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Geopolitics

In Eastern Libya, The Sounds Of Freedom And Fears Of Retaliation

The city of Tobruk has been liberated from Gaddafi's rule, but residents worry that the regime will strike back.

Cécile Hennion

TOBRUK – This city in eastern Libya has been waking up to the sound of its new radio for a week, a free radio. In a free city. Comments are pouring in on Free Tobruk's airwaves. Listeners recite odes to the revolution or make stinging jokes about Muammar Gaddafi. The colonel is compared to a donkey, and called the Middle Eastern Hitler.

The Libyan leader's speech on Tuesday, threatening protesters and saying he was ready to fight "until the last drop" of his own blood, didn't shake the protesters' faith in their revolution. The big screen set up in the city center to show the speech became a target for thrown shoes – the strongest sign of disrespect in the Arab world – and garbage. "He treats us like slaves!" Tobruk's citizens shouted. "He's speaking to us like we're foreigners!"

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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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