Frederic C. Hof

  • Killing the JCPOA: Opportunity Missed?

    As reported previously by this writer, senior Iranian former officials repeatedly told him and other Americans in unofficial, track II discussions preceding the nuclear deal, that Iran had no intention of weaponizing nuclear energy. The reason offered had nothing to do with Koranic proscriptions. To paraphrase one of the Iranian ex-officials, “Look at all we have been able to accomplish in the region—in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and now Yemen—without nuclear weapons. Now imagine us going nuclear and provoking nuclear proliferation everywhere in the neighborhood. Do you think we want a nuclear war crisis every time we dispatch General Soleimani somewhere?” When the ex-official was asked “What then is the purpose of these negotiations?” he quickly replied, “We need relief from sanctions.”

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  • Experts Analysis: Macron's visit to Washington and the Potential Impact on the US-Syria Policy

    As France’s President Emmanuel Macron begins a three-day state visit with US President Donald Trump, their discussions are likely to focus on differences of opinion relating to Syria and Iran’s involvement in the conflict.  

    Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East experts weigh in on the upcoming meeting between Macron and Trump, their differing views on Syria, and the potential impact of the visit.

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  • Hof Quoted in Business Insider on the U.S. Strike on Syria


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  • Syria: Stop the Bleeding, Build a Strategy

    Two unsurprising reactions followed in the immediate wake of the recent air attacks on Syrian chemical warfare facilities: Western commentators praised the raids while lamenting the absence of a Trump administration “Syria strategy;” and Bashar al-Assad defiantly declared victory while resuming aerial assaults (albeit non-chemical) on rebel-held residential neighborhoods. One might employ a medical analogy to appreciate the depth of malpractice being displayed: as the patient is dying from arterial bleeding, the physicians debate the surgical alternatives.

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  • Follow-Up Will Be Key in the Wake of Strikes on Syria

    The attacks on Syrian targets are not aimed at ending the regime of Bashar al-Assad, even though the United States called on that regime and its leader to step aside nearly seven years ago.  For this murderous crime family and entourage to be brought down, a much more sustained military campaign—one involving a robust ground combat component—would be required.  This is not the American objective.

    Yet even as these assaults leave Mr. Assad with the title of president of the Syrian Arab Republic, they have the potential to do significant good.  It all depends, however, on what comes next.  If the follow-up falls short—as it did one year ago—the current round of sound and fury will signify precisely nothing.

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  • Missile Strikes on Syria, But Then What?

    Atlantic Council's Frederic C. Hof says Assad will not be deterred by a one-off strike

    With missile strikes imminent in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, the looming question is: what next, said Frederic C. Hof, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    “The most important thing here is what’s next,” Hof said at the Atlantic Council on April 11. “Critically, this is what was missing almost exactly one year ago.”

    “The objective here, narrowly, has to do with deterring future chemical use and perhaps more broadly deterring mass homicide, but it all depends on the follow-up,” he said. “If Assad sees this as he saw the incident one year ago, as a one-time, one-off event then it will accomplish precisely nothing.”

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  • Hof Quoted in Financial Times on Syria's Chemical Weapons Attack


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  • Syria: John Bolton’s First Crisis

    Syria presents newly minted US National Security Advisor John Bolton with his first foreign policy crisis.

    On April 9, hours after US President Donald J. Trump vowed Bashar al-Assad’s regime will pay a “big price” for an alleged chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb, unidentified jets were reported flying over Lebanon and the Syrian news agency said that a missile attack on an air base in central Syria had been thwarted. The Pentagon denied US jets were involved.

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  • Hof Quoted in The New Yorker on Syria's Chemical-Weapons Attack


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  • Simakovsky Quoted in USA Today on Air Strikes in Syria


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