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  TRIPOLI, Libya — There are few more thankless jobs in global politics than serving as Libya’s prime minister. The previous incumbent, Ali Zeidan, was constantly reminded of his meager authority: he was abducted briefly by militiamen last year, and most recently found himself unable to stop armed federalists from defying his government by selling […]

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“Welcome to Somalia” reads the sign, in Somali and English, greeting travellers as they walk out of Mogadishu’s ramshackle airport. On a wall nearby is an artist’s impression of what the airport will look like when a Turkish reconstruction project is completed. The planned gleaming glass and steel structure seems ambitious in a city that […]

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The walls of the Comert family home are covered in posters of their son Abdullah, one of five demonstrators killed as anti-government protests rippled across Turkey in June. The 22-year-old security guard, who died from head injuries after he was hit by a teargas canister fired by police, was a member of Turkey’s main opposition […]

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Every day Nagham comes to Rawda al-Shahidain, the cemetery in south Beirut where Hizbullah buries its war dead, to pray at her husband’s graveside. Hussein, a veteran Hizbullah fighter and father of Nagham’s two infant children, was killed in May in Damascus. He was one of thousands of Hizbullah men sent to Syria to buttress president Bashar […]

Timbuktu

  Abba al-Hadi could not read any of the priceless manuscripts he gingerly placed into empty rice sacks each evening last August before spiriting them through Timbuktu’s darkening streets. The wiry septuagenarian had never learned to read or write but, having spent four decades working as a guard at the Ahmed Baba Institute, a state-run […]

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Behind the ornate door of what was once a chi-chi French-owned hotel lies a series of rooms which, for most of last year, comprised the Islamic court of Timbuktu. Sharia judges, drawn from the ranks of the jihadists who had taken control of this storied mud-walled city, summoned nervous suspects to where Bono and other […]

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Two young volunteers from Ireland have died fighting with Syrian rebels in recent months. There is increasing disquiet, here and in Syria, about the role of young men from abroad in the conflict The story of how Shamseddin Gaidan’s short life took him from a Navan classroom to an untimely death amid the chaos of […]

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Everything about the scene in the white marquee erected in Tripoli’s Mina as-Shaab waterside quarter would have been unthinkable until last year. For a start, this was an open political gathering of some 500 Libyans in a country where, in the past, clandestine meetings of five people could land all concerned in jail. Not only […]

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