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Gerhard Schröder Bows Before Putin, With A Nod To Steven Seagal

The former German Chancellor has had a troubling second act in global politics.

Putin and Medvedev, as Schröder waits his turn on Monday
Putin and Medvedev, as Schröder waits his turn on Monday
Sascha Lehnartz


BERLIN — After his inauguration in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin shook hands with just three men: first the Patriarch Cyril, then the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and finally Dmitry Medvedev — whom he confirmed shortly afterwards in his position as Prime Minister.

The significance of such symbolic protocol gestures should not be underestimated. In autocratic regimes, the privilege of sitting or standing in the front row, close to the great wise leader, is always comforting evidence that you're still in the boss' good books, for now. The box seat is a life insurance policy, but one that can be canceled unilaterally at any time.

Things are no different in the Russian Federation's 18-year-old "managed democracy." Gerhard Schröder has thus finally reached the front row of exemplary Putin propagandists. He faithfully fulfills the role Putin has assigned him. Cyril gives Putin the spiritual blessing, Medvedev is his political henchman, Schröder's task is to give post-Soviet neo-czarism a touch of international respectability.

This is depressing.

Schröder thus supports a Russian foreign policy the primary goal of which remains to undermine the international order where it still exists. And he tolerates continued internal repression. Just this past weekend, some 1,600 anti-Putin protesters were arrested across Russia.

The fact that a former German chancellor can be recruited for this role is depressing. The prerequisite for the position is that you leave your political judgment and moral compass at the Kremlin's cloakroom.

By the way, just a bit behind Schröder was Steven Seagal, a down-and-out action movie actor who hasn't had a box-office success in 20 years. The longer you look at the pitiful picture, the clearer it becomes that this is the league in which Gerhard Schröder now belongs: He is the Steven Seagal of international politics.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Settlers, Prisoners, Resistance: How Israeli Occupation Ties Gaza To The West Bank

The fate of the West Bank is inevitably linked to the conflict in Gaza; and indeed Israeli crackdowns and settler expansion and violence in the West Bank is a sign of an explicit strategy.

Settlers, Prisoners, Resistance: How Israeli Occupation Ties Gaza To The West Bank

Israeli soldiers take their positions during a military operation in the Balata refugee camp, West Bank.

Riham Al Maqdama


CAIRO — Since “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” began on October 7, the question has been asked: What will happen in the West Bank?

A review of Israel’s positions and rhetoric since 1967 has always referred to the Gaza Strip as a “problem,” while the West Bank was the “opportunity,” so that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005 was even referred to as an attempt to invest state resources in Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank.

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This separation between Gaza and the West Bank in the military and political doctrine of the occupation creates major challenges, repercussions of which have intensified over the last three years.

Settlement expansion in the West Bank and the continued restrictions of the occupation there constitute the “land” and Gaza is the “siege” of the challenge Palestinians face. The opposition to the West Bank expansion is inseparable from the resistance in Gaza, including those who are in Israeli prisons, and some who have turned to take up arms through new resistance groups.

“What happened in Gaza is never separated from the West Bank, but is related to it in cause and effect,” said Ahmed Azem, professor of international relations at Qatar University. “The name of the October 7 operation is the Al-Aqsa Flood, referring to what is happening in Jerusalem, which is part of the West Bank.”

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