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In Depth: Middle East

19 Mar 2006

A Place Called Saudi Arabia

Michael J. Totten's blog (Double) Guest Entry by Lee Smith I find it a little hard to believe Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s “The Israel Lobby” was written while sober. In their first sentence, the authors assert that, “For the past several ...

17 Mar 2006

In effect

Michael J. Totten's blog Thanks to Tony for drawing our attention to the Erlanger article on Hamas and the end of the peace process . One could argue that Arafat knocked the peace process on the head in 2000. One could also observe that what Erlanger ...

16 Mar 2006

Open door for fascists

Michael J. Totten's blog In the wake of the defeat of fascism in Europe, one of the bodies founded to prevent future wars and to promote democratic values was the Council of Europe. Sadly, the Council of Europe has developed a habit of betraying its ...

Parallel Unilateralisms

Michael J. Totten's blog To follow up on the Hamas reference in Andrew’s last post (gia sou re Andrea me tis pitzames sou!) — even though I never comment on Israeli-Palestinian matters — Steven Erlanger had an actually sober piece on Hamas and the ...

15 Mar 2006

Not so soft bigotry

Michael J. Totten's blog Anne Applebaum had a slightly sarcastic column in yesterday’s Washington Post about the hysterical reaction to Dubai Ports World’s attempt to invest, through acquiring a British firm, in U.S. ports. She observes that: Britain ...

14 Mar 2006

The Brammertz Report

Michael J. Totten's blog The new head of the UN probe into the assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri, Serge Brammertz, has submitted his first report to the UN Security Council. The report itself can be read here (PDF). Michael Young comments on ...

13 Mar 2006

Making blasphemy pay

Michael J. Totten's blog David T over at Harry’s Place has a great entry on Amr Khaled, an Egyptian preacher whose views are less than pleasant. Recently our embattled allies in Denmark engaged in some dialogue with Amr Khaled. According to The New ...

Time for some more protests

Michael J. Totten's blog The Saudi ambassador and his cohorts will be up in arms about this one. This is guaranteed to inflame and insult. There will be talk of insensitivity and discrimination. Sharon Stone not only visited the place that dare not ...

Intercommunal warfare in Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog There has been a gruesome and grotesque rise in the level of intercommunal violence between Sunni and Shi’a Arabs in Iraq since the attack on the Shi’a shrine in Samarra (a true act of blasphemy, by any standard, as opposed ...

11 Mar 2006

The Last Village in Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog TAWELA, IRAQ — The village of Biara sits right on top of the Iranian border. But you can keep going further up the road, still higher into the rugged Kurdistan mountains, to the village of Tawela where you can see the Iranian ...

8 Mar 2006

Zarqawi Was Here

Michael J. Totten's blog BIARA, IRAQ — The PUK’s Minister of the Interior ordered 20 heavily armed Peshmerga soldiers to go with me to the borderland mountain village of Biara. For years the village was occupied by Ansar Al Islam, the Kurdish-Arab ...

2 Mar 2006

“The Head of the Snake”

Michael J. Totten's blog SULEIMANIYA, IRAQ — Suleimaniya is the most liberal city in Iraqi Kurdistan, partly because of its long-standing and deep ties to nearby Iran, one of the most culturally liberal countries in the Middle East. The Iraqi Kurds I ...

28 Feb 2006

Day Off

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m taking the day off blogging to write a rather lengthy magazine article. I’ll be back tomorrow with more photos from Suleimaniya, Iraq. These will be grimmer than what you have seen so far. Iraqi Kurdistan has a horrific ...

27 Feb 2006

The Utah of the Middle East

Michael J. Totten's blog SULEIMANIYA, IRAQ — When I first saw the city of Suleimaniya, in Northern Iraq, during daylight I was startled. Out my hotel room window was a straight street, the first such street I had seen in almost half a year. That ...

26 Feb 2006

Driving to Suli

Michael J. Totten's blog KURDISTAN, IRAQ — I liked almost everyone I met in Iraqi Kurdistan. But no culture is without its annoying bastards, and the idiot who drove me from Erbil to Suleimaniya was one of them. A torrential storm blew into Erbil on ...

21 Feb 2006

The Beginning of the Universe

Michael J. Totten's blog LALISH, IRAQ — In Northern Iraq there is a place called Lalish where the Yezidis say the universe was born. I drove south from Dohok on snowy roads through an empty land, seemingly to the ends of the earth, and found it ...

The Utah of the Middle East

Michael J. Totten's blog I have a new (short) article published today in The Bulletin , the Australian edition of Newsweek . I wanted to call it The Utah of the Middle East , since that’s what much of Kurdistan looks like, but they changed it to The ...

