I am Anthony E. Savvides. This is my blog.

Reflections & adventures of a writer at heart, a journalist by trade and a waiter by night.

Posts Tagged ‘Elections

Second story from Amman is up on the main site.

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Jordanians to Obama: You broke your promise and did nothing for us

Story by Anthony Savvides // Photo by Matt Kauffman

AMMAN, Jordan – This November, the United States will elect a president, and while many American pundits believe Obama will remain in the White House for a second term, some in the Middle East would welcome a change.

Many here believe that Obama has been a disappointment, failing to deliver on early promises to push for a policy shift in the region.

“The Arabs have been very disappointed with him because when he [became] president, the first thing he said when he was sworn in was that he was going to set up a Palestinian state,” said Rana Sabbagh, executive director of Amman-based Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism. “Then he had the Cairo declaration, and we all thought he was going to make a difference, but nothing happened.”

In Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, entitled “A New Beginning,” he tried to reestablish strong ties between the American and Arab worlds. Many in the region were hopeful – for change, a new attitude toward the Arab-Israeli conflict and, indeed, a new beginning. But people here wonder why that “new” approach never seemed to become a reality.

Prince El Hassan bin Talal spoke to a group of students during a press conference about Jordanian politics and social issues. He touched on the problems in Jordan concerning the influx of refugees and the Palestinian issue, as well as President Obama’s position toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As the years passed, the tide shifted back to mistrust. Obama famously said in his Cairo address that the US would not “turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.” But, Arab observers say that Obama never followed through, and policies in the region have remained as they always have been: pro-Israeli.

“I don’t believe in liberal theories of the person as president,” said Sara Ababneh, professor of political and international relations in the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. “The US is an imperial power, and that’s how they act [in the region]. As a superpower, [the US] does what it needs to do.”

Distrust of the US has deep roots: The American government supported the establishment of the Israeli state and, over the years, offered its support with billions of dollars and political muscle. There have been efforts to mediate peace, some more dramatic than others. In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton coaxed Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yassar Arafat to shake hands during a ceremony. The moment, hailed at the time, is now considered no more than a symbolic snapshot of an unrealized hope for prolonged peace.

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A sleepless night, a long flight. A great story, from Istanbul to JFK.

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Congratulations to my peers, Kaileigh and Rob, whose excellent coverage of Sunday’s parliamentary eleciton in Turkey was picked up by the Boston Globe passport site.  Catherine’s dynamic photo also ran with the story, so kudos to you, Cat.

Turkey journal: Cheers and fears after a pivotal vote

This report from the front lines of the Turkish election was produced by Northeastern University students traveling to Turkey and Jordan as part of the college’s Dialogue of Civilization program. This Dialogue, involving 19 students and three professors, is a collaboration between the School of Journalism and the departments of Photography and International Affairs.

By Kaileigh Higgins and Robert Tokanel

ISTANBUL — Less than 24 hours before Sunday night’s parliamentary elections, the Sultanahmet neighborhood was a campaign battleground. Flags strung between old brick buildings hung like spider webs of laundry, and motorcars blared campaign rants as minivans wound their way through narrow streets.

On election night, though, it was almost silent. At an open-air café in the historic heart of the city, Sertac Ayhan sat alone with his back to a television tuned to the polls.

The 24-year old engineering student wasn’t apathetic about the projections flashing the names and parties of candidates that had been plastered across the city for weeks. He just knew who was going to win, and he feared what it could mean for his country.

“It’s going to be a monarchy,” he said.

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Congratulations to you all, my friends.  Your hard work, sleepless night(s) and 11 hour flight, fiilled with edits and bad food, paid off.  So happy for you!

Written by AESavvides

June 14, 2011 at 11:03 am

Only hours remain, but much work still to be done

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Well, here I am, on the verge of the end and still scrambling.  I feel like a crazy person, with my notebook, pencils and loose scraps of paper on which I have scribbled names, phone numbers or interview notes fluttering around me as I frantically tap away at my keyboard.  I am currently working on my final (and only) 2 stories from Turkey.  The first, which I believe I have now officially completed (just waiting to hear back from either Geoff or Carlene, now…) about the mosaics and restoration of Hagia Sophia, and the other about Turkey’s bid to enter the European Union.

Kaileigh, Rob, Catherine, Michele, Ryan, Erin and Ally, all hard at work on our final night (morning) in Istanbul.

I am exhausted; I have had 2 hours of sleep in the last 52 hours– not great, or healthy– by any means.  My room service just arrived- a plate of french fries, at 2:30 am- and I am surrounded by my peers.  Kaileigh, Rob, Ryan, Catherine, Michele, Erin, Jess, Ally, Catherine and I are all working on our final news packages.  Erin, Ally, Ryan and Michele are just here for moral support; they are all *lucky enough to be done with their work here.

Jessica edits video for her final news package, which will be about the parliamentary elections in Turkey on June 12.

*I’m not sure if it’s quite luck, though.  Maybe they’re just better reporters, and were able to pull their stories together at a faster pace.  Maybe I need to take notes on their outstanding performance throughout this program.  Truly remarkable work they have done over the last 5 weeks.  View examples of all of those stories here, Michele’s here, Erin’s here and Ally’s here.

Ally plays disc jockey for the night, entertaining all of us reporters as we work hard to complete our stories. We've come to call her DJ Legend.

I’ll keep this short, since I have much to do between now and takeoff from Ataturk International Airport at 12:15 pm.

Many more posts to come, recapping more of the trip.  Whether or not those go up while I am still actually overseas remains to be seen, but I am doing my best.  I also have a few drafts of random thoughts that need completion.  Keep an eye on this blog in the next 2-3 days…

Written by AESavvides

June 13, 2011 at 1:09 am