It’s late February, and I have just returned to Syria on an undercover reporting trip, one of several I’ve made in the past year, when I run into my friend Amjad outside my hotel in Damascus. Amjad is himself only just back in the city, having months ago fled into exile as a result of his association with another Western journalist. We are keen to catch up, but neither of us wants to attract the attention of Syria’s secret police, so coffee is out of the question (the cafés are thick withmukhabarat). Instead, we keep walking, and as we walk and talk, Amjad tells me the latest checkpoint jokes.
Entries in The Atlantic (12)
Max Fisher of The Atlantic introduces a poignant and provocative way to view the ongoing crisis in Bahrain --- the cartoons of the country's children. Some of the examples featured on the site:
Maryam, age 7. She told activists that the drawing portrayed her and her sister running to help their uncle, shot in the head by security forces. The Pearl Monument, the icon of the protest movement, frowns in the background.
You never know when your past propaganda efforts are going to rear up and bite you on the backside.
Indeed, the editors of the prominent Iranian website Mehr may still not know this.
On Friday, Mehr illustrated a reassuring story about Iran's missile programme --- "French official: No Threat of Europe" --- with an archive photograph of lots of those missiles.
First problem? The image is a Photoshop. In fact, it's not just a Photoshop, it's a Photoshop of a Photoshop.
Before the revolution, Ayad says he didn't fit in. And now, he says he still doesn't. He's "not pumped up enough to be a revolutionary." But he's not apathetic enough for the popular Hezb al Kanaba, the party of the couch. In fact, he wishes he were more indifferent. Like many, he's frustrated, if not angry, by a regime he says is still running the show. Back then, days spent in Tahrir seemed like the beginning of an exciting story, one where anything could happen. Now, he feels the square's more like a bad sequel.
"It's sad because maybe it shows the majority of Egyptian people don't deserve better, because they're not fighting for it," he says. "You can't want something for them more than they do." Still, after he larks around the world by sea, he hopes to return to Egypt. He's developed a love-hate relationship with the place he can't seem to shake. And he still has hope, he reassures me -- or perhaps himself -- every five minutes.
If you look past the tiger-striped costumes and over-the-top production, you can glimpse the self-empowerment of these women in a society that seeks to rob them of power, and perhaps begin to understand why ninjutsu, and athletics in general, have become so popular with Iranian women.
Last Friday's protest in Qamishli, in the largely-Kurdish area in northeast Syria
We demand the right to self-determination in a form that would be decided in a national Kurdish referendum, but also within the integrity and unity of the Syrian land. When Syria was formed, it was formed by the Sykes-Picot agreement, it wasn't our choice. But we want to keep the current borders. With a new social contract between ourselves and all the Syrian components.
Second, if we talk about federalism in the Kurdish areas, from the northeastern part of Syria, up to the border with Iraq until Afrin, near where Aleppo is --- the Kurds form about 75% of the population of that region. That land is the Kurdish land.
The Atlantic posts a colourful, sometimes stunning collection of 42 photographs on the diversity of life inside Iran. We introduce the feature with these three images, but all of them reward a look:
Iranian grooms Javad Jafari, left, and his brother Mehdi, right, with their brides Maryam Sadeghi, second left, and Zahra Abolghasemi, before their wedding in Ghalehsar village, about 360 kilometres (220 miles) northeast of Tehran, on 15 July 2011. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
The Real Net Effect: The Strange Cases of The Cyber-Hoaxers in Syria and Uzbekistan (Doherty & Kendzior)
On July 28, 2011, a 32-year-old Uzbek woman studying in Munich named Gulsumoy Abdujalilova joined Facebook, except she didn't. Then, earlier this month, after horrific abuses from the Uzbekistan government, she tragically and spectacularly took her own life, except she didn't, because she had never existed in the first place.
Though Raziq has risen in large part through his own skills and ambition, he is also, to a considerable degree, a creation of the American military intervention in Afghanistan. (Prior to 2001, he had worked in a shop in Pakistan.) As part of a countrywide initiative, his men have been trained by two controversial private military firms, DynCorp and Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, at a U.S.-funded center in Spin Boldak, where they are also provided with weapons, vehicles, and communications equipment. Their salaries are subsequently paid through the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, a UN-administered international fund, to which the U.S. is the largest contributor. Raziq himself has enjoyed visits in Spin Boldak from such senior U.S. officials as Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.
In public, American officials had until recently been careful to downplay Raziq’s alleged abuses. When I met with the State Department’s Moeling at his Kandahar City office in January, he told me, “I think there is certainly a mythology about Abdul Raziq, where there’s a degree of assumption on some of those things. But I have never seen evidence of private prisons or of extrajudicial killings directly attributable to him.”
WikiLeaks and Libya: When the Nuclear Deal Almost Unraveled...Because Qadhafi Couldn't Camp in New York
On 20 November 2009, the day before the plane was to leave for a nuclear facility in Russia, Libyan officials unexpectedly halted the shipment. Without explanation, they declared that the uranium would not be permitted to leave Libya. They left the seven five-ton casks out in the open and under light guard, vulnerable to theft by the al-Qaeda factions that still operate in the region or by any rogue government that learned of their presence.
For one month and one day, U.S. and Russian diplomats negotiated with Libya for the uranium to be released and flown out of the country.