generations have been evicted from the area by Israel to create an archaeological park there and accommodate Jewish settlers.
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  • “We've waited 2,000 years [to return] to the Western Wall, and it's impossible that heavy traffic prevents thousands of people from praying, visiting and taking part in military and national ceremonies that are taking place there,” Kahlon said
  • “It will block and disturb the panorama of the Old City, including Muslim and Christian buildings, and this is what the occupation wants, to cover the historical buildings that prove other people exist in Jerusalem,”
  • Emek Shaveh, an Israeli archaeological NGO, said in a video that hard-to-access sites in Venice and the Acropolis in Athens did not lead to installing a cable car in these tourist cities. The NGO, which is appealing the housing cabinet decision, warned that the historic centre of Jerusalem, which is packed with centuries-old buildings, will be blighted by the modern cable car.
Ed Webb

The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment | The New York Review of Books - 2 views

  • They had imbibed some of the defining values of American Jewish political culture: a belief in open debate, a skepticism about military force, a commitment to human rights. And in their innocence, they did not realize that they were supposed to shed those values when it came to Israel.
  • For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead
  • Every country manifests some kind of ideological divide. But in contemporary Israel, the gulf is among the widest on earth
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  • while American Jewish groups claim that they are simply defending Israel from its foes, they are actually taking sides in a struggle within Israel between radically different Zionist visions
  • In 2006, Foxman called an Amnesty International report on Israeli killing of Lebanese civilians “bigoted, biased, and borderline anti-Semitic.” The Conference of Presidents has announced that “biased NGOs include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, [and] Save the Children.” Last summer, an AIPAC spokesman declared that Human Rights Watch “has repeatedly demonstrated its anti-Israel bias.” When the Obama administration awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, former UN high commissioner for human rights, the ADL and AIPAC both protested, citing the fact that she had presided over the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. (Early drafts of the conference report implicitly accused Israel of racism. Robinson helped expunge that defamatory charge, angering Syria and Iran.)
  • Hebrew University Professor Ze’ev Sternhell is an expert on fascism and a winner of the prestigious Israel Prize. Commenting on Lieberman and the leaders of Shas in a recent Op-Ed in Haaretz, he wrote, “The last time politicians holding views similar to theirs were in power in post–World War II Western Europe was in Franco’s Spain.” With their blessing, “a crude and multifaceted campaign is being waged against the foundations of the democratic and liberal order.” Sternhell should know. In September 2008, he was injured when a settler set off a pipe bomb at his house.
  • Israel’s vice prime minister, Moshe Ya’alon, called the anti-occupation group Peace Now a “virus.” This January, a right-wing group called Im Tirtzu accused Israeli human rights organizations of having fed information to the Goldstone Commission that investigated Israel’s Gaza war. A Knesset member from Netanyahu’s Likud promptly charged Naomi Chazan, head of the New Israel Fund, which supports some of those human rights groups, with treason, and a member of Lieberman’s party launched an investigation aimed at curbing foreign funding of Israeli NGOs.
  • by downplaying the significance of Avigdor Lieberman, the settlers, and Shas, American Jewish groups allow these older Zionists to continue to identify with that more internally cohesive, more innocent Israel of their youth, an Israel that now only exists in their memories
  • America’s Jewish leaders should think hard about that rally. Unless they change course, it portends the future: an American Zionist movement that does not even feign concern for Palestinian dignity and a broader American Jewish population that does not even feign concern for Israel.
  • In a more recent report on how to foster Zionism among America’s young, Luntz urges American Jewish groups to use the word “Arabs, not Palestinians,” since “the term ‘Palestinians’ evokes images of refugee camps, victims and oppression,” while “‘Arab’ says wealth, oil and Islam.”
  • In the world of AIPAC, the Holocaust analogies never stop, and their message is always the same: Jews are licensed by their victimhood to worry only about themselves. Many of Israel’s founders believed that with statehood, Jews would rightly be judged on the way they treated the non-Jews living under their dominion. “For the first time we shall be the majority living with a minority,” Knesset member Pinchas Lavon declared in 1948, “and we shall be called upon to provide an example and prove how Jews live with a minority.”
  • the dilemmas you face when you possess dozens or hundreds of nuclear weapons, and your adversary, however despicable, may acquire one, are not the dilemmas of the Warsaw Ghetto
  • a challenge as momentous as any in Jewish history: to save liberal democracy in the only Jewish state on earth
anonymous

