SyriaSource|Amplifying Syrian voices

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Critics of presidential passivity really want hundreds of thousands of uniformed Americans thrust into a foreign war. The killings are horrific, but reflect age-old hatreds and grudges. The opposition is hapless, and it too does bad things: there are “no good guys” and the conflict itself defines complexity.

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Obama administration commentary on developments in Syria plumbed new, uncharted depths on September 17, when White House spokesman Josh Earnest laid blame for the failed “train-and-equip” program on “critics” of the administration who had allegedly touted the endeavor and forced it upon the president as “the recipe for success in Syria.”

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Russia’s military buildup on a Syrian airbase south of Latakia combined with the escalating hemorrhage of Syrian humanity confronts President Barack Obama’s administration with facts it has tried mightily to avoid for years: the Syrian crisis is not containable; it cannot be held at arm’s length; and it cannot be treated with mantra-like incantations about people losing legitimacy, the crying need for a diplomatic settlement, and the amount of money being spent to help refugees.

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Although the precise nature of Russia's recent upgrading of its military presence in Syria remains largely opaque to Western eyes, one thing seems clear: Moscow has doubled-down in its support of Bashar al-Assad and the family-based Assad regime.

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Salafi groups in Western media have triggered a debate over the jihadists’ role in the Syria war. The proliferation of terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) has left the West wary of the Salafis, a narrative used by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to promote himself as a counterweight to the spread of extremism—an expansive label lumping together secular rebels and Salafi factions.

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The following is an excerpt from an article by Frederic Hof, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, originally published by Foreign Policy on September 9, 2015.

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Foreign Policy published an intriguing article by Aaron David Miller, arguing that the current US Syria policy is the inevitable outcome of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy worldview.

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Many observers have dubbed the conflict in Syria (and rightly so) an international one, as regional and global powers compete through direct and proxy actors on Syrian territory. Their different forms of intervention has both shaped and transformed the Syrian revolution, which started with local protests in March 2011 as a rejection to the untenable status quo. Among the many grievances that galvanized protestors, their deliberate exclusion from economic opportunities featured prominently in demonstrations throughout the country. The entrenchment of crony capitalism among the regime’s inner circle, or regime businessmen, became the predominant characteristic of the Syrian political economy.

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Head counting in Congress indicates that President Barack Obama is closing in on veto-proof numbers as he seeks to implement the Iranian nuclear agreement. Indeed, he may well acquire the requisite number of Senate supporters (forty-one) to prevent a resolution of disapproval from even getting a vote in the upper house.

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The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) attack on Marea on August 11 closely resembled their offensive in northern Aleppo two months prior. In both instances, ISIS launched attacks against the Levant Front (or Jabhat al-Shamiyya), in close proximity to the Turkish border and within ten miles of a Turkey-Aleppo supply route critical to rebel forces.

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