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In Depth: Middle East

17 Jul 2006

Hezbollah Flexes its Missiles

Michael J. Totten's blog By Callimachus: NYT reports : The power and sophistication of the missile and rocket arsenal that Hezbollah has used in recent days has caught the United States and Israel off guard, and officials in both countries are just ...

16 Jul 2006

No Easy Answers

Michael J. Totten's blog The National Council of Churches wonders, why can’t everyone just get along? Is there ever to be an end to violence in the land we call holy? What has violence solved these last 60 years? What has violence solved these past ...

15 Jul 2006

Resistance?

Michael J. Totten's blog By Callimachus The caption currently accompanying this Associated Press photo, both online and on the AP media wire , is: Syrian men touring Damascus streets on Sunday, July 16, 2006, in their cars, waving the flags of the ...

War Stories

Michael J. Totten's blog By Callimachus: Some quick looks around the Web: Stratfor says the next likely scenario is an Insraeli invasion of Lebanon. And the likely collateral casualty will be Beirut. 1. Israel cannot tolerate an insurgency on its ...

Turkey and the Kurds

Michael J. Totten's blog By Callimachus The Middle East this morning faces many possible next steps to Hell. Certainly one of them is a flare-up of fighting between Turks and Kurds, which would take place in a region Michael has criss-crossed several ...

14 Jul 2006

My Friend is a Refugee

Michael J. Totten's blog by Michael J. Totten My friend Lebanon.Profile at the Lebanese Political Journal once guest blogged for me while I was in Egypt. He is one of the most open-minded people in Lebanon when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, ...

Comments are Closed, and Some Clarifications – UPDATED BELOW

Michael J. Totten's blog by Michael J. Totten Insulting my personal friends while they are driven out of their homes as war refugees is not acceptable. My old neighborhood is under attack. My friends are terrified and in danger. How on earth do you ...

13 Jul 2006

War!

Michael J. Totten's blog by Michael J. Totten I’m sorry to be gone and (mostly) unable to blog at a horrible time like this, when a city I love and used to live in is under attack by an ally of my country. I’m scrambling to keep up with what’s going ...

Closer to War

Michael J. Totten's blog … or already there? By Callimachus Grist for the conversation mill. I don’t necessarily agree with all or any of what’s said in all or any of these, but they advance arguments worth considering, or refuting: Ammar Abdulhamid: ...

12 Jul 2006

Israel vs. Lebanon

Michael J. Totten's blog By Callimachus So they say: The violence pitting Arabs and Jews in the Middle East has spilled from the physical into the virtual world, as combatants on both sides lay siege to the Internet sites of one another. And why ...

30 Jun 2006

Moderate Islamists Found

Michael J. Totten's blog I wrote a shorter version of this piece for one of the largest American newspapers, one that gets a hefty dose of criticism almost every day. The editor rejected it because it wasn’t “groundbreaking enough.” I wish he would ...

28 Jun 2006

Featured in Reason Magazine

Michael J. Totten's blog I have a long feature article with photos in the next issue of Reason magazine about the slow breaking away of Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Reason doesn’t publish articles online until after the print version is off the shelves. ...

27 Jun 2006

Israeli Warplanes Say Hello to Assad

Michael J. Totten's blog Syria’s Bashar Assad was home when Israel sonic boomed his house in Latakiyya. He only continues to breathe because Israel feels like letting him continue to breathe. It must be nice to have morally superior enemies. UPDATE: ...

25 Jun 2006

Interview with Islamists on the Way

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m still busy, sorry. Soon, though, I’ll publish an interview from Northern Iraq with one of the leaders of an Islamist political party called the Kurdistan Islamic Union. This is another story that fell through the cracks ...

23 Jun 2006

Yes, It’s Fun, Really

Michael J. Totten's blog Lots of people I know have a hard time believing me when I say Beirut is a good time, that it’s a terrific destination for tourists, that I haven’t turned myself into one of those morbid “war tourism” types who goes to ...

20 Jun 2006

Lebanon Hurts Those Who Love Her

Michael J. Totten's blog My wife and I honeymooned in Spain. It is our favorite country in Europe. We stayed in the Hotel Murillo in old Sevilla and I read to her passages from Jan Morris’s breathtakingly beautiful book Spain . Morris wrote of an ...

17 Jun 2006

“The Israelis Live Over There, So I Don’t Have to Forgive Them!”

Michael J. Totten's blog I intended to publish this essay last year, but it got bumped and put into cold storage. Here it is after a too-long delay. — MJT MOUNT LEBANON – Photojournalist Dan and I hitchhiked from the broiling and humid Mediterranean ...

