Noted with Comment

Well, as you can see, I’ve changed the title a bit, because I can’t seem to limit myself to links. So think of it as “links plus.”

– U.S.-Syria rapprochement off to a bumpy start. This sort of strategic reassurance to established friends is inevitable in a shifting playing field, so expectations management in the short term is in order here, especially with regard to Syria’s relations with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. The potential payoff is in the mid-term timeframe, if domestic politics allows the Obama administration to hold course.

– The head of Russia’s ground forces said that they could get by with half of the 20,000 tanks currently in service. France, too, is currently trying to sell off a bunch of its excess — and outdated — LeClerc tanks. I’ve mentioned before that the new Western strategic consensus bodes poorly for tank commanders, rather than for conventional war capabilities per se. The major exceptions to that rule of thumb seem to be in South Asia and parts of Africa.

The U.S. is also lobbying Brazil to support UNSC sanctions against Iran. Brazil is currently a non-voting member of the UNSC. Like Turkey, it has maintained relatively cordial ties with Iran, and has expressed support for Iran’s right to enrich uranium, in part due to certain similarities in the two countries’ posture regarding intrusive IAEA inspections. This kind of lobbying is a reminder to emerging powers seeking permanent UNSC membership that it is a double-edged sword, since it often imposes uncomfortable strategic choices.

– In Turkey, the government and army walked back tensions following arrests of former military commanders in a coup plot investigation. It’s fair to call the standoff between the AKP and the secularists a crisis, but like Honduras last year, it’s something of a Rorschach test for analysts and observers. One almost certain outcome is that U.S. influence within Turkey falls either way, since the army considers the U.S. biased toward the AKP, and the AKP’s regional agenda does not always converge with that of the U.S.