Six In The Morning Sunday December 27

Evacuation plan for armed groups from a Palestinian camp in Damascus is in limbo amid conflicting reports on pullout.

Patrick Strickland | | Humanitarian crises, War & Conflict, Middle East, Syrian crisis, Syria

A plan to evacuate armed groups and families from the Damascus-area Yarmouk refugee camp and nearby areas has been put in limbo following the assassination of a Syrian rebel leader, according to reports.

The plan was set to evacuate thousands of fighters from armed opposition groups from the embattled Palestinian refugee camp, the al-Qadam suburb and the al-Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood to opposition-controlled areas elsewhere in Syria, including pockets of land controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and the al-Nusra Front.

According to the Lebanese group Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television channel, eighteen busses arrived in the area on Friday afternoon, but the deal was paused after the killing of Zahran Alloush, the leader of the Army of Islam armed group.

Czech president: migrants should be fighting Isis, not ‘invading’ Europe

Milos Zeman says children, the old and sick deserve compassion but young single men fleeing Middle East should stay behind and take up arms

The Czech president, Milos Zeman, has called the movement of refugees into Europe “an organised invasion” and declared that young men from Syria and Iraq should stay in their countries to “take up arms” against Isis.

“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organised invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” said Zeman in his Christmas message to the Czech Republic.

Compassion was “possible” for refugees who were old or sick, and for children, he said but not for young men who should be back home fighting against jihadists.

“A large majority of the illegal migrants are young men in good health and single. I wonder why these men are not taking up arms to go fight for the freedom of their countries against the Islamic State,” said Zeman, who was elected Czech president in early 2013.

Syrian civil war: No end in sight for terrorism or the refugees fleeing to safety

World View: As the conflict enters its fifth year, it is hard to share the optimism of some politician

It was a year of dramatic events in the war in Syria and Iraq, but the political and military stalemate at the beginning of 2015 was still there at the end of it. The most important change on the ground was the start of the Russian air campaign on 30 September which ended a series of significant defeats for the Syrian army. So far the Russians have helped to restabilise the military situation, but they have not transformed it by capturing the rebel-held half of Aleppo or sealing the Syrian-Turkish border.

The outside world’s perception of the war and its consequences has gone through strange gyrations. After the massacre of 130 people in Paris by an Isis suicide squad on 13 November, there was wall-to-wall coverage of the killings by the media. Television bulletins and newspapers issued apocalyptic warnings about how the slaughter had changed the world, but in the event there was not much new in the policies of the United States and its allies towards Isis and the war.

Opinion: Latin American Spring? No thanks!

From Cuba to Argentina, Latin America has had a year marked by upheaval. But it’s still far from certain whether all the expectations of positive change are justified. DW’s Uta Thofern advises caution.

It was a year of hope for Latin America – especially compared to other regions of the world. The thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States, the rapid progress in the Colombian peace process and the amazing transformations in the wake of peaceful elections in Argentina, Venezuela and Guatemala – these are all developments that are absolutely positive. Even the seemingly endless series of corruption cases in Brazil has its good side: it shows that an independent judiciary is actually doing its job.

But the fact that some analysts are hailing “the end of 21st century socialism” or even a “Latin American Spring” is not just premature; it’s completely misguided. No one should wish any kind of “spring” on a region – that much should be clear from looking at events in other parts of the world. No, it is autumn that’s coming to Latin America, and that’s a good thing. What the political climate urgently needs now is a cooler season.

Updated: December 27, 2015 11:17 IST

Pluralism under fire


The year saw the intensifying of the ‘us versus them’ brand of politics not just in India but across the world. But somewhere deep inside, the liberal citizen is still alive. And this generates hope for the coming year.

Looking back at 2015, the calendar is filled with incidents of bloodshed. From the Charlie Hebdo murders to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, the neocons have enough evidence to suggest that violence and terrorism are tearing the world apart. But equally, there are signs that it might not yet be the end of the world as we know it.

In India, the effects of Islamic terror were less felt. The Indian government has shown great maturity in the way it has dealt with the IS phobia, by ruling out any direct threat from the pan-Islamist militant state. The ideology has been countered by Indian Muslims, too. Last month, Jamaat-e-Ulema Hind, India’s largest Muslim welfare body, condemned the Paris attacks and declared the IS as an “un-Islamic” entity. A parallel campaign is also going on across Indian madrasas, where students are taught to be secular and loyal to the Indian constitution. So far, the war in West Asia and its Islamic connotations don’t mean much in India.

I immigrated to the United States 20 years ago. I still miss the Soviet holidays.

by Margarita Gokun Silver

I want to buy all the ornaments in the store. A whole wall of Maisons du Monde, a home decor shop on the outskirts of Madrid, is stocked with elaborate snowflakes, balls that say “Merry Christmas,” and statuettes of animals that range from reindeer to owls to polar bears. Arranged by color from silver to gold to red to green and framed by tinsels of corresponding shades, they sparkle in the halogen light.

I want to grab a shopping basket, fill it to the top with three colors of everything, and bring them home.

But I cannot. These things are not welcome in my house.

I grew up in the 1970s, in the USSR, the only child of two Soviet engineers. We lived in a two-room apartment on the outskirts of Moscow only a 15-minute walk away from a similar two-room apartment, this one belonging to my grandparents. While the adults worked to build the great socialist paradise promised by the Communist Party, I attended a state-run kindergarten where a typical lunch consisted of mashed potatoes with herring, where bad-tempered teachers were commonplace, and where we learned, through songs and poetry, that our Soviet childhood was the happiest childhood on Earth. At no other time was this truth so evident as during the last few days of December.