Weekly coverage round-up (Apr 29 - May 3)

A quick English summary of our Arabic news coverage this week.

“Customs frontlines” (29 April, 2019). At the established crossing points between areas in Syria controlled by competing factions and authorities, fees are often imposed on merchandise in a manner akin to the customs duties levied on imported goods at international border crossings. For example, at the so-called “Abu Hawsh” crossing in Manbij, north of Aleppo, between the Assad regime and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, both sides impose duties on goods coming in and out. These charges are often substantial and burdensome for traders and residents in general, who end up paying higher prices for their everyday necessities. For more details, see our full report (Arabic).


“Refugee deportation talk on the rise in Germany” (30 April, 2019). Last week, members of Germany’s right-wing “Identitarian Movement” put up posters across Berlin calling on Syrian refugees to return to their homeland. Though the posters were soon removed, the incident has exacerbated anxieties among refugees in Germany. It follows the passing by the German cabinet of a so-called “orderly return” draft bill that would (if approved by parliament) accelerate the deportation of unsuccessful asylum applicants, and possibly even jail them, in what critics say would be a violation of EU law. For more, see our full report (Arabic).


“Who will buy Iran’s oil?” (2 May, 2019). On Wednesday, 1 May, the United States ended all exemptions on international sanctions pertaining to the purchase of Iranian oil. Certain buyers such as China, India, and Turkey had been permitted to continue importing Iranian oil on a temporary basis; these buyers will now theoretically face US sanctions if they don’t cease doing so. The move could have a very significant impact on the Iranian economy, potentially slashing already-diminished oil revenues and raising inflation, with knock-on effects felt elsewhere in the region: Iran’s economic woes have already seen it suspend a credit line to the Syrian regime, while its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon has recently taken to calling on supporters for donations. For more, read our full report (Arabic).


“Seeking wider horizons for journalism” (3 May, 2019). Last month saw the launch of the Counter Academy for Arab Journalism, a joint initiative between Al-Jumhuriya and three other independent Arabic media outlets (Mada Masr, 7iber, and Sowt), funded by the International Media Support (IMS) organization. Starting September, the Academy will offer one-year fellowship programs to train Arab journalists in a manner going beyond the traditional theoretical and technical courses offered elsewhere, aiming to foster a more developed sense of the purpose of journalism and encourage a more questioning and critical approach. To gain a fuller picture of the Academy’s vision, Al-Jumhuriya interviewed its director, Hala Droubi. The interview can be read here (Arabic).