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A blog devoted to on-the-ground reporting around the world.

Why Turkey won’t support the Kurds against IS

Analysis: Age-old hatreds are playing a central role in the country’s foreign policy today.
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Kurdish man stands close to the Turkish-Syrian border as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, as seen from the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, in the Sanliurfa province, on Oct. 16. Islamic State militants have suffered setbacks and have begun retreating from parts of the beseiged Syrian border town of Kobani, according to a local official. Since mid-September more than 200,000 people from Kobani have fled across the border into Turkey. (ARIS MESSINIS /AFP/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — Traveling through Istanbul on my way back from a reporting trip in the Middle East, I sipped a cup of Turkish coffee in a café and picked up a stack of bustling daily newspapers.

From the headlines in these traditionally nationalistic papers — stories that feature the state of the Turkish economy and a fair bit of fretting over its image in the European Union — you’d hardly know there was a war raging on the country’s doorstep.

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New center to help coordinate global response to youth unemployment crisis

More than 400 million jobs will need to be created in the next decade to keep up with the growing labor force, the International Labor Organization reports.
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Greek unions rally against unemployment in central Athens in July. The last few years have seen youth unemployment rise to crisis levels, with more than 74 million young people without jobs today. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI /AFP/Getty Images)

As youth unemployment spirals into crisis levels worldwide, solutions are increasingly relying on stakeholders from varying sectors to come together, push for reform and innovate on a global scale, according to panelists at a policy forum on the issue, held Oct. 15 in Washington, DC.

“This has risen to the level of what we call a grand challenge that needs to be addressed in a very complex and coordinated fashion,” said Wayne Holden, president and CEO of the research firm RTI International, which hosted the forum.

The forum covered educational reforms that would better prepare millennials for the current job market and the role businesses can play in directing and funding career programs. The four panelists of varying backgrounds talked about innovations that have succeeded in getting young people employed and, above all, the need to forge partnerships that could take those innovations to a nationwide and global scale.

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President Obama: America's millennials not really a 'lost generation'

With the midterm elections next month, the president pitched his plans for a generation disillusioned with his economic leadership.
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US President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting Oct. 9 at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Calif., where he addresses issues affecting millennials today. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is offering a new commitment to American millennials, but with youth unemployment and student debt levels still oppressively high, the country's largest generation has withdrawn some of its once-fervent support for him.

"A lot of you entered into the workforce during the worst financial crisis and then the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Obama told a forum at Cross Campus, a business and innovation center in Santa Monica, Calif. on Thursday. “A lot of cynics have said, ‘Well, that makes many of you part of a lost generation.’ But I don’t buy that, because when I travel around the country, I see the kind of energy and hope and determination that so many of you are displaying here.”

The president praised the efforts of millennials to overcome a recovering economy and assured them of his administration’s support in issues that affect them most — wage equality, unemployment, health care, education and debt.

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To move forward, Jerusalem must steer its own fate

Analysis: Unless citizens of all faiths find a way to work together, weak leadership and old hatreds will keep the city from a potentially bright future.
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A Ferrari Formula One racing car in action during the 2014 edition of the Formula 1 Peace Road Show on Oct. 6 in Jerusalem, Israel. The two-day event returns for its second year, showcasing stunt performers and exotic vehicles, racing past historic monuments on the ancient city's streets. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM – Behold the new Jerusalem.

Here I was, stuck in ungodly traffic on the outskirts of the ancient walls of the Old City, that sacred quarry of stone that holds traditions dear to all three Abrahamic faiths. And through a crowd lined up along the ramparts and the sidewalks nearby, I suddenly heard the thunder of powerful engines and the screeching of tires.

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There's no hiding US failure in Afghanistan

Blog: Troops who remain on the ground no longer try to sugarcoat the reality that the war has accomplished little of permanence.
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Deep into the drawdown, fuel is no longer distributed to smaller bases by road — it is too dangerous and there aren't enough trucks. Two Chinooks at Kandahar Airfield prepare to deliver fuel containers to a small contingent of troops at FOB Apache in neighboring Zabul Province. (Ben Brody/GlobalPost)
Blog: Troops who remain on the ground no longer try to sugarcoat the reality that the war has accomplished little of permanence.
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Kurdish forces take on Islamic State in small, relentless battles for Iraq's villages

Even with US-led airstrikes, the situation on the ground could take months — if not years — to resolve. How did IS get so strong?
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Peshmerga field commander Mahmud Sangawy speaks from the IS/Peshmerga frontline on the outskirts of Kubashi. (Tracey Shelton/GlobalPost)

KUBASHI, Iraq – Mortar rounds thundered over a barren landscape as Kurdish forces confronted fighters from the militant group Islamic State (IS) in a skirmish along the front line here Monday.

It was a small battle in a small war – a classic example of the kind of fighting that, even with US military air support, will take months if not longer to root out the Islamic militants.

The peshmerga, as the Kurdish forces allied with the US are called, explained that they are filling a void left by the Iraqi army when it collapsed over the summer, allowing the Islamic militants to sweep into and take control of a swath of land from Southern Syria to Northern Iraq.

