Arab League will hold meeting on Thursday

By Lauren Dickens

On Thursday Nov. 24, the Arab League will meet in Qatar to determine the next steps that need to be taken surrounding the Syrian uprising. After the Ba’ath Party headquarters was attacked in the capitol city of Damascus, the Arab League set a deadline to determine the next phase for the country and possible exclusion from the league.

This all came about after protesters riding motorbikes threw grenades at the headquarters and then launched two rocket-propelled grenades at an outside wall of the building.

The Gulf News, based out of Dubai, reported on the issue on Nov. 21 and the Washington Post reported on it Nov. 20.

However, while the Arab League wants the meeting to push forward, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem thinks the meeting of the league is unimportant and needs to question the Arab League chief before continuing.


The Arab League

One thing that was mentioned in the Washington Post article was Condeleeza Rice’s view of the whole situation. As a former secretary of state, she thinks that by overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad it will “lead to a more peaceful Middle East.”  She chose not to acknowledge that Syria is not the only country in the Middle East facing political strife. It seemed to me like she thinks if all the protest in Syria end then all of the Middle Eastern countries will be happy; I disagree.  Libya is still dealing with the aftermath of the overthrow of their government and Quaddafi’s Intelligence chief, Abdulla Senussi, was just seized on Saturday.

Those interviewed for the Washington Post, including Rice and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, didn’t have hopeful thoughts concerning the league meeting while the Gulf News seemed to have a more optimistic outlook and tone to its article.

In a way, I think if the meeting goes as planned it could be good for Syria to have some outside help in their political conflict. However, talking and doing are two different things. The Arab League can talk until everyone is voiceless, but if no action gets taken then it’s all useless. President Bashar al-Assad has said in the past that he’s going to stop using force but have we actually seen anything being done?  I think the president knows exactly what is going on and he is just trying to drag it out as long as he possibly can. On Thursday the league will come to a conclusion on what to next. All we can do is wait and see if the outcome will be better or worse for the country. If the meeting does not go well, then more bad consequences on the country will be likely.

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Radio Wars–Taylor Hixson

This weekend the Kol Hashalom, or Whole Peace, radio station based in the West Bank was shut down by Israeli authorities under the claim that it was an illegal radio station operating without proper licensing by the Israeli government.

To examine how this story is unfolding, I looked at two news sources: the International Middle East Media Center ( and Arutz Sheva ( The IMEMC story was written on Nov. 20, and the Arutz Sheva story was written on Nov. 19.

Each story was framed for its particular target audience. IMEMC is a pro-Palestinian source, and that shows in its framing of the story. It called the station a “peace radio” that was a “joint” collaboration to “bring together” the Palestinians and Israelis. To contrast, Arutz Sheva, which claims to be Israel’s No. 1 news site, is a pro-Zionist/anti-Palestinian source, and their story framed the station as “illegal” and “ultra-leftist.” Neither of the sources were wholly objective, but the IMEMC seemed more objective than Arutz Sheva.

The IMEMC story portrayed the radio station as an outlet that was trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. The Arutz Sheva story focused on demonizing the station and one of the station’s co-managers, Mossi Roz. It even included an unflatteringly image of him. To contrast, IMEMC’s image was the Kol Hashalom logo.

Arutz Sheva's image of Mossi Raz versus IMEMC image of the station's logo

One difference I saw in the stories was that the IMEMC said Israeli officials shut down the station because it was a pirate radio and needed an Israeli operating license. But Arutz Sheva reported that the anti-Zionist content was a much bigger issue in shutting down the station than the legality of it.

The information is seemingly accurate in both stories. The IMEMC story uses legitimate sources for its information such as the Israeli Communications Ministry and Israeli Knesset members. The Arutz Sheva story is also accurate and relatively believable. Some of the claims though are not attributed and thus not as believable. For example, there is no attribution for the radio station being anti-Zionist.

Shutting down the radio is limiting the freedom of speech allowed to Palestinians. The Israeli government saw this outlet as a threat. They wanted to shut it down based more on the content than the legality. Why would it matter that a West Bank operation has an Israeli radio license? It doesn’t. The Israeli government is censoring media and denying Palestinians a media outlet.

Both sources made valid points against the other though. Arutz Sheva brought up that one of the broadcasters expressed “sorrow” in 2010 that the Intifada ended. That is a terrible comment for anyone to make. However, I believe that one broadcaster should not be the sole representation of a radio station as a whole. As far as objective reporting goes, I think the IMEMC reporter did a better job telling the story by giving an honest statement of the facts whereas the Arutz Sheva reporter was too one-sided.

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If it Walks and Quacks Like an Imperialist…

This gallery contains 4 photos.

by David Jenkins In his article “American Imperialism? Please.”, well-known conservative columnist and author Jonah Goldberg argues that the U.S. withdraw from Iraq shatters the argument that the U.S. is an imperialist nation. His position implies that U.S./NATO intervention in … Continue reading

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Welcome to Middle East Commentary

This blog is started as a way for student in a Media in the Middle East class can comment on news and events. It is also open to others.

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Dictators in the Middle East: Headed for Extinction?

First Tunisia ‘s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.  Then Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.  Then Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  Some dictators left with their skins intact.  Others like Gaddafi fought and lost. Yemen’s leader Ali Abdullah Selah survived an assassination attempt and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is using brutal force to stay in power.

A headline in an online journal “On Islam” last January — almost a year ago — was headlined “Tunisia Overthrow Worries Arab Leaders.”

This has turned out to be a vast understatement of the fear and loathing that leaders or the sons of ruling dynasties such as Syria’s al-Assad  whose father, for decades, held power.  Bashar al-Assad, like Gaddafi, is trying to suppress the rebellion with an iron fist.  Bahrain’s leaders have been successful in quelling dissent.  Iran suppressed its Green Movement two summers ago.   Does the ultimate success or failure of protests depend upon support of “interested” powers outside the borders who either provide aid, weapons, counsel to the protesters or to the government?

Here’s an interesting timeline on events that have comprised the “Arab Spring” — also called the “Arab Awakening” by Middle Eastern media and the “Islamic Awakening” by Iranian media.


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