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Despite virtual around-the-clock coverage of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, one important aspect remains poorly understood: the reaction of the 300 million strong “Arab Street.” Turn on any Arab television channel, though, and you can’t miss the rage and widespread support for Hezbollah and Hamas: streets roiling with protestors, callers to talk programs denouncing Israel and the United States, and clerics defending Hezbollah and calling for holy war. Five years after 9/11, the West still struggles to understand this rage that pushes Arab masses to view radical groups as heroic forces of resistance. On one extreme, there are those […]

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Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz transferred power to his younger brother Raúl on Monday night, July 31, after doctors said he needed surgery to stop intestinal bleeding. In a letter read by his secretary, Carlos Valenciaga, on Cuban national television, the 79-year-old Fidel announced that because of ”an intestinal crisis” he would temporarily relinquish the presidency to his 75-year-old brother, who serves as Cuba’s defense minister. “The operation obliges me to spend several weeks in repose, away from my responsibilities and duties,” Fidel’s statement, as read by Valenciaga, said. “Because our country is threatened in these circumstances by the government […]

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On any given night in north Bogotá, groups of athletic, broad shouldered young men with cropped hair, conversing in their native American-English, can be seen enjoying beers in the upmarket bars of the Colombian city. Most of these men are among the 800 U.S military personnel and 600 U.S. civilian government contractors allowed to work in Colombia as part of the U.S. aid package known as Plan Colombia. It has been almost a year since the first phase of Plan Colombia officially ended. Since then the Colombian government has been left wondering whether U.S aid to Colombia will continue to […]

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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice drew many raised eyebrows when she predicted that the battle between Israel and Hezbollah marked the ‘birth pangs’ of a new Middle East. Maybe she was showing extraordinary prescience; maybe foolhardy optimism. Several weeks and hundreds of deaths after the conflict erupted, the path to a ‘new’ Middle East looks as treacherous as it has for a generation. The deck seems stacked against Secretary Rice’s hopeful forecast. The government of Israel is determined – and is solidly backed by public opinion at home – to put an end to the Hezbollah threat and thereby […]

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A rising chorus in the United States and elsewhere is now saying that the key to bringing peace to the Middle East, and ending the 23-day-old war in Lebanon, can be found in Syria. (It could also be found in Iran, but talking to Syria is a lot easier to swallow for Washington than talking to Tehran.) Among those to loudly lobby for dialogue with Syria are the veteran journalist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, the Syria-expert at Oklahoma University Joshua Landis, Professor David Lesch, who is a biographer of President Bashar al-Asad, former Secretary of State Warren […]