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With journalism under attack, protecting press freedom becomes more urgent

Editors and news executives gather to discuss how the industry will face a world that is increasingly dangerous for journalists.
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Al-Jazeera channel's Australian journalist Peter Greste (C), Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmi (L) and Egyptian journalist Mohamed Baher stand inside the defendants cage during their trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood at the police institute near Cairo's Tora prison on June 1, 2014. (KHALED DESOUKI /AFP/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Journalism is under fire on all fronts.

For foreign correspondents covering conflict on the front lines, a certain level of risk has always come with the terrain. And hard-hitting, investigative reporting has never been for the faint of heart, no matter what country you come from.

But at a large gathering here last week of editors and executives from American and international news organizations, a broad consensus emerged that these are uniquely dark and perilous days for practitioners of the craft – not just for correspondents in simmering conflicts with distant datelines, but also for reporters in the US and in foreign countries who are witnessing protections for freedom of the press steadily erode in their own countries.

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Foley family honors son with new nonprofit

The James W. Foley Legacy Fund hopes to celebrate the kind of work Jim loved and provide support to families of American hostages.
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John and Diane Foley — along with family, friends and supporters — hope to give support to others in hostage situations and promote their late son's passions through the James W. Foley Legacy Fund. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

ROCHESTER, New Hampshire — One month after the horrific video of American journalist James Foley’s beheading at the hands of the Islamic State was released, the Foley family finds itself at the center of a global debate over the US government’s policy to forbid the payment of ransom to terrorist organizations.

You’d never know all this was swirling around this faithful and dignified family here in the quiet New England town where they live and where Jim, 40, came of age along with his four siblings. But they have now stepped into a very public and emotional argument over how to address the rising scourge of kidnap and ransom.

To help focus that debate, the Foleys established a fund that will provide resources to families caught in the nightmare of a hostage situation, and that will also seek to enshrine a legacy for their brother and son who was executed after being taken hostage in Syria and held for nearly two years during which time he was beaten and tortured.  

In announcing the formation of the James W. Foley Legacy Fund on Friday, John and Diane Foley have sought to confront their anguish by promoting Jim's “passions and ideals among future generations.”

To support the James W. Foley Legacy Fund, visit the site here.

According to a statement about the nonprofit organization which was conceived of in the Foleys' home by family, friends and supporters over the last few weeks, “The Fund’s foremost aim is to build a resource center for families of American hostages as they work to bring their loved ones home.“

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President Obama dives into another 'Long War' with Islamic State

Analysis: Obama's promise Wednesday night to 'degrade and ultimately destroy' IS had a hole in it that you could drive an armored Humvee through.
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US President Barack Obama stands at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, September 11, 2014, for a moment of silence marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — The 13 years of US-led fighting that defined the post-9/11 world in Afghanistan and Iraq, then in smaller campaigns in Yemen and Somalia, came to be known as The Long War.

On Wednesday night, the eve of the 13th anniversary of September 11, President Obama made it clear that The Long War is nowhere near over and indeed has opened a new front against the Islamic State.

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Afghanistan's contested presidential election hangs over US transition

As US soldiers leave, a mentorship program that brings together US military brass and Afghan political leaders will maintain some continuity.
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Col. Tom Washington learns that Gov. Toryalai Wesa has just flown to Kabul, so he'll be meeting with Wesa's deputy, Abdul Patyal in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Ben Brody/GlobalPost)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — With his armored trucks creeping through the thronging bazaars that line Highway 1, Col. Tom Washington recently made his weekly trip from Kandahar Airfield to the governor’s palace.

Gov. Toryalai Wesa had just left for meetings in Kabul, so the colonel met with Kandahar Province’s deputy governor Abdul Qadim Patyal, as he often does.

Ask Washington where he’s from and he’ll tell you in a lilting Tidewater accent that he’s a Virginia native. Press further and you’ll find that doesn’t just mean he was born there. His family has lived in Virginia for eight generations and is related to the Washington, the first president of the United States. Washington’s role as military liaison to the governor’s office is one of the few US military jobs that will remain in Kandahar after the planned drawdown of troops is complete. While Washington will likely finish his tour at the end of the year, he'll be replaced by another handpicked colonel, continuing the mentorship and information sharing process that is central to the post-2014 US mission in Afghanistan.

President Obama has identified counterterrorism and training as the two emphases for the road ahead, and the soldiers tasked with carrying them out will have their work cut out for them. At the moment, US soldiers are leaving Afghanistan in droves, most military bases here are now in Afghan hands and US activities in 2015 and beyond are expected to be much smaller than they’ve been in more than a decade.

A few years ago, the main effort of US mentorship and training took place primarily at the lowest levels of Afghan military and politics: US soldier to Afghan soldier, squad to squad, platoon to platoon. Four months from the combat mission’s official end, mentorship occurs only at the highest provincial levels: US general to Afghan general, corps to corps, and in Kandahar City, colonel to governor.

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