RUSSIA’S MARK ON SYRIA: On a day’s notice, Russia has pulled out about half of its military equipment from Syria, and the move has jolted the peace negotiations restarting in Geneva this week – potentially with more force than Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict jolted the war on the ground. The stakes are high for the Syrian government, now left without its chief sponsor in the fight. Though Russia has said it will maintain and protect its bases, the country is likely to stop its punishing airstrikes – many of them directed at the opposition forces aligned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But while Syria’s position at the negotiating table may be weakened, Russia’s is strengthened by the move. The country now has an indisputable foothold in the Middle East, and has shown its ability to influence not only war but peace talks too. And that has many in the U.S. worried about what may be coming next.
IRAN DRAWS MORE BLOOD FROM NAVAL INCIDENT: The 16-hour detention of 10 U.S. sailors by Iran on the eve of the implementation of the Iran nuclear pact is still making the nightly news in Tehran, where the latest story is that Iran got 13,000 pages of documents detailing the ship’s movements from systems on board. U.S. officials have been downplaying the claim, dismissing it as propaganda. A preliminary Navy report determined the sailors “mis-navigated” into Iranian waters.
SEND IN THE MARINES – OR MAYBE NOT: A top Marine general told a congressional panel on Tuesday that if the Marines were called on to respond to a new crisis, they might not be ready. Stars and Stripes reports that the admission from a top official of the service that often paints itself as the country’s most reliable and elite fighting force is based on a lack of training and equipment. But the Marines aren’t the only branch of the military that’s overextended. Fifteen years of wars have caused readiness concerns in many parts of the military, and while that hasn’t left units unable to function, officials say that they wouldn’t be able to take on a new fight right now at full strategic capacity.