Breaking News

WSJ: KSA to Supply Terrorist Groups in Syria with Anti-aircraft Missiles

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Saudi Arabia has offered to supply the Syrian armed groups with anti-aircraft missiles. Meanwhile, Russia accused the US of once again hijacking Geneva talks and pushing for regime change.

“Russian-made antitank guided missiles and Chinese man-portable air-defense systems are up for grabs, already waiting in warehouses in Jordan and Turkey,” the daily said.

An Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the Saudi efforts have told WSJ that these supplies are likely to tip the battlefield scales, as the terrorists will become capable of taking on the government’s air power and destroying heavy armored vehicles.

“New stuff is arriving imminently,” a Western diplomat with knowledge of the planned weapons deliveries told the American publication.

Leaders of the Syrian opposition said they don’t yet know the total amount of military aid that will be shipped. The new weapons are expected to reach southern Syria from Jordan while the opposition in the north will get arms from Turkey, the Western diplomat said.

Last June several media outlets suggested that Saudi Arabia had already begun supplying anti-aircraft launchers and missiles to militants in Syria. But so far Saudi Arabia, as well as the US, has been officially opposed to arming the terrorists with big guns and antiaircraft missiles as they could fall into extremist hands.

According to the WSJ report, the armed groups commanders struck a deal on the new armaments shipment during a meeting with US and Saudi intelligence agents in Jordan on January 30.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that their armed group sources claimed the US government is paying their salaries to fight the government forces.

Meanwhile, congressional aides told the WSJ about scheduled meetings with Syrian opposition leaders next week. The Syrian delegation will seek extra armaments in order to battle al-Qaeda and al-Nusra elements.


The Hidden Traps in Decision Making

Making decisions is the most important job of any executive. It’s also the toughest and the riskiest. Bad decisions can damage a business and a career, sometimes irreparably. So where do bad decisions come from? In many cases, they can be traced back to the way the decisions were made—the alternatives were not clearly defined, the right information was not collected, the costs and benefits were not accurately weighed. But sometimes the fault lies not in the decision-making process but rather in the mind of the decision maker. The way the human brain works can sabotage our decisions. Researchers have been studying the way our minds function in making decisions for half a century. This research, in the laboratory and in the field, has revealed that we use unconscious routines to cope with the complexity inherent in most decisions.

These routines, known as heuristics, serve us well in most situations. In judging distance, for example, our minds frequently rely on a heuristic that equates clarity with proximity. The clearer an object appears, the closer we judge it to be. Yet, like most heuristics, it is not foolproof. On days that are hazier than normal, our eyes will tend to trick our minds into thinking that things are more distant than they actually are.

Researchers have identified a whole series of such flaws in the way we think in making decisions. Some, like the heuristic for clarity, are sensory misperceptions. Others take the form of biases. Others appear simply as irrational anomalies in our thinking. What makes all these traps so dangerous is their invisibility. Because they are hardwired into our thinking process, we fail to recognize them—even as we fall right into them.

For executives, whose success hinges on the many day-to-day decisions they make or approve, the psychological traps are especially dangerous. They can undermine everything from new-product development to acquisition and divestiture strategy to succession planning. While no one can rid his or her mind of these ingrained flaws, anyone can learn to understand the traps and compensate for them.

In this article, we examine a number of well-documented psychological traps that are particularly likely to undermine business decisions. In addition to reviewing the causes and manifestations of these traps, we offer some specific ways managers can guard against them. It’s important to remember, though, that the best defense is always awareness. Executives who attempt to familiarize themselves with these traps and the diverse forms they take will be better able to ensure that the decisions they make are sound and that the recommendations proposed by subordinates or associates are reliable.

The Anchoring Trap

When considering a decision, the mind gives disproportionate weight to the first information it receives. Initial impressions, estimates or data anchor subsequent thoughts and judgments. In business, a common anchor is a past event or trend. While relying on such may lead to a reasonably accurate estimate of future numbers, it also tends to give too much weight to past events and not enough to other factors. Anchors affect how virtually all professionals make decisions. No one can avoid their influence. But becoming aware of their dangers can reduce their impact by viewing a problem from different perspectives and using alternative starting points and approaches rather than sticking with the first line of thought. Decision makers should avoid anchoring their advisers, consultants and others from whom you solicit information by telling them as little as possible about your ideas and estimates. If you reveal too much, your preconceptions may simply come back to you.

