5 Top Reads

Our Top Weekend Reads

Turkey bombs Syrian Kurds, Poland goes to the polls, and the NBA bows to Chinese pressure.

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the third day of Turkey's military operation.
Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on Oct. 11, the third day of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces. Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

This week, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing all U.S. troops from northeast Syria, stepping back from a strategic relationship with Kurdish-led forces and allowing Turkey to initiate military operations against them.

Meanwhile, Russia’s growing presence in Venezuela is quietly opening a new area of conflict between Washington and Moscow in Latin America.

And the NBA allowed itself to become an arm of Chinese state censorship—joining the ranks of many other U.S. businesses.

Here are Foreign Policy’s top weekend reads.


Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir Ezzor, Syria.

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces stand in formation during a victory announcement ceremony over the defeat of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate at Omar Academy in Deir Ezzor, Syria, on March 23. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ray Boyington

1. “Some of the Most Noble People I’d Ever Met”

After U.S. troops spent more than five years fighting alongside Kurdish forces against the Islamic State, Trump abruptly withdrew them from northeast Syria, opening the door for Turkey to launch a large-scale bombing campaign against Kurdish targets, Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman reports. The move caught senior defense officials by surprise.

U.S. troops who served in Syria told Foreign Policy they were devastated by the decision. Defense Secretary Mark Esper defended the move. “We have not abandoned the Kurds,” he said. “Nobody greenlighted this operation by Turkey.”


Yao Ming dunks at an NBA game

China-born star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets dunks against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Dec. 12, 2008.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

2. The NBA Is China’s Willing Tool

The NBA is an outspoken defender of freedom of speech in the United States. But when it comes to China, it is guilty of upholding Beijing’s strict censorship laws, Foreign Policy’s James Palmer writes.


Nur Iman holds a picture of her father in front of the White House in Washington in September.

Nur Iman holds a picture of her father in front of the White House in Washington in September. COURTESY OF NUR IMAN

3. I Was a Model Uighur. China Took My Family Anyway.

The Uighur scholar Nur Iman’s family was detained in China’s Xinjiang province more than two years ago. In an essay for Foreign Policy, she demands that the Chinese government release them.


Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro shake hands at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 2, 2013.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro shake hands at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 2, 2013. Maxim Shemetov/AFP/Getty Images

4. Russia Is Gearing Up for a Conflict With the United States in the Caribbean

Russian President Vladimir Putin is bolstering his country’s military and financial presence in Venezuela. As long as the United States remains averse to military action, Trump must extend his use of sanctions to protect its strategic backyard, Ryan C. Berg writes.


Participants seen holding flags during the National Rosary

Participants hold flags during the National Rosary March organized by Poland’s Catholic Church and the governing Law and Justice party in Warsaw on Oct. 5. Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

5. Why Poland’s Populists Keep Winning

Poland’s ruling populist Law and Justice party is on the verge of another victory in parliamentary elections this weekend. The party’s perceived ability to provide better social services than the opposition is what sustains it popularity among the public, Slawomir Sierakowski writes.

Dan Haverty is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @dan_haverty

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