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Geopolitics

ARABICA: Tunisia Shooting, Saudi Driving And Other News Buzzing In The Arab World

Your weekly shot of what the Arab world is saying, hearing and sharing.

ARABICA: Tunisia Shooting, Saudi Driving And Other News Buzzing In The Arab World
Laura Thompson

Bassem Youssef: Egyptian comic back on air, back in trouble

He’s been dubbed the “Jon Stewart of Egypt,” and Bassem Youssef’s satire was considered a state enemy by the Muslim Brotherhood and then-President Mohamed Morsi. Now Youssef is back on TV with the first episode of his show El-Bernameg since the army’s June 30 ouster of Morsi. Sticking to his calling, which sees the powers-that-be as perfect comic material, Youssef didn’t hesitate to attack Egypt’s current military leadership (in particular Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi). And just that quickly, he is now facing charges for insulting government officials.

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Geopolitics

Is Odessa Next? Putin Sees A Gateway To Moldova — And Chance For Revenge

After the fall of Mariupol, Vladimir Putin appears to have his eye on another iconic southern coastal city, with a strong identity and strategic location.

Odessa after a missile attack

Vincenzo Circosta/ZUMA
Anna Akage

Air strikes on the port city of Odessa have become more frequent over the past three weeks, most often hitting residential buildings, shopping malls, and critical infrastructure rather than military targets. The missiles arrive from naval vessels on the Black Sea and across the sea from the nearby Crimean coast, with the toll including multiple civilian deaths and a growing sense of panic. In Odessa, fears are rising that it could follow Mariupol as Vladimir Putin’s next principal target.

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Since the beginning of the war, more than half of the population — about 500,000 people — have left the city, even as others are flowing into Odessa from other war-torn regions in southern Ukraine, where the situation is even worse: people from Nikolayev, Kherson, Crimea, and even from Moldovan Transnistria.

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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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