After Strikes on Syria, Will Anything Change?

April 16 2018

While the coordinated American, British, and French attack on Syria may hinder Bashar al-Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons and deter him from using them in the future, and have shown the weakness of Russian-manufactured air defenses, Yoav Limor suspects they won’t alter the overall situation, or improve Israel’s position:

[T]he element of surprise was . . . missing and the entire endeavor was seemingly geared toward achieving the bare minimum. The scope of the attack was obvious to everyone. . . . As a result, the Western trio squandered an opportunity to reshape the rules of the game in Syria. . . . Russia’s regional superiority received a renewed stamp of approval, and Moscow could respond by imposing harsher restrictions on foreign activity in Syria—with an emphasis on Israel—so as not to disturb it from reaping the fruits of economic rehabilitation. Assad, for his part, understands that the world will not stop him from retaking control of his country, still bleeding from seven years of civil war.

Consequently, the only player left wanting is Israel, which remains alone in the fight against the forces of evil amassing in the northern sector. Friday’s report in the Israeli media—that the drone launched by Iran into Israel on February 10 was armed with explosives—was not a coincidence. Its purpose was to illustrate how the Iranians are dragging the region toward conflagration, against everyone’s interests—including [those of] Russia and Assad. . . .

Israeli officials believe Iran is preparing its response to last week’s [presumed Israeli] airstrike targeting a drone base it is building in northern Syria. . . . Assuming Russia doesn’t pose any restrictions, Israel poses a clear threat to Iran—not only can it retaliate to aggression with extreme force, it has the power to . . . eradicate Iran’s entire military operation in Syria.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

“Ending the War in Yemen” Would Lead to More Bloodshed and Threaten Global Trade

Dec. 13 2