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Entries in Foreign Policy magazine (62)


Syria Feature: US Finds "Assad Forces Probably Used Chemical Weapon" in Homs (Rogin)

Testimony of victims of the "toxic gas" incident in Homs on 23 December

A secret State Department cable has concluded that the Syrian military likely used chemical weapons against its own people in a deadly attack last month....

United States diplomats in Turkey conducted a previously undisclosed, intensive investigation into claims that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, and made what an Obama administration official who reviewed the cable called a "compelling case" that Assad's military forces had used a deadly form of poison gas.

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Egypt Feature: An Alternative Justice System in the Sinai (Revkin)

The predominately Bedouin residents of the Sinai have grown impatient with the government's inability to control violent crime and trafficking. Abandoned altogether by a state that had long treated them as second-class citizens, the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai have taken security matters into their own hands, administering justice through informal tribunals that rely increasingly on Islamic law. While ultraconservative Salafis complain that Egypt's new constitution ascribes too weak a role to Sharia, the battle over the religious character of the future legal framework has spilled over into the Sinai, where Islamists are taking advantage of the legal vacuum to organize informal tribunals that are implementing their own brand of Islamic justice. The emergence of a parallel Islamic justice system rivaling its government counterpart suggests that the Sinai is slowly taking on the dimensions of an Islamic sub-state. 

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Kuwait Analysis: Has the Emir Halted the Protests? (Herb)

With his decree the Emir stole the momentum away from the parliamentary opposition. The opposition, fearing that the new rules would dilute the influence of political groups (and larger tribes) boycotted the December 1 parliamentary elections. Kuwait now has a solidly pro-government National Assembly for the first time in years. This is probably, however, a temporary victory for the government. To understand why, it helps to look not only at what the emir did, but also what he did not do.

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Libya Feature: Optimism Gives Way to Jitters in Benghazi (Fitzgerald/Khan)

Protest in Benghazi against militias, 21 September 2012 (Photo: Abdullah Doma/AFP)

More than three months after the storming of the U.S. mission, and with the Libyan investigation into the attack that killed Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans all but ground to a halt, Benghazi remains jittery and tense. Even in affluent neighborhoods, gunfire and explosions form an almost nightly soundtrack. Many residents are wary about where they venture after dark. The American drones that circle overhead prompt bitter complaints -- as well as the occasional attempt at black humor. "That's my brother-in-law up there keeping an eye on me," one man said with a laugh as he pointed skywards.

But there is little levity when it comes to confronting Benghazi's dense knot of security challenges --- which include rogue militias, frequent assassinations, and a fraught political environment made even more flammable by the ready availability of weapons. "I think the security situation is going from bad to worse after the consulate attack," says Wanis al-Sharif, the top Interior Ministry official in eastern Libya. Why that is depends on whom you ask.

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Syria Feature: A Requiem for Aleppo (Hanano)

Once Upon a Time in Aleppo --- Video from 2006

Ruins are sold to us as romantic and poetic. As tourists wandering ancient sites, cameras dangling from our necks and guidebooks in hand, we seek beauty in the swirling dust over the remains of a dead civilization. We imagine what is was like then, before empires decayed and living objects became historical artifacts. But that kind of romanticism is only afforded with the distance of time and geography. In war, ruins-in-the-making are not beautiful, not vessels of meaningful lessons, not a fanciful setting for philosophical contemplations on the follies of men. When you witness it live, when it is real, and when it happens to your city, it becomes another story altogether.

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EA Opinion: Why Foreign Policy's "Global Thinker" List Is, Like, Really Brilliant

President Obama (left) is Really Brilliant. So is Dick Cheney (right). Not sure about that lady in the middle....

I mean, it's not like being the President of the US is the reason why Mr. Obama would influence our lives. Any time he thinks something quite smart --- "Hey, another drone strike will solve the world's problems!" --- that's the reason he is Number One rather than, say, the power that he holds.

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Syria 1st-Hand: A Taxi Ride In the Damascus Suburbs (Schwartz)

A Building in Al-Hajar Al-AswadLIf you go to Damascus and ask a taxi driver to take you to the suburb of Harasta, you will not find it. Nor will you find Jobar. You will not find al-Hajar al-Aswad, either. Nor Qaddam. You will find half of Douma, three quarters of Daraya. Zamalka you will not find.

What you will find in place of these villages in the Damascus countryside, which the Syrian army reclaimed from the rebels in August and September, is the rubble of war. Rows of four- and five- and six-story buildings razed to their foundations. Symmetrical heaps of broken masonry, neatly setting off the original real estate lots --- and then whole oceans of stone, with jagged waves. Electricity poles shattered at the trunk like felled trees, their tangle of wires branching in the dirt. Cars flattened as at the junk yard. Buses riddled with bullets. Apartment buildings with their fronts sheared off, so that you get an axial view of the floors, furniture and tenants gone missing.

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Yemen Feature: How A Country Was Lost in Obama's "War Laboratory" (Johnsen)

Photo: ReutersIn the final presidential debate, more than 11 years after the Bush administration launched its global war on terror, President Barack Obama identified "terrorist networks" as the gravest national security threat facing America. But Yemen, which is home to the most dangerous al Qaeda affiliate, has attracted precious little attention from either of the candidates in this election.

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Kuwait Feature: A Moment of Truth for the Country? (Lynch)

A car hits two protesters on Wednesday --- both survived

Wednesday's violent clashes in Kuwait have brought its long-brewing political crisis to a dangerous point. It did not have to be this way, in a Gulf state that has long stood out for its robust public sphere, electoral traditions and vibrant parliament. But a series of unusually provocative steps by both the royal family and the opposition, in the context of a long-running battle over the powers of parliament and accountability for the royal family, have taken their toll and tempers are running hot. After months of growing popular mobilization and a complex crisis of political institutions, Kuwait's political future suddenly seems deeply uncertain.

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Syria Feature: Obama Administration Seeks a New Opposition Council (Rogin)

Opposition figure Riad SeifSyrian opposition leaders of all stripes will convene in Qatar next week to form a new leadership body to subsume the opposition Syrian National Council, which is widely viewed as ineffective, consumed by infighting, and little respected on the ground.

The State Department has been heavily involved in crafting the new council as part of its effort oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and build a more viable and unified opposition. In September, for instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with a group of Syrian activists who were flown in to New York for a high-level meeting that has not been reported until now.

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