Inside the Middle East
December 23, 2012
Posted: 625 GMT

A look back at the highlights of 2012 covered on Inside the Middle East.

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Filed under: Culture •Egypt •Inside The Middle East •U.S.

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March 21, 2011
Posted: 908 GMT
 A Tornado GR4 aircraft takes off from Royal Air Force in England.
A Tornado GR4 aircraft takes off from Royal Air Force in England.

President Obama and his national security team worked behind the scenes Sunday to try to shore up support within the Arab world for the military mission in Libya, with top White House aides reaching out to officials of the Arab League to insist the bombing does not exceed the scope of a U.N. mandate, according to senior administration officials.

The senior officials described the Obama team's phone calls as making clear to the Arab League that bombing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses falls within the U.N. Security Council resolution's scope of imposing a no-fly zone and taking "all necessary measures" to stop the dictator from attacking civilians in his own country.

"We don't believe this goes beyond the resolution," said one senior administration official in describing the White House's message to the Arab League.

The lobbying came after Arab League officials complained earlier Sunday that airstrikes by the U.S. military and other allies inside Libya exceeded the scope of merely instituting a no-fly zone.

The senior officials noted that Obama also personally called King Abdullah of Jordan as part of the effort to keep key Arab allies on board with the mission. Read more...

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Filed under: Obama •U.S.

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March 17, 2011
Posted: 1138 GMT
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (pictured March 8) said military invention by the U.S. and Europe in Libya would make matters worse.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (pictured March 8) said military invention by the U.S. and Europe in Libya would make matters worse.

The United States and Europe should not intervene militarily in strife-torn Libya because it would make matters worse, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Spanish state television TVE on Tuesday.

"I think a military intervention would be even worse. The experience of Iraq and Afghanistan is before us. It made things worse, not better," Ahmadinejad told TVE in an interview at the presidential palace in Tehran, Iran, which was televised in Spain.

He condemned Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's bombardment of rebels, saying, "We condemn these massacres and we have condemned them previously. Whomever bombs his own people should be condemned."

But Ahmadinejad - speaking in his native Farsi that was translated to Spanish - also warned, "A Western intervention will just complicate the situation. The West needs to leave behind its colonialist vision."

He accused the United States and Europe of having provided weapons and backing to Gadhafi and other autocratic regimes in the region in the past. Read more...

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Filed under: Iran •Libya •U.S.

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December 7, 2010
Posted: 1116 GMT

A series of U.S. diplomatic cables from early this year directly accused Syria of supplying advanced weaponry, including SCUD ballistic missiles, to the Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon.

U.S. protests to Damascus met with persistent denials, according to the cables, which were published by the WikiLeaks website.
At a meeting in February, according to one cable, a senior U.S. diplomat stressed Washington's concerns directly with Syrian President Bashar Asad, "who bluntly stated that he knew of no new weapons systems going to Hezbollah."

But just a week later, an urgent note from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Embassy in Damascus said the United States had learned of Syrian plans to supply Hezbollah with SCUD-D ballistic missiles, which would magnify its threat to Israel.

Clinton wrote: "I must stress that this activity is of deep concern to my government, and we strongly caution you (Syria) against such a serious escalation." To reinforce the point, the cable continues: "Your interest in avoiding war should require you to exert maximum restraint, including restraining Hezbollah and preventing the group's acquisition of such lethal, long-range weapons." Read more...

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Filed under: Clinton •Hezbollah •Syria •U.S.

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November 29, 2010
Posted: 1055 GMT
WikiLeaks document: Saudi King Abdullah told an Iranian official: 'You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters.'
WikiLeaks document: Saudi King Abdullah told an Iranian official: 'You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters.'

By Tim Lister, CNN

(CNN) - U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by the website WikiLeaks and published by newspapers in the United States and Europe on Sunday reveal considerable anxiety among the Gulf states about Iran's nuclear program, with the Bahrain's king warning, "The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it."

The cables, many marked "Secret," were among several hundred thousand obtained by WikiLeaks and published by newspapers Sunday.

They reveal great concern among Arab states about Iran's regional ambitions. One cable describes a meeting between Saudi King Abdullah and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and other U.S. officials in March 2009.

According to the cable, the king told the Americans what he had just told the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. "You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters," the Saudi monarch was quoted as telling Mottaki. "Iran's goal is to cause problems," he told Brennan. "There is no doubt something unstable about them." Read full story...

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Filed under: Bahrain •Egypt •Iran •Iraq •Oman •Saudi Arabia •U.K. •U.S.

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November 24, 2010
Posted: 1126 GMT

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has arrived in the United States for medical treatment, the State Department said.
"We hope for his speedy recovery," the State Department said in a message from its official Twitter account late Monday.

