14 flashpoints of 2014: Holyland & Hellfire -- Daesh rising, Jerusalem burning - Al Bawaba's Year Recap

Published December 28th, 2014 - 06:29 GMT

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Quite frankly, and not so suprisingly, much of the news from the Middle East - never the quiet corner of the globe - this year has been pretty awful. The headlines have been largely dominated by terrible and intense conflicts: The rise of Daesh (still ISIS/L to some, the Islamic State to others) and its brutal, repressive tactics; the sieges of Mount Sinjar and Kobani; Israel’s war in Gaza and tensions in Jerusalem; and ongoing state repression in Egypt. Continue reading below »

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In early June, Daesh began a major offensive in northern Iraq, seizing vast swaths of territory and driving the U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi army back on its heels. Daesh even captured the major Iraqi city of Mosul, along with large amounts of military equipment. Later that month Daesh declared a caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
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Image 1 of 14:  1 / 14In early June, Daesh began a major offensive in northern Iraq, seizing vast swaths of territory and driving the U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi army back on its heels. Daesh even captured the major Iraqi city of Mosul, along with large amounts of military equipment. Later that month Daesh declared a caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Enlarge
On June 12, three Israeli teenagers went missing while hitchhiking back to their homes, the first in a series of events that led to a 50-day war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. More than 2,200 people died, including about 500 children, the vast majority Palestinian. Much of the Gaza Strip was destroyed before a ceasefire agreement.
Reduce

Image 2 of 14:  2 / 14On June 12, three Israeli teenagers went missing while hitchhiking back to their homes, the first in a series of events that led to a 50-day war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. More than 2,200 people died, including about 500 children, the vast majority Palestinian. Much of the Gaza Strip was destroyed before a ceasefire agreement.

Enlarge
The World Cup was held in June and July in Brazil, with Algeria and Iran the only Middle Eastern countries to qualify. Iran failed to advance out of the group stage, while Algeria lost to eventual champions Germany in the first knockout round.
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Image 3 of 14:  3 / 14The World Cup was held in June and July in Brazil, with Algeria and Iran the only Middle Eastern countries to qualify. Iran failed to advance out of the group stage, while Algeria lost to eventual champions Germany in the first knockout round.

Enlarge
Throughout the summer, Daesh continued a grisly series of videos purportedly showing the beheadings of Arab and Western hostages. Western news media focused heavily on the handful of American and British victims, but many more Arabs have suffered the same fate. Even Al-Qaeda is said to have condemned Daesh´s beheadings.
Reduce

Image 4 of 14:  4 / 14Throughout the summer, Daesh continued a grisly series of videos purportedly showing the beheadings of Arab and Western hostages. Western news media focused heavily on the handful of American and British victims, but many more Arabs have suffered the same fate. Even Al-Qaeda is said to have condemned Daesh´s beheadings.

Enlarge
Continuing to advance in August, Daesh captured more towns in Iraq. One of them was Sinjar, home to a large Yazidi population that fled, fearing genocide. Thousands of Yazidis were besieged on Mount Sinjar with no food and water, capturing international attention and prompting U.S. airstrikes against Daesh.
Reduce

Image 5 of 14:  5 / 14Continuing to advance in August, Daesh captured more towns in Iraq. One of them was Sinjar, home to a large Yazidi population that fled, fearing genocide. Thousands of Yazidis were besieged on Mount Sinjar with no food and water, capturing international attention and prompting U.S. airstrikes against Daesh.

Enlarge
Blamed for aggravating Iraq’s internal divisions and crippling the country’s ability to defend itself against Daesh, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step down on Aug. 14 after eight years in power. His successor, Haider al-Abadi, inherited a dire security situation in a country riven by sectarian tensions.
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Image 6 of 14:  6 / 14Blamed for aggravating Iraq’s internal divisions and crippling the country’s ability to defend itself against Daesh, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step down on Aug. 14 after eight years in power. His successor, Haider al-Abadi, inherited a dire security situation in a country riven by sectarian tensions.

