Frederic C. Hof

  • President Carter's Plan for Syria is Unrealistic

    In an op-ed (“In Syria, An Ugly Peace is Better than More War”) published in The New York Timeson August 24, 2018, former President Jimmy Carter lays out a prescriptive course for Syria sure to be welcomed by an Assad regime preparing now to inflict state terror on civilians in Syria’s northwest. Mr. Carter rightly condemns the continuation of armed conflict and offers hope for Syrian healing and rebuilding. Yet he effectively entrusts the process itself to a criminal entity while asking Western governments to reengage it diplomatically, lift economic sanctions, and even undermine the American-led stabilization of post-ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State) northeast Syria by encouraging Kurds to strike an autonomy deal with the regime—one the regime would never honor.

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  • Remembering John McCain

    US Sen. John McCain—a Vietnam veteran, six-term senator, and recipient of the Atlantic Council’s Freedom Award—passed away on August 25. He was 81. Atlantic Council leadership and fellows share their tributes to McCain.

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  • Chemical Warnings and Unintended Consequences

    On August 21, 2018 the United States, France, and the United Kingdom issued a statement to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Assad regime’s deadly chemical attack on civilians in the rebel-held Ghouta suburb of Damascus. According to the three powers, “we will respond appropriately to any further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, which has had such devastating humanitarian consequences for the Syria people.” The unintended but inevitable message to Assad is clear: As your campaign of state terror and mass homicide moves to densely populated areas of northwestern Syria, we will limit ourselves to rhetorical outrage and finger-shaking provided you avoid the use of illegal chemicals.

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  • Kofi Annan, RIP

    For anyone who has sought, over the past seven-plus years, to mitigate the suffering of Syrian civilians, promote political transition, and bring the Syrian conflict to an end, the passing of Kofi Annan on August 18 is particularly poignant.  His penultimate role on the world stage was that of United Nations-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria.  He played that role with courage, grace, decency, and determination.  Had he received the support he merited, Syria would today be in its sixth year of recovery, reconciliation, and legitimate governance.

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  • Yemen: End This Abomination Now

    For the past seven years, this writer has viewed the Syrian uprising largely through the lens of civilian protection, because civilian slaughter has defined the conflict and dictated its dire political consequences. Although one may ascribe vastly different motives to the President of Syria on the one hand and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other, war in Yemen is producing similar slaughter that may, if left unaddressed and untreated, haunt the combatants and their external supporters—led by the United States—for decades to come.

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  • Is Syria Lost to Iran?

    The short answer is “No.” A family and an entourage that placed itself at the disposal of Iran while burning much of Syria to the ground will not prevail, provided the United States and its partners begin to push back. Yet termites are at work, and the fulfillment of this proviso is far from certain.

    The Trump administration, unlike its predecessor, claims to oppose Iran’s domination of what is left of the Syrian state. Unlike his predecessor, US President Donald Trump did not hesitate to strike militarily when Bashar al-Assad, supported by Iran and Russia, twice assaulted defenseless civilians with sarin nerve agent. When Russian “military contractors” sought, in February of this year, to cross the Euphrates River to attack American-held positions, there was no ignominious retreat. On the contrary, the Kremlin learned a hard lesson about testing American resolve east of the Euphrates de-confliction line. Iranian-led Shia militias and regime military units have been similarly educated.

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  • Is Syria Lost to Iran?

    The short answer is “No.” A family and an entourage that placed itself at the disposal of Iran while burning much of Syria to the ground will not prevail, provided the United States and its partners begin to push back. Yet termites are at work, and the fulfillment of this proviso is far from certain.

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  • What Does the Ongoing Israel-Iran Confrontation in Syria Mean?

    Tension continues to escalate along the Israeli-Syrian border with the recent regime southern offensive to oust opposition in the area and Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. Continued activity along the border is expected as Iran continues to solidify its hold on Syria. Yet Israel's strategy is less clear as Iran continues to test the boundaries pushing Israel to act in Syria; among other actors like the Islamic State. We asked our nonresident senior fellows former Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, and Mona Alami about Israel's current and potential involvement in the Syrian conflict as it develops.

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  • What Does the Ongoing Israel-Iran Confrontation in Syria Mean?

    Tension continues to escalate along the Israeli-Syrian border with the recent regime southern offensive to oust opposition in the area and Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. Continued activity along the border is expected as Iran continues to solidify its hold on Syria. Yet Israeli's strategy is less clear as Iran continues to test the boundaries pushing Israel to act in Syria; among other actors like the Islamic State. We asked our nonresident senior fellows former Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, and Mona Alami about Israeli’s current and potential involvement in the Syrian conflict as it develops.

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  • Russia’s Refugee Ploy

    Moscow’s sudden interest in expediting the return of Syrian refugees to their homes is not prompted by humanitarian concerns. Neither is it motivated by a desire to promote political conditions inside Syria that would encourage people to return to the country from which they fled. It is about pressuring the West into fixing a country broken by Russia, Iran, and their client Assad regime. It is a kinder, gentler form of blackmail: either lavish reconstruction funding on the regime, or refugees won’t go home; indeed, there may be more of them arriving on your doorstep.

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