Matthew RJ Brodsky
Matthew RJ Brodsky
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Matthew RJ Brodsky's Blog

Chemical Weapons Attack Kills Over 1,000 in Syria

Syrian opposition activists claim more than 1,000 people were killed after government forces launched rockets with toxic agents in the Damascus suburbs early Wednesday. While the U.S. has not independently confirmed that chemical weapons were used, Israel's minister for intelligence and strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, told Israel Radio that it believes the reports of the attack are credible. Videos apparently showing the graphic and disturbing aftermath of the alleged attacks on the rebel-held eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta were posted to social media but could not be independently verified. The clips showed children choking and vomiting, while adults writhed in agony, appearing not to have any visible wounds.

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By Matthew RJ Brodsky  |  Thu, August 22, 2013 12:16 PM  |  Permalink

Syria's al-Nusra Front Pledges Allegiance to Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) declared a merger with Mohammad al-Julani's Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) or the al-Nusra Front, a Syrian Salafi rebel group. Both groups, with the urging of al-Qaeda central leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, seek to make an Islamic state across the region.

The string of back and forth messaging from the different al-Qaeda affiliates points to an interesting dynamic brewing among them. The first message came from AQI's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who proclaimed the merger of AQI and JN under the name and banner of "The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant." JN's leader, al-Julani, responded via the group's official Twitter account two days later, confirming that AQI was instrumental in setting up JN, but he pledged his group's allegiance directly to the more senior al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. As The Long War Journal suggests, the AQI announcement surprised al-Julani who believed it was premature. Al-Julani further suggested that the "Front's banner will remain as-is, without changing anything."

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By Matthew RJ Brodsky and Michael Johnson  |  Thu, April 11, 2013 5:51 PM  |  Permalink

Benghazi Testimony Reveals Lack of Coordination in U.S. Government

According to testimony Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke with President Obama at the outset of the Benghazi attack during a pre-scheduled meeting, but not again until the attacks were over. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testified that they had not spoken to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at all during the attacks.

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By Matthew RJ Brodsky, Shoshana Bryen, and Michael Johnson  |  Thu, February 7, 2013 5:34 PM  |  Permalink

Syria's Escalating Violence Promises Further Regional Instability

Explosions rocked the city of Damascus on Thursday after alleged members of Syria's opposition group detonated a bomb at the Justice Palace, injuring three people. Gunmen possibly affiliated with the rebels also stormed a pro-government television station close to the capital the previous day, killing 7 journalists. The violence forced Asad to declare a "state of war" in Syria, as these newest attacks bring the war to his front doorstep while he simultaneously attempts to crush domestic opposition to his regime.

Syria's civil war is pulling other countries into the conflict as well. Following an incident last week in which a Turkish plane was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire, Turkey announced a recent troop redeployment to the Turkey-Syria boundary. The transfer included anti-air units designed to counter Syrian helicopters and jets. Although Syria explained that it thought the plane was Israeli, tensions along the border continue to grow. In an effort to dissuade further Syrian provocations, Turkey's military threatened to shoot on sight any Syrian military target that approached Turkish territory. Erdogan further stated that Syria would "feel the wrath of Turkey" should Syria violate their airspace.

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By Matthew RJ Brodsky and Kalen Taylor  |  Thu, June 28, 2012 2:20 PM  |  Permalink

Obama and Sarkozy's Insulting Gaffe

It was the insult heard around the world: Reports surfaced Monday that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was overheard by reporters at last week's G20 Summit in Cannes telling President Obama he can no longer bear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "I can't stand to see him any more, he's a liar," journalists overheard Sarkozy saying through a hot mic as the world leaders met privately in a side room. In response, Obama lamented: "You are fed up with him, but me, I have to deal with him every day."

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By Matthew RJ Brodsky and Samara Greenberg  |  Wed, November 9, 2011 6:02 PM  |  Permalink

Losing Focus

President Obama's decision to devote a third of his speech about the Middle East to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict last Thursday resulted in the verbal sparring match between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. And it remains the unfortunate focus this week. Yet the chances of peace negotiations beginning any time in the near future are bleak. It is therefore bizarre that the president would sink so much diplomatic capital into the virtual black hole of the moribund peace process. Instead, now would be the right time to refocus and prioritize American interests in the Middle East.

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By Matthew RJ Brodsky  |  Thu, May 26, 2011 3:42 PM  |  Permalink

The Syrian Spring is a Gift, Will Obama Open It?

Barack Obama has been given the gift of the Syrian uprising but he apparently does not want to open it. One would think his foreign policy in the Middle East would have been adaptable to the recent "Arab Spring" in the region—that once the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya happened, it would be possible to envision the same happening in Syria and have a policy waiting to implement. But to say this administration's response to the Syrian uprising has been sluggish would be an understatement.

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By Matthew RJ Brodsky  |  Thu, May 12, 2011 2:52 PM  |  Permalink

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