Ashley Lohmann

Ashley Lohmann, an LA-based journalist with a background in academic and government research and a strong interest in Middle East affairs, launched the Beyond the Bombs website in November 2012. She received her BA in International Relations from Stanford University, and speaks, reads, and writes Arabic at an intermediate level. Her experiences studying, working, and traveling in the region have inspired her passion for building cross-cultural understanding. Ashley is a former Associate Editor (Middle East) at Fair Observer.
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Translating Kurdish Poetry: Not for the Faint of Heart

Translating Kurdish, Iraqi, and other regional poetry has the power to shatter stereotypes, ease local tensions, and show the world a side of the region it has never seen. Giggles. Such was the reaction Marie LaBrosse received every time she mentioned the name “Sheikh Raza” in her new hometown of Sulaimani in Kurdish northern Iraq. LaBrosse had recently moved from the United States... Continue Reading

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The Middle East: Fighting for Women's Rights

After playing a major role in the Arab Spring and other regional reform movements, women are still fighting to ensure their rights and improve their societal status in the Middle East and North Africa. Background As we witness a pattern of sexual violence against women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), especially in Egypt, it is pivotal to assess whether the Arab Spring has brought... Continue Reading

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Sectarian Tensions in Iraq

Last month’s spike in violence across Iraq has underscored the sectarian tensions that have been on the rise since the withdrawal of US troops. Background Of the numerous challenges facing Iraq as a nation, sectarian tension between its Shia majority and Sunni minority may be the most intractable. Sectarian rifts that deepened under Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led regime bubbled to the... Continue Reading

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Sanctions on Iran

Iran has become one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world, as the international community attempts to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear weapon. The resulting isolation has imposed significant challenges on the Iranian economy, which has shown signs of strain particularly in the past year. Background Since the 1990s, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and... Continue Reading

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Sheikhs and Stereotypes in American Media

Dr. Jack Shaheen has been shattering Arab stereotypes in American popular culture since 1975. “When I watch a movie and the bad guy’s not an Arab, I’m relieved,” Dr. Jack Shaheen admitted to his audience at Los Angeles’ Levantine Cultural Center during a talk in late December. He grinned, and the audience chuckled a bit, but sadly, his sentiment was sincere. For over 40 years,... Continue Reading

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Unrest and Reform in Jordan

Through a series of reforms and government turnovers, King Abdullah has managed to keep the unrest in Jordan from spiraling out of control. However, opposition to Jordan’s parliamentary elections threatens the king’s grip on stability. Background Since early 2011, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has deftly maneuvered to curb the waves of unrest buffeting his country.... Continue Reading

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Morsi’s Decree: Political Unrest in Egypt

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s decree in late November gave himself judicial immunity. The ensuing announcement of a constitutional referendum has divided the country and sent protestors into the streets once again. Background Since Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in June 2012, he has aggressively reclaimed power from the military... Continue Reading

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The Kurds: In Search of a Homeland

The Kurds are a historically oppressed people without a state, whose grievances and aspirations for independence have recently drawn international attention largely because of the Kurdish role in the Syrian conflict. Background As the largest ethnic group in the world without a state, the Kurdish people have endured a history marked largely by rebellion, repression, and marginalization.... Continue Reading

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Paint and Suffering: A Syrian Artist’s Cry for Help

Syrian artist, Fadia Afashe gives a human face to the Syrian casualties we hear about daily in the news. Her exhibition in Los Angeles is a passionate plea and a deeply personal look at one of the most deadly conflicts in the world today. View the photo feature on her exhibition here. Late at night on June 30, 2012, Fadia Afashe learned the terrifying details of a close relative’s... Continue Reading

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The Gaza Conflict

The densely-populated and largely-impoverished Gaza Strip has clashed with neighboring Israel since Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew from the territory in 2005. This month has seen the fiercest fighting between Israel and Hamas in nearly four years. Background The Palestinian territory bordering the Mediterranean Sea, known as the Gaza Strip, has witnessed a history characterized... Continue Reading

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