Atlas of Obedience

The way each country’s media draws its maps of the civil war in Syria dictates how readers imagine the conflict should be ‘solved.’ And these maps, as  French political scientist Lucile Housseau shows here, largely follow the political and diplomatic positions of each country’s leaders.

Maps are not impartial documents, and even less so when they depict armed conflicts. In the following discussion, we look at a number of maps depicting the conflict in Syria.

Return of the Undead President

The first president in Egyptian history who didn’t come out of the presidential palace feet-first. But is that legacy enough for the country’s deposed strongman?

For generations, Egyptians longed to be able to pronounce the phrase “former president.” Then one day they woke up with not one, but three living ex-presidents: Hosni Mubarak, Mohammed Morsi, and Adli Mansour.

Saudi Arabia: The Jihad Draws Near

Saudi rulers have a peculiar relationship with violent extremist groups and ideologues, simultaneously cultivating them in other countries while trying to minimize their influence domestically. But the Saud family’s two-front war in Yemen and Syria, fought with the aid of Sunni jihadi allies, might easily morph into a different kind of fight if their inconstant allies turn on them. In Al-Akhbar, Nour Ayoub studies the tea leaves of jihadi social media and internet posts for insight into the increasingly troubled Saudi war in Yemen.

When Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm against Yemen

The Immortal Bazaar

The eternal marketplace, Argentina’s La Salada grows and multiplies its thousands of stalls, emerging from the industrial warehouses that housed its beginnings, crawling along the polluted banks of the Riachuelo river and the surrounding streets, meter by meter, bringing with it cheap counterfeit clothing and violent struggles for control of tiny territories until, every few years, the forces of order arrive to smash and destroy and beat back this unstoppable force, for a little while at least. From Anfibia, a profile of the largest textile hub in the western hemisphere:

Once again bulldozers have demolished part of La Salada.

The Woman Who Bore the River on Her Back

Chief of a tribal confederation which has fought the destruction of its little corner of the Amazon rainforest with remarkable success; survivor of Peru’s savage civil war with the mad revolutionaries of the Shining Path: in Joseph Zarate’s remarkable portrait of Peruvian native environmental activist Ruth Buendia, the attitude of her fellow Ashaninka tribesmen toward their leader is careful, unidealistic in spite of all her achievements.

The first time they tried to bribe her, the Ashaninka activist Ruth Buendia responded to the timber trafficker’s offer with four words.

In Iraq’s Sectarian War, First There Had To Be Sects

Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer told Americans that the Iraq they had invaded was a country divided by sects, religious and ethnic: Shi’ite and Sunni, Arab and Kurd. But as Harith Hassan Al Qarawee points out in this striking essay from Al Safir Al Arabi, the Sunnis of Iraq in 2003 did not think of themselves as belonging to a sect at all.

It is a commonplace to note that throughout its modern history, up until the American invasion of 2003, Iraq was ruled by Sunni Arab elites.

The Islamic State: Saudi Arabia’s Dark Twin

The Islamic State-known to Arabs as DAESH-is essentially a product of Saudi Arabian politics and financing, writes Jamal Mohammed Taqi in al-Safir al-Arabi. But has the Saudi state’s strange offspring really become its dark twin, its Nemesis?

Waging jihad against those it considers apostate Muslims is the central religious doctrine of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [DAESH or ISIS]. The principle of jihad against apostates is also the central religious doctrine of the followers of the Wahhabi school of religious jurisprudence.

The Radical Vegetarians Are Coming For Your Steak Knives

The growth of militant Hinduism in India, which this year swept the BJP nationalists to power, is expressed in numerous and occasionally unexpected ways. In Open Magazine, Lhendup G Bhutia writes that militant vegetarianism is on the rise around the country.

Vegetarian activism in India, unlike the West, is not limited to spot-shaming celebrities wearing fur or the token protest over a dinner table.

‘The Elites Despise the City For Its Democratic Qualities’

Demonstrations and strikes are the way a city talks to itself; ripping universities out of the urban fabric and transplanting them into the suburbs amputate part of the city’s soul: an interview with one of Brazil’s greatest living architects, from El Pais Brasil:

Paulo Mendes da Rocha, the 86 year old Brazilian architect, today occupies a place reserved for very few individuals. In 2006 he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The Man Who Chose the Forest, and Died For It

One day, Peruvian electrician Edwin Chota abruptly abandoned the life of the city, and the various children he had failed to raise, for the jungle and for an indigenous tribe whom he adopted as his own. For over a decade he lived under death threats for denouncing illegal logging on his lands. His pleas for protection were ignored. In the end, the timber traffickers murdered him.

Those who knew him said that Edwin Chota had a wide, exaggerated and contagious smile, with a prominent gap where a front tooth was missing.

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