Must-Reads from Around the World: February 24, 2012

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Abdul Malik/Reuters

Afghan protesters burn a U.S. flag during a protest in Helmand province February 23, 2012

Fighting FailureForeign Policy‘s Douglas Wissing posts a damning indictment of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan amid continuing violence over the burning of copies of the Koran. “This wave of protest is just the latest example of how the United States has botched its attempt to win “hearts and minds” in Afghanistan, and another indicator that its war effort is heading toward failure,” he writes.

Friends of Syria – Representatives from the U.S., Europe and Arab countries have convened in Tunisia to back an ultimatum for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  The “Friends of Syria” conference seeks to declare a cease-fire and allow much-needed humanitarian aid into the ravaged country. Russia and China, crucial allies of the Syrian leader, will not be in attendance. The Guardian is live-blogging the day’s events.

Democracy Test – South Africa-based News24 reports on former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo’s meetings with Senegalese opposition leaders, including pop star and former presidential aspirant Youssou N’Dour, to seek a solution to weeks of deadly clashes in Senegal ahead of a presidential election Sunday. See TIME’s latest reporting on the political crisis here.

Neo-Nazi Crimes - Der Spiegel details the surprisingly dull lives of members of a German far-right terror cell uncovered in November 2011 after more than a decade of killings, bombings and robberies.”They kept cats, played computer games and even went on vacation several times together,” the weekly magazine reports of the now-jailed Beate Zschäpe and his dead cohorts Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt.

Focus on Somalia – The Wall Street Journal reports on a renewed focus on ending decades-long conflict in the East African nation following the London Conference on Somalia Thursday. Ridding the nation of terror is a key focus, with world leaders agreeing to provide greater support to African Union troops, increase humanitarian aid and assist in building a stable government. Thursday also saw air strikes that killed at least six people in southern Somalia.The BBC reports that Somali Prime Minster Abdiweli Mohammed Ali called for air strikes in the al-Shabab held region. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Protest in La Paz - Physically disabled protesters clashed with police in La Paz Thursday. The group of around 50 traveled more than 900 miles to the Bolivian capital to demand a higher stipend from the government, the BBC notes. Met by the police in riot gear the demonstration turned violent, as protesters, many in wheelchairs or on crutches, tried to break through the barricade. Reuters caught the clash on video, watch it here.

Wikipedia Ban – The Atlantic explores Uzbekistan’s bizarre ban on the social information site Wikipedia. The government recently banned all pages in the native language of Uzbek, leaving all other pages untouched. What does blocking Uzbek-language posts about Kelly Clarkson and Cristiano Ronaldo accomplish? Anthropologist Sarah Kendzior posits it’s an exhibition of control by the government, “by censoring the Uzbek-language Wikipedia, state authorities mark an ambiguous collaborative space as Uzbekistan state territory — territory subject online, as it is on the ground, to strict government control,” she writes.

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