Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are expected to stay in Lebanon’s eastern border region for the near future, as a multilateral effort to resettle several thousand of them ran into further delays on Tuesday. Some 9,000 Syrian refugees and gunmen were waiting to leave Lebanon’s Arsal region to a jihadist-dominated corner of Syria in accordance with an agreement between Lebanon, Syria, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and a Syrian affiliate to al-Qaida. But tens of thousands of others still have no plans to leave, for fear of finding war, hardship, and oppressive militant rule waiting for them in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, said Khaled Raad, a member of the Arsal Refugees’ Coordination Committee of the Lebanese government. Many Syrians have calculated it is better to stay in Lebanon, despite the sweeping restrictions on movement and employment in the tiny Mediterranean country, he said. Further, according to the recently conducted, ninth annual Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which looks at the hopes, concerns and goals of young Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, more than half of young Syrian refugees don’t plan to return home permanently unless the war in their country comes to an end and ISIS is eliminated.
Israel plans to shut down Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem office, stop transmitting its broadcasts and strip the Qatar-based channel’s journalists of their credentials, the country’s communications minister said Sunday. Ayoub Kara accused the broadcaster of “incitement” as he announced the plans for shuttering the station’s operations. “Freedom of expression is not freedom to incite,” he said, according to a ministry statement. “Democracy has limits.” Al Jazeera denounced the decision “made by a state that claims to be ‘the only democratic state in the Middle East.’” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his support for the move, having publicly vowed to close down Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau last month. He has been attempting to rebuild his following among right-wing voters after agreeing to remove metal detectors at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem last month. The announcement also came just days after Netanyahu’s former chief of staff agreed to testify against him in relation to allegations of fraud and breach of trust, throwing his continued tenure into jeopardy.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, talked with NPR on Thursday about conditions in the one city in Yemen. The ongoing war has been overshadowed by other regional conflicts and U.S. domestic issues. In 2014, rebels from the Iranian-backed Houthi movement stormed Yemen’s capital and ousted the government, which was backed by Saudi Arabia. Then Saudi Arabia and eight other Arab countries responded with a massive campaign of airstrikes with support from the U.S. Since then, the fighting has continued. Rounds of U.N. peace talks have failed, thousands of people have died, millions are internally displaced, millions more don’t have enough to eat, and the country is in the middle of the world’s largest outbreak of cholera. He reports on the scenes in besieged southwestern city of Taiz: “Destroyed building, destroyed infrastructure, civilian infrastructure in particular. You see hospitals which have been attacked and are only half if at all functional. Trash removal is not existing. This is basically the condition under which epidemics like cholera and others are spreading quickly. It’s a particularly difficult situation because this has been the poorest country in the region for many years. And the poorest country got one of the most violent and modern tech warfare at the same time. And the two together lead to the destruction and disruption of life.” Listen to the complete interview here.
Israel has stripped an Arab Israeli man of citizenship, claiming he “removed himself from society” by launching a car-and-knife rampage that left four people injured last year. Activists claim the ruling, believed to be a legal first, will leave Alaa Raed Ahmad Zayoud “stateless” and may violate international laws. But a judge said the move was a “suitable and proportional” response after Zayoud ploughed a car into a female Israeli soldier before stabbing three civilians near Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, northeast of Hadera, in October 2015. Zayoud was convicted of four counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 25 years in jail following the “nationalistically motivated” attack, which came during a spate of stabbings and shootings in Israel. On Sunday the court’s deputy president Avraham Elyakim approved the request, stating, “We cannot allow an Israeli citizen to impact the lives and dignity of other Israeli citizens and whoever decides to so in acts of terror, removes himself from the general society of the country.” The decision was criticized by Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, who tweeted: “Israeli court today revoked citizenship for first time ever; Palestinian Alaa Zayoud left stateless, a violation of int’l human rights law.”