Middle East and North Africa

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Foreign Policy: Stuxnet's Secret Twin

Author: Ralph Langner

"With Iran's nuclear program back at the center of world debate, it's helpful to understand with more clarity the attempts to digitally sabotage that program…What I've found is that the full picture, which includes the first and lesser-known Stuxnet variant, invites a re-evaluation of the attack. It turns out that it was far more dangerous than the cyberweapon that is now lodged in the public's imagination."

See more in Iran; Nuclear Energy

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Guardian: 'Syria Is Not a Revolution Any More – This Is Civil War'

Author: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

"Ancient Russian tanks – rebel and loyalist – were lobbing shells at each other across a pistachio grove like street children throwing stones in an alleyway. The explosions sent orange columns of dust into the haze of the setting sun. Near the outpost, a government tank was smouldering, and a young girl lay dead, hit by shrapnel. A group of rebels crawled through the fields for a mile until they reached the edge of the outpost."

See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare

Ask CFR Experts

How have Iraqi Kurdish authorities responded to the Syrian civil war?

Asked by Martin Lafon, from Sciences-Po Bordeaux

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has approached the civil war in Syria with caution. The authorities governing the Iraqi autonomous region, based in Erbil, have quietly played an important role in the humanitarian response to the crisis with 197,000 (according to the UN refugee agency) Syrian refugees on KRG territory, spread across three refugee camps in the main cities of Dohuk, Erbil, and Sulaimaniyah.

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See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare; Politics and Strategy

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Foreign Policy: Why Has the U.N. Given Assad a Free Pass on Mass Murder?

Author: Colum Lynch

"Is it better to use the bully pulpit to increase pressure on a government to treat its people humanely, or is it better to nudge the government quietly behind the scenes? For decades, U.N. relief workers have preferred to keep their concerns off the headlines and reveal little about the perpetrators of violence against civilians, thereby preserving their role as neutral healers and helpers. But a spate of internal reviews of U.N. responses to mass killings from Bosnia to Rwanda and Sri Lanka have challenged that view."

See more in Syria; International Organizations and Alliances

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Reuters: Assests of the Ayatollah

Authors: Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati

This three-part series from Reuters examines how Setad, a little-known organization controlled by Iran's Supreme Leader, grew into one of the most powerful property and corporate empires in Iran.

See more in Iran; Economics

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Reuters: Moderates Fade From Political View in Polarized Egypt

Author: Yara Bayoumy

"Moderate voices have been drowned out in the Egyptian media which largely glorifies the army and its chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. An absence of established political parties to encourage dynamic pluralist politics has also pushed moderate politicians into the background while the public, weary of instability, mostly backs the army in its 'war against terrorism.'"

See more in Egypt; Politics and Strategy

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The Economist: How to Stop the Fighting, Sometimes

"[T]he number of medium-to-large civil wars under way—there are six in which more than 1,000 people died last year—is low by the standards of the period. This is because they are coming to an end a little sooner. The average length of civil wars dropped from 4.6 to 3.7 years after 1991, according to Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, a professor at the University of Essex.

Mr. Gleditsch is one of a growing number of political scientists studying civil wars. The field, long overshadowed by studies of superpower conflict, is coming into its own. Its participants do not claim that all civil wars are the same—the range of causes and types of conflict is obvious. But the sheer number of civil wars allows scholars to attempt, at least, a quantitative approach to the factors that affect the wars' outcomes."

See more in Lebanon; Wars and Warfare