"The armed Syrian opposition, in all of its disparate glory, has long talked of a revolution after its revolution to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a period when scores would be settled between various anti-Assad groups…. Elements of all of these various fault lines had become frontlines during isolated bouts of rebel infighting over the past year or more, but the decision by so many different groups to take on ISIS at the same time, and in so many locations, was surprising. What was also surprising was how quickly ISIS was initially routed from some areas."
"Since the Syrian revolution began, in 2011, private Kuwaiti donors like Herbash have been among its most generous patrons, providing what likely amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars to the armed opponents of Assad…. As the war took a more sectarian and extremist turn, so, too, did its private funders."
"This habit of policymakers exalting the military as exemplars of accomplishment—in effect, asking generals and admirals to "save us from ourselves"—should be brought to a dignified end," writes Micah Zenko.
Authors: Max Boot and Michael Doran New York Times
Max Boot and Michael Doran argue that the Obama administration's efforts to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran have contributed to the recent instability in the Middle East and are destined to fail in the end.
"Standing in the way of success in the peace process — as well as most other aspects of the transition to better governance — is the government's apparent inability to control the guns. Has there ever been a successful transition in which the government does not have authority over the military and the police?"
Authors: Peter Lampert Bergen, David Sterman, Emily Schneider, and Bailey Cahall
"Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group.... The overall problem for U.S. counterterrorism officials is not that they need vaster amounts of information from the bulk surveillance programs, but that they don't sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that was derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques."
The P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union) met with Iran in Geneva to discuss a diplomatic resolution regarding Iran's nuclear program. They released an initial plan of action November 24, 2013. Secretary Kerry gave an update on January 12. 2014.
"Perhaps Ahmadullah no longer feels that his life is at risk. Unlike al-Qaeda, the Taliban have emerged from the past decade remarkably unscathed. Many of the group's leaders have vanished into tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and others live in urban areas—such as Quetta and Karachi—where U.S. drones could not reasonably operate. Still, if Ahmadullah who is no older than forty-seven, has any hope of playing a role in Afghanistan's future, he will have to emerge at some point from 'under the grave.'"
"There is a larger trend across Asia to bring deliberations and decision-making into presidential or ministerial offices in an effort to better respond to the rapidly changing security environment in Asia. The reasons for these efforts are varied and complex."
"Yes, the F.B.I. could have stopped 9/11. It had a warrant to establish surveillance of everyone connected to Al Qaeda in America. It could follow them, tap their phones, clone their computers, read their e-mails, and subpoena their medical, bank, and credit-card records. It had the right to demand records from telephone companies of any calls they had made. There was no need for a metadata-collection program. What was needed was coöperation with other federal agencies, but for reasons both petty and obscure those agencies chose to hide vital clues from the investigators most likely to avert the attacks."
"While a key policy takeaway—avoid civilian casualties—seems obvious, even taking great pains to minimize civilian suffering is no guarantee that civilians can be won over. Cognitive biases that predispose individuals to favor (or excuse) the actions of their fellow in-group members, while simultaneously using negative actions by the out-group (like ISAF) to confirm prior prejudices, are powerful frameworks not easily overcome during wartime. Without engaging these underlying psychological biases, however, efforts to win hearts and minds are likely to be expensive, protracted, and, in the end, fleeting."
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces leaked this United Nations invitation sent to opposition President Ahmad Jarba requesting his attendence at the Geneva II meetings on January 22 to 24, 2014. The letter explains the priniciples and rules of the conference for officials addressing the conflict in Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas discussed a peace process framework regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. Secretary Kerry and Lead Negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erekat delivered remarks about the discussions on January 4, 2013. Secretary Kerry also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"An effective and coherent security and defense policy is a necessity, not a luxury, for Europe. Possessing the capacities for crisis prevention and peacekeeping are vital if we are to build a more peaceful world order."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave remarks before their meeting on January 2, 2013, to discuss a peace process framework regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. Secretary Kerry also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Lead Negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erekat in Ramallah.
Between July 2013 and December 2013, Dr. Richard Haass led peace process negotiations on how five political parties in Northern Ireland commemorate historical events related to regional conflict. The conflict, sometimes called The Troubles, began in the 1960s regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and its two main communities; the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 addressed some of these issues.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.