ONCE derided as the scheming of crackpots, the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, widely known as BDS, is turning mainstream. That, at any rate, is the fear of a growing number of Israelis. Some European pension funds have withdrawn investments; some large corporations have cancelled contracts; and the American secretary of state, John Kerry, rarely misses a chance to warn Israel that efforts to “delegitimise” and boycott it will increase if its government spurns his efforts to conclude a two-state settlement of its conflict with the Palestinians.
SIX months ago sceptics warned the army-backed government against a blanket clampdown on dissent, whether peaceful or not. Instead, the re-emboldened security services have increasingly been hammering the whole gamut of opposition, from secular reformers to every type of Islamist.
FOR a country reputed to be dry and dull, Saudi Arabia is surprisingly awash with news. The good old broadsheet newspaper, dying out elsewhere, thrives. The kingdom boasts more than a dozen fiercely competing national dailies
What happens when Abdullah goes? MONEY can buy many things: luxury, influence, security—and even time. How frustrating, then, to be vastly rich but never quite to get what you want.
ON JANUARY 21st, the very day Yemen’s vaunted “conference of national dialogue” completed its ten months of work, assassins struck at two of its most prominent participants. Ahmed Sharaf el-Din, a lawyer for a movement representing the Houthis, a disaffected northern group, was shot dead on his way to the conference.
FOR most people the letters BBC denote the British Broadcasting Corporation. For fans of Real Madrid, the world’s richest football club, they stand for Bale, Benzema and Cristiano (Ronaldo), the team’s goal-guzzling forward line.
TUNISIANS have suffered plenty of disappointment since their joyous toppling of a nasty dictator three years ago.
FEW believed that John Kerry, the American secretary of state, would manage to haul the Israelis and Palestinians back into the negotiating room, let alone get them to discuss anything of substance.
IN A village orchard on the fringe of the Lut desert in south-eastern Iran, Shah Banu Esma Ilani (literally, the Queen of Esma Ilan) plucks pistachios from a huge tree and puts them in a pouch in her tunic. A qanat, a trench that occasionally brings water from aquifers beneath mountains hundreds of miles away, cuts across her land but is bone-dry. Her little village is nearly empty of people
AS THE days passed and the news sunk in that Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president, had died peacefully at his home in Houghton, a pleasant suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa reacted at first with sadness but quickly shifted to celebrating an extraordinary life.