The Status-Quo Trap

We all like to believe that we make decisions rationally and objectively. But the fact is, we all carry biases, and those biases influence the choices we make. Decision makers display, for example, a strong bias toward alternatives that perpetuate the status quo. On a broad scale, we can see this tendency whenever a radically new product is introduced. For instance, the first “electronic newspapers” appearing on the World Wide Web looked very much like their print precursors. Other experiments have shown that the more choices you are given, the more pull the status quo has. More people will, for instance, choose the status quo when there are two alternatives to it rather than one: A and B instead of just A. Why? Choosing between A and B requires additional effort; selecting the status quo avoids that effort. In business, where sins of commission (doing something) tend to be punished much more severely than sins of omission (doing nothing), the status quo holds a particularly strong attraction.

The Sunk-Cost Trap

Another of our deep-seated biases is to make choices in a way that justifies past choices, even when the past choices no longer seem valid. Most of us have fallen into this trap. Why can’t people free themselves from past decisions? Frequently, it’s because they are unwilling, consciously or not, to admit to a mistake. Acknowledging a poor decision in one’s personal life may be purely a private matter, involving only one’s self-esteem, but in business, a bad decision is often a very public matter, inviting critical comments from colleagues or bosses. If you fire a poor performer whom you hired, you’re making a public admission of poor judgment. It seems psychologically safer to let him or her stay on, even though that choice only compounds the error.

The Framing Trap

The first step in making a decision is to frame the question. It’s also one of the most dangerous steps. The way a problem is framed can profoundly influence the choices you make. A poorly framed problem can undermine even the best-considered decision. But any adverse effect of framing can be limited by taking the following precautions: Don’t automatically accept the initial frame, whether it was formulated by you or by someone else. Always try to reframe the problem in various ways. Try posing problems in a neutral, redundant way that combines gains and losses or embraces different reference points.

The Prudence Trap.

Another trap for fore casters takes the form of over cautiousness, or prudence. When faced with high-stakes decisions, we tend to adjust our estimates or fore-casts “just to be on the safe side.”

Forewarned Is Forearmed

When it comes to business decisions, there’s rarely such a thing as a no-brainer. Our brains are always at work, sometimes, unfortunately, in ways that hinder rather than help us. At every stage of the decision-making process, misperceptions, biases, and other tricks of the

mind can influence the choices we make. Highly complex and important decisions are the most prone to distortion because they tend to involve the most assumptions, the most estimates, and the most inputs from the most people. The higher the stakes, the higher the risk of being caught in a psychological trap.

As we said at the outset, the best protection against all psychological traps—in isolation or in combination—is awareness. Forewarned is forearmed. Even if you can’t eradicate the distortions ingrained into the way your mind works, you can build tests and disciplines into your decision-making process that can uncover errors in thinking before they become errors in judgment. And taking action to understand and avoid psychological traps can have the added benefit of increasing your confidence in the choices you make.

Feras Taleb

Edited & Translated by: Lama Al-Hassanieh

Coalition delegation insist on ignoring the suffering of the Syrian people

Geneva (ST)-The final session of the second round of talks of Geneva 2 conference  was held on Saturday  between Syria’s official delegation and the coalition delegation in the presence of the UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

The final session ended without reaching a consensus on an agenda despite that Syria’s official delegation agreed on it.

"We insisted on giving each item  its time in the dialogue within the draft agenda, to reach an agreement on each of them, because such concurrence would be reflected positively on other items", a media source in  Geneva quoted the Syrian official delegation as saying.  

"They want to make combating terrorism insignificant while the transitional government a priority because the issue of  terrorism has not finished yet," the delegation said, renewing "those who allege desire of ceasing violence should accept counterterrorism."

"The item of combating terrorism or any other item couldn’t be discussed in two hours and move to other items without reaching an agreement, and this applies to all items,” the official delegation asserted.

