Ukraine, Russian Power; Historical, Political Backgrounds (and NATO’s Burden).

Peace in Ukraine

This post is comprised of several sources of current media on the subject. All content is reposted with links and sources cited.


“Ukraine in Context”

Article Via Foreign Affairs. (Reposted). By: Serhiy Kudelia

Ukraine’s Euromaidan was aptly summed up in leaflets recently distributed around Kiev that featured a big X over former President Viktor Yanukovych’s crown-bedecked head. Indeed, current events in Ukraine bear more in common with Europe’s anti-monarchical grassroots uprisings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries than with more recent rebellions. The Ukrainian protesters’ primary motives were not nationalist grievances or democratic yearnings but popular repulsion at the unconstrained, arbitrary, and corrupt power of an absolutist sovereign and his retinue.

In the seventeenth century, Europe’s absolutist monarchs faced no institutional constraints and could exercise power unilaterally. Neither parliament nor the court could overrule their judgments. And not only was power concentrated in the hands of the ruler but the rest of the “government” was designed to serve his or her needs. The monarchs formed their courts out of coteries of loyal minions who received exclusive access to privileges and rents, including noble titles and life-long public offices. These officials could, in turn, redistribute some of their private goods among their own servile lieutenants, but the monarch retained ultimate power to grant or revoke their privileged status.

Of course, such absolutist regimes were greatly varied, which, as the political scientist Francis Fukuyama noted in The Origins of Political Order, affected the patterns of their subsequent transformations. A stronger absolutism, which evolved in Russia, presumed the full subordination of different social groups to the monarch and an absence of space for autonomous action. Its stability depended on the coercive dominance of a single actor. So, for centuries, Russian emperors brutally suppressed rebellion at the first sign of it. In doing so, they managed to avoid the revolutionary upheavals that shook monarchs across Europe. The Bolshevik revolution succeeded only after the imperial court imploded from within.

By contrast, eighteenth-century France developed a weaker absolutism. The system was more decentralized and more dependent on the compliance of provincial elites, whom the king had to buy off. Weak absolutism thus required a balance of power between the king and the rent-seeking coalitions around him, with neither side dominating. Yet existing institutional checks, such as the Estates General and the courts, eventually proved ineffective in constraining the king and his aristocratic coalition. The non-nobles, as a result, had to bear the entire burden of paying for the state and the tax-exempt ruling class. The French Revolution thus started as a popular uprising against all elites.

Fast-forward a few centuries. Yanukovych entered his presidency to greet an empowered parliament, strong oligarchic cliques, and established traditions of patrimonial government. The system was ripe for absolutism, but not necessarily the old Russian model of strong absolutism. Namely, internal regional pluralism, a vigorous civil society, and prior experience with social mobilization acted as safeguards — and paved the way for recent events.


In September 2010, a few months after Yanukovych’s election, he pushed for a return to the presidential system (Ukraine had had a mixed system), which formalized his dominance over the legislature and the executive branch. Regional ties to his native Donetsk or personal ties to his family became two of the main criteria for government appointments. By September 2013, officials from Donbas, the metropolitan area that contains Donetsk, controlled half of all government ministries, including the lucrative energy ministry and the interior ministry, and occupied high-ranking positions in two-thirds of the country’s oblasts. (Officials representing Yanukovych’s family interests were in charge of the ministries with the largest rent-seeking opportunities, such as tax collection and duties, and oversaw the security apparatus.) Allies also held 40 percent of top jobs in the country’s prosecutorial agency and 60 percent in the highest economic court. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s venal bureaucracy, which had gone largely unreformed since the Soviet times, was all too happy to settle into the president’s personal rent-collecting entourage.

Yanukovych fully subordinated the judiciary and opposition through coercion and reshuffling. The show trials of opposition leaders, rare even in Ukraine’s tumultuous recent history, raised the costs of opposition activity to new highs. Major businessmen who had previously supported the more Western-oriented opposition had to switch their loyalties or risk their property. They were under siege in another respect as well: Yanukovych privatized major state assets and had his son or front companies buy them, thus expanding his family’s holdings. He redistributed budgetary funds within his close circle through rigged government contract bids. The companies of his main oligarchic allies, Rinat Akhmetov and Dmytro Firtash, and of his son received more than half of the total value of contracts awarded over the previous two years (about 18 billion dollars).

Yanukovych’s increasingly absolutist rule led to a gradual change in the power balance within the ruling coalition. Like other absolutists, once Yanukovych marginalized the opposition, many of his former allies became the next targets on the list. One of them, Valery Khoroshkovsky, a multimillionaire and former security service chief, fled to London. Others, including old Donbas cronies, just fell out favor as the amount of money available for Yanukovych to give out decreased. Eventually, he encroached too far on the property rights of some of its members. His unilateral withdrawal from the talks with the European Union over an Association Agreement, which most Ukrainian oligarchs had strongly favored, was the last straw in a bundle of arbitrary maneuvers that threatened their business interests.

Although many expected it, however, an open oligarchic revolt, along the lines of the Fronde against Louis the XIV in France, never happened. Although some elites offered indirect support to the opposition, including  billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskiy, key businessmen remained loyal to Yanukovych until his final days. Like in other weaker absolutist states, as grassroots groups on the streets of Kiev and other cities tried to force Yanukovych out, the state institutions and his support coalition remained largely intact. The ruling Party of Regions stuck together and stalled the opposition’s initiatives in the parliament, including by adopting tough sanctions on protesting. Similarly, the court system, which played a crucial role in settling the Orange Revolution, remained subservient, jailing numerous protesters. Finally, there were no major defections from within the security apparatus. The top brass followed Yanukovych’s orders until the day he fled Kiev.

