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Showing posts from April 8, 2014

U.S. Intelligence Official Says Syrian War Could Last for Years

Karam Jamal/Reuters

Free Syrian Army fighters prepared a homemade missile in Deir al-Zour on Saturday. The city has been one of the centers of fighting since the civil war began. In recent months, the government of President Bashar al-Assad has made gains against the rebels.

By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI


ASPEN, Colo. — A senior American intelligence official on Saturday warned that the Syrian conflict could last “many, many months to multiple years,” and described a situation that would most likely worsen regardless of whether the Syrian leader, President Bashar al-Assad, fell.


Multimedia
Graphic
An Arms Pipeline to the Syrian Rebels

Video
Coverage of the Conflict in Syria


The comments by David R. Shedd, the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, were one of the strongest public warnings about how the civil war in Syria has deteriorated, and he seemed to imply that the response from the United States and its allies had so far been lacking.

Mr. Shedd suggested that in addition t…

China and India: River Wars in the Himalayas

Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s admission in February that the Indian government has asked its Ministry of Water Resources to clarify whether the Chinese dams on the Yarlung Tsangpo (called Brahmaputra in India) are run-of-the-river type or storage dams proves conclusively that New Delhi has so far taken all Chinese assurances in this regard with a pinch of salt. It appears that diplomatic nicety, rather than carefully analyzed facts, had earlier induced not only the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but some other responsible government ministers to accept Beijing’s stand that the proposed hydro-electric projects on the Brahmaputra in Tibet are all run-of-the-river types and hence pose no threat to India’s downstream interests. But beneath diplomatic compulsions, doubts about the Chinese river training activities on the Brahmaputra persist in Indian minds and therefore New Delhi has been raising the issue again and again with Beijing. Very recently an inter-depa…

Russia Risks Alienating Kazakhstan, Belarus

To many, Russia’s – and more pointedly, Putin’s – incursion into Ukraine revealed a desire to reclaim the lands that ‘got away’ during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

However, this blunt-force, defy-all-international-norms takeover of Crimea might have done quite a bit to weaken and potentially destabilize Russia’s relations with Belarus and Kazakhstan, arguably the two post-Soviet states most open to any sort of reconfiguring of the post-Soviet space that might mirror Soviet foreign policy.

But first, some background. For the past few years, Putin has been advancing a project to reconstruct the economic network which formally existed between Moscow and its satellite states by launching negotiations to create a ‘customs union’ which would abolish tariffs and visas between participating countries and fortify inter-nation trade.

The core partnership would be between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, with the expectation that goods would flow freely over borders and greatly incr…

Sharp Rise in Tensions in Eastern Ukraine

By The Saker
It is hard to get a good picture of what is happening in the eastern Ukraine, but looking at various sources it appears to me that large protests have occurred in the cities of Lugansk, Kharkov and Donetsk. From the video footage some rather large crowds, including a lot of women, have assembled in the city centers. In Donetsk and Lugansk the demonstrators have seized the governmental buildings including the local HQs of the Ukrainian SBU(security service). In Donetsk the demonstrators have gathered into something like a popular assembly and have declared the creation of a "People's Republic of Donetsk" and have announced that they plan to hold a referendum on the future of the region on April 11th. The best sign, however, that things are becoming very serious in that the entire top ruling elite of the revolutionary government in Kiev - including Yulia Timoshenko - has relocated to the eastern Ukraine to try to get the situation under control.

My sense is …

Seeking a Dead-End in Syria

By insisting that “Assad must go,” the West has locked itself in to a losing and dangerous game in Syria. Rather than negotiate a political settlement with President Assad, the alternative has been to back Saudi-funded jihadis with ties to al-Qaeda, say Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett.

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

In recent years, the limits on America’s ability to shape important outcomes in the Middle East unilaterally — or even with a few European partners — have been dramatically underscored by strategically failed interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Last year, President Barack Obama’s inability to act on his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August made clear that Washington can no longer credibly threaten the effective use of force in the region. Still, American and other Western elites persist in thinking they can dictate the Middle East’s future by helping armed insurgents overthrow Syria’s recognized government.