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Death in Iraq May. 11th, 2005 @ 10:56 am
Headlines from CNN:

May 4 - Suicide bombing kills about 60 in Kurdish city

May 5 - At least 23 die in Baghdad attacks

May 6 - Suicide bombers kill 23 in Iraq

May 7 - Car bomb kills 22 in Baghdad

May 8 - U.S. deaths in Iraq surpass 1,600

May 9 - U.S.: 100 insurgents killed near Iraq-Syria border

May 11 - Bombings kill more than 50 in Iraq

Arab League, Iraqi and American forces attack insurgent camp Mar. 24th, 2005 @ 05:19 am
Arab League
After having concluded its two-day summit, the Arab League has been the subject of damning critiques and high praise. One opinion piece declared its resolutions "weak and unenforceable" (BBC), while others in the Arab world emphasized the summit's avoidance of disagreement (Al-Jazeera) between member states. Given that the summit did not once address the issue of Lebanon and Syria, something that had mobilized hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, it would seem that the League does indeed avoid difficult problems. The fact that all resolutions must be passed unanimously adds to the weak stand that the Arab League must ultimately take on almost all matters of relevance.

Iraqi and American forces attack insurgent camp
American and Iraqi troops claim to have killed 85 insurgent fighters (CNN) north of Baghdad at a training camp along Lake Tharthar. Conflicting reports claim that between 30 and 40 insurgents still have control (AFP) of the camp.

Arab League Summit Mar. 22nd, 2005 @ 08:09 am
The Arab League, consisting of 22 member nations, meets today in Algeria. The BBC and CNN report that the proposed peace resolution with Israel is watered down from the original Jordanian proposal, abandoning demands that Israel withdraw from all occupied Arab lands and give Palestinian refugees the right of return. Both sources stress that public opinion of the Arab League is low in the Arab world.  Al-Jazeera, on the other hand, lauds the summit as a chance for peace, focusing on the amended proposal.

Remember Afghanistan? Mar. 17th, 2005 @ 01:05 pm
A bomb killed five people (CNN) and wounded dozens of others in Afghanistan today while Secretary Rice was visiting with President Karzai. This comes on top of the news that Afghani elections will be delayed (BBC) until at least September. This news should come as a reminder that Afghanistan is far from secure, given that it provides some 90% of the world's heroin. For more on Afghanistan, see Kathy Gannon's article "Afghanistan Unbound" in Foreign Affairs.

Middle East symposium at UVa Mar. 17th, 2005 @ 09:19 am
The Workshop on Muslim Societies and Middle East Studies Program invite you to a timely symposium:

"Democracy in the Middle East: Past, Present, and Future"

Friday, March 25, 11:30-5 p.m.
Harrison-Small Auditorium
(In the new Special Collection Library)


Session I: The Democratic Past (11:30 a.m.--1 p.m.)
Charles Kurzman, Assoc. Prof. of Sociology, UNC-Chapel Hill
"Parallels and Intersections in the Constitutional Revolutions of 1905-1912"
Comment: Elizabeth F. Thompson, Assoc. Prof. of History, UVA

Session II: The Present and Future of Democracy (2:30-5 p.m.)
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Prof. of Sociology, American University in Cairo
"Prospects for Democracy in the Arab World"

Soli Özel, Prof. of Politics, Istanbul Bilgi University
"Unlikely Democrats: The Turkish Republic and Islamic Parties"

Comment and Concluding Discussion:
William Quandt, Prof. of Politics, UVA
David Waldner, Assoc. Prof. of Politics, UVA

Co-sponsored by the Department of Politics, Department of History, and
the Center on Religion and Democracy.
Other entries
» Italy to withdraw troops from Iraq
Add Italy to the list of countries, including Ukraine and Poland, withdrawing their troops from Iraq. Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi announced on television today that some Italian forces could start to come home in September. Hopefully Iraqi security and police forces will be able to fill the gaps. For more on the state of Iraqi forces, see Anthony Cordesman's "Strengthening Irqi Military and Security Forces" from CSIS.

» Syrian troops leave north Lebanon; U.S. policy shift on Iran
Syrian troops leave north Lebanon
Today, most of Syria's troops stationed in northern Lebanon withdrew (CNN) from the area. Contention exists over whether this move is indicative of Syria's diminishing role in Lebanon or whether it is "an extension to the crisis," as one Druze leader put it.

U.S. policy shift on Iran
Secretary Rice announced that the U.S. will not block Iran's entry (Al-Jazeera) into the WTO, a change from the Administration's previous stance.  American policymakers hope this will prove incentive enough for Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

» Agreement on Iraqi government reached
While no one party received two-thirds of the vote to form the government on its own, a deal is reported (CNN) to have been struck between the Kurds and the Shi'a-dominated United Iraqi Alliance to form a new government.  Any future attachment of Kirkuk to the Kurdish provinces is still up in the air, but at least 100,000 Kurds will return (Al-Jazeera) to Kirkuk as part of the deal.

» Dozens killed in Mosul suicide bombing; formal cease-fire may be in the works
Dozens killed in Mosul bombing
Dozens died in Iraq today when a suicide bomber targeted a Shi'ite funeral. Estimates range from 26 dead (CNN) to 47 dead (Al-Jazeera).  Mass casualty bombings such as this have continued unabated since July 2003.  For more information, see the Iraq Index.

Formal cease-fire may be in the works
Militant Palestinian groups (Jerusalem Post) affirmed that a formal truce is not in force Wednesday, in contrast to statements made by PA officials.  Such a deal may be hammered out next week, however, if a meeting, led by Mahmoud Abbas, between the groups and PA officials goes well.

» Rallies, rallies, rallies
In Beirut Tuesday, hundreds of thousands (BBC) gathered in support of Syria and its troop presence in Lebanon.  The following day, a crowd estimated at a minimum of 100,000 demonstrated (Jerusalem Post) in support of al-Assad and, apparently, his decision to withdraw (Arab News) Syria's troops from Lebanon.

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