Syrian Crisis Nearing Breaking Point

President Barack Obama tells CNN that the allegations of chemical weapons use by the government of Bashir al-Assad are “troublesome,” and that US core national interests “both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region” were now at stake.

Part of the vagueness of Obama’s statement might be a consequence of the internal divisions that exist within the administration.

Saudi Arabia Told Russia To Stop Defending Assad
Al Monitor newspaper reports that a “stormy meeting” was held in July between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan about the situation in Syria. The newspaper says Bandar told Putin that the “key” to relations was understanding Saudi Arabia’s position toward Syria, which was they considered it a finished regime.

Bandar told Putin: “So you have to stop giving [the Syrian regime]  political support, especially at the UN Security Council, as well as military and economic support. And we guarantee you that Russia’s interests in Syria and on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected one bit. In the future, Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime that will be directly sponsored by us and that will have an interest in understanding Russia’s interests and role in the region.”

UNICEF Report: One Million Children Have Left Syria
UNICEF and the High Commission on Refugees report that as many as one million children have sought refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, as well as North Africa and Europe, including as many as 768,000 under the age of 11.

Robert Kaplan: Middle East Is A Distraction From Other Looming Dangers
Analyst Robert Kaplan writes in Stratfor that the focus on the Middle East might be serving as a distraction from potentially greater dangers.

“While the media is preoccupied with Middle Eastern chaos, the more significant geopolitical changes occurring in the globe involve the sphere of influence Russia is trying to carve out from the Baltics to the Caucasus, including Central and Eastern Europe, and the one China is trying to carve out in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans as far away as Africa,” he warns.

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