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Entries in Foreign Policy magazine (62)


Iraq Feature: How Kurdistan and Exxon Mobil Out-Manoeuvred Baghdad Over Oil (Van Heuvelen)

Several people familiar with the company's internal decision-making said there were a few simple reasons that Exxon was willing to risk its relationship with Baghdad. First, Kurdistan's geology looked very promising. Second, the Kurdish government's contract terms offered much greater profit potential. And third, Exxon could probably get away with it. A year later, Baghdad still has not backed up its threats to kick the company out of Basra.

Even so, Exxon is preparing to break ties with Baghdad altogether.

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Kuwait Feature: The Rise of Political Tension and Protest (Diwan)

The "March of Dignity" on Gulf Road, 21 October 2012

Organizers of the March for Dignity tapped into the national reformist ethos and youthful activism of the 2006 campaign. The orange color chosen for the march established the continuity with the earlier electoral reform campaign and the more liberal and urban constituencies that had championed it, linking them to the more Islamist and more tribal activists of today. The theme of "dignity" elided the differences among them and resonated with the citizen demands of the early Arab Spring. Protesters demonstrated their expertise in civil disobedience and nonviolent struggle through speeches and videos quoting Gandhi and playing the U.S civil rights era protest song "We shall overcome."

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Syria 1st-Hand: The Factions Within the Insurgency (Abdulhamid)

Fighters of the Martyrs Brigades in Idlib Province

Pragmatists like Abu Khalid used to rely on their own resources and support from local communities, but are now receiving some funding from Saudi sources as well. Saudi authorities have historically had deep differences with the Muslim Brotherhood --- they look with gloom and dismay on its rise to power in Tunisia and Egypt --- and are uncomfortable with the group's attempt to control the Syrian rebellion as well as its cozy relations with their rivals in Qatar.

The result is a deepening divide between Islamists and pragmatists. And there are even splits within the Islamist camp: The Salafists are far more traditional and populist than members of the Brotherhood, who often come across to ordinary Syrians as too Westernized and elitist.

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Tunisia Feature: The Truth About the "Salafi Fanatics" (Marks)

Salafists demonstrate outside the El-Fath mosque in Tunis, 17 September 2012 (Photo: Salah Habibi/AFP)

Local journalists covering previous instances of Salafi-oriented unrest --- from the October 2011 demonstrations against the film Persepolis to this June's riots at an art exhibit in Tunis's upscale La Marsa district -- have tended to narrate events from afar without directly interviewing Salafis. Such slipshod coverage has tended to leave readers with a broad-brush portrait of Tunisian Salafism --- one that obscures important details concerning the movement's composition and complexity. Far from being a monolithic group of highly organized extremists, Tunisia's Salafis are in fact a loose collection of religiously right-wing individuals whose identities and motivations require far closer scrutiny.

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Iran Feature: How Mitt Romney Got It Wrong on Tehran's "Dirty Bomb" (Cirincione)

Governor Mitt Romney's description, caught on video, of what he considered the real nuclear threat from Iran has further undermined his national security credentials, showing a fundamental misunderstanding of nuclear threats. Iran's nuclear program has nothing to do with dirty bombs. Terrorists would not use uranium -- from Iran or anywhere else -- in a dirty bomb. It is unclear if Gov. Romney was just riffing, or if his advisors had fed him this line of attack. But it is dead wrong.

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Egypt Feature: Who Speaks for the Workers? (Bishara)

Protest rally of Egyptian workers, December 2011

Egypt's January 25, 2011 revolution gave the country's workers a golden opportunity to press their agenda. Workers played a key role in the wave of societal unrest that led to Hosni Mubarak's downfall, and after the long-time president's departure many restrictions on political organization and dissent were relaxed. But workers have not been able to seize that opportunity to cohesively advance their demands. Instead, fragmentation has emerged as the dominant feature of post-Mubarak labor politics. Egyptian workers have struggled to find their own voice as they navigate the legacy of state control over labor organizations and a complicated new political situation.

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Syria Revealed: The Quiet Planning for a Country After Assad

Steven Heydemann, involving in planning with Syrian opposition groups, on the US Public Broadcasting Service this week

For the last six months, 40 senior representatives of various Syrian opposition groups have been meeting quietly in Germany under the tutelage of the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) to plan for how to set up a post-Assad Syrian government.

The project, which has not directly involved U.S. government officials but was partially funded by the State Department, is gaining increased relevance this month as the violence in Syria spirals out of control and hopes for a peaceful transition of power fade away. The leader of the project, USIP's Steven Heydemann, an academic expert on Syria, has briefed administration officials on the plan, as well as foreign officials, including on the sidelines of the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul last month.

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Syria Propaganda 101: How PR Firm Brown Lloyd James Polished the Regime's Image (Rogin)

The Assad family in Vogue, March 2011 (Photo: James Nachtwey)

Brown Lloyd James's contract with the Assad regime, signed by BLJ partner Mike Holtzman and Syrian government official Fares Kallas, expired in March of last year, according to documents posted on the Foreign Agents Registration Act website. The firm had claimed its work on behalf of the Assads ended in Dec. 2010.

But in May 2011, BLJ sent another memo to Kallas and the Syrian government, giving them advice on how to improve their image and institute a more effective public relations strategy amid the exploding violence in Syria.

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Syria 1st-Hand: "The Wounded Will Be Killed" (Cook)

I was close to the field hospital, so I started spending time there. It wasn't a real hospital, of course -- just a bombed-out house. They converted a couple of bedrooms. When they fill up, the bodies go into the courtyard.

It's run by Dr. Qasim, a gastroenterologist. He used to run a hospital in one of the other towns in Homs Province. When the war started the army took over his hospital, so he went to Al Qusayr, and has been working there ever since, running the field hospital for the past 18 months. He's the only game in town. Whenever the Syrian army finds out where it is, they shell it. I don't know how many times it's been moved. They shelled it twice while I was there, killing two patients and wounding two or three of the medical personnel.

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Yemen Feature: Democracy Takes Second Place to Drone Attacks for US (Martin-Rayo)

FBI's Robert Mueller & President HadiThough Yemen's internal politics have changed dramatically since January 2011, U.S. strategy there has remained single-mindedly focused on eradicating Al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula. Democracy promotion, and the hopes of millions of Yemenis who supported the revolution, do not appear to be among the Obama Administration's concerns in the country.

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