Such elite loyalty might seem particularly surprising; as political scientist Milan Svolik has shown, betrayal by regime insiders has been the leading cause for the fall of autocratic rulers since the end of World War II. Yet it had precedents, particularly in states where the composition of the ruling elite was based on kinship ties, tribal loyalties, or, like in eighteenth-century France, an exclusive patrimonial relationship. Despite long-lasting unrest on the streets, Yanukovych was able to hold his regime together for a long time thanks to the clientelistic web of personal dependencies and individual insecurities that he had learned to exploit so well. Political and financial backing from Russia also helped Yanukovych avert impeding economic disaster, which could have accelerated his regime’s collapse. As a result, once the regime started to sink, most of the crew waited for the captain to jump first before following his lead.



Yanukovych’s biggest weakness, and the source of his ultimate demise, proved to be his inability to establish authority over central and western Ukraine, including Kiev, which had voted for his opponents in the 2004 and 2010 elections. Over 80 percent of protesters on the Maidan, Kiev’s Independence Square, arrived from these two regions. During his years in office, Yanukovych showed little sensitivity to their views, often adopting educational and cultural policies that were inimical to them. The last of those was his reversal on Ukraine’s commitment to integrate with the European Union, which had been endorsed by overwhelming majorities in these regions. That move served as a trigger for protests, but it was the authorities’ subsequent heavy-handed attempt to suppress riots that really fueled the uprising. According to the polls conducted over the last three months, two-thirds of protesters consistently named the government’s harsh repression of protesters as the main reason for their own decision to come out to the Maidan. Less than afifth named authoritarianism or integration with Russia as motives.

Unable to contain the revolt spreading through hostile regions, Yanukovych tried to use yet more lethal force in Kiev. Violent escalation, including random killings of protesters by snipers, only served to reinforce the impression of absolute power gone wild and strengthen the key motivation for opposing it. With two remaining options — ordering mass bloodshed or surrendering his powers — Yanukovych recognized the limits of his loyal troops and signed a deal with the opposition to shift most of his formal powers to parliament. This also sealed his fate. The moment the agreement was finalized, the coercive basis of his rule crumbled.

Yanukovych’s fate was similar to those monarchs — including Louis XVI — who either failed to self-limit their powers or attempted to cling to them against all odds. Yanukovych successfully destroyed institutional constraints and subordinated other elites. But he underestimated what violence against citizens would do to his system. Although nationalist or democratic ideals played a role in motivating some protesters, it was ultimately their shared belief in the need to punish the sovereign’s transgressions that united them. And it is this public commitment to the principle of restrained power that puts Ukraine on a democratic path, which many other European states traveled long ago.

It will take years for Ukraine to put all the institutional pieces of the democratic puzzle in place. Although the country has revived parliamentary primacy, it still lacks rule of law, genuine political parties, and a meritocratic civil service. Just like many other states exiting weak absolutism, it also has a parasitic, interconnected political class, which is very good at using populism and predation to prosper. The immediate challenge for Ukraine will be to cleanse itself of these vestiges of the past and start building from scratch those state institutions that would make its democratic progress irreversible. And if Ukraine’s new political leaders are ever tempted by absolutism, they should think back to this month and to the people’s spirit of resistance, which Yanukovych failed to heed. Ultimately, Ukraine’s future will depend on the will of citizens rather than the opportunistic choices of elites. And it will be much more secure because of that.

Ukraine/Crimea March, 2014

Via Twitter: RT @BSpringnote: Part of the 1st Ukrainina Marine battalion holding out against Putin in Feodosiya


Crimea’s Challenge

Ukraine’s Crimea region, a Black Sea peninsula that retains a degree of autonomy, has become the flashpoint for a backlash against the pro-Western protesters that drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power. Review some key historical and geopolitical facts.

Patchwork Nation

Pro-European sentiment is stronger in the western reaches of Ukraine, parts of which were annexed from Europe during World War II. Crimea, with a Russian naval base, is more aligned with Moscow, as is eastern Ukraine, where President Yanukovich has sought refuge.

Share of votes going to Yanukovych in 2009 election

Sources: News reports, public records and archives,,, staff reporting. Info contained is via the Wall Street Journal.

Russia’s Aging Fleet

The Black Sea Fleet is a shadow of its former Soviet self but, with new commissions coming, is still capable of projecting Russian power. Photos by Black Sea Navy.

Moskva: 1164-class missile cruiser
Commissioned: 1983
11,300 tons, 680 crew members
Two diesel-electric submarines
(only one of which is operational)
Kerch: Anti-submarine cruiser
Commisioned: 1971
8,600 tons

Smetlivy: Anti-submarine cruiser
Commissioned: 1969
4,500 tons
Ladny: 1135-class Frigate
Commissioned: 1978
3,200 tons

Pytlivy: 1135-class Frigate
Commissioned: 1979
3,200 tons

Other ships in the fleet:
LSTs – Landing Ship (Tank)
Anti-submarine Corvettes
Other smaller surface vessels based at Novorossisk.
Vessels that have been ordered

Admiral Grigorovich Class Frigates3 ordered1 is due to be commissioned in March 20143,620 tons

Improved-Kilo class diesel electric subs
6 have been ordered
1 is due to be commissioned in June 2014

By Jovi JuanElliot BentleyAna RivasGeoffrey Smith and Michael Ovaska;
The Wall Street Journal

Sources: News reports, public records and archives,,, staff reporting from the Wall Street Journal, reposted.

