Lauren Bohn

The Blood Brothers of Anbar

Meet Omar: A 43-year-old, well-educated hospital director in Fallujah. Does Iraq have any hope for reconciliation if men like this support the Islamic State?

SHAQLAWA, Iraq — In the past year alone, 43-year-old Omar says he's watched hundreds die. Or as he describes it, "boom, gone, the end."

Omar is an administrator of one of the busiest hospitals in Fallujah, in Iraq's restive Anbar province. First, his brother nearly lost a leg in a mortar attack. Then, his neighbor's home was destroyed in shelling. Soon after, his mother narrowly missed a bombing in their once-placid neighborhood. But it wasn't until he watched a 5-year-old girl in a bright pink shirt take her last gasp of air outside his office, her body torn apart from shelling, that he knew he had to leave his hometown. Life in Iraq, as he puts it, has become an endless flow of "dark, dark red."

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Suspended Animation in the Strip

For Gaza’s young and ambitious, the ongoing war is just another one of life’s many challenges.

Amal Ashour has big dreams, which extend beyond the 139-square-mile territory she calls home. One of the most promising students in the Gaza Strip, the 20-year-old Ashour wants to get her master's degree in English literature and become a "serious" college professor. She spent her senior year of high school studying in Minnesota through a U.S.-government funded program -- a rare opportunity for bright students in Gaza, which has been choked by an Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power seven years ago. 

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The Road Not Traveled

Zambia has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, yet its health-care system remains desperate. How this landlocked country survives on one doctor for every 23,000 people.

KATETE, Zambia — Last summer, when 8-year-old Enock Mwale showed surgeon Goran Jovic his scars from a fire that mutilated his left hand, it was the first time he had ever seen a doctor. The problem, however, was not just the child's immobile hand, his fingers scarred together in a near fist -- the real issue was that the accident had happened some two years before.

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Sound and Fury on the Bosphorus

As chaos swirls around Turkey's embattled prime minister, can the opposition take advantage?

ISTANBUL, Turkey — In one of Istanbul's cosmopolitan districts on the winding Bosphorus Strait, two female campaigners stood armed to the teeth with campaign gear -- pamphlets, pins, balloons, and a trailer booming patriotic beats. "Here's the plan," said a soft-spoken Gulsun Karsli. "We'll go house to house and remind people why the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is the best."

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Inside Egypt's Salafis

"All Americans think I'm a terrorist," 34-year-old Salafi political organizer Mohammed Tolba exhales with his trademark belly laugh. He grips his gearshift and accelerates to 115 miles per hour down a winding overpass in Cairo. "But I only terrorize the highways."  Since the fall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Tolba has constantly been on the go. "The media says we all wear galabeyas (long Islamic dress), put our women in niqabs (a face veil), and will cut off people's hands," Tolba says, dramatically feigning a yawn. "We're the new boogey-man, but people need to know we're normal -- that we drink lattes and laugh." 

To this end, the silver-tongued IT consultant shuttles regularly from the modish offices of popular television personality Bassem Youssef (he's starring in a segment on the "Egyptian Jon Stewart's" highly anticipated new show) to the considerably less shiny quarters of Cairo's foremost Salafist centers. He's been conducting leadership and media-training workshops for Salafis. "These guys don't know how to talk to the public," says Tolba, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion. "Once they open their mouths and face a camera, man, they ruin everything."

The same might be said for their debut on Egypt's main stage last Friday, as hundreds of thousands of Salafis joined other Islamist groups in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Droves of people from governorates across Egypt got off buses near Tahrir Square, chanting "Islamic, Islamic, we don't want secular." One Salafi, Hisham al-Ashry, beamed with pride as he walked back from the square to his tailor shop downtown. "Today is a turning point, we finally showed our strength." Meanwhile, "the liberals and the leftists are freaking out. God protect the nation and revolution," noted popular blogger Zeinobia.

Who are the faces and voices of an oft-deemed bearded and veiled monolith that packed the square? And what exactly do they want?

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