"You just do not, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text."

Sec. John Kerry (CBS, Sunday)


Meet the Brains Behind Ukraine's Massive Protests →

Ukraine is interesting right now. 

Ukraine protests: it is time to go, opposition leaders tell president →

Illustrations from Aeroflot Airlines brochures (c.1960s).

Illustrations from Aeroflot Airlines brochures (c.1960s).

Iran says determined to aid Russia in ending Syria crisis →

In a joint news conference with Russian counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbat Salehi says nuclear negotiations are ‘on the right track’.

By DPA Jun.13, 2012 | 4:44 PM |

Iran said it was determined to support Moscow’s attempts to end the crisis in Syria, which include plans to host talks on the conflict, as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Tehran on Wednesday.

"The Syrian conference in Russia will hopefully be an opportunity to support the plans of (UN-Arab League envoy) Kofi Annan and we are determined to aid Russia in this regard," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said in a press conference with his Russian counterpart.

"We are indeed hopeful that, after this conference, we will witness an end to the killings and a peaceful exit from the crisis in Syria," Salehi said.

"Iran sincerely wants an end to killings in Syria but some foreign countries just do not let this happen and instead provide the Syrian opposition with weapons and even dispatch forces into Syria," he added.

Alongside the Syrian conflict, Lavrov was to discuss next week’s nuclear negotiations in Moscow between Iran and six world powers.

Lavrov is to meet later Wednesday with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeid Jalili.

Salehi said he was optimistic that the June 18 round of nuclear negotiations with the world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - would be positive and constructive.

"We have had our ups and downs in the nuclear negotiations but we are now on the right track and just have to be patient and tolerant," Salehi said, without going into detail.



I like the mini samovar. 



I like the mini samovar. 

Every Middle East player has a stake in Syria's sectarian showdown, Jackson Diehl, WaPost →

To judge from the debate at the United Nations, the international tussle over Syria pits a united Arab League and the Western democracies against a recalcitrant Russia, which is trying to prop up the doomed dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.

If only it were so simple. In reality, the UN debate obscures what has become one of the most complex, volatile and momentous power struggles in the history of the Middle East - one in which Assad and Syrian opposition forces have become virtual pawns, and Russia and the US bit players.

The central drama in Syria is now a sectarian showdown, one that has been gathering force around the region since the US invasion of Iraq. Syria has precipitated a crucial test of strength between Sunnis and Shiites, and between Turkey and Iran. It has triggered existential crises for Palestinians, Kurds and the Shiite government of Iraq.

For Russia and the US, Syria means not a display of Security Council clout but a potentially devastating exhibition of weakness - one that could greatly diminish the standing of both in the region.

"Any further blood that flows will be on their hands."

US Amb. Susan RIce to Russia and China (via thepoliticalnotebook)

I think of Tienanmen Square, and I doubt that there is much regret there.  

Guardian | Latest draft of resolution being submitted to UN security council drops call for Syria's president to bow out →


Russia and western countries are locked in diplomatic arm-wrestling over demands that Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, hands over power to his deputy as part of a UN-backed Arab plan for a peaceful solution to the country’s bloody crisis.

The latest draft of a resolution being submitted to the UN security council, and being discussed by ambassadors in New York late on Thursday, has dropped an explicit demand that Assad bows out but still fully supports the “political transition” sought by the Arab League. The change is triggering concerns that the resolution could be drastically watered down to secure agreement.

Diplomatic sources said the main problem was Russian concern that the league plan constituted regime change by another name. “Moscow is looking to fudge this issue of political transition,” said one western official.

Language could be further softened during the negotiations, with Britain and other western countries signalling satisfaction with a Russian abstention.

Read more

Begs the question: What’s even the point?