King Abdullah ruled Saudi Arabia since 2005.
King Abdullah ruled Saudi Arabia since 2005.

The king left Saudi Arabia earlier Monday for treatment of a herniated spinal disc and a blood clot that was causing him back pain, state media said.

Saudi dignitaries met him when he arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.

The agency's report did not specify which hospital would be providing treatment to the ruler.
"The medical team recommended that he leaves for the U.S. to visit a spine-specialized medical center in order to complete medical examinations and for follow-up treatment," Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabeeah said during an interview Sunday with Saudi state television. "But I assure everyone that he is in a stable condition, and that he is enjoying health and well-being, and God willing, he will be back safe and sound to lead this proud nation."Read more..

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Filed under: Saudi Arabia •U.S.

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November 9, 2010
Posted: 504 GMT

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Filed under: CNN Coverage •U.S. •Video •Yemen

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November 8, 2010
Posted: 1433 GMT
Yemeni security are seen outside a branch of the US package delivery firm UPS in Sanaa (Getty Images)
Yemeni security are seen outside a branch of the US package delivery firm UPS in Sanaa (Getty Images)

Editor's Note:  Ben Wedeman has lived and worked in the Middle East for more than 30 years, and has reported from Yemen.

Yemen is "a hotbed of al Qaeda activity," a "failed state," "the next Afghanistan." Or so we are being told.

Trying to make sense of the uproar over Yemen stirred up in late October by the handful of alleged bombs shipped from Yemen and bound for the United States, I sought the wisdom of people who have been to Yemen, lived there, and speak the language.

One of them is Sheila Carapico, a Yemen expert teaching at the American University in Cairo.

"Some of the intelligence from inside the government and think tanks and other sources in Washington on Yemen is so focused on this AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) entity that they just neglect to get a basic grasp on Yemeni geography and history," she told me.

AQAP is believed to be behind the package bombs, as well as the accused bomber Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who U.S. authorities say tried to blow up a passenger jetliner with an explosive partially sewn into his underwear. He's facing six charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and has pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to blow up the plane.

AQAP's so-called spiritual leader, US-born Anwar Al-Awlaqi, is said to have been the inspiration for Major Nidal Hassan, accused of going on a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, a year ago, in which 13 people were killed.

AQAP may be on the lips of the growing army of terrorism "experts" around the world, but it remains, she said, something of an unknown quantity in the Arab world. "Americans recognize the notion of AQAP and think it's a huge threat. For most Arabs, the acronym makes no sense and the organization, if it exists at all, is a sort of shadowy, fluctuating, almost viscous entity."

Indeed, I suspect if you were to go out on the streets of Cairo and ask one thousand people if they knew who Anwar al-Awlaqi is, you'd probably be met by blank stares. It may come as a surprise to some, but the poster demons in the war on terror are largely unknown in this part of the world.

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Filed under: Obama •U.S. •Yemen

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October 23, 2010
Posted: 1528 GMT

London, England (CNN) - Classified military documents published on the WikiLeaks site increase the civilian death toll of the Iraq war by 15,000, anti-war activists said at a news conference Saturday.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke at a press conference in London Saturday
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke at a press conference in London Saturday

"We have seen that there are approximately 15,000 never previously documented or known cases of civilians who have been killed by violence in Iraq," WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said.

Those cases raise the civilian death toll in Iraq to 122,000, said Iraq Body Count, an-anti-war group.

Assange and others appeared at a news conference on Saturday in London, England, to discuss the release of nearly 400,000 classified military documents from the Iraq war by his whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

Assange said the massive leak aims to reveal hidden truths about the Iraq war.

"The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends," Assange said.

"In our release of these 400,000 documents about the Iraq war, the intimate detail of that war from the U.S. perspective, we hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the war, during the war and which has continued on since the war officially concluded."

CNN was offered access to the documents in advance of the release but declined because of conditions that were attached to accepting the material. The New York Times and The Guardian, the British newspaper, were among a handful of organizations provided early access to the papers. Read full story

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Filed under: Human Rights •Iraq •U.S.

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September 27, 2010
Posted: 1953 GMT

Hamas political leader vows to continue fight with Israel

CNN's Nic Robertson travelled to Damascus this past weekend  for a sit-down interview with Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal.  You can watch portions of the interview here and here or read the transcript after the jump.

Among other things Meshaal talks about why he believes why the current negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are a "trick" that will fail, why he thinks Hamas is justified staging attacks against Israelis,  and comments on the status of captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas and other Gaza based militants groups in a 2006 cross-border raid.

Transcript starts here:

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Filed under: Hamas •Israel •Jerusalem •Palestinians •U.S.

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