Hagel’s Futile Quest for NATO Burden Sharing

March 4, 2014 Via The National Interest:

At a meeting of NATO defense ministers on February 26, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned his European counterparts that they must step up their commitment to the Alliance or watch it become irrelevant. The current path of declining European defense budgets, he emphasized, “is not sustainable. Our alliance can endure only as long as we are willing to fight for it, and invest in it.” Rebalancing NATO’s “burden-sharing and capabilities,” Hagel stressed, “is mandatory—not elective.” The tone of his message was firm. “America’s contributions in NATO remain starkly disproportionate, so adjustments in the U.S. defense budget cannot become an excuse for further cuts in European defense spending.”

Taken at face value, Hagel’s comments appeared to be an uncompromising demand for greater burden sharing by NATO’s European members. The speech would have been far more impressive and encouraging though, if previous U.S. officials had not made similar exhortations over the past six-and-a-half decades. Unfortunately, those calls proved futile, and in all likelihood Hagel’s effort will suffer a similar fate. European governments have never believed that Washington would drastically downgrade (much less terminate) its commitment to NATO, no matter how shamelessly the allies continue to free ride on U.S. military efforts.

The ink was barely dry on the treaty establishing NATO in 1949 before U.S. officials saw worrisome signs that Washington’s new alliance partners were shirking their share of the collective defense obligations. Secretary of State Dean Acheson assured uneasy senators that the West Europeans would provide the vast majority of armaments and manpower for the Alliance, making it unnecessary for the United States to station a large number of troops on the Continent. General Omar Bradley echoed Acheson’s assurances. The next year, however, Washington “temporarily” dispatched four divisions to Europe to augment the two divisions already stationed there as part of the post-World War II Allied occupation of Germany. U.S. officials concluded that the other NATO members were not yet prepared to provide enough forces for a credible defense in the increasingly tense global strategic environment resulting from the communist offensive in Korea.

Washington’s prodding for greater burden sharing continued, however. In NSC 82, the Truman administration formalized the decision to strengthen Europe’s defense by making the “temporary” troop deployment permanent and bringing all NATO forces under U.S. command. But NSC 82 also insisted that those measures were not unconditional. “The United States should make it clear that it is now squarely up to the European signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty to provide the balance of forces required” for Western Europe’s defense. “Firm programs for the development of such forces should represent a prerequisite for the fulfillment of the above commitments on the part of the United States.”

The allies did promise to build more robust forces and to create a European Defense Community, including West German units, to coordinate those efforts. But little meaningful progress took place, as France and other countries dragged their feet about implementing the EDC. That behavior led Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, to warn the allies that the United States would have to conduct an “agonizing reappraisal” of its security commitment to Europe, if they didn’t make a more serious effort. France killed the EDC, however, and there was no agonizing reappraisal—or even a downsizing of the U.S. military presence in Europe. Indeed, U.S. officials soon went out of their way to assure the Europeans that Washington regarded their security as vital to America’s own.

Twitter Trail; #eDiplomacy of US/IRAN Nuclear Issue

Details of Redacted Conversations: Obama/Rouhani

(Deleted From Rouhani’s Twitter Accounts)

Updated, Saturday, 11:41 a.m. | According to Robert Windrem of NBC News, an Iranian who witnessed Friday’s historic conversation between the presidents of the United States and Iran “was giddy” describing it a short time later.

Excitement about the diplomatic breakthrough among President Hassan Rouhani’s aides — perhaps followed by second thoughts about diplomatic etiquette or how it might play back home — could also explain why a rapid-fire series of updates divulging details of the conversation were posted on the @HassanRouhani Twitter account and then deleted a short time later.

A screen shot of an update to a Twitter account maintained in the name of Iran's president that was posted and then deleted on Friday afternoon.
A screen shot of an update to a Twitter account maintained in the name of Iran’s president that was posted and then deleted on Friday afternoon.

Luckily for posterity, before those updates were removed, and replaced with more sober messages, several followers retweeted them and Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed captured part of the stream in a screen shot.

Before seven updates to a Twitter account run in the name of Iran's president were deleted Friday afternoon, a Buzzfeed journalist captured them in a screenshot.
Before seven updates to a Twitter account run in the name of Iran’s president were deleted Friday afternoon, a Buzzfeed journalist captured them in a screenshot.

Another of the deleted updates, captured by The Lede, described the two presidents wishing each other farewell in their own languages. Mr. Rouhani offering the American blessing, “Have a nice day!” and Mr. Obama responding with the Persian word for goodbye, “Khodahafez” —literally, “May God protect you.”

While the brief updates that replaced those initial messages were generally dry, a hint of the excitement inside the Iranian delegation did seem to infuse one Twitter message remaining in the @HassanRouhani feed, a photograph of a beaming Mr. Rouhani on board the plane that would take him back home.

