Change in the Middle East

I continue to enjoy my evening class in International Relations led by our lecturer Dr Dale Mineshima-Lowe. The last few weeks have been incredibly topical because sessions on the Arab world have coincided with revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and demonstrations in many other countries in the region. This evening we discussed parts of the Middle East (we covered the Arab-Israeli conflict last term) with particular reference to three countries.

First, Libya. It was in 1969 that the king was overthrown by a military coup led by Muammar al-Gaddafi who was then only a captain. He has recently made overtures to the West, giving up on aspirations for nuclear weapons. Domestically, however, even Gaddafi is challenged and this week there have been demonstrations in the second city of Benghazi.

Second, Iran. After the fraudulent re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the summer of 2009, there were huge demonstrations that were brutally suppressed but in recent days brave protesters have been back on the streets. I visited Iran in the autumn of 2009 [my account here] and was inspired to write a short story [text here].

Third, Lebanon. The brutal 15-year civil war from 1975-1990 is not that long ago and the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Harari in 2005 continues to overshadow the political scene. Hezbollah pulled out of the government in January in protest over the UN investigation into the killing and a new prime minister is trying to form a new coalition government. I will be visiting Lebanon (and Syria) in a few weeks time.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>