Author: Laurence Bogoslaw
Questioning/Unquestioning Loyalty: A Gaggle of Alliances, Coalitions and Parties
The most dramatic news story in this week’s Digest highlights the issue of loyalty. Barely a week after the US and Russia had (seemingly) established trust and brokered a ceasefire in the Syrian conflict, US warplanes struck Syrian Army troops near Deir al-Zour. American military officials quickly said the pilots had made a mistake, but Moscow even more quickly accused Washington of breaking the truce. Looking beyond this incident, the larger question of loyalty becomes even more complicated. For example, part of the American end of the ceasefire agreement was to prevent terrorist groups - specifically Jabhat al-Nusra - from infiltrating the ranks of rebel groups loyal to Washington. And yet, as Aleksandr Shumilin writes, the rebels themselves have been reluctant to disown Nusra: The group is considered the most effective opposition force, and it has burnished its image by cutting ties with Al Qaeda. One more ingredient in the mix is Turkey. Vladimir Mukhin reports that even while US-Russian cooperation on Syria was in full swing, Ankara’s Operation Euphrates Shield started getting more support from US special forces and US-led coalition aircraft. In fact, Mukhin blames pro-Turkish forces for breaking the ceasefire in Aleppo (in this case by attacking rebels, not Syrian troops).
At virtually the same time as the precariously stitched together Geneva agreements were coming undone, United Russia was sewing up a victory in the State Duma elections. A preparatory move that had looked like democratization - i.e., doing away with party lists for single-seat districts, so that the Duma mandate would go to whatever candidate wins the most votes - played to the ruling party’s advantage: It won 90% of seats representing these districts. Now it holds a "supermajority" of 343 seats (75%) - well over the 67% required to make changes to the Russian Constitution. But does this mean that ordinary ...
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|Article Title||Letter From the Editors: Sept. 19 - 25, 2016|
|Source||Current Digest of the Russian Press, The , No.38, Vol.68, September 19, 2016, page(s):2|
|Place of Publication||Minneapolis, USA|