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Open Think Tank Articles

December 17, 2012 | The West May Regret Taking Sides In Syria

Paul Smyth: A popular revolt seeking political freedoms has become a civil war in which democratic objectives are increasingly sidelined. If Assad falls before an effective alternative government is available, a power vacuum may exist in which Islamist groups seek to rule the country. For women, liberals and minorities, life after Assad may not bring progress.

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October 26, 2012 | Give them Weapons

James Kratovil: America must step up its support of aid to the Syrian opposition in the form of weapons and must increase its intelligence assets to provide a more informed picture of who should receive this support. By expanding its capabilities within Syria, the United States will be able to shape the events acceptable to Syrians and Americans and will not have to depend on Saudi Arabia influence in the country.

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October 25, 2012 | The West Should Not Give Heavy Arms to Syrian Rebels

Ievgen Vorobiov: The US and the EU should tread carefully in their policy on Syria, as an increase of weapon supply to rebels advocated by some Arab countries and American politicians might turn the horrible status-quo into an irreversible geopolitical disaster. Decision-makers across the Atlantic should resist supplying heavy arms to the rebels, amplifying their efforts for a diplomatic solution instead.

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October 15, 2012 | Obama vs. Romney: Fighting to Be Different

Joshua Clapp: Tomorrow marks the second US presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The debate, in a town meeting format, will include not only domestic policy but also foreign policy. How do the two candidates approach the outside world? Here is a look at five main foreign policy issues.

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October 12, 2012 | Applying Moscow's Take on Responsibility to Protect to Syria

Nikolay Shevchenko: The Syrian crisis marks the ultimate test for the responsibility to protect norm. The inability of the UN Security Council to reach a timely consensus does not only harm Syrians, but weakens the concept that shields populations from crimes against humanity. Instead of criticizing the vetoing of resolutions, Western powers must persuade Russia and China to propose their own visions of the norm.

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October 1, 2012 | End of Summer Reading List

Editorial Team: With summer already over, at least in the northern hemisphere, atlantic-community.org takes a look at some of the many issues that have been written by our community of 7,000 members over the summer break.

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September 24, 2012 | The Deputy Secretary General of NATO Responds to Your Questions

Editorial Team: Ambassador Alexander Vershbow has answered your questions! Read his responses on a range of topics covering NATO’s post-summit agenda, including Afghanistan, the conflict in Syria, relations with Russia, the operation in Libya, Smart Defense, missile defense, and NATO’s role in the Caucasus.

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September 12, 2012 | Crisis in Syria: Rethinking Russia's Policy

Oleg Khlopov: The resignation of Kofi Annan as UN special envoy to the Assad regime highlights the difficulty of effective international engagement. Despite the problems of diplomacy, Russia as a key player needs to rearrange its policy and work out a fruitful formula for Syria’s transition away from Assad.

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August 16, 2012 | China: Friend of Foe of the International Order?

Patrick Steiner: It is often believed the rise of a superpower threatens the existing world order. In light of China’s increasing superpower status and its recent veto on the Syria Resolution, can it be considered a threat to the international community?

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July 7, 2012 | Europe & Russia: Soft Power, Please

Steffen Buenau: To effectively support the ongoing transformation within Russia, Europe should put to use its most effective “soft power” tool: a relaxation of visa regulations. Such an approach is not only effective with regard to domestic transformation but will also help restore credibility in an area where Russian co-operation is crucial, namely, Syria.

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June 27, 2012 | Turkey's Prudent Management Ends Syria Crisis

Ross Wilson: Five days after Syria’s downing of a Turkish F-4 fighter aircraft, Prime Minister Erdogan brought the crisis to a close by securing NATO support, reporting its views to the UN Security Council, complaining formally to Damascus, and altering the rules of engagement along the 500-plus mile border with its neighbor to the south. Both militaries may now be somewhat more visibly at loggerheads.

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June 11, 2012 | Legitimizing Syrian Intervention

Ramin Daniel Rezai: The international community is under immense pressure to deal with Syria, as al-Assad and his regime continue to use brute force against their citizens. Because diplomacy and sanctions have yet to show success, the best guarantee to stopping the loss of life is a legitimate, but illegal armed intervention in Syria.

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June 7, 2012 | Intervention is Not the Answer in Syria

Paul Smyth: The increasing bloodshed in Syria understandably generates a feeling that something must be done to end it, such as taking the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) seriously and acting accordingly. This may be a popular opinion but it can be very difficult to implement such noble feelings; instead, the pursuit of just causes must be based on logic, not sentiment.

