Voices: A desperate journey from Syria to Germany

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA14231aa001.jpegBERLIN — Not long ago, a Syrian acquaintance of mine, Muhammad Albalkhy, sent me an urgent email: “I am in Hungary and I need your help. Do you know anyone who could get me out of here?”

After escaping from Syria, and enduring a harrowing journey through Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Muhammad, 26, was arrested by Hungarian police.

Read more at USA Today

Islamic State: Mounts bombs on U.S. military vehicles

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFG15225AA001.jpegIRBIL, Iraq — Gen. Dedawa Khurshid, a commander of the Kurdish peshmerga forces battling the Islamic State militants, faces a unique terrorist-style of warfare on a daily basis.

“Daesh modifies trucks and bulldozers by welding steel all over them,” said Gen. Khurshid, using the Arabic term for the jihadi Islamic State, which now controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria. “Then they take high explosives and mount them in a special way on the front of the vehicles. A man will then take the vehicle and drive into our line and detonate it.”

Read more at The Washington Times

Somalis used: To flee to Yemen to escape war. Now it's the other way around

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SYR130326AA001.jpegBERBERA, Somalia — As Adra Sarraf held a crying baby outside a makeshift refugee camp in the Gulf of Aden, she wondered whether she and her four children would lose their lives to hunger, or terror.

“We’ve no food to eat here,” said the 33-year-old mother of four. “My children have been surviving on water for the last two weeks.”

Read more at Global Post

Statistical portrait: of Syrian frustration

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SYR130603AA001.jpegStatistics from a sampling of scholarship programs around the world demonstrate how a flood of hopeful Syrian students applying for overseas scholarship programs is swamping the places available.

Three years ago, the Institute of International Education in the United States, which administers Fulbright programs, launched the Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, a grant program to help Syrian students with urgent financial need to enroll in American degree-granting programs.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Refugee student: Seek a scholarship or pay a smuggler?

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa002.jpegAhmad Hakim isn’t sure whether he’ll leave war-torn Syria as a student or refugee.

Hakim, 25, would love to enroll in graduate studies in English literature at the Free University of Berlin in Germany, but obstacles to Syrians seeking higher education abroad—including tight competition for scholarships—are making that goal increasingly far-fetched.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Women journalists: Not for the Middle East?

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY141212aa001.jpegWhen I finished 12th grade, I began inquiring about university journalism programs in Palestine. We have good programs. They are not strong compared to American or European journalism schools, but they teach the basics well and provide practical experience.

At the beginning of my studies, some members of my family were against my decision, claiming that journalism is not for women. I prepared myself for these kinds of debates. Their reaction was normal in this male-dominated society.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Benevolent smugglers: Free Yazidi women from Islamic State slavery

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DOHUK, Iraq — Sitting in a partially built house in an abandoned Christian village in Kurdistan, a 21-year-old Yazidi woman quietly recounted her ordeal at the hands of the Islamic State.

"ISIS separated me from my sisters," the woman said as she sat on a worn mattress thrown onto the concrete floor. "They beat me, raped me, handcuffed me and left me in a room for days. I tried to kill myself by jumping from a tall building and by electrocuting myself."

Read more at The Washington Times 

Palestinian universities: A grim anniversary

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GAZ140724AA001.jpegMore than a year after the 51-day war last summer between Israel and Palestine, Palestinian universities are still suffering from the damage, and professors and students are struggling to cope.

“I was not able to go back to my university last year,” said Mohamed Yahia, who had been studying English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Oil feud: Cash-strapped Kurds turn backs on deal with Baghdad

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ150410aa001.jpegIRBIL, Iraq — Strapped for cash and increasingly frustrated with Baghdad’s stingy disbursement of the federal budget, Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish government has turned its back on a deal struck last year to patch over a long-standing oil feud between the Kurds and the federal government.

Since June, the Kurdistan Regional Government, which governs the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, has been ramping up independent oil sales.

Read more at The Washington Times

Doha heat: Drives most academics to cooler climes

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_1111.jpegDOHA—Quick, let’s play a summer game. We’ll call it “find the academic.” And let’s play in Qatar, just to make the game especially challenging.

Summertime temperatures in Qatar can rise above 40 degrees Celsius, 120 Fahrenheit. Summer here lasts for about four months starting from April.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

In Qatar: Education drives workforce shifts for women

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_QAT150315AA001.jpegDOHA — Qatari women have long outnumbered men in the country’s higher education system. Now they are transforming its workforce.

In recent years, female enrollment in Qatari universities has been nearly double that of men. The effects of that ratio are now becoming clear, including in traditionally male-dominated professions like engineering, media and information technology.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Arab students: In Israel say their voices are muffled

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ISR120808aa001.jpegDOHA - Arab-Israeli student activists say they face an uphill battle to voice their grievances on Israeli campuses, and rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians since the war in Gaza last summer are worsening the situation.

“The tension between Arab students, Israeli administrators and the Israeli students increases depending on the political situation between Palestine and Israel,” says Kalil Garrar, an Arab political science student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Once-Proud: Iraqi medical schools now down at the heels

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_1111.jpegIRAQ - An Iraqi medical resident, Mohammed Hassan, is worried about fulfilling his Hippocratic oath. A recent graduate in cardiothoracic surgery from Karbala Medical College in Iraq, the 27-year-old is worried he might hurt, rather than help, his patients.

Most of the professors “were not able to explain the subjects well,” said Hassan. “The lack of academics led the college to bring working doctors and even professors from other faculties.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Bitter feud: Between Turkey, Egypt undercuts U.S. hopes for Middle East

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Two of America's linchpin allies in the Middle East are bitterly feuding, complicating the Obama administration's hopes of confronting Sunni Salafists and containing the ambitions of Shiite Iran.

