March 28, 2014 |
HOMS, Syria - On the ragged fringes of the Old City, aid workers, clerics and government troops stood vigil, awaiting a U.N. convoy evacuating women, children and the aged from the besieged ancient quarter of a town known to many as ground zero in the Syrian civil war. But the buses disgorged a very different class of passengers: scores of young men, haggard and sallow-faced, blankets draped over their shoulders and fear evident in their eyes....
March 27, 2014 |
ROME - After spending four days in Europe dealing with the crisis over Russia's annexation of Crimea, President Obama now turns to a diplomatic challenge of another sort: trying to smooth relations with Saudi Arabia without making the longtime U.S. ally seem like an afterthought. Obama is scheduled to arrive in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, shortly before sunset Friday to meet with King Abdullah, whose inner circle is riled by how the United States has handled Iran's nuclear ambitions and Syria's civil war. Some with close ties to the royal family have talked about breaking ranks with Western partners.
March 24, 2014 |
President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia this week. Based on what I hear from key Saudis, he is in for a rough reception. Rarely have the Saudis been more skeptical about the United States, and if the president is to affect Saudi behavior, it is important for him to understand why. Fundamentally, the Saudis believe that America's friends and interests are under threat, and the U.S. response has ranged from indifference to accommodation. The Saudis see Iran trying to encircle them with its Quds Force active in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and their own eastern province.
March 22, 2014 |
IRBID, Jordan - The Free Syrian Army commander, head of a moderate rebel force fighting just across the border in southern Syria, watched helplessly for months as better-funded Islamist militant groups peeled off half the 2,000 fighters from his brigade. That changed in February when an intelligence operative from a country he refuses to name handed him an envelope full of cash - salaries for his remaining combatants. "It's a good amount of money; I can keep my fighters," the commander said, as scented smoke from his arghileh [water pipe]
March 19, 2014 |
BEIRUT - Authorities said roads across Lebanon were reopened Wednesday following a tense evening of road-closing protests linked to the war in neighboring Syria. Clashes erupted late Tuesday between demonstrators and security forces as protesters used burning tires to block a number of roads throughout the country. The army fired warning shots and used tear gas to disperse protesters and several injures were reported, according to local media accounts. Fallout from the Syrian war has resulted in a wave of sectarian-fueled car bombings, gun battles and rocket and mortar strikes in Lebanon, causing profound instability.
March 19, 2014 |
JERUSALEM -- Tensions between Israel and Syria remained high Wednesday, with stern warnings and mutual accusations following the recent eruption of violence along their border. Early Wednesday, Israeli warplanes struck Syrian military targets hours after an explosion injured four Israeli soldiers on the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused "Syrian elements" of cooperating with the attack on the soldiers. “Our policy is very clear, we attack those who attack us,” he said ahead of a cabinet meeting . Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel holds Syrian President Bashar Assad responsible for what goes on in his territory.