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May 31, 2012 | The Future of the Arab Spring

Yasir Kuoti: The Arab Spring is not over yet and is far from the simple narrative of peace and democracy. In these underdeveloped societies, there are many difficulties to overcome and different paths to be chosen. The West should respect any democratic elections or decisions, even if Islamic-inspired.

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May 9, 2012 | Why NATO Intervention in Syria Makes No Sense

Volodymyr Navrotskyy: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has rich experience in conducting operations in places such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Nevertheless, NATO is not the institution which has to preserve world peace.

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March 28, 2012 | Will Iran's Defensive Realism Policy Work?

Gökhan Tekir: To prevent a NATO attack on its country, Iran is seeking to expand its sphere of influence. However, in the long term Iran’s allies will not be able to maintain their hold on power because of domestic troubles. Such troubles leave Iran in the precarious situation of relying on unstable allies.

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March 18, 2012 | NATO, Turkey and the Arab Spring

Gökhan Tekir: The transition period to democracy for Arab countries that experienced revolutions may beget more turmoil and civil wars. The involvement of NATO highlights the fact that Turkey has a role to help these countries set the course for stable democracies and solid economies.

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March 18, 2012 | Beyond Libya: The Arab Spring and NATO

Sarah Wagner: Although the Arab Spring seems to demand engagement by NATO, this should not occur unless NATO has sufficiently analyzed its involvement in Afghanistan, the demands and realities on the Arab ground, and its opportunities for support. Such an approach could result in more lasting support for NATO.

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March 16, 2012 | James Appathurai on the NATO Mission This Article contains Flash-Video

Editorial Team: Why doesn’t NATO have a good slogan? The NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy answers this and more in a final set of your questions, including answers about post-Cold War relevance and the strength of the Article 5 guarantee.

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March 8, 2012 | The Syrian Uprising: Signs of a Protracted Military Conflict

Alexander Corbeil: As the Syrian crisis heads into its second year, all signs point to a protracted struggle, in which neither side gains an advantageous position. The military dimensions of the current uprising and other intricate factors have amalgamated to ensure a lengthy and indecisive conflict.

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September 7, 2011 | Turkey's De Facto Moral Compass

Marc William Zedler: The Arab Spring has left the Middle East with a power vacuum. Three regional players, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, will be the region’s deciders for the next decade. As a global middle power, Turkey should take a principled stance in a region that needs its leadership now more than ever.

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September 2, 2011 | A New Track Against a Nuclear Iran

Felix F. Seidler and Niklas Anzinger: The Arab uprisings have opened new avenues for change in Iran. To slow Tehran’s military and nuclear ambitions, Western leaders must find a resolution to the Syrian conflict, while activists should harness the social power of the internet to force the Iranian regime to reform.

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August 24, 2011 | EU Should Back US in Sanctioning Syrian Oil

Johnny West: The West has bemoaned the lack of democracy in the Arab world for decades. Now, as the slaughter continues in Syria, it is time for the West to back its values with action. The recent US ban on purchasing Syrian oil has a good chance of debilitating the Assad regime. Europe must do the same.

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August 17, 2011 | Tehran's Nightmare: A Revolution in Syria

Saba Farzan: A successful Syrian revolution would mean the end of the destructive influence by the Islamic Republic and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas. This makes Western support for the Syrian pro-democracy movement even more important.

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August 11, 2011 | Turkish Delight: A Chance to Realign With the West

James Brian Taylor: Turkey’s relations with the United States and Europe have been strained over the past two years, despite a rich history of cooperation. But the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East provides a golden opportunity for Turkey to realign itself with the US and Europe, beginning with a reconciliation with Israel.

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May 21, 2011 | How to Support Regime Change in the Middle East

Bernhard Lucke: Developments in Egypt and Iraq show that the process of encouraging regime change is a long-term endeavor. Ignoring the precedent of Afghanistan through risky actions in Libya and Syria will create prolonged civil wars in the region. The West can build trust through student exchanges, well-managed development aid, and general cooperation.

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February 22, 2010 | EU-US Couple Better Off Courting Syria

Michael Patrick McCarthy: The EU and the United States are both taking proper steps in their relationship with Syria. While they have some differing interests in the Middle East, both Western strategies could work more successfully if they worked more closely to support each other’s diplomacy with Syria.

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April 6, 2009 | Will the Armenian Genocide Issue Shape Future US-Turkey Relations?

Marie Grunert: Ahead of his visit to Turkey, there has been much speculation as to whether President Obama would carry out his intention and recognize the Armenian genocide. In doing so, whilst he would be carrying out an intention stated in his campaign, it could have a lasting impact on US-Turkey relations

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November 5, 2007 | Iraqi Refugees: Open Western Doors to the Most Vulnerable

Jan Bittner: The West must acknowledge the disastrous dimensions of the Iraq refugee crisis. First, the most urgent needs must be addressed; second, prospects for the refugees must be developed in the region. The most vulnerable refugees need shelter in the West.

