Putin’s Syria intervention isn’t grand, brilliant strategy. It’s an act of fear. – Updated by Amanda Taub on September 30, 2015, 9:20 a.m. ET `


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Syria, and then his call at the United Nations for a global “anti-Hitler coalition” to fight ISIS there, can certainly look, from the American perspective, like a power grab. Putin’s boldness seems like a sign that President Obama’s passivity has allowed the Russian leader to run roughshod over US interests in the Middle East — particularly to hawks already frustrated that the US has refused to do more in Syria.

But don’t be taken in by Putin’s carefully cultivated image of strength and decisiveness. His intervention in Syria is most likely driven not by boldness but by reactiveness and, most of all, by fear. Fear of anarchy, fear of populist uprisings, fear of Western meddling, fear of any weakening of strong government rule, and fear that he himself could succumb to these forces.

(Putin’s Syria strategy is also unlikely to be very effective: Propping up Assad and partnering with Shia Hezbollah and Iran seems likely to worsen the sectarianism and anti-Assad sentiment that is driving much of the war. And Russian airstrikes aren’t likely to rally Syrians around Assad.)

To understand how Putin sees Syria, and why he’s getting himself into this mess, you have to understand how he looks at Libya, the lessons he drew from its collapse, how it led him to misunderstand the West — and why both Libya and Syria are the sum of many of his worst foreign policy fears.

Article continues:

http://www.vox.com/2015/9/30/9419729/putin-syria-fear

Why Putin just proposed an “anti-Hitler coalition,” but to fight ISIS – Updated by Zack Beauchamp on September 28, 2015, 2:10 p.m. ET


 

 

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  1. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his address on Monday to the United Nations General Assembly, called for a new global effort to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups.
  2. Putin called for the UN Security Council to meet and draft a resolution that would coordinate this effort. He said it should be “similar to the anti-Hitler coalition,” the point being that the US and Russia should get over their differences and work together against ISIS.
  3. What he’s really doing here is trying to pull the US closer to Russia’s policy of propping up Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, by positioning a pro-Assad coalition as the best way to fight terrorism, and by conflating all Syrian rebels with ISIS.

Article continues:

http://www.vox.com/2015/9/28/9409883/putin-un-address-terrorism

Iran’s President: ‘Driving Out The Terrorists’ Is Key To Syria’s Future – Steve Inskeep SEPTEMBER 27, 201510:11 PM ET


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prepares to speak with NPR's Steve Inskeep on Saturday in New York. Rouhani reaffirmed Iran's commitment to the nuclear deal and said his country would be willing to discuss Syria's future with the United States — after ISIS is defeated.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prepares to speak with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Saturday in New York. Rouhani reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal and said his country would be willing to discuss Syria’s future with the United States — after ISIS is defeated. Bryan Thomas for NPR

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prepares to speak with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Saturday in New York. Rouhani reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to the nuclear deal and said his country would be willing to discuss Syria’s future with the United States — after ISIS is defeated.

Bryan Thomas for NPR

Here’s the basic difference between the United States, Russia and Iran: The U.S. wants Syrian President Bashar Assad to go. Russia and Iran, Assad’s allies, want him to stay.

Over the weekend, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, met with NPR in New York, where he will be attending the United Nations General Assembly. Through an interpreter, Rouhani argued that, where Syria is concerned, the most important issue for everyone is destroying ISIS.

“Perhaps political reform is needed. However, is that today’s priority? We believe that it’s driving out the terrorists,” he tells NPR.

“The issue of stability and security in the region is of utmost importance for us,” he emphasizes. Americans may not like Syria’s government, he says, but Iran needs to prop it up to avoid a dangerous leadership vacuum. If Assad goes now, Rouhani says, extremists will step in.

So Iran is collaborating with Syria, Russia and Iraq against ISIS. An intelligence-sharing agreement among the four countries was announced by Iraq on Sunday.

“We say between worse and bad, we must choose bad. Or in other words, we choose the lesser of two evils,” he says.