The photograph, shot by someone standing directly in front of Mr. Rouhani and quickly posted online, also seemed to confirm that the account, which the Iranian president has not directly acknowledged as his own, is at least run by someone very close to him.

That echoes what the Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd reported earlier this month, after he helped set up an NBC News interview with Mr. Rouhani in Tehran.

A senior Obama administration official who briefed reporters on the phone conversation confirmed that the substance of the exchange was accurately reflected in the now-deleted updates on the @HassanRouhani account, the Guardian reported. The official added: “We’ll be continuing to watch that Twitter account.”

As my colleague Thomas Erdbrink reports from Tehran, the flurry of activity on the social network after the phone call ended with the Iranian president’s account retweeting a message from the State Department. That update from Washington, signed with Secretary of State John Kerry’s initials, hailed the presidential-level dialogue and a meeting on Thursday with Mr. Rouhani’s Twitter-fluent foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

A screen shot taken Friday evening of the @HassanRouhani Twitter account maintained in the name of Iran's president.
A screen shot taken Friday evening of the @HassanRouhani Twitter account maintained in the name of Iran’s president.

By Robert Mackey @robertmackey

Opening Doors to Gender Equal Small Business Development in MENA

Opening Doors to Gender Equality via Entrepreneurial Empowerment
in the Middle East and North Africa #MENA


Since the early 1990s, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region have made admirable progress in reducing the gap between girls and boys in areas such as access to education and health care. Indeed, almost all young girls in the Region attend school, and more women than men are enrolled in university. Over the past two decades, maternal mortality declined 60 percent, the largest decrease in the world. Women in MENA are more educated than ever before. It is not only in the protest squares that have seen women whose aspirations are changing rapidly but increasingly unmet. The worldwide average for the participation of women in the workforce is approximately 50 percent. In MENA, their participation is half that at 25 percent. Facing popular pressure to be more open and inclusive, some governments in the region are considering and implementing electoral and constitutional reforms to deepen democracy.

These reforms present an opportunity to enhance economic, social, and political inclusion for all, including women, who make up half the population. However, the outlook remains uncertain. Finally, there are limited private sector and entrepreneurial prospects not only for jobs but also for those women who aspire to create and run a business. These constraints present multiple challenges for reform. Each country in MENA will, of course, confront these constraints in different contexts. However, inherent in many of these challenges are rich opportunities as reforms unleash new economic actors. For the private sector, the challenge is to create more jobs for young women and men.

For More in Depth Analysis:

Via The World Bank, 2013 Open Doors Report

Please Read this CFR article on the topic,by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Dated September 11, 2013:

Re-Printed from CFR, Written by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Young entrepreneurs at Oasis 500, a seed investment firm based in Amman, Jordan that finances start-ups in the Middle East, November 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Muhammad Hamed).

The Arab Spring, paired with the global recession, has weakened many Middle Eastern countries’ economies. Unemployment rates have soared, especially among people under the age of 30 who comprise two-thirds of the region’s population. In 2012, the International Labor Organization reported that youth unemployment rates worldwide were highest in the Middle East and North Africa, at 28.3 percent and 23.7 percent, respectively.

The economic toll of the past two-and-half years of conflict is clear. In Egypt, for example, unemployment reached 13 percent at the end of 2012, compared to around 9 percent pre-revolution. As the World Bank noted in a recent paper on the Egyptian economy, 3.5 million people are unemployed, 88 percent of whom are educated and hold at least an intermediate degree. Furthermore, the report found that “Youth, aged between 15 and 29, make up around three quarters of the unemployed, with the largest portion (44% of the unemployed) falling in the 20-24 years age-bracket.”

Women have also struggled to achieve their economic potential. According to the World Bank’s 2013 Open Doors report, only 25.2 percent of women participate in the labor market – nearly half the average rate in other lower and middle income countries. That women only account for one-fourth of the region’s work force is even more surprising given that more than half of all college graduates are women. And little has changed over time: female labor force participation has increased by only 0.17 percentage points each year for the past thirty years.

Despite these challenges, entrepreneurs in the Middle East are managing to grow micro, small, and medium enterprises that supply up to 99 percent of private sector jobs in some Arab countries. In particular, Amman, Jordan has become a start-up hub. Jordan is an especially conducive place for entrepreneurs as it boasts a strong education system, has invested in Internet distribution channels, and offers one of the region’s most robust media landscapes. Young entrepreneurs are sprouting up in other Middle Eastern cities as well, including Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Riyadh, and Doha, sparking what is being referred to by some as the “start-up spring.” This phenomenon has been amplified by entrepreneurship accelerators such as Oasis500, Wamda, and Silatech, and emerging regional crowd-funding platforms such as Zoomal and Yomken.

As was the case during the Arab Spring, women are a driving force in this revolution. Internet-based start-ups have given Middle Eastern women a portal into the often male-dominated field of entrepreneurship. Arab female entrepreneurs are excelling and even surpassing their counterparts in other regions, making up about 35 percent of the region’s start-up labor force — more than three times the global average. Internet and technology start-ups, which can be launched and run from home or from all-female offices, are helping women tackle social, economic, and political barriers that often limit their employment opportunities and ability to contribute to local and regional economies.

In addition to empowering women, technology start-ups play another interesting role in the Middle East. In a region prone to transition and strife, technology start-ups are more resilient than many other businesses given that their virtual infrastructure is not as susceptible to on-the-ground conflict. Technology entrepreneurs are able to sustain and even grow their businesses in volatile environments. Growing Internet usage in the Middle East, which has historically lagged behind other regions in Internet speed and reliability, is also fueling the start-up movement.

For those looking to promote stability and prosperity in the Middle East, supporting and investing in the region’s start-ups is a good option. As small and medium businesses continue to drive regional economies, Arab entrepreneurs, including youth and women, can create a future for themselves while also boosting innovation and growth in their economies.

Via @gaylelemmon and @cfr October, 2013

Internet Usage Stats for US, Who’s Not On And Why?



As of May 2013, 15% of American adults ages 18 and older do not use the internet or email.

Asked why they do not use the internet:

  • 34% of non-internet users think the internet is just not relevant to them, saying they are not interested, do not want to use it, or have no need for it.
  • 32% of non-internet users cite reasons tied to their sense that the internet is not very easy to use. These non-users say it is difficult or frustrating to go online, they are physically unable, or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware, and hackers. This figure is considerably higher than in earlier surveys.
  • 19% of non-internet users cite the expense of owning a computer or paying for an internet connection.
  • 7% of non-users cited a physical lack of availability or access to the internet.

Even among the 85% of adults who do go online, experiences connecting to the internet may vary widely. For instance, even though 76% of adults use the internet at home, 9% of adults use the internet but lack home access. These internet users cite many reasons for not having internet connections at home, most often relating to issues of affordability—some 44% mention financial issues such as not having a computer, or having a cheaper option outside the home.

About the Survey

The findings in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, 2013, among a sample of 2,252 adults ages 18 and older.  Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline and cell phone. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.  More information is available in the Methods section at the end of this report.

Sourced from the Pew Research Center, Sep. 2013 Follow LINK for FULL REPORT:

#Afghani Contacts: Who to Follow on @Twitter Regarding #Afghanistan

Here is a Partial List of Twitter Users to Follow for Information on Afghanistan. Nov/2013

afindex If you have more to Add, or Suggestions, please email me:

Afghan Contact List; Diplomatic for President Karzai
Aimal Faizi
Presidential Spokesperson and Director of Communications
Land line: +93 (0) 202 141 135
Adela Raz
1st Deputy to the Spokesperson & Directorate of Communications
Land line: +93 (0) 202 141 046
Email: or
Fayeq Wahedi
2nd Deputy to the Spokesperson & Directorate of Communications
Land line: +93 (0) 202 141 132
Cell phone: +93 (0) 790 657 408
Khwaja Masoom
Head of Media Relations & Administration
Mob: +93 (0) 202 141 015
+93 (0) 777 344 420
Hamid Sozan
Media Relations Officer
Mob: +93 (0) 708 095 383


(Female Police Officer in Afghanistan)



Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons



USA, The Russian Federation, the United Nations



The US and Russia have reached an agreement over Syria’s Chemical weapons in Geneva today, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said the agreement would be backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution that could allow for sanctions or other consequences if Syria fails to comply. Secretary Kerry said the first international inspection of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is set for November, with destruction to begin next year. But Lavrov added a more cautious note to what was an otherwise jubilant moment in Geneva, where the talks took place. While Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that the documents released Saturday, outlining the transfer of Syria’s large chemical weapons arsenal and its destruction, constitute only an “agreed proposal” that does not yet have the force of law. The plan drew sharp anger from Syria’s U.S.-backed rebels and received decidedly mixed reviews from the U.S. Congress, across party lines.

The following is the framework for elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons released by the State Department spokesperson:

Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons:

Taking into account the decision of the Syrian Arab Republic to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the commitment of the Syrian authorities to provisionally apply the Convention prior to its entry into force, the United States and the Russian Federation express their joint determination to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program (CW) in the soonest and safest manner.

For this purpose, the United States and the Russian Federation have committed to prepare and submit in the next few days to the Executive Council of the OPCW a draft decision setting down special procedures for expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof.  The principles on which this decision should be based, in the view of both sides, are set forth in Annex A.  The United States and the Russian Federation believe that these extraordinary procedures are necessitated by the prior use of these weapons in Syria and the volatility of the Syrian civil war.


The United States and the Russian Federation commit to work together towards prompt adoption of a UN Security Council resolution that reinforces the decision of the OPCW Executive Council.   This resolution will also contain steps to ensure its verification and effective implementation and will request that the UN Secretary-General, in consultation with the OPCW, submit recommendations to the UN Security Council on an expedited basis regarding the UN’s role in eliminating the Syrian chemical weapons program.

The United States and the Russian Federation concur that this UN Security Council resolution should provide for review on a regular basis the implementation in Syria of the decision of the Executive Council of the OPCW, and in the event of non-compliance, including unauthorized transfer, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, the UN Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The proposed joint US-Russian OPCW draft decision supports the application of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which provides for the referral of any cases of non-compliance to the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council.

In furtherance of the objective to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons program, the United States and the Russian Federation have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons involved, and are committed to the immediate international control over chemical weapons and their components in Syria.  The United States and the Russian Federation expect Syria to submit, within a week, a comprehensive listing, including names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.