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October 26, 2007 | Iraqi Refugees: The West Overlooks a Major Crisis

Jan Bittner: The Middle East is facing the largest refugee crisis since 1948. Syria, the country which has so far accepted the most Iraqi migrants, has now changed its policy.

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October 10, 2007 | Israel's Security in a Changing Strategic Environment

Ambassador Yaakov Levy: A major change in the nature of warfare has taken place. Israel faces a “new reality” which presents a fundamental challenge to existing norms of international law.

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September 28, 2007 | Europe Should Help Iraq, But Not Follow US Lead This Article contains Flash-Video

Joerg Wolf: Noting the high stakes for the continent and its limited capabilities, European analysts suggest that Europe should pursue different policies than the US or make support dependent on more involvement in the decision-making process.

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September 25, 2007 | Europeans Want America to Stay in Iraq

Joerg Wolf: We asked European policy experts for their opinions on proposed ways forward in Iraq. Respondents from ten different countries provided some surprising results.

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September 18, 2007 | General Petraeus's Iraq: Before=After

Jan-Friedrich Kallmorgen: the only news from the White House and Petraeus findings is that any decision on American troop withdrawal is postponed: President Bush is betting it all on positive trends in Iraq. Should the situation improve, Germany too will have to do its part.

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September 10, 2007 | The Surge Rocks! This Article contains Flash-Video

Retired General James Jones: Positive trends on the ground could enable a shift in responsibility from Coalition forces to the Iraqi security forces.

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August 29, 2007 | Iraq: Who's Got the Best Plan?

The Atlantic Community Editorial Team: presents a comparative analysis of the most promising plans from policy makers and think tanks across the US. See all the strategies here, or download and print out a PDF with the full matrix of options.

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Global Must Read Articles

October 18, 2012 | Muslims Must Support US Leadership on Syria

Of the choices presented to Obama over the Syrian conflict, the president gets to choose between a bad decision and a worse one – he chose the wrong one. ++ In the upcoming US elections, we are seeing two Obamas: the one of the Cairo speech in 2009 and the other of a “terrorist-slayer”. ++ The latter has taken over, while ignoring the deeper roots of American security that the former

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September 19, 2012 | Syria's Parallel to 1930s Spain

The conflict in Syria looks very much like the Spanish Civil War. ++ Russia and Iran continue to standby Assad’s regime while democracies are reluctant in supporting the opposition. ++ Similar to Spain in the 1930s, established democracies were hesitant in supporting the Spanish Republic at the time Franco’s rebellion was supported by fascist Italy and Germany. ++ Though supplying rebels with

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August 3, 2012 | Another Failed UN Mission

Although Annan recently resigned, his mission in Syria ended months ago. ++ Diplomacy has actually bought Assad time to prepare his military, while Putin continues to cling to an outdated Cold War mind-set opposing the US at every corner. ++ Meanwhile, the international community was unable to reach a political consensus and use military force. ++ In absence of this, the unarmed UN personnel

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July 20, 2012 | Turkey: NATO's Wedge in Syria?

Among all the countries involved in the Syrian “cauldron”, Turkey’s agenda is the hardest to discern. ++ Both committing itself to regime change and sponsoring an armed group for the first time in a neighboring country, Turkey is taking a huge risk. ++ Capitalizing on recent tensions with its neighbor over air space, Turkey is NATO’s wedge in this phase of the Arab Spring. ++ Turkey’s role is

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July 13, 2012 | More Than Meets the Eye in Syria

The Western media has promoted a false narrative on the Syrian conflict. ++ They have created a simplistic story of struggle for democracy and blame the regime for everything. ++ But atrocities committed by the insurgents are rarely reported ++ Or how Russia has attempted to facilitate reconciliation from the onset. ++ This is part of an information campaign to paint the Assad regime in the worst

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July 11, 2012 | Who Defines the World Order?

