Canada is at war with ISIS, not Syria, Stephen Harper says -CBC


“the only way we can get a solution in Syria is some kind of political compromise between moderate elements of the opposition as well as the moderate elements of the government.”

“We don’t think it’s possible to bring the diverse elements of Syria together unless you have both sides come together in some way, that a victory of one side over the other is just not a realistic or desirable outcome.”

Interesting comment from Stephan Harper. He is openly talking about a post-civil war Syrian political system that includes elements of the current regime. I wonder if that includes Assad?

iraq’s shiite militias to the rescue: force for sectarian unity or thorn in anbar’s side? -niqash


Someone once said politics makes for strange bedfellows: “Shiite militias are making inroads into the mainly Sunni province of Anbar. Previously Anbar’s Sunni tribes have not allowed the controversial militia groups in but now one tribe has invited them to help. Things are becoming ever more complex in Anbar and the arrival of US troops, who, it seems, will be staying at the same base as the Iran-sponsored militias, are complicating things further.”

A turning point in the Syrian Civil War?


The reports below both focus on how the formation of an anti-ISIS alliance seems to be impacting the balance of power in Syria, putting the Assad government and the ‘moderate’ opposition in a position where compromise may be possible. However, the anti-ISIS alliance is fundamentally unstable, and several of its members (Turkey, Saudi Arabia) are operating on the premise that Assad regime will be the next target after ISIS. It is not clear how they would react to a truce. Moreover, the battle lines in Syria have shifted time and time again. One has to be cautious about drawing too many conclusions about what the short term trends mean.

“While events on the regional diplomatic scene are moving rapidly, there is renewed momentum to draw the outlines of a final endgame in Syria. This momentum is boosted by the imminent historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which if concluded will convince the world that Iran can negotiate in good faith, and the Iranians can become key partners in working out solutions to the region’s other pressing issues, the war on the Islamic State (IS) and the Syrian conflict.”

Read more:

“The UN mediator in the Syrian conflict, Staffan de Mistura, has told the BBC he believes there is a fresh opportunity to resolve the country’s crisis… Mr de Mistura said that rival sides, namely the moderate rebels and government forces, were starting to question why they were engaged in a conflict that was being taken advantage of by IS and Nusra Front jihadists.”

CIA tweets ‘Argo’ errors on Iran crisis anniversary -AFP


“The CIA on Friday good naturedly highlighted the inaccuracies in Oscar-winning Iran hostage drama “Argo,” in a series of tweets to mark the anniversary of the 1979 crisis. Here are some excerpts:

– Reel #Argo: “When the US Embassy is overtaken the 6 US diplomats go right to the Canadian ambassador’s residence to live for the 3 months.” – Real #Argo: “5 of them went to many different places until they ended up at the homes of the Canadian Ambassador & the Dep. Chief of Mission.” —— – Reel #Argo: The CIA officer and the six diplomats go into town to scout locations. – Real #Argo: They never went to the marketplace to scout a location. The six hid in the Canadian’s homes for 79 days. —— – Reel #Argo: Airline tickets are not waiting at the counter and have to be rechecked before the tickets are authorized and confirmed. – Real #Argo: The Canadians had already purchased the tickets for the Americans. There were no issues at the counter nor the checkpoints. —— – Reel #Argo: The Americans are detained at the airport by security guards & a call is made back to “Studio Six” to verify their identity. – Real #Argo: It didn’t happen. An early flight was picked so airline officials would be sleepy & Revolutionary Guards would still be in bed. —— – Reel #Argo: The plane clears Iranian air space and the Americans cheer and celebrate. – Real #Argo: That happened; there was even a round of celebratory Bloody Marys. #ThankYouCanada.”

China’s Questionable Economic Power -Project Syndicate


Interesting analysis by Joseph Nye:

“The World Bank recently announced that China’s economy will surpass that of the United States this year, measured according to purchasing power parity (PPP). But this is far from a holistic depiction of China’s global economic standing…… But, even if China’s overall GDP surpasses that of the US (by whatever measure), the two economies will maintain very different structures and levels of sophistication. And China’s per capita income – a more accurate measure of economic sophistication – amounts to only 20% of America’s, and will take decades, at least, to catch up (if it ever does).”–nye-2014-11

For Israel, Two-State Is No Solution -New York Times


During the summer war between Israel and Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu was criticized by both the left and the right for not having any plan beyond maintaining the status quo. Here is the plan being suggested by Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of the economy, the leader of the Jewish Home Party and Bibi’s primary right-wing opponent.

“The Palestinians will have political independence, hold their own elections, select their own leadership, run their own schools, maintain their own social services and issue their own building permits. They should govern themselves and run their day-to-day lives. Israel should not interfere. Much of this already exists, but we can do better.
This Palestinian entity will be short of a state. It will not control its own borders and will not be allowed to have a military.”

It looks like formalizing the status quo with a little more independence and economic incentives for the Palestinians thrown is as perks.