 

Article continues:

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/09/27/443992544/irans-president-driving-out-the-terrorists-is-key-to-syrias-future

The Volunteer Firefighters of Daraa (Excerpt from ‘The Battle for Syria’s South’) – Published on Sep 22, 2015


Daraa is where Syria’s revolution began four years ago. Now it’s the scene of a forgotten war, in which largely secular Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels — marginalized elsewhere in Syria — continue to lead the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The FSA are fighting a bitterly hard battle under a virtual media blackout to change the course of Syria’s civil war. If they can take Daraa, they will stand at the beginning of the road to Damascus, the seat of Assad’s government.

In this excerpt from ‘The Battle for Syria’s South,’ VICE News follows a group of volunteers tackling fires and rescuing civilians trapped in rubble, as barrel bombs and grad rockets rain down daily on neighborhoods.

Watch “The Battle for Syria’s South (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1Yg2R6a

Cutting Through Hungary’s Razor Wire Fence: Breaking Borders (Dispatch 6) – Vice News Published on Sep 20, 2015


As Hungary cracked down on its border policies this week, those seeking refuge in Europe made one last push before their route was altered permanently.

The tightening of the Hungarian frontier on Tuesday marked a crucial shift in the migrants’ journey, leaving them in limbo and forcing many to divert through Croatia, or cutting the fence separating Serbia and Hungary and risking significant jail time.

VICE News followed refugees the day before, seeing the desperate measures migrants and refugees resort to, and talking to those who had made the journey from Syria, trying to beat the deadline.

Watch “Migrants and Refugees Test Lesbos’ Limits: Breaking Borders (Dispatch 5)” – http://bit.ly/1LCLmDt

Cutting the Regime’s Supply Line (Extra Scene from ‘The Battle for Syria’s South’) – Vice News Published on Sep 18, 2015


Daraa is where Syria’s revolution began four years ago. Now it’s the scene of a forgotten war, in which largely secular Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels — marginalized elsewhere in Syria — continue to lead the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The FSA are fighting a bitterly hard battle under a virtual media blackout to change the course of Syria’s civil war. If they can take Daraa, they will stand at the beginning of the road to Damascus, the seat of Assad’s government.

In this extra scene from ‘The Battle for Syria’s South,’ VICE News meets the commander of the Jisr al-Haran brigade and his men, where their mission is to attack all regime convoys and cut off the supply line to Daraa.

Watch “The Battle for Syria’s South” – http://bit.ly/1Yg2R6a

The Battle for Syria’s South (Full Length) – Vice News Published on Sep 11, 2015


Daraa is where Syria’s revolution began four years ago. Now it’s the scene of a forgotten war, in which largely secular Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels — marginalized elsewhere in Syria — continue to lead the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The FSA are fighting a bitterly hard battle under a virtual media blackout to change the course of Syria’s civil war. If they can take Daraa, they will stand at the beginning of the road to Damascus, the seat of Assad’s government.

VICE News followed the Fallujah Horan brigade of the FSA and their charismatic commander Abu Hadi Aboud as they fight to push the regime out of Daraa’s eastern suburbs.

Watch “Jihadists vs. the Assad Regime: Syria’s Rebel Advance” – http://bit.ly/1K9YiDM

US to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees following criticism of slow response – Al Jazeera September 10, 2015 3:30PM ET


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President Barack Obama has directed officials to prepare to accommodate at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year — a number around six times greater than the total taken in by the U.S. over the first four-and-a-half years of the Middle East conflict.

In what the White House described as a “significant scaling up” of Washington’s response to a crisis, the administration said it would accept thousands more people fleeing the war and would provide for their basic needs.

To date, the U.S. has accepted around 1,500 Syrians displaced by years of fighting — a tiny percentage of the 11.6 million people who have been chased out the country or uprooted from their homes.

In announcing the increased numbers, White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that the administration had provided around $4 billion to relief agencies helping Syrian refugees. But he added that Obama has decided that admitting more people would help boost the U.S. response.

The move comes amid an ongoing crisis in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of people fleeing bloodshed are looking to resettle. And the administration’s announcement Thursday followed criticism that the U.S. had not been pulling its weight when it came to taking in Syrian refugees.

