ON APRIL 30th Nuri al-Maliki stepped behind a cardboard voting booth in a hotel ballroom in Baghdad, cast his ballot and raised a triumphant finger dipped in purple ink, urging other Iraqis to head for the polls, too. But this was in the relative safety of the fortified “green zone”, the government area which, he fears, is the ultimate target of opposition fighters now proliferating to the west and north of the capital. Elsewhere in Iraq the election took place amid bombs and bitter sectarian animosity between Sunni and Shia politicians
IN MARCH an Egyptian judge shocked the world by sentencing 529 men to die for the murder of a single police officer. On April 28th the same judge outdid himself, condemning another 683 men in a separate case to the gallows. This raised his personal one-month total of death sentences beyond the number of people known to have been judicially executed worldwide last year, excluding China, and close to the 1,378 that America has injected, electrocuted, shot or gassed since reintroducing capital punishment back in 1976.Yet the most populous Arab country may not carry out such lethal punishments
THE isolation and underdevelopment of Sudan were manageable when the oil business was booming in the early years of this century.
BINYAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel’s prime minister, is going soft. That, at any rate, is the view of Naftali Bennett, leader of the third-biggest party in the ruling coalition—and keen candidate, sooner rather than later, for the top job.
“OUR workers are treated worst in the Gulf,” says Walden Bello, a Filipino parliamentarian, referring to those of his countrymen who seek their fortune abroad.
Father Paolo at home IN THE early 1980s an Italian Jesuit came to Syria to study Arabic and found a disused monastery in dry mountains north of the capital, Damascus. Research revealed that Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi (the Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian) had been founded at the site in the 6th century and rebuilt in the 11th—adorned with beautiful frescoes—before being abandoned several hundred years later. Won over by the history and the aspect of the monastery, Paolo Dall’Oglio set about restoring it.By 1991 Deir Mar Musa was once again home to a flourishing community
AS SYRIA’S 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad turned into a civil war, business in Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two biggest cities, plunged and inflation soared. Early this year, when rebels took over the northern city of Raqqa—and with it a good chunk of Syria’s oil and agricultural land, two main sources of government revenue fell into rebel hands
His next assignment is in a cubicle SOME 30,000 soldiers are slowly vacating their bases in Israel’s main city, Tel Aviv, and moving to the Negev desert. By the end of the decade, much of the country’s army will have migrated to four huge bases alongside Bedouin shanties.
Jobless and angry A SPIRIT of solidarity defined Tunisia’s pro-democracy revolution of almost exactly two years ago, uniting the coast and the interior, the pious and the secular. But that spirit is fading, to be replaced by confrontation
Kurdish tankers carry oil and hopes of eventual independence IRAQ is blessed with abundant oil that is cheap to extract and close to newly built export terminals. Production has hit a three-decade high and continues to rise steadily.