Islamism and Extremism

  • Russia’s Opening Salvo in Syria

    The Russian military carried out its first reported air strikes in Syria on September 30, targeting the northern suburbs of the strategically important city of Homs and the village of Lataminah further north. Russia insists that its mission in Syria is fighting the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), which the Russian Defense Ministry claimed was the target of the strikes.
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  • Assessing Putin’s “Fight Them There Not Here” Strategy in Syria

    The recent increase in Russian military involvement in Syria is widely seen as an expansion of Moscow’s influence in the Middle East. While offensive ambitions may well be present, defensive motives also appear to have played a role in Putin’s decision-making.
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  • Slaughter In Syria: Mass Homicide And Echoes Of Bosnia

    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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  • Syria: The Sole Portal for Progress

    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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  • Syria: What to do About the Russian Challenge

    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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  • Syria: The Right Salafis Can Make All the Difference

    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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  • Syria: Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

    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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  • A Potential Ground Component for the ISIS-Free Zone

    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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  • The Northern Syria "Safe Zone"

    Reports of an American and Turkish agreement to close a sixty mile stretch of the Syria-Turkey border to the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) and to create—to an as yet undisclosed depth—a protected “safe zone” from the border south into Aleppo Province may signal a dramatic turn of Obama administration policy toward the crisis in Syria.
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  • Has Syria Been “Sold” To Iran?

    One of the staples of opinion among Syrians struggling to survive the twin onslaught of the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) and the Assad regime is that the United States “sold” Syria to Iran to close the deal with Tehran on nuclear weapons.
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