MOSCOW -- Will Syria become a second Afghanistan for Russia? Is it wise for Russia to intervene in that conflict? Rumors are circulating that Moscow is planning a face-saving maneuver whereby it gradually "hands over" the Donbass in fulfillment of the Minsk agreement while aiding the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition in Syria to get back on good terms with the West. The plan sounds good in theory, but it looks unfeasible in practice.
With the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 and Iran, some are panicking in despair, while others have visions of a dramatically realigned Middle East. Both views are overreactions, since the deal itself is quite limited in scope, and the impact of 35 years of history and politics cannot easily be erased.
Some families were in self-constructed shelters, using plastic sheets and pieces of wood. Many of their shelters had let in snow and water -- bringing misery to their inhabitants trying to stay warm. Aid agencies politely call the living conditions of these people "substandard." In truth, they are squalid and often unfit for human habitation.
During a recent visit to Lebanon, walking along Hamra Street, I was taken back to my childhood. My father and I meandered down this road en route to my favorite spot. Constantly stopped by friends, eager to talk, it seemed to take forever to reach the Modca Cafe, and the ice cream I so eagerly anticipated.