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Geopolitics

Lessons For Libya? Tribal Clashes And Dashed Hopes Ahead Of Tunisia Election

As Tunisians head to the polls for the first free vote after the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ and fall of the Ben Ali regime, tribal infighting, strikes and protests are multiplying. The region of Gafsa, the hotbed of a 2008 uprising, is on the verge of chaos.

'Coin chasers' near Metlaoui in Tunisia
'Coin chasers' near Metlaoui in Tunisia
Christophe Boltanski

METLAOUI -- The video of a man's death, filmed on a mobile phone, is being passed from hand to hand in the living room of his family home. His three brothers are here as well as his two young daughters. All are watching over and over again the tiny screen, which shows their brother lying on the ground in a large pool of blood while his attackers celebrate. A crowd has gathered around the body. "Well done guys! Take off his pants," yells an angry woman. The video zooms in on the victim's face. Someone jabs a knife in his left eye.

Ali Kalthoum, an emergency medical worker, was murdered in early June by an angry mob as he was rescuing what he thought was a woman in need. "They trapped him. They called the ambulance to have him come and they attacked him as soon as he stepped out of the vehicle," says his brother Ibrahim. It took the family four hours to retrieve his body. "Every time we got close, they shot at us."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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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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