On Wednesday July 17, 2019 a shooting took place in a restaurant in Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, that allegedly killed a Turkish diplomat serving in the consulate, Osman Kose, and two Iraqi civilians. Reports claim that three assailants with alleged Islamic State (ISIS) allegiances were behind the shooting and quickly killed as well although investigations are still pending. No group claimed the attack with the PKK spokesperson denying its involvement. The Kurdish Regional Government condemned the shooting vowing to investigate and offer any assistance to the Turkish Government. The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, attended the funeral for the diplomat today.
Air quality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has deteriorated dramatically over the last few decades. Recent research on global level of pollution ranked Cairo as the most polluted city in the world. The situation in other major cities in the region is not very different from the Egyptian capital. The region has witnessed major shifts in energy production and consumption trends over the last few decades which contribute to high levels of air pollution.
Since 2003, the principle of multi-party consensus has defined Iraq’s political system. This formula was deemed best for Iraq during a transition period, and it relied on the existence of broad sectarian and ethnic coalitions. In practice, this consensus represented the major Shia and Kurdish political parties while Sunnis fit into the mold as best they could or were left out. Though consensus rule certainly gave a wider group of political actors a stake in the system, it also blurred the lines of responsibility and made accountability impossible. Cracks are now emerging in the consensus model, with coalitions fragmenting and a historic step in Iraq’s democratic transition: the appearance of an opposition party.
Ongoing discrimination and anti-refugee rhetoric in Lebanon are leaving desperate Syrians with two dismal options: to live under harsh conditions in Lebanon or return to Syria with worse conditions and even less stability.
The final match of the Women’s World Cup 2019 is a few short days away and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) expects viewership to reach one billion. With all the excitement these past months have generated, it is hard not to notice a glaring discrepancy in representation. There is not one team from the Middle East that qualified. Is it because the sport is less popular in this region? Is it because the women don’t want to play? The answer to both questions is no. Soccer is in fact one of the most popular sports in the Middle East. According to a report on sports in the region, “Soccer is woven tightly into the lives and cultures of the peoples of the Middle East.” Anyone should be able to grab a ball, gather some neighborhood kids, and play a pickup game barefoot from Sao Paulo to Tokyo. But what about Kabul, Tehran, and Ankara? When girls or women try to enter the game, it isn’t as simple as it is for boys and men. This is especially true in the Middle East.
Since the ratification of Iraq’s constitution in 2005, the government formation has been an excruciatingly protracted process. While the constitution does not require a specific distribution of appointments by sect or ethnicity, the multitude of political blocs and the ethno-sectarian interest networks forced an allotment of cabinet positions among the diverse components of the Iraqi population. While inclusive governance is an admirable goal, it can be a formula for failure when merit is sacrificed for the sake of meeting ethno-sectarian quotas. With only a few exceptions, Iraqi ministries have been treated as fiefdoms to be controlled by the ministers or their parties and face little accountability or transparency requirements. Even in the few cases when ministers have resigned—or were removed from office for proven corruption or mismanagement of public funds—they later returned to senior political positions or left the country unscathed. For this reason, filling cabinet posts has turned into ferocious horse-trading among influential Iraqi leaders.
Climate change poses an existential and global threat to humanity. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to be impacted more than any other area. At the regional level, the predicted consequences of climate change are an accelerated rise in sea level, a significant increase in average temperatures, and changes in precipitation patterns. Some MENA states are better prepared than others to mitigate and adapt to these climate risks. States like Israel are well-equipped with technologies to deal with climate change, while the territories it occupies—namely Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights—are deprived of both their resources and the technologies necessary to protect them.
On June 17, 2019 Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president in Egypt, died in court. Joyce Karam, a journalist based in Washington DC, tweets it out. His death released a myriad of emotions—and then the truth became a victim. Yet again.
The US-sponsored “Peace to Prosperity” workshop will convene in Bahrain on Tuesday June 25 and Wednesday June 26 to “discuss strategies and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement” between the Israelis and Palestinians. Although the US delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the plan’s architect is White House adviser Jared Kushner. They will be joined in Manama by officials from a few Arab states, a sprinkling of business people and a few working level representatives of international organizations. The Palestinians have rejected participation and the Israelis have not been invited.