The cards have been reshuffled. On 13 June, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his new government’s cabinet line-up after a five month long political tug-of-war which plunged the country into another period of notorious institutional dysfunction. Dominated by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies, Mikati’s cabinet has come under the magnifying glass of the international community as it prepares to meet its biggest challenge in the midst of regional turmoil: the formulation of a unified policy on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) which has been investigating the murder of the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri since 2009.
The Iranian President is a rare gift to journalists and analysts of foreign policy. He talks, a lot. Often candidly, in a way that few politicians at his level do; at least in the ultra-polished and spun Western world. In a true to form display of such candour, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad noted in late 2009 that America under President Barack Obama had not changed from the America of George W. Bush in its foreign policy application in the Middle East.
Described by many as the “dark heart” of the Israeli occupation, the city of Hebron represents one of the most tragic realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Once a bustling trade hub on the road from Cairo to Damascus, Hebron - the largest Palestinian city in the southern West Bank and a major pilgrimage site for all of the monotheistic faiths - encapsulates the worst traits associated with military occupation.
On 7 June 1981, Iraq’s nuclear programme suffered a literal blow when its nuclear reactor in Osirak was levelled to the ground. Almost immediately after the operation, Israel admitted to orchestrating the attack to protect its citizens from a potential nuclear threat. Osirak was the first practical demonstration of what came to be known as the Begin Doctrine, named after Menachem Begin, the then Israeli Prime Minister, who ordered the 1981 attack.
Two men, one dream: justice, peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. Both dedicated their lives to this dream and both ultimately had theirs taken in its pursuit. April has been a tragic month for all who fight for reason, dialogue and humanity in the face of injustice and oppression. On 4 April, Juliano Mer-Khamis - an Arab-Israeli political activist, director and actor - was brutally gunned down in Jenin. Ten days later, Vittorio Arrigoni - an Italian journalist and peace activist affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) - was abducted and later executed by a fringe group of Salafi militants in Gaza City.
The Egyptian intelligence-brokered reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah have apparently finally borne fruit. On 27 April, Egyptian intelligence announced that the two Palestinian rivals have finally agreed on forming an interim government, and have made such progress that they will now fix a date for a general election. In addition, it appears that both parties have agreed to release their respective prisoners with Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior political figure in Hamas, confirming that Hamas will release all who have a non-criminal background; a clear hint at political prisoners.
As the populist pro-democracy wave sweeps across the Arab world, provoking revolutionary change in some of the most entrenched authoritarian Arab regimes, the Republic of Lebanon lies in ruins. Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s cabinet was brought down on 12 January by the resignation of Hezbollah and its allied ministers after Hariri had refused to comply with the Shia organisation’s demands to cease all cooperation with the UN-backed international tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri’s assassination. The tribunal is expected to issue indictments against Hezbollah members and their Syrian patrons. Recovery has been anything but rapid and is likely to be stalled further as Syria, Lebanon’s traditional power-broker, is in the throes of a popular uprising which impacts heavily on Lebanon’s chances of political recovery due to the inextricable political entanglement linking the two neighbouring countries.