Tag Archives: middle east

Mitt Romney begins foreign tour of UK, Israel and Poland

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in Britain on the first leg of a week-long foreign tour that includes stops in Israel and Poland.

He is to meet political leaders and attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in the next three days.

The former governor of Massachusetts is not expected to make any policy announcements in London, but correspondents say the visit will give him the chance to show himself to the US electorate in the international arena.

…Critics have accused him of having a weak background in foreign policy, the same claim made about Mr Obama, who was a first-term senator during his 2008 White House campaign when he made a high-profile trip to the Middle East and Europe.

That tour culminated with a speech to hundreds of thousands of people outside the Victory Column in Berlin, Germany.

 

Source: BBC - Mitt Romney begins foreign tour of UK, Israel and Poland

 

 

Continue reading

YouTube a major platform for news – says new Pew report

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, “YouTube is becoming a major platform for viewing news.”

By far, the incident that sparked the most interest was the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Pew looked at the most popular videos in the “news & politics” section of YouTube over those 15 months and found that 5 percent of the 260 videos related to the Japanese disaster.

Given that 70 percent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S., it’s not surprising that the top three news videos were related to non-U.S. events. After the earthquake/tsunami, the Russian elections and the unrest in the Middle East topped news-related video views, Pew said.

Natural disasters and political upheavals were the most popular news video topics. People did not figure prominently; “No one individual was featured in even 5 percent of the most popular videos studied here-and fully 65 percent did not feature any individual at all,” Pew found. President Obama, however, was featured in 4 percent of the top videos worldwide, in posts that ranged from speeches to campaign ads from opponents.

As Pew noted, the growth of news videos on YouTube has been a help and a hindrance to traditional news outlets…

 

Keep reading: PC Mag - YouTube Becoming ‘Major Platform’ for News

 

 

Continue reading

Progress in the Middle East – if you measure by the number of Facebook users

There are growing signs of progress in the Middle East, if you measure by the total number of Facebook users. That number has skyrocketed since 2010, going from 15 million to near 40 million.

Of those users, a growing number are starting to prefer using the site in their own native language, Arabic.

Of the 39+ million Arabic users on Facebook, 39% prefer to view the site in their native language, while 36% like it in English.

As more users in the region are coming online, with an obvious desire to access sites in Arabic, there is a rising demand for content that appeals to them, and quite a few social media sites are trying to meet that demand.

Twitter recently added support for right-to-left languages, including in Arabic, while Storify is working with a team of volunteers in the Middle East to translate their interface into Arabic.

Arabic is one of the fastest growing languages on sites like Twitter and Wikipedia, and with Yahoo having just licensed the technology behind smart transliteration tool Yamli, it is becoming increasingly easy for Arabic speakers to interact in their mother tongue online.

via The Next Web

 

The numbers are not overwhelming, by any means, considering that there are 152 million users in the U.S. and 232 million in Europe, but it is a positive sign.

 

// Photo – Sean MacEntee

UCLA turns to social media as a means of researching the Middle East

I love that they are calling the project the “International Digitizing Ephemera Project.”

Ephemera – (1) something of no lasting significance, or (2) paper items that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.

 

The UCLA Library announced last month a new project aimed at recording and cataloging all relevant forms of social media and photographs involving the Arab Spring, a wave of protests and demonstrations that have swept through the Middle East and North Africa over the past year.

(The project) is largely funded by a $3.4 million donation from the Arcadia Fund, an organization that supports preservation and digitization projects. Libraries apply for grants from the fund and receive money based on the scope of their work.

“The shelf life of these materials is not very long, so it is important that we start our work while the events are taking place, enabling us to have a greater database available to us,” said Todd Grappone, associate university librarian for Digital Initiatives and Information Technology at UCLA.

Data will be collected from verified sources, such as the Twitter accounts of journalists in the region, and stored according to their content and subject matter.

Projects like this are important for scholarship, she said, because they reflect a trend toward the use of digital media as a means of research for current affairs in the Middle East.

via Daily Bruin

The Neo-Ottoman Empire and the Solution to Iraq

I’m writing this article from 30,000 feet up and don’t have the ability to dig deeper, but an article has grabbed my attention with it’s vision. It’s about the influence of Turkey in Iraq and how they are the new European powerhouse. When most are focusing on Al-Qaeda, Iran, and the U.S. Military, it seems that the Ottoman Empire is in resurgence.

In terms of economics, Turkey is ideally position to serve up the vast Iraqi oil reserves to the enormous European markets. In the past Turkey was able to exploit their location on the tri-border of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East to such great extents that they formed empires lasting hundreds of years, the last of which was the Ottoman Empire which only crumbled decades ago. If things go well we may be seeing a resurgence of this power and the first sign may be that in 2010 Turkey “carries roughly 25 percent of Iraq’s oil exports…(and) have signed on to the ambitious $11 billion Nabucco gas pipeline project, which may bypass Russia and bring Iraqi gas to Europe.”

Talk about a shift in the balance of power. Out of nowhere Russia can be cut down to size with Iraq’s vast oil reserves. Turkey can once again become the dominant middle-man enjoying vast profits and greatly improving their chances to become more tightly integrated with the European Union, maybe even join.

In reading the article, pulled from the front page of the New York Times, one gets the sense that Turkey understands this all to well and deeper than any westerner can. The key to ‘fixing’ Iraq will not be through battling Iran or building up the military, but through pure economic growth. To start you need to feed the oil beast and ground zero is the vast oil reserves of Basra. The city once dominated by the Ottomans is now in ruins after bloody civil wars and military takeovers. Now it is a Turkish stronghold where all the interviews in the article ring of the Turkish merchants of yore. Brimming with excitement and ideas so irresistible you just have to love it.

For example, the first building project was a marketplace and one of the first fairs they held there was a petroleum conference.

That’s in the south of Iraq – if you move to the north where the border between Turkey and Iraq exists, you find a completely different scene. This region controlled by the Kurds is booming with commercialism. Turkish billboards, TV shows, pop stars, entrepreneurs, and vast exports of all kinds of goods. It’s a whole different kind of hearts and minds campaign resulting in $6 billion of trade in 2010, “almost double what is was in 2008.” It’s a more mature market and one more dominated by the Turks than ever.

To get a true sense of how this is changing Iraq, one would need to be there, feel the vibe of the streets, and talk to ordinary people. A close second would be to look at the political scene. The recent government coalition is thought to be of Turkish influence and one of the few powers pushing for secular coalitions. Their backing of “Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite politician who enjoys the support of the country’s Sunnis” shows just that.

In Baghdad too their presence is felt touching all corners and including the famous Moqtada al-Sadr. This famous anti-American populist prince of the poor craves attention and Turkey responded by inviting all of his lawmakers “to the Turkish capital, Ankara, for training in parliamentary protocol.” Can you imagine a revolutionary anti-American leader sending his people to democracy classes?

If all this wasn’t enough, the Kurds of Turkey and Iraq are settling down into their new economic vitality. As they enjoy the border trade that encompasses their land, the racist blood war with the Turkish government is morphing into a “Kurdish opening.” The powerful warlords of Iraqi Kurdistan no longer talk about seceding from Iraq and the prolonged warfare that would ensue. Funny how prosperity seems to calm things down.

The people of Turkey are everywhere in Iraq from the oil rich south to the strong economy in the north. They are deep into politics and are working the population too. With any luck we will have a neo-Ottoman Empire in the near future, one that could unite the Middle East through economic growth and reform through wealth.

Indeed, coalitions of this kind are the only ones that have ever succeeded in the Middle East.