This was the scene last night on the Rue de Charonne, one of the sites of the Islamic State terror attacks on Paris eight days ago. You can read my VOA dispatches from Paris the last few days by checking on the “Recent Articles” section of the Celleno blog.
Belgian authorities raised the terror alert level for Brussels today to the highest level, warning of a possible attack similar to the one in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded 351 eight days ago.
Prime Minister Charles Michel said the alert level was raised to category 4 in response to “quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris.”
Worth reading my piece Friday on the shortcomings of the Belgian security and intelligence services.
“The Belgian government admitted this week it had lost control of a rundown Brussels district linked to a series of terror attacks in Belgium and neighboring France, including those last Friday in Paris.
But while the government has promised to ‘clean up’ the Molenbeek neighborhood, that will be a tall order for the country’s demoralized and fractious security services.
And Molenbeek, where at least three of the Paris attackers lived, isn’t the only problematic neighborhood.
‘There are several other neighborhoods and towns in Belgium exhibiting the same high levels of radicalization,’ warned Roberta Bonazzi of the Counter-Extremism Project, a nonprofit policy organization.”
You can read the full VOA story here.
An interesting New Yorker look at Obama thinking on Syria and the so-called “realist” school of foreign policy. And John Cassidy has some clear-eyed perceptions, including this:
“Safeguarding the stability of Europe is surely a vital U.S. interest. Indeed, there is strong realist case for regarding it as part of an extended clean-up operation made necessary when the Bush Administration decided to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.”
But as ever with commentators who are only US-based there is this stand-out on the Washington-backed international talks in Vienna:
“It is hard to hold out much hope that these talks will succeed unless the United States drops its demand for regime change.”
Actually, aside from the moral argument about why Assad and his inner circle should have to go, there is a practical one: Syrian rebels won’t settle for anything less. So it isn’t up to Washington or any outsider to drop this demand: rebel commanders and fighters are determined not to finish their fight until Assad is history and are even prepared, they tell me, to fight on, even if all their off-and-on-again foreign backers desert them.