We further determined that the most effective control of these weapons may be achieved by removal of the largest amounts of weapons feasible, under OPCW supervision, and their destruction outside of Syria, if possible.  We set ambitious goals for the removal and destruction of all categories of CW related materials and equipment with the objective of completing such removal and destruction in the first half of 2014.  In addition to chemical weapons, stocks of chemical weapons agents, their precursors, specialized CW equipment, and CW munitions themselves, the elimination process must include the facilities for the development and production of these weapons.  The views of both sides in this regard are set forth in Annex B. (Included Below)

The United States and the Russian Federation have further decided that to achieve accountability for their chemical weapons, the Syrians must provide the OPCW, the UN, and other supporting personnel with the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria.  The extraordinary procedures to be proposed by the United States and the Russian Federation for adoption by the OPCW Executive Council and reinforced by a UN Security Council resolution, as described above, should include a mechanism to ensure this right.

Under this framework, personnel under both the OPCW and UN mandate should be dispatched as rapidly as possible to support control, removal, and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities.


The United States and the Russian Federation believe that the work of the OPCW and the UN will benefit from participation of the experts of the P5 countries.

The United States and the Russian Federation strongly reiterate their position on Syria as reflected in the Final Communique of the G-8 Summit in Northern Ireland in June 2013, especially as regards chemical weapons.

The two sides intend to work closely together, and with the OPCW, the UN, all Syrian parties, and with other interested member states with relevant capabilities to arrange for the security of the monitoring and destruction mission, recognizing the primary responsibility of the Syrian Government in this regard.

The United States and the Russian Federation note that there are details in furtherance of the execution of this framework that need to be addressed on an expedited basis in the coming days and commit to complete these details, as soon as practicable, understanding that time is of the essence given the crisis in Syria.

Annex A

Principles for Decision Document by OPCW Executive Council

1.  The decision should be based on para 8. Art. IV and para. 10 of Art V of the CWC.

2.  The decision should address the extraordinary character of the situation with the Syrian chemical weapons.

3.  The decision should take into account the deposit by Syria of the instrument of accession to the CWC.

4.  The decision should provide for the easy accessibility for States Parties of the information submitted by Syria.

5.  The decision should specify which initial information Syria shall submit to the OPCW Technical Secretariat in accordance with a tightly fixed schedule and also specifies an early date for submission of the formal CWC declaration.

6.  The decision should oblige Syria to cooperate fully on all aspects of its implementation.

7.  The decision should address a schedule for the rapid destruction of Syrian chemical weapons capabilities.


This schedule should take into account the following target dates:
A.    Completion of initial OPCW on-site inspections of declared sites by November.
B.     Destruction of production and mixing/filling equipment by November.
C.     Complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.

*The shortest possible final deadline, as well as intermediate deadlines, for the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons capabilities should be included into the schedule.

8.  The decision should provide stringent special verification measures, beginning within a few days, including a mechanism to ensure the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites.

9.  The decision should address the issue of duties of the OPCW Technical Secretariat in this situation and its need for supplementary resources to implement the decision, particularly technical and personnel resources, and call upon states with relevant capacities to contribute to this end.

10.  The decision should refer to the provisions of the CWC obliging the Executive Council, in cases of non-compliance with the Convention, to bring the issues directly to the attention of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council.

Annex B

Joint Framework on Destruction of Syrian CW

The Russian Federation and the United States of America agree on the need to achieve rapid elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, thus reducing the threat posed to the people of Syria.  They are each prepared to devote high-level attention and resources to support the monitoring and destruction mission of the OPCW, both directly and in cooperation with the United Nations and other States concerned.  They agree to set an ambitious goal of eliminating the threat in a rapid and effective manner.

Both parties agree that a clear picture of the state of Syrian chemical weapons could help advance a cooperative development of destruction options, including possible removal of chemical weapons outside of the Syrian territory.  We agree on the importance of rapid destruction of the following categories:

1.      Production equipment
2.      Mixing and filling equipment
3.      Filled and unfilled weapons and delivery systems
4.      Chemical agents (unweaponized) and precursor chemicals.

For these materials, they will pursue a hybrid approach, i.e., a combination of removal from Syria and destruction within Syria, depending upon site-specific conditions.  They will also consider the possibility of consolidation and destruction in the coastal area of Syria.

5.      Material and equipment related to the research and development of chemical weapons.

The two parties agree to utilize the “universal matrix”, developed in the course of consultations by our two National Security Councils, as the basis for an actionable plan.

They agree that the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria should be considered an urgent matter to be implemented within the shortest possible time period.


The parties agree to set the following target dates:

A.    Completion of initial OPCW on-site inspections by November.
B.     Destruction of production and mixing/filling equipment by November.
C.     Complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.

The Russian Federation and the United States will work together closely, including with the OPCW, the UN and Syrian parties to arrange for the security of the monitoring and destruction mission, noting the primary responsibility of the Syrian government in this regard.

9.15.13 Go Global Media
Ahmed Fathi
Political & Economics Analyst
New York, NY
Twitter: @AhmedFathi_

Who Do Members of US #Congress Follow on @Twitter #FF

Who Do Members of Congress Follow on Twitter?

WASHINGTON - JUNE 5:  The U.S. Capitol is shown June 5, 2003 in Washington, DC. Both houses of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives meet in the Capitol.  (Photo by Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)

Twitter has become such an integral medium for political communication that, according to our count, 97 percent of members of Congress now have an official Twitter presence. But Twitter is a two-way street — you spread your message, and you listen to what others have to say. So who are members of the House and Senate (or, doubtless more often, their staffs) listening to on Twitter? Daily Intelligencer decided to find out: With help from the wizards at Twiangulate, we identified every congressional Twitter account, then analyzed which other accounts they follow most often. Read on for rankings of which news organizations, journalists, and other politicians members of Congress follow, and which congressmen and women have the most and least followers. The takeaway, on Twitter as in life: The two parties don’t listen to each other very much.

