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Showing posts from October 3, 2015
Syria After Four Years of Mayhem

A four-year conflict has dismembered Syria, inflaming the region with one of the world’s worst religious and sectarian wars. Most of its major cities are in shambles, and more than 200,000 people have been killed. Nearly half of Syria’s residents have been forced to flee their homes.
The Islamic State from Iraq to Syria

What will happen when Assad is gone—in Syria and beyond?

The instability that follows Assad’s fall will be felt far beyond Syria
By Leonid Bershidsky                       

Russia vehemently denies that its forces in Syria are bombing any group other than the so-called Islamic State. Western news organizations have countered that assertion with maps showing where different groups have control and the locations of Russian airstrikes. Russian media, too, have drawn some maps. No two maps are exactly alike, and many bear no resemblance to one another.
Syria's Civil War
It's a pointless debate in any case: Russia, invited into the conflict by President Bashar al-Assad, will bomb his enemies, whoever they happen to be. The U.S., the European Union, Turkey and Saudi Arabia can protest about the choice of targets, but Russia won't feel any obligation to listen.
Nonetheless, figuring out where Russia is choosing to bomb is necessary to understanding President Vladimir Putin's tactical goals. In  theory, the maps would provide the answer, but they are unsuited to this purpose.
After years of debating a U.S.-led no-fly zone inside Syria to protect rebels and civilians, Vladimir Putin has established his own no-fly zone in a matter of days -- to protect his new base there.
In the U.S. there is an increasing bipartisan call for the U.S. to move toward some form of a no-fly zone or humanitarian buffer zone in Syria. Hillary Clinton said Thursday that if she were in office, she would be advocating for a no-fly zone to protect civilians and stem the flow of refugees. Putin made it look easy.
NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, General Philip Breedlove, was the first top Western official to publicly state that Russia’s new military infrastructure inside Syria, which includes anti-aircraft defense systems, was a de facto no-fly zone. He warned on Tuesday that Russia had created a new anti-access/area-denial bubble in Syria where U.S. planes could no longer travel.
He said the “very sophisticated air defense capabilities" were not aimed at the Islam…