Russia will not change its position on Syria unless the conflict’s internal dynamics shift. ++ Moscow does not view Syria as Middle Eastern geopolitics. ++ Rather Russia sees it as about who defines the world order. ++ Moscow consistently opposes military force without a clear UNSC mandate and rejects regime change. ++ Russians are also much less optimistic about the Arab Spring. ++ For these

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June 25, 2012 | Making a Difference by Not Making a Difference

Much of the Arab Spring has been a mess. ++ Violence continues in Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and in Syria, while the victory of the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has led to a power struggle with the military. ++ Although Obama is definitely not the prime cause for the mess, he is at fault for waffling back and forth between the sides instead of choosing one. ++ By not supporting the start of

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June 20, 2012 | Russia's Role in Ending Syrian Bloodshed

Rescuing Syria will require a “Yemen-style” solution by granting impunity to Assad, his family and top aides, which quite possibly will end the bloodshed in the country. ++ It must be made clear to Assad that he cannot win militarily, and that there is an alternative to fighting to the end - a safe way out. ++ Moscow must play a pivotal role in this process. ++ Damascus is aware

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June 6, 2012 | Non-Intervention is the Better Solution

Syria is sliding toward a deeper civil war and, perhaps, a war involving foreign forces. ++ The US has made it clear that it might opt for unilateral humanitarian intervention, along with other western states. ++ However, intervention in Syria will escalate violence, since the conflict is being fought in heavily populated areas. ++ The conflict might also spill over to Lebanon and Iraq, given

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April 23, 2012 | Obama Wastes Time As Syria Bleeds

The violence in Syria will never be ended through diplomacy. ++ The Obama administration must accept reality and work with options that could end the bloodshed. ++ More unarmed observers and sanctions will not work. ++ An arms embargo only reinforces the regime’s military advantage. ++ Any new proposals should emphasize safe zones or humanitarian corridors, which could be enforced with a small

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April 11, 2012 | Reducing Violence by Including Assad

Delivering aid to Syria’s armed opposition groups will most likely escalate violence. ++ This is because of the political complexities within the country. ++ Although large portions of the country support toppling the regime of Bashar al-Assad, there are many who are more likely to fear instability and violence in doing so. ++ Pursuing negotiations for a political transition that would

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March 14, 2012 | Syria's Stalemate

The conflict in Syria is bound to last for some time. ++ Too many countries are waiting around for someone else to take action. ++ Turkey and Jordan refused to be drawn in by creating safe havens along the Syrian border. ++ Assad’s armed forces are able to hang together but not put down the rebellion everywhere. ++ The regime cannot risk mass Sunni defections from the army by carrying out a large

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March 9, 2012 | Syria Intervention: All or Nothing

Any half-measures undertaken to stop the Syrian conflict might only inflame the situation. ++ Syria’s rebels are failing against the better-armed Assad regime. ++ A rising death toll increases the calls for intervention. ++ Piecemeal measures such as arming the rebels or setting up safe havens could prolong the conflict and risk a wider regional war. ++ Decision makers should not go with

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March 7, 2012 | How to Refer Syrian Leaders to the ICC

Securing the investigation into Syrian war crimes is imperative. ++ Syria is not a member of the ICC so the only way to give the tribunal jurisdiction over the country’s leaders is through the Security Council’s enforcement. ++ The court’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute could be limited in order to get China and Russia on board with a Security Council vote. ++ If Assad was to quit

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February 24, 2012 | Only Russia Can Save Syria

The West has declared ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys in Syria without fully understanding the situation. ++ Western governments should first determine who exactly the opposition is. ++ Russia and China’s veto of the Security Council resolution did not necessarily inflame the conflict. ++ In fact, a UN observer mission probably would have increased violence, with each side

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February 9, 2012 | Time to Make Nice with Assad

The violence in Syria could result in a full-blown civil war. ++ The controlled collapse of the Syrian regime is not possible considering that the army, the elites, and other segments of society still support the government. ++ With support from Iran and Hezbollah, Assad has the means to prolong the conflict. ++ A drawn-out struggle might ignite sectarian violence in the region. ++ The West must

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February 6, 2012 | Russia and China: Warnings from the Arab Spring

Beijing is dismissive of Western interests in the UN, prioritizing stability, economic benefit and non-interference. ++ Russia is Syria’s largest arms supplier and is attempting to demonstrate an alternative to Western “belligerence”. ++ Domestically, Putin fears bloodshed if public resistance does not subside when he returns to power. ++ The West can do little in Syria since Assad has been

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February 2, 2012 | What if Assad Survives?

