December 20, 2012 Roundup

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Policy Shifts and Public Solidarity ...

Welcome to Al-Akhbar English’s newsletter, in which we have amalgamated this week’s highlights from our writers and bloggers.

Our feature piece is an exclusive interview with Syrian Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa, conducted by Al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin, in which this veteran Syrian official proposes an alternative to the absolute policy of war being pursued at great cost by the regime and its opponents. Al-Amin follows up with an op-ed piece reflecting on his meeting with al-Sharaa and its implications.

Meanwhile from Cairo, Rana Mamdouh examines claims of electoral violations and irregularities during the first round of Egypt’s referendum by forces opposed to Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

For his part, Yazan al-Saadi writes about a recent solidarity trip to Gaza by Bahraini medical officials. The trip, al-Saadi notes, is a testament to the growing links between Bahraini and Palestinian activists, which clashes directly with the growing alliance between the Bahraini monarchy and Israel.

And for our last feature piece, Rebecca Whiting unveils the little-known legacy of the late Brazilian master architect Oscar Niemeyer in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon. Niemeyer passed away in early December.

Violations Prevail in Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum

From Manama to Gaza: Solidarity Between Bahrain and Palestine
Tripoli’s Elegy to Oscar Niemeyer

In Other News ...

Also this week, we’ve published two compelling insights into Lebanon’s justice system. Omar Nashabe looks at how the judiciary’s links with politics have in effect paralyzed the state’s ability to dispense justice, while in the second piece, Mohamed Nazzal spotlights the outrage over Judge Alice Shebtiny’s decision to release Charbel Qazzi, who was accused of providing information to Israel during the July 2006 war.

In other political news, Anas Zarzar and Marah Mashi, both in Damascus, report on the capture of the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk situated on the outskirts of the capital. Meanwhile, Nasser Charara assesses recent efforts by armed opposition groups in Syria to form a single military command.

Elsewhere, Muhammad al-Khouli presents the ordinary voices of Egyptians who are concerned over the power-grabbing maneuvers by the Muslim Brotherhood and an opposition infiltrated by remnants of the old regime. And from Bahrain, Shahira Salloum reflects on rumors that the Bahraini monarchy is seeking ‘dialogue’ without preconditions with the opposition.

In Culture & Society, Mohammad al-Khudairi, writing from Rabat, Morocco, reviews Lahcen Zinoun’s latest film Maouchouma (Tattooed), and the controversy over nude scenes within the film. For her part, Amal Khalil joins the residents of the southern Lebanese town of Borj Rahal as it celebrates the 28th anniversary of its popular resistance against Israeli occupation, while Zainab Hawi deliberates whether Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV can possibly revive itself from its rut. And finally, Mohammed Kheir attempts to uncover who wrote the popular subversive poems that were circulated during Egypt’s January 25 revolution.

In Series and Features, Paul Karolyi describes the plight of the Palestinian village of Umm al-Sahali, as it is steadily being destroyed by the Israeli government.

In Portraits, Ghassan Saoud spotlights the new Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, Youhanna Yazigi.

And in Opinion, Amany al-Sayyed, a freelance writer and cultural activist based in Beirut, argues that the divergence over the question of Palestine lies in two conflicting visions: the dream of a lasting modern solution, which is a pure colonialist fabrication; and real progress for Palestinians along a path of resistance that ends occupation.

As always, our bloggers continue to produce riveting posts this week: As’ad AbuKhalil, our Angry Arab, rips apart the western Orientalist Bernard Lewis. In particular, AbuKhalil uses Lewis’s recent book, Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian to prove his point that the man is senile.

See you next week!

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