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Archive for January, 2013

Some Good Stuff on Mali and Timbuktu

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

The war in Mali has produced a great deal of opinion, most of it rather ill-informed.  Here are several very different readings (two from the modern policy world and two more historical) that may help clarify matters:

Laura Seay, Mali is Not a Stan, at Foreign Policy, argues that comparisons to Afghanistan (in addition to some fairly obvious topographical differences) misreads the situation; the French were invited in, know the country well, and are not plunging into a quagmire.

Marc Lynch, at Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel, asked his readers, Is Mali Part of the Middle East?  The conclusion is no, but certainly the events in Mali have resonances in the Maghreb, as the Algerian gas plant attack showed.  My on approach on this blog is to be as inclusive as possible; when Mali affects events in North Africa, we can look at it, though that doesn’t make it part of the Middle East. But historically, it is part of the greater trading area for North Africa (as the Indian Ocean is for the Gulf), and will occasionally demand attention.

On more cultural issues, the African and Berber linguistics blogger Lameen Souag, at his Jabal al-Lughat blog, knows the territory well (one of his specialties is Songhay, the language group which includes the dominant language in Timbuktu). has two useful posts: “On Book-Burning in Timbuktu”, and “Languages of Timbuktu,” the latter of which seeks to clear up some confusion about the ethnicities and languages in the city.

http://lughat.blogspot.com/2013/01/languages-of-timbuktu.html
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Atlanta School Shooting Update: Armed officer working at middle school … – CBS News

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

CBS News
Atlanta School Shooting Update: Armed officer working at middle school
CBS News
(AP) ATLANTA – Atlanta's police chief says an armed officer working at a city middle school where a student was shot was able to disarm the suspect, also a student, moments after the shooting. Authorities say a 14-year-old boy was shot in the back of the neck
Teenage student wounded in Atlanta school shootingReuters
Teen shot at Atlanta school; student heldUSA TODAY
Police: Teen shot by fellow student at Ga. schoolHuffington Post
CNN -New York Daily News
all 173 news articles »

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Hagel faces barrage of criticism during tense confirmation hearing – Fox News

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

TIME
Hagel faces barrage of criticism during tense confirmation hearing
Fox News
WASHINGTON – Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel endured a barrage of criticism Thursday during his all-day confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, challenged repeatedly by Republican lawmakers about his past positions on Israel, Iran, Iraq and other
Under fire from Republicans, Hagel ends marathon confirmation hearingNBCNews.com (blog)
Senator Mark Udall 'Strongly Inclined' To Support Chuck Hagel Secretary Of Huffington Post
PM Note: Hagel's 9-Hour Hazing, The Pilot and the Infantryman, Senators ABC News (blog)
Wall Street Journal (blog) -CBS News -New York Times
all 728 news articles »

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Syria threatens retaliation for Israeli airstrike

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

FILE - In this May 9, 2009 file photo, two Syrian men sit at a coffee shop under a big poster showing Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, and Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nassrallah, left, in Damascus, Syria. U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday. The target was a convoy believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran. The Israeli airstrike comes at a particularly sensitive and vulnerable time for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Despite its formidable weapons arsenal and political clout in the country, the group's credibility and maneuvering space has been significantly reduced in the past few years, largely because of the war in neighboring Syria but also because of unprecedented challenges at home. (AP Photo/Ola Rifai, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike and its ally Iran said the Jewish state will regret the attack.

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Good News from Timbuktu?

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

Via Jadaliyya, some good news on the question of the safety of the Timbuktu manuscripts. The South African partners in preserving the manuscripts are hearing they are indeed largely safe.
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Israel may feel need to strike Syria again

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

FILE - In this May 22, 2010 file photo, a Hezbollah fighter, stands behind an empty rocket launcher while explaining to the group various tactics and weapons used against Israeli soldiers on the battlefield, during a trip to Hezbollah strongholds, in Sojod village, southern Lebanon. U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday. The target was a convoy believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran. The Israeli airstrike comes at a particularly sensitive and vulnerable time for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Despite its formidable weapons arsenal and political clout in the country, the group's credibility and maneuvering space has been significantly reduced in the past few years, largely because of the war in neighboring Syria but also because of unprecedented challenges at home. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)BEIRUT (AP) — An Israeli air attack staged in Syria this week may be a sign of things to come.

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"Increasing the likelihood of a cycle of  retaliation…"

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

[NYTimes] “… Israeli officials remained silent on Thursday about their airstrike in Syrian territory the day before, a tactic that experts said was part of a longstanding strategy to give targeted countries face-saving opportunities to avoid conflict escalation. But Syria’s own confirmation of the attack, followed by harsh condemnation not only by Israel’s enemies Iran and Hezbollah but also by Russia, may have undercut that effort, analysts said, increasing the likelihood of a cycle of  retaliation.”“From the moment they chose to say Israel did something, it means someone has to do something after that,” said Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council and a longtime military leader. “Contrary to what I could hope and believe yesterday, that this round of events would end soon, now I am much less confident.”…”


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Talking Egyptian democracy

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

 Or my Alt-Title:  What We Talk About When We Talk About Supporting Egyptian Democracy

This post is simply to point my blog readers over to my weekly Thursday column, which is entitled "The Egyptian Treadmill: Why Washington Isn’t Panicking About Egypt’s Latest Crisis."  It looks at how the Obama administration views the ongoing crisis in Egypt and the various proposals for what it should be doing about it.  More discussion later but for now, I just hope you go read it

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Live: Syrian regime TV

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

Ziad captured this image from Syrian regime TV:  The writings on the screen from Syrian regime TV says:  “The Iraqi popular committee for solidarity with Syria:  The Flagrant Israeli aggression constitutes an evidence of the fear of the Zionist entity from the Syrian Arab army which possesses arms and capabilities that “Israel” fears in the probable battle of military decisiveness in the liberation of Palestine.”

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I never knew that it is anti-Semitic to insult the Israeli prime minister until I read about the uproar in UK for this cartoons in the Times

January 31st, 2013 Comments off
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