MENASource

2014, like the three years preceding it, was a year of horror, terror, and hardship for millions of Syrians, the overwhelming majority of whom—Arab and Kurdish, Sunni, Alawite, Christian, Druze, Ismaili, and Shia—were innocent victims of heartless, criminal violence: most, though not all, orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad and his clan-based regime.

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Last summer, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIl or ISIS) consolidated its control over large swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory. The terrorist nebula has seen a rapid transformation, consolidating its grip through recruitment, fear, and the imposition of social policy in an attempt at governance.

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US-led air strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq have killed three of the militant group's top leaders but not senior commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, US officials said on Thursday. Among those killed was Abd al-Basit, whom officials described as the group's military chief and Haji Mutazz, a deputy to Baghdadi.

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The United Nations is seeking $8.4 billion to help the millions of victims of the Syrian conflict in 2015. For the first time, the request at Berlin's donor meeting included development aid for communities seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

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Tunisians will cast their ballots in the runoff presidential election between interim-President Moncef Marzouki and Nidaa Tounes leader Beji Caid Essebsi this weekend on December 21. The landmark vote will close the first chapter of a delicate political transition, but perhaps more importantly, will mark the beginning of real governance challenges.

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With no candidate having won a majority in the first round of presidential elections held last month, Tunisia will hold a run-off on December 21 between frontrunners Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of Nidaa Tounes, and interim President Mohamed Moncef Marzouki.

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Hope springs eternal in the Obama administration that a Deus ex machina in the form of a diplomatic process producing military de-escalation and Syrian political transition will enter unbidden from stage left and relieve the West of any obligation to counter the Assad regime's systematic program of mass murder.  President Barack Obama, quite properly, has shown little or no hesitation in standing up to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

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In an interview with the New Atlanticist, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Karim Mezran, argues that international actors are undermining UN efforts to broker peace in Libya. “If all these external forces support troops on the ground, then the push for war is much stronger than the push for peace,” Mezran said.

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The UN Security Council has scheduled a vote Wednesday on a draft resolution extending cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians in rebel-held areas in desperate need of food and medicine, without approval from Damascus. The resolution would extend until January 2016 and authorize aid delivery by UN agencies and relief organizations across conflict lines.

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According to Egyptian investment ministry, Egypt will pass laws related to mining and the allocation of industrial land in an attempt to speed reforms aimed at attracting foreign investors ahead of the investor conference in March.

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