16 Jun 2006

Weekend Reading

Michael J. Totten's blog I’ll have more original material from Lebanon on Monday, material that got put into deep freeze for too long. In the meantime, Alan Johnson interviewed Paul Berman for Democratiya . It’s loooooong, but it’s the weekend, so ...

14 Jun 2006

Hang On

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m coming back soon, I promise. When I get here I’ll have a story from the Lebanese mountains. I intended to publish it months ago but it got bumped and put into cold storage. You will, I hope, find it entertaining as well ...

13 Jun 2006

Filler

Michael J. Totten's blog I have been dealing with non-stop Middle East related bureaucracy for two days (even at four in the morning, for God’s sake) and I’m mentally exhausted. It has just been one of those weeks so far. Can’t blog properly. Sorry. ...

12 Jun 2006

Okay, So I Guess He Existed

Michael J. Totten's blog A few days ago I was invited on to a radio show to discuss the hit on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I tentatively agreed to be interviewed with the caveat that I had visited parts of Iraq where Zarqawi used to live and, um, work, but ...

10 Jun 2006

Lebanese-Israeli Dialogue

Michael J. Totten's blog Quite a few Lebanese and Israelis have been arguing amongst themselves in my comments section. I’m happy to host this discussion, and I want to encourage more of it. It doesn’t take place nearly often enough (thanks to ...

9 Jun 2006

In the Footsteps of Zarqawi – From the Archives

Michael J. Totten's blog While Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is still just barely in the news cycle for the last time in human history, here’s a piece of mine from the archives (in case you missed it) where I followed his footsteps to Biara, Iraq: Zarqawi Was ...

8 Jun 2006

Mister Zarqawi, He Dead

Michael J. Totten's blog The world reacts: Zoloft Pony : “Two 500lb bombs right on his safe house. NOT SO SAFE NOW, IS IT, BITCH?!” Roger L. Simon : “Goodbye, good riddance, you human nightmare!” Atrios : “I’m supposed to give the obligatory “YAY USA ...

7 Jun 2006

Got the Motherfucker

Michael J. Totten's blog Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead . UPDATE: A Kurdish Iraqi friend sent me the following email from Erbil. Yes, Zarqawi was killed and sent to the dustbin of history… Congratulations to all the Iraqi people… Congratulations to the ...

6 Jun 2006

“They Call Us Cockroaches”

Michael J. Totten's blog I mentioned before that I interviewed Hezbollah’s Mohammad Afif in the suburbs south of Beirut and that he had almost nothing to say that wasn’t boilerplate propaganda. It was boring and useless and I saw no point in ...

4 Jun 2006

“Face to Face with My Occupier”

Michael J. Totten's blog There are more closeted Israel-supporters in Lebanon than you think. (And by “supporter” I don’t mean Zionist partisans, but those who want the cold Lebanese/Israeli war to end and a normalization of relations.) I met quite a ...

3 Jun 2006

Why Hezbollah Circles the Drain

Michael J. Totten's blog Lebanese reader Omega80 left a comment here that deserves to be promoted to the front page since the problem of Hezbollah has come up again. He does an excellent job explaining how they are viewed by most Lebanese today and ...

31 May 2006

22nd Century Arabia

Michael J. Totten's blog I did not meet a single person, foreign or expat, in Beirut who has been to Dubai and had much nice to say about it. Most described it as a culture- and history-free shopping mall on the Gulf, an Arab Las Vegas which can’t ...

30 May 2006

Leave Beirut Out of It

Michael J. Totten's blog Yesterday I wrote “The UN blames Lebanon for starting the latest round of fighting [on the Lebanese/Israeli border], which is dumb.” I am slightly surprised that only two people argued with me in the comments, but I’ll ...

29 May 2006

What Now?

Michael J. Totten's blog Lebanon.Profile writes in my comments section: You might want to blog for two months about quirks. They don’t have to be serious. Remember trying to send the fax, find the post office, getting pulled over at the checkpoint by ...

27 May 2006

Changing the Channel

Michael J. Totten's blog Since I’m out of original Middle East material (for now) and I don’t feel particularly opinionated about domestic politics one way or the other, the content on this blog will soon become a bit more eclectic. Might as well go ...

26 May 2006

Ghosts

Michael J. Totten's blog It is no secret that Arabs in Iraq are pissed off at Arabs in neighboring countries who cheerleaded Saddam Hussein and who now rally behind the head-chopping car-bombing fanatics tearing the country to pieces. But they aren’t ...

