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In a Palestinian refugee camp just outside Damascus, 18,000 Palestinian refugees are slowly and deliberately being starved by the Syrian dictatorship. The atrocity has urgent implications for the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar, claiming that Doha was violating a clause in the Gulf Cooperation Council charter not to interfere in the domestic affairs of fellow members. The decision, unprecedented in the council's history, hints at significant changes to come for the GCC and the balance of power in the Gulf.
Internationally, Putin might seem the master grand strategist, and at home, he appears equally in command. It would be a mistake, however, to overestimate Putin or Russia -- or to underestimate how badly his gambit in Ukraine could turn out for him.
Putin seems to have embraced anti-Western nationalism to drum up domestic support, but evidence suggests that it will not work. For one thing, he is actually much less popular among Russians who are hostile toward the West than among those with pro-Western views.
The West has managed to rapidly integrate several countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain. But there is no precedent for quickly integrating a country like Ukraine. Without Russia, Ukraine would have no economic, financial, or cultural viability.
The situation in Ukraine cuts to the heart of the EU's promise -- and challenges -- as a foreign policy actor. The union still has a powerful pull for many countries, but it is sorely limited in its ability to respond to crises. It might not be able to wrest Crimea forcibly from a determined Putin, for example, but its emphasis on human security and international law will have a stealthy impact on Ukraine's evolution for years to come.
The surest way to counter Russia is to help the government in Kiev restore its legitimacy through elections that bring to power a representative president and parliament, regardless of geopolitical loyalties. Nothing is more important to Ukraine’s European future.
It will be hard to counter Putin because he has refused to play by Western rules. He seems not to fear political isolation; he invites it. He seems not worry about the closing of borders; he hopes for it. His foreign policy amounts to a deep rejection of Europe and an attempt to draw a clear line between its world and Russia's.
Leopoldo López, a charismatic, telegenic, Harvard-educated economist, has been described as the leader of the ongoing protests in Venezuela. But the true organizing force has been a vanguard of university students that has only tangential links to the established opposition.
Putin’s mission in Ukraine -- as with the Olympics and the last-minute diplomatic intervention in Syria last year -- is to remind the world that Russia is back and that it is a greater power than ever. It is entitled to international respect, he believes, and to dominate its neighbors economically and, evidently, militarily.
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