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Media Freedom a Delicate Balancing Act in Tunisia

Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring, faces a dilemma as it struggles to reconcile national security and media freedom in a country facing a rise in jihadist unrest.

The debate has been raging for weeks in Tunisia, where parliament in January 2014 ratified a new constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression after decades of authoritarian and oppressive rule.

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Ex-Inmates Regret Destruction of Notorious Syrian Prison

For decades, the mere mention of Tadmur Prison was enough to send chills down a Syrian's spine.

The notorious facility in the desert of central Syria was where thousands of dissidents were reported to have been beaten, humiliated and systematically tortured for opposing the Assad family's rule.

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French Soldiers Stalked by Invisible Enemy in Mali

Based in Mali's inhospitable northern desert, French troops are waging an attritional campaign against a ghost-like, invisible enemy -- a master in the guerrilla art of hit-and-run.

More than two years after the French-led Operation Serval routed jihadists advancing on the capital Bamako, armed groups in the area are no longer able to carry out coordinated attacks.

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Study Says Girls Seek Sisterhood _ Not Just Marriage _ in IS

The notion that young women are traveling to Syria solely to become "jihadi brides" is simplistic and hinders efforts to prevent other girls from being radicalized, new research suggests.

Young women are joining the so-called Islamic State group for many reasons, including anger over the perceived persecution of Muslims and the wish to belong to a sisterhood with similar beliefs, according to a report released Thursday by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London.

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Syria Regime 'to Accept De Facto Partition' of Country

Weakened by years of war, Syria's government appears ready for the country's de facto partition, defending strategically important areas and leaving much of the country to rebels and jihadists, experts and diplomats say.

The strategy was in evidence last week with the army's retreat from the ancient central city of Palmyra after an advance by the Islamic State group.

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At Mideast Forum, Hopes for Future amid Chaos

Against a backdrop of Iraq and Syria in flames, Middle Eastern political and business leaders sought to focus on a future of growth and investment for a region that for long has lagged behind. But present-day reality proved rather difficult to ignore, with the Islamic State group wreaking havoc not far from these Dead Sea shores.

"We are all aware of the crises in the news," host King Abdullah of Jordan told invitees at the regional World Economic Forum, held at a Dead Sea resort whose calm belied the mayhem raging a few hours' drive away.

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Regional Conflicts Impeding Presidential Elections

Every few weeks for the past year, Lebanon's parliament has met, exchanged pleasantries, and made the same announcement: that it has again been unable to elect a president.

Pluralistic but divided Lebanon has now been without a head of state for 12 months, the longest time the post has been vacant since the devastating civil war ended in 1990.

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Iraq's Sunni Tribes Feel Deserted after Ramadi Fall

They were always seen as the key to defeating the jihadists in their bastions but the fall of Ramadi has deepened the distrust that Iraq's Sunni tribes feel towards the government.

Many tribal leaders in Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, said they would continue to fight the Islamic State group, not for the sake of a government they say never offered the adequate support, but because they have no other choice.

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Palmyra, the Ancient Pearl of Syria's Desert

Palmyra, the ancient Syrian city that has fallen to the Islamic State jihadist group, has withstood the last 2,000 years with its immaculate temples and colonnaded streets.

Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, the "pearl of the desert" is a well-preserved oasis 210 kilometers (130 miles) northeast of Damascus.

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Syrian Refugees Struggle amid Aid Cuts, Lack of Labor Rights

A Syrian refugee couple and their baby boy were recently dropped from a U.N. food voucher program and live on $9-a-day jobs on a peach farm in northern Jordan. In a town nearby, a 16-year-old boy quit school to work as a mechanic's helper because his refugee family needs the extra $21 a week.

With the Syria conflict in its fifth year, the struggle for survival is getting tougher for many of the close to 4 million Syrians who fled to neighboring countries, particularly those in Jordan and Lebanon, where the highest number of refugees have settled.

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