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Entries in Al-Monitor (5)


Yemen 1st-Hand: When the US Drones Attacked My Village (al-Muslimi)

If you live in Yemen, the golden rule is to expect anything any time. That, however, does not include expecting your hometown village — one of the most peaceful and beautiful places in Yemen — to be bombed. The peacefulness of such a place makes you believe that no one has ever heard of it, let alone that it is bombed by a US drone strike at night.

That, however, is the reason that I received many messages from villagers on my two cell phones last night.

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Turkey Opinion: Democracy v. "Erdogan's Personal Lust for Power" (Akyol)

All such accomplishments of the ruling AKP have recently been overshadowed — not by the “hidden Islamist agenda” that the secularists feared, but a more mundane problem: lust for power, especially Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s personal lust for power.

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Iran 1st-Hand: A Country of Resignation (Slavin)

Cafe in Darband (Photo: Barbara Slavin/Al-Monitor)Outside the conference hall, where Iranian reporters seemed to spend much of their time trying to interview the handful of Western journalists covering the meeting, residents of the capital were less eager to engage with foreigners than in the past. Contact with outsiders is now potentially much more dangerous — a legacy of the 2009 crackdown, which brought the arrest of hundreds of former Iranian officials, journalists and academics who had close ties with the West.

At Darband, for example, a young man who had given permission for a photo to be taken of him and his wife and young son sitting on a takht-e choobi, changed his mind 20 minutes later and asked that the image be deleted. Why, he would not say.

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Iran Interview: Ali Larijani on the Nuclear Issue, Syria, and Detained Opposition Leader Mousavi (Slavin)

While in Tehran to cover the Non-Aligned Movement's summit, Barbara Slavin of Al Monitor spoke with Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.

Larijani's line on Iran's nuclear programme is the expected one. So is his assurance that sanctions are not hampering the Islamic Republic and his appeal to leave Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alone.

What may be more interesting is Larijani's effective declaration that opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi --- held under strict house arrest, without criminal charge, for 18 1/2 months --- will remain in limbo.

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Saudi Arabia Feature: The Professor on Trial for Speaking Out (Lippmann)

Mohammad Al-Qahtani (Photo: Hassan Ammar/Toronto Star)What are the limits of free speech and open dissent in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? They are often unclear and seemingly arbitrary, but there is no doubt that Dr. Mohammad al-Qahtani, a professor and activist, went well beyond them, and he knew it. He was hardly surprised when Saudi prosecutors, finally fed up with his vociferous denunciations of the regime, hit him with a long list of criminal charges. He had predicted it, and in the context of Saudi Arabia, he was asking for it.

“Make no mistake,” he said shortly before a recent procedural hearing on his case. “We are all going to prison.” By “we” he meant himself and two colleagues in the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, perhaps the most outspoken and daring agitators for human rights and personal freedom in the kingdom.

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