Egypt is accusing Turkey of working with the Islamic State on the Sinai Peninsula, a new low in the already poor relations between the two regional powers.

Read more at The Washington Times 

Berber language: Can't get a foothold in Algeria

TUN130409AA001ALGIERS — Algerian leaders switched their official language from French to Arabic after the country’ war of independence in the early 1960s.

Forty years later, the government labeled Tamazight—the mother tongue of the Berbers— as a “national” language. The move fell short of putting Tamazight on par with Arabic but nonetheless recognized that 25 percent of Algerians speak the language.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Risk of: Civilian casualties in Ramadi poses major test for Iraq's army

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFG15225AA001.jpegBAGHDAD — The fear of causing numerous civilian casualties and getting drawn into a bloody urban fight in Ramadi is pushing Iraqi forces to wage a slow offensive to retake the city from the Islamic State despite an overwhelming advantage in number of fighters.

To limit civilian deaths, the military says it aims to methodically squeeze militants from the outskirts instead of launching a massive assault into the heart of the Sunni city, which had a population of 400,000 before most residents fled.

Read more at USA Today

Kurdish fighters: Success against Islamic State makes Turkey nervous

TUR130607aa005QAMILSHLI— Kurdish fighter Seewar Sofi still wears his uniform. It matches those of his comrades in the photo taped above his hospital bed.

The fatigues he was issued as a member of the YPG, or the People’s Protection Units, are now folded over the stumps of his legs, both amputated above the knee. The rolled-up sleeve of his shirt reveals a right hand that resembles a claw.

Read more at The Washington Times

Program crumbling: Libya's foreign scholarship program suffering

TUN130409AA001LIBYA — The Libyan government scholarships that have sent tens of thousands of students to foreign universities are drying up, according to Libyan officials.

Libyan government scholarship payments to universities and professional training courses around the world have always been spotty. Last month, the Libyan government released funding for the 2014-2015 academic year — ending months of fretting by students struggling to make ends meet and pay tuition to receive credit for their studies.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

ISIL attacks: After declaring caliphate

TUN130214AA001TUNIS —A series of deadly terrorist attacks in the past week across Europe, Africa and the Middle East underscore the Islamic State's increasing ability to spread fear, change societies and impact economies since declaring a caliphate a year ago.

Authorities from Australia to Pakistan and Afghanistan to Europe have looked on with increasing alarm at the militants' reach since the group seized more than a third of Syria and Iraq last summer.

Read more at USA TODAY

In Tunisia: Cost of terrorism is strangling higher education

TUN130409AA001TUNIS — Tunisia, often praised internationally as the sole success story from the 2011 Arab uprisings, has the will to improve higher education, but hasn’t yet found the way.

The country’s continuing economic crisis and increased efforts to combat terror are blocking efforts to improve the quality of its universities. The latest terrorist attack, which resulted in the deaths of at least 37 people at a beach resort, may serve to reinforce the flow of money away from education and toward security efforts.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Higher education: In Tunisia, the cost of fighting terrorism

TUN130409AA001TUNIS — Tunisia, often praised internationally as the sole success story from the 2011 Arab uprisings, has the will to improve higher education, but hasn’t yet found the way.

The country’s continuing economic crisis and increased efforts to combat terror are blocking efforts to improve the quality of its universities. The latest terrorist attack, which resulted in the deaths of at least 37 people at a beach resort, may serve to reinforce the flow of money away from education and toward security efforts.

Read more at al Fanar Media

U.S. lawmakers: Join Iranian dissidents in France for regime change

IRA140912AA001TEHRAN — A bloody day in the heart of the City of Light left some of France’s best-known journalists dead and police tracking down the native Islamist terrorists suspected of carrying out the murders to avenge what they said were insults to the founder of their faith. One suspect surrendered and two others were missing.

The well-coordinated early-morning attack on the editorial offices of the Charlie Hebdo targeted the editor of the bitingly satiric weekly, Stephane Charbonnier, nine colleagues and a security guard, all murdered in cold blood by masked assailants who reportedly called out the names of their victims as they were shot.

Read more at The Washington Times

Tougher security: Tunisia pledges following beach attack

TUN130327AA001TUNIS — The Tunisian government will shutter unsanctioned mosques and organizations that could have ties to Islamic extremism, step up security at tourist spots and deploy troops elsewhere in the wake of the country's worst terror attack ever.

"The fight against terrorism is a national responsibility," Prime Minister Habib Essid said Saturday as his government announced a raft of new measures. "We are at war against terrorism which represents a serious danger to national unity during this delicate period that the nation is going through."

Read more at USA TODAY

Beach attack: threatens Tunisian economy, secular rule

TUN130214AA001TUNIS — Friday's attack on a Tunisian resort on the Mediterranean coast could crush tourism in the country where the Arab Spring was born and pressure the secularist-led government.

A lone gunman killed dozens of people, mostly tourists, after opening fire on sunbathers in the resort town of Sousse. The suspect was then shot to death by police.


Read more at USA TODAY

Tunisia attacks: Islamic State claims responsibility

TUN130214AA001TUNIS — A lone gunman hiding a Kalashnikov under his umbrella opened fire on a Tunisian beach resort, killing 39 people, mostly tourists — one of three deadly attacks Friday from Europe to the Middle East.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack at the Imperial Marhaba hotel, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization that monitors terrorists' activity online.


Read more at USA TODAY

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