Blog Entry #10


Article 1: Seeds sown in Middle East for the next revolution by The Washington Times

Article 2: Digital Uprising: The Internet Revolution in the Middle East  by The Tailor & Francis Online


After the Tunisia’s Twitter revolution and the social media-fueled protests in Egypt that toppled both their presidents, the social media revolution had started to spread to other areas of North Africa and the Middle East. Who could have imagined the speed and depth of the popular uprisings ignited by anti-government sentiment reaching such heights? We have seen protests where there are rock- and stone-throwing youths, but did we ever imagine words on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube mobilizing the masses and building  such worldwide support and forcing old men to step down? The revolutions of Egypt and Tunisia had spread to at least 10 countries in which Facebook posts and tweets have organized protestors across North Africa and the Middle East. As many have said already, this is the formula of the next revolution. Beyond Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, there will be further riots, reactionary violence, and struggle to get basic human and civil rights, but what emerges from it may be something greater and something that will definitely be written among pages of history.



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Blog Entry #9


Article 1: Benghazi assassinations stun residents amid Libya’s turmoil  By: The Washington Post

Article 2: Spring Awakening; How an Egyptian Revolution Began on Facebook By: The New York Times

Before U.S. had become involved in the revolution, many western news media had portrayed the revolution as something extraordinary, revitalizing, and something that was long due. While many news media were sympathetic and  seemed to show its support for the revolution, others had condescending views. In a news article by The Washington Post, written by Ms. Cunningham of the revolts in Libya, she described the events in details and remarked that the ‘city [was] plagued by lawlessness” (Cunningham). Such accounts portrayed the western media’s attitude of superiority over the Middle East. I found these accounts to be rather disturbing. However, I was equally relieved and proud where there were other media (such as social media) that showed support for the revolution and were truly sympathetic towards the people of Arab Spring. Such cases were presented on Facebook where the youth of the western world started to create awareness by sharing pictures and posts of the true accounts of Arab Spring revolutionaries.

However, after U.S. became involved in the ISIS conflict, there was a drastic change in how western media portrayed the revolution. While President Obama vowed to destroy Islamist terrorist in Syria and Iraq and he repeatedly stated that the United States would not get involved in a direct combat in Middle East, many news media criticized Obama’s decision for getting involved (Shear, The New York Times). Suddenly, there was an elevation in the usage of words such as “those people” and “their war.” No longer were there words of sympathy and kindness. Suddenly, the views of cosmopolitanism that some news media had originally shown, had transformed into views of political realism. The focus from the revolution of the Middle East had suddenly shifted to U.S. again. “What is United States going to do now?”; “What does it mean for the safety of United States?”; “Will United States go into another war?” This was something I found interesting and somewhat supporting the hypothesis that I had.


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Blog Entry #8


Article 1: Journalist addresses Western media bias against Middle East by The Daily Orange

Article 2: Western media fraud in the Middle East by Nir Rosen on Aljazeera

In article one, the editor of Daily Star, Khouri said Western media’s shortcomings consist of biased coverage of Iran, Israeli favoritism by the American media in the Arab-Israeli conflict and a spotlight on military conflicts with little political context. He goes on to say, “he way the American mainstream media covers Iran is professionally criminal.” Khouri said he disagrees with the way the American media target Iran, presenting fearful stories about weapons of mass destruction. He gives a warning that the United States could repeat the Iraq war if this pattern continues. The article goes onto talk about how most people believe the western media and will think that Iran is in fact a country to fear, and Khouri and students of Khouri goes onto say that the western portrayal of Iran is untrue.

Similarly, the second article, Rosen goes onto talk about how western media portrays news for its own interest. He states, “the American media has been obsessed with Islamists, looking for them behind every demonstration, and the uprisings have been often treated as if they were something threatening. And all too often, it just comes down to “what does this mean for Israel’s security?” The aspirations of hundreds of millions of freedom-seeking Arabs are subordinated to the security concerns of five million Jews who colonised Palestine.” He emphasizes how it seemed as if the focus of western new media somehow always end up at Israel’s security, undermining the importance of the people of the countries who are going through the revolutions themselves.

I found both of these articles to be equally powerful. They both provided a drastically different point of view from the one that I’m used to watching in the “western media” that they talk about. I especially like how the author of the second article emphasizes that it’s a journalist’s job to fairly report news, rather than put his/her opinions into the articles.

