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A boy rides a bicycle amid rubble in Homs
A boy rides a bicycle amid rubble in Homs
Anchal Vohra

HOMS – Akram al-Khoule and his 7-year-old son hold hands as they stare at the once familiar primary school building, now demolished, looted of its contents and stripped of its identifying markers. "This is where my children studied," al-Khoule says in a melancholy voice.

Al-Khoule returned to the Homs district of al-Khalidiye this year, after being displaced to the coastal Syrian city of Tartous for six years. He is one of 600,000 Syrian refugees and internally displaced people who are estimated to have returned to their hometowns this year – many of whom now face a barrage of problems trying to resettle in a place that war has made vastly different.

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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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