Author Archives: Peter Speetjens

Libya’s Senussi smiles at injustice abroad

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on February 7 ordered the Libyan government to immediately hand over former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi for his alleged role in orchestrating the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. Libya appealed, as it aims to try Muammar Qadhafi’s former right hand man in front of a home crowd.  “Libya’s rebel authorities need to

Hot air in Doha

There is always something ironic about holding an international conference on climate change, yet certainly when such a summit takes place in Qatar. In late November, some 16,000 delegates, experts and journalists from all corners of the world traveled by plane to the acclimatized hotels and meeting rooms of Doha to discuss how to reduce

Jordan no longer quiet

Nothing ever happens in Jordan, it is often said, yet 2012 has been an altogether eventful year, which prompted some pundits to wonder if the country could be the next Arab state to fall. That, for now, seems a little far-fetched, although it is clear not all is well in the Hashemite Kingdom —  neither

A cash cow of suffering

"There are so many foreigners here — the whole world loves us,” said Um Ali, as she and her son shuffled through the endless sands of Zaatari Camp, the tent city in northern Jordan, which by mid-September was home to some 31,000 Syrian refugees and, indeed, an impressive contingent of, mainly foreign, aid workers. Past

Where did everyone go?

With the electricity more off than on, it has been a hot, yet so far quiet summer. No waves of swaying black abayas in ABC and while Beirut’s hotels would normally be fully booked, a room these days is easy to find, often against bargain prices. A quick Internet search shows that a five-star Saturday

Devastated by laissez-faire

If Michel Ecochard were alive today to see his beloved Beirut, he would arguably want to drop dead on the spot. Beginning in the 1930s, the French architect and urban planner worked for some 30 years in Lebanon and the region. He had especially high hopes for Beirut, as it was blessed with what he

Treatment costs a pot of gold

On the occasion of Mother’s Day last month, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) launched a campaign to encourage Lebanese women to check for cervical cancer. Easily treatable when detected early, cervical cancer affects the uterus and is the third most common cancer among women worldwide. In the United States however, the disease is much

Salafi spillover

"We salute the Free Syrian Army,” reads a banner in Badawi, a poor suburb of Tripoli, where the Lebanese flag is about as common as the three-starred flag that adorned flagpoles in Syria prior to the 1963 Baath Revolution. Further down the road, a billboard heaps praise upon the “Islamic” revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and

A skyline of skeleton towers

Reflecting the blue skies above, the Jordan Gate towers are the tallest — and arguably the emptiest — buildings on the Amman horizon. King Abdullah II in 2005 laid the foundation stone for the prestigious project, which was said to become the business address in the Hashemite Kingdom. Since 2009 however, the two giant cranes