I know you’ve been consumed with recent generation-defining news, like “Seriously, how can Rihanna say that she’s crying over Chris Brown to Oprah?” or whatever Twi-dweeb breakup, and you know what, I don’t even blame you. Like most unenlightened Americans, you probably wonder how can world news—especially Middle Eastern news—compete with Paul Ryan’s widow’s peak. Your knowledge of the Middle East probably consists of "I want to go to the Pyramids" or maybe you were into some girl once who made you try falafel. All of this nonsense makes writing a column about the region that much harder and almost makes me lose hope. I’m contemplating closing my computer right now, and telling my editor to scrap this "Middle East news roundup" idea altogether. Maybe I should write about something that is more interesting to Americans who are happy walking through the world with no idea of what's happening outside of their country?
But you guys SHOULD care about the Middle East, because it controls the world's oil, and oil prices control everything from the price of condoms to your plane ticket to Burning Man. We're also in a budget deficit partly due the two wars we've been fighting in the Middle East, after some really crazy guys from that part of the world flew a plane into the WTC.
To help your knowledge of the Middle East grow beyond what's on the menu at that funny-smelling restaurant around the corner called Alladin's, here is a snappy rundown of everything you need to know that happened in the world's Sandbox:
Israel and Iran are the new it-conflict in the Middle East. Move over Palestine, Iran is the new target. First, Israel said something along the lines of, ”Don’t worry, if we bomb Iran, because they have dangerous nuclear missiles, the US will back us.” Then Israel added, “Iran won’t even fight back, because they won’t strike at US targets,” Which is scary for two reasons: The Middle East doesn’t need any more conflict, especially Iran whose only ally is Syria, and another money-draining war for the US would actually mean we’d all have to move to Canada. But, now, this came out, and the President Shimon Peres made it clear Israel will not attack Iran without a clear understanding with the US. But, I’m still not sure… Are they or are they not bombing Iran?
- The Muslim world started three-day celebrations of Eid El-Iftr on Sunday, or the end of Ramadan, the month when Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise till sunset. Along with decorations, lanterns, cookies and the return of alcohol to bars, Eid is also “a season for sexual harassment,” because no holiday would be complete without a little cat-calling and ass-grabbing. Don’t worry. Imprint Movement, the Egyptian volunteer-based group, is so on this.
- This is developing, but apparently you can get killed for singing a song criticizing the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. If you’re traveling in Egypt, I would write that down next to your reminders to switch to an international phone plan and take all your vaccinations.
- The Constitution Party, the opposing liberal party to the Freedom Justice Party led by the Mulism Brotherhood, handed out flyers congratulating people on Eid Il-Iftar, because they wanted to “put a smile on people’s faces.” The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t smiling, though. Their spokesperson was all like “Are you pointing fingers at us for using religion to persuade people and then turn around and pull the same move?” And the Constitution Party was all like, “Uh, this is for the holiday, not for our day-to-day operation.” Hey, the Constitution Party has to level the playing field somehow.
- Which reminds me. Coptic Christians. Yeah, that ten percent of Egypt that no one really cares about and persecutes. An estimated 100,000 of them have emigrated out of the country since the beginning of the revolution. Well, Coptics decided to do something about that and organize.
- The Syrian rebel leaders signed a pledge on August 8th to end methods of torture as they try to overthrow the president, but the Free Syrian Army—the rebel fighters—decided, eh, they were too into blood and this whole ending-torture thing wasn’t really for them.
- And with all this shit going on in Syria, civilians can now leave easier. Egypt Air, or The Shittiest Airline in the World—and I’m speaking from experience—will provide larger planes for the exodus. They won't be comfortable, but I suppose legroom wouldn’t be my top priority at this point, either.
- Syrians are also getting aid from unlikely sources, like Saudi civilians. Love thy neighbor!
- The country is in the worst shape it’s been since it fought Iraq in the 80s. Forget meat, fruits and vegetables are a luxury here. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s answer is that people should practice a "economy of resistance." If you can’t have meat, have egg soup for protein instead.
- The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ran his mouth again and called Israel a “cancerous tumor” that needs to be destroyed. Then Bill Maher reminded him in a tweet that most doctors are Jewish. I'm sure Ahmadinejad regularly checks Twitter, so I can't wait for his reply.
Hammas and the Muslim Brotherhood continue to 69 each other as Hammas vowed to help Egypt secure the Sinai border.
- Sheikh Abdullah said buying Twitter followers is sinful. Really? This is what’s got his turban in a bunch? I would love to get his thoughts about honor rape.
- Saudi Arabians can’t have the following in your domain name: .sexy, .wine, .bible, .bar, or .porn. Maybe if they allowed those domain names, then everyone will just calm the fuck down already. Stayed tuned when The Arab Kingdom rejects these domains: .womensrights, .objectingtothedomainobjections, and .saudiarabiaisfullofpropoganda.
- Even more depressing is the Saudi cleric Salman al-Odeh who went on and on about how the Holocaust is a source of extortion. He continued with: “Jews use blood for Passover Matzah,” saying that this “brings them closer to their false God.”
Man. This column is going to be a downer, huh?