Blog entries from: MEI Editor's Blog

A Blog by the Editor of the Middle East Journal

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September 1 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Sep 1 2014, 09:00:00

Today is the Labor Day holiday in the USA, so I won't be blogging. But it is also September 1, 2014, the 75th anniversary of the day in 1939 when Europe dissolved into the greatest war in history.  Ironically the anniversary comes less than a month after the 100th anniversary of the lamps going out all over Europe for the first time, and as I felt then, there are clear resonances for our own day and particularly the region my readers and I are concerned with.  (And if the Middle East seems to be descending into hell, it's worth remembering it happened twice in Europe in the past century.)

I could pontificate, but it's a holiday, and I could never match what Auden said at the time for relevance and power:

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August 29 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Fri Aug 29 2014, 23:00:00

To leave you for the weekend, and especially for the Cairo hands, here's an interesting piece on an "informal" area (usually meaning a slum or illegal squatter settlement, but in this case one that long precedes the urbanization of the area): one of a number of "surrounded villages" on the West Bank of the Nile. It's  useful to see these examples (there are others) of onetime villages swallowed up by urbanization but still essentially separate.

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August 28 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Aug 28 2014, 22:03:00

Despite claims that  a combination of  Iraqi and Kurdish forces and US bombing had "broken the siege" of Mount Sinjar earlier this month, there are sill Yazidis stranded on the mountain. Two weeks ago, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged this:

On the estimate of refugees on Mount Sinjar, it's difficult to provide an exact figure, but we think it's somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000. I'd also add that a number of them, perhaps up to 2,000 or so -- and, again, this is an estimate -- reside there and may not want to leave. It's home to many of them. So not all of them will necessarily be looking to leave the mountain. That's our best estimate right now, based on the assessment team's visit there. More recent reports nd published satellite photos ...

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From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Aug 28 2014, 17:19:00

A piece by Mary Fitzgerald at Foreign Policy offers some insights into the domestic political implications of the alleged Egypt/UAE strikes: "Libya's New Power Brokers."

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From MEI Editor's Blog Thu Aug 28 2014, 08:49:00

Midan al-Tahrir, Cairo, sometime in the 1960s: the then new Nile Hilton (today no longer a Hilton) and Arab Socialist Union HQ (later National Democratic Party HQ, burned in the 2011 Revolution), with a working fountain in the Midan.

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August 27 2014

From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Aug 27 2014, 21:16:00

Longtime readers may recall that a couple of times a year at least, some Arab intellectual or literary figure laments the death (or moribund status) of Arabic, usually either because young people are speaking colloquial instead of fusha or because they're mixing it with foreign languages. You can find some of these earlier posts here. One of the better responses to this frequent theme was Elias Muhanna's 2010 "The Death of Arabic is Greatly Exaggerated."  He pointed to this quote from the lexicographer Ibn Manzur:

Ibn Manzur was driven by a belief that Arabic's position as the ultimate language of social prestige, literary eloquence, and religious knowledge was under threat. "In our time, speaking Arabic is regarded as a vice," he wrote in his preface. "I have composed the present ...

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From MEI Editor's Blog Wed Aug 27 2014, 16:41:00

During the two weeks I was on vacation and posting historical posts, much of the academic and think-tank world was wrestling with the question of the Islamic State (though it's sill easier to call it ISIS in English or Da'ish  in Arabic since the acronyms are pronounceable). I thought a roundup of some of these pieces and reports might be timely.

Let's start close to home, with recent opinion pieces by colleagues here at MEI:

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