Middle East and North Africa

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New York Review of Books: How al-Qaeda Changed the Syrian War

Author: Sarah Birke

"The Salafist-jihadist insurgency, and the emergence of one of al-Qaeda's most fearsome affiliates within it, has fundamentally changed the war in Syria. In a conflict in which some 6,000 people continue to die every month and a third or more of the population have been forced to leave their homes, the problem of basic security has almost completely supplanted the aspirations of a once-peaceful protest movement trying to take on an autocratic, militarized, and sectarian regime. And as the regime…has resorted to increasingly brutal attacks, organizations like ISIS have spread unprecedented terror on the rebel side."

See more in Syria; Terrorism

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NY Times: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi

Author: David Kirkpatrick

"The United States waded deeply into post-Qaddafi Libya, hoping to build a beachhead against extremists, especially Al Qaeda. It believed it could draw a bright line between friends and enemies in Libya. But it ultimately lost its ambassador in an attack that involved both avowed opponents of the West and fighters belonging to militias that the Americans had taken for allies."

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Terrorism

Ask CFR Experts

How much control does Ayatollah Khamenei have in Iranian-U.S. relations?

Asked by Arianna Talaie, from College of William and Mary
Author: Ray Takeyh

Ali Khamenei is the Supreme Leader of Iran and has the final say on all issues pertaining to its foreign policy. The Islamic Republic has a complex constitutional structure whereby the authority of the president and the parliament are subservient to that of the Supreme Leader. All issues of war and peace, treaties and elections have to be approved by Khamenei. As such, the presidents and foreign ministers can engage in negotiations but cannot commit Iran to a final course until the Supreme Leader approves.

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See more in Iran; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Must Read

Amnesty International: "Treat Us Like We Are Human": Migrant Workers in Qatar

"Migrant workers in Qatar face a range of abuses at the hands of their employers. In some of the cases investigated by Amnesty International, these abuses amount to forced labour and human trafficking. Some arrive to find that the nature of the work, their salaries, hours of work or conditions are very different to those they had been promised. Many migrant workers find their employers delay their pay or stop paying them at all."

See more in Qatar; Human Rights

Audio

Egypt's Turbulent Transition

Speakers: Michele Dunne and Michael Wahid Hanna
Presider: Isobel Coleman

Michele Dunne, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Michael Wahid Hanna, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, discuss Egypt's turbulent transition, the prospects for stabilization and economic progress in the country, and possible U.S. foreign policy responses toward the ongoing political crisis.

See more in Egypt; Regime Changes

Primary Sources

UN Report on Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

The United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic submitted an investigative report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday, September 15, 2013. The "Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013" concludes that "chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale, resulting in numerous casualties, particularly among civilians and including many children." On December 12, 2013, the final report on the investigation was released. It includes a timeline of events in Syria and actions of the UN and evidence that led to the conclusion that chemical weapons were used.

See more in Syria; Weapons of Mass Destruction; International Organizations and Alliances