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.



Hannah Lucinda Smith
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 6 Aug, 2014

Aleppo’s Real-Life Soap Opera

As the Syrian conflict drags into its fourth year it is disappearing from the world’s television screens. New crises in Gaza, Ukraine and Libya have pushed Syria’s war down the news agenda, and the messy dynamics between the government, the rebels and the Islamists mean it is almost impossible for foreign journalists to report on the ground. But a team of actors and producers in rebel-held Aleppo have brought the grisly realities of the war to a new audience. Banned in Syria was a Ra...

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Jonathan Cook
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 29 Jul, 2014

Stakes Rising in Israel

Israel’s effective loss of its only international airport for a couple of days last week—and the cloud of uncertainty that continues to hang over its operation in the future—has deeply unsettled Israelis. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned American carriers from flying to Israel, a move soon followed by many European airlines, after a rocket from Gaza landed close to Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, on July 22. The FAA and the airlines seemed especially jitte...

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Mona Alami
Written by :
on : Thursday, 24 Jul, 2014

Business as Usual in Lebanon

Writer Michael Karam vacations every summer in his mountain house. He sits in his garden overlooking the verdant Bekfaya region typing his latest commentary on Lebanese politics an...

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

Dancing in Kirkuk

On a baking hot Monday afternoon just before the start of Ramadan, a group of teenagers filed into a dilapidated sports hall in Kirkuk. There was no air-conditioning and no...

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Antonia Roupell
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 1 Jul, 2014

Nowhere to Call Home

“We are invisible here,” says Abu Leila, a Syrian refugee, as he stood in front of the ashes of his former camp. Like countless others, he and his family have fled the war ...

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Emma Pearson and Katie Welsford
on : Tuesday, 24 Jun, 2014

A Matter of Business in Syria

In a small, cramped room in the suburbs of Amman, a Homsi family of four gathers around two posters stuck to the white wall. The posters show downtown Homs—aerial photographs...

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Mona Alami
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 17 Jun, 2014

Exporting Lebanon’s Nightlife

In the early hours of the morning, glamorously dressed women climb on top of a table in one of Lebanon’s most fashionable nightclubs, dancing to the beat of the music streami...

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Hannah Lucinda Smith
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 11 Jun, 2014

The Flower Seller of Aleppo

“Flowers, I love flowers!” exclaims Krikor. “I used to skip school so I could go and pick flowers. Everyone in Aleppo knew me by my nickname—I was Krikor, the flowe...

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Nuri Kino
Written by :
on : Thursday, 5 Jun, 2014

Why All This Hatred?

Beirut—We are queuing at Starbucks. Documentary filmmaker Elyas Salameh asks me what I’d like and I ask him the same. To answer his question would have meant accepting his ...

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Antonia Roupell
Written by :
on : Thursday, 29 May, 2014

Fixed Poll, Mixed Support

Beirut—On May 28, tens of thousands of Syrians currently living in Lebanon went to vote in the upcoming Syrian presidential election. The unprecedented turnout that followed ...

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