Fair Observer: Best of the Month

Fair Observer's five best articles of February.

February has been a month of tumult. After much bloodshed, Ukraine got rid of its oppressive president. The country is close to economic collapse and the situation in Crimea is volatile to say the least.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is furious. Sochi was meant to be a coming of age party for him and his country. Instead, the opulent spectacle was marred by allegations of massive corruption and a focus on Russian repression. Just as the Winter Olympics ended, Ukraine spun off from the Russian orbit and is seeking to embrace the European Union (EU). Russia and the Russian minority in Ukraine might perceive the collapse of a friendly regime as an existential challenge. It will take a very cool hand at the tiller to avoid confrontation and crisis.

In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro’s supporters have gone on a rampage. Protests persist despite persecution, however. Maduro has sent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to prison, imposed heavy censorship on media, and unleashed violence to intimidate opponents. As Audrey Dacosta argues, a line has been crossed in Venezuela and its already imperilled democracy is in further peril.

Protests have also been taking place in Thailand. Here, an intransigent minority with its power base among the Bangkok elite is holding an elected government to ransom to accept its demands. Yet another election took place. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra won. Her support base in the more rural areas of the north stood firm. Her opponents continue to protest in the streets and there is no resolution in sight.

In the Middle East, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq face raging civil conflicts. As expected, the Geneva talks have failed. They were always going to be an exercise in futility without interlocutors such as Iran and organizations like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The equivalent of the Thirty Years' War is underway in the region and it will define the future of the Middle East.

As turmoil rages, all is sunny in Silicon Valley. Facebook shelled out $19 billion for WhatsApp, a messaging platform that despite all its growth has made no money yet. Many believe a bubble is brewing in Silicon Valley as the extra cash released into the world economy by the Federal Reserve increases asset values, amplifying inequality in the process.

As the world economy stumbles like a drunkard who has spent far too long at a tavern, some economists are looking at initiatives such as post-growth growth models, 41 years after such ideas were pooh-poohed as Cassandra-like prophecies lacking credibility. For all the turmoil, these are interesting times to be alive.

Please find below our best articles for February. As ever, we invite you to offer us feedback and suggestions, and look forward to hearing from you. As an added note, look out for our new website.

1: The Race to Save Mes Aynak (Part 1/2) — by Will Calhoun

What will the fate of Afghanistan's culture be?

2: The Future of Arctic Shipping — Even Kuross

A long, icy sea-lane and conflicting interests lie ahead for the Arctic.

3: What Hope for the Children of Gaza? — by Peter Smith & Catherine Thick

Trials and tribulations of children in Gaza, as witnessed by health professionals Peter Smith and Catherine Thick.

4: Correcting the Course of Libya's Revolution (Part 1/2) — Tarek Megerisi

Libya's elected parliament became a base where different factions manipulated other arms of the state.

5: Youth Unemployment and the Rise of Neo-Nazism in Europe — Catherine Lefèvre

Is there a direct link between youth unemployment and the rise of the far-right in Europe?

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