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This Happened

This Happened — October 17: Liberation Of Raqqa

Raqqa was declared fully liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on this day in 2017.

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Why was Raqqa so important in the Syrian Civil War?

Raqqa was of strategic importance because it served as the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS and was a center for the group's operations in Syria. Capturing Raqqa was a key objective for various anti-ISIS forces, including the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and international coalition forces.

Who were the main forces involved in the liberation of Raqqa?

The main forces involved in the liberation of Raqqa included the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-Arab alliance, and coalition forces led by the United States. They worked together in a campaign known as Operation Inherent Resolve to drive ISIL out of Raqqa. The offensive to retake the city began in early June 2017 and concluded with the declaration of liberation in October 2017. The operation involved intense urban combat and the clearing of booby traps and mines left by ISIL.

How did the liberation of Raqqa affect the overall dynamics of the Syrian Civil War?

The liberation of Raqqa was one of several significant developments in the Syrian Civil War. It reshaped the balance of power and territorial control among various factions, including the Syrian government, rebel groups, and Kurdish forces. The conflict continued, albeit with shifting alliances and priorities.

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How War And Censorship Are Killing Russian Rap Culture, One Beat At A Time

Censorship in Russia has increased rapidly over the last couple of decades, especially since their invasion of Ukraine. Russian rap, which has often challenged the politics and society of Russia, has become even more censored than before, even causing some rappers to emigrate.

How War And Censorship Are Killing Russian Rap Culture, One Beat At A Time

Russian rapper Egor Krid performs during a concert in St Petersburg.

John Vandevert

In retrospect, rap in 1990s Russia was truly free. How so? Look around: the bright post-Soviet future of which Russians caught a glimpse during the 1990s has collapsed, replaced with something much darker, with one of its victims being rap.

In my PhD research on 1990s rap in Russia, I find the era allowed Soviet nostalgia, sexual promiscuity, and self-reflection to live alongside political cooptation, much like in the 1999/2000 song “Beat Battle”, a covert political message in support of centrist electoral candidate Grigory Yavlinsky. The 1996 track “Vote or Lose” by Bachelor Party (in Russian: Malchinik, Мальчишник) is yet another case:

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What you can’t find is censorship. Whatever one thinks of Boris Yeltsin’s embrace of the West, thanks to rap, a strong community was created. Come 2023, and censorship has changed that community’s fabric forever.

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