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Northern Mali, 'magnet for international jihadis'

October 25th, 2012
06:41 PM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

Despite repeated assurances by U.S. President Barack Obama that al-Qaeda is “on the run,” in the African nation of Mali, al-Qaeda linked rebels have gained control in the northern part of the country. Taking advantage of a failed state, they have imposed an extremist version of Sharia law, abolishing basic rights for women, destroying the local culture and building an international terror network.

Just how bad is it? Adam Nossiter, West Africa Bureau Chief for the New York Times, came out of Mali on Wednesday night, and speaking from neighboring Senegal, he painted a grim picture of the situation there.

“It is fair to say that the region controlled by al-Qaeda and its allies is suffering under one of the harshest regimes under the planet,” said Nossiter. “There are public whippings, there are amputations for theft, there has even been an execution by stoning. Women who dare to leave the house without a veil are arrested, and the Islamists are even compiling lists of unmarried pregnant women.” FULL POST

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

From political insider to dissident

October 25th, 2012
10:44 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Avraham Burg is many things: an observant Jew, a decorated paratrooper, the former speaker of the Israeli parliament. But over the past decade he has transformed himself into something surprising: a dissident.

“Mine is a call for changing direction,” Burg told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “Do we want to be like the Crusades, with high walls and whomever comes to the walls, we shoot them down till eventually this kingdom expires?”

The Arab Spring (or Arab “Awakening,” as he calls it – “spring is too short of a season”) has, Burg says, given an opportunity to Israel to integrate itself in the Arab world. That, he said, is something Israel “never explored.”

Within the state of Israel, Burg thinks that extreme religious views are becoming more powerful than the commitment to democracy. Ultranationalists and militant politicians have hijacked the political narrative, Burg says, and become even more Hawkish than the Israeli military itself.

For the first time in 2,000 years, he said, the Jews and Israel are empowered by an army, an air force, and nuclear weapons – “it’s unbelievable.” But for “too many Israelis,” the military “became the essence rather than just a service to something else. And we've forgot to ask ourselves what is the something else.”

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode