Frederic C. Hof

  • Trump’s Support for Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights May Hurt Israel

    In a departure from longstanding US policy, US President Donald J. Trump on March 21 tweeted that it was time the United States recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in 1967.


    While there is perhaps more than a touch of politics behind the timing of the tweet—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, is up for re-election on April 9—an actual shift in US policy on this sensitive issue could have serious consequences.


    Read More
  • Annex the Golan, Make Assad’s Day

    A new flurry of reports suggesting Israel may formally annex the occupied Golan Heights is music to the ears of Bashar al-Assad, a mass murderer who would welcome a decisive change of subject from his own criminality to what he will characterize as Israel’s theft of Syrian land. Among the delighted will be Iran and Hezbollah, whose resistance pretentions will be gratuitously elevated above their sewer of transnational terror, drug running, and money laundering. As there is nothing substantive to be gained by Israel through formal annexation and much to be potentially lost, one wonders why its proponents are so eager to do it.


    Read More
  • The ‘Caliphate:’ Gone by Tonight or With Us for Decades?

    US President Donald J. Trump’s announcement that ISIS (ISIL, Islamic State, Daesh) “will be gone by tonight” is welcome news.  An important battle in Syria has been won.  But the war will continue.  It will rage throughout the Muslim world until political legitimacy fills vacuums of governance that Islamist extremists will continue to contest; legitimacy that can only come about through the voluntary consent of the governed.  This is a war for the hearts and minds of Sunni Muslims; not buildings and trackless desert.
    Read More
  • The Heavy Lift

    The declared top objective of the Trump administration for Syria is “the enduring defeat of ISIS [ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State].” Presumably this means not only killing the bogus caliphate in its physical and ideological dimensions, but keeping it dead. If the presumption is correct, the administration should prepare itself for a heavy and sustained political, diplomatic, developmental, and military lift in Syria; east of the Euphrates River. There is no sign it is preparing to do so. The concern here is that the security of American allies and friends in the region and in Europe will be jeopardized by a half-hearted American effort; that an undead ISIS can threaten North America itself.


    Read More
  • Eight Years

    Eight years ago, a very quiet American peace mediation between Syria and Israel was showing promise. Territorial disputes long dividing the parties were being resolved. Security issues key to a genuine peace were being tackled. The fact that months of shuttle diplomacy had not leaked suggested the parties were serious. Had the mediation continued, both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would likely have faced a choice by year’s end: inform their respective citizenries that mutually agreed terms of peace had been arrived at; or scuttle everything. Alas, we will never know what those choices would have been.


    Read More
  • Hof Quoted in WSJ on How the Syrian Regime Has Prevailed


    Read More
  • American Policy at the Crossroads

    Those who believe that Tehran and Moscow consider themselves home free, gleefully celebrating the political survival of their Syrian client without a care in the world, underestimate the knowledge and sophistication of Iranian and Russian officials. Their problems are just beginning, and they know it. But how should the United States act, given the survival of a hideous regime: one whose crimes against humanity persuade some Syrians (and foreign fighters willing to support them) that Al Qaeda and ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State) were, and perhaps still are, attractive alternatives?


    Read More
  • Hof Quoted in New York Times on Republicans and Trump’s Foreign Policy


    Read More
  • Two Years of Trump: Key Moments in Foreign Policy

    January 20 marks two years since US President Donald J. Trump took office. We take a look back at some of the big foreign policy headlines made by the president and his administration over these past two years.


    Read More
  • Expert Analysis on US Soldiers Killed in Manbij

    This morning reports of four Americanskilled in Manbij, Syria surfaced with the Islamic State (ISIS) claiming theattack which came in the form of a suicide explosive vest next to a US patrol. The attack killed two US soldiers, a civilian from the Defense Intelligence Agency, and a US contractor. Several civilians were also caught in the attack withestimates of thirteen to sixteen casualties in addition to the deaths of two local security officers. The attack occurred in the main market near a girls’ school and restaurant as US troops met up with the local Manbij Military Council (MMC). Comments and analysis from our experts are below.


    Read More