Yemen: U.N. Announces 72-Hour Ceasefire

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, announced Monday that a ceasefire was set to go into effect after he received confirmation from all warring factions of their commitment. The 72-hour cessation of hostilities began at 11:59 p.m. local time on Wednesday night, with the possibility of further extension. Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi, foreign minister of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's internationally recognized government, posted on his official Twitter account tha...
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U.N. crowdfunding app helps feed Syrian refugees

On Thursday, the United Nations World Food Programme released a new crowdfunding app in order to help feed Syrian children in Jordanian refugee camps. ShareTheMeal, available for iPhone and Android smartphones, encourages users to “share their meals” with these young refugees by donating as little as $0.50, enough to feed a child for one day.  Those who log in to the app through Facebook can even compare their charity efforts to those of their Facebook friends -- a special gamification featur...
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Anxiety in Benghazi: Libya's Militia Problem

October 20th is the third anniversary of the day when Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator of Libya for over 40 years, was found in a drainage ditch outside his loyal stronghold of Sirte and unceremoniously beaten and stabbed to death by a rebel militia, effectively ending the months-long civil war. What has followed since then has been what President Obama called back in August his, “biggest foreign policy regret,” – the gradual degradation of Libyan civil society in the post-Gaddafi era. Bolstered b...
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Turkey’s Conundrum in Syria

Since the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) rise to power in 2002 under the leadership of President (formerly Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has pursued a foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors.” However, Syria has been the crucial exception to this policy after Turkey cut ties with Syria in 2011 in response to Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on demonstrators. Since the severing of relations, Turkey has aided rebel groups by allowing free transit to Syrian rebel gro...
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Yemen in Crisis: A New Middle East Proxy War?

On Sunday, September 21, Shiite Houthi rebels from the north of Yemen stormed the capital Sana’a, seizing government facilities and forcing a conciliatory ceasefire agreement from the Sunni central government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. To understand this conflict, it is critical to know who the Houthis are. They are followers of a branch of Islam known as Zaidism. The Zaidis ruled northern Yemen for nearly 1,000 years, with their reign coming to an end in 1962. The name “Houthi” ...
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Is Islam Part of the Solution to Middle East Violence?

In the Western world, Islam is all too often pointed to as a root cause of violence in the Middle East or a source of terrorism. However, many individuals fail to understand that Islam is an ancient religion steeped in tradition and custom, and it does not support terrorism, suicide, or random acts of violence. On September 21, 2001, in his declaration of war on terrorism, President Bush addressed Congress and the American people, saying: "The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying,...
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Music in the Middle East: How Hip Hop Affected the Arab Spring

“I heard them say/the revolution won’t be televised/Al Jazeera proved them wrong/Twitter has him paralyzed/80 million strong” – Omar “Offendum” Chakaki, #Jan25 Of the many factors that make up the impressive impact of the Arab Spring, the strategic use of media might be what best motivates those who wish for revolution and for definitive change in their lives. More specifically, the youth of the Middle East and North African regions are motivated by a musical component of their campaigns for re...
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