Russia

Russian president Vladimir Putin, the main backer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has supported the rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, in the southern Russian town of Sochi on September 17.

After the meeting, it was announced that Putin and Erdogan had reached an agreement on the future of Idlib, a province in northern Syria.

Empire of the Tsars: Romanov Russia
Three part series presented by Lucy Worsley
Available on SBS On Demand until October 10

This three-part series examines the history of Russia’s most famous royal family, the Romanovs. This is a useful introduction to a topic for those wanting to know more about the conditions that led to the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The Romanovs rose to power in 1613 after the collapse of the previous Rurik dynasty that ruled Russia for 700 years. The tsars were absolute monarchs with enormous power.

The USA has many friends and many foes, as does the Russian Federation. The perceptions about these nuclear armed powers is mainly determined by their leaders. President Trump, supposedly the leader of the 'free world" and President Putin, the autocratic former KGB operative strong man who rules with an iron fist. Their recent Helsinki summit does little to reassure people, friends or enemies, of whom of these two to believe or trust.

Large rallies were held in towns throughout Idlib on September 14 in response to the threat by the Assad regime to invade the province in Syria’s north-west.

Idlib is currently controlled by a mixture of rebel groups. The strongest is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an extremely reactionary Islamist group that controls 60% of the province.

The Assad regime and its allies have been building up their forces around the rebel-held Idlib province, in Syria’s north-west, in preparation for a major offensive. Some bombing raids have already been carried out in the south and west of the province.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are carrying out guerrilla resistance against the occupying Turkish army and its militia allies in the Afrin canton, a predominantly Kurdish area of northern Syria.

Democratic Party politicians and media outlets that reflect their positions have attacked President Donald Trump on certain issues with arguments to the right of him.

One example is United States policy on North Korea. Trump has been taken to task for meeting with Kim Jong-un and initiating discussions with North Korea over its possession of nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.

The charge is that even meeting with Kim was wrong because it allegedly legitimises and “prettifies” him.

The Washington insider crowd was absolutely outraged and appalled by Donald Trump’s performance at Helsinki, Juan Cole notes, as he violated all the principles of American hawkishness.

Trump sat next to Vladimir Putin, leader of a rival power, signaling that Russia is a peer. He sided with Putin over the assessments of the CIA, the National Security Agency and other US intelligence organizations.

World Cup organisers FIFA and its corporate sponsors market their products to the members of the LGBTI community by presenting themselves as allies and advocates for their struggles. But this is questioned by its holding of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and giving the rights to the 2022 event to Qatar.

The Fare Network (Football Against Racism in Europe) is an organisation that tracks racism and homophobia in the football (soccer) world. For the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they set up a series of “diversity houses” for the LGBTQI community and people of colour.

Now in St Petersburg, they have been evicted from the building they were leasing for these safe spaces. Other tenants are also reportedly under instruction not to offer subleases, leaving only the brutal symbolism of a diversity house shuttered.

A country that for more than 70 years maintained an amateur football (soccer) league is today hosting the biggest sporting event in the world, writes Javier Szlifman.

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