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Blog Entry #7


Article 1: ‘They would torture you’: ISIS prisoners reveal life inside terror group by Ivan Watson of CNN

Article 2:  ISIS after al-Baghdadi: What happens if the terror leader is killed? by Holly Yan and Brian Todd of CNN

In article one, the author goes inside of the life of ISIS prisoners. The interviews are conducted in the Kurdish prison, where the prisoners were brought out of their cells, blindfolded, and were put in a room to be interviewed. The prisoners stated that ISIS would give them money to complete a job, and they were told that it was for Islam and justice. Many of the prisoners stated that ISIS lied to them and took advantage of their minds and poverty. Moreover, some prisoners reported that ISIS drugged their fighters before they went into battles. One prisoner, Kareem, said, “Hallucinogenic pills that would make you go to battle not caring if you live or die.” Same prisoner reported that he fought for a year all across ISIS-controlled territory. He said other fighters he was with were promised wives by ISIS. Most of the fighters were foreigners, said Kareem, and he had difficulty communicating with them because they didn’t speak the local Syrian dialect of Arabic. At one point, he reported even meeting a fighter from China. While the prisoners who were interviewed said that it was a mistake for them to join ISIS, the Kurdish prison guards said that if they were released, they would go back and re-join the ISIS group.

The second article talked about if ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, was to die, the group will still continue. Retired US militant James Marks said that if al-Baghdadi died, then a new leader will emerge and the group may even morph. The author reports that it is more likely that the ISIS leader has already planned a Plan B if something is to happen to him. The article goes on to talk about two possibilities of leaders that could take place if al-Baghdadi was to be killed.

In the first article, it seemed that the author’s intent was to show that many of the people that make up the ISIS group, may just be helpless people being controlled by the masterminds/leaders of the ISIS group. On somewhat parallel road, the second article talks about if the leader of the ISIS group was to die, there will be others, maybe people second-in-charge that will take over to control group. They both seemed to share the same opinion when it comes to having higher authorities controlling the weak-willed, helpless people that may build up majority of ISIS group.


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Blog Entry #6


Article 1: VOICES: Inhumanity and the Moral Limit in Syria by Laura Boustani

Article 2: Syria: Mapping the conflict by BBC News

In the article by Boustani, she begins with giving background of the brutal childhood she had in Lebanon because of the war between Lebanon and Syria and the damage that was caused by the Syrian regime. She then moves on the talk about how the damage, degradation and destruction that Assad has done to his people is worse than what Lebanon had gone through. To put it in perspective, Boustani gives estimates of the dead and injured, stating that, “Syria’s numbers today are astounding: 130,000 dead (including thousands of children), more than 575,000 injured, nearly three million refugees outside Syria, nearly five million refugees displaced inside Syria; 43,000 Syrians detained and thousands suffering from starvation and lack of shelter. Then there are the latest revelations of Holocaust-like torture of thousands.” She adds that these numbers may not reflect destructions of entire villages and cities, where Syrians were tortured on day-to-day basis. The author states that she had expected so much more from the people of Syria after “atrocities” performed by the Assad regime. She acknowledges and admires traditional and social media which had made the world aware of the massacres. She pays thanks to aid workers and journalists who had been reporting the incidents of Syrian to not only Syrian people, but also the world. However, she states that the people of Syria and the world leaders need to do more, that they should be outraged by the “brutality” that’s been going on under Assad’s regime.
Damaged buildings are seen in a bombed area of Homs Jan. 27, 2014. (Reuters)

In the second article, BBC News reports the timeline of Syria’s revolution. The article emphasizes how the territorial control in Syria has changed many times since the country’s uprising began more than three years ago. The article reports that IS jihadists are now in full control of the eastern region of Raqqa and hold significant swathes of territory in Aleppo to the north and Hassakeh and Deir al-Zour in the east. It goes on to talk about how US-led military operations targeted oil fields and military bases controlled by IS, in which oil refineries were believed to be producing “between 300-500 barrels of refined petroleum per day”, generating as much as $2m (£1.2m) per day for the militants, a key source of revenue. The article then goes into the beginning of Syrian revolution, talking about how millions of Syrians have been displaced from their homes, while still staying in the country. It reported about 3 millions Syrians fleeing the country to seek refugees in surrounding country such as Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.

Map showing where Syrian refugees have fled

In conclusion, in the first article, Boustani had expressed very strong emotion against the Assad regime, seeming to wanting Syrian people and the world leaders to take a step toward “ending the holocaust” happening in Syria. She had much of a political liberalism point of view. She wanted everyone at the table to come and resolve this issue.

In the second article by BBC News, the article focused on the cause of the Syrian revolution and the effects of them on not only the Syrian people, but the other countries which became directly or indirectly became involved in it.