Bashar al-Assad is hanging onto power in Syria despite a gradually developing civil war. ++ The current turmoil is the most precarious moment in Syria’s post-independence history. ++  No matter how much condemnation and bloodshed, the Assad regime is likely to continue fighting, even alone if need be. ++ While his time might be numbered and everyone outside of Syria apparently foresees

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February 1, 2012 | Drones as a Tool for Human Rights

It is time to use drones to benefit human rights advocacy. ++ Drones could replace the Arab League observers who suspended their operations in Syria last week. ++ The evidence could be broadcast to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court. ++ An environmental group uses drones to monitor illegal Japanese whaling. ++ Whilst violating national airspace may undermine the norms of

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January 16, 2012 | Turkey Balances East-West Interests Over Syria

Turkey is now spearheading a joint Western-Arab-Turkish policy of forcing President Bashar Assad to cede power in Syria. ++ Previous good relations with Syria and Iran were part of a “zero problems with neighbors” policy. ++ Turkish attempts to mediate between the US and Iran have been wrongly interpreted as an “Islamic” foreign policy; their turn to the East is in fact based on solid strategic

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December 9, 2011 | The US, Turkey, and a Budding Relationship

Obama and Turkish PM Recep Erdogan have become unlikely partners as the Arab Spring has evolved. ++ After a blunt confrontation at the G-20 in Toronto, they have found common ground on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the fight against terror. ++ The relationship will now be key in pressuring for a peaceful change of power in Syria. ++ The “Turkish model” has become the hope for many Western

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October 24, 2011 | The Reluctance of Rising Democracies

Rising democracies are reluctant to support UN resolutions condemning authoritarian regimes. ++ India, Brazil and South Africa are opposed to democracy promotion partly out of economic self-interest, partly as a sign of protest against past hypocritical Western policies. ++ As rising democracies undergo rapid economic growth, they can afford to disregard international law. ++ Instead of appealing

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October 12, 2011 | A Time to Stand Against Assad

Europe and the US must not let cowardly vetoes and abstentions from the BRICs stop them from continuing to press Syria on its brutal crackdown on demonstrators. ++ Even though the UN Security Council resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad failed, calling for a vote was the right decision; it showed clearly who stood with the opposition and who stood with the dictator. ++ Democracies

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August 31, 2011 | Israel Should Intervene in Syria

By intervening in Syria, Israel could seize the opportunity offered by “the convergence of moral imperatives and strategic goals”. ++ This would oppose the passive precedent Israel has set in the Arab Spring, but offering a corridor for Syrian refugees via the Golan Heights could prove a “diplomatic coup” for Jerusalem, weakening the Assad regime while isolating Hezbollah

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August 30, 2011 | "Libya's Impact Will Shake the Assads"

Libya will have a “tremendous” effect on the Syrian uprising, boosting the morale of protestors and casting doubt on the Assad regime. ++ The EU must intensify pressure by banning oil imports from Syria, while Lebanon should join other Arab states and Turkey in condemning Assad and strive to prevent cross-border trafficking of weapons and money. ++ To seize the momentum, the

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August 25, 2011 | Endgame in Libya a Victory for US Leadership

Despite the domestic assault on his Libya policy, President Obama’s strategy to depose Gaddafi has worked, with US support for NATO combat operations proving critical to the rebel forces’ success. ++ The Libyan case shows that US global leadership remains “indispensible” but also that countries with deeper ties to Libya such as France, Italy and Spain must lead in assembling

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August 3, 2011 | "Syria: Tired Slogans and a Looming Dawn"

Syria’s society has experienced a brutal crackdown on protestors and civilians over the past five months. ++ The state claims that the protesters’ goal is “to undermine Syrian leadership” in the Arab world; but Syria’s rigid stance against the US and Israel, which brought the state to the frontline of the Arab resistance, cannot justify the regime’s cruel suppression

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July 20, 2011 | Europe and the US Send Mixed Messages to Syria

While Secretary Clinton said that President Assad had “lost legitimacy,” European ministers sent him another implicit lifeline, urging him to implement promised reforms. ++ “So long as Washington and Europe send mixed messages, Moscow and the Arab League will feel no pressure to change — and Mr. Assad will believe he can hang on.” ++ It is high time to “expand existing sanctions

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July 16, 2011 | The Syrian Regime's Slow-motion Suicide

Even in its attempts to survive at all costs, the Syrian regime appears to be digging its own grave. Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (VII):  The Syrian Regime’s Slow-motion Suicide,
the second of a two-part report from the International Crisis Group,
examines the regime’s approach to the crisis. Although the outcome
remains in doubt, as many Syrians still fear the

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July 11, 2011 | "Arab Youth Steps in Where Islamism Failed"

The Arab spring has slid into a long, hot summer. After toppling their autocratic regimes, Tunisia and Egypt have yet to show their movement toward democracy is sustainable, while the violent conflicts in Syria and Libya drag on. ++ Some fear Islamists could emerge triumphant from these messy conflicts. But a host of young, dynamic reform groups are also beginning to show a pulse. ++ These

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June 7, 2011 | Syria - a Fount of Disorder

