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Must Reads of the Week: Putin's Censorship, Assad's Long Game, Iran's Fourth Estate, and More

Author: CFR.org Editors
March 14, 2014

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"While the West Watches Crimea, Putin Cleans House in Moscow"
By Julia Ioffe
New Republic

"While the world awaits Sunday's referendum in Crimea and nervously watches the Russian troops massing on Ukraine's eastern border, the world is missing that, in Moscow, Vladimir Putin is busily cleaning house."

Free Syrian Army fighters sit inside a room near the Justice Palace, which is controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-AssadFree Syrian Army fighters sit inside a room near the Justice Palace, which is controlled by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. (Photo: Courtesy Reuters)
"The Assad Regime Winning by Inches?"
By Jeffrey White
Washington Institute

"The regime's political goals are to remain in power, restore its control over as much of Syria as it can, and render the political opposition an irrelevant exile movement. Its military goal is to reduce the armed opposition to a manageable terrorist threat. This does not imply that the opposition has to be completely eliminated or that every inch of lost ground has to be recovered. Yet the regime has never shown any intention other than to fight, and it fights essentially everywhere in Syria."

"Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests"
By Jim Nichol
Congressional Research Service

"Although Russia may not be as central to U.S. interests as was the Soviet Union, cooperation between the two is essential in many areas. Russia remains a nuclear superpower. It still has a major impact on U.S. national security interests in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Russia has an important role in the future of arms control, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the fight against terrorism."

"The New Tyranny"
By William Easterly
Foreign Policy

"The international professionals perpetrate an illusion that poverty is purely a technical problem, distracting attention away from the real cause: the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights. The dictators whom experts are advising are not the solution—they are the problem."

"North Korea: Glimmer of Hope"
By Simon Mundy
Financial Times

"After the starvation of up to one million people in the famine demonstrated the state's inability to feed its people, it was forced to turn a blind eye to the informal markets that sprang up. For residents of cities such as Hyesan, near the border with China, the opportunity to engage in illicit trade with Chinese merchants has been especially lucrative."

"Iran's Fourth Estate"
By Arash Karami
Majalla

"The state of the Iranian media can serve as a bellwether for understanding where the country is headed. In the past, the restrictions under which Iranian journalists had to operate fluctuated as the political fortunes of conservatives and reformists shifted."

Meet the Fracking Millionaires of Kenedy, Texas
By David Usborne
Independent

"By next year, Texas will be spewing four million barrels, which will put it ahead of old oil powers such as the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Iran. If it were a nation, Texas would already be the ninth-biggest oil producer in the world."

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