CATCHING UP ON CHANGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

            Like a meteor crashing to the earth, change comes quickly in the Middle East – and then again – it can take forever. However, a number of events have happened recently that you might have missed. The media goes for the headline grabbers, but the informed look behind the bold print and keep up on shifts that might have not made the evening news, but still have importance for the future.

            Here are several items worth noting.

The trial of 85-year-old Hosni Mubarak in Egypt resumed behind closed doors. Mubarak is faced with charges related to the killing of 900 protestors during the rioting that resulted in his ouster. Former intelligence chief Murad Muwafi has already taken the stand. Other top officials are scheduled to appear. All done with the public kept outside.

Since General Sisi (who now runs the country) came up through the ranks under Mubarak, you can bet the court room will not be a hostile environment. If you like to gamble on such, the odds are in Mubark’s favor. We’ll see.

The violence rages on in Iraq. In a Shiite part of Baghdad, 72 people were killed and 120 wounded by a suicide bomber. In the past few months, sectarian violence has increased. To date the death rate exceeds totals for 2008. A shop discreetly selling liquor in a Sunni  area of Azamiya was attacked and four people killed. Muslims forbid drinking liquor. Apparently, the locals have their own way of enforcing their ten commandments.

Once violence starts and goes unchecked, there is no end to the cruelty that follows. You can also safely bet that the agitation in Iraq will not slow down. Tragically, more deaths are coming.

The civil war in Syria drags on.

This week fighting raged over control of a suburb of Damascus. A suicide bomber attacked a government checkpoint, killing 16 soldiers. The use of suicide bombers reflects the increasing sway of extremists groups. The Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are prominent in the north and east where arms are easily transported in from Turkey.

At the other end of the spectrum, residents of Mouadamiya, on the southwest outskirts of Damascus, sent out an emergency appeal to the world. The residents scrambled to get enough power to run a computer. “Save us from death. Save us from the hell of Assad’s killing machine,” they typed out. The hope of these beleaguered survivors is that the world is listening and will respond.

Will they? Probably not.

As we stay aware of these and similar events, we are able to get a feel for the pulse beat of conflict. On some days, it’s hard to detect and then the next day the rate explodes. Certainly a heart attack situation!

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Filed under Civil War, middle east, Syria

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