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Geopolitics

Syrian Demolition, Iraq Hostages, My Grand-Pere's World

The Mezzeh area of Damascus in July 2013
The Mezzeh area of Damascus in July 2013

SYRIA ACCUSED OF RAZING NEIGHBORHOODS
The Syrian government is alleged to have unlawfully demolished entire neighborhoods in parts of Damascus and Hama to punish civilians in areas where the regular army had been fighting with the opposition, NGO Human Rights Watch said in a report published this morning. The study is based on satellite pictures that show the destruction of residential and commercial buildings.

MILITANTS TAKE HOSTAGES IN IRAQ GOVERNMENT BUILDING
A group of eight gunmen stormed a government building in northeast Baghdad and took civil servants hostage, AFP reports, quoting official sources. Although nobody has yet claimed responsibility, al-Qaeda-linked group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are thought to be behind the attack, which was preceded by several explosions in the Iraqi capital. Since the beginning of the month, at least 909 people have been killed in Iraq.

U.S. ACCUSES RUSSIA OF MISSILE TREATY VIOLATION
The United States notified NATO earlier this month that it believes Russia has been testing a new missile, in violation of a 1987 agreement signed by then-presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, The New York Times reports officials as saying.

VOLGOGRAD SUICIDE BOMBERS IDENTIFIED
Russia’s counter-terrorism agency announced this morning it had identified the suicide bombers responsible for the terrorist attacks that killed 34 people in Volgograd in late December. Suspected accomplices have also been arrested, news agency ITAR-TASS reports. Earlier this month, Russia’s main security agency said Saudi Arabia was directly involved in the attack.

UKRAINE PRESIDENT ON SICK LEAVE
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has taken a sick leave, due to “acute respiratory illness combined with a high fever,” Interfax reports. Yanukovych has been under pressure from the opposition to resign since the Kiev protests started two months ago. This comes after the opposition rejected a proposed amnesty bill for the protesters on condition that they leave the occupied government buildings.

Writing in The Guardian, columnist Seumas Milne sheds new light on the protesters, explaining that contrary to what Western media report, “far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests,” including “hard-right antisemitic Svoboda” party.

DANISH COALITION GOVERNMENT COLLAPSES
Denmark’s government is on the brink of losing power after one of the parties that formed the minority coalition, the Socialist People's Party, announced it was leaving government over its refusal of sale of a state-controlled energy group Dong to Goldman Sachs. Read the full story from the Financial Times.

VERBATIM
British historian Niall Ferguson says Britain should have stayed out of World War I.

BY THE NUMBERS
A recent study shows that at least 20% of the Neanderthal genome can be found in modern-day humans.

CRIME INT’L
A Dutch drug trafficker arrested with a kilogram of meth and other drugs walked free because the Belgian police wrote the warrant in French instead of Dutch.

INTRODUCING MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

We bring you 50 years of travel, 80 countries, and the spoils of 20,000 slides in a new Worldcrunch feature, My Grand-Père's World. Above, The building in the background is Copenhagen's 17th century Borsen, the oldest stock exchange in Denmark. With its intriguing spire made of four dragon tails twined together, I wondered if Danish bankers appreciated the architect's twisted sense of humor...

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Geopolitics

How Ukraine Keeps Getting The West To Flip On Arms Supplies

The open debate on weapon deliveries to Ukraine is highly unusual, but Kyiv has figured out how to use the public moral suasion — and patience — to repeatedly shift the question in its favor. But will it work now for fighter jets?

Photo of a sunset over the USS Nimitz with a man guiding fighter jets ready for takeoff

U.S fighter jets ready for takeoff on the USS Nimitz

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — In what other war have arms deliveries been negotiated so openly in the public sphere?

On Monday, a journalist asked Joe Biden if he plans on supplying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. He answered “No”. A few hours later, the same question was asked to Emmanuel Macron, about French fighter jets. Macron did not rule it out.

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Visiting Paris on Tuesday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksïï Reznikov recalled that a year ago, the United States had refused him ground-air Stinger missiles deliveries. Eleven months later, Washington is delivering heavy tanks, in addition to everything else. The 'no' of yesterday is the green light of tomorrow: this is the lesson that the very pragmatic minister seemed to learn.

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