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Showing posts from January 27, 2016

The CIA’s Syria Program and the Perils of Proxies

After fighting al Qaeda and its affiliates for a decade and a half, the CIA is now helping them gain ground in Syria.

Almost every aspect of the Obama administration’s policy toward Syria has been scrutinized, lambasted or praised in recent months, but one of the most significant facets, the CIA’s covert aid program to Syrian rebels, has largely slipped below the radar.

It is time that we start paying attention, since this initiative is benefiting the very jihadist groups the U.S. has been fighting for the past 15 years.

America’s abrupt about-face is a mistake, but even those who would defend this new course as the least bad option should favor a more robust public debate.

The CIA’s program, launched in 2013, initially was conceived as a way of strengthening moderate rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime without significantly increasing the U.S. footprint in the conflict.

The program got off to a slow start, with rebel commanders grumbling that the CIA was stingy due to its concern tha…

Report: UK, U.S., Russian troops in Libya

Dozens of British, Russia and American troops have arrived in Libya in support for the weak internationally-recognized government in Tobruk, London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat reported.

The daily also said French troops are expected to arrive soon for the same purpose.

The officers and soldiers are currently stationed in Jamal Abdulnasir military base south of Tobruk where the parliament is holding its sessions in the city.

Witnesses in the base, meanwhile, said the number of foreign troops mounts to 500 troops in the past three weeks, but a security official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said they are just dozens.

However, a small group of Americans have arrived west of Tripoli, where the opposing government is.

On Friday, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said a decisive military action is needed to halt the spread of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Libya, saying the group wanted to use the north African nation as a platform to coordina…

Russia: Syrian strikes have helped ‘turn around’ situation

Air strikes by the Russian military in support of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have helped turn the tide in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

Lavrov said that the Russian air force’s strikes had “really helped to turn around the situation in the country, helped towards reducing the territory controlled by terrorists” since Moscow launched a bombing campaign at Assad’s request on September 30.

Russia’s top diplomat also denied reports that Russia had asked long-time ally Assad to step down and offered him political asylum.

“This is not true,” Lavrov said of media reports that Russia’s late military intelligence chief Igor Sergun had travelled to Syria to ask Assad to resign. “No one asked for political asylum and no one offered anything of the kind.”

Lavrov also said that no-one has ever supplied proof that Russian air strikes in Syria caused civilian deaths or struck the wrong militant groups,

He said the Russian military went to great lengths to avoi…