"The democratic aspirations of the protesters who filled streets and public squares across Syria in early 2011 were among the conflict's first casualties. If democracy as an outcome of the uprising was always uncertain, democratic prospects have been severely crippled by the devastation of civil war and the deepening fragmentation of Syrian society."
"One of the misconceptions about the Syrian refugee crisis is that it mainly involves people in large camps, above all in Jordan and Turkey....But according to UN figures, a full three quarters of the Syrian refugee population throughout the region are surviving on their own in towns and rural areas."
"Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world. 'Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,' a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, 'and no one's ever heard of him.'"
Tension between senior civilian and military officials over where and how U.S. armed forces should be used has been visible in recent debates on intervention in Syria. Micah Zenko discusses reasons for and consequences of the civilian-military split.
The implementation of the U.S.-Russia agreement to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons will face challenges, and the deal could "easily unravel" as a result of the ongoing civil war, says CFR's Paul B. Stares.
GayleTzemach-Lemmon discusses the possible consequences of the U.S. government's inaction in Syria and the disconnect between President Barack Obama's approach to the situation and the national security intervention proposals he was reviewing.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov developed a joint strategy to remove Syria's chemical weapons arsenal by "the first half of 2014." The agreement was reached on September 14, 2013, during the third day of their meeting in Geneva.
In a section of this week's "Saturday Essay" in the Wall Street Journal, Steven Cook says that Turkey will continue its current course of action relating to Syria: "supporting factions within the Syrian opposition, providing refugee relief and advocating for international intervention to bring the conflict to an end."
In a section of this week's "Saturday Essay" in the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Economy says that China has been critical of the United States' Syria policy, hoping to highlight U.S. weakness and signal the onset of a power transition in the international system. However, she argues, China's observations about U.S. indecisiveness and Russian leadership only serve to emphasize China's inability to find its own diplomatic legs.
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