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Fighting for pluralism in Syria.

Train-and-Equip: Fight for Pluralism in Syria This month, the United States and several of its Middle Eastern allies will begin training Syrian fighters through a revamped train-and-equip program that will form the core first class of Syria's non-jihadist armed opposition. At this stage, the program will seek to identify, train, and support 5,000 Syrian rebel fighters a year for three years, and will likely involve the cooperation of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and could also include Jordan. Optimally, the end game of this reportedly more robust train-and-equip program will be a Syria that emerges from its civil war with a pluralistic government, the Assad regime removed, and the more ideologically radical elements of the Syrian rebel movement defeated and marginalized.

Budget cuts in Qatar bite That most ministries in Qatar are facing significant budget cuts is relatively old news. The bean-counters in Qatar were expecting a dip in the oil price and a rise in their infrastructure-driven expenditure since at least early-2014. Consequently, budget paring-back was always a central priority of the new administration. I've always believed that the new lot, on the first day in power in mid-2013, skipped merrily into the Diwan, had a look at the books and were somewhat horrified by what they saw -- namely unchallenged expenditure.

Islamic ironies, between Abu Nuwas and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Reflecting, as he often would, on the question of wine, and its permissibility in Islam, the 9th-century bacchic poet of Baghdad, Abu Nuwas, once asked:

Am I to refuse it, when Allah has not

And the caliph is its friend?

Reading lines like these, one has to bear in mind they weren't, or weren't only, intended as bawdy, tongue-in-cheek jokes. Allah has not "refused" wine because, as the Quran itself states, coursing through the gardens of paradise are veritable "rivers" of the stuff. And as one biographer of Abu Nuwas, Abd al-Rahman Sidqi, detailed in a chapter titled "Drinking partner of [Caliph Muhammad] al-Amin," the poet had first-hand acquaintance with the proclivities of the emperors of the Muslim world in his day.

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Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Mar 11, 2015
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