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Obama's pivot to Asia? Middle East will still demand attention in 2013.

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Syria's denouement

In Syria, the civil war has claimed more than 40,000 lives, and there are threats to US interests in both the demise of Bashar al-Assad's regime there, if it comes, and in his survival. As this year draws to a close, the US has edged closer to full-fledged support for elements of the uprising against Mr. Assad even as it labeled one of the opposition's most effective fighting groups, the jihadi Jabhat al-Nusra, a foreign terrorist organization.

The denouement there, when it comes, could well have destabilizing ripples for neighboring Lebanon and Iraq. Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles are a reality that can't be ignored, and the prospect of those weapons falling into the hands of jihadi groups has the Obama administration drawing up contingency plans for possible intervention.

Israel, while it's had a long cold war with Assad's Syria and continues to occupy the Golan Heights, nevertheless is frightened by the prospect of yet another Sunni Islamist regime, rather than a secular nationalist one, on its doorstep.

Troubles at home for Israel

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