TEHRAN, Iran — A battery of flashbulbs pop to the rhythm of a leggy model sashaying down the makeshift quadrangular catwalk, striking a pose for the audience at every corner. Sporting a billowing, Chinese-inspired gown with matching red slippers, her neck and bare feet are covered in artfully wrapped white gauze. Other models exhibit chunky silver jewelry while all wear a uniform black head covering that obscures the eyes. For the men, blindfolds and chest-hugging shirts complement graceful linen waistcoats, cargo pants and accessories. At the show’s conclusion, the designer is escorted out by the models to a storm of […]

MOSHAV HANIEL, Israel — On a Friday night in Israel, somewhere along the portion of the country that measures just eight miles across between the West Bank and the sea, an Israeli family gathered to celebrate. In a home a few hundred yards from the Palestinian town of Tulkarm — from where many suicide bombers have made their way into the heart of Israel — three generations sat under the stars, toasting a 12-year-old girl’s coming of age, her Bat Mitzvah. As the girl’s relatives reminisced of her transformation into a sweet, wise teenager, one of her aunts leaned into […]

The United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, is getting uneasy about its steadily increasing dependence on imported petroleum. A question increasingly being asked is whether the U.S. oil habit is sustainable any longer. Not only Democrats and conservationists have posed this question, but also neoconservative advocates and their Republican allies in Congress, who aim to weaken U.S. ties with Middle East petro-states such as Saudi Arabia. President George W. Bush has talked about the link between American oil consumption and national security. In his 2006 State of the Union address he said “America is addicted to oil, which is […]

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UNITED NATIONS — U.S. efforts to avert a close encounter between President George Bush and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations seem so far to have been successful, but that did not stop the two leaders from exchanging verbal broadsides from the podium of the General Assembly. Predictably, both leaders used their respective speeches on the opening day of the 61st session of the world body to assert their contrary positions on Tehran’s nuclear development program, which western governments increasingly believe the Iranians will use to develop nuclear weapons. Addressing the Iranian people, the president said Iran’s […]

SDEROT, Israel — On the surface, life in this Israeli town of 24,000 looks peaceful. The quiet streets, with intersections marked by neat traffic circles, each decorated with a charming sculpture, seem sedate under the harsh sun of Israel’s Negev desert in the south of the country. Agricultural fields in the distance add to a sense of pastoral peace. Suddenly, the Red Dawn warning system jolts Sderot back into the awful reality of life here: Another Qassam rocket has been fired from nearby Gaza. The entire town has 15 seconds to seek shelter or risk death. A moment later, the […]

JERUSALEM — Pedestrians jam this city’s lively Ben Yehuda Street during the blindingly bright daylight hours and late into the Middle Eastern night. From the local newsstands, the papers announce an agreement between the Palestinian sides, Hamas and Fatah, to form a unity government, holding out the tantalizing prospect of progress in the quest for peace. The news sifts into conversations along this white stone road, where shops and restaurants buzz with activity and street musicians entertain the crowds even as armed guards posted at every door check restaurant and cafe patrons to keep suicide bombers from striking this, one […]

Kofi Annan’s term as secretary general of the United Nations will end on Dec. 31, and he is trying to make the most of the few months left. Annan has recently completed an eleven-day trip to a dozen countries in the Middle East and Europe, trying to elicit the widest support — from Israel to Iran — for the 15,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission to Southern Lebanon. The tour, which Annan described as the most strenuous and demanding of his career, is an attempt to conclude his eight-year tenure with a UN success in the Middle East, a region whose population […]

This week, an officer responsible for investigating the killing of several Iraqi civilians by four U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq recommended that they be charged with premeditated murder and face the death penalty. If the Commanding General of the Division accepts this recommendation — which is the common practice — he will send these charges to a General Court-Martial that will ultimately decide their fate, possibly sentencing them to death. If these cases reach a military court room, they will no doubt trigger debate on the “justice” of trying American soldiers for their conduct in battle. […]

Editor’s Note: This article is the second of two that look at the attitudes of young Muslims toward Islam. The first looks at young American Muslims. CAIRO — When I arrived in her stylish office in the Al-Risala building here, I had expected Naira El-Sheikh, the young marketing director for the Middle East’s hottest new Islamic satellite television station, might be wearing a veil. After all, since its launch earlier this year, Al-Risala — “The Message” in Arabic — has drawn notoriety for its progressive staff of on-camera and behind-the-scenes go-getters who aren’t afraid to show their Muslim colors. What […]

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Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is to travel to Israel on a self-styled “peace mission” on Tuesday at the invitation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyam. Adams’ itinerary includes meetings with the Palestinian Legislative Council and its ruling group Hamas — a move that has angered a White House determined to isolate a group it designates as terrorists. However, it is not yet clear whether Adams will even be allowed through security at Tel Aviv airport. President Bush’s special envoy to Northern Ireland is reported to be “livid” about the proposed visit. It may also threaten […]

It was no more than coincidence that former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami arrived in the United States Friday, one day after the U.N.-imposed deadline on his country to halt its uranium enrichment program, according to U.S. officials. The United States granted Khatami an entry visa despite rising tension between Washington and Tehran over what the Bush administration considers Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons because — a State Department spokesman said Thursday — there is “no political substance to his visit.” But observers said it was possible to read too little into the former president’s trip as well as too […]

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Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of the World Politics Review Commentary Week in Review, in which we look back at the week’s opinion pages. The column will be posted every Saturday by noon. We bet on the obvious last week by predicting Iran would dominate this week’s international commentary and indeed, by week’s end, we’d taken our gambler’s share. The U.N.’s Aug. 31 deadline for Iran to stop uranium-enrichment or face sanctions unleashed a flood of ink onto the world’s English-language opinion pages. One of the more lucid assessments was made by Claudia Rosett, who observed in the […]

As a fragile ceasefire teeters in Lebanon, a broad consensus among Western analysts has emerged with the view that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the main regional victor of the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Certainly the fact that Hezbollah survived Israel’s one-month assault has brought strategic and public relations dividends to Iran (and to a lesser extent Syria), given that the Islamic Republic is Hezbollah’s major financial and military backer. Yet what is the nature of this declared Iranian success and what are its implications? If Iran has enhanced its strategic viability and increased its regional popularity, then […]

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An article that was published in this space on Sept. 1, 2006, analyzing the late-August attacks in Istanbul, Marmaris and Antalya, Turkey, did not correctly report the likely origin of those attacks. Rather than “Islamic extremists,” as the piece had stated, the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks, reportedly an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party, claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Kurdistan Workers Party is a Kurdish nationalist and Marxist-Leninist group and has little in common with Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda. Because information about the origin of the attacks was reported prior to the publication of the story, World Politics Review […]