Topping the overall list of most followed accounts are four D.C.-based political news outlets, which, thanks to their bipartisan appeal, are followed by around 60 percent of members of congress. But taking a look at the top twenty accounts divided by party shows zero overlap beyond the Hill, Politico, Roll Call, and CSPAN: Although they like a few of the same publications, Democrats and Republicans tend to lack interest in … each other.  Also of note in the party breakdown: President Obama is only the eighth most-followed account among Democrats in Congress, which seems odd. On the Republican side, John Boehner, apparently the world’s most interesting tweeter, is hogging two spots in the top ten.



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By Democrats and By Republicans

1. @whitehouse 71%
2. @housedemocrats 68.2%
2. @NancyPelosi 68.2%
4. @WhipHoyer 67.8%
5. @thehill 55.4%
6. @repbecerra 54.6%
6. @politico 54.6%
8. @barackobama 53.7%
9. @rollcall 53.3%
9. @cspan 53.3%
11. @nytimes 51.2%
11. @DWStweets 51.2%
13. @clyburn 50.8%
14. @washingtonpost 48.8%
14. @VP 48.8%
14. @mikeallen 48.8%
17. @SenatorReid 48.4%
18. @ChrisVanHollen 47.1%
18. @maddow 47.1%
20. @repjohnconyers 46.7%
1. @speakerboehner 88.7%
2. @GOPleader 85.8%
3. @GOPconference 81.8%
4. @GOPwhip 80.3%
5. @reppaulryan 77%
6. @CathyMcMorris 73%
7. @EricCantor 72%
8. @johnboehner 71.2%
9. @heritage 70.4%
10. @thehill 70%
11. @DarrellIssa 69.7%
12. @cspan 68.3%
13. @republicanstudy 67.9%
14. @politico 67.5%
15. @BuckMcKeon 66.8%
15. @kevinomccarthy 66.8%
17. @rollcall 66.1%
18. @RepTomPrice 65.7%
19. @senate_gops 64.2%
20. @WSJ 63.9%

Meanwhile, somewhere in his den of filth, Mike Allen is smiling. The Politico Playbook scribe is not only the most followed journalist among members of Congress as a whole, but he also tops both the Democratic and Republican charts.

Chuck Todd, Chad Pergram, Jake Tapper, Chris Cillizza, and David Gregory also enjoy relatively robust followings from both sides of the House. Otherwise, the partisan split remains here, with each party largely reading the tweets of like-minded writers and pundits. You could probably show each list unlabeled to 100 random people, and every single one would be able to guess which was the Democrat and which was the Republican chart.

Similarly, Republicans are following @RedState and @Drudge_report more than they’re following @AP or @nytimes. Democrats, meanwhile, are keeping close tabs on multiple NPR accounts.

The rankings of most-followed colleagues show the starkest divide of all. Guess what? Members of Congress overwhelmingly do not follow colleagues from the opposing party. Republicans aren’t too interested in what Democrats have to say, and vice versa.

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By Democrats and By Republicans

1. @NancyPelosi 68.2%
2. @WhipHoyer 67.8%
3. @repbecerra 54.6%
4. @DWStweets 51.2%
5. @clyburn 50.8%
6. @SenatorReid 48.4%
7. @ChrisVanHollen 47.1%
8. @repJohnConyers 46.7%
9. @repKarenBass 45%
10. @KeithEllison 43.8%
11. @askgeorge 43%
11. @RosaDelauro 43%
13. @john_dingell 42.6%
14. @jaredpolis 42.2%
14. @repGaramendi 42.2%
16. @repDonnaEdwards 40.9%
16. @repSpeier 40.9%
18. @repbarbaralee 40.5%
18. @senGillibrand 40.5%
20. @repSteveIsrael 40.1%
1. @SpeakerBoehner 88.7%
2. @GOPleader 85.8%
3. @GOPwhip 80.3%
4. @reppaulryan 77%
5. @CathyMcmorris 73%
6. @EricCantor 71.9%
7. @johnboehner 71.2%
8. @DarrellIssa 69.7%
9. @BuckMckeon 66.8%
9. @kevinomccarthy 66.8%
11. @repTomPprice 65.7%
12. @repkenmarchant 62.8%
13. @boblatta 62.4%
14. @PeterRoskam 61.3%
15. @repdavecamp 61%
16. @virginiafoxx 60.6%
16. @jasoninthehouse 60.6%
18. @rephensarling 59.1%
18. @michelebachmann 59.1%
20. @jim_jordan 58.8%

But here’s an interesting question to ponder: Why do Republicans demonstrate so much more consistency in who they follow? To take just one example, @SpeakerBoehner is followed by 89 percent of Republicans in congress, while @NancyPelosi is only followed by 68 percent of Democrats. The pattern is consistent throughout all of the above charts.

Is this proof of the GOP’s superior party discipline, as evident in their nearly lockstep opposition to the Obama agenda? Or is the explanation more mathematical? For whatever reason, Republican members of Congress follow a median of 573 accounts each versus a mere 451 accounts followed by Democrats. The greater number of accounts each member follows, the more likely they are to follow the same accounts.

