Syria

  • 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.


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  • 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.


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  • 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.
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  • 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.


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  • The Horrors Inflicted on Idlib: Ongoing Ceasefire Violations

    The de-escalation zone in Syria encompassing Northern Hama and Idlib Provinces is witnessing ongoing and large-scale cease-fire violations by multiple parties. Recent escalations last night showed the first use of incendiaryphosphorous attacks—a flammable chemical weapon—in almost a year and targeting the towns ofal-Tamanah,Sarmin, andKhan Sheikhoun all located Idlib countryside; which several reports indicate through the use of Russian warplanes.


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  • El-Gamal Quoted in CBS News on 8 Years of Syrian Civil War


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  • Tokenism or Empowerment? Syrian Women and the SDF

    Read in Arabic here. Syrian women took part in popular protests against the Assad regime from the beginning, and as a result of that they have been exposed to all kinds of abuse including physical and mental torture, sexual violence, and were even killed for protesting.

    After eight years, Syrian women are still fighting for their basic rights. Since the uprising, Syrian women faced oppression from one group to another: under the Assad regime, and now with extremist groups that impose fundamentalist interpretations of religious rulings and texts. Additionally, Syrian women continue to deal with imposed gender norms in the local culture; which marginalizes and limits women to stereotypical roles.


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  • Syria and Its Armed Rebellion, Eight Years On

    Eight years of constant war have brought pain and destruction to the Syrian people and their country. What these years have also brought is a chaotic kaleidoscope of armed opposition groups (AOGs) fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With various forms of foreign fighters, agenda-ascribed funding, and rising religious and ethnic extremism; almost all of the existing Syrian armed rebellion—which initially aimed to liberate the Syrian people from dictatorship—has, regrettably, not only failed in achieving its goal, but also found itself contributing to the pain and destruction of its own country.


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  • 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.


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


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