President Assad intends to downplay assaults on regime opponents by exciting attacks on Israel. ++ Syria gave a green light to Palestinian refugees to assemble in the “sealed-off military zone” of the Golan Heights. ++ The latter resulted in their attempt to breach Israeli border. ++ The attack was followed by Israeli fire which led to a number of casualties among the protestors. ++

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May 14, 2010 | Russia and Syria Are Getting Cosy


Syria will strive “to hang Israel around the America’s neck.”++ Given the failure of talks with the US, Syria fears an imminent conflict with Israel. Hence improved relations with Russia are crucial for Syria, given Moscow’s veto power on the UN Security Council. ++ While the Russians wish to improve their standing in the Middle East by courting former Soviet allies

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April 26, 2010 | A Syrian Policy with No Teeth Will Be Ridiculed

What has been lacking in the US’s Syrian strategy are tangible steps, such as economic sanctions, that put pressure on Dictator Bashar Al-Assad to end his collaboration with Iran and Hezbollah.++ Assad has reacted to special envoys to Syria by “publicly ridiculing the US’s diplomatic initiative.”++ Mr. Assad is aware of the political pressures from the US but “…he sees no need to listen.”++

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February 25, 2010 | US Better Off Not Courting Syria

US ambassador in Damascus reveals new American strategy towards Syria recognised as “a player in the Middle East.” ++ Five years after Lebanese president’s assassination, the Cedar revolution is definitely buried away. ++ New American diplomacy embraces promises from dictator Bashar Al-Assad to make peace with Israel, distance himself from his military and financial supporter, the Tehran regime

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November 16, 2009 | Israel's Strategic Imperative

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s call for the resumption of negotiations with Israel, demonstrates his commitment to reaching a peace deal. ++ Netanyahu should accept his offer for talks as a peace agreement with Syria would give Israel important strategic advantages. ++ The alliance Iran is leading against Israel would weaken, Hezbollah would be reined in and Israel would gain another recognized

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October 22, 2009 | IAEA Should Not Forget About Syria

In the fight against nuclear proliferation, Syria should not be forgotten. ++ The IAEA’s failure to get Damascus to reveal the history of its secret nuclear reactor, questions its ability to act as an effective watchdog. ++ The IAEA’s stategy of coaxing violators is counterproductive and should be replaced with the practice of “meaningful benchmarks enforced with time certain sanctions that

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September 15, 2009 | Syria: Less Carrots, More Sticks

Obama’s approach to shift away from the Bush policy of isolation and reestablishing dialogue with Syria proofed not successful yet. ++ Despite the good intentions, the current US Administration’s behavior has not convinced Damascus to change its ways. ++ Syria holds still main responsibilities in destabilizing the Middle East, particularly Iraq. ++ “If Syria’s current behavior in Iraq persists it

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July 3, 2009 | Watch Out For Turkey, the Rising Strategic Star

Turkey’s rapprochement with Syria shows its transformation to a confident regional player. ++ The foreign policy crafted by the Islamist regime has three focuses, making Turkey a valuable international partner: to forge ties with Iran, politically and economically, be a respected mediator vis-à-vis the US; be a respected broker in the Middle East, regarding the Arab-Israeli and Iraqi

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May 13, 2009 | Obama Key to Peace Between Arab World and Israel

Dialogue between the US and Syria is alive even though President Barack Obama renewed sanctions on Damascus, which were due to expire. ++ Syria immediately dismissed it as a routine procedure. ++ The key to removing sanctions is peace between the Arab world and Israel which should be approached at a regional level, otherwise war could break out within two years. ++ Only Obama will be able to make

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May 6, 2009 | Obama's Middle East Strategy Starts with Syria

When
the Israeli campaign in the Gaza Strip ended in the middle of January, it
seemed at that any hope of Israel
and Syria
reaching a peace agreement in the foreseeable future had ended as well. However,
now senior government officials believe that Intelligence officers and
diplomats from the US will
soon meet at new peace talks with Syria
and Israel.
The reason: the new

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March 5, 2009 | Obama Sets Out to Make New Friends

Obama decided to send two high level US officials to visit Syria and participate in “preliminary conversations.” ++ The decision is a complete shift from the Bush attitude. ++ It comes as a pleasant surprise to those who believe that the US should support Syria-Israel talks and use it as a stabilizer in the region, luring Syria away from Iran and into American arms. ++ Syria is also

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February 5, 2009 | A Herculean Task: Middle East Policy for the New US President

There is much more to the Middle East than Iraq, and US foreign policy must quickly widen its foreign policy focus in the region. A successful Middle East policy strategy must simultaneously address Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as renew diplomacy throughout the region. The Obama administration is advised to act immediately, appointing special envoys and beginning a

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January 15, 2009 | Egypt and Syria: Power Struggle Via Gaza

