US Opinion and Commentary

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The U.S. Can’t Ignore Russia, or its Increasingly Horrendous Behavior

Posted July 6th, 2016 at 11:26 am (UTC-5)
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The White House and State Department believe the only way to make progress in Syria is to work with Moscow, even if that means setting the isolation effort aside. That makes some sense, only if Russia actually honors its agreements in Syria and makes progress resolving the Ukraine crisis. But neither of these things is happening.

What Americans Owe Iraqis

Posted July 5th, 2016 at 2:24 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin While Americans were celebrating their 240th year of independence with cookouts, trips to the movies and peaceful fireworks, Iraqis were digging victims out of the rubble after one of the worst bombings in that country’s history. At least 175 people are now confirmed dead, hundreds more injured from the suicide bombing Sunday […]

Reconsidering Safe Zones in Syria

Posted June 22nd, 2016 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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We have little choice but to return to the question of safe zones for Syria….It would not have to focus on immediate regime change, but rather…providing a safe space for moderate opposition to…rebuild civil society…If properly enforced, refugees could resettle in these protected areas and begin the process of building an alternative to Mr. Assad…

U.S. and Turkey Clash Over Islamic State Lifeline to Syria 

Posted May 19th, 2016 at 9:40 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin It’s called the Manbij pocket and it’s a major impediment to the U.S. goal of defeating the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The enclave in northern Syria, which borders Turkey for 60 miles, has remained open to IS infiltration. It is a lifeline for the IS “capital” of Raqqa that the Barack […]

Targeting Hospitals in Syria

Posted April 29th, 2016 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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To the amazement of many, Syria’s “cessation of hostilities” generally held for two months. To the surprise of none, it crumbled this week with devastating consequences. More than 200 people have been killed this week in Aleppo between rebel attacks on government-controlled neighborhoods and government air-strikes on rebel-held territory. Most alarming was Wednesday night’s air raid on Aleppo’s Quds hospital, killing more than 20 people, including six staff members. Targeting hospitals wreaks havoc beyond the rubble. There are now two fewer doctors, two fewer nurses to care for Aleppo’s traumatized survivors. The message is clear: no place is safe. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attack and blamed the Syrian government for it. With several dozen more American troops deployed to Syria in the battle against Islamic State, can Kerry and other diplomats who brokered the last cessation of hostilities duplicate their magic?

A Hollow Superpower

Posted March 18th, 2016 at 1:04 pm (UTC-5)
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Judging by the pictures on television, Vladimir Putin won a famous victory in Syria this week. After his unexpected declaration that the campaign is over, Mr Putin is claiming credit for a ceasefire and the start of peace talks…. Look closer, however, and Russia’s victory rings hollow.

Syria Truce Holds, So Far

Posted March 10th, 2016 at 3:46 pm (UTC-5)
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Saturday marks two weeks since a ceasefire began in Syria. While the Assad regime, the Russians and opposition groups have all reported violations, combat has been greatly reduced and humanitarian aid has been moving to more areas. Anti-government protests have even taken place amid the truce. A new round of U.N.-mediated peace talks are set […]

Turkey, Russia Use Syria Refugees to Blackmail E.U.

Posted March 9th, 2016 at 10:33 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As the European Union struggles to find a way to reduce the inflow of Syrian refugees to manageable proportions, it is under pressure to downplay human rights violations by Turkey and Russia. Turkey, which has lost much of its democratic luster in recent years because of a crackdown on political opposition by […]

Saudi Arabia’s Master Plan Against ISIS, Assad and Iran in Syria

Posted February 16th, 2016 at 4:42 pm (UTC-5)
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While the world might be fixated on ISIS, the Saudis…know that much of the violence plaguing the Middle East is rooted in Assad and the Iranian-created Shia militias. If they decide to go after these terror nurseries, it will be time for the White House to finally decide exactly whose side it is on.

Why Assad’s Army has not Defected

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 2:22 pm (UTC-5)
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The moderate Syrian opposition only exists in fancy suits in Western hotel lobbies. It has little military backing on the ground. If you want to ask why Assad is still the president of Syria, the answer is not simply Russia or Iran, but the fact that his army remains resilient and pluralistic…

A Chance to End the Brutality in Syria

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 9:24 am (UTC-5)
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Until now, Mr. Putin has been fully engaged in the destruction of Syria and its people….Whatever his reasons, he now appears to be showing some sympathy for the terrible plight of ordinary Syrians, many without food, shelter and medical supplies.

A Glimmer of Hope in Syria

Posted February 11th, 2016 at 4:28 pm (UTC-5)
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Cautious optimism may be the best way to term the agreement reached Thursday in Munich for a cessation of hostilities in Syria. The Turkish Foreign Minister called it “an important step,” while the U.N. chairman of the Munich meeting said it “could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who came to Munich to make an “all or nothing” effort, was soberly realistic, saying implementing a nationwide cessation of hostilities within a week “is ambitious.” The agreement, which would allow delivery of much needed food, water and medical supplies to Syrian civilians, is not being called a cease-fire, which Kerry described as a more permanent step. However, it is somewhat encouraging that the U.S., Russia and others at the table can agree to take this first step.

America’s Syrian Shame

Posted February 9th, 2016 at 11:42 am (UTC-5)
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Aleppo may prove to be the Sarajevo of Syria. It is already the Munich. By which I mean that the city’s plight today — its exposure to Putin’s whims and a revived Assad’s pitiless designs — is a result of the fecklessness and purposelessness over almost five years of the Obama administration.

There Is No Plan B if the Syria Peace Talks Fail

Posted February 2nd, 2016 at 9:12 am (UTC-5)
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[T]he “Geneva process” is no more likely to succeed today than it was the last time it was tried, in 2014….those on the other side of the table — the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia, and Iran — will not feel compelled to accept any offer to which Syria’s rebels or their backers in […]

America May be Doomed to Cooperate with Putin

Posted January 13th, 2016 at 8:27 am (UTC-5)
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For President Obama, the willingness to work with (Vladimir) Putin is an act of foreign policy realism or desperation, depending on your point of view. Some would argue that in Syria, the two converge.