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Geopolitics

Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah's Costly Support Of The Assad Clan

A friend in need is a friend indeed: Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's chief, has never wavered in his support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The stakes are high: if Assad goes, chances are Hezbollah goes too.

Syrian protesters step on posters of Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in January 2012 (FreedomHouse2)
Syrian protesters step on posters of Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in January 2012 (FreedomHouse2)
Laure Stephan


BEIRUT - It's when things get tough that you find out who your true friends are, or so the adage goes. Which makes Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary organization Hezbollah, a true friend indeed of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Since the start of the uprising in Syria in March 2011, he has repeatedly renewed his support for the Syrian president – and far from adopting a more reserved stance in the face of recent points scored by the rebels, on July 18 Nasrallah paid new homage to the Assad regime.

For the Shi'a Islamic leader, the three high-ranking officials – the Syrian President's brother-in-law among them – who were killed last Wednesday in an attack on a national security building in Damascus "embody the Syria that supported the resistance." The words were guaranteed to anger Syrian activists for whom these men represented repression more than anything else.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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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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