Tobin Harshaw

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Vladimir Putin says he is withdrawing most Russian forces from Syria because his "objectives" have been achieved. How to judge that boast?

On such goals as keeping the dictator Bashar al-Assad in power, increasing Russian influence in the Middle East, restoring Moscow's seat at the table of global power, and sending a message of strength to Islamic extremists inside Russia's own borders, the jury is still out.

But it's not too early to consider Russian success on another front: showcasing military strength to potential adversaries, allies and arms buyers. "Essentially, Russia is using their incursion into Syria as an operational proving ground," retired Air Force general David Deptula told the New York Times last year.…  Seguir leyendo »

If Islamic State was directly responsible for the attacks in Paris that have killed more than 130 people, it is a serious change in strategy.

“It’s not just about inspiring any more, but motivating,” Patrick Skinner, a former CIA official now with the consulting firm Soufan Group, told the Financial Times. “They are projecting their terror further and more deliberately.”

Indeed, coordinating at least eight terrorists for attacks on six locations is a whole different level of sophistication than urging Canadian Muslims to carry out random hit-and-runs on men in uniform.

Coming shortly after attacks in Ankara and Beirut for which Islamic State is taking responsibility, as well as its possible bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, it appears that Islamic State is taking its holy war to new battlegrounds.…  Seguir leyendo »