Why you should care
OZY takes a deeper look at the stories simmering below the surface of the region’s unrest.
Americans have been pretty clear they want no part of the Syria crisis. But if one of the U.S.’s closest allies in the region starts to fall apart, the White House may have to rethink its policy. Should the Obama administration and other allies boost military assistance to moderate rebels, it could entail more American military forces and training operations in Jordan. It could also make the kingdom more of a target. “If we start to see terrorist attacks in the kingdom again, that’s going to be the sign,” says an expert on Middle East politics and security. The sign that Amman and Washington, D.C., should be very worried. Read the story here.
Radical Islamists continue to threaten in many places, even though the U.S. has successfully beheaded much of al-Qaida’s original organization. It’s tricky keeping track of the alphabet soup of al-Qaida groups that have sprouted up in the last decade. The groups’ extremist Sunni ideology has spread, tentacle-like, even as al-Qaida Central is on the run, fractured and weakened by U.S. drone strikes and the spectacular raid that took out Osama bin Laden in Pakistan three years ago. They’re taking root in lawless pockets of the globe across the Middle East and into Africa. Here’s a quick primer on who these extremist groups are and why, even as we try to keep Iraq from crumbling, we need to keep an eye on the threats in Yemen and across North Africa. Read the story here.
Syria’s bloodshed is playing out in real time all over YouTube. But while there’s plenty of footage of regime atrocities targeting children and civilians, the video that’s provoked the most breathless consternation in the West is the blurry film of a rebel fighter purportedly cutting out and biting into the heart of a dead government soldier. The sensationalism dismays Orwa Nyrabia, the heralded Syrian actor turned film producer, who supports the opposition in the grinding civil war. But he tells OZY there’s also plenty that is inspiring about the Syrian revolution and the response of average citizens. Far from stamping out expression, the conflict has produced a wave of creativity and entrepreneurialism as artists because activists, and activists artists. Read the story here.