Enlarge
In September, Daesh besieged Kobani, a Kurdish town along the Syria-Turkey border. Defenders held off Daesh as they and Kurds elsewhere called for help. Turkey’s initial refusal to allow Kurdish reinforcements prompted deadly protests. U.S.-led airstrikes supported the defenders, and Turkey eventually allowed Peshmerga forces through.
Reduce

Image 7 of 14:  7 / 14In September, Daesh besieged Kobani, a Kurdish town along the Syria-Turkey border. Defenders held off Daesh as they and Kurds elsewhere called for help. Turkey’s initial refusal to allow Kurdish reinforcements prompted deadly protests. U.S.-led airstrikes supported the defenders, and Turkey eventually allowed Peshmerga forces through.

Enlarge
Boycotts of Israel gained steam over the course of the year, with more American faculty signing on to an academic boycott. The Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement claimed a victory when SodaStream said it would close its factory in a West Bank settlement. BDS protesters also temporarily blocked an Israeli cargo ship in California.
Reduce

Image 8 of 14:  8 / 14Boycotts of Israel gained steam over the course of the year, with more American faculty signing on to an academic boycott. The Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement claimed a victory when SodaStream said it would close its factory in a West Bank settlement. BDS protesters also temporarily blocked an Israeli cargo ship in California.

Enlarge
One of the bright spots this year was Tunisia’s democratic elections, coming years after dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali was thrown out. Secular party Nidaa Tounes won the largest share of seats over Islamist party Ennahda in the October parliamentary election.
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Image 9 of 14:  9 / 14One of the bright spots this year was Tunisia’s democratic elections, coming years after dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali was thrown out. Secular party Nidaa Tounes won the largest share of seats over Islamist party Ennahda in the October parliamentary election.

Enlarge
After president Mohamed Morsi was deposed last year, Egypt’s military government has continued to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and stifle dissent. More than 180 Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced to death. In late November, former leader Hosni Mubarak was acquitted in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
Reduce

Image 10 of 14:  10 / 14After president Mohamed Morsi was deposed last year, Egypt’s military government has continued to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and stifle dissent. More than 180 Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced to death. In late November, former leader Hosni Mubarak was acquitted in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising.

Enlarge
More and more European countries and lawmakers have begun to recognize a Palestinian state with either symbolic votes or meaningful moves. Countries taking such steps this year included Britain, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and France.
Reduce

Image 11 of 14:  11 / 14More and more European countries and lawmakers have begun to recognize a Palestinian state with either symbolic votes or meaningful moves. Countries taking such steps this year included Britain, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and France.

Enlarge
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has continued to be flooded by refugees. International organizations believe that thousands from the MENA have drowned in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Europe. Countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are feeling the burden of Syrian refugees and calling for more international help.
Reduce

Image 12 of 14:  12 / 14The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has continued to be flooded by refugees. International organizations believe that thousands from the MENA have drowned in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Europe. Countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are feeling the burden of Syrian refugees and calling for more international help.

Enlarge
October and November saw another surge in tensions in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Israel completely closed access to al-Aqsa compound for the first time in years amid Israeli calls for more Jewish access and resulting protests. In one of the many tragedies affecting both sides, five people were killed in an attack at a synagogue.
Reduce

Image 13 of 14:  13 / 14October and November saw another surge in tensions in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Israel completely closed access to al-Aqsa compound for the first time in years amid Israeli calls for more Jewish access and resulting protests. In one of the many tragedies affecting both sides, five people were killed in an attack at a synagogue.

