Twenty-five years ago today, Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan and the first female head of government in a Muslim country. T.V. Paul, author of The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World, joins us to discuss her legacy, the role of women in Pakistani politics today, and the changing shape of political parties in Pakistan.
Despite a strong field of contenders for the Oxford Atlas Place of the Year 2013, Syria emerged as the clear winner, owing to its central role in global events this year.
Mohsin Hamid is the author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. His award-winning fiction has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and translated into over 30 languages.
By Jan Wouters and Sanderijn Duquet
In early 2011, a series of revolutionary chain reactions against uncompromising and authoritarian regimes set the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) in motion. The popular uprisings spread quickly across the Arab world and their effects continue today.
By Nigel Biggar
It could well be that current negotiations between the United States, France, and Russia will lead to the Assad regime’s surrender of its chemical weapons. Everyone — bar the regime itself — has a legitimate interest in seeing that happen. Meanwhile, the civil war in Syria drags on, in which far more people have been killed — and will yet be killed — by conventional weapons than by chemical ones. What stance should we take toward this complex conflict, morally speaking?
By Eckart Woertz
Syria and Egypt paradigmatically highlight the perils of food security in the Middle East. Oil exports of Egypt, the largest wheat importer of the world, ceased at the end of the 2000’s. Generating enough foreign exchange for food procurement became more difficult and plans for more self-sufficiency have failed in the face of limited water and land resources.
By John Gittings
When Ban Ki-moon, speaking in The Hague, called recently on member countries to “give peace a chance” in Syria, and condemned the supply of weapons to both sides, he was taking part in a ceremony at the Peace Palace to mark the centennial of its foundation (a result of the Hague Peace Conference in 1899) which otherwise was ignored by the media.
The likelihood of a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians has always been negligible in the absence of a determined outside mediator. Indeed, the recent resumption of direct negotiations that have been suspended for almost three years is due solely to the determined efforts of the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry. So, why has the Obama administration chosen to dig in now? And so what?
An inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis offers us a rare window into the fateful events comprising what has come to be known as the “Red Sea Wars.”
By Kathleen Cavanaugh
Since 2003, Iraq has experienced significant political unrest and the emergence of ethno-religious divisions. That there is a sectarian complexion to emerging socio-political movements in Iraq (religious, ethno-political) is not in question. The ‘fear of sectarianism’ has undoubtedly shaped and formed how protest movements in Iraq (and indeed regionally) are constituted.
By Stephanie Dalley
I once gave a general talk about ancient Mesopotamian gardens, and was astonished, when I prepared for it, to find that there was really no hard evidence for the Hanging Garden at Babylon, although all the other wonders of the ancient world certainly did exist.
From the beginning of the Nazi persecution the numbers of Jews who wished to settle in Palestine rose. As the extermination policies began to unroll in the war years, they made nonsense of British attempts to restrict immigration, which was the side of British policy unacceptable to the Jews; the other side – the partitioning of Palestine – was rejected by the Arabs.
By Robert Repino
While interest in Islam has grown in recent years—both in the media and in educational institutions—there remains a persistent misunderstanding of the religion’s practices, beliefs, and adherents, who now number over one and half billion people. Addressing this problem is not simply an academic exercise, for the past decade especially has shown that our understanding of Islam can have enormous consequences on foreign and domestic policies, as well as on social relations.
For most of the modern world, ancient Nubia seems an unknown and enigmatic land. Only a handful of archaeologists have studied its history or unearthed the Nubian cities, temples, and cemeteries that once dotted the landscape of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Nubia’s remote setting in the midst of an inhospitable desert, with access by river blocked by impassable rapids, has lent it not only an air of mystery, but also isolated it from exploration.
The polymath Thomas Young (1773-1829) — physicist, physiologist, physician and polyglot, among several other things — became hooked on the scripts and languages of ancient Egypt in 1814, the year he began to decipher the Rosetta Stone. He continued to study the hieroglyphic and demotic scripts with variable intensity for the rest of his life, literally until his dying day.
By John Welshman
At the time of the collision, Hanna Touma was standing in the doorway of the family’s cabin. She was talking to one of the other migrants from her village. It was just a jolt, but it made the door slam shut, cutting her index finger. Two of the men went to find out what had happened while Hanna went to the Infirmary to get her hand bandaged. Everyone she passed wondered what had caused the jolt and why the ship had stopped.