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Libya Faces Civil War As Regional Powers Enter the Fray

On Aug. 18 and again on Aug. 24, Islamist militias fighting for control of Tripoli’s airport faced a series of mysterious air strikes. Their rivals among Libya’s fractious militias may be well armed, but none have an effective air force that could have struck the Islamists from the skies. Attention turned to neighboring countries, and on Aug. 25, U.S. officials confirmed what many Libyans had already feared: the United Arab Emirates, assisted by Egypt, had launched the attacks.

Both countries deny the claims, but to experts who closely follow the region, the denials ring hollow. With Islamist forces gaining ground in Libya, they say, neighbors fear for their own stability–particularly in the wake of recent gains in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

Ultimately, the Islamists retained control of Tripoli’s airport. But the fallout for Libya–and the region–could be devastating.

From the first days of the uprising against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s neighbors sought to influence the outcome by supporting different factions within the opposition. Now that Gaddafi has been replaced with a fledgling democratic state, those militias are battling for political influence, the country’s vast oil wealth and lucrative smuggling routes. Increasingly, they are backed by their former regional sponsors.

The problem is that none of Libya’s militias are poised to establish stability or protect democratic gains. The leader of the main anti-Islamist militia, ex-general Khalifa Hifter, attempted to take power by force in May, hardly inspiring confidence in his support for democratic governance.

Had militia infighting stayed local, observers say, there was a chance of local resolution. But with regional militaries taking sides in a conflict that is rapidly descending into civil war, a settlement will be harder to reach.


‘I consider this the highest honor of my life.’

GENERAL PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, Thai military chief and coup leader, after receiving King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s endorsement to become Prime Minister. The King’s approval was a formality and came after Prayuth’s handpicked parliament selected him for the post. In May, Prayuth led a military coup after months of street protests and political unrest.



Gallup polled some 135,000 people around the world about their employment status. Below, a sampling of those who said they worked for themselves:


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40% Vietnam


14% Egypt


13% Argentina


9% Germany


4% U.S.


China’s silent war on terrorism

Chinese state media announced on Aug. 23 that eight people had been executed on terrorism charges, including three ethnic Uighurs tied to an attack last October in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The reports offered few details about the conditions of their detention and trial, raising fresh questions about how China’s terrorism crackdown is being conducted.


Since the violence in the capital last fall, the country has been rocked by brutal attacks at railway stations in the cities of Kunming and Urumqi. China says the unrest is being orchestrated by overseas Islamic terrorist groups.


While blaming foreign groups, authorities have tightened their grip across Xinjiang, the vast northwestern territory where some have been fighting for a homeland for the mostly Muslim Uighur people. Entire cities are now sealed off by checkpoints, and there are growing limits on people’s right to travel, worship and dress as they please.


China has kept foreign reporters and rights groups from traveling to many parts of Xinjiang, and fear of retribution prevents locals from speaking out. By isolating the area and stepping up online censorship, Beijing is able to control when and how people talk about terrorism in China.

Seeking Shelter


Patients gather in a basement after a shell struck a hospital compound in the rebel-held city of Donetsk on Aug. 24 amid ongoing fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, on Aug. 26 for talks on ending the conflict–which Kiev blames on Moscow’s support for the rebels–but the meeting proved inconclusive.


Why Burger King Is Buying Canada’s Tim Hortons

Burger King is buying the Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons in an $11.4 billion deal. The combined firm will have more than 18,000 outlets in 100 countries, making it the world’s third largest fast-food business. Here are the key takeaways from the deal.

Tax Controversy

The merged outfit will pay lower taxes by setting up its headquarters in Canada, which has lower corporate rates than the U.S. This process, called inversion, has drawn ire but not action from U.S. lawmakers.

Breakfast Wars

The deal isn’t just about taxes: joining forces with the Canadian chain will help Burger King compete with the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s in the fast-growing American coffee and breakfast markets.

Buffett’s Backing

U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway firm will put up $3 billion in financing for the deal, has been a critic of tax policies favoring the rich. But he said this deal was not driven by tax savings.



Amount needed to fight the current Ebola outbreak, according to a draft World Health Organization document

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Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas agreed to a cease-fire aimed at ending the seven-week conflict in Gaza


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The U.N. said almost 1,900 migrants from Africa and the Middle East have drowned in the Mediterranean this year as they tried to reach Europe

This appears in the September 08, 2014 issue of TIME.

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