January 12, 2014 |
The first war I covered as a foreign correspondent was the civil war in Lebanon. When the conflict began in 1975, it was just a series of skirmishes, a nasty but limited little war for control of a small nation. Then other countries got involved: Syria, Iraq, Libya and Israel. They supplied money and weapons to their favored factions, turning an internal struggle into a longer, more deadly proxy war in which outside powers fought one another through surrogates. Eventually even the United States sent troops, which is why 241 Americans died in a bombing in Beirut in 1983.
January 12, 2014 |
DOHA, Qatar - As the hot sun cut through the morning haze of the seemingly perpetual summer of this Persian Gulf city, commanders of Syria's Western-backed opposition forces convened for a series of high-level meetings. The participants, leaders of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, were desperately engaged in damage control after a loose coalition of Islamist groups had taken over the council's warehouses on the Syria-Turkey border, seizing U.S. donations and prompting a suspension of American aid. The choice of Doha, Qatar's capital, was not a strange one. The tiny emirate of Qatar, home to the world's third-largest natural gas reserves and its highest per capita wealth, was once the opposition's staunchest and most vocal supporter.
January 5, 2014 |
Wrapping up three days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry urged the officials to rise above the daily challenges and keep their eyes on the big picture. “We can achieve a permanent status agreement that results in two states for two peoples if we stay focused,” Kerry said before departing for Amman, Jordan, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday. Kerry met twice separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
January 2, 2014 |
TEHRAN -- Two deadly bombings in Beirut over the last week and the arrest of a fugitive Saudi militant in the Nov. 19 attack on Iran's embassy in the Lebanese capital reflect the escalating spillover of a proxy war in Syria. Iranian Shiite Muslims and rival Sunnis in Saudi Arabia have been battling for years for dominance in the Middle East. But the rivalry has intensified since May, when the Lebanon-based and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia made clear it had intervened in Syria's civil war on the side of the embattled Shiite-aligned government.
December 12, 2013 |
The foreign-language film field for the 2014 Academy Awards is an uncommonly strong one, incorporating the luscious fever dream "The Grand Beauty" (Italy), the heartbreaking family drama "Ilo Ilo" (Philippines) and "Gris Gris" (Chad), the story of a man pulled into the world of gas smuggling, among so many others. But it's often the story behind the film that matters as much as the film itself. Haifaa Mansour's "Wadjda," for instance, is not only Saudi Arabia's first submission to the Oscars but the first feature ever shot in the country, whose ultraconservative government views cinema as a corrupt art form.
November 20, 2013 |
This week, the Senate takes up a White House-backed defense authorization bill that would reduce the restrictions on repatriating Yemeni nationals held in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. These changes are long overdue. Many of these detainees are eligible for transfer, which would be a significant step in closing Gitmo. However, to minimize the significant risk of them joining Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, and engaging in terrorism, the U.S. should first establish a rehabilitation center for them in Yemen, based on a Saudi Arabia model, with a rigorous post-release monitoring program.