Today's Story Line:

Two nations are slowly, fitfully moving out of the shadows of their respective pasts. In Syria, a new president and a more open economy may produce more freedom of political expression (page 1).

The former Soviet Republic of Georgia is developing a state with fewer ties to mother Russia. But Moscow doesn't want Georgia to move out of its sphere of influence (this page).

David Clark Scott World editor


DOUBLE TEAM: After several days in Damascus, Syria, the Monitor's Cameron Barr was getting worried. He was meeting would-be reformers and local pundits, but the Ministry of Information had arranged none of the official interviews he had requested. Fortunately, a correspondent for The Economist was also in town, experiencing a similar form of angst. The two informed the ministry that they would be happy to share their interviews if that would expedite matters. Before too long, an appointment with a deputy foreign minister was arranged. In such settings, foreign officials often tell Cameron how much they enjoyed reading the Monitor during graduate school in the US. But this time, the official reserved his praise for the message on the cover of the latest Economist magazine: "Sharon's Israel, the world's worry."

DOUBLE TAKE: The Monitor's Scott Peterson knew that the former Soviet Republic of Georgia was eager to become a member of NATO. But he was surprised to see that it already had the uniforms. Scott noticed that a border security guard "looked all the world like a captain from Iowa in an American Ranger uniform." Curious, Scott tried to read his name tag. "Do I look American?" asked the soldier. Apparently, the US nonlethal military aid to Georgia includes new uniforms. "Everything I'm wearing is American," said the Georgian with pride.

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