US Opinion and Commentary

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Syria Talks Open As US Unveils Plan to Send Special Forces

Posted October 30th, 2015 at 3:05 pm (UTC-5)
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An odd coalition of players assembled in Vienna Friday to talk Syria. Among them: Iran. Many Syria watchers have argued Iran is necessary to a negotiated settlement, if one can be had in Syria. Another strange bedfellow is Russia, which, by marching into the quagmire so boldly, sparked a new U.S. strategy. Just hours after the Vienna talks began, we learned that President Barack Obama’s new take on Syria involves less than 50 Special Forces. While the White House spokesman won’t use the word “combat” to describe the Special Forces troops, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said “we’re in combat” earlier this week. Indeed we are — standing uncomfortably next to some of America’s most historic foes.

From Tunisia, a Voice of Hope in the Muslim World

Posted October 30th, 2015 at 9:16 am (UTC-5)
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“The only way to truly defeat ISIS is to offer a better product to the millions of young Muslims in the world. We do: Muslim democracy,” he said. “Young people don’t like ISIS — see how many millions flee from it — but they won’t accept life under tyrants either.”

Why the New ISIL Strategy is a Bad Idea

Posted October 28th, 2015 at 2:51 pm (UTC-5)
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An American-led effort to impose a post-conflict settlement on the ground in Syria requires Washington to either return “liberated” territory to the Assad government or serve as an auxiliary peacekeeping force for the outgunned opposition.

To Combat the Lure of ISIL, the Muslim World Needs Its Own Peace Corps

Posted October 23rd, 2015 at 4:13 pm (UTC-5)
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Societies have long recognized that young people need ways to focus their idealism and energy, as well satisfy their hunger for new experiences, and to travel. If the Muslim world can harness all those youthful impulses for the greater good of their communities, it would help undermine the attraction of extremist groups like ISIS.

A Grim Decision on Afghanistan

Posted October 16th, 2015 at 11:58 am (UTC-5)
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The key to ending the Afghan war remains a negotiated truce between the government and the leading factions of the Taliban, which has entered into talks with the Kabul government in recent years, but has not been persuaded to join the political process.

Syria: Russian Quagmire? American Quandary

Posted October 6th, 2015 at 4:33 pm (UTC-5)
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Three-dimensional military and diplomatic chess is being played out in the Middle East. Russian warplanes have forayed into Turkish, and by alliance, NATO airspace while flying sorties to support the beleaguered Syrian government. Turkey’s prime minister warns Russian jets could be shot down if they trespass again. Battle-tested Russian “volunteers” may soon put boots on the ground alongside Syrian forces, according to a top Russian official. Is Washington ceding influence in the Middle East to Moscow? Or, is Russia repeating its Afghan mistake? It will likely take years to get to checkmate.

Empowering Global Voices Against Extremism

Posted October 6th, 2015 at 2:02 pm (UTC-5)
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“Da’esh is not protecting Muslims, it is killing them and fooling all of us,” says Khadijah, a young woman who lived in London, became disillusioned with her studies and was lured by the Islamic State (also called Da’esh) to Syria. In the end, she defected. Her story, and those of many other defectors, is now being told by the United States and its global partners. By Richard Stengel.

What Checkhov Tells Us About Putin’s Syria Airstrikes

Posted October 1st, 2015 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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“I find it interesting that the language Moscow is using to justify and describe its military intervention in Syria borrows so much from the lexicon that the US used to talk about its invasion of Iraq,” says Alexander Kliment, a director specializing in Russia at the Eurasia Group.

Heading for Failure on Syria at the UN

Posted September 30th, 2015 at 11:07 am (UTC-5)
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When you don’t agree on the root of the problem, you can’t agree on a solution.

Syrian Refugees as Trojan Horse for Islamic State?

Posted September 17th, 2015 at 1:17 pm (UTC-5)
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Germany may understand best the need to welcome these fleeing Muslims. It realizes that it made a mistake decades ago in not integrating Turkish immigrant workers into German society. In a similar way, terrorist experts know that the best way to deradicalize a jihadi is to first establish a relationship, embracing them rather fearing them.

Saudi-Iran Talks Key to Resolving Middle East Wars

Posted September 16th, 2015 at 4:32 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin As desperate migrants from wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East keep pouring onto the European continent, it is hard to imagine diplomatic solutions that can diminish this massive exodus anytime soon. But if the wars are ever to end, one prerequisite is a willingness on the part of […]

Triangulation: Russia, Syria and the United States

Posted September 14th, 2015 at 1:16 pm (UTC-5)
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President Obama said Friday there will be a “long discussion” involving Russia’s move to provide military assistance to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. While the assistance may seem modest — 200 naval infantrymen, modular housing for 1,500 troops, howitzers, a short-range guided-missile controller and a dozen armored vehicles according to the Pentagon — it’s seen as another audacious gesture by Russian president Vladimir Putin. There is concern that Putin is creating facts on the ground similar to the situation in Ukraine with Washington unable, or unwilling, to confront Moscow. And there are those who suggest Russia should take note of history and its unsuccessful invovlement in Afghanistan? There are plenty of suggestions for all sides on how to stop the war in Syria.

Ignoring Wrongs in Syria to Battle Islamic State

Posted September 3rd, 2015 at 9:43 am (UTC-5)
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While President Obama has deployed American bombs and US-trained Syrian fighters to target IS fighters, he has taken little action to bring down the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad…. In fact, the Assad regime is now tacitly regarded as a bulwark against the advance of Islamic rebels – even though the atrocities of the […]

Petraeus’ Plan to Defeat Islamic State Won’t Work

Posted September 2nd, 2015 at 4:29 pm (UTC-5)
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The key problem with Petraeus’s idea is that the U.S. may no longer have any chance of being “credible” in Syria. Four years after the crisis began, U.S. support for groups fighting the Assad regime has slowed. Those moderate groups that haven’t been crushed or coopted by Islamic groups feel abandoned by Washington.

With Nuke Deal in Hand, Obama Urged to Reassert US Presence in Mideast

Posted September 2nd, 2015 at 3:12 pm (UTC-5)
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The vote counting on Congressional approval of the nuclear deal with Iran is over. When Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) announced her support for the deal Wednesday, it gave President Obama enough support to ensure the plan could not be stopped by Congress. Six years ago, Obama won the White House by promising to get the United States out of the Middle East. His legacy with the Iran nuclear deal puts the U.S. at the center of what could be a new world order.