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Worldcrunch

Friday, November 7, 2014

OBAMA PENS LETTER TO IRAN’S KHAMENEI
U.S. President Barack Obama secretly wrote a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last month, which The Wall Street Journal reports “appeared aimed both at buttressing” the anti-ISIS campaign and “nudging Iran's religious leader closer to a nuclear deal.” Obama reportedly stressed that the two issues are deeply linked and that a possible cooperation in the fight against ISIS was “largely contingent” on Iran reaching an agreement on its nuclear program by a Nov. 24 deadline. The news is likely to anger the Republican majority in the Congress, which largely opposes any collaboration with Iran. A congressional source told Fox News that the letter “f***s up everything.” Reacting to the news, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he opposed linking Iran’s nuclear program to the fight against ISIS and added that Iran was “not a partner for any dialogue in the Middle East.”

VERBATIM
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"I am absolutely convinced that Putin protects Russia's interests better than anyone else." Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Thursday that he will defend Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies when he travels to Germany this weekend for ceremonies commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall.

FATAH TARGETED IN GAZA BLASTS
A series of coordinated explosions targeted the homes and vehicles of several leaders within Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports. It’s unclear who was behind the attacks, and Fatah sources said they doubted the authenticity of a letter signed by ISIS left at the scene of one explosion, saying it was likely an attempt by attackers to spread fear and hide their true identity. Meanwhile, tensions could escalate further in East Jerusalem, as there are rumors that more right-wing Israeli politicians are planning visits to Temple Mount, the location of the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Hamas called on West Bank worshippers to march after today’s prayers to “protect” Islam’s third holiest site from the “Zionist siege.”

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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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