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Kremlin Keeps Distance, France Honors Victims, Black Friday Advice

KREMLIN WON'T JOIN SINGLE ANTI-ISIS COALITION

Photo: Dai Tianfang/Xinhua/ZUMA

The Kremlin said today that Western nations were "not ready" to form a single coalition with Russia to defeat ISIS, AFP reports. The comments come one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with French President François Hollande at the end of a diplomatic blitz in which Hollande tried to bring all anti-ISIS forces together. Though the sides failed to reach a deal to form a single coalition, Putin yesterday said Russia and France would exchange information "about which territories are occupied by the healthy part of the opposition rather than terrorists." The West and Russia remain generally at odds over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Putin insisting that his fate "must stay in the hands of the Syrian people" and describing him and the Syrian army as "a natural ally" against ISIS.

  • It looks like France's strong stance against Assad could change, though, as Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke for the first time of possibly of including "regime forces" in a coalition of ground troops otherwise comprised of the "moderate" opposition and "other Sunni Arab states." But he insisted that Assad, whom he once said "doesn't deserve to be on Earth," "cannot represent the future of his people."
  • Germany announced yesterday it would start supporting the French airstrikes campaign over Syria with reconnaissance jets, a refueling aircraft and a frigate to protect the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, Deutsche Welle reports.
  • Russian media are reporting that the Syrian army is advancing on ISIS fighters in the region of Homs, as it gains territory towards the ancient city of Palmyra.

FRANCE HONORS PARIS ATTACK VICTIMS

As French flags went up all around the city, about 1,000 people gathered in Paris this morning for a memorial ceremony to honor the 130 people killed and 350 wounded during the terrorist attacks two weeks ago. The ceremony took place at Les Invalides, where soldiers who died defending France are traditionally laid to rest and where Napoleon is buried. Speaking at the end of the ceremony, President François Hollande paid tribute to the victims who, he said, "embodied France." He said that the terrorists, acting "in the name of a mad cause and a betrayed God," would not "divide us, oppose us, throw us against one another," and he pledged to "defeat" the "army of fanatics."

  • Some families of victims declined the president's invitation to attend the ceremony and called for others to boycott the event, France TV Info reports. They blamed the government for not doing enough to protect France after January's Charlie Hebdo attacks.

VERBATIM

"As we all know from the Roman empire, big empires go down if the borders are not well-protected," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned, urging the 28-nation bloc of EU states to stop the "massive influx" of refugees. French newspaper Les Échos, meanwhile, reports that the Netherlands are threatening to leave the open-border Schengen Area the country co-founded to create instead a "mini Schengen" with Belgium, Sweden, Luxemburg, Austria and Germany.


COLOMBIAN MERCENARIES FIGHT IN YEMEN

While all eyes are focused on Syria, the war in Yemen rages on and is becoming more complex. According to The New York Times, the United Arab Emirates, which is involved in the conflict against Shia Houthi rebels as part of the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states, has secretly contracted hundreds of mercenaries from Colombia. An estimated 450 fighters come from Latin America, and experts quoted in the article say that the use of foreign mercenaries by rich nations could be "a glimpse into the future of war."


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

This may be the heyday of digital music, in Japan as much as anywhere else, but at the same time, vinyl records are making a slow but steady comeback as people rediscover the warmth of the sound the analog format contains, The Japan News reports. "Vinyl records peaked in the late 1970s, when nearly 200 million were manufactured annually in Japan. But their output sharply declined after the advent of CDs, which first came out in 1982 and became the primary way of listening to music. Vinyl records were handed a further blow when Apple Inc. began its online music-distribution services. A turning (back) point came in 2012, when the Beatles albums were reissued on vinyl records. The beauty of their sound captured people's attention once again, which led to more great jazz and rock records being reissued in the format."

Read the full article, Even In Techno-Charged Japan, Vinyl Makes Comeback.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



TURKISH JOURNALISTS ARRESTED

Two journalists from Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet have been arrested and accused of spying and being members of a terrorist group after a report earlier this year in which they revealed that Turkish intelligence agencies were illegally providing "extremist groups" with weapons, Today's Zaman reports. "Don't worry, these are medals of honor for us," Cumhuriyet's editor-in-chief Can Dündar said after the court decided to imprison him and his colleague Erdem Gül. "The president is acting as if this is a personal lawsuit," Dündar added.


ON THIS DAY


Harvey Milk, Kurdish history and the incomparable Bruce Lee. We've got all that and more in today's shot of history.


HARDCORE DIGITAL DETOX

While many might use Black Friday to upgrade their tech gear, the words of a man who spent the last 40 years in jail might serve as a healthy reality check. Finally free in New York, he was confused at the sight of "a majority of people talking to themselves" with "wires in their ears" like "CIA agents."

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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