22 May 2006

Elsewhere in Lebanon

Michael J. Totten's blog Lebanon is the closest thing I have to a second home. It is the only country other than the United States where I’ve ever lived. It’s nice to be home in Oregon, but sometimes I’m homesick for Lebanon too. Here are 32 photos ...

This is Beirut

Michael J. Totten's blog Well, it had to happen. I’m out of fresh material from the Middle East until I go back and get more. Iran is next on the list…if the mullahs will let me in. It will be a while before I know one way or the other. In the ...

19 May 2006

How Beautiful the Middle East…Could Be

Michael J. Totten's blog “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down” – Robert Frost Lebanese blogger Perpetual Refugee wrote the following in Israeli blogger Lisa Goldman’s comments section . I can image the drive up to Beirut ...

18 May 2006

The Other Side of the Green Line

Michael J. Totten's blog RAMALLAH – I rode in an Israeli taxi with Palestinian journalist Sufian Taha from the American Colony Hotel to the Qalandia checkpoint on the road to Ramallah, capital of nascent Palestine, in the hills of the West Bank over ...

16 May 2006

Piercing the Wall of Silence

Michael J. Totten's blog I know it’s taking me way too long to write my dispatch from the West Bank. Sorry about that. I will post it shortly, I promise. In the meantime, check out this blog from a Lebanese who calls himself The Perpetual Refugee . ...

15 May 2006

Look Who’s Googling Osama

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m working on a long piece about the Palestinian West Bank that will include lots of photos and interviews with Palestinian civilians and politicians. In the meantime I don’t want to let this space get stale. So I’ll leave ...

11 May 2006

The Palestinians of 1948

Michael J. Totten's blog JAFFA and JERUSALEM – There are more Arabs in Israel than there are in Beirut. One Israeli in five is an Arab. They aren’t Israeli Jews. Nor are they the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. They were born and raised in ...

9 May 2006

City of Light, City of Dread

Michael J. Totten's blog TEL AVIV AND JERUSALEM — Tel Aviv is the perfect bohemian city: secular, cultured, youthful, compact, hip, and ideally situated on the shore of the Mediterranean. It is the opposite of spectacular and glitzy. This city has ...

1 May 2006

Correction

Michael J. Totten's blog I need to post a correction. I would have done so as an update to the original post, but I didn’t realize I erred until it was too late. So I’m putting it right here at the top of the main page where it won’t be buried. I ...

30 Apr 2006

On the Rim of a Volcano

Michael J. Totten's blog This is the second of a two-part series about the rising tension and danger on the Lebanese-Israeli border. Don’t miss Part One: Everything Could Explode at Any Moment . NORTHERN ISRAEL — Lisa and I followed Israeli Defense ...

27 Apr 2006

“Everything Could Explode at Any Moment”

Michael J. Totten's blog NORTHERN ISRAEL – Last year I drove down from Beirut into Hezbollah-occupied Lebanon along the border with Israel. Aside from Hezbollah’s other miniature state-within-a-state in the suburbs south of Beirut, the border region ...

25 Apr 2006

“You Just Can’t Believe Anyone Hates You That Much”

Michael J. Totten's blog TEL AVIV – After living in an Arab country for nearly six months, arriving in Israel came like a shock. It startled me from the air. Whoa , I thought, as I looked out the window of the plane over the suburbs of Tel Aviv. If ...

24 Apr 2006

Thank You

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m still working on my first piece from Israel. Before I finish and post it I want to publicly thank Allison Kaplan Sommer and Lisa Goldman in Tel Aviv for helping me out more than any reasonable person could have expected — ...

22 Apr 2006

An Experiment in Journalism

Michael J. Totten's blog I went to the Middle East for six months so I could expand my freelance writing portfolio. But I found, after a few months, there may be a better way forward than publishing disconnected dispatches here and there for low pay. ...

19 Apr 2006

Back to Iraq Part VI – Smuggling My Way Out of Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog This is the sixth and final installment in a Back to Iraq series which is basically a single long essay. Don’t miss Part One , Part Two , Part Three , Part Four , and Part Five . ZAKHO, IRAQ – Getting into Iraq was easy. ...

16 Apr 2006

Back to Iraq Part V – By Force of Sheer Will

Michael J. Totten's blog This is the fifth installment in a Back to Iraq series which is basically a single long essay. Don’t miss Part One , Part Two , Part Three , and Part Four . Photo copyright Sean LaFreniere DOHOK, IRAQ – Sean and I walked up ...

15 Apr 2006

Part Five Coming Soon

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m still working on Back to Iraq Part Five . This installment is going to be a long one. I’m trying to get all the rest of my Iraq material (gathered in a mere couple of hours) into this entry. In Part Six I’ll describe what ...

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