"Any political solution serving the issue of encountering terrorism and Syria's sovereignty is the essence of our presence in Geneva while the other side doesn't have an independent decision", the Syrian official delegation clarified.

 "USA brandishing of a military escalation has encouraged the coalition delegation to be intransigent and foil this round, the delegation pointed out, expressing readiness to return to Geneva after agreeing with us on a date for the next round because we believe in the importance of the political solution.

"We came here to reach a political solution according to Geneva1, but no solution could begin while the Syrian people are living under terrorism."

The second round of talks started on 10th of February, including holding a number of sessions, some of which were separated between each delegation and Brahimi, while others were joint in the same room with the presence of Brahimi as well.

The coalition delegation's insistence on ignoring the suffering of the Syrian people, renunciation to acknowledge terrorism and the importance of combating it hindered the possibility of reaching a common ground in spite of the Syrian official delegation's openness to discuss all items of Geneva Communiqué's and its confirmation of resuming efforts to make the talks succeed in a way serving the interests of the Syrian people.



Jaafari: Syrian official delegation will spare no effort for the success of Geneva talks

GENEVA,(ST) _ Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN and member of the Syrian delegation to Geneva, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, said that the official delegation approved at the beginning of today's session the draft agenda presented by the UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, however, the approval has raised discontent of the other party, which raised selective interpretations on the application of the agenda.

In a news conference today Jaafari indicated that the"Brahimi did not hold the government delegation responsible for aborting the negotiations,"noting that there is a record of the hearings and that all proceedings are registered.

He pointed out that the coalition delegation gave the impression that the issue of non-violence and the fight against terrorism is a minor issue while the issue of the transitional government is its core issue, while the Syrian official delegation viewed each of the four items included in the draft agenda with full responsibility.

 Jaafari stressed that the official delegation will spare no effort to ensure the success the rounds of Geneva talks with an open mind and the same positive attitude because it is concerned to fight against terrorism and stop violence as a prerequisite for the Syrian people, indicating that he spared no effort during this round, despite difficulties and obstacles, to emphasize the need for a peaceful political solution, to stop shedding the blood of the Syrians and reach a credible understanding serving the aspirations of the Syrian people.

On attempts by Israel, the US and other friends of the coalition to undermine the political process in Geneva Jaafari said"actually they are trying to undermine the political process and Obama said yesterday that he must provide assistance to the opposition and armed groups, and that Ford said yesterday that he must escalate military action and heat the Syrian-Jordanian border,"referring to the explanations given by the Russian side on such military threat by the United States and France.

Jaafari continued that the United States, Israel and other friends of the coalition are not committed to the success of Geneva talks, nor have the real will even adopt a draft agreement that we spent six full days just talking about, explaining that the other party does not have a sense of responsibility, rather carries out a non- national agenda and instructions of the supporting Parties that have plans for military escalation against Syria.

In response to a question about Brahimi neutrality al-Jaafari, said"the role of the international mediator is supposed to be neutral, and not put pressure on any of the parties and I did not find Mr. Brahimi imposing any pressure on any of the parties."


T. Fateh

Gatilov calls for implementing all provisions of Geneva communique

MOSCOW- Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said it was necessary to implement all provisions of the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012,according to ITAR TASS.,

At Thursday’s consultations in Geneva with US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman and UN Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi Gatilov called for complying with all provisions of the Geneva communique, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Friday.

The parties “discussed in detail the pace of the second round of inter-Syrian talks”, the ministry said.

“The participants were unanimous that there was no alternative to the settlement of the conflict in Syria by political and diplomatic means. Gennady Gatilov said Lakhdar Brahimi should continue an unbiased mediation mission and contribute to searching for a common-dominator approach,” the ministry said.

“The difficult and serious crisis in Syria makes us to take a patient and weighty approach towards improving the inter-Syrian dialogue based on the fact that decisions on fundamental issues and the future of the country should be taken by Syrians themselves in terms of mutual accord,” the ministry said.

Russia said "the dialogue itself should be based on the implementations of all provisions of the Geneva communique”, the ministry said.