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Middle East Tag

A prominent Jordanian writer named Nahed Hattar was facing charges in Amman for sharing a cartoon on Facebook which was deemed offensive to Islam. He was killed outside the courthouse this weekend. Al Jazeera reports:
Jordan: Nahed Hattar shot dead ahead of cartoon trial A gunman has shot dead prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar outside a court where he was facing charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam.

Western feminists are happy to talk about the ever growing threat of the patriarchy and trivial issues like mansplaining, but are often curiously silent about the plight of women in Muslim countries. Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has noticed this silence and has a few questions for feminists.

Qatar has released a Dutch woman after holding her for three months because she had the nerve to be raped and report it. Blunt, but true. This is life for women who live under Sharia law. The woman only known as Laura reported her rape to officials, but they in turn arrested her for adultery because she had sex outside of marriage:
The woman, on a vacation with a friend, went out for drinks at a hotel bar in the Qatari capital in mid-March, lawyer Brian Lokollo previously told The Associated Press. While at the bar, she believes someone “messed with her drink” and her memory became hazy, Lokollo said. She later awoke alone, her clothes torn and the victim of a rape, he said. She was immediately detained after reporting the attack, Lokollo said. She previously appeared three times in court, he said.

German police have arrested three Pakistani men who sought asylum in connection to numerous sexual assault complaints at a music festival. They are still looking for numerous other suspects. A spokesperson for the Schlossgrabenfest music festival said 26 women spoke with police about sexual assault. The police then said that 14 reports "involve several women and only after further investigations will it become clear how many of the women were victims of sexual assault." Three women told the cops the group of men "encircled" them and proceeded to harass and grope the women.

The Afghanistan government confirmed a U.S. drone killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor in Pakistan. The U.S. Department of Defense said the government targeted the leader "while travelling in convoy near the town of Ahmad Wal." From The Guardian:
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, speaking in Myanmar on Sunday, said Mansoor “posed a continuing imminent threat to US personnel in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces” and members of the US and Nato coalition. He said the air strike on Mansoor sent “a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners”. “Peace is what we want. Mansoor was a threat to that effort,” Kerry said. “He also was directly opposed to peace negotiations and to the reconciliation process. It is time for Afghans to stop fighting and to start building a real future together.”

"Nakba Day" remembers Arab refugees created by the civil war and then invasion of the nascent Jewish state by Arab armies. It was held a week ago, the day after Israel Independence Day. The "Nakba" has been rewritten by the propagandists as something inflicted upon the Arabs, as opposed to a result of the Arabs refusal to accept the U.N. Partition proposal and the launch of warfare to crush the Jews. Had the Arabs won, there would have been a wholesale massacre of the Jews and complete ethnic cleansing. We don't have to speculate about that -- that's what happened when the Arab armies conquered Judea and Samaria. There were no Jews left, not even in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. And there was a massacre of Jews who surrendered:

China will play a greater geostrategic role in the Middle East and Africa thanks to the construction of the new transnational corridor. The 2,500 km-long network of highways, railways, pipelines and ports will connect the Western Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan's deep-sea port of Gwadar. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as the project is officially called, comes at an initial cost of $46 billion within the next 10-15 years. The corridor reduces China’s dependence on its main Malacca route. Presently 85 percent of the China's oil imports pass through the single chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca, located between Indonesia and Malaysia. With Pakistan's ports Gwadar and Karachi under control, Beijing would have direct access to resources and markets in Middle East and Africa. China already operates several ports in Africa, including its first overseas naval and military base near Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.

At least 50 LGBT activists staged a protest outside the Hbeish police station in Beirut, Lebanon, to protest anti-homosexual law. The activists from the Helem Association demanded the government repeal article 534 of the penal code and release four transgender women. From The Jewish Press:
Helem leader Genwa Samhat told AFP that the sit-in, which took place two days before the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, “calls for the abolition of this section of law dating from the (1920-1943) French mandate in Lebanon.” She added: “Most people arrested under this law aren’t detained in the act but in the street because of their appearance.” Also, she said, people “continue to be fired if their boss finds out they’re gay. They’re made to say they quit voluntarily for fear of being outed.” According to Naharnet, Lebanese police are known to raid nightclubs serving homosexual patrons, and homosexuality is a frequent subject of ridicule on television.

Iran's Tasnim agency reported the regime tested a ballistic missile, but the defense minister denied the claims.
“Two weeks ago, we test-fired a missile with a range of 2000 kilometers and a margin of error of eight meters,” declared Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi. "We can guide this ballistic missile."

NATO has accepted Israel's request to establish an office at the headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The decision went through because Turkey decided to stop opposing Israel's attempts at opening an office at NATO. A non-NATO country needs unanimous consent from all NATO members in order to collaborate with the organization.

