Globe Trot
South Korean vehicles return from Kaesong industrial zone Thursday, as a U.S. Army soldier looks on.
Associated Press/Photo by Ahn Young-joon
South Korean vehicles return from Kaesong industrial zone Thursday, as a U.S. Army soldier looks on.

Globe Trot: Now that the Arab Spring has sprung

International

North Korean authorities halted access today to the jointly run Kaesong industrial zone. It was one of the few joint operations with South Korea still in operation following a week of tension over the North’s nuclear ambitions.

The UN General Assembly approved an Arms Trade Treaty Tuesday, a global agreement that seeks to regulate the world arms trade and for the first time ties the legality of arms sales to human-rights issues. (See WORLD’s coverage.)

March was the deadliest month in Syria’s civil war—with more than 6,000 casualties. The conflict also is creating a record-setting refugee problem: The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is now Jordan’s fifth largest city. It hosts about 100,000 registered refugees. The camp is riddled with rape and sexual abuse. Inside Syria, too, is an unfolding rape crisis.

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What happened to the Arab Spring? Only Tunisia was small and homogenous enough to be spared a full-scale counter-revolutionary onslaught, its newly elected Islamist leaders pluralist enough to lead a successful democratization and offer a model for the rest of the region. But the assassination of the leftist leader Chokri Belaïd in February brought to a head a rising tide of conflict between secular groups and Islamists. Seumas Milne of The Guardian wrote:

“From the first eruption of the Arab revolutions in Tunisia, it was clear that powerful forces would do everything possible to make sure they were brought to heel, or failed. Those included domestic interests which had lost out from the overthrow of the old regimes, Gulf states that feared the contagion would spread to their shores and western powers that had lost strategic clients—and didn’t like the idea of losing any more.

“So after Tunisia and Egypt had fallen in quick succession, later uprisings were hijacked, as in Libya, or crushed, as in Bahrain, while sectarian toxins were pumped throughout the region, escalating the bloodshed in Syria in particular, and cash was poured into destabilising or coopting the post-revolutionary states.”

Underlying the Arab Spring, too, is the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year old Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls education, signed a book deal worth $3 million: “I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can’t get education.” Her story, more in-depth, is here.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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