The struggle between Egypt and Syria over their respective negotiations with Hamas demonstrate power politics in the Arab world for hegemony in the Middle East. ++ With Egypt stand western-leaning allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and behind Syria are Qatar, Yemen and Algeria as well as Iran, who supports Hamas and Hizbollah. ++ Meanwhile, the Quartet is unlikely to dismiss their criteria for

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December 17, 2008 | Turkey Knows How to Mediate In the Middle East

Over the last year Turkey has accomplished more in the Middle East than the entire transatlantic contingent. ++ Last week Erdogan negotiated with the Afghan and Pakistani presidents over economic projects, in which both countries are interested. ++ The Turkish Parliament is not only preparing further projects in the Gaza strip, but is also promoting talks between Israel and Syria regarding the

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December 11, 2008 | The Middle East: A Bastion of Hope

The Middle East has been revamped since 2001. ++ Iraq has been transformed from an enemy to a friend; “from a brutal dictatorship to a multi-religious, multi-ethnic constitutional democracy” and can no longer pursue its nuclear arms race with Iran. ++ The Lebanese are free from the yoke of Syrian oppression and now enjoy the fruits of the Cedar Revolution. ++ Challenges still exist,

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December 3, 2008 | "Try Tough Love, Hillary"

In view of the upcoming Israeli elections next year, PM Olmert has stated that disputes with Palestine and Syria need to be settled by giving up parts of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. ++ In return, Palestine must compromise on the right to return to a “new viable Palestine” and must be willing to renounce terrorism. ++ A two-state deal close to the 1967 borders will not be accomplished without

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November 28, 2008 | UK Diplomacy Should Heed British Council

The UK wasted a diplomatic opportunity as it opened a classy museum exhibition in Damascus. ++ UK Foreign Secretary Miliband begged Syrian President al-Assad for help with the Middle East peace process, but could have reached out to his influential wife, Asma, who represented Syria at the opening. ++ Sending even a junior minister would have helped. ++ The British are not trusted in the region.

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November 26, 2008 | Syrian-Isreali Peace is the Key to Success

Instead of focusing on an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, Obama should invest in Israeli-Syrian negotiations. ++ Talks between Syria and Israel will focus on “withdrawal, peace, security and water - and the gaps are clear and ready to be bridged.” ++ Cementing such a deal would restructure the whole region in favor of US interests, giving Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran less options.

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November 11, 2008 | "Bush's Last Bullet: Why the US Attacked Syria"

Russia’s attacks on Georgia have been decried by the US as a violation against international law but recent US attacks on Syria are no less destabilizing to the area. ++ Syria has not only initiated peace talks with Israel and reestablished diplomatic ties with Lebanon, it is also strengthening relations with the EU. ++ US attempts to isolate Syria are failing. ++ The bombings can be viewed

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November 3, 2008 | No Deal in Sight Between the EU and Syria

Last week, the EU held talks with Syria, but refused to set a date for signing a partnership agreement. ++ After multiple attempts to please the EU, Syria is vexed by what it saw as European inflexibility; however, Syria has made little improvements on its human rights record, a requirement for the deal. ++ In result, it has turned to Asia and Latin America in search of friends, but trade with

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October 30, 2008 | Old Bush/Cheney Tricks in Syria

US interests, and its allies, were dealt a severe blow when US commandos attacked an alleged Al Qaeda operative in Syria, killing seven civilians. ++ The risks of such an attack include “sabotaging Israeli-Syrian peace talks, reversing the trend of Syrian cooperation in Iraq and Lebanon, and playing into the hands of Iran,” which undoubtedly outweigh any “fleeting tactical

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October 29, 2008 | Bush 3.0 - Enter the Twilight Zone

We are entering “the twilight zone,” the interregnum period between the election and the ascendance of the new president, where president Bush could act with menacing impunity. ++ The recent raid on Syria, which killed eight, is not an aberration from the Bush Doctrine, with some even considering it “no big deal” – but this attack might portend more ominous,

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October 28, 2008 | Syria: Taking First Steps Toward Indirect Talks

The Syrian leadership has denounced attacks carried out by US forces near its Iraqi border. ++ Syria, however, is known for sponsoring attacks on its neighboring countries. ++ The “US is no longer prepared to respect the sovereignty of a criminal regime.” ++ The Syrian government has taken steps to participate in indirect talks with Israel and has “granted Lebanon diplomatic recognition.” ++ The

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September 22, 2008 | EU Should Say No to Syria

The EU’s plan to reward Syria with an “Association Agreement” is worrisome for several reasons. ++ Damascus not only sponsors Hezbollah and Hamas, it also follows Iran’s approach to nuclear weapons in spite of its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. ++ “European leaders should cease all further action toward an Association Agreement.” ++ If the EU ignores the lesson of inaction,

