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QUICKTAKE: Syria Extremists Restricting Women’s Rights

In Syria’s now nearly three-year-old conflict, certain armed extremist opposition groups are imposing strict and discriminatory rules on women and girls that have no basis in Syrian law, Human Rights Watch says in a new study. The findings have been drawn from interviews with 43 refugees from Syria in Iraqi Kurdistan and two in Turkey, More »

QUICKTAKE: New Approach Needed for Peace in Syria

A Syrian peace conference has been repeatedly delayed as U.S., Russian and U.N. diplomats struggle to get all parties involved to agree to take part.  Rebel brigades have voiced their opposition to the so-called “Geneva Two” process if the conference does not stipulate President Bashar al-Assad’s removal. Given the deadlock, some are calling for a More »

QUICKTAKE: Saudi ‘Hidden Hand’ Steering Iran Nuclear Talks?

The first round of Iran nuclear talks in Geneva broke down earlier this month after the P5+1 failed to reach consensus on a short-term deal that would have eased up sanctions and allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium at reduced levels.  Talks apparently ended over France’s demand that Iran stop construction on a heavy More »

QUICKTAKE: Can Israel Block a Deal With Iran?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to reassure the Israeli people that his positions regarding Iran’s nuclear program have not changed. He told an audience at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University that the international community should tighten rather than relax economic sanctions against Iran until Tehran completely ends its suspected nuclear weapons program. Israel sees More »

QUICKTAKE: Distrust Iran But Verify Its Intent

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed cautious hope about engaging with Iran over its nuclear program, but says the country must take concrete steps to prove its sincerity. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran is continuing a “vast and feverish” effort to acquire nuclear arms and that his country is ready to More »

QUICKTAKE: Complexities of Providing Aid to Syria’s Refugees

According to the United Nations, earlier this month the number of Syrian conflict refugees topped two million, putting an enormous strain not only on the people affected but also the host countries which have absorbed the vast majority of Syrians fleeing their homeland. Among the organizations providing assistance to the refugees – both to the More »

QUICKTAKE: US Military Aid to Egypt – ‘Subsidizing Tyranny’

The Obama administration continues to deliberate over whether the U.S. should continue its policy of providing roughly $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.  Many argue that the U.S. gets a lot for its money – priority passage through the Suez Canal, military sales and insurance that Egypt will continue honoring its peace More »

QUICKTAKE: US Military Aid to Egypt – Maintain Existing Leverage

The United States is still undecided on whether it should continue providing $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt.  President Barack Obama says he doubts any U.S. action – or inaction – will have much impact on Egypt’s military, which appears determined to put down supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.  So what factors More »

QUICKTAKE: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Vows to Continue Protests

This week witnessed some of the worst violence in Egypt since the armed forces removed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, from power in early July.  As the death toll rises – as many as 500 were reported dead Thursday – observers are not only focusing on the role the military and security More »

QUICKTAKE: Political Reconciliation Key for Egypt Future

Following the removal from power in Egypt of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, experts are expressing concern that their exclusion from any future government might be detrimental to the country’s stability and might even trigger a civil war. Some say that political reconciliation between Islamist forces and the civilian caretaker government More »

QUICKTAKE: Why Turkey Can Still Become a Model Muslim Democracy

If Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan respects the will of his people, Turkey can become the first consolidated Muslim democracy of the 21st century. That is the observation of Soner Cagaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an article published in the New York More »

QUICKTAKE: What’s Behind the Protests in Turkey?

Turkish riot police have cleared protesters from Istanbul’s central square, following a night of clashes between the two sides. The police operation follows nearly two weeks of demonstrations in Taksim Square and locations in several other Turkish cities. Several people have died since the protests began. About 5,000 people are reported to have been More »

QUICKTAKE: A Rare Glimpse Into Syria’s Besieged Qusair

Supported by more than 4,000 Shia Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Army this week sealed off the rebel-held town of Qusair, a strategic crossroads for supplies about 15 kilometers from the border with Lebanon. Early in the week Syrian government forces reportedly reclaimed nearby Daba’a air base. Several hundred members of the rebel More »

QUICKTAKE: PLO’s Envoy to US Says Arab Land Swap Initiative Nothing New

In a fresh bid to jumpstart long-stalled Middle East Peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Arab League officials in Washington this week to discuss possible changes in the 2002 Peace Initiative that might attract the parties back to the negotiating table.  Following the meeting Monday, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, More »

QUICKTAKE: Osama Bin Laden – More Fatal in Death?

Today marked the second anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden – instigator and mastermind of the 9-11 attacks in the United States in 2001.  Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al-Qaida hijackers crashed two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the More »

QUICKTAKE: US Doctor Sees Credible Evidence of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, an American physician and president of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS),  has just returned from his sixth mission to Syria. While there, he visited half a dozen hospitals where doctors claim they have treated patients for exposure to chemical nerve agents. VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary reached him by phone in More »

QUICKTAKE: US Syria Policy Needs ‘Paradigm Shift’

As the conflict in Syria continues to escalate, there are increasing calls for the international community to step up its involvement. Ambassador Frederic Hof, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and the Obama administration’s special advisor for the Syrian transition in 2012, spoke with VOA’s Carol More »

QUICKTAKE: Red Cross Faces Uphill Battle in Syria

The International Committee of the Red Cross reports an increase in indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Damascus and says people are fleeing the Syrian capital in greater numbers. Reuters separately reports that March was the most violent month in Syria’s now more than two-year-old conflict, with 6,000 people killed, The total estimated death toll More »

QUICKTAKE: Stemming Al-Qaida to Stabilize Mali

As French-backed Malian forces continue to battle an Islamist insurgency, the former U.S. ambassador to the North African country, Vicki Huddleston, spoke with VOA’s Carol Castiel on Press Conference USA about the challenges facing the divided nation and what concrete steps should be taken to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for al-Qaida More »

QUICKTAKE: Using Art to Reveal Love, Hate in Syria Conflict

A graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University, Tammam Azzam, abandoned a successful decade as a promising painter to escape the dangers of the Syrian war. He settled into a small apartment in Dubai with a computer and some PhotoShop software to embark on a new artistic mission: to vividly convey More »