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Obama smart to stand back from Syria

Former Secretary Robert Gates and conservative and hawkish Republicans have criticized President Obama’s foreign policy and timidity toward engaging in the Middle East. The story from Foreign Policy this morning underscores why standing back is very smart policy.

The world's oldest city

Syrian rebels are factionalized and fighting among themselves. That is the case in Iraq where diverse political groups and Islamic factions are fighting nearing civil war. The same is the case in Afghanistan, and the list goes on.

Citizens in the Middle East have decisions to make but they are lost in the fog of ideology and can’t think straight. The first priority for humanity is to embrace the values that preserve it. Suggested before is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Start there, and then build governments that support it. Keep religious beliefs out of the equation and be welcomed to the twenty-first century.

That lesson is the same for here at home in the United States. Put people and equality in the forefront of global priorities.

Aleppo is an ancient place.

“Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; it has been inhabited since perhaps as early as the 6th millennium BC.[9] Excavations at Tell as-Sawda and Tell al-Ansari, just south of the old city of Aleppo, show that the area was occupied since at least the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC;[10] and this is also when Aleppo is first mentioned in cuneiform tablets unearthed in Ebla and Mesopotamia, in which it is noted for its commercial and military proficiency.[11] Such a long history is probably due to its being a strategic trading point midway between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia (i.e. modern Iraq).”

What a shame that age does not equal wisdom.

“Islamist Rebel Groups Seize ISIL Aleppo Headquarters

Islamist rebel groups have reportedly overtaken the Aleppo headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Islamist brigades captured the base, a former children's hospital, in the Qadi Askar area, but it is unclear what happened to the hundreds of fighters that had been there. On Tuesday the ISIL issued a message calling for its fighters to "crush" rival rebel groups. The leader of al Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front, which has participated in the recent clashes against ISIL in northern Syria, has called for a cease-fire between opposition factions. Abu Mohammed al-Jolani said, "The [Muslim] nation was shocked to hear of the internal infighting between jihadist factions in the past number of days," though he said the infighting resulted from the "incorrect policies" of ISIL. Jolani proposed establishing an Islamic court to settle disputes among rebels, and called for fighters to unite against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, Syria has transferred its first batch of chemical weapons materials to a Danish ship in the northern Syrian port of Latakia. According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), "It will remain at sea awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port" which will then be moved out for destruction.”

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