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If Syrian Refugees Are the New Jews, Who Are the New Nazis?

Last summer, the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof declared that “Anne Frank today is like a Syrian girl.” Such comparisons have become quite commonplace over the past week. But, wonders Lee Smith, if, according to this analogy, Syrians civilians are like Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and Donald Trump is like Franklin D. Roosevelt (whose government turned away many Jews fleeing Europe), then who are the Nazis?

Sunni Muslims have been the target of a campaign of sectarian cleansing and slaughter since the earliest days of the nearly six-year-long Syrian conflict. [They] make up the preponderance of those seeking refuge the world over, from Turkey and Lebanon to Europe and North America. At first the Sunnis were fleeing the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, but Assad has become a relatively insignificant factor in the war. In this scenario, Assad is rather like Mussolini, a dictator in charge of incompetent and dwindling forces incapable of holding ground. . . . Hence, Assad needed to mobilize his allies, especially his regime’s chief protector, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran sent in its crack troops, the Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ expeditionary unit led by Qassem Soleimani. Also at Iran’s disposal was a large number of regional organizations, ranging from the elite Lebanese militia Hizballah to less prestigious fighting outfits. . . . It was these groups, later joined by Russia, that hunted Sunni Arabs like animals and slaughtered them, or sent them running for their lives. These are the Nazis [in the present analogy].

It is terrible that Syrian refugees are suffering. It is wrong that the Trump administration has cruelly shut America’s doors on children who have known nothing during their short lives except running from the jaws of a machine of death. But America’s shame is much, much worse than that. For in securing his chief foreign-policy initiative, Barack Obama made billions of dollars and American diplomatic and military cover available to Iran, which has used both to wage a [ruthless] war against Syria’s Sunni Arab population.

Not only have we failed so far to protect “today’s Jews” by stopping today’s Nazis, the 44th president of the United States assisted the latter in their campaign of mass murder. That’s why, when people liken Syrian refugees to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, no one dares to complete the analogy and identify Iran as today’s Nazis. America’s shame is worse than anything that the protesters at airports imagine.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Barack Obama, Bashar al-Assad, Donald Trump, Holocaust, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Refugees, Syrian civil war

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy