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This morning’s live feed from Fox featuring President Obama and Prime Minister Reinfeldt stunned me, really, as being the most open, most candid, most off-the-cuff press conference I’ve been aware of since the inauguration. 

In it, Obama talked about Syria every which way — either he couldn’t get away from the subject or the reporters could not — including asserting that a transition from the Assad regime seemed impossible given the tens of thousands of civilian lives taken by the regime.  Obama then noted that President Putin seemed to disagree with that logic, thereby throwing the policy-on-Syria hot potato to Putin who may look increasingly disingenuous and transparent clinging to his lines on behalf of Bashar and Maher al Assad.

Select Additional and Updated Reference

France 24.  “Russia to act ‘decisively’ if Syria chemical attack claims are proven.”  September 4, 2013.

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If the “center will not hold” will there be a center?

When I started receiving the CTC Sentinel (from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point) I don’t believe I was vetted in any way but, so my impression was, on a controlled list for a publication neither secret nor to be redistributed.

Again, that was some years ago, and here I may be merely befuddled, paranoid, whatever.

Over the years, I’ve kept reference to CTC to myself and partially for the effects of its “granularity” — the detail in reported relationships — involved in combat arenas from Afghanistan to Somalia.  Such material, I thought, wouldn’t tell anyone involved on any side of “field operations” what they didn’t already know, but it would suggest how deeply American defense intelligence and analysis gets into societies of interest, and that may have promoted some resentments in my social networks.

A few weeks ago I had cause to ask CTC (Facebook) about distribution and got back this answer: “We publish all of our research in the open source (on our website and in social media), and from there, we don’t have any control over its distribution.”

So there.

Short of subscribing to Jane’s, taking lonely walks (in the rain) around Foggy Bottom, and hanging out in Georgetown (now that I’m 90 minutes northwest of all of that — way out of town!), I think the following two links to Combating Terrorism Center and Foreign Policy (Magazine) reports are pretty good — and granular.

Lund, Aron.  “The Non-State Militant Landscape in Syria.” CTC Sentinel, August 27, 2013.  Excerpt:

Rebels have been told by these states that they must endorse the SMC and its politics to gain access to future arms shipments.[5] Recently, the United States, the United Kingdom and France have all indicated that they will channel money and possibly weapons via the SMC.[6]

The SMC has provided wildly varying estimates of the total number of fighters in its member groups. In June 2013, Idris claimed to control 80,000 fighters, but days later an SMC representative insisted that the true figure is 320,000.[7] In practice, a meaningful headcount of rebels is almost impossible to make, both due to the scarcity of reliable information and to myriad problems of definition.[8] There is no disputing, however, that most of Syria’s large rebel factions have chosen to publicly align themselves with the SMC, recognizing it as the best way to tap into Gulf, Western and other support.

Sowell, Kirk H.  “The fragmenting FSA”.  Foreign Policy, September 3, 2013.

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Russia President Putin: If Syria Fighters Use Mass Destruction Weapon, What Will the U.S. Do

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