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Hostage reporters ‘chained’ in Syria

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Four French journalists who spent 10 months in captivity in Syria were chained to each other and kept in basements without light, one recounts.

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Sergey Karaganov: The man behind Putin’s pugnacity

Prescient foreign-policy specialist fears the West and Kiev don’t realize the hell they are unleashing in the former Soviet empire

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Why says pan-democrats can’t be patriots?: Jasper Tsang

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Patriotism – Beijing’s requirement for Hong Kong’s chief executive candidates in 2017 – should not be defined as being pro-Beijing or pro-establishment, says Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Spanish journalists freed in Syria after six-month ordeal

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Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Villanova Garcia released but Islamist extremists still hold over 40 other western hostagesTwo Spanish journalists kidnapped in northern Syria last September were freed by their captors on Saturday night, ending a six-month ordeal in the hands of an extremist Islamic group that continues to hold more than 40 other western hostages.Javier Espinosa, a veteran correspondent for the Spanish daily El-Mundo, and Ricardo Villanova Garcia, a freelance photographer working with him, were handed over to Turkish authorities near the Syrian town of Tal Abiyad, not far from where they were seized 194 days ago.

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Hamid Karzai’s tangled legacy: inept failure or anti-Taliban hero?

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A look at the extraordinary career of the Afghan president, the leader first hailed by the west who is now widely attacked for his perceived weaknesses, as he prepares to give up powerAmid the dust and traffic of today’s Kabul, three things remain almost as they were a decade or so ago. In winter, and when the wind clears the smog that is a side-effect of years of economic boom, the blue sky above the snowcapped peaks that ring the city is as impressive as ever. Then there is the Arg, the sprawling palace at the city’s centre and the apparently calm eye of a turbulent storm of a country. The complex is home to the third element that has remained constant since the end of the Taliban’s grim regime in 2001: Hamid Karzai, now in his 13th year of power.However, Karzai, 56, will soon be gone. He is constitutionally barred from contesting next weekend’s elections and soon this theatrical, mercurial, complex man will have to find a new occupation. Many, particularly in Washington, will be relieved.

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Qatar’s emir to visit cash-strapped Sudan

The emir will visit Khartoum to discuss “bilateral relations” days after UN reports an escalation of violence in Darfur.

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Is our aid being wasted on ‘fragile states’?

We save our aid for the worst basket cases. But some unpalatable regimes (hello, Uganda) and their strongmen are gaming the system

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Brazil’s awkward reckoning with an atrocity that lives on

A truth commission was created to ‘examine and clarify the severe violations of human rights’ during an era of dictatorial repression

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Syrian crisis: where the US stands on Assad, the rebels and the refugees

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As the fourth year of conflict begins, the US prepares to reassess its policy with a Senate foreign relations committee this weekVladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula have dominated US foreign policy in the last few weeks, and President Barack Obama, at a European summit, lambasted the Russian leader for being a menace to the international system built over decades. But this Middle East returns to the agenda as the Senate foreign relations committee held a hearing Wednesday on “what’s next” for US policy in Syria after the latest round of failed peace talks in Geneva.Syria entered its fourth year of conflict in mid-March, with no signs it will abate soon. The regional nature of the conflict has alarmed many countries and international groups, as desperate refugees have fled abroad and armed clashes erupted along borders with neighboring countries.The situation and our options may have grown more complicated, but we believe there is still strong, bipartisan support in the Senate for developing and implementing a comprehensive Syria strategy, one that will break the stalemate on the ground and enable a political solution that paves the way for Assads exit.The Syrian government’s massive and indiscriminate use of violence is the single most important factor driving the humanitarian crisis The report is very clear on this and in pointing to the government’s failure to implement the resolution’s provisions.

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