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Ed Webb

Putin is filling a vacuum in Syria, but what is Moscow's endgame? | The National - 2 views

    Read in the light of Lustick's article on the absence of great powers in MENA.
Ed Webb

PYD leader: Russia will stop Turkey from intervening in Syria - Al-Monitor: the Pulse o... - 3 views

  • Returning to the negotiating table seems hard. The plan devised by the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, is backed most of all by Russia. But the opposite camp, meaning Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are resisting this [plan]. If the United States wants to pave the way for a solution, it must apply certain pressure on this camp
  • Russia and the United States seem to have established their own zones of influence within Syria. The US is active in the north. The Russians will not meddle in the north. But should Turkey attempt to intervene, then they will. Russia has a joint defense agreement with Syria. They will prevent Turkish intervention not to defend us [Kurds] but to defend Syria’s border.
Ed Webb

Could We Have Stopped This Tragedy? | Foreign Policy - 5 views

  • President Barack Obama erred when he jumped the gun in 2011 and insisted “Assad must go,” locking the United States into a maximalist position and foreclosing potential diplomatic solutions that might have saved thousands of lives
  • Obama’s 2012 off-the-cuff remark about chemical weapons and “red lines” was a self-inflicted wound that didn’t help the situation and gave opponents a sound bite to use against him
  • More than 200,000 people are now dead — that’s approaching 100 times as many victims as 9/11 — and numerous towns, cities, and villages have been badly damaged, if not destroyed. There are reportedly some 11 million displaced people either internally or out of the country, about half Syria’s original population. A flood of refugees and migrants has landed in Europe, provoking a new challenge to the European Union’s delicate political cohesion and raising the specter of a sharp increase in right-wing xenophobia. The carnage in Syria has also helped fuel the emergence and consolidation of the so-called Islamic State, intensified the Sunni-Shiite split within Islam, and put additional strain on Syria’s other neighbors
  • ...10 more annotations...
  • is it possible that those who called for swift U.S. intervention several years ago were right all along? If the United States, NATO, the Arab League, or some combination of the above had established a no-fly zone and stood ready to intervene with ground forces, might the Assad regime have fallen quickly and spared Syria and the world this bleak and open-ended disaster?
  • I still believe intervening in Syria was not in the United States’ interest and was as likely to have made things worse as to have made them better.
    I take no pleasure in my conclusions; it would be more comforting to think that even seemingly intractable problems can be solved.
    I take no pleasure in my conclusions; it would be more comforting to think that even seemingly intractable problems can be solved
  • The Limits of Air Power. Proponents of “no-fly zones” typically exaggerate their impact and in so doing overstate the capacity of air power to determine political outcomes.
  • Assad’s “Gamble for Resurrection.” From the very start, a key problem in Syria was the lack of an attractive exit option for the entire Assad regime. As the titular leader of the Alawite minority that has dominated Syria since 1970, Assad and his followers saw relinquishing power as a mortal threat.
  • What About the Jihadis? Intervening to push Assad out faced another obvious objection: It might open the door for al Qaeda or other violent extremists. This concern also complicated proposals to arm anti-Assad forces like the Free Syrian Army. How could Washington ensure U.S. weapons didn’t end up in the wrong hands?
  • only thing worse than a truly awful government is no government at all
  • Face It: The United States Is Toxic. The ineffectiveness of U.S. training efforts and other forms of advice may be partly due to the negative opinion most people in the Middle East have of U.S. policy. America may be admired for its democracy, its achievements in science and technology, and the friendliness of its people, but U.S. Middle East policy is widely reviled.
  • Whose Interests Are Truly Engaged? There is a clear humanitarian interest in ending the Syrian civil war. But neither great nor minor powers typically run big risks or bear large costs for strictly humanitarian reasons.
  • the least bad option at this point would be a re-energized effort to end the fighting. The United States should stop insisting Assad must go, and listen carefully to the other powers with a stake in the outcome, including Russia
  • I don’t know if it will be possible to reconstitute a unified Syrian state; if not, then an organized and internationally supervised partition plan will have to be negotiated and implemented
Ed Webb

Messing up in Syria. A tale of two foreign policies - 0 views

  • the main impetus behind Russia's Syria policy is a desire to frustrate western efforts, largely as a result of Nato's earlier intervention against the Gadafy regime in Libya
  • Although Russia continues to advocate a political solution, on the ground the main effect of its obduracy has been to prolong the conflict, thus increasing the cost of Russian support for the Assad regime and intensifying rather than reducing the jihadist problem. In terms of achieving Russia's goals, this has been counterproductive.
Ed Webb

Syria isn't Kosovo and this isn't 1999. Not even close | openDemocracy - 0 views

    Useful contrast of the two cases, reflecting how careful one must be with historical analogies.
Ed Webb

EXCLUSIVE: New book reveals how KGB operation seeded Muslim countries with anti-America... - 0 views

  • The highest-ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence officer ever to defect to the West claims in a new book that anti-American Islamic terrorism had its roots in a secret 1970s-era KGB plot to harm but the United States and Israel by seeding Muslim countries with carefully targeted propaganda.
  • Andropov began his leadership of the KGB just months before the 1967 Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis, in which Israel humiliated the key Soviet allies Syria and Egypt. And he decided to settle the score by training Palestinian militants to hijack El Al airplanes and bomb sites in Jerusalem.

    But more shocking, Andropov commissioned the first Arabic translation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian-forged 1905 propaganda book that alleged Jews were plotting to take over Europe - and were being aided by the United States.

    The Protocols book, Pacepa claims, became 'the basis for much of Hitler's anti-Semitic philosophy.' And the KGB, he writes, disseminated 'thousands of copies' in Muslim countries during the 1970s.

  • In 1972, Pacepa writes, his DIE agency 'received from the KGB an Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion along with "documentary" material, also in Arabic, "proving" that the United States was a Zionist country."

    He was 'ordered,' he adds, 'to "discreetly" disseminate both "documents" within its targeted Islamic countries.'

Ed Webb

Turkey and Russia react with fury to G20 spying revelations | World news | - 0 views

    • Ed Webb
      Spying on Turkey, a NATO ally, is actually a much bigger deal than spying on Russia. On the other hand, everyone spies on everyone. All this fuss is Casablanca-style "shocked! shocked!"
  • "Russia shouldn't take this [spying] for granted, but shouldn't dramatise the situation either. Intelligence agencies exist to spy not only on private citizens but on top government leaders too."
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