Russia expands role in Syria, propping up Assad regime

 

Russia is expanding its role in Syria as it seeks to ensure the survival of the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Russia has increased its military presence in Syria and is building two additional military facilities. Moreover, on Sunday Reuters reported that Iraq is coordinating with Russia, Iran, and Syria on security issues and that the four states have established a coordination center to share intelligence in the fight against the Islamic State. According to The New York Times, “American officials knew that a group of Russian military officers were in Baghdad, but they were clearly surprised when the Iraqi military’s Joint Operations Command announced the intelligence sharing accord on Sunday.” At the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his country’s support for the Assad regime and declared President Assad to be the “only ‘legitimate’ leader of the Syrian state.” Additionally, Iran has long propped up the Assad regime and provides it with $6 billion each year, fueling a conflict that has cost approximately 240,000 lives. President Assad also drops barrel bombs on innocent civilians, killing thousands. In an interview in August, Assad declared that “the power of Iran is the power of Syria, and a victory for Syria is a victory for Iran. We are on the same axis, the axis of resistance.” Iran also seeks to solidify its influence the Middle East through the support of Shiite militia groups in Iraq. Iran, through its support of the Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah, further extends support to the Assad regime. Hezbollah has committed thousands of its fighters to the Syrian conflict.

During his speech to the General Assembly on Monday, President Barack Obama announced his willingness to work with Russia and Iran to end the Syrian conflict. Reuters reported that the president did not “explicitly call for Assad's ouster and he suggested there could be a ‘managed transition’ away from his rule, the latest sign that despite U.S. animus toward the Syrian leader it is willing to see him stay for some period of time.”

 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, saying that successful talks would lead to peace between Israel and more Arab countries.

In an interview with the Associated Press Sunday, Sisi said that resolving the Palestinian issue could “change the face of the region and … bring about enormous improvement to the situation. … I’m optimistic by nature and I say that there is a great opportunity.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is pushing for immediate peace talks without preconditions, praised Sisi’s comments and called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “to return immediately to the negotiating table to advance the diplomatic process.”

American-sponsored peace talks ended last year when Abbas refused to accept a framework agreement presented by the United States, signed fifteen international agreements in an effort to achieve achieve statehood outside of bilateral negotiations (the premise of the peace process since at least 1993), and then announced a unity government with the terrorist group Hamas, which rejects Israel’s right to exist. (via TheTower.org)

 

The small Israeli pharma company NeuroRx is testing a novel compound of two existing drugs to quash suicidal feelings. More than three million Americans have bipolar depression, a condition that more than quintuples the risk of suicide compared with people who have other forms of clinical depression. Despite extensive evidence that 25 to 50 percent of those with bipolar depression attempt suicide and far too many succeed, there is currently no FDA-approved treatment for active suicidality in bipolar depression,” says Dr. Jonathan Javitt, a recent American immigrant to Israel and CEO of NeuroRx, a clinical-phase pharmaceutical company. Early this summer, NeuroRx reported its first human efficacy data for a newly purposed class of drugs aimed at rapidly reducing symptoms of depression and suicidality in patients with bipolar disorder and maintaining that effect over time. The seven treatment-resistant patients in the peer-reviewed study demonstrated a 50% reduction in symptoms of depression and a 75% reduction in suicidality after a regimen of the anesthetic drug ketamine followed by NeuroRx’s Cyclurad — a novel patent-pending combination of two FDA-approved pharmaceuticals, the tuberculosis drug D-cycloserine and the anti-infective drug lurasidone. Ketamine, Javitt explains, is known to provide fast yet short-term reversal of depression, though it is not yet FDA-approved for this specific indication. The independent study of Cyclurad is the first clinical report showing that the “ketamine effect” can potentially be sustained for two months. It is the second peer-reviewed human study in which D-cycloserine has shown a statistically significant antidepressant effect. (via Israel21c)


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