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Syrian Factions Prepare for Astana Talks, Trump’s Cabinet Discusses Middle East Policy, U.S. Senators Propose Bill in Response to U.N. Vote

Syria’s rebels will attend the Russian-backed peace talks and the Trump administration has an open invitation, Trump’s cabinet picks testified about their Middle East policies at confirmation hearings, and Sens. Graham and Cruz have a terrible plan to undo the U.S. abstention on the U.N. Israel resolution.

Middle East Ticker

Turkey Turns to Russia for Air Support in Syria, Fighting Continues Despite Ceasefire, U.S. Policy Could Shift in Libya, and One of Iran’s Founding Fathers Dies

Turkey’s pivot to Russia has brought support for its campaign against the Islamic State, rebels and regime forces are fighting over water access for Damascus, the fortunes for the Libyan National Army are rising, and former Iranian President Rafsanjani leaves behind a complicated legacy.

Middle East Ticker

Russia’s Shaky Ceasefire in Syria, the Islamic State’s Deadly New Year’s Attacks, and Kerry’s Valedictory on the Peace Process

A new ceasefire in Syria is holding but might not last until the start of peace talks, the Islamic State kills dozens in attacks in Turkey and Iraq, and Kerry’s parting speech about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process receives mixed reviews.

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