FROM Jonathan Spyer
Israel, Hezbollah and a New Phase in Syria's Civil War The ongoing crisis in Syria continues to raise thorny issues about US intervention in the civil war there. That war began as part of the Arab Spring in 2011 but has developed into the most intractable conflict of the revolutionary movement. More than 70 thousand people have been killed. Now, Hezbollah is stepping up its engagement, helping government forces battle a crucial rebel-held town. That means Iran is also deepening its involvement. US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Moscow in an effort to find common cause in the Syrian civil war. Is that conflict entering a new phase? Will Israel's military strikes near Damascus push the US to take action?
War or Peace in the Middle East? Condoleezza Rice is back in the Middle East , where continuing rocket fire has Israel threatening more attacks on Gaza. In Ramallah today, the Secretary of State asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to re-open peace talks he cancelled because of Israel's military incursion into Gaza. Although Israel has pulled out, Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, refused Rice's request, saying he first wants to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But Israel and the US are opposed. Can Secretary Rice get the Annapolis peace process back on track?
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.