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Geopolitics

French-Mali Forces Capture Timbuktu, Fleeing Islamists Burn Ancient Manuscripts

FRANCE 24, FRANCE TV INFO, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE (France), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

PARIS - French forces, supported by the Mali army have captured both the rebel strongholds of Timbuktu and Gao in a fast-moving offensive against Al Qaeda-linked fighters occupying northern Mali.

Battling together to loosen the grip of Islamist fighters in the country’s north, French and Malian troops have taken control of Timbuktu’s airport, before working towards securing the town itself, France 24 reports.

The advancing troops met no resistance from the insurgents who had held the town since last year – but fleeing rebels set fire to the newly-constructed Ahmed Baba Institute containing thousands of priceless manuscripts, Timbuktu’s mayor told Reuters.

The joint operation, led by special forces supported by French aircraft, allowed the troops to regain control over the northern part of the Niger river, known as the "Niger bend," Col. Thierry Burkhard, a French military spokesman in Paris told the Agence France Presse.

On Saturday, French-led troops recaptured the Islamist stronghold of Gao, the most populous city in northern Mali, in a spectacular boost to the fast-moving offensive that began two weeks ago, France 24 reports.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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