Nixon and the Shah

  In 1953, after an arduous journey across Asia, US vice-president Richard Nixon and his wife Pat finally arrived in Tehran, which was scheduled as their final destination before returning to Washington. As Nixon would later recall in a speech given during a visit by the shah, “despite the deep depression of spirit which seemed…

The President Versus the Generals: Algeria’s Latest Power Play

In September this year, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he had replaced the country’s head of intelligence, General Mohamed “Toufik” Mediène, who had served in the role for the past twenty-five years. In the eyes of many Algerians, Mediène had obtained an almost deity-like status as an aloof and feared military official—a secretive figure,…

Master of Deception: The Tale of Yehuda Gil

  In the mid-1990s, a precocious young journalist named Stephen Glass was building a reputation as one of Washington D.C.’s hottest new journalists. His articles were appearing in Rolling Stone, Harper’s, and the late John F Kennedy Jr.´s publication George. However he was most known as the New Republic´s plucky young staffer. His abilities to sniff…

Behind the Shades: Umm Khultum

The great Armenian-Egyptian painter Chant Avedissian is famous for his colourful depictions of  Egypt’s most iconic personalities. None more so than the legendary Umm Khultum. Avedissian colourfully immortalised her signature beehive and jewel dotted black sunshades in his work Umm Khultum’s greatest hits and for anyone who views it, the painting exudes the mysteriousness of…

Ariana Afghan Airlines

Some years back, a video appeared on YouTube, which was taken from inside a plane bound for Kabul. While the plane is still sitting on the tarmac, the passenger pans around the interior, films the outside and then leans his camera down to film the rim below the window. The plastic cover that sits at…

In the Shadows: Hunting Iran’s Scientists

Four years ago on a late November morning in Tehran, Majid Shahriari, a physics professor from Shahid Beheshti University was on his way to work, when in the middle of heavy traffic, he noticed a motorcycle moving closer to his car. A moment or two passed, then he heard a loud bang on the side…

The Red Prince

In the summer of 1972 the world convulsed with shock after nine members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed during a failed rescue attempt by West German police at the airport of Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich. They were killed after a fire fight erupted between police officers and eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group…

Insurgency 101

I have to get something off my chest. It really is time for a good ol’ kvetch. There once was a time when you could simply fill out a form for a magazine subscription, send it to the postman with your credit card details and in less than a fortnight, your lovely new magazine would…

The Mighty Pen: Literary Consumption in the Arab World

Dear Folks, One book that a lot of ladies and perhaps men were hoping to find in their stocking at Christmas was the unquenchably popular novel “Fifty Shades of Grey”. The writing may leave something to desire, but women everywhere from Rio to Seoul have gone hot under the collar for Mr. Grey. Women everywhere…

Iran’s Moody Mullah

Dear Folks, During my vacation to a peaceful Swiss ski resort, my nightly dreams, while usually pleasant were convulsed one night when I found myself on a flight to Seoul, South Korea.  On board, I heard the strange noise of a sheep bleating, but when I looked up; I noticed that it happened to be the…

Whatever happened to Adnan Khashoggi?

Dear Folks, In April, BBC Two commissioned a series of documentaries focusing on Britain during the 1970s. Many consider this to be one of its bleakest decades. While most Brits froze; suffered black outs and general misery, sun-kissed Arab Sheikhs from the Gulf were popping up in London to purchase real estate and lavish goods. They…

AIPAC memories

Dear Folks, I know! I know! I have spent an egregious amount of time away from my blog, but I am here to assure you that I am back and I intend to work my little butt off in writing some new posts and discussing the latest news from the placid  Middle East. A while back, the American…