freedomhouse report on Iran - 0 views

  • assumed political control under a supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Despite massive participation by women in the revolution and a subsequent increase in the
  • assumed political control under a supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Despit
  • Despite massive participation by women in the revolution and a subsequent increase in the levels and forms of women's social presence and educational achievements, the Islam
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  • assumed political control under a supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Desp
  • The women's rights movement is reasonably well-organized and surprisingly effective considering the repressive conditions within which it operates.
  • Continuous pressure from women's groups led to government reforms concerning women's education, employ
  • ment, suffrage, and family law under the Pahlavi dynasty, which ruled from 1925 until 1979.
  • The "era of construction" under President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989–97) ushered in some positive changes to the government's gender policies.
  • a of uneven reform under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami (1997–2005). Women's sociopolitical participation and civic activism increased considerably, while restrictions on personal freedoms and dress were loosened.
  • Iran experienced an er
  • However, attempts by reform-oriented members of the parliament (the Islamic Consultative Assembly, or Majlis) to make progressive changes, including ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Wo
  • men (CEDAW), were blocked by the conservative Guardian Council.
  • The election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 marked a return to power for hard-liners and negatively affected alm
  • ost all areas of women's social life. Violations of human rights generally an
  • omen's rights in particular have intensified, and censorship has increased. The overall condition of women in Iran has also suffered from revived sociopolitical restrictions on women's dress, freedom of assembly, social advocacy, cultural creativity, and even academic and economic activity.
  • growing globalization
  • ased access to new communications technology, and recent demographic changes have countered some of these negative trends
  • c Republic brought many negative changes to women's rights and personal freedoms.
  • The system explicitly favors men over women
  • Article 19
  • Article 20
  • Article 21
  • Shari'a is the only source of legislation under Article 4 of the constitution. Therefore, any changes or reforms made to women's rights are contingent upon th
  • e political influence of the ulema (Islamic clerics) and their interpretation of Islam.
  • In an effort to protect their members, many women's nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are depriving themselves of the resources available to similar groups in other countries. Even international awards that include monetary prizes have become a source of tension and political divisions among the activists.[25] While most groups avoid accepting any financial help or even symbolic awards from "Western" sources, some see this as yielding to government pressure in a manner that is contrary to their practical needs and interests.
  • Since the women's NGOs cannot simply wait for or rely on the CEDAW ratification, they should both pursue major campaigns like Change for Equality and continue to create smaller movements focused on individual issues, like
  • equality in inheritance and access to justice for victims of domestic violence.
  • Women in Iran have the right to vote and run for public office but are excluded from holding leadership roles in the main organs of power, such as the office of the supreme leader, the Assembly of Experts, the Guardian Council, the Expediency Council, the judicial branch, and the presidency
  • There has been very little female representation in the executive branch or the diplomatic corps. President Khatami appointed the first woman as one of Iran's several vice presidents, and she also served as head of the Environmental Protection Organization. Another woman was appointed as Khatami's presidential adviser on women's affairs and led the Center for Women's Participation Affairs within the President's Office.[62] Ahmadinejad also chose a woman for this post but changed its name to the Center for Women and Family Affairs. Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi, who had held a seat in parliament twice before, was appointed as the Minister of Health in September 2009, becoming Iran's first female cabinet minister. At the same time, two other female minister c
  • andidates nominated by Ahmadinejad were rejected by the conservative parliament
  • While most feminists have maintained their independence from state-sanctioned bodies and organizations, they still collaborate and build coalitions with women's groups that wo
  • rk within the reformist Islamic camp or lobby the state organs for legislative changes.
  • In the run-up to the 2001 presidential election, 47 women nominated themselves as candidates, and in 2005 that number grew to 100, though it fell to 40 in 2009.
  • involvement in city councils as a method of influencing community life and policies.
Ed Webb

The Deportation of Omar Shakir: The Israeli Supreme Court and the BDS Movement - Lawfare - 0 views

