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Entries in Josh Rogin (13)


Syria Feature: US Finds "Assad Forces Probably Used Chemical Weapon" in Homs (Rogin)

Testimony of victims of the "toxic gas" incident in Homs on 23 December

A secret State Department cable has concluded that the Syrian military likely used chemical weapons against its own people in a deadly attack last month....

United States diplomats in Turkey conducted a previously undisclosed, intensive investigation into claims that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, and made what an Obama administration official who reviewed the cable called a "compelling case" that Assad's military forces had used a deadly form of poison gas.

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Syria Feature: Obama Administration Seeks a New Opposition Council (Rogin)

Opposition figure Riad SeifSyrian opposition leaders of all stripes will convene in Qatar next week to form a new leadership body to subsume the opposition Syrian National Council, which is widely viewed as ineffective, consumed by infighting, and little respected on the ground.

The State Department has been heavily involved in crafting the new council as part of its effort oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and build a more viable and unified opposition. In September, for instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with a group of Syrian activists who were flown in to New York for a high-level meeting that has not been reported until now.

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Syria Revealed: Inside the Obama Administration's Discussions About the Insurgency (Rogin)

President Obama on Phone with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, 31 July 2012The Obama administration very publicly signaled a shift in its approach to dealing with the Syria crisis after negotiations broke down at the United Nations in mid-July.

But the actual details of that shift are still being debated internally and the administration's rhetoric has gotten out ahead of its policy, according to officials, experts, and lawmakers.

Those details are being discussed among a select group of top officials in a closed process managed by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Within that group, some officials are arguing for more direct aid to the internal Syrian opposition, including the Free Syrian Army, that would help them better fight the Syrian military.

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Syria Revealed: The Quiet Planning for a Country After Assad

Steven Heydemann, involving in planning with Syrian opposition groups, on the US Public Broadcasting Service this week

For the last six months, 40 senior representatives of various Syrian opposition groups have been meeting quietly in Germany under the tutelage of the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) to plan for how to set up a post-Assad Syrian government.

The project, which has not directly involved U.S. government officials but was partially funded by the State Department, is gaining increased relevance this month as the violence in Syria spirals out of control and hopes for a peaceful transition of power fade away. The leader of the project, USIP's Steven Heydemann, an academic expert on Syria, has briefed administration officials on the plan, as well as foreign officials, including on the sidelines of the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul last month.

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Syria Propaganda 101: How PR Firm Brown Lloyd James Polished the Regime's Image (Rogin)

The Assad family in Vogue, March 2011 (Photo: James Nachtwey)

Brown Lloyd James's contract with the Assad regime, signed by BLJ partner Mike Holtzman and Syrian government official Fares Kallas, expired in March of last year, according to documents posted on the Foreign Agents Registration Act website. The firm had claimed its work on behalf of the Assads ended in Dec. 2010.

But in May 2011, BLJ sent another memo to Kallas and the Syrian government, giving them advice on how to improve their image and institute a more effective public relations strategy amid the exploding violence in Syria.

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Bahrain Live Coverage: Marches and US Arms Sales

Friday's opposition march in Karzakan, calling for the release of political prisoners such as human rights activist Nabeel Rajab

See also Bahrain Analysis: "Washington's Knight" --- The Crown Prince Gets US Weapons
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: An Uneasy Frontline
Friday's Bahrain Live Coverage: Recognising an Independent Journalist

1725 GMT: Mohamed Al Jishi, the lawyer for detained human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, reports on the status of his client after an unexpected court hearing today:

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Syria Feature: US Officials --- No Hope for Cease-fire So "Time To Consider a New Approach"

Last Tuesday, EA's James Miller, in "Sorting Out The Truth Beyond Car Bombs and Ceasefires", wrote bluntly, "This practice is perpetrating the myth that there is a solution to the crisis beyond either intervening or letting Syria decay into civil war. There isn't. Syria is ugly, and it won't get any prettier any time soon." The Friday before that, we asked --- drawing from Miller and Josh Rogin of "The Cable" blog of Foreign Policy --- "Is the US Preparing for Intervention?"

Putting 2 and 2 together, we think "4" might be in this story put out by US officials through The Washington Post on Sunday: the cease-fire will not take hold so it is "time to consider a new approach".

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Syria Snap Analysis: Is the US Preparing for Intervention?

James Miller in EA's Live Coverage, 19 April:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to the House Armed Services Committee today, which is where Dempsey said that the US was militarily capable of intervening in Syria (see last update). Panetta also said that "the situation is of grave consequence to the Syrian people."

Josh Rogin, "The Cable", Foreign Policy, 26 April:

Two top Obama administration officials said today that the diplomatic initiative to end the violence in Syria, led by U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan "is failing."

Under intense questioning during Thursday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, both Kathleen Hicks, the current deputy under secretary of defense for policy, and Derek Chollet, National Security Council senior director for strategy, said that the Annan plan was headed toward collapse and that new options for confronting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were being prepared.

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Syria Feature: Obama Administration Quietly Backs Arms to Insurgents?

We have assessed, based on weeks of reports, that foreign governments and groups have been sending supplies --- including communications equipment, night-vision goggles, and bullet-proof vests --- to Syrian insurgents. We also suspect, though we cannot establish, that foreign actors are ensuring small arms get to the Free Syrian Army.

Now Josh Rogin, writing for The Cable blog of Foreign Policy magazine, gives an indication that the Obama Administration has been or is on he verge of supporting these efforts:

The Obama administration is moving to provide direct assistance to the internal opposition in Syria for the first time, marking a shift in U.S. policy toward a more aggressive plan to help oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week, a group of senior Obama administration officials met to finalize a package of options for aiding both the internal and external Syrian opposition, to include providing direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition,

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Bahrain Feature: Obama Administration "Quietly Sells Arms to Regime"

Bahrain's Crown Prince & US Secretary of State ClintonPresident Barack Obama's administration has been delaying its planned $53 million arms sale to Bahrain due to human rights concerns and congressional opposition, but this week administration officials told several congressional offices that they will move forward with a new and different package of arms sales -- without any formal notification to the public.

The congressional offices that led the charge to oppose the original Bahrain arms sales package are upset that the State Department has decided to move forward with the new package....The State Department has not released details of the new sale, and Congress has not been notified through the regular process, which requires posting the information on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) website. The State Department simply briefed a few congressional offices and is going ahead with the new sale, arguing it didn't meet the threshold that would require more formal notifications and a public explanation.

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