Oct. 21 Jordan: King Abdullah II of Jordan issued a statement declaring the country would reclaim two agricultural areas, al-Ghumar and al-Baqura, which are currently being maintained by Israeli farmers under private ownership. The land use was originally part of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty in which Israel agreed to recognize Jordan under the conditions of private land ownership. The deadline for renewing the lease was Oct. 25.
Oct. 21 Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has halted future arms sales to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to pressure other governments to follow suit, as reported by The Washington Post. Merkel made the announcement during a news conference, clarifying the decision was made in light of the recent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. “There is an urgent need to clarify what happened—we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account,” she said. While current sales, which were previously agreed upon, will continue for the time being, there is possibility they will also be halted.
Oct. 22–26 United States: According to The New York Times, at least 14 pipe bombs were discovered between Oct. 22 and Oct. 26, having been sent to the addresses of various Democratic prominent figures in U.S. politics. The first was found addressed to George Soros on Oct. 22, followed by former Secretary Hillary Clinton, former Director of the CIA John Brennan, former President Barack Obama, California Representative Maxine Waters and former Attorney General Eric Holder on Oct. 24.
An additional three were sent to actor Robert De Niro and former Vice President Joe Biden on Oct. 25, while California Senator Kamala Harris, philanthropist Tom Steyer, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker all received similar packages on Oct. 26. None of the devices exploded and no one was injured. However, a suspect has been apprehended. The FBI arrested Cesar Sayoc on Oct. 26 in Plantation, Fla. and preliminary investigations show a matching fingerprint to one of the devices sent to Maxine Waters.
Oct. 25 EU: The European Union declared defamation of the Prophet Muhammed is officially not protected as a form of free speech, as reported by Turkish news outlet TRT World. The ruling comes after an Austrian citizen held two seminars in 2009 titled “Basic information on Islam,” in which she claimed the Prophet had “pedophilic tendencies” due to his marriage to Aisha in the early seventh century. The ruling was passed by a panel of seven judges in which it was decided defamation “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate.”
Oct. 26 Freiburg, Germany: Following the Oct. 14 rape of an 18-year-old woman who was drugged at a nightclub and assaulted nearby, eight men aged between 19 and 25 were arrested in connection after DNA evidence linked some of the men involved. All eight are accused of assaulting the woman after one of the men drugged her drink. While one man is a German citizen, the other seven are Syrian, further complicating the case due to the political contentions over Germany’s high influx of Syrian refugees.
Oct. 27 Pittsburgh, U.S.: A group of 11 people are dead and six others wounded after a gunman opened fire during morning Shabbat service at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue while shouting, “All Jews must die.” The suspect, Robert Bowers, faces 29 charges and has previously conveyed anti-Semitic, white nationalist and far-right rhetoric via social media. According to the Washington Post, the FBI believe Bowers acted alone in the attack.
Oct. 26 Muscat, Oman; Oct. 28 Ramallah, West Bank: Sayyid Qaboos bin Said al Said, the Sultan of Oman, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 26 in the Omani capital of Muscat to discuss peace initiatives for the region. The unannounced trip followed a three-day visit from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abas and marks the first time an Israeli leader has visited the country since 1996. Additionally, an Omani envoy met with Abbas on Oct. 28 in the West Bank city of Ramallah, though the topic of the meeting was undisclosed.
When I first came to PSU, I was a Chinese major, having studied three years prior in high school alongside French and Japanese. After the first year, I took a hiatus. I don't believe in going to college straight out of high school, but it's what was expected. I returned a few years later to study Japanese at PCC and Arabic at PSU. I am now a junior majoring in International Studies: Middle East and Arabic. In the future, I would like to work as a journalist or humanitarian aid worker in the region, helping people who lack economic and political backing and media exposure.