  • Two judgments handed down just days apart—one by the Israeli Supreme Court and the other by the European Court of Justice—highlight a growing jurisprudential divide between Israeli and international courts on the status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank
  • On Nov. 12, the European Court of Justice ruled that Israeli food products from the West Bank and Golan Heights must be explicitly labeled as coming from “Israeli settlements,” rather than from Israel itself. The ruling, which cited European Union regulations designed to allow consumers to make informed choices about their food purchases, held that since international humanitarian law limits Israeli jurisdiction in these territories to that of an “occupying power,” it would be misleading to represent such products as being “from Israel.”
  • stakes of the long-anticipated Israeli Supreme Court judgment in Human Rights Watch v. Interior Minister, handed down just a week earlier. In its judgment, the court upheld a government decision to expel Human Rights Watch’s (HRW’s) Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, from the country, based on a law barring entry by foreigners who promote boycotts of Israel or its West Bank settlements. The case marked the first time the court was called upon to rule on the law’s application to boycott-related activities directed primarily at the settlements, rather than at Israel itself.
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  • In 2015, in Avneri v. The Knesset, a divided court upheld most of the 2011 law, striking down a provision providing for punitive damages in civil tort cases and construing the law narrowly in order to limit liability to instances where there is a proven causal link to concrete damage. (For more on Avneri, see here and here.) Most significantly for our purposes, a majority of justices in Avneri upheld the law’s contentious provision (which applies equally to the 2017 amendment), equating settlement boycotts to boycotts against Israel as a whole.
  • A boycott directed at an individual company due to its specific behavior, by contrast (for example, because it engaged in discrimination or in some other problematic activity), would not risk running afoul of the law.
  • If actively promoting HRW’s stance on settlements is enough to demonstrate ongoing promotion of boycotts, any new employee could face similar consequences. Israeli employees of HRW, too, could face civil or administrative ramifications simply for implementing HRW’s stated policy of calling on businesses “to stop operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as part of their duty to avoid complicity in human rights abuses.”
  • Back in 2016, when HRW first requested a foreign expert visa for Shakir, an American citizen, the Foreign Ministry objected on the grounds that HRW itself was biased against Israel, “falsely waving the flag of human rights” in the service of “Palestinian propaganda.” Shortly thereafter, the ministry withdrew its objection, citing political and diplomatic considerations, and the Interior Ministry granted Shakir his visa. An administrative petition by the right-leaning organization Shurat HaDin, among others, led to an additional reversal, and the visa was revoked. The new decision was based on a memorandum issued by the Strategic Affairs Ministry (charged in Israel with heading up the fight against BDS), which argued that the problem was Shakir himself—who had called in the past for boycotts of Israel and the settlements—rather than HRW
  • The appellants, for their part, challenged the constitutionality of the 2017 amendment, arguing that even though foreigners don’t have a right to enter the country, they should not be denied a visa or fear deportation for expressing unpopular views. Mainly, they claimed, the law violates the free speech and equality rights of Israelis (and Palestinians), whose ability to engage freely with foreigners the government doesn’t agree with is limited by the law. They also argued that Shakir’s activities—particularly those undertaken on behalf of HRW—shouldn’t be considered boycott activities, since they were motivated by a desire to combat specific human rights violations and to encourage private corporations to respect their human rights obligations under international law
  • While once again acknowledging that the law doesn’t apply to boycotts targeting specific behaviors, the court stated: An individual who negates the very legitimacy of the State of Israel or its control of the Area, and seeks to undermine it through a boycott, is [included in the law], even if he disguises his position with the rhetoric of human rights or international law. The test is a substantive one, and the words the de-legitimization campaign wraps itself in do not grant it immunity.
  • Several amici from both sides of the political spectrum, including NGO Monitor, Shurat HaDin and Amnesty International, submitted briefs to the court. A group of former foreign service officials also joined the proceedings as amici, arguing that removing Shakir would cause substantial and lasting damage to Israel’s image as an open and democratic society.
  • In Human Rights Watch, the court clarified that what is at stake is also, potentially, the “delegitimization of Israel and of its policy” (emphasis added).
  • the boycott laws, coupled with the court’s continued acquiescence to the law’s conflation of Israel with Israeli settlements, threaten to impair the ability of citizens and noncitizens alike to engage in free discourse on one of the most difficult issues facing the country. They risk undermining the ability of human rights groups to defend human rights and promote respect for international law when their positions and interpretations of the law do not align with those of the Israeli government. They also threaten to further erode the all-important distinction in a democracy between delegitimization of the country itself and criticism of government policy
  • a growing disconnect between the discourse on settlements in Israel (and now, perhaps, the United States) and abroad
Ed Webb

