So the last week I have been uber-busy with my actual day-job… and of course, this would be the week there is a new legitimate news story almost daily! I have done my best to condense these but I think they are all important. this will be split into two posts to make it more manageable.
Iran signed an agreement with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France) ands Germany to halt uranium enrichment above 5%, neutralize its stockpile of near-20% percent enriched uranium, halt progress on its enrichment capacity and work at its plutonium reactor, and provide access to nuclear inspectors. President Obama believes these steps will “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.” The US and its allies have agreed to “modest relief” from economic sanctions and access to a portion of the denied revenue in exchange. Israel is wary of the deal and has expressed strong concerns.
Six of the supposed 1000 rebel groups aligned under a common leader on Friday. This may seem insignificant, but as they were larger groups there are estimates they could have brought as many as 45,000 of the supposed 100,000 rebels under their umbrella. This essentially makes four major factions fighting to overthrow President Assad and his regime; the Islamic Front (new) the State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al Nusra, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Among these four, there is already fighting over territory, and there are differing levels of support for a secular vs. democratic government. Among the secularists, which could now be as many as 70% of the rebels (all but the FSA), there is further dissention as to which interpretation of Islamic law would be enforced. There is considerable uncertainty whether rebels that fall under each of these organizations are aligned for convenience (closest and quickest way to join the fight against Assad) or true loyalty to the individual group’s code. Most likely there is a mix, and there will likely be a massive re-organization if Assad falls and the groups continue their fight amongst themselves. U.S. support of rebels has been through supply support to the FSA. Fears that we will eventually end up providing support to our enemies (much of al Nusra is comprised of foreign Al Quaeda fighters) have caused significant delays in our follow-through. Although President Assad has agreed to dismantle his chemical weapons stockpile and re-organize the government, both will take time and the death toll continues to rise daily. The disarray and confusion caused by the conflict also creates a serious risk that bad folks could get their hands on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), either through vulnerabilities exposed during the process of destruction or if Assad is overthrown before the process is complete and the “winner” is either an enemy of the US and our allies or even just willing to sell. If you want to read more, check out the blog www.passionforliberty.com (NOTE, it’s his opinion). I found the authors posts about the Syrian conflict extremely well-thought-out, in-depth, and insightful.
China, Afghanistan, and Egypt will be in part 2…