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July 18, 2008 | The Syrians Take Paris

Syria is back in style. ++ The invitation to Paris is ostensibly a reward for the start of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel. ++ But it also reveals that the West needs Syria to resolve the biggest problems in the Middle East. ++ The US and Israel still want Syria to stop supporting Hamas and Hezbollah and for it to end its strategic partnership with Iran. ++ In exchange, Assad wants

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July 14, 2008 | US Should Note Public Opinion in the Middle East

American policymakers in the Middle East know litte about the people there and their perception of the US. ++ A study entitled “Does the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Still Matter? Analysing Arab Public Perceptions” prooves that “the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a central issue for most Arabs.” ++ The Arab public judges the US according to its policies, not its values. ++ Washington policymakers

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July 1, 2008 | Israel Progresses Despite, Not Because of US Absence

By launching diplomatic initiatives with Hamas, Syria, and Lebanon, Ehud Olmert has demonstrated his readiness to take risks and his unwillingness to be constrained by “Washington’s indeological blinders.” ++ Yet because of the weakness and the mutual distrust of leaders in the Middle East, US support and involvement would be a real asset. ++ Israel has shown it can pursue negotiations “despite

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June 23, 2008 | India Foresees Collective Security in the Middle East

Coercive diplomacy is America’s only remaining option as its influence declines in the Middle East. ++ Especially in the case of an Obama presidency, this “changed constellation” in the region calls for India to readjust its strategy. ++ India needs to balance Israel and Syria, and constructively engage Iran. ++ Like China, India should acknowledge the region’s importance for its own energy

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June 16, 2008 | Israeli-Syrian Peace Could Stabilize Middle East

Today, a Syrian-Israeli peace, which would enable Syria to recover the Golan Heights and protect the country’s interests in Lebanon, is complicated by Syria’s alliance with Iran. ++ Yet if Syria achieves peace with Israel, its good relations to Iran could turn out to be a good thing. ++ “Syria’s stance might limit, rather than extend, the reach of Iran’s strategy of regional destabilization.” ++

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June 6, 2008 | US Must Engage Syria Diplomatically

US cooperation with Syria - “not based on shared values, but shared interests” - should replace the policy of non-engagement to support Israel, isolate Iran, and ameliorate the situation in Iraq. ++ Waiving economic sanctions against Syria could provide huge leverage when addressing issues such as Lebanon’s right to sovereignty, Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations, and

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June 3, 2008 | US Marginalized by its Own Policy in the Middle East

The recent easing of tensions in the Middle East, which is occurring without US mediation, reveals America’s loss of credibility and leverage. ++ Indeed, negotiations are taking place with groups and authorities the US boycotts - Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah. ++ Yet these are the only stakeholders that can offer Lebanon and Israel the compromises they really want. ++ The US has marginalized

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May 29, 2008 | Palestinian Concerns Over Syrian-Israeli Negotiations

Although the recent negotiations between Israel and Syria give an encouraging push to the peace process in the Middle East, some Palestinian faction leaders and analysts expressed concerns about this issue. ++ They believe that focusing on an Israel-Syria peace track would have a negative impact on both direct talks with the Palestinian National Authority and indirect talks with the Islamic Hamas

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March 13, 2008 | Israel: Make Peace with Syria, Palestine Will Follow

Eventually the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be settled by the formation of two states. ++ Bringing Hamas into negotiations is one option to speed up process. ++ Making peace first with Syria would end confrontation with Hizbullah and Hamas, and create settlement with Palestinians. ++ The biggest obstacle towards a peaceful resolution is the Bush administration, which refuses to allow talks

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September 21, 2007 | Israel's Air Force Raid on Syria. Its Silence. And What It All Means.

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens breaks down the intrigue surrounding Israel’s military operations over Syria on September 6. “In a country of open secrets,” Israel’s customary fleet of spokesmen and pundits has remained conspicuously silent, says Stephens. But why? None of the explanations circulating in the news media—the theory that North Korea was using Syria as a safe

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April 12, 2007 | Yaakov Amidror Warns Israel's Defeat in Lebanon Will Come Back to Haunt Them

Since Israel failed to declare victory in the 2006 war in Lebanon, the Shi’a axis (Iran-Syria-Hezbollah) has only grown stronger and will continue to do so once the US withdraws its troops from Iraq, or Iran builds a nuclear warhead. So writes Yaakov Amidror of the Israeli Army in his account of the outcome of the war. Despite religious conflict with Sunni countries in the region, the revitalized

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