Latest News in the Middle East April 1 - 8 2014

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Afghanistan

  • Al Jazeera: Afghan women face hurdles despite elections (Bethany Matta, April 8)
  • "Just days after Afghanistan's presidential elections and 13 years after the Taliban were last in power - signs of change are evident. More than 300 women across the country campaigned for seats in the provincial council, where 20 percent of spots are reserved for women, three women served as cabinet members in President Hamid Karzai's government, and women flocked to the polls, some voting for Habiba Sarabi, the former governor of Bamyan."


  • Washington Post: Afghanistan’s presidential election got high turnout, but many still voted along ethnic lines (Kevin Sieff, April 6)
  • "In several predominantly Tajik neighborhoods, for example, the ethnic Tajik presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, was the clear winner based on preliminary results. He received about 75 percent of the vote, out of a total of about 3,000 ballots cast at four polling stations. Ashraf Ghani, who is a Pashtun, thought to be Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, was the second-highest vote-getter, receiving about 18 percent."
  • Reuters: Smooth Afghan poll raises questions about Taliban strength (John Chalmers & Maria Golovnina, April 7)
  • "A bigger-than-expected turnout in Afghanistan's presidential election and the Taliban's failure to derail the vote have raised questions about the capacity of the insurgents to tip the country back into chaos as foreign troops head home."

Egypt

  • BBC: Egypt al-Jazeera case: Fresh calls to free reporters (April 7)
  • "The trio, including former BBC reporter Peter Greste, went on trial in February, accused of spreading false news and aiding a terrorist group. They deny the charges, labelled by al-Jazeera as "absurd". The case has drawn widespread condemnation from international media and human rights groups."


    Iran

    • BBC: Will Iran price hikes fuel discontent? (Amir Paivar, April 4)
    • "The honeymoon with the new government is over. Iranians are coming back from their New Year holidays to see their utility bills go up, some by 24%. Petrol prices are also due to rise, a move that usually prompts discontent and triggers inflation. Starved of cash, President Hassan Rouhani's government has no choice but to cut state subsidies for fuel and energy."

    Israel / Palestine

    • The Guardian: Kerry hints Middle East peace talks are close to collapse as US reassesses role (Paul Lewis & Peter Beaumont, April 4)
    • "In the most pessimistic remarks since he launched the talks last July, Kerry told reporters it was “reality-check time” for all involved in the discussions. “It is regrettable that in the last few days both sides have taken steps that are not helpful and that's evident to everybody,” he told reporters in Morocco."

    Lebanon

    • BBC: Anti-Syrian hostility in Lebanon spawns social media backlash (Faisal Irshaid, April 4)
    • "According to the UN, since 2011 more than one million Syrian refugees have fled the conflict in Syria to neighbouring Lebanon, a country of about four million people. The refugees, seen by some Lebanese as a serious threat to the country's economy, social coherence and infrastructure, have fuelled a huge debate centred around the impact refugees may have on the country."

    Libya

    • BBC: Libyan rebels agree to reopen two oil terminals after deal (April 7)
    • "Oil exports have plummeted 80% in the past eight months after the closures of oil ports led by militiamen seeking greater regional autonomy. Traders have been watching the negotiations closely, keen to know when Libyan oil is going to re-enter the market after major disruption. A failed attempt to sell oil illegally last month triggered the latest round of talks to lift the blockade."

    Syria

    • AFP: Hezbollah claims it has helped Assad win Syria conflict (April 7)
    • "Nasrallah denied Hezbollah's role in Syria was unpopular in Lebanon, and said the group's recent battle in Syria's Qalamun had lessened the risks of bomb blasts back home. "In my opinion, the phase of bringing down the regime or bringing down the state is over," he said."
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