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Just three years ago, it appeared that dictatorships in the Middle East might become relics of the political past, replaced by democracy. Now, strongmen in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere have found ways to use the electoral process to maintain power or attain it. We look at America's options. Also, President Obama unveils strict new rules on carbon emissions, and mixed reactions to recovery of an America POW in return for five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

Banner image: Egyptian Minister of Defense General Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi bids farewell to US Secretary of State John Kerry after a meeting in Cairo, Egypt on November 3, 2013. Photo courtesy of the US Department of State

Obama Unveils Strict New Rules on Carbon Emissions 7 MIN, 50 SEC

President Obama today asked Democrats to "please go on offense" in support of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is demanding that power plants cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels in the next 16 years. At a press conference this morning, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy lauded the plan. "The bottom line is we have never -- nor will we ever -- have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. Jonathan Allen is Washington Bureau Chief for Bloomberg News.




Jonathan Allen, Sidewire / Roll Call (@jonallendc)

Whatever Happened to the "Arab Spring?" 34 MIN, 27 SEC

Three years ago, it appeared that anti-government uprisings might lead to the spread of democracy in the Middle East. Now it appears that the democratic process is being used to sustain the power of dictatorships. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is staging a re-election campaign after destroying major cities, killing more than 160,000 people and driving millions of refugees to other countries. But many of those refugees are voting to re-elect him. Is tyrannical order the only alternative to chaos and the spread of terror? Egypt's former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew an elected government, outlawed political opposition and staged his presidential election. Is another military dictatorship preferable to the Muslim Brotherhood? With the collapse of the so-called "freedom agenda," we look at the options for US influence in the Middle East. 

Joshua Landis, University of Oklahoma (@joshua_landis)
Aryn Baker, Time (@arynebaker)
Marc Lynch, George Washington University (@abuaardvark)

Flurry of Questions about Bergdahl Release 8 MIN, 51 SEC

On Saturday, President Obama announced the return of the only American soldier known to be held prisoner in Afghanistan. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was traded for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay. But the deal is not going down well with some of Bergdahl's former comrades — or with everybody in Congress. Bergdahl disappeared from his post in Afghanistan five years ago. A US Army division and thousands of Afghan soldiers and police spent weeks trying to find him. Was he a deserter? Absent without leave?  Did the US negotiate with terrorists to secure his release? Eugene Fidell teaches military justice at the Yale School of Law.





Gene Fidell, Yale Law School (@YaleLawSch)

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