Syria

Russia Tries to Kill U.S. Democracy Promotion Once and For All
September 18, 2012

MOSCOW—When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived for the APEC summit in Vladivostok on September 8, there was one item on the agenda she was not expecting. Sitting down with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the two discussed missile defense and Syria, talked about Iran’s quest to get a nuclear weapon. And then Lavrov dropped the bomb: USAID was to cease all operations inside the Russian Federation starting October 1. Four days later, the Russian Foreign Ministry delivered the news in writing. USAID, the government development agency started by John F.

Baathism: An Obituary
September 14, 2012

When Bashar Al Assad's government finally collapses in Syria, it will mean the end of a totalitarian ideology that thrived—and killed—for 70 years.

Inside Syria’s Fracturing Rebellion
August 30, 2012

JEBEL ZAWIYA, SYRIA—The unglamorous municipal building, on which black daubs evince graffiti wars between the regime (“Bashar Assad or the country burns!”) and the opposition (“Leave, oh Bashar!”) did not look fit for a king. But it was immediately obvious when the man in the pressed green khakis strode in that we were in the presence of a leader. Men who had been sitting around in the room chatting fell silent. The leather chair behind the desk was seamlessly vacated.

The Meager and Gruesome Options For Syria’s War Wounded
August 20, 2012

REYHNALI, Turkey—“We had 600 wounded men in Homs, and no doctors,” says Ahmet, a young Free Syrian Army fighter, his speech slightly muddled, the legacy of a bullet that had grazed his neck and shattered his chin. “Sometimes, because we didn’t know any other way to treat our men, we had to amputate arms and legs ourselves. Sometimes we asked a carpenter or a butcher to do so.” We are standing outside a hospital in Reyhanli, Turkey, less than four miles from the Syrian border. Ahmet arrived here two weeks ago, he says, but insists he will return.

For Assad Defectors, Joining the Opposition Isn’t As Easy As It Sounds
August 07, 2012

AMMAN—Syria's former Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, who announced his defection from the Assad government Monday, is one of several high-ranking Syrian government officials to defect in recent months. But if it's increasingly clear that Assad officials are eager to separate themselves from the regime, it's not yet clear what role they will be able to play in the Syrian opposition. For regime defectors, joining the FSA at all is an involved process.

Vogue's Suck-Up to Assad: Blame the Editor, Not the Writer
July 30, 2012

The latest Newsweek features an insider-y read by Joan Juliet Buck, the magazine writer who wrote the infamous 2011 Vogue puff piece on Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. I’m tempted to call it a cautionary tale for journalists—and that’s clearly how it is presented, with the headline “Mrs. Assad Duped Me.” But to read Buck’s account that way, to assume that anyone could have found themselves in her shoes, would be an insult to most journalists. Unless Buck omitted a boatload of admirable details about Mrs.

The Fate of Syria is in the Hands of … Palestinians?
July 29, 2012

For decades, the Assad regime in Syria was the most ardent regional champion of the Palestinian cause. When the country went to war with Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973, it claimed to do so on behalf of Palestine. Hafez al-Assad stood steadfastly against the Oslo Accords, refusing to support the compromise that the Palestinians were themselves prepared to make. And since coming to power in 2000, Bashar al-Assad has been a crucial patron of numerous Palestinian terrorist groups, just like his father before him.

In Russia, Even Putin’s Critics Are OK With His Syria Policy
July 23, 2012

On Monday afternoon, Italian premier Mario Monti and Russian president Vladimir Putin convened a small press conference in the slanting, gold light coming off the Black Sea. They had just met to discuss the European economic crisis as well as energy (Italy is Russia’s second biggest gas client), but they also touched on the deepening conflict in Syria. “We do not want the situation to develop along the lines of a bloody civil war and for it to continue for who knows how many years, like in Afghanistan,” Putin said, standing with his perfect posture in a slate-gray summer suit.

The Civil War in the Syrian Opposition: How Long Can the Free Syrian Army Hold Off Its Islamist Rivals?
June 25, 2012

If you want to know where the fourteen month-old Syrian revolution against President Bashar al-Assad is headed, the case of Walid al-Boustani provides a useful rubric. Al-Boustani led an ill-fated “Islamic Emirate of Homs” that lasted only a few weeks. Apparently the locals did not appreciate having an “Emir” who kidnapped and murdered their people while claiming to wage jihad against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Yes, Obama's Election Campaign is Affecting His Syria Policy. No, That's Not a Bad Thing.
June 15, 2012

It’s clear that the conflict in Syria is now an issue in the American presidential campaign, largely at the insistence of Mitt Romney’s Republican supporters. Most notable among the interjections was an emotional speech recently delivered on the Senate floor by Senator John McCain, in which he demanded to know why the White House was abetting Bashar al Assad’s murdering of innocents. There is, of course, much to quibble with in this characterization: Far from doing nothing to oppose Bashar, the Obama administration has supported the U.N.

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