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Middle East

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

During the Arab Spring, young Egyptians took to the streets, calling for the end of dictatorship in their country. It worked: former President Hosni Mubarak would leave. But today, eight years later, Egypt is more repressive than ever.

Connecticut resident Esam Boraey was one of those young Egyptians who led the movement for change, long before the revolution. His decision would eventually force him to flee his country.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Hours after Iran announced that it had shot down a U.S. drone, President Trump told journalists at the White House, "You'll soon find out" if the U.S. is planning a strike on Iran in retaliation.

"They're going to find out they made a very big mistake," Trump added, in comments that came as he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But Trump also said he suspects that Iran's taking out the drone was not intentional, saying he finds it hard to believe.

The Defense Department announced it is deploying 1,000 more U.S. troops to the Middle East "for defensive purposes" amid growing tensions with Iran.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Monday in a statement that the action, meant to address air, naval, and ground-based threats, comes after "a request from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) for additional forces."

The Trump administration has blamed Iran for a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Updated at 10:18 p.m. ET

The Pentagon's Central Command says U.S. aircraft saw a Revolutionary Guard patrol boat and other Iranian vessels "in the vicinity" of the motor tanker Altair, one of two oil tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman Thursday.

Another crew, from the motor tanker Kokuka Courageous, abandoned their ship, according to the statement, after discovering "a probable limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion." Central Command says the Iranian patrol boat later approached the craft and was recorded removing an unexploded mine.

The State Department has ordered all "non-emergency" U.S. government employees to leave Iraq right away.

The travel advisory specifically orders the departure of employees at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Irbil (sometimes spelled Erbil), noting that "normal visa services will be temporarily suspended at both posts."

Almigdad Mojalli / Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons

Tens of thousands have died in Yemen as a Saudi-led bombing campaign continues to fuel a devastating civil war. And the U.S. has been fueling military efforts by Saudi Arabia in this four year conflict.

This hour, we ask Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy: what are the next steps to address this humanitarian crisis, now that the senate has failed to override the president’s veto of a resolution to end American involvement in the war?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered "massive strikes" against militant groups in Gaza on Sunday in response to a barrage of rocket fire, stretching hostilities into a third day and leading to mounting casualties on both sides.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday Netanyahu said he also instructed military leaders to boost tank artillery and infantry forces around the Gaza Strip.

"Hamas bears responsibility not only for its own attacks and actions but also those by Islamic Jihad, for which it pays a very high price," he said.

The Trump administration sought to rush the transfer of American nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the law, a new report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee alleges.

Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings' staff issued an "interim staff" report Tuesday, citing "multiple whistleblowers" who raised ethical and legal concerns about the process.

Chion Wolf / WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution -- that is, the revolution that gave rise to what is today known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This hour, we look back on this historic time in Iran and consider its significance in 2019. 

Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET

Four Americans were killed in an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in northern Syria, according to the Pentagon. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Two U.S. service members, one civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency and one contractor working as an interpreter died in the attack in Manbij. Three service members were injured.

Updated at 2:47 p.m. EST

President Trump and U.S. Central Command on Sunday confirmed that a United States airstrike in Yemen has killed one of the militants believed to be behind the deadly USS Cole bombing in 2000.

The startup of the Pioneer Valley Arabic Music Ensemble was mentioned in an announcement a few months ago in a western Massachusetts newspaper. No audition was necessary — just an interest, an instrument and a willingness to be directed. 

Updated at 5:20 a.m. ET on Thursday

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump traveled to Iraq to visit U.S. troops on the day after Christmas, an unannounced trip about which the president nonetheless had been hinting for some time.

The Trumps' arrival at Al Asad Air Base followed the president's recent orders to pull back on U.S. troop deployments elsewhere — orders that have come under intense scrutiny.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Yemeni-Americans living in Connecticut are asking people to put pressure on their elected representatives over U.S. involvement in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is worsening, with millions of children at risk of starvation and fighting intensifying despite international pressure for a cease-fire in the country's civil war, according to a senior United Nations official who last week visited the rebel-held port of Hodeidah.

Andrew Swaine / Courtesy the artist

Arabic drummer Karim Nagi is bringing his dynamic educational performances to Connecticut schools and libraries this week.

Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday afternoon that 21 Saudi suspects in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will have their visas revoked or be ineligible for a visa to enter the United States.

The Washington Post has published the last column Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote before he disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.

"We held on to this column he filed the day before he entered the consulate in the hopes that we could edit it with him, as we normally did," Fred Hiatt, who runs the Post's Opinions section, told NPR.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said he’s probably been Saudi Arabia’s “loudest critic” in the U.S. Senate for the past five years. That’s because he believes that its government, led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, exports a “very intolerant version of Islam” that supports the building blocks of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Entering the White House as a foreign policy novice, Jared Kushner has leaned on his personal rapport with foreign government leaders to help push the Trump administration's goals.

Before joining the White House, Kushner was a real estate investor in New York City, where personal relationships can help cement deals. But that approach is now being put to the test in light of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Turkey more than two weeks ago.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. ET

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Turkish leaders Wednesday amid the diplomatic crisis over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "made clear that the Saudis had cooperated" with Turkey's investigation.

Turkey Elections: Erdogan Wins 2nd Term

Jun 25, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a second five-year term on Sunday in an election granting the Turkish leader unprecedented executive powers.

Addressing supporters from the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, headquarters in the nation's capital hours after his victory, Erdogan claimed Turkey's 81 million residents were the winners of the hotly contested election, state run media Anadolu reported.

Elizabeth Nearing / Long Wharf Theater

A new play at New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre integrates the stories of real refugees trying to make a new life for themselves in the Elm City.

Willie Stark / Creative Commons

I have traveled to three foreign countries since President Trump was elected. While I have always been proud to be American, even as I criticize much in my country, I was humbled by what people thought of America in the countries I visited. They were puzzled by our health care system, and appalled by our guns and voter apathy. 

Sarah Kendzior

Sarah Kendzior predicted that the conditions she witnessed in 2013 from her home in America's overlooked heartland would lead to the rise of a candidate like Donald Trump. She was one of the few that saw it coming.

One day after Israeli forces fired on protesters and killed 60 Palestinians along the Gaza border, the U.N.'s human rights commissioner says that those who were shot included women, children, journalists, first responders and bystanders.

"We condemn the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza yesterday," said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are protesting the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, and Israeli army forces have killed 55 protesters, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry also says some 2,770 people have been hurt in demonstrations and clashes.

Israel says it carried out airstrikes against dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria in what it is describing as the largest such operation it has ever conducted in the region, after it says its forces came under missile attack.

Lilia Blaise

Tunisia was the catalyst for the Arab Spring seven years ago. After historic municipal elections in this North African country, we ask—why has Tunisia succeeded in achieving democracy when others have failed?

The Syrian army said via state media Sunday that it had captured four villages from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces near Syria's border with Iraq on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River, where Kurdish-led forces are in control.

In a statement to NPR, the SDF confirmed the offensive and said the regime and its allies began to target an SDF base Saturday night, beginning at the city of Deir Ezzor and ending at the Euphrates in an attempt to progress toward Kurdish-controlled areas.

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