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Geopolitics

Syrian Snitches: The Assad Regime's Network Of Informants May No Longer Be Enough To Keep The People Down

From waiters to homeless beggars, the Syrian regime is busily recruiting ever more informants in its desperate attempt to survive.

Customers in a Damascus café. Waiters are known to collect information overheard from clients.
Customers in a Damascus café. Waiters are known to collect information overheard from clients.
Hala Kodmani

DAMASCUS - No sooner does she hold out her manicured hand to put her cigarette out, than the waiter hurries to replace the ashtray. For the last half an hour or so, he hasn't taken his eyes off the four elegant women sitting on the café"s terrace in a posh Damascus neighborhood. While he cleans the ashes with practiced slowness, the clients interrupt their conversations and briefly exchange glances. Everyone here knows that most of the waiters work for the Syrian intelligence services. Such snitches don't even bother to even hide it anymore, gladly combining their evening jobs with the duties of a civil servant. Surveillance is part of their obligations, and reporting any information to superiors, a regular routine.

Waiters, taxi drivers, hair dressers or even handicapped beggars: Always pay attention to them and to what you say, visitors to Damascus are warned. Many of them are part of the moukhabarat (a term designated for Syrian intelligence services). The inhabitants of the Syrian capital have long been used to seeing men keeping watch on apartment blocks, weapons bulging under their coats. But recently even janitors have been given truncheons to allegedly "keep the inhabitants safe."

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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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