Simon Assaf

More than a Saudi PR disaster

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The brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and critic of Mohammed bin Sultan (aka MbS), has ripped apart the image the ruling Saudi prince had crafted for himself as a “moderniser”. The details of Khashoggi’s killing — he was enticed into the Saudi consulate in Turkey and butchered with a hacksaw — reads like a script from a horror movie.

No Turning Back

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Rania Abouzeid represents that new generation of Arab, in this case Lebanese, journalists who in the years before the 2011 revolutions learned to view the region with a hard eye. They were unmoved by political rhetoric and unconvinced by fantastical conspiracy theories.

They learned to trust what they saw, the ordinary people they spoke to, and that sense that the truth is always concrete, even if it is not what you want to hear.

The Battle of Algiers

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The Battle of Algiers is a war film based on the Algerian War of national liberation (1954–62) against French colonial rule.

Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, a star of the Italian neorealist cinema, in 1966, it is shot using newsreel-style footage mainly with amateur actors. One of the central characters, Ali la Pointe, was spotted in an Algiers market. Many of the French soldiers were played by Europeans who were on holiday in North Africa.

Middle East spins deeper into crisis

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Foreign intervention is pushing the Middle East into a series of wars with no end in sight.

The war in Syria and Iraq is threatening to spill into a war between the Saudis and Iran, Turkey is preparing to crush the restive Kurdish regions, while the prospect of a defeat for ISIS threatens a deeper and bloodier struggle over its old strongholds.

A complex mess of wars without end

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Donald Trump’s “America First” is fanning trade wars across the Atlantic and Pacific, a confrontation with China over North Korea, and hot wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The complex conflicts pitting global and regional powers against each other mark a military fault line that has terrifying consequences.

Welcome to the new age of the neo-cons

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Will Trump return to the go-it-alone imperialism of the Bush years, asks Simon Assaf

The crisis for US and Western imperialism can only intensify with the advent of a Trump presidency. The go-it-alone policy Trump advocates, which was pioneered by George W Bush’s “new American century”, failed bitterly in Iraq. According to one commentator the coterie who will be running the new US foreign policy will make Bush’s neo-cons seem like “a bunch of old history professors”.

Letter from Beirut

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Unprecedented electoral success for a new left alliance in the Lebanese capital has shaken up politics

The elections in May for control over Beirut proved to be a major breakthrough for the popular discontent that has been simmering in Lebanon since the advent of the Arab Spring.

Local elections are traditionally dominated by sectarian parties that reflect the religious makeup of the capital’s many neighbourhoods.

Laws dictate that inhabitants who moved to the capital over the past 40 years can only register to vote in their home villages. As such the electoral base does not reflect the city’s population today.

Syria: signs of hope

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The Syrian regime’s capture of Palmyra, the historic Syrian city taken by ISIS last summer, has been hailed as a significant victory and a vindication of Russia’s intervention in Syria. In a deft manoeuvre Putin, a key ally of Assad, announced that he would scale back Russian military forces in Syria — a move designed to reduce tensions with Turkey and the West.

The Egyptians

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Egypt’s 25 January revolution in 2011 was a moment in which history flipped upside down. It was a period of momentous events that are far from over. The counter-revolution of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who seized power in May 2013, appears to have put the lid back on the street movements, strikes and protests that were unleashed by the Arab Spring.

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