Right-Wing Media Outlets Duped by a Middle East Propaganda Campaign - 0 views

  • Badani is part of a network of at least 19 fake personas that has spent the past year placing more than 90 opinion pieces in 46 different publications. The articles heaped praise on the United Arab Emirates and advocated for a tougher approach to Qatar, Turkey, Iran and its proxy groups in Iraq and Lebanon. 
  • “This vast influence operation highlights the ease with which malicious actors can exploit the identity of real people, dupe international news outlets, and have propaganda of unknown provenance legitimized through reputable media,” Marc Owen Jones, an assistant professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar who first noticed suspicious posts by members of the network, told The Daily Beast. “It’s not just fake news we need to be wary of, but fake journalists.”
  • They’re critical of Qatar and, in particular, its state-funded news outlet Al Jazeera. They’re no big fans of Turkey’s role backing one of the factions in Libya’s civil war
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  • a series of shared behavioral patterns. The personas identified by The Daily Beast were generally contributors to two linked sites, The Arab Eye and Persia Now; had Twitter accounts created in March or April 2020; presented themselves as political consultants and freelance journalists mostly based in European capitals; lied about their academic or professional credentials in phony LinkedIn accounts; used fake or stolen avatars manipulated to defeat reverse image searches; and linked to or amplified each others’ work. 
  • In February, two websites, The Arab Eye and Persia Now, were registered on the same day and began to acquire a host of contributors. 
  • both sites share the same Google Analytics account, are hosted at the same IP address, and are linked through a series of shared encryption certificates
  • Persia Now lists a non-existent London mailing address and an unanswered phone number on its contact form. The apparent editors of the outlets, Sharif O'Neill and Taimur Hall, have virtually no online footprints or records in journalism.
  • placed articles critical of Qatar and supportive of tougher sanctions on Iran in conservative North American outlets like Human Events and conservative writer Andy Ngo’s The Post Millennial, as well as Israeli and Middle Eastern newspapers like The Jerusalem Post and Al Arabiya, and Asian newspapers like the South China Morning Post.
  • constant editorial lines like arguing for more sanctions on Iran or using international leverage to weaken Iran’s proxy groups in Lebanon and Iraq. The personas are also big fans of the United Arab Emirates and have heaped praise on the Gulf nation for its “exemplary resilience” to the COVID-19 pandemic, its “strong diplomatic ties” to the European Union, and supposedly supporting gender equality through the Expo 2020 in Dubai.
  • criticizing Facebook for its decision to appoint Tawakkol Karman, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to its oversight board. Media outlets in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates have criicized the appointment of Karman, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islah Party in Yemen, for her association with the group.
  • None of the Twitter accounts associated with the network ever passed more than a few dozen followers, but a few still managed to garner high profile endorsements for their work. An article by “Joyce Toledano” in Human Events about how Qatar is “destabilizing the Middle East” got a shout-out from Students for Trump co-founder Ryan Fournier’s nearly million-follower Twitter account and French senator Nathalie Goulet high-fived Lin Nguyen’s broadside about Facebook and Tawakkol Karman.
  • All of the stolen avatars were mirror image reversed and cropped from their originals, making them difficult to find through common Google reverse image searches
  • On her LinkedIn page, “Salma Mohamed” claimed to be a former reporter for the AP based in London, though no public record of an AP journalist matching Salma Mohamed’s description is available.
  • Another persona, Amani Shahan, described herself in bios for Global Villages and Persia Now as being a contributor to and “ghostwriting articles” for The Daily Beast. No one by that name has ever written for The Daily Beast and The Daily Beast does not employ ghostwriters. (Shahan also referred to herself with both male and female pronouns in different author bios.) 
Ed Webb

Israel faces world anger over illegal settlement law | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Israel faced international criticism Tuesday over a new law allowing the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settler outposts, although the United States remained notably silent.Britain, France, the United Nations and Israel's neighbour Jordan were among those coming out against the legislation passed late Monday.
  • Pro-Palestinian Israeli NGOs said they would ask the Supreme Court to strike down the law, while Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned the legislation could result in Israeli officials facing the International Criminal Court.
  • Separately to the new law, Israel has approved more than 6,000 settler homes since Trump took office on January 20 having signalled a softer stance on the issue than Obama.
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  • The law could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week it was likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court.International law considers all settlements illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, which are known as outposts.
  • To some Israelis, the law reflects their God-given right over the territory, regardless of the courts, the Palestinians and the international community."All of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people," said Science Minister Ofir Akunis of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, using the biblical term that includes the West Bank."This right is eternal and indisputable."Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called for the international community to assume its "moral, human and legal responsibilities and put an end to Israel's lawlessness."
Ed Webb