Kuwait Airways has decided to stop all of their inter-European flights instead of accepting Israeli passengers. The Lawfare Project filed civil and criminal complaints against the airlines in Geneva, Switzerland, over their discrimination policies. They claimed the policy violated "the Swiss Penal Code as well as the Swiss constitution, which protects individuals from discrimination based on race, religion and ethnicity." "By cancelling these lucrative flight paths rather than admitting Israelis on KAC flights, the airline--a wholly owned instrumentality of the Kuwaiti government--is demonstrating its commitment to discrimination even while exposing itself to enormous pecuniary loss," wrote Lawfare Project in a statement.

The newest offering from Prager University asks an interesting question. Why are there still Palestinian refugees and no Jewish refugees? Dumisani Washington of Christians United for Israel hosts the video and points out a number of facts which are frequently ignored by critics of Israel.

This past Monday, in a rare example of bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously (393 to 0) passed a non-binding resolution declaring the horrors committed by the Islamic State against Christians and other religious monitories to be genocide and crimes against humanity. The State Department has until tomorrow (March 17) to decide whether it wants to make a similar classification of ISIS’s atrocities, as required by Congress. Written into the omnibus spending bill passed in December, the deadline is congressionally mandated. But, as of this writing, it would appear that Secretary of State John Kerry is still having some difficulty seeing what everybody else sees.

Ahead of Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Israel, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that the White House is considering new efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.
The internal discussions are aimed at offering a blueprint for future Israeli-Palestinian talks in a bid to advance a critical foreign-policy initiative that has made little progress during Mr. Obama's two terms in the White House, the officials said. The strongest element on the list of options under consideration would be U.S. support for a Security Council resolution calling on both sides to compromise on key issues, something Israel had opposed and Washington has repeatedly vetoed in the past. Other initiatives could include a presidential speech and a joint statement from the Middle East Quartet, an international group comprising the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
According to the Journal, the President Barack Obama hasn't made up his mind but "is considering a range of options." In any case no decision is expected until later this year.

A group of Palestinians led by professional provocateur and propagandist Bassem Al-Tamimi has filed suit against a slew of Americans, American businesses, American organizations, international businesses and Israeli entities.  The Complaint is embedded at the bottom of this post. Altogether nineteen Plaintiffs have brought claims against fifty-three defendants.  Plaintiffs' attorneys are Martin F. McMahon, a colleague in his law firm, and Sameer Jarrah, who claims a license to practice law in Jordan. Al-Tamimi is a familiar figure.  He is at the heart of LI's ongoing battle with Ithica, New York's public school system (where he encouraged third-graders to become "freedom fighters for Palestine"), peddles the blood libel that Israel harvests and sells Palestinians' organs, and uses his own daughter (and other children) as props in his war against Israel (more here).

One the best commentaries I've seen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was published last week in Haaretz.  The article by Israeli author, Gadi Taub asked, Does Abbas Really Want Israel to Withdraw From the West Bank? Unsurprisingly the answer Taub suggests is "no." Taub's column can be reduced to 5 main points as to why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not want peace with Israel.
  1. After spending years agitating for the "right of return" there is no way he would abandon it and lose whatever little credibility he still has with the Palestinians in order to make peace.
  2. He might complain about the human rights abuses of Israel, but the Palestinian security services will be worse.
  3. Right now Abbas doesn't have to fight Hamas directly, Israel is doing most of the work. As an added bonus Israel's presence in the West Bank allows him to complain about occupation. If he gets a state by compromise he will lose the Israeli protection and he will look like he gave in to Israel.

British banking giant HSBC shut down accounts held by Islamic Relief Worldwide ("IRW") last month.  IRW has long been suspected of funneling money to terrorist organizations. According to the Center for Security Policy:
[IRW is] the largest international Islamic charity in the world, with a $240 million operating budget, nearly 300 employees, chapters in more than 12 countries with their own multi-billion dollar budgets, and operations in over 30 countries, all based in Birmingham, England.

If you receive Morning Insurrection, you would have seen Prof. Miriam Elman's recommendation to read Jonah Goldberg's piece on the importance of foreign policy in the upcoming election. (If you don't currently read Morning Insurrection see the signup box in the upper right-hand corner of Legal Insurrection.) Goldberg wrote:
We can debate how much blame Obama deserves for Syria’s civil war, but almost no one outside his paid staff disputes that he’s only made things worse. The conflict there has set off the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since the end of World War II — that’s John Kerry’s own assessment — which may yet tear the European Union asunder. The instability closer to the fighting is even more dangerous. Russia and Turkey may soon go to war with one another, as Russia mercilessly and indiscriminately massacres anyone standing in the way of its pet, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The Jordanian monarchy may crumble, in part for a lack of assistance from the United States.