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Russia Stepping Into Syria Is Sign Of Iran Failure To Protect Assad

Russia's decision to send troops into Syria in defense of its ally, President Bashar al-Assad, is now at the center of a major diplomatic standoff between Moscow and the West. But the move by Russian President Vladimir Putin to send military support to combat ISIS insurgents is also a sign of concerns at the military "shortcomings" of the Hezbollah militia and Iran's revolutionary guards, which have been fighting alongside Assad since 2011.

As regional powers and the West mull over a possible political solution to nearly five years of civil war, Russia's "immediate" concern was said to be for "Tehran's evident military incapacity to protect" the Assad regime, writes Philippe Abi-Akl, a columnist in Lebanon's L'Orient Le Jour.

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Hezbollah flag in Lebanon. Photo: OpenDemocracy

According to Abi-Akl, Hezbollah — a militia that Iran created in Lebanon in the 1980s — and Iran's own revolutionary guards, had "failed" to beat Syrian rebels and secure key regime positions on the Golan Heights.

Western observers believe Russian entry was subject to "prior coordination between Moscow and Tehran," the columnist reports.

Russia's enhanced standing as a key mediator, if not the principal foreign actor, in the Syrian war, Abi-Akl has "blatantly eclipsed Iran's role." Beside winning the "trust" of the Syrian regime, he concludes, Russia had "deftly" managed to "weave" ties with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two powers keen to see Iran as absent in Syria.

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LGBTQ Plus

Mayan And Out! Living Proudly As An Indigenous Gay Man

Being gay and indigenous can mean facing double discrimination, including from within the communities they belong to. But LGBTQ+ indigenous people in Guatemala are liberating their sexuality and reclaiming their cultural heritage.

Photo of the March of Dignity in Guatemala

The March of Dignity in Guatemala

Teresa Son and Emma Gómez

CANTEL — Enrique Salanic and Arcadio Salanic are two K'iché Mayan gay men from this western Guatemalan city

Fire is a powerful symbol for them. Associated with the sons and daughters of Tohil, the god who bestows fire in Mayan culture, it becomes the mirror and the passage that allows them to see and express their sexuality. It is a portal that connects people with their grandmothers and grandfathers, the cosmos and the energies that the earth transmits.

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