Sunday Headlines

Syria Is Not First Civil War To Draw Putin’s Attention
In order to assert himself as a pivotal actor on the international stage, Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved to support the dictatorial regime of Syria’s Bashir al-Assad in its fight against rebel movements.

The action places him directly on one side of a messy civil war, but it is not the first time Moscow has inserted itself into an internal conflict. If there is a way of gauging what Syria will look like in the coming years, look no further than Chechnya, writes Andrew Foxall in National Interest.

“Putin has employed the tactic of turning a civil war into a counter-terrorist operation before—in Chechnya, where Russia launched a war in 1999 that lasted for almost a decade. The Kremlin regards its campaign in the small Muslim republic as a model of conflict resolution to be replicated elsewhere,” Foxall asserts, while adding that the war in Chechnya was nothing short of brutal.

“Today, after 15 years of bloody fighting that has left the Russian population traumatized and cost tens of thousands of lives, the Kremlin boasts that Chechnya has been ‘pacified.’ This is the future that Putin sees for Syria, and his tactics there follow a similar pattern to those he used in Chechnya,” he forecasts.

Western Companies Continue To Buy ISIS Oil
France, Britain and the United States have dramatically increased the number of airstrikes launched against ISIS targets in Syria, including destroying the oil wells which are key to financing the terror group. But, as the bombs are dropped, some western companies and international nonprofits are buying illicit s oil, reports Voice of America.

“Several U.S. and European officials confirmed to VOA that oil is being bought from IS by Western-backed rebel militias, Syrian NGOs and the local councils that have emerged in insurgent-held areas in northern Syria,” writes VOA’s Jamie Dettmer, who was told by a German aid worker that international non-profits and for-profits also overlook the oil purchases.

Destruction Of Islamic State Eliminates A Symptom, Not The Cause
Even if the Islamic State (ISIS) were to be defeated or fundamentally weakened, the chaos and violence likely would continue as the Islamic State is a symptom, not the cause, of a historic shift in the century-old order in the Arab Middle East, argues former Israeli foreign minister Schlomo Ben-Ami.

“In fact, ISIS has always been a symptom of a deeper problem. Disintegration in the Arab Middle East reflects the region’s failure to find a path between the bankrupt, secular nationalism that has dominated its state system since independence and a radical brand of Islam at war with modernity. The fundamental problem consists in an existential struggle between utterly dysfunctional states and an obscenely savage brand of theocratic fanaticism,” writes Ben-Ami.

Top Global Thinkers Of 2015
It is that time of year again – Foreign Policy has released its list of the most impactful innovators, peace makers, advocates and other individuals who have made the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2015.

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