Lebanon: waiting on Syria

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Of all Syria's neighbours Lebanon is the most painfully affected by the civil war. The massive flow of refugees is putting Lebanese resources under unbearable strain. Violence such as the bombs which killed 42 outside Sunni mosques in the largely Sunni northern city of Tripoli, probably retaliation for a bomb in the largely Shia area of southern …

Palestine: talking

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Very little information has been available about direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian delegations which have been meeting continuously since 29 July. Although the talks were said to be without preconditions it appears that both sides had agreed to leave it to the US to speak publicly about them. Reports suggest that the US representative Martin Indyk was not …

Israel and Saudi Arabia: unlikely partners

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The stagnant and relatively predictable Middle East scene of recent years has been rudely disturbed, following the Arab Spring, by the election of an Iranian president who appears to seek a more conciliatory policy towards both the Arab world and the wider world, the unpredictability of post-Mubarak Egypt, the end of Sunni domination in Iraq …

Israel: a villa in the jungle

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In an article in the Guardian of 20 August  the Israeli journalist Aluf Benn describes the normality of life in Israel contrasting with a deadly crackdown on protests in Egypt, civil war in Syria, car bombs in Lebanon, a refugee crisis in Jordan and sectarian war in Iraq. Israel has never appeared so …

Palestine: talks to begin

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Following initial meetings in Washington last month what Reuters calls "the real discussions" start today 14 August "with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni facing Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Jerusalem's King David Hotel. The negotiations will be moderated by U.S. envoy Martin Indyk, with the next encounter already pencilled in for later this month in the …

Jordan: the impact of Egypt

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Well over half a million refugees from Syria are placing an enormous burden on Jordan’s resources. This follows the impact of refugees from Iraq after the 2003 invasion, reportedly about three quarters of a million (Jordan’s population is just over 6 million). Events in Egypt have had no such physical impact, but the political impact …