Appearances are everything on Amman’s Culture Street

by Alex Ray

Culture Street Shmeisani

A tiny blue and grey Tourist Police kiosk sits at one end of Culture Street, a 350 metre strip of low-rise apartment buildings in Shmeisani, an inner suburb of the Jordanian capital Amman. The area attracts tourists mostly from the wealthy Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the U.A.E.

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A Taxi Driver Told Me: “Let’s see what the policeman says…”

by Alex Ray

“Let’s see what the policeman says. Maybe he’s in a good mood and he’ll allow us to stay; maybe his wife gave him a hard time this morning and he’ll be in a bad mood,” said my Careem driver when I asked him to take me to the airport and drive me back to Amman. Continue reading “A Taxi Driver Told Me: “Let’s see what the policeman says…””

Snapshot: Souk al-Juma’a, Amman

by Alex Ray

On Friday mornings – the one time of the week when the daytime clatter of Amman settles momentarily – one spot is already buzzing with activity.
Souk al-Juma’a (The Friday Market) is Amman’s weekly clothes and fleamarket, located in Ras al-Ain, south of Second Circle. Continue reading “Snapshot: Souk al-Juma’a, Amman”

Snapshot: Second Circle, Amman

by Alex Ray

At 6.30 pm Asia Mart in Amman’s ‘Second Circle’ is doing a steady trade. One of the few noticeably multicultural areas in Jordan’s capital , the area is seeing an expansion of shops and services for migrant workers from South, and East Asia. Continue reading “Snapshot: Second Circle, Amman”

Beirut, beyond the Corniche

By Alex Ray

For every civilisation that has arisen on the territory now occupied by Beirut, one asset has been central – its harbour. Nowadays the port district (Al Marfa in Arabic) has an air of neglect. It remains vital to the economic life of modern Beirut but is barely visible to most inhabitants of today’s sprawling, chaotic city.

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Jordan, the view from Gaza Camp

By Alex Ray

“The Kebabs are ready dad!” Faris yells over his shoulder. His father, busy preparing the bread and tomatoes cannot hear him, so he calls again. “Dad, they are ready!”

Taking matters into his own hands, Faris locates a near-full jerry can of water and drags it across the grassy picnic ground to douse the coals on the barbecue. Faris is only four years old and the jerry can is only slightly shorter than he is. But like most of Jordan’s refugee children he is fast learning to be independent.

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Humanitarians for War: Language and the New Orientalists

Originally posted on OffGuardian:
by Alex Ray Not-so-subtle dehumanisation of the targeted “other”. A UK House of Commons inquiry into the 2011 attack on Libya and the country’s subsequent collapse has found what many suspected: NATO and its Gulf Arab allies used their ‘Responsibility To Protect’ to launch their attack even though: “ …the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians… Continue reading Humanitarians for War: Language and the New Orientalists

Is Israel Backing Jihadists In Syria?

By Alex Ray – in Foreign Brief on August 3rd 2016.

Western coverage of the Syrian conflict has largely overlooked allegations that Israel is backing jihadists fighting in Syria. Middle Eastern leaders have a history of blaming domestic unrest on such conspiracies – particularly when Israel is involved. Although conspiracies of Israeli support for Al Qaeda and ISIS are largely hyperbole, the country’s posture towards the Syrian conflict and its relations with jihadi groups deserve closer inspection. Continue reading “Is Israel Backing Jihadists In Syria?”

The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?

This article appeared in Counterpunch on May 26, 2016.

What is the Syrian death toll now? 400,000? Less? More? While the aphorism “One death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic”, has been attributed to many, it is likely none foresaw the inverse utility of this concept for shaping narratives in an age of humanitarian intervention. Statistics are now weapons in themselves. Raw numbers are ambiguous; as journalist Sharmine Narwani writes, “It doesn’t tell us who is killing and who is dying. And that information matters – the global political response to a genuine civil conflict would be different than to a genocide committed by a ruthless authority.”

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