middle east

U.S. Government

Recent world events seem so complicated – and perhaps intractable – that some citizens may reel from a sense of hopelessness. But maybe our collective memory fails us – it’s easy to forget how much the world can change in just a matter of days.

In less than two weeks in 1978, a world-changing event not only ended one of the most bitter conflict in modern history (or at least a part of it), with effects that endure to this day.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright speaks with Texas Standard’s David Brown about his new book, "Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David," a detailed account of the Camp David accords between Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Facilitated by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the agreement brought peace between Egypt and Israel. 

This summer’s escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has come to a relative stand-still with both sides currently holding to the cease-fire signed late last month. But many say the conflict is far from resolution.

In its inaugural episode, “In Perspective” invites subject matter experts from UT-Austin, New York University, and Rice University to discuss the conflict, its future and its impact on Israeli and Palestinian cultures with KUT’s Rebecca McInroy.

The Sunni militant group that has stormed across Iraq invaded the country's largest oil refinery today, hitting it with mortars. The government is using limited air attacks to strike back at ISIS, which now controls large areas of Iraq's north.

"The oil refinery in Beiji has been under siege since the militant fighters of ISIS seized the town of Beiji in their sweep through northern Iraq," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Irbil, Iraq. "In an offensive at dawn, ISIS fighters attacked the refinery with machine-gun fire and mortars, according to Iraqi security forces."

Negotiations to try to broker a political solution to Syria's bloody civil war will begin in Geneva on Nov. 23.

That's according to Arab League chief Nabil el-Araby, who spoke to reporters after meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria.

These meetings have been a long time coming, but until now have not materialized because at different points, the Syrian regime and the Syrian rebels have refused to come to the table.

The conflict in Syria may be first and foremost a civil war, pitting the Shiite-dominated regime of President Bashar Assad against mostly Sunni insurgents. But the region's turbulent geopolitics have turned it into a proxy fight that has drawn in the rest of the region as well as the U.S and other global powers.

What started as a small protest against the redevelopment of a park in Istanbul, Turkey, has spread to other cities and turned into one of the largest government protests in recent memory. While numbers are hard to come by, Al Jazeera reports that about 10,000 people gathered in Ankara chanting "government resign" and "unite against fascism."

A coordinated attack has struck the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Gunmen reportedly assaulted the compound after a suicide bomber detonated a device at the entrance, where a guard was killed.

Update at 3:58 p.m. ET. Reaction From Red Cross:

"We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms," ICRC's head of operations for South Asia, Jacques de Maio, says. "Right now, our thoughts go out to the family of our dead colleague."

Republican questions about how and when changes were made to his administration's "talking points" about last September's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, are a "sideshow," President Obama told reporters at the White House on Monday.

"There's no there, there," the president declared.

"What we have been clear about throughout," Obama insisted, is that "we were not clear who exactly had carried this out."

Israeli warplanes attacked a military research center near Damascus early Sunday, according to intelligence reports and Syrian state media. The attack prompted Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad to deem it a "declaration of war" by Israel, CNN reports.

President Obama landed in Israel this morning, marking the first time he visits the country as president.

"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors," Obama said during a welcoming ceremony at the Tel Aviv airport.

NPR's Larry Abramson, who's at the airport, just spoke to our Newscast unit. He said Obama was welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The NATO campaign is now in a new phase. After years of fighting the Taliban and bolstering anemic local governance, NATO troops are handing those responsibilities over to the Afghans. NPR's Sean Carberry recently embedded with U.S. troops in the southern province of Kandahar as they worked on this new mission.

The fertile Arghandab Valley in Kandahar province is considered one of Afghanistan's breadbaskets. For years it was also a valley of death for NATO troops.


A visitation will be held tomorrow in Katy for Frederick Buttaccio, one of two Texans killed in the recent hostage standoff at a natural gas complex in Algeria.

The University of Texas at Austin has one of the largest petroleum engineering programs in the country, and the hostage crisis is on the minds of some of those students, who may one day find themselves working in unstable parts of the world.

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET. Clinton Testifies Before House Committee:

One of the defining moments of Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state was her strong advocacy for U.S. military intervention that helped oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

But as she prepared to step down from the post, she faced a grilling from Republicans in both the House and the Senate over what went wrong in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, when four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

American and coalition forces will move into a "support" role in Afghanistan starting this spring, President Obama announced Friday afternoon at the White House during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama said Afghan soldiers "are stepping up" and U.S. forces can now step back.

In a closed-door meeting Thursday, lawmakers will consider whether to approve a secret report that chronicles CIA detention and interrogation practices — including methods that critics have compared to torture.

That report — along with the release of a new movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden — is rekindling an old debate about whether those methods worked.

President Obama said Tuesday that his administration now formally recognizes the Syrian rebels who are fighting President Bashar Assad.

Tens of thousands of people turned out for a mass rally in the Gaza Strip on Friday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hamas, which governs Gaza. The guest of honor was the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal.

This is Meshaal's first-ever trip to Gaza, and it's been seen as a political milestone in Hamas' attempt to gain wider acceptance in the region.

Gaza is a small, very crowded strip of land that is full of young people. Roughly 1.7 million people live here, and about half are under the age of 18.

Young People, Politically Minded

As Syrian fighting intensifies in Syria, diplomatic efforts are also heating up.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the main international envoy to Syria were all in Dublin for an international gathering Thursday. The meeting came as Syria's opposition tries to get better organized to offer a real alternative to President Bashar Assad's regime.

In one of the sharpest warnings so far to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today "the whole world is watching" and that if Assad uses chemical weapons against his people, "there will be consequences."

Without saying specifically that the U.S. and its allies would take military action, Panetta said it is "fair enough to say that their use of those weapons would cross a red line."

The U.S. has called the latest Israeli settlement plan "counterproductive," and now the Europeans have weighed in, with even more pointed criticism.

Israeli ambassadors to Britain, France, Denmark, Spain and Sweden were summoned Monday to hear opposition to the settlement plan.