Enlarge
Largely ignored by the mainstream Western press, Yemen has seen major upheaval this year. Shia Houthi insurgents captured substantial territory and took effective control of the capital Sanaa. Demonstrations and violence have continued amid fears of further instability.
Reduce

Image 14 of 14:  14 / 14Largely ignored by the mainstream Western press, Yemen has seen major upheaval this year. Shia Houthi insurgents captured substantial territory and took effective control of the capital Sanaa. Demonstrations and violence have continued amid fears of further instability.

Enlarge

1

In early June, Daesh began a major offensive in northern Iraq, seizing vast swaths of territory and driving the U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi army back on its heels. Daesh even captured the major Iraqi city of Mosul, along with large amounts of military equipment. Later that month Daesh declared a caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Image 1 of 14In early June, Daesh began a major offensive in northern Iraq, seizing vast swaths of territory and driving the U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi army back on its heels. Daesh even captured the major Iraqi city of Mosul, along with large amounts of military equipment. Later that month Daesh declared a caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

2

On June 12, three Israeli teenagers went missing while hitchhiking back to their homes, the first in a series of events that led to a 50-day war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. More than 2,200 people died, including about 500 children, the vast majority Palestinian. Much of the Gaza Strip was destroyed before a ceasefire agreement.

Image 2 of 14On June 12, three Israeli teenagers went missing while hitchhiking back to their homes, the first in a series of events that led to a 50-day war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. More than 2,200 people died, including about 500 children, the vast majority Palestinian. Much of the Gaza Strip was destroyed before a ceasefire agreement.

3

The World Cup was held in June and July in Brazil, with Algeria and Iran the only Middle Eastern countries to qualify. Iran failed to advance out of the group stage, while Algeria lost to eventual champions Germany in the first knockout round.

Image 3 of 14The World Cup was held in June and July in Brazil, with Algeria and Iran the only Middle Eastern countries to qualify. Iran failed to advance out of the group stage, while Algeria lost to eventual champions Germany in the first knockout round.

4

Throughout the summer, Daesh continued a grisly series of videos purportedly showing the beheadings of Arab and Western hostages. Western news media focused heavily on the handful of American and British victims, but many more Arabs have suffered the same fate. Even Al-Qaeda is said to have condemned Daesh´s beheadings.

Image 4 of 14Throughout the summer, Daesh continued a grisly series of videos purportedly showing the beheadings of Arab and Western hostages. Western news media focused heavily on the handful of American and British victims, but many more Arabs have suffered the same fate. Even Al-Qaeda is said to have condemned Daesh´s beheadings.

5

Continuing to advance in August, Daesh captured more towns in Iraq. One of them was Sinjar, home to a large Yazidi population that fled, fearing genocide. Thousands of Yazidis were besieged on Mount Sinjar with no food and water, capturing international attention and prompting U.S. airstrikes against Daesh.

Image 5 of 14Continuing to advance in August, Daesh captured more towns in Iraq. One of them was Sinjar, home to a large Yazidi population that fled, fearing genocide. Thousands of Yazidis were besieged on Mount Sinjar with no food and water, capturing international attention and prompting U.S. airstrikes against Daesh.

6

Blamed for aggravating Iraq’s internal divisions and crippling the country’s ability to defend itself against Daesh, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step down on Aug. 14 after eight years in power. His successor, Haider al-Abadi, inherited a dire security situation in a country riven by sectarian tensions.

Image 6 of 14Blamed for aggravating Iraq’s internal divisions and crippling the country’s ability to defend itself against Daesh, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step down on Aug. 14 after eight years in power. His successor, Haider al-Abadi, inherited a dire security situation in a country riven by sectarian tensions.

7

In September, Daesh besieged Kobani, a Kurdish town along the Syria-Turkey border. Defenders held off Daesh as they and Kurds elsewhere called for help. Turkey’s initial refusal to allow Kurdish reinforcements prompted deadly protests. U.S.-led airstrikes supported the defenders, and Turkey eventually allowed Peshmerga forces through.

