Foreigncy: a tool to grow your Arabic vocabulary and improve your reading skills

If you are a student of Arabic you have likely struggled to find quality resources to use outside of a classroom context. There are a myriad of online resources available, but many are either out of date or poorly organised (or grossly unaffordable).

I’ve been playing around with the recently revamped Foreigncy website to keep practicing my Arabic reading and vocabulary acquisition. The site describes itself as “a one-of-a-kind language training system for advanced level students and language professionals,” which “focuses on the practical aspects of language learning that are in demand by employers.”

Foreigncy

Using Foreigncy is simple and helps provides users with a base with which to train their reading ability in the target language.

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The Etymology of the Islamic State

Prior to adopting the name “Islamic State”, the terrorist organisation referred to by American President Barack Obama as ISIL and French President François Hollande as Daesh went through many different iterations, each with its own name.

Islamic State flag in Mosul
A motorist drives beneath a flag of the Islamic State at the entrance of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul (via Associated Press)

Aaron Zelin, founder of the fantastic Jihadology.net website, outlined the group’s development since its establishment in Iraq in early-1999. The group that has come to be known as the Islamic State was founded as Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (جماعة التوحيد والجهاد)– Organisation of Monotheism and Jihad — by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The group did not gain notoriety until in 2004, following the American invasion of Iraq, it adopted the name Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (تنظيم قاعدة الجهاد في بلاد الرافدين) — Al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers (Mesopotamia), better known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). For a brief period in 2006, prior to Zarqawi’s death, the group was organised into Majlis Shura al-Mujahedin (مجلس شورى المجاهدين) — the Mujahedin Shura Council. Following Zarqawi’s death in a US targeted strike in June 2006, the group was rebranded in October 2006 as dawlat al-iraq al-islamiyya (دولة العراق الإسلامية) — the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

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How Middle East and North Africa governments and political leaders reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attacks

The brutal terrorist attacks in Paris which targeted the headquarters of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, as well as a kosher grocery store, left 17 people dead. An outpouring of international support for the French government and people has been heard in the days since.

Laura Danielle and Kevin Moore break down how some governments and political leaders in the Middle East and North Africa responded to the events.

Charlie Hebdo Unity March
World leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President François Hollande and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, take part in a Unity rally Marche Republicaine in Paris on 11 January 2015 (via PATRICK KOVARIKPATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

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Aftermath of Charlie Hebdo Attack Provides an Opportunity for Constructive Dialogue

It is okay to criticise the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine. To do so does not mean we cannot — and must not — at the same time condemn the act of murder and terrorism conducted by brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi.

Charlie Hebdo

It also does not mean that we agree with or believe in the terrorists’ way of thinking. Clearly the proper response to a slight or offense — about one’s religion or otherwise — is not and never will be murder. That is beyond debate. To explain the motivations of terrorists is not to condone or justify their actions. It is a necessary measure that will allow us to manage the threat posed by terrorism inspired by the ideologies of groups like al-Qaeda.

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Egyptian-Qatari Rapprochement Could Push Hamas Back into Tehran’s Orbit

Post-Arab Spring regional realignment broke Hamas’ ties with Iran, now normalisation of relations between Egypt and Qatar could bring them back


There are recent indications that Egypt and Qatar are on the path to reconciliation. Qatar’s relations with a number of states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been strained due to the small Gulf state’s support for Islamist movements, namely the Muslim Brotherhood. While meetings between Egyptian and Qatari diplomats may not lead to a full thawing of relations, normalisation does have major implications for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (known better by its Arabic acronym: Hamas).

The Syrian conflict precipitated a shifting of alliances in the MENA region. The Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, as well as Iranian support for military operations against a nascent rebellion in early-2012, led Hamas leadership to withdraw from its headquarters in Damascus and relocate to the Qatari capital of Doha.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal delivering a speech in Damascus in 2005 (via LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Hamas envisioned an opportunity with the so-called “Arab Spring.” Long-marginalised Islamist political organisations mobilised with strong showings in post-revolutionary elections, heralding a shift toward Sunni Islamist rule in the region. Hamas viewed this new status quo as more favourable to its struggle for Palestinian liberation, especially compared to the Arab dictators who had made peace with Israel. In Tunisia, the Ennahda party won October 2011 parliamentary elections and in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood — Hamas’ parent organisation — and the Salafist Hezb an-Nour won a plurality of votes in late-2011/early-2012 parliamentary elections. Additionally, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi claimed victory as Egypt’s first democratically-elected president in June 2012.

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