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Economy

Ban On Syrian Money — Is ISIS About To Issue Its Own Currency?

ISIS has banned the use of newly pressed 500 and 1,000 Syrian pound notes. Some fear its the start of a currency switch, though others say it's a way for some to profit on money exchanges.

A Damascus woman reads a brochure about the new 1,000 Syrian Pounds bill issued last June.
A Damascus woman reads a brochure about the new 1,000 Syrian Pounds bill issued last June.
Ammar/Xinhua/ZUMA
Ahmad al-Bahri

RAQQA — The self-proclaimed Islamic State has outlawed the circulation of two Syrian banknotes issued by the Bashar al-Assad government in Damascus, in what some believe could be a precursor to a complete phasing out of Syrian currency in areas under the jihadist group's control.

Religious police ISIS" de facto capital of Raqqa have outlawed the 500 and 1,000 Syrian pound notes, issued in 2013 by the Syrian government in Damascus. The illegal currencies are to be replaced with older or smaller bills and dumped in areas outside the jihadist group's controls, according to a memorandum obtained by Syria Deeply.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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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.

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