White House petition published on Aug. 31 calling for Washington to resettle 65,000 Syrian refugees has so far garnered more than 62,000 signatures.

Even with the increase, the number of Syrians that the U.S. is willing to give sanctuary to represents a tiny proportion of those needing resettlement. More than four million Syrians have fled the country since the war started and at least seven million have been displaced internally.

The perceived slow response from Washington is a contrast to previous conflicts. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the U.S. accepted more than a million refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In 1999, tens of thousands of mostly Muslim Kosovar Albanians were flown to the U.S., processed at Fort Dix in New Jersey and ultimately resettled. During the Iraq war, more than 50,000 refugees were allowed to come under a special, expedited program for people whose religious beliefs or past work for the U.S. military put their lives at risk.

But what those crises involved and Syria’s may lack is a sense of U.S. responsibility. Refugee operations in Southeast Asia followed years of U.S. warfare there, as did the decision to take in tens of thousands of Iraqis over the last decade.

Al Jazeera and wire services

Machine Guns and Barrel Bombs: The Battle for Syria’s South (Part 1) – Vice News Published on Sep 9, 2015


Daraa is where Syria’s revolution began four years ago. Now it’s the scene of a forgotten war, in which largely secular Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels — marginalized elsewhere in Syria — continue to lead the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The FSA are fighting a bitterly hard battle under a virtual media blackout to change the course of Syria’s civil war. If they can take Daraa, they will stand at the beginning of the road to Damascus, the seat of Assad’s government.

VICE News follows the Fallujah Horan brigade of the FSA and their charismatic commander Abu Hadi Aboud as they fight to push the regime out of Daraa’s eastern suburbs.

In part one of a two-part series, Abu Hadi shows VICE News how his men take the fight to the regime on the frontlines east of Daraa, and we also meet the volunteers trying to save locals from the barrel bombs that rain down daily on the city.

Watch “Pushing Back the Islamic State: The Battle for Rojava (Dispatch 1)” – http://bit.ly/1TjDm3U

Cameron faces scrutiny over drone strikes against Britons in Syria – 0:00 / 4:53 Embed Video footage shows Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff, before he was killed in UK targeted drone strike. Nicholas Watt, Patrick Wintour and Vikram Dodd Tuesday 8 September 2015 03.54 EDT


Prime minister justifies ‘act of self-defence’ in which UK citizens fighting alongside Isis were targeted by an unmanned aerial drone outside formal conflict

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Video footage shows Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff, before he was killed in UK targeted drone strike.

David Cameron is facing questions over Britain’s decision to follow the US model of drone strikes after the prime minister confirmed that the government had authorised an unprecedented aerial strike in Syria that killed two Britons fighting alongside Islamic State (Isis).

Speaking to the Commons on its first day back after the summer break, Cameron justified the strikes on the grounds that Reyaad Khan, a 21-year-old from Cardiff, who had featured in a prominent Isis recruiting video last year, represented a “clear and present danger”.

Two other Isis fighters were killed in the attack on the Syrian city of Raqqa on 21 August, the first time that a UK prime minister has authorised the targeting of a UK citizen by an unmanned aerial drone outside a formal conflict. One of them, Ruhul Amin, 26, was also British. A third Briton, Junaid Hussain, 21, was killed by a separate US airstrike three days later as part of a joint operation.

Cameron disclosed the strikes in a dramatic afternoon statement which had originally been billed as a chance to outline his plans to take thousands of extra refugees from Syria. Downing Street announced on Monday morning that the statement, in which the prime minister confirmed that Britain would take 20,000 refugees over the next five years, would also cover a major counter-terrorism announcement.

The prime minister told MPs: “In an act of self-defence and after meticulous planning Reyaad Khan was killed in a precision airstrike carried out on 21 August by an RAF remotely piloted aircraft while he was travelling in a vehicle in the area of Raqqah in Syria.

 

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/david-cameron-justifies-drone-strikes-in-syria-against-britons-fighting-for-isis