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Sarah Birke

Mexico City, Mexico
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About Sarah
I am The Economist's Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. I am interested in, and write about, everything from politics and business to social affairs in the region. I was previously the newspaper's Tokyo Bureau Chief and Middle East Bureau Chief. I have taken part in panel debates and phone-ins on numerous radio stations including the BBC and NPR. I have written pieces for other outlets including the New York Review of Books and London Review of Books.
Feature Stories Content Writing Interview (Print / Radio / Podcast)
Current Affairs Fact Checking

Who’d be a working mother in Japan?

16 Nov 2016  |  The Economist
Sarah Birke discusses the challenges she faced as a pregnant woman taking up a new role as Tokyo bureau chief for The Economist. She contrasts the manageable stress of her situation with the bafflement and assumptions of the Japanese people she encountered, who questioned the decision of her company to appoint her given her pregnancy, assuming she would not return to work post-childbirth.

Degrees of uncertainty

15 Aug 2016  |  The Economist
The article discusses the challenges faced by young Arabs, particularly focusing on Muhammad Fawzy, a 21-year-old engineering student at Cairo University. Despite the demand for technical graduates, Fawzy is pessimistic about his job prospects and the ability to support his family, which also affects his prospects for marriage. The article explores the broader context of youth unemployment, political repression, and the aftermath of the Arab Spring. It highlights the demographic explosion, high youth unemployment rates, and the trend of migration. The article also touches on the changing attitudes towards education, gender equality, and religious beliefs among young Arabs. It concludes by examining the potential for radicalization due to disenchantment and lack of opportunities, while noting that most young Arabs do not support extremist groups like IS.

The Influence of ISIS in Syria

19 Dec 2013  |  The New York Review of Books
The article discusses the significant impact of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) on the Syrian war since its emergence in April last year. ISIS, linked to al-Qaeda, has imposed strict sharia law, committed atrocities, and fought against rival militias, including the killing of a foreign journalist. The group's actions have forced the US and European allies to reconsider their strategy in Syria, including possible engagement with the Assad regime and the Islamist Front. ISIS's rapid expansion has been facilitated by foreign fighters and funding, particularly from the Gulf. The group's presence has shifted the focus from ousting Assad to dealing with the security threat posed by ISIS. The article also touches on the local and international dynamics affecting the conflict, including Turkey's role in allowing jihadists to cross into Syria and the West's shifting stance towards a political solution. Mike King is the journalist who wrote the article.

The Syrian Heartbreak

16 Apr 2013  |  MERIP
The article delves into the profound impact of the Syrian Civil War on the country's national identity and pride, which was once rooted in its rich history, culture, and geopolitical stance. It discusses the destruction of cities, heritage, and the social fabric, as well as the immense human cost of the conflict, with tens of thousands killed, including activists, doctors, and children. The article highlights the humiliation and suffering of Syrians, the international community's inadequate response, and the complex dynamics of loyalty and opposition within the country. It explores the moral degradation on both sides of the conflict, the rise of extremism, and the shared aspirations of Syrians for a cohesive, tolerant society. The article also criticizes the role of foreign powers in exacerbating the conflict and suggests that the resolution is not solely in the hands of Syrians but requires an international effort.

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