Image 7 of 14In September, Daesh besieged Kobani, a Kurdish town along the Syria-Turkey border. Defenders held off Daesh as they and Kurds elsewhere called for help. Turkey’s initial refusal to allow Kurdish reinforcements prompted deadly protests. U.S.-led airstrikes supported the defenders, and Turkey eventually allowed Peshmerga forces through.

8

Boycotts of Israel gained steam over the course of the year, with more American faculty signing on to an academic boycott. The Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement claimed a victory when SodaStream said it would close its factory in a West Bank settlement. BDS protesters also temporarily blocked an Israeli cargo ship in California.

Image 8 of 14Boycotts of Israel gained steam over the course of the year, with more American faculty signing on to an academic boycott. The Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement claimed a victory when SodaStream said it would close its factory in a West Bank settlement. BDS protesters also temporarily blocked an Israeli cargo ship in California.

9

One of the bright spots this year was Tunisia’s democratic elections, coming years after dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali was thrown out. Secular party Nidaa Tounes won the largest share of seats over Islamist party Ennahda in the October parliamentary election.

Image 9 of 14One of the bright spots this year was Tunisia’s democratic elections, coming years after dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali was thrown out. Secular party Nidaa Tounes won the largest share of seats over Islamist party Ennahda in the October parliamentary election.

10

After president Mohamed Morsi was deposed last year, Egypt’s military government has continued to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and stifle dissent. More than 180 Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced to death. In late November, former leader Hosni Mubarak was acquitted in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising.

Image 10 of 14After president Mohamed Morsi was deposed last year, Egypt’s military government has continued to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and stifle dissent. More than 180 Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced to death. In late November, former leader Hosni Mubarak was acquitted in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising.

11

More and more European countries and lawmakers have begun to recognize a Palestinian state with either symbolic votes or meaningful moves. Countries taking such steps this year included Britain, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and France.

Image 11 of 14More and more European countries and lawmakers have begun to recognize a Palestinian state with either symbolic votes or meaningful moves. Countries taking such steps this year included Britain, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and France.

12

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has continued to be flooded by refugees. International organizations believe that thousands from the MENA have drowned in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Europe. Countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are feeling the burden of Syrian refugees and calling for more international help.

Image 12 of 14The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has continued to be flooded by refugees. International organizations believe that thousands from the MENA have drowned in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Europe. Countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are feeling the burden of Syrian refugees and calling for more international help.

13

October and November saw another surge in tensions in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Israel completely closed access to al-Aqsa compound for the first time in years amid Israeli calls for more Jewish access and resulting protests. In one of the many tragedies affecting both sides, five people were killed in an attack at a synagogue.

Image 13 of 14October and November saw another surge in tensions in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Israel completely closed access to al-Aqsa compound for the first time in years amid Israeli calls for more Jewish access and resulting protests. In one of the many tragedies affecting both sides, five people were killed in an attack at a synagogue.

14

Largely ignored by the mainstream Western press, Yemen has seen major upheaval this year. Shia Houthi insurgents captured substantial territory and took effective control of the capital Sanaa. Demonstrations and violence have continued amid fears of further instability.

Image 14 of 14Largely ignored by the mainstream Western press, Yemen has seen major upheaval this year. Shia Houthi insurgents captured substantial territory and took effective control of the capital Sanaa. Demonstrations and violence have continued amid fears of further instability.

Reduce

With the exception of a few bright spots such as the Tunisian elections, 2014 has seen the hopes of the fallen-from- grace and so-out-of-season “Arab Spring” continue to be dashed amid cycles of violence. And let's not forget Syria's saga - already shadowed by newer conflicts, some offshoots of the already stale Syria problem. We have left out Syria as such from this news-reel as the conflict seeps into and touches most of the year's hotspots, and serves as the subtext to a whole slew of the region's stories.

Join us as we look back on the events that gripped the Middle East over the last year, and hope that 2015 will see better times for all the denizens of the region. The year in Al Bawaba's rearview mirror. 

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