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L'ORIENT-LE JOUR(Lebanon)

RIYADH – "We just want to enjoy the right to drive, like all women in the world..."

This request is clear, and it is set to be made -- once again -- directly to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. One year after the launching of a campaign entitled "Women 2 Drive," Saudi Arabia women presented a new online petition this week to claim the right to drive.

Although the Koran does not forbid women from driving, Saudi Arabia has based their ban on a fatwa from powerful conservative religious leaders. Saudi Arabia, an ultraconservative Islamic kingdom, is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving.

In the petition, women are also asking for "the opening of driving schools for women only, as well as the right for them to get driver licenses." In addition, they thank King Abdullah for giving them the right to vote, from 2015 onwards, while being careful to add that they don't want to "infringe any prevailing laws."

The movement started in May 2011, after Manal al-Chérif was kept in prison for 10 days for adding a video on Youtube in which she was driving (see below), the Lebanese newspaper L'Orient-Le Jour reports. Icon of "Women 2 Drive," Manal al-Chérif already signed the petition that should be handed to the King on June 17.

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Geopolitics

Minsk Never More: Lessons For The West About Negotiating With Putin

The longer the war in Ukraine continues, the louder calls will grow for a ceasefire . Stockholm-based analysts explain how the West can reach a viable deal on this: primarily by avoiding strategic mistakes from last time following the annexation of Crimea.

"War is not over" protests in London

Hugo von Essen, Andreas Umland

-Analysis-

Each new day the Russian assault on Ukraine continues, the wider and deeper is the global impact. And so with each day, there is more and more talk of a ceasefire. But just how and under what conditions such an agreement might be reached are wide open questions.

What is already clear, however, is that a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine must not repeat mistakes made since the open conflict between the two countries began more than eight years ago.

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Contrary to widespread opinion, the so-called Minsk ceasefire agreements of 2014-2015 were not meant as a definitive solution. And as we now know, they would not offer a path to peace. Instead, the accord negotiated in the Belarusian capital would indeed become part of the problem, as it fueled the aggressive Russian strategies that led to the escalation in 2022.

In early September 2014, the Ukrainian army suffered a crushing defeat at Ilovaisk against unmarked regular Russian ground forces. Fearing further losses, Kyiv agreed to negotiations with Moscow.

The Minsk Protocol (“Minsk I”) – followed shortly thereafter by a clarifying memorandum – baldly served Russian interests. For example, it envisaged a “decentralization” – i.e. Balkanization – of Ukraine. An uneasy truce came about; but the conflict was in no way resolved.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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