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Geopolitics

Putin's Holy War: Syrians Outraged At Russia Intervention

Moscow's decision to enter the Syrian conflict with bombing raids may bring smiles to the Assad regime. On the ground, ordinary Syrians are paying the price.

Syrians in Aleppo after airstrikes on Sept. 20
Syrians in Aleppo after airstrikes on Sept. 20
Omar Abdallah

TALBISEH — It didn't take long for Russian interference in Syria, where the country's air force is carrying out airstrikes against ISIS targets, to trigger a strong backlash. Last week, on the very first day of the offensive, Russian airstrikes killed 17 civilians in Talbiseh, a town in the rural northwestern province of Homs, nearly 30 miles from areas controlled by ISIS militants. Russian warplanes also reportedly targeted Tajamu al-Ezzah, a U.S.-backed rebel group, in the northern rural areas of Hama province.

Talbiseh residents who spoke with Syria Deeply expressed anger over Moscow's attacks on the town, and over Russian President Vladimir Putin's aid to the beleaguered government of Bashar al-Assad. "Russia launched the attacks to protect Assad," says Abdul Latif, a 34-year-old father of three from Talbiseh, who works at an auto shop in town and volunteers in his spare time distributing food to the needy. "These are Putin's words, but he actually attacked civilians."

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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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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