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Blog Entry #5


Article 1: Egypt: Passive Aggression and Counter-revolution: Voters, Youth Stay Home by Juan Cole of Informed Comment

Article 2: Islamic State: Egyptian militants pledge loyalty by BBC News. 

For this blog, I looked at two articles, one by a private blogger expressing his thoughts on Arab Spring and the second one by an established news media, BBC News. In the first article, Cole talked about a low turn out on voting day in Egypt. He goes on to explain how the unexpectedly low turnout was not due to people being uninterested in voting, but because of a rule that was implemented that they had to register to vote in their places of origin. He emphasized that, for many Egyptians who have come to Cairo or Alexandria in search of work, that is a long and expensive train ride. Cole stated that a rule rewarded long-term urban populations and discriminates against rural labor migrants. The author believed that labor migrants were more likely than the urban population to support either the banned Muslim Brotherhood or the socialist candidate, Sabahi. Cole states that many Egyptians acknowledged that the election was fixed and al-Sisi would be the winner. The writer expresses how the youth of Egypt were not fore al-Sisi, but because of the unfairness of political games themselves, they will be forced to continue with their revolution.

The second article was written in November 2011, about 8 months after the Cole’s blog. It focuses on the Islamic State and how Ansar Beit al-Maqdis’ pledge of loyalty to IS is being seen as a further sign of IS’s growing appeal to other Muslim militant groups. Moreover, Militants in Sinai have stepped up their attacks on Egyptian security forces since the military’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. As a response to this attack, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave the military extra powers in October to combat militant groups in Sinai. In return, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis called on Egyptians to rebel against President Sisi, who led the overthrow of Former President Morsi and said to have fixed his succession in an election earlier this year.

The article by Cole present a point of view sympathetic to the Egyptian people. He seemed to belong in the category of perspective somewhat represented by radicalism. He wanted what was best for the people of Egypt, without political parties forcing their beliefs only on people (i.e. by fixing elections). The second article presented by BBC News seemed neutral and had a political liberalism point view, seeming to wanting “all parties to be present at the table” to resolve the issue of ISIS.

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Blog Entry #4


Article 1: ISIS closes in on Kurdish town in Syria; Turkey debates sending troops by Chelsea J. Carter, Gul Tuysuz and Ben Wedeman, CNN

Article 2: Iran’s President calls airstrikes on ISIS ‘theater,’ says broader campaign needed by Mick Krever, CNN

In the first article, the authors talk about Turkey’s consideration of joining the war against ISIS. Turkish soldiers and tanks took up position along the border with Syria as Turkish government debated whether to deploy troops to battle the Islamic State terror group, a move that comes as tens of thousands pour into the country to escape ISIS fighters. Turkey has said it is offering support to a U.S.-led coalition targeting ISIS, but has stopped short of joining the 40-some countries who make up the coalition. But with more than 150,000 refugees pouring into the country, adding to the hundreds of thousands who have already fled the Syrian civil war. Turkey seemed to be right in the middle of the war against ISIS.

In the second article, the author talks about how while United States has limited itself thus far to airstrikes in those two countries, Iran has sent Revolutionary Guard units into Iraq; the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, has even been photographed on the ground in Iraq. Five Gulf countries, traditional adversaries of Shiite Iran, joined with the United States in a rare coalition to strike ISIS in Syria. However, Rouhani said he’d like to distance himself “from the word ‘coalition’ because some countries haven’t come together under the umbrella of this coalition. Moreover, Iran continues to be part of the negotiations with the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany over its nuclear program. In an effort to reach a permanent deal that would trade nuclear guarantees for the reduction of sanctions, world powers agreed earlier this year to extend the interim agreement that provided the framework for negotiations.

Both articles were reported by CNN reporters and both slightly reported their disapprovement for ISIS’s terror and showed words of support for Iran’s and Turkey’s action against ISIS.


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Blog Entry #3


Article 1: Egyptian students begin new revolutionary year by Dr. Walaa Ramadan

Article 2: Ruthless pragmatism has triumphed over the people’s revolutions by Nabila Ramdani

