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Good Reads: Back to Tahrir Square, Syrians get violent, and Occupy Wall Street

It's the autumn of discontent, with Egyptian activists worried about a military comeback, Syrian protesters taking up arms, and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US and Europe.

By Scott BaldaufStaff Writer / October 5, 2011

A woman holds a Syria flag as Jordanians and Syrians living in Jordan shout slogans against Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad during a protest outside the Syrian embassy in Amman on Monday.

Majed Jaber/Reuters

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Good Reads highlights the best reporting and analysis available on the top international stories of the day – and other key topics you shouldn't miss.

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It’s incredible to think that at this time last year, the leaders of the North African states of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt were familiar faces that had been around for decades – Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali, Muammar Qaddafi, and Hosni Mubarak.

Today, all three are gone, courtesy of a few citizens who decided that enough was enough.

The Washington Post’s Leila Fadel visits one of these citizens in Cairo, a 27-year-old activist named Rasha Azb, who has taken to the streets again to protest against the Egyptian military’s continued control of the country. She worries that with elections just around the corner, Egyptians could lose all the freedoms they won during the past year by relaxing now, giving the same old establishment politicians a chance to take back the levers of control.

But activists like Ms. Azb are finding the mood in Egypt has turned against them, Ms. Fadel writes:

… in the months since the revolution, Azb’s struggle has gone back to what it was before the uprising: a lonely fight that few in Egypt are inclined to join against a seemingly implacable foe. The youths who once were hailed for leading the revolution as national saviors and true voices of the Arab street are now seen by many as a nuisance, clogging traffic and spoiling the economy. Even Azb’s brother tells her she’s wasting her time.

Syrians get violent?

The protesters of Tunisia and Egypt inspired like-minded youths around the world, from Damascus to Wall Street. But in Damascus, those who joined what was initially a clever nonviolent democratic reform movement are beginning to lose hope.

In New York, Russia and China yesterday voted against a European proposed set of sanctions against the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Now, distressed activists in Syria are starting to doubt that their present methods of nonviolent defiance are going to succeed against a regime that has no qualms against unleashing the full brutal force of its military against unarmed civilians.

So Syrians like Abu Sultan are arming themselves and preparing for all out civil war.

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