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A man gestures as people rush to a site hit by what activists said was heavy shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus June 16, 2015.

New Approach in Southern Syria

Middle East Report N°163, 2 September 2015

Syria’s civil war is stuck in a vicious cycle, and the U.S. is best placed to change the appalling status quo. Washington should take advantage of opportunities in southern Syria to launch a new policy to improve the chance of a political settlement, chiefly by deterring regime aerial attacks on rebel-held civilian areas.

Nepal: Conflict Alert
AFP/Manish Paudel

2 September 2015: Spiralling protests against a draft constitution have left 23 dead and hundreds injured in Nepal in two weeks. An over-militarised security reaction and inadequate political response from the centre threaten to fuel deep-seated ethnic, caste and regional rivalries less than a decade after the civil war’s end. The major parties should recognise the depth of discontent and the fundamental challenge this poses to the legitimacy of the proposed constitution. A hastily-passed document, weeks after mobilisation of security forces to counter citizens’ protests against it, is unlikely to be the social contract Nepal needs.

Political Turmoil in Guatemala: Opportunities and Risks
REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

31 August 2015: Guatemala is confronting a fast-moving crisis of political legitimacy, as prosecutors reveal new evidence that appears to implicate President Otto Pérez Molina and his former vice president in an allegedly massive tax fraud scheme. Powerful business and civil society organisations are calling for the president´s resignation. Almost twenty years after the end of a bloody civil war, Guatemala has an opportunity to overcome a legacy of impunity, weak institutions and crippled political parties. At the same time, there is a danger that hope could turn into frustration and even violence if political actors fail to respect constitutional rules, and those chosen in the 6 September elections for president and Congress ignore popular demands for justice and transparency.

Lebanon’s Un-collected Problems
Lebanese protesters are sprayed with water during a protest against corruption and against the government’s failure to resolve a crisis over rubbish disposal, near the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon on 23 August 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir.

27 August 2015: Protests over corruption and political dysfunction are growing in Lebanon. Clashes between protesters and security forces have left dozens wounded over the last few days, increasing instability in a country highly polarised along politico-sectarian fault lines, threatened not long ago by sectarian clashes and violence, and already overwhelmed by nearly 1.2 million Syrian refugees, ongoing border tensions as well as kidnappings by Sunni Islamist militants. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Lebanon Senior Analyst Sahar Atrache examines the underlying causes of the crisis and the possible scenarios that Lebanon faces.

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