Backgammon

A board game played in smoky cafes from Beirut to Baghdad. Backgammon’s earliest ancestor is five thousand years old and was unearthed in southern Iraq. Modern-day descendants teach players survival skills beyond the game: although luck is involved, strategy wins out in the long run. ‘Backgammon’ covers the state of play in the countries spanning the Fertile Crescent: Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq.



Mona Alami
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 15 Apr, 2014

Pushed out of Home

A wave of protests has been rocking Lebanon of late, with university students and public sector employees rallying against the high cost of living. Civil defense volunteers taking part in a “Day of revolt” organized by public sector employees last week went as far as threatening to swim off the coast of Beirut until they drowned if parliament did not respond to their grievances. In recent years, the country has become unaffordable for most Lebanese citizens—and more particularly...

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Hannah Lucinda Smith
Written by :
on : Thursday, 10 Apr, 2014

Little Latakia

It is 11:30 pm on a Tuesday night, and Café Latakia is packed. Rows of men have crammed into the tiny darkened space, eyes fixed on the glowing screen that is the only source of light in the room. It’s a Champions League game—Dortmund against Real Madrid—and most of the people in here are supporting the Spanish side. “It’s because the Arabs used to control Spain!” laughs Mohammed. The café feels like a little piece of Syria. Arabic is the lingua franca, and the coffee...

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Mina Al-Droubi
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 8 Apr, 2014

Marrying Off Girls

A proposed law in Iraq would restrict women’s rights by permitting girls as young as nine to wed. If passed, the Ja'afari Personal Status Law (whose name is derived from Imam...

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Hussain Abdul-Hussain
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 1 Apr, 2014

Suleiman’s Successor

On Tuesday March 25, Lebanon's parliament was convened with one item on its agenda: the election of a new president before President Michel Suleiman’s term ends on May 25. ...

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Ibrahim Gharayaba
Written by :
on : Monday, 31 Mar, 2014

Keeping a Low Profile

Caution has been the preeminent feature of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s response to Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it had classified the organization a terrorist group....

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Stephen Starr
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 25 Mar, 2014

Life in Limbo

For the past three years, millions of Syrians have been living in hellish conditions, either inside the country’s warzones or as refugees. But there are upwards of 15 million...

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Ranj Alaaldin
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 18 Mar, 2014

Iraq’s Energy Wars

Kurdish–Arab tensions in Iraq have escalated in recent months as a result of outstanding disputes between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Shi'ite-dominated go...

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Hussain Abdul-Hussain
Written by :
on : Monday, 3 Mar, 2014

Hezbollah’s Adapted Resistance

“Our intervention in Syria has confused Israel and caused it a strategic setback, because they were betting on the toppling of the regime in Syria and the weakening of the resist...

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Stephen Starr
Written by :
on : Thursday, 27 Feb, 2014

A Forgotten Revolution

It was almost exactly three years ago. The cats of Damascus were as soaked by rain as the streets they tip-toed through. On February 4, 2011, the Shuam, the Damascenes, from...

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James Denselow
Written by :
on : Monday, 17 Feb, 2014

Geneva II: Predictable Failure, Unpredictable Consequences

Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran Algerian diplomat, apologized to the Syrian people on Saturday following the end of the latest round of the Geneva II peace talks. Considering the ...

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