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As the United States conducts missile and air strikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) in Syria, it could reap the additional strategic benefit of tilting the war there away from the Assad regime and jihadist forces, and in favor of the mainstream rebel groups to which it has given some support. An opening toward that outcome may have appeared in the geographic pattern of the first US strikes last night, according to the Atlantic Council’s Faysal Itani. But the long-term effects will depend on whether the United States can quickly provide other critical support to non-jihadist rebel factions, Itani writes today on the Council's MENASource blog.

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After seven years as Israel’s president and fifty-five years in politics, Shimon Peres is looking for a job. And in a satirical, five-minute video, his granddaughter, Israeli columnist and screenwriter Mika Almog, shows how hard it can be.

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Police, Masked Thugs Bar Tatar, Other Ethnic Leaders From Attending UN Conference Today


Russian authorities in Crimea have moved since last week to silence and isolate the peninsula’s main ethnic Tatar community and political organization, the Mejlis. Russia’s government has shut down the group’s headquarters in Crimea and tried to prevent Tatar representatives from attending a United Nations conference in New York on indigenous peoples.

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Afghanistan may have reached a critical turning point this weekend with the announcement of Dr. Ashraf Ghani as the country's next president under a power-sharing agreement with his rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.

But it may be a long, slow turn, unless the candidates' followers also support the idea that a mixed government can dovetail the various factions. Secretary of State John Kerry can take pride in having pulled off a near-miracle after making nearly thirty phone calls to both sides and two visits to Afghanistan since the bitterly disputed runoff election in June.

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Like Poroshenko’s Reception in Congress, It’s a Morale Boost—But Ukraine Is Fighting on Its Own


Yesterday's images from Moscow could hardly be more welcome for Ukrainians: thousands of Russians marching in their capital to condemn their government’s war against Ukraine. The protest was fueled partly by the spreading news in Russia that scores, perhaps hundreds, of Russian infantry, armored and artillery troops have been killed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and secretively buried.

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With today’s edition, the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert newsletter is six months old. Readers will notice that it arrives in a new package: concise and colorful. Its content will remain much the same, although we’re always working to improve it.

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Russia’s Assault Threatens Not Just Ukraine, but Europe and Eurasia


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivered a stark but necessary message in Washington September 18.  Addressing a Joint Session of Congress, he noted that:

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Exploring space firsthand seems more elusive now than ever before with waning public interest and the termination of more than twenty NASA human space exploration programs in the last twenty-five years.

Despite these setbacks, efforts are underway to build a more sustainable space exploration program as stated by the recently released US National Research Council study assessing the goals, capabilities, and future trajectory of NASA's endeavor. In addition, the advent of cheaper, advanced technologies and private sector innovation are leading to more globalized approaches to space exploration. Now is the time to catalyze international cooperation and reclaim our aspirations to discover the far reaches of space, our final frontier.

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The ‘Islamic State’ Cannot Be Destroyed with Syria’s Assad in Power, Fred Hof Says 


As the United States opens a campaign of airstrikes against the brutal militants of ISIS, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Fred Hof says the US aim of destroying the group will require the overthrow of Syria’s also-brutal president, Bashar al-Assad. Removing the threat of ISIS (also called the “Islamic State”) additionally will require the establishment of legitimate governments in Syria and Iraq, which now are failed states.

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Could Ukraine’s parliamentary elections in six weeks produce representatives from eastern Ukraine who might provide a clear alternative voice for that region, distinct from those of the thuggish, Kremlin-sponsored “people’s republics?” If so, that could offer President Petro Poroshenko a set of credible, more moderate interlocutors to bring into negotiations to come over the east’s political future within Ukraine.

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