Briefing Book

MEC Daily News Brief: July 8, 2010

CNN editor is let go over controversial tweetA senior Middle East editor at CNN, Octavia Nasr, was fired after a controversial tweet on Twitter, where she sympathized with the recent death of Lebanese Shia leader who was linked to Hezballah. Nasr’s original tweet, in full:     “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed ...


CNN editor is let go over controversial tweet
A senior Middle East editor at CNN, Octavia Nasr, was fired after a controversial tweet on Twitter, where she sympathized with the recent death of Lebanese Shia leader who was linked to Hezballah. Nasr’s original tweet, in full:    


“Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”


The tweet sparked an uproar online, costing the editor her position at CNN, where she had worked for 20 years. CNN’s senior vice president for international news gathering, Parisa Khosravi, said that Nasr’s credibility as a Middle East editor had been compromised.

– Bombings killed at least 12 people today in Baghdad.
– Turkey’s pro-secular opposition to vote against constitutional reforms.
– Israel is threatening to expel four Palestinian politicians from Jerusalem.
– The march for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is nearing Jerusalem.
– Yemen sentences two suspected al Qaeda members to death.


Daily Snapshot

 


Armed men belonging to the Southern Movement patrol the streets in a southern Yemeni town. The group is engaged in a general strike against the central government amidst continued calls for secession from the North. With the ongoing secessionist movement in the South, and the central government simultaneously battling against the al-Houthi rebellion in the North and operations of al-Qaeda, the Afghanistan comparison looms large (AFP/Getty Images).


Arguments & Analysis

‘The Arabs and Turkey’ (Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram)
In part due to its leaders’ actions following both Israel’s Operation Cast Lead and its reaction to the so-called ‘Freedom Flotilla’ bound for Gaza more recently, many have suggested that Turkey has essentially taken up the mantle of ‘leader of the Arab world’. Yet Turkey’s strategic decisions, while obviously attuned to the Arab street and its alliances with Arab governments, are more attuned to the perceptions of the Turkish public itself and how Turkey sees its role as a resurgent power in the region and internationally.
 
‘The Shifting Sands of State Power in the Middle East’ (pdf) (Alastair Crooke, The Washington Quarterly)
For a number of historical and political reasons, the power dynamics of the Middle East are profoundly changing for the U.S. Whereas its traditional allies in the region have comprised the ‘southern tier’ (especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia), a ‘northern tier’ (including Turkey, Qatar, Syria, and Iran) is rapidly becoming the ‘axis of influence’ that will determine much about the region’s future power shifts. The changing dynamic suggests a region that the U.S. will have both less sway over, and less of an ability to clearly implement its policy goals absent a shift in its approach to the region.
 
‘The neocons Fadlallah problem’ (Matt Duss, Think Progress)
The reaction from some quarters to CNN twitter controversy have been swift and unrelenting, but the caricature of Fadlallah as an unqualified terrorist and ‘spiritual guide to Hezbollah’ belie a more complex picture of man who, though openly and forcefully opposed to Western policy in region, went against the grain in fundamentalist circles, too. Moreover, his influence as Shiite cleric was largely exacerbated by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which gave him sway over a huge Shiite political constituency in the country.

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