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Middle East and North Africa

Is an aversion to ‘boots on the ground’ limiting U.S. options in Syria?

The U.S. has been clear that it will not coordinate its operations against IS in Syria with the Assad regime. And most proponents of various strategies to address the Syrian situation stipulate that Assad must go. He isn't after all a highly imperfect force for stability, his actions in the last three-years have proven from the start to have very destructive and destabilizing effects. His pounding to rubble of Syria's cities has caused a giant refugee crisis in the region and burdened neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

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The Cost of Non-Intervention in Syria: One Year On

On the 21st of August 2013, the biggest chemical weapon attack since the tragedy of Halabja, in 1988, occurred in Syria. The US had detailed evidence of strategic planning on behalf of the Assad forces, leading up to the attack. A report released by the White House on the 30 August 2013 stated that the Assad regime was keeping track of all those targeted in the chemical weapons attacks from the East Ghouta region of Damascus, which lead to the deaths of 1,400 people.

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Syria: A New Way Ahead?

The commencement of air strikes against the assets of ISIS in Syria last month marked the opening of the US-led coalition’s second front against the extremist group. But behind the immediate campaign to counter the terror organisation, the question regarding what to do about the Assad regime – a government responsible for far more deaths than the toll inflicted by ISIS – looms large.

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On Kurds and ‘safe zones’

While the United States administration has been successful in establishing a multinational coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS) it to date has yet to devise a clever strategy for doing so. Using its cutting edge technology to deliver the fight to an irregular Islamist group through bombing runs and cruise missile attacks clearly is no way to defeat IS. And the administration admits as much. The brunt of the fighting on the ground against IS is still being endured by the Kurds. And not just the Kurds of Northern Iraq, but the Kurds of Syria also.

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‘No fly’ and ‘no-drive’ zones to become a long-term reality in northeastern Syria?

The United States has expanded its operations against the Islamic State forces operating from northeastern Syria. They are leading a multinational coalition which is using air power to target installations of importance to that group. From the get go the Obama administration has been clear that these operations are not coordinated with the Assad regime in Damascus and has reiterated its adamance that they will never co-ordinate or cooperate with Mr. Assad given his crimes against the Syrian people.

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Responding to terror-related kidnapping: a torn Western reaction

In the past month, two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and one British aid worker, David Haines, were beheaded by the Islamic State (IS), bringing to the public fore the question of kidnapping for ransom (KFR). Terror-related KFR is a worrying, growing and increasingly violent trend that raises a difficult dilemma to governments: should states, businesses and families comply with terrorist groups in order to save the lives of the kidnapped, or should these men be left behind in order to fight against terrorism? What remains certain is that the payment of ransom will continue to help financially and ideologically sustain terror groups.

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