EU human rights envoy denied access to prisoners - Daily News Egypt - 0 views

  • EU Special Representative was turned away days after Ministry of Interior issued a statement welcoming prison visits from human rights representatives
  • Amid mounting allegations of torture inside prisons and places of detention, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement Tuesday welcoming requests from NGOs wishing to visit prisons.The ministry denies any wrong doing.
  • Lambrinidis met with Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim Tuesday to discuss torture and detention conditions. He also addressed the “overpowering police response to protests” and the arrests of peaceful political activists, journalists and human rights defenders.
Ed Webb

What Does Morsi's Ouster Mean for Turkey? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • Why is the Turkish government on such high alert? How can the coup in Cairo affect Turkey? Is Turkey fearing the collapse of the “model” that was once seen as a source of inspiration for the region?
  • “The impression I get from the second Tahrir uprising by Arab nationalists and liberals — which toppled the Brotherhood — and the West’s non-committal attitude, is that the global establishment has given up on the moderate Islam project. This will certainly reflect on Turkey. Turkey may easily experience a gradual decrease in the easy credits it was acquiring by saying, ‘I represent moderate Islam. I will rehabilitate the region.’ This loss of stature will not only be seen in economic but also in political, diplomatic and military arenas.
  • “Egypt can’t affect Turkey directly in the short run. But should the AKP exhibit displeasure and fully identify with the Brotherhood, we will be affected. I am afraid such a perception already exists. The AKP has ideological affinity and institutional links with the Brotherhood. But Turkey is not Egypt. They have diverse political processes. If the AKP exaggerates its reactions, all the forces that intend to mobilize against the AKP might take action. “Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had an ambition to shape an Egypt-Turkey axis. This is now totally off the agenda. This is a serious weakness for Turkey and its political vision for the region. Egypt was the center of gravity for a Sunni bloc based on the Brotherhood. There is now a serious gap.
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  • “Obviously the moderate Islam project has been badly bruised. That is the prevailing perception. The moderate Islam project was an outcome of the Arab Spring. It was a general picture nourished by Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. Now the pixels of that photo are blurred. It is sad, but it is the reality.
  • You are a political party. You are governing a country. You are not a civil society outfit. If you are going to deal with everything from a morality angle, then go and set up an NGO. Those ruling countries have heavy responsibilities. They have to think of the interests of millions of people. They have to be cool-headed and build their policies on realism and balances of power.
Ed Webb

The Gulf's Charities - By William McCants | The Middle East Channel - 0 views

  • Pundits in the West are quick to blame the Gulf countries for fueling the sectarian conflict but the governments of Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have shied away from backing the Salafi militias in Syria -- the most sectarian factions in the conflict. Instead, they have either focused on humanitarian relief or backed their own non-Salafi proxies like the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood or more secular factions like those linked to Saad Hariri in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the Gulf monarchies have not been able or willing to stem the tide of private money their citizens are sending to the Salafi charities and popular committees. Kuwait in particular has done little to stop it because it lacks an effective terror financing law and because it cannot afford politically to infuriate its already angry Salafi members of parliament. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have tried to crackdown on fundraising for the Salafi militias but their citizens just send their money to Kuwait.
  • Salafi militias like Ahrar use the money to buy weapons and the humanitarian aid to build popular support.
  • The State Department and responsible religiously-oriented aid organizations have an uphill battle in Syria but it is worth the fight. Failing to do so leaves governance to the militants, especially those who have the best financing like the Salafi groups. Indeed, Salafi militias have set up Islamic courts in captured territory where they dispense their conservative brand of justice as well as public goods. Entrenching themselves in this manner will ensure the country's sectarian divide endures long after the end of hostilities.
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  • organizations also advance a sectarian agenda at home. For Sunni-led countries like Bahrain and Kuwait that have large Shiite populations seeking greater political rights, domestic anti-Shiite activism threatens to spark a conflict that would quickly rage out of control
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    Non-state actors are crucial players in shaping the Syrian conflict.
Ed Webb

Syria Comment » Archives » The American MidEast Leadership Network's Virtual ... - 0 views

  • theAmerican MidEast Leadership Network’s Virtual Scrapbook, a daily events blog and online collection of photographs and audio-visual clips gathered by participants of AMLN’s United States-Syria Grassroots Diplomacy Program. Now in its third year, the three-week cultural exchange run by the New York- based nonprofit organization affords American students and young professionals the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their Syrian counterparts to address misconceptions between them and to form a bridge of understanding at the citizen level.
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