20 Feb 2006

The Safest City in Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog DOHOK, IRAQ — Everyone I talked to in Erbil said the city of Dohok, near the border with Turkey, was both safer and prettier. So I made the three-hour drive through the mountains, partly so I could see the spectacular scenery ...

19 Feb 2006

“Our Jerusalem”

Michael J. Totten's blog Map copyright National Geographic ERBIL, IRAQ — Iraq may not survive in one piece. The overwhelming majority of Iraqi Kurds are packing their bags. Most have already said goodbye. Erbil ( Hawler in Kurdish) is the capital of ...

17 Feb 2006

Northern Iraq: A Photo Gallery

Michael J. Totten's blog Birds take flight over a river flowing south from the Kurdistan mountains toward the Mesopotamian plains. A refurbished castle along the road between Salahadin and Erbil. View from the lobby of the very well-guarded Khan Zan ...

16 Feb 2006

Lockdown

Michael J. Totten's blog ERBIL, IRAQ — A Western journalist I met in Erbil, who has been in Iraq for some time, told me the place challenges almost every liberal idea he has ever had in his head. I don’t know what he was like, ideologically speaking, ...

15 Feb 2006

“This is Your Country”

Michael J. Totten's blog ERBIL, IRAQ — Iraqi Kurdistan has an official tourism board, but that doesn’t mean the region gets many actual tourists. Despite the fact that it’s by far the safest and (almost certainly) the most pleasant place to visit in ...

14 Feb 2006

The Dream City of the Kurds

Michael J. Totten's blog ERBIL, IRAQ — Kurdistan is a place of the mind. It doesn’t exist on any maps unless the maps are made by the Kurds . Southern Kurdistan is known to the rest of the world as Northern Iraq. Northern Kurdistan is described as ...

13 Feb 2006

Photo Gallery Coming

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m trying to upload a series of photos that I think will surprise quite a few people. But I’m having technical difficulties here. As soon as this problem is resolved (hopefully it won’t take very long) I will show you ...

12 Feb 2006

Iraq Without a Gun

Michael J. Totten's blog ERBIL, IRAQ — Until just a few months ago, Iraq was one of the last places in the world a normal person would want to fly into. Baghdad had the only international airport in the country, and you risked your life just taking a ...

9 Feb 2006

Back from Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog I just spent two weeks in Northern Iraq and have arrived back in Lebanon safely. Sorry for misleading everyone about my travel schedule. For those of you who forgot…a few weeks ago I said I was beginning my Iraq trip today. ...

7 Feb 2006

The Enemy of Our Enemy is Still Our Enemy

Michael J. Totten's blog No one should be surprised to read an article like this one by Lee Smith blaming the Syrian Baath regime for the recent violence in Lebanon. What else is new, right? Perhaps a few Americans of the conservative so-called ...

4 Feb 2006

Reactionaries

Michael J. Totten's blog Once again, I apologize for not blogging much. I have my nose to the grindstone on a project that I’ll explain in a few days when I have a chance to come up for air. I will say, however, that I am extremely dismayed by the ...

30 Jan 2006

Slow Blogging

Michael J. Totten's blog Blogging will be slow this week. Sorry for being lame. I’ll make it up to you with plenty of Iraq material, including photos. Middle East Iraq ...

25 Jan 2006

Fisking Flint Leverett

Michael J. Totten's blog Sorry for the light blogging. It has been one of those weeks – but in a good way. I’ll elaborate more shortly when I have a minute. If my comments were still active I would suggest discussing amongst yourselves in an open ...

23 Jan 2006

Change of Plans

Michael J. Totten's blog The bad news is I’m delaying my trip to Iraq for two weeks. The good news is that by doing so I’ll be able to get much better interviews than if I were to go this week. (Thank God I didn’t actually pay for the plane ticket ...

22 Jan 2006

Leaving for Iraq on Friday, February 10

Michael J. Totten's blog It looks like I’m going to (Northern) Iraq on Friday, February 10. Supposedly my visa is ready and I can pick it up tomorrow morning. My travel logistics are arranged. All that’s left for me to do at this point is schedule ...

18 Jan 2006

Comments are Closed

Michael J. Totten's blog Due to a troll infestation, comments are closed until a subscription system is in place. I need to plan a trip to Iraq and have neither the time nor the inclination to babysit foul-mouthed psychotics. Thank you for ...

