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Middle East

Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted from power in the early days of the Arab Spring, has died at the age of 91.

Egypt's government has announced three days of public mourning for Mubarak, who is to be buried in a military funeral.

A statement from the Egyptian presidency said it "mourns with great sorrow" Mubarak's death in light of his role as a hero of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, which it said "restored dignity and pride" among Arab nations.

A mortar attack landed a rare direct hit on the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad's Green Zone on Sunday night, damaging buildings and reportedly leaving at least one person with minor injuries. Iraq's prime minister condemned the strike, saying it could turn the country into a battlefield and complicate efforts to get the U.S. to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Connecticut Public

Slate's Stephen Metcalf thinks President Trump is a hostage to 1979.

Why else would he overreact by killing Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani for inciting protesters to storm the U.S. Embassy in Iraq?

President Trump fretted this week that White House lawyer Pat Cippolone and personal lawyer Jay Sekulow lacked experience on television. So he added a few TV-ready lawyers to the mix, each with scripted roles to play.

This week, Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey argue that President Trump has changed the presidency from one of public service to one that serves his personal interests. Will we ratify his vision or reject it? It may be up to voters to decide.

Also this hour: Slate's Stephen Metcalf thinks Trump is a hostage to 1979. Why else would he be obsessed with U.S. embassies and Jimmy Carter?

And singer/songwriter Lara Herscovitch proves music is the antidote to our troubled times.

This hour, we air an updated version of the most recent episode of our weekly impeachment show, Pardon Me, which normally airs Saturdays at noon.

Law professor Bruce Ackerman argues that President Trump's order to kill Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is a far graver offense than his efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden. Think about it: He's bragging about his decision to kill a high-ranking official of another country. Will Chief Justice John Roberts save us?

And that's the positive view on the show this week.

Law professor Bruce Ackerman argues that President Trump's order to kill Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani is a far graver offense than his efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden. Think about it: He's bragging about his decision to kill a high-ranking official of another country. Will Chief Justice John Roberts save us?

And that's the positive view on our show this week.

Sarah Kendzior studies autocratic governments. She thinks we'd be foolish to believe there are limits to what the Trump administration would do -- whether jailing witnesses and whistleblowers, threatening protesters, or using nuclear weapons.

America and Iran have not had an easy relationship since 1979, when 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days by students supporting the Iranian Revolution. The resulting rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini further weakened the relationship.

Paul Bass / New Haven Independent

Connecticut continues to react to escalating tensions between the United States and Iran sparked by the killing of a senior Iranian general by American forces.

Blogtrepreneur / Flickr

A West Haven man faces a bond hearing Friday, less than a week after he was arrested by federal authorities for an alleged plan to travel to the Middle East and join ISIS.

The man was arrested on Dec. 15 as he tried to board a ship in Stonington.

Paul Keller / Creative Commons

President Trump held a Sunday morning press conference to announce that the U.S. military conducted a targeted operation to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Saturday. The operation was successful and important but still a somber and serious event.  The almost 50-minute question and answer period that followed the president's announcement was political, self-aggrandizing, undignified, and may have revealed sensitive operational details. 

Murphy, Trump Envoy Tussle Over Syria Policy

Oct 23, 2019
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Sen. Chris Murphy on Tuesday tussled with President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Syria over the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from that war-torn nation.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Turkish-backed militias carrying out attacks in northern Syria came very close to American forces on the ground on Tuesday, putting them and their base "directly at risk," a U.S. official in Syria tells NPR.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR/Creative Commons

President Trump leaves chaos in his wake.

There is chaos in Syria. Turkish artillery fire is targeting the Kurdish-led militia that has been allied with U.S. Special Forces over the last five years in their war against ISIS. Syrians are fleeing their homes, ISIS prisoners are escaping from prisons no longer guarded by the Kurds, and the last U.S. troops pulled out on Sunday.

Azad Hamoto has an aunt in Syria who is likely to join many of the other Kurds who've been displaced by war. Hamoto spoke to reporters at a news conference in Hartford on October 10.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Kurds in Connecticut are concerned for loved ones in northern Syria following a military attack by Turkey.

The invasion began Wednesday – three days after President Donald Trump abruptly announced he’d withdraw U.S. troops from the area.

nathanmac87 / Flickr Creative Commons

Cities and towns have laws to keep people from engaging in behavior that may disturb others, like sleeping on park benches, drinking in public, or just plain “loitering”.

What does it mean when just hanging out in a public space puts you in violation of these laws?

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

The White House announced late Sunday that Turkey is ready to launch an offensive in northern Syria and that U.S. forces will stand aside, renewing fears that America is abandoning Kurdish allies who stood on the front line in the years-long fight against ISIS.

A two-paragraph statement released by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that President Trump and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had spoken by telephone and that "Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation in northern Syria."

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.

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.

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.

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