In this blog entry, I looked into two articles by Middle East Monitor. These articles were written by students and advocates of Middle East. In the first article, Dr. Ramadan talks about the beginning of a new academic year for Egyptian students. For the universities, it was originally suppose to start in September but was delayed by the authorities to mid-October to allow them time to prepare their security forces, for the expected demonstrations. Egyptian security forces sought to increase  their grip on students who had been showing much persistence, resilience, and determination previous year, who had moved Egypt’s first democratically-elected president. Security forces such as Falcon was put in the universities to “handle” the demonstration. Diaa Sawy, deputy head of Youth Against the Coup, said: “Falcon is a militia which the government uses to clamp down on students on university campuses.” When anti-regime student movements from 20 universities across Egypt took part in “The students are back” campaign, it led to clashes between the police and students in Al-Azhar, Cairo and Ain Shams universities, resulting in the security firm withdrawing its personnel. This followed a day in which the riot police fired tear gas and students broke down security fences in Al-Azhar and Cairo universities. The article goes on to say how students have been mobilising and fighting lengthy battles to obtain court orders to remove the police presence, put in place by previous dictators Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, from universities. Police were expelled from campuses following the January 25 revolution, and were replaced with alternative security personnel affiliated with each individual university. Following the massacres in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares in August 2013, students erupted into raging protests resulting in unprecedented retaliation by police and security forces who shot hundreds and arrested thousands, without any distinction between males and females. Overall, this article emphasized how the revolution was very much alive, and it will continue to be alive by the students as long as there was injustice.

The second article, Ms. Ramdani begins with the background of Arab Spring and how it started out to be a peaceful protest by students and turned into violent battles of people against government. Moreover, she states that economically, things have not improved at all for Egypt, however, politically other countries (she emphasizes Western power) had taken advantage of the Arab Spring and sought a way to use the regimes for their own interest. The author states that the Arab Spring was crucial because it highlighted the cynicism and inconsistency of the West, while also drawing attention to the problems of economic inequality and human rights violations. The pro-democracy movements were never going to solve these issues, but at least the global community is now talking about them. She states that, “what we have learned beyond doubt over the past three years, however, is that the ruthless pragmatism of power politics and economic self-interest has, in the short term at least, triumphed over the people’s revolutions.” Both articles tried to focus the attention back of the people of the Middle East. The authors had much patriotism for their countries. In the second article, the dislike for western power seemed apparent. She emphasized how political power seem to still triumph over people’s revolution.



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Blog Entry #2


In this blog post, I will be talking about the following articles:

1) I want to cleanse Libya of Muslim Brotherhood: Haftar by Ahram Online; and

2) Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood condemns Sinai attacks by Maggie Fick of Reuters

In the first article, a retired Libyan general, Khalifa Haftar, states that he wants to get rid of Muslim Brotherhood and all other Islamist radicals, calling his operation, Al-Karama (dignity). Operation dignity was launched because, according to the general, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is the driving forces behind extremists arriving in Libya. He states that he had arrested 40 people who were allegedly given fake passports by the Brotherhood to get into Libya.  Haftar says it has opened the eyes of many Libyans.

In the second article, Muslim Brotherhood is held responsible for the attack on Sinai that killed 33 security personnels. However, the Brotherhood denies anything to do with it and blames the “massacre” on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for security failures. Going back a year, army chief Sisi had elected President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood in July 2013 after protests against his rule. His government has since cracked down on Egypt’s oldest and most organised Islamist movement, throwing thousands of Mursi’s supporters in jail and labeling the group a terrorist organization. It draws no distinction between the Brotherhood and Islamist militants in the Sinai. Sisi said that the attacks were an “existential threat” and Egypt has declared a state of emergency in North Sinai as it seeks to stem attacks.

It was obvious that both articles were written in opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood. Both articles claimed that Brotherhood was radical Islamist group that is responsible for causing extremist activities such as leading terrorists into other countries and/or causing bloodshed. In both articles, it ends with people having enough of the Brotherhood.

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Blog Entry #1


The two articles I posted on Diigo this week were, “Benghazi Assassinations Stun Residents Amid Libya’s Turmoil” by Erin Cunningham of The Washington Post and “Kurds call on ‘all Middle East’ to help defend stronghold from Isis” by The Guardian.  The reason I chose these two articles were to see how the western world views the history in making that is the contemporary Middle East. The first article talked about, how Libya does not have a credible government, which has left the country with “armed groups vying for influence in the desert nation’s urban centers” (Cunningham). What I found interesting in this article was the tone of the author. Many times in the article she sounded condescending and had a seemingly one-sided view toward what was happening in Libya. She used terms such as “city plagued by lawlessness” and sounded unsympathetic towards the events happening in Libya. I found this to be interesting and disturbing at the same time. The second article talked about the increase in Syrian refugees because of the Syrian civil war. The author of this article was somewhat sympathetic to the people of Middle East. While presenting his facts, he used terms as the “bitter Syrian war” and included information that showed support for the Kurdish people. He presented this article with a sympathetic tone and was drastically different from the article by Cunningham.


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