17 Jan 2006

Watching the Bad Guys Turn on Each Other

Michael J. Totten's blog Watching Syria’s former Vice President Adbul Halim Khaddam declare war on his old boss Bashar Assad from his cushy hideout in Paris is great in a watch-the-bad-guys-turn-on-each-other sort of way. But as I say in my new TCS ...

16 Jan 2006

Iran is Now Open

Michael J. Totten's blog Getting a visa to enter Iraq is more of a bureaucratic hassle than I thought it would be. It’s the kind of pain in the ass paperwork nightmare that makes me want to break things. Just figuring out the procedure has become my ...

15 Jan 2006

Back Shortly

Michael J. Totten's blog I’ll be back with more posts shortly. It takes some time to deal with Iraqi travel logistics. In the meantime, discuss amongst yourselves in the comments. Middle East Iraq ...

13 Jan 2006

A Woman Traveling Alone

Michael J. Totten's blog CAIRO — Egypt doesn’t do many things better than Lebanon, but it does do the Internet better. Free wi-fi is both fast and ubiquitous. So I went to a cozy restaurant and pub, ordered a four-cheese pasta from the waiter, ...

11 Jan 2006

NATO’s Internal Cold War

Michael J. Totten's blog Here is the first of two articles I wrote about Cyprus when I visited a few months ago. This one is from the Greek side. The next one is from the Turkish side. I know Cyprus isn’t as exciting as Iraq, but I’m working on that. ...

Thank You

Michael J. Totten's blog Thanks so much to everyone who hit the PayPal button to help me out with Iraq expenses. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I hope to be heading over there in a couple of weeks. At this point it depends on how ...

9 Jan 2006

Send Me to Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog It’s time for me to go to Iraq. I am not going to embed with the military. While it sounds exciting (as well as terrifying), I’m only going to be there a few weeks. War correspondence isn’t something a person does for two ...

8 Jan 2006

Old Cairo

Michael J. Totten's blog CAIRO — The Nasser-Sadat-Mubarak regime can only do so much damage to a thousand year-old city like Cairo without physically tearing it down. I wanted to see the oldest parts of the city, places where dreary human storage ...

5 Jan 2006

Shaken Down by the Police

Michael J. Totten's blog (This is the second half of a two-part narrative I started two days ago. You can read the first half here if you missed it.) GIZA, Egypt — Mohammad led his horse and mine away from the abusive policeman and toward the City of ...

4 Jan 2006

The Slow Rot of Hosni Mubarak

Michael J. Totten's blog I still intend to finish the pyramids story I started yesterday, but first I need to send you over to my new piece at TCS: The Slow Rot of Hosni Mubarak . I never liked the guy in the first place, and now that I’ve seen what ...

3 Jan 2006

Giza

Michael J. Totten's blog GIZA, Egypt — I couldn’t go to Egypt without seeing the pyramids, especially since they are less than an hour from the center of Cairo. So I had a driver, Nabil, pick me up at the hotel in late morning. Cruising from the ...

1 Jan 2006

Iraq is Not the First Arab Democracy

Michael J. Totten's blog I have a new piece in the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal where I make the case that Lebanon is now what we hope Iraq someday will be: Lebanon the Model . BEIRUT, Lebanon–Of all the rationales for demolishing Saddam ...

Former Syrian Vice President Fingers Assad

Michael J. Totten's blog Syria’s former Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam went on Dubai’s Al Arabiya TV in Paris where he kicked the crap out of his former boss Bashar Assad and called him out as the lying murderous scumbag that he is. BEIRUT: ...

28 Dec 2005

Totalitarian Tourism — Libya, at Long Last

Michael J. Totten's blog My first person account of hanging out in the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya — the most oppressive country in the world after North Korea — has been published by the LA Weekly : In the Land of the Brother ...

26 Dec 2005

Libya Essay (Finally!) To Be Published

Michael J. Totten's blog A year ago the LA Weekly sent me to Libya after the US government lifted the travel ban. I wrote a sprawling 6,500 word essay about my experience in that crazy place. It is perhaps the best thing I have ever written, and it ...

25 Dec 2005

A Magnificent City

Michael J. Totten's blog I didn’t go to Istanbul to write about it. I went there to have fun with my wife Shelly in a lively city that doesn’t shut down on Christmas. Because Muslims and Christians celebrate each others’ holidays in Lebanon, ...

22 Dec 2005

A Plea to America – Stay the Course

Michael J. Totten's blog by lebanon.profile The Middle East has not been a nice place to live for a long time. We now have some hope, but not much. We’ve been sold out before. The Central and Eastern Europeans had dreams similar to ours. Their dreams ...

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