Third World Report (Middle East)

Egypt: Rebellion against the Free Market

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For over half a century the small Egyptian village of Kamshish in the Nile Delta has been a battleground between Egypt's landlords and its impoverished peasant farmers.

The British-backed monarchy which ruled the country before the revolution of 1952 was propped up by a handful of rich landowners - some of them honoured with the title Pasha - who lived like feudal lords on their estates. Today children and grandchildren of the last generation of Pashas are returning as part of the neo-liberal onslaught on the world's farming poor. Shahinda Maqlid's husband, Salah Husain, was assassinated by the landlords in 1966. Today she is facing a jail sentence as the same landlord family which killed her husband tries to stop her campaign for peasants' rights.

Lebanon: Some Things That Money Can't Buy

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The US's attempt to "democratise" the Middle East - or, to put it bluntly, to create puppet regimes - has had two spectacular failures recently.

In Iraq this democracy has created sectarian chaos, while in Palestine the US-backed elections produced a victory for the Islamic movement Hamas - not exactly what George Bush had in mind when he mapped out his grand plan for democracy in the region.

But the US administration thinks that Lebanon could be the silver lining of some very dark clouds. Last month George Bush stated in a meeting with Lebanese prime minister Faud Siniora that "there is no question in my mind that Lebanon can serve as a great example for what is possible in the broader Middle East".

Iraq: Standing Firm in Face of the Occupation

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It is a big step to describe what is currently going on in Iraq as a "civil war", but I think we can say that we are witnessing the beginnings of such a conflict.

The proof is that there are sectarian attacks targeting holy sites and mosques, and we are seeing incidents of ethnic cleansing - Shia families are having to leave Sunni areas.

Palestine: Beyond a Religious Argument

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The victory of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January has been greeted with varying degrees of hysteria by Western governments and media.

The US administration has led the charge, threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (which Hamas now runs). The hypocrisy of the US government is plain - promoting democracy but refusing to respect the Palestinians' democratic choice. But even on the left there has been unease at Hamas's victory. Does this represent the "Talibanisation" of Palestinian politics? The voices of Palestinian voters, and the history of Hamas itself suggest otherwise.

Gay Rights: Who are the Real Enemies of Liberation?

The bigoted outburst by the magazine of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association calling Islam a 'barmy doctrine' is the clearest example of the co-option of many in the gay liberation movement into the barmy doctrine of the clash of civilisations.

That homosexuals around the world face oppression on a daily basis is as true of the US and Europe as it is for those living in the Muslim world. Yet, some have chosen to shift the struggle into a racist argument against Islam.

Listening to Western activists speak about 'Islamofascism' and, in the same breath, justify holding the 2006 World Pride in occupied Jerusalem should be a clear indicator. The apartheid wall alone makes a mockery of the pride's slogan of 'Love Without Borders'.

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