October 25, 2013 |
ALEPPO, Syria - In the newly opened office of the Islamist Liberation Party, the chairs were still covered with plastic and the walls were bare except for three Islamic black and white flags hanging behind Hisham Baba, the party's spokesman. Political pamphlets fresh from the printer had yet to be folded. On that day, during which Baba prepared political and religious presentations on his laptop, more than two dozen people were killed in and around Aleppo. Even as the Syrian civil war rages on in its third year with dim prospects for a resolution, Islamist, secular, nationalist and other groups in rebel-controlled areas are jockeying to present themselves as the best alternative to the government of President Bashar Assad.
October 15, 2013 |
BEIRUT - For much of Syria's civil war, President Bashar Assad has been a man in retreat. Rebels control vast stretches of his country. A little more than a month ago, he faced the prospect of U.S. military strikes that might have finally tipped the military balance. But the U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Syria's chemical arms, which headed off a U.S. missile barrage, has changed that. Assad is now an essential partner in a process that will last until at least mid-2014, and could drag on much longer.
September 27, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The ambitious international effort to take control of Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons, which seemed a pipe dream just weeks ago, has gathered momentum with a rapid-fire succession of dizzying diplomatic milestones. The United Nations Security Council on Friday night unanimously approved a resolution requiring Syrian President Bashar Assad to relinquish his stock of poison gases by mid-2014. International inspectors are expected to arrive in Syria by Tuesday - more than a month ahead of an already accelerated schedule - to begin the complex process of removing, dismantling or destroying the illicit arms.
September 26, 2013 |
UNITED NATIONS - Russia agreed Thursday to back a United Nations Security Council resolution that demands that Syria relinquish its chemical weapons by mid-2014, but stops short of threatening President Bashar Assad with military force if he doesn't comply. The Obama administration hailed the draft agreement as a breakthrough despite the U.S. failure after nearly two weeks to persuade Russia, Assad's strongest international backer, to support a resolution that would invoke Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter and could authorize the use of force or other action if Syria doesn't hand over its chemical arms.
September 23, 2013 |
A mathematical solution in Syria? That's not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, the working compromise is a classic case of the power of game theory, a branch of mathematics that analyzes the best possible outcomes in conflicts where neither side knows what the other will do. It's not about winning as much as it is finding the least worst option, which is precisely what Presidents Obama, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and company have done. No one gets exactly what he wants. But no one loses everything either.
September 22, 2013 |
MOSCOW -- The Kremlin on Sunday accused Washington of trying to sabotage a U.S.-Russian agreement for Syrian leader Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical arsenal. “Our U.S. partners are beginning to blackmail us," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday in an interview with the First Channel, a state-owned television network. He charged that the United States was threatening to "fold up the work" toward securing the chemical weapons if Russia won't back a United Nations Security Council resolution based on Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows the use of force against nations that threaten international peace.
September 18, 2013 |
To strike Syria or not - for Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), that wasn't exactly the question. In the Wall Street Journal, he said he couldn't even consider U.S. military intervention unless the military budget was liberated from the sequester. McKeon has represented his rock-ribbed GOP district, in north L.A. County and Ventura County, since 1993. His campaigns have benefited from the district's aerospace and defense industries. He chairs the Armed Services Committee. And the nascent diplomatic deal to "sequester" Bashar Assad's chemical weapons?
September 17, 2013 |
Chemical weapons are evil, but you could also say they're cursed. They have a talismanic power to bend and distort U.S. foreign policy. You can ask George W. Bush or Barack Obama. In 2003, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz gave a lengthy interview to Vanity Fair that caused a huge uproar, largely because the magazine shamefully distorted what he was trying to say. Wolfowitz explained that within the Bush administration there were a lot of arguments for why we should invade Iraq.
September 12, 2013 |
BAB AL HAWA, Syria - A group of Free Syrian Army rebels, run out of their hometown in northwestern Syria, hunkered down in an office with blacked-out windows. Their commander had been killed and beheaded by an Al Qaeda-linked group a month earlier, the rebels said. Now these surviving FSA fighters were hiding here near the Turkish border. Such mainstream rebel groups, formed to bring down the government of President Bashar Assad, increasingly find themselves in a battle against a different foe. Walid Shawkan, the new commander of the displaced group, said fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria attacked his men in the town of Dana after a dispute over weapons.
September 12, 2013 |
Vladimir Putin is no hero, but he has, nevertheless, provided a way for President Obama to sidestep a string of bad options for dealing with Bashar Assad and the Syrian government's despicable use of chemical weapons against its own citizens. By offering to broker a deal that would put Syria's chemical arsenal under control of international inspectors, the Russian president has forestalled a looming conflict and created a rare opportunity for international cooperation. On Tuesday night, Obama switched gears in his address to the nation.