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Cecily Hilleary

Cecily began her reporting career in the 1990s, covering US Middle East policy for Dubai-TV English. She has lived and/or worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf regions, consulting and producing for several regional radio and television networks and production houses, including MBC, Al-Arabiya, the former Emirates Media Incorporated and Al-Ikhbaria. She brings to VOA and MEV a keen understanding of the region's top social, cultural and political issues.

Middle East Reacts to Obama Re-election

“All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, More »

Election 2012: Obama, Romney – Where They Stand on Middle East Policy

As Americans ponder which US Presidential candidate they will vote for on November 6th, Arabs are also questioning which man--standing President Barack Obama or contender Governor Mitt Romney--will make the bigger difference for the Middle East. Here's how they weigh in on important issues. More »

‘Let Girls Be Girls!’ – UN Marks First-ever Day of the Girl Child

October 11, 2012, marks the United Nation’s first-ever observance of the International Day of the Girl Child. According to the U.N., selected as this year’s theme was “Ending Child Marriage.” Organizers say it was chosen because the practice is seen as a phenomenon that violates millions of girls’ rights, disrupts their education, jeopardizes their More »

Arab Women Launch Online Uprising

On October 1st, 2012, women organizers launched a Facebook page, “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World,” to highlight the discrimination against them which they don’t feel comfortable – or safe – enough to protest in the streets.  In just ten days, the page has generated nearly 35,000 “likes” and conversation among more More »

Syria at the United Nations: Sticking to Its Narrative

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem addressed the  United Nations General Assembly in New York Monday. His speech, according to observers, contained few, if any, surprises.  He accused some permanent U.N. Security Council members and other countries of supporting “terrorism,” singling out several by name. “We…wonder to what extent the statements of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, More »

Examining Free Speech in Wake of Anti-US Protests

It's an issue that has been making headlines lately, triggered not just by the highly controversial film clip depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an offensive light, but by the publication of cartoons in a French magazine--and even the release of revealing photos of British royals. More »

The World Reacts to Anti-Muslim Film

Probably not since the notorious Quran burning calls by controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones in 2010/2011 have relations been so tense between the United States and the Muslim world in what seemingly boils down to a conflict between perceived blasphemy and free speech. Still sore wounds were reopened earlier this month by a YouTube More »

QUICKTAKE: ‘Dramatic’ Civilian Injuries Rising in Syria – Surgeon Anas Al-Kassem

The U.N. and other global rights and health organizations are stepping up warnings about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria after 18 months of armed conflict.  Tens of thousands of Syrians have been displaced and many thousands more are now suffering shortages of food, water and sanitation, electricity, medicine and other basic necessities.  Dr. More »

SOCIAL MEDIA TRACKER: Monitoring World Reaction to Libya Attack

The world woke up Wednesday morning, September 12, to news that the US ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in an attack on the US Consulate in the eastern city Benghazi late Tuesday. Reaction was swift and varied... More »

QUICKTAKE: Most New Saudi Women’s Rights ‘Meaningless’ – Christoph Wilcke, HRW

Recently, the Saudi Industrial Property Authority – or MODUN – announced it was building a number of industrial cities which will include women-only business sectors. This would allow women to work without violating strict religious laws on gender mixing.  The announcement has generated some controversy.  Some see it as an attempt to empower women, More »

SNC Responds to Criticism by Activists Inside Syria

MEV Senior Reporter Cecily Hilleary has recently been engaged on Twitter and in emails with a purported Syrian citizen whom, in order to protect his identity, we will call by his Twitter name, @chamsyria.  In one email, @chamsyria expressed concern about the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), suggesting that a group that seems to More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Kidnapped by Shabiha – a Family Member Speaks Out

On Sunday, August 26,  M., his wife, L., and their 18-year old son, B., reportedly were among the mourners at a funeral in a Damascus suburb.  As they were leaving the burial site, they were approached by a group of armed men in civilian clothes who took M. and B. aside and began questioning More »

Lebanon’s Sectarian Clashes Echo Syria Crisis

For months, analysts have warned that the crisis in Syria could reignite the same tensions that set off Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.  Those worries appear to be justified.  At least 12 people have died and dozens of others wounded in three days of street battles between Lebanese Sunni and Alawites in the city of Tripoli.  More »

QUICKTAKE: Al-Qaida Gaining a Foothold in Syria – Seth Jones

Recent reports suggest the Free Syrian Army has a new “weapon” in its arsenal: Al-Qaida operatives who have infiltrated Syria from Iraq and other Arab countries. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Seth Jones, associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the U.S.-based RAND Corporation and author of More »

Mitt Romney 2012: His Views on Iran, Israel, Islam

Former Governor of the state of Massachusetts and U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney recently captured three big wins in local primary elections — i.e. votes to determine which Republican candidate will end up running against President Barack Obama in the general election on November 6. After his victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District More »

Syria’s Tadmor Prison Massacre: Reliving Horrors of 32 Years Past

It was June 26, 1980; then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad stood with his usual retinue of bodyguards and staff outside the official Guest Palace in Damascus, waiting to greet a visiting African dignitary. Assad at the time was in the middle of one of the biggest crises of his presidency, a full-scale uprising by the More »

#Egyptdecides: Egyptians on Edge, Mubarak Health Unclear

Egyptians had been bracing for a power struggle in the wake of a two-day presidential runoff vote that has both candidates, former Mubarak prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, claiming victory.  Now, Morsi has been named the winner of that vote–and it remains to be seen how much power he’ll More »

#EgyptDecides: The Aftermath as Seen Through Social Media

Amid confusion and political turmoil, Egyptians went to the polls to determine who will serve as Egypt’s next president – the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, or the Mubarak-era prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq. Even though Morsi already declared himself the winner and Egypt’s ruling military council has asserted broad powers in the country, many More »

#EgyptDecides: Following an Election Through Social Media

Amid confusion and political turmoil, Egyptians headed to the polls for a second day in a runoff election that will determine who will serve as Egypt’s next president – Mubarak era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq or the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi. Follow our team and crowdsourced coverage below. View the story “#EgyptDecides: A Social More »

#EgyptDecides: Following an Election Through Social Media

Amid confusion and political turmoil, Egyptian voters are at the polls Saturday, the first of a two-day runoff election to determine who will serve as Egypt's next president--Hosni Mubarak's ex-prime minister Ahmed Shafiq or the Islamist candidate, Mohamed Morsi. More »