NYT > Middle East


Marib Journal: As Yemen Crumbles, One Town Is an Island of Relative Calm

NYT > Middle East

During a recent four-day trip to Marib with a group of Western journalists and researchers, I saw a town struggling for a sense of normalcy -- and even progress -- despite the collapsed country around it. The trip was organized by the Sana Center for Strategic Studies, a research institute focused on Yemen, and led by Farea al-Muslimi, an energetic young Yemeni scholar, who said he worried that the international community was forgetting about Yemen, to the peril of both. "We can't stop the war in Yemen right now, but at least we can cause more conversation about it," he said. "We want to bring the world to Yemen and bring Yemen to the world." Marib's unlikely success is partly a symptom of the near complete shattering of the Yemeni state, which has left regions to fend for themselves in providing life's basics for their people.


Egyptian Concertgoers Wave a Flag, and Land in Jail

NYT > Middle East

In an apparently separate case, a student who attended the Mashrou' Leila concert was arrested hours later after being "caught in the act," the police said. Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, but the authorities frequently prosecute gay men for homosexuality and women for prostitution under loosely-worded laws that prohibit immorality and "habitual debauchery." The Arab Spring ushered in a brief period of respite, with a sharp rise in the use of dating apps as gay people socialized openly at parties and in bars. On Monday a court convicted Khaled Ali, a lawyer and opposition figure, for making an obscene finger gesture outside a Cairo courthouse last year after he and other lawyers won a case against the government.


Pentagon Tests Lasers and Nets to Combat a Vexing Foe: ISIS Drones

NYT > Middle East

At the vast, windswept White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico earlier this year, nearly a dozen military contractors armed with laser guns, high-tech nets and other experimental systems met to tackle one of the Pentagon's most vexing counterterrorism conundrums: how to destroy the Islamic State's increasingly lethal fleet of drones. The Pentagon is so alarmed by this growing threat -- even as it routs the Islamic State from its strongholds in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria -- that it has launched a $700 million crash program overseen by two senior Army generals to draw on the collective know-how and resources of all branches of the armed services, Silicon Valley and defense industry giants like Boeing and Raytheon to devise tactics and technology to thwart the menace. The results were decidedly mixed, and underscore the long-term problem confronting the Pentagon and its allies as it combats the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in a growing number of hot spots around the world beyond Iraq and Syria, including Yemen and Libya. "Threat targets were very resilient against damage," the Pentagon agency assigned to help crack the problem, the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, said in response to questions from The New York Times about how the contractors fared against mock enemy drones.


Iranian Drone Buzzes U.S. Fighter Jet Over Persian Gulf

NYT > Middle East

An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. A statement released by the military's Central Command said that despite repeated radio calls demanding that Iran keep the drone clear of American flight operations in the vicinity of the aircraft carrier Nimitz, the Iranian vehicle came within 100 feet of the fighter jet, which had to swerve to avoid a collision. The American military said this was the 13th "unsafe" or "unprofessional" interaction between American and Iranian maritime forces this year. In the Persian Gulf, there have been an increased number of close calls and incidents as the United States has stepped up assistance to Saudi Arabia and other allies fighting Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.


Trump Adds Sanctions on Iran After Certifying Its Compliance with Nuclear Deal

NYT > Middle East

The targets of the Tuesday announcement included individuals or groups that the United States said had supported efforts by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps force to develop and produce drones, attack boats and other military equipment. The announcement also criticized Iran for its incarceration of American citizens and other foreigners on what it described as fabricated charges, an issue that has long been in irritant in the estranged relations between the countries. When the United States first imposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, he said, the Iranians had 200 centrifuges to enrich uranium, but when the Americans "started negotiating with us in order to remove those sanctions, we had 20,000 centrifuges." "So if you want to see the results of sanctions, just 19,800 centrifuges is the net result of sanctions," he said.


Video Shows Mosul Civilians Trapped in a Fight Clearly Not Over

NYT > Middle East

The civilians crowd together in a narrow alleyway, stranded near house-to-house fighting and surrounded by the stark devastation of western Mosul, where the battle against the Islamic State was supposed to be over. Video taken from a drone on Monday quickly confirmed that the battle to seize Mosul from the Islamic State continues, and that at least 100 civilians were still trapped by the fighting. For days since the government officially declared victory in the city, Times journalists and other witnesses in Mosul had confirmed that the sounds of intense fighting could still be heard from pockets within Western Mosul. Now, these drone images have provided the clearest account yet of a grinding battle that continues against the Islamic State's holdout force.


american-warplane-shoots-down-iranian-made-drone-over-syria.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

NYT > Middle East

An American F-15E fighter jet shot down an Iranian-made armed drone on Tuesday over southeast Syria that was flying toward American-backed Syrian fighters and their advisers, Pentagon officials said. American officials said that the aircraft was a Shahed 129, the same type of Iranian drone that an American warplane blasted on June 8 after it dropped a bomb near American-supported Syrian fighters and their coalition advisers. Tuesday's episode occurred shortly after midnight local time as the drone approached a so-called deconfliction zone the Americans have declared around the town of al-Tanf, the same place where the first drone had ventured. A garrison of Syrian fighters and their American and allied advisers are based near the town, which is near the intersection of the Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian borders.


U.S. Says It Shot Down Drone That Attacked Fighters in Syria

NYT > Middle East

The United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, said in a statement that it wanted to keep the focus on fighting the Islamic State and was not looking for a confrontation with the Assad government -- or with the Russian and Iranian-backed forces that are supporting it. "The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them. To protect the garrison at al-Tanf, the United States has warned Iranian-backed militias and Syrian forces to stay out of the "deconfliction" zone it has declared around the base. On June 6, the American-led coalition again bombed Iranian-backed fighters that ventured inside of the restricted area.


Gaza Dating Site Matches Widows to Men Seeking 2nd (or 3rd) Wife

NYT > Middle East

"This matchmaking service is positive because it encourages these women to choose the potential husband without fear and pressure in this religious and patriarchal society," Ms. Owda said. With the Wesal service, a prospective groom receives a woman's address when the two have exchanged "likes" online. Nour Ahmad, 25, left Gaza after her family finally agreed to let her marry a Palestinian man living in Saudi Arabia. A version of this article appears in print on June 5, 2017, on Page A9 of the New York edition with the headline: Gaza Dating Site Matches Widows to Men Seeking 2nd (or 3rd) Wife.


Trump Promotes Original 'Travel Ban,' Eroding His Legal Case

NYT > Middle East

Last week, lawyers in the solicitor general's office filed polished briefs in the Supreme Court. In calling the revised order "politically correct," Mr. Trump suggested that his goal throughout had been to exclude travelers based on religion. The Supreme Court has asked people and groups challenging the executive order to file their responses to the government's briefs next Monday. The revised executive order, which the president criticized on Monday, took Iraq off the list of countries that would be affected and made clear that the restrictions did not apply to those who held green cards or valid visas.