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Entries in FForeign Policy magazine (3)


Syria 1st-Hand: A "Sliver of Hope" in Non-Violent Civil Movements (Hossino)

Protest in Azaz, September 2012

The secular and nationalist spirit that initially sparked the Syrian revolution is also still alive and well. Many grassroots activists and religious leaders are working to forge a country that is built on secular principles, against sectarian revenge, and supportive of equal rights for all its citizens. Even some of the sharia courts that have sprung up to administer justice in areas the Syrian government has abandoned contain surprising, non-sectarian trends.

Whether such a movement can survive as the uprising drags on is not yet clear. For the time being, however, these figures embody the sliver of hope that Syria may avoid an all-out sectarian war.

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Two Tunisia Analyses: What Has Caused the Current Protests? (Khreeji and Alexander)

Over the last five years, the fabric of President Ben Ali's authoritarianism has frayed. Once it became clear that the Islamists no longer posed a serious threat, many Tunisians became less willing to accept the government's heavy-handedness. The regime also lost some of its earlier deftness. Its methods became less creative and more transparently brutal. The government seemed less willing to at least play at any dialogue with critics or opposition parties. Arbitrary arrests, control of the print media and Internet access, and physical attacks on journalists, human rights and opposition party activists became more common. So, too, did stories of corruption -- not the usual kickbacks and favoritism that one might expect, but truly Mafia-grade criminality that lined the pockets of Ben Ali's wife and her family. The growth of Facebook, Twitter, and a Tunisian blogosphere -- much of it based outside the country -- made it increasingly easy for Tunisians to learn about the latest arrest, beating, or illicit business deal involving the president's family.

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Pakistan: More Questions About A Closed Border and Burning Tankers (Fair)

why haven't attacks on the supply line to Afghanistan been more common? It's reasonable to argue that a dedicated and sensible insurgent would target these trucks along the way from Karachi to Torkham or to Chaman in Pakistan and from Torkham or Chaman to their final destinations within Afghanistan. This would be simple to do as the Pakistani security forces do not protect those privately-owned trucks and much of the route in Afghanistan winds through narrow mountain passes.

The answer is simple: trucking mafias and organized criminal and insurgent networks are all making money off of this system. The system of payoffs is elaborate yet elegant. Pashtuns dominate the trucking mafia in Pakistan and represent enormous financial interests in the fundamental integrity of the supply line system. The drivers and their companies must pay off Pakistani police and any other relevant government officials to secure "safe" passage and to resolve any "paperwork complexities."

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