Some members of Congress are certainly more follow-happy than others. Paul Ryan, for example, follows exactly one account — @NationalDebt — while Darrell Issa leads the GOP by following 38,335 accounts. But Al Franken tops them all, following a whopping 45,779 accounts. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, Al Franken likes you.

Most Followers
@NancyPelosi 374,967
2. @DWStweets 211,529
3. @SenSanders 170,934
4. @alfranken 147,891
5. @SenatorReid 125,998
6. @elizabethforma 88,998
7. @SenGillibrand 81,752
8. @ChuckSchumer 62,991
9. @keithellison 45,935
10. @AlanGrayson 45,485
1. @SenJohnMcCain 1,818,400
2. @SpeakerBoehner 511,204
3. @marcorubio 421,474
4. @RepPaulRyan 360,395
5. @SenRandPaul 251,293
6. @MicheleBachmann 192,099
7. @GOPLeader 161,045
8. @tedcruz 116,487
9. @DarrellIssa 113,961
10. @ChuckGrassley 71,317

Enough about who members of Congress are following: Let’s take a quick look at how many people are following members of Congress. In this straight-up popularity contest, Republicans are dominating, claiming the top three spots and seven of the top ten. For all the Twitter jokes about old man John McCain imploring whippersnappers to get off his lawn, he’s actually quite dominant on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the social-media prowess of some members of Congress rivals that of your local dry cleaner. Democrat Joyce Beatty of Ohio holds the unfortunate title of the member of Congress with the fewest followers overall, although, to be fair, she only joined in late June, and has been tweeting pretty consistently. We’re pulling for you, Congresswoman Beatty. Everyone go follow Congresswoman Beatty!

Most Followers

1. @RepBeatty 199
2. @RepRobinKelly 319
3. @JuliaBrownley26 334
4. @RepJuanVargas 598
5. @RepTimWalz 693
6. @RepSusanDavis 729
7. @RepBillEnyart 757
8. @RepLipinski 769
9. @RepDonaldPayne 772
10. @PeterWelch 887
1. @USRepRodney 288
2. @ChiesaNews 337
3. @RepJasonSmith 408
4. @TiberiPress 624
5. @RepRWilliams 679
6. @Rep_Hunter 681
7. @RepFrankLucas 693
8. @RalphHallPress 704
9. @RepRobBishop 742
10. @RepLaMalfa 785




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By Democrats and By Republicans


1. @mikeallen 48.8%
2. @maddow 47.1%
3. @chucktodd 46.7%
4. @EzraKlein 44.2%
5. @jaketapper 36.8%
6. @mitchellreports 34.3%
6. @thefix 34.3%
8. @GStephanopoulos 33.9%
9. @DavidGregory 32.2%
9. @nytimesKrugman 32.2%
9. @ChadPergram 32.2%
12. @fivethirtyeight 31.4%
12. @danabashcnn 31.4%
14. @hardball_chris 31%
14. @lukerussert 31%
16. @andersoncooper 30.6%
17. @ChrisLHayes 29.8%
18. @AriannaHuff 28.9%
19. @donnabrazile 28.5%
19. @samsteinhp 28.5%
19. @wolfblitzer 28.5%
19. @JoeNBC 28.5%


1. @mikeallen 57.7%
2. @ChadPergram 57.3%
3. @bretbaier 56.2%
4. @karlrove 52.9%
5. @DanaPerino 52.2%
6. @chucktodd 49.3%
7. @seanhannity 47.5%
7. @gretawire 47.5%
9. @michellemalkin 46%
10. @jaketapper 45.3%
11. @fredbarnes 43.8%
12. @thefix 43%
13. @DavidGregory 42%
14. @megynkelly 40.9%
15. @joenbc 40.2%
16. @teamcavuto 39.1%
17. @govMikeHuckabee 37.6%
17. @ewerickson 37.6%
19. @jmartnyt 36.5%
19. @majorcbs 36.5%



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By Democrats and By Republicans


1. @thehill 55.4%
2. @politico 54.6%
3. @rollcall 53.3%
3. @cspan 53.3%
5. @nytimes 51.2%
6. @washingtonpost 48.8%
7. @NPRnews 45.5%
8. @AP 45%
9. @NPRpolitics 41.3%
10. @cnnbrk 40.9%
11. @nationaljournal 39.7%
12. @rollcallpols 39.3%
13. @huffingtonpost 38.8%
13. @cnn 38.8%
15. @WSJ 38.4%
16. @MeetThePress 33.5%
17. @huffpostpol 33.1%
18. @msnbc 31%
19. @thinkprogress 29.8%
20. @edshow 28.1%


1. @thehill 70.1%
2. @cspan 68.3%
3. @politico 67.5%
4. @rollcall 66.1%
5. @WSJ 63.9%
6. @foxnews 62.8%
7. @washingtonpost 57.7%
8. @redstate 51.5%
9. @drudge_report 50.4%
10. @AP 50%
11. @dailycaller 49.6%
12. @rollcallpols 48.2%
13. @cnnbrk 44.5%
14. @nytimes 44.2%
15. @nationaljournal 43.4%
16. @weeklystandard 42.3%
17. @cspanwj 42%
18. @foxbusiness 41.2%
19. @foxandfriends 40.9%
20. @cnn 40.5%