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Must Reads of the Week: North Caucasus, Sochi Olympics, Atlanta Snow, and More

Author: CFR.org Editors
January 31, 2014

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"The North Caucasus: The Challenges of Integraton"
International Crisis Group

"Recent attacks, including two in Volgograd, suggest that Islamist terrorists may try to strike across the country and embarrass Moscow during the Olympics, the preparations of which have been beset by allegations of abuses against the local populace. Beyond the immediate risk, they underline the urgent need to achieve a comprehensive political solution to the North Caucasus conflicts before rolling out fully an ambitious tourism project in republics that still have active insurgencies or have been seriously affected by conflict."

Bombing in CairoAn injured police officer sits on the ground after he got out of the damaged Cairo Security Directorate building, which includes police and state security, after a bomb attack in downtown Cairo January 24, 2014.(Photo: Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters)
"Can Egypt Handle Ansar Bayt al Maqdis?"
By David Barnett
National Interest

"The Egyptian government blamed its bitter political rivals, the Muslim Brotherhood, for the Mansoura attack, despite ABM's claim of responsibility…. With significant support for their actions against the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian government may not even care if ABM takes credit. With crowds calling for the Muslim Brotherhood's 'execution' after Friday's attack, to some respect it makes sense politically for the government to blame supporters of fallen Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, who continue to partake in efforts to delegitimize the new regime. This is why Cairo, which believes it is in an existential battle, declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization shortly after the Mansoura bombing."

"The Franchising of Al Qaeda"
By Ben Hubbard
New York Times

"As the power of the central leadership created by Osama bin Laden has declined, the vanguard of violent jihad has been taken up by an array of groups in a dozen countries across Africa and the Middle East, attacking Western interests in Algeria and Libya, training bombers in Yemen, seizing territory in Syria and Iraq, and gunning down shoppers in Kenya."

"Freedom in the World 2014"
Freedom House

"The praise bestowed on the father of post-apartheid South Africa was often delivered with more than a note of wistfulness. For it was apparent to many that the defining convictions of Mandela's career—commitment to the rule of law and democratic choice, rejection of score settling and vengeance seeking, recognition that regarding politics as a zero-sum game was an invitation to authoritarianism and civil strife—are in decidedly short supply among today's roster of political leaders. Indeed, the final year of Mandela's life was marked by a disturbing series of setbacks to freedom. For the eighth consecutive year, Freedom in the World, the report on the condition of global political rights and civil liberties issued annually by Freedom House, showed a decline in freedom around the world."

"Growth and Globalisation Cannot Cure All the World's Ills"
By Gideon Rachman
Financial Times

"Just as doctors fear the emergence of superbugs that will not respond to existing drugs, so world leaders are beginning to witness the emergence of new forms of political conflict that are resistant to their traditional prescriptions – more trade and more investment, washed down with a good dose of structural reform."

"The Day We Lost Atlanta"
By Rebecca Burns
Politico

"What happened in Atlanta this week is not a matter of Southerners blindsided by unpredictable weather. More than any event I've witnessed in two decades of living in and writing about this city, this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it."

"Turkey Crisis Puts Jailed Millionaire at Heart of Gold Trail"
By Mehul Srivastava
Bloomberg

"As western nations ring-fenced Iran's banks, they created a temporary market where gold could be used to pay Iran for its only major export: oil and gas. That chaotic marketplace created opportunities for men like Sarraf. He used his connections in Iran and Turkey to move almost a metric ton of gold to Iran every day for 1 1/2 years, according to a person familiar with his finances."

"Africa Attacks the International Criminal Court"
By Kenneth Roth
New York Review of Books

"The court's future now rests to a large extent on the battle being waged between African leaders with little interest in justice and those Africans, including many activists and victims, who see an end to impunity for mass atrocities as essential for Africa's future. One can only hope that the welfare of African people takes precedence over the perceived interests of African leaders."

"The Waste and Corruption of Vladimir Putin's 2014 Winter Olympics"
By Joshua Yaffa
Bloomberg Business Week

"How the Sochi Games grew so expensive is a tale of Putin-era Russia in microcosm: a story of ambition, hubris, and greed leading to fabulous extravagance on the shores of the Black Sea. And extravagances, in Russia especially, come at a price."

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