Joshua Hammer is a former Newsweek Bureau Chief and Correspondent-­at-Large in Africa and the Middle East. His latest book is The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts. Travel for his story in this issue was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. (April 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

Zimbabwe: Enter the Crocodile

Zimbabwean members of parliament celebrating President Mugabe’s resignation, Harare, November 21, 2017
In early December, three weeks after the military coup that unseated Zimbabwe’s ninety-three-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, I traveled to Harare, the country’s threadbare capital. A large white canvas tent had been set up on fairgrounds near the city center. Loyalists from the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front …

Egypt: The New Dictatorship

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

The Egyptians: A Radical History of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution

by Jack Shenker

Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy

edited by Dalia F. Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi
Recent events in Egypt have raised the question of whether the tradeoff General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has offered the Egyptian public—keeping them safe in exchange for an authoritarian state and far-reaching restrictions on civil society—is working.

Iraq: The Terrible Battle for Mosul

Iraqi civilians fleeing from the ISIS-controlled towns of Shirqat and Gwer, which Iraqi and Kurdish forces were attempting to recapture as part of the Mosul offensive, July 2016
The Islamic State has had two years to prepare for the assault, and according to Iraqi intelligence it has created formidable defenses against any attack. Between six and nine thousand ISIS fighters are inside the city, few of whom, presumably, would be prepared to surrender. “In Mosul,” a US diplomat told me, “it will be a fight to the death.”

Can Germany Cope with the Refugees?

Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in temporary housing at the former Tempelhof Airport, Berlin, February 2016

Germany’s Response to the Refugee Situation: Remarkable Leadership or Fait Accompli?

a report by Matthias M. Mayer in Newpolitik, Bertelsmann Foundation, May 2016, available at www.bfna.org

The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis

by Patrick Kingsley
In June I visited Tempelhof Airport in the heart of Berlin, once a showpiece of the Nazi regime and the site of the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949. The airport stopped operating eight years ago; but in December, with eight hundred Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and other “unofficial immigrants” pouring into the …

The Nepal Catastrophe

The remains of the Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu, four days after the earthquake, April 2015

Kathmandu

by Thomas Bell

Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal

by Prashant Jha
A few minutes before noon on April 25, 2015, the Great Himalayan Thrust, a fault line between the Indian and Eurasian continental plates, ruptured deep beneath Gorkha district, fifty miles northwest of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. The sudden slippage caused an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale that sent …

NYR DAILY

Will Tunisia Become Less Secular?

Tunisian women at a meeting for the Ennahda party, Tunis, April 17, 2011

Outside Tunis one afternoon last week I visited the Tunisian American Association for Management Studies, which offers vocational training and literacy courses to working-class women. A sewing class had just ended, and the participants—a dozen girls and women between the ages of fifteen and fifty, most of them wearing headscarves—agreed to talk about the country’s first democratic election, scheduled to take place on October 23. In recent weeks, polls have showed that Ennahda (Renaissance), an Islamist party banned by the dictatorship of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is poised to win about one third of the vote. Ennahda’s leaders insist that if they win they will respect equal rights for men and women and maintain a division between Islam and the state. Still, they are widely distrusted.