Tuesday Headlines

The Foreign Face Of The Syrian War
As the Syrian war rages on, it is becoming increasingly common for rebel groups to lure foreign fighters to join the battle on their side and for a multitude of reasons, foreigners are joining the battle.

“According to a recent estimate by Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there could be up to 11,000 of these fighters. It raises the questions of which groups they join, and what the relations between these groups are. By far the two most popular banners for these foreign fighters are al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

“ISIS is the result of a unilateral attempt by the leader of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to merge his group with al-Nusra. The move was rejected al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, and by al-Qaeda overall leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but Baghdadi refused to disband ISIS,” reports BBC News.

Globalization And Democracy Can Be Friends
Seth Mandel takes on two arguments that democracy and globalization are contradictory notions unable to co-exist in his latest post for Commentary magazine.

“So all this seems to suggest that maybe states like China have it all figured out: maybe the combination of democratization and globalization is too powerful for the two events to take place simultaneously. But this argument is missing an ingredient, and it’s one Kurlantzick glances at but doesn’t dwell on: stability. That’s clearest when looking at Russia’s Putin-era backsliding on democracy. Nobody’s wealth is safe without political stability. But this, to me, is ultimately an argument in favor of globalization and democratization–as long as the term “democratization” means more than just elections, and globalization means more than just money,” he counters.

There Is No Such Thing As A Reformed Dictator
Despite the misguided belief held by former NBA player Dennis Rodman, old dictators do not change their stripes. In Michael Moynihan’s book, there is no greater dictator today than North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“because we have played this game a million times before. The world was long ago promised that Zimbabwean thug Robert Mugabe would be a great reformer. (In 1983, the Christian Science Monitor told readers that Zimbabwe’s “small but economically productive white community, which once dreaded Mugabe’s rise to power, now respects and even admires him.”), Moynihan argues.

He adds: “For reasons that will forever confound me, Cuba has—and always will—maintain a dedicated following of fellow travellers and dim-witted sycophants; those who believe that preventing free elections and a free press is a reasonable price to pay for universal, undersupplied, and substandard health care. But it appears that the only person left on Earth who believes North Korea is on the precipice of change is former basketball star Dennis Rodman.”

Iran Faces Limited Window In Which To Reform
Michael Rubin echoes Moynihan by arguing that it is unlikely that Iran’s new president Rouhani will be able to deliver on his promise to be a reformer.

Rubin, the author of the upcoming book Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes, says his challenge is to convince a weary Iranian public to have patience.

“Rouhani might be sincere, and he may genuinely desire to resolve Iran’s myriad internal problems and external crises. But Iranian presidents are most powerful on inauguration day, and quickly lose power with the passage of time. Nor are reformists democrats or liberals as they are so often depicted abroad; they subscribe just as fully to the theocratic system, but simply want to tweak its implementation. The Iranian people and international community might hope for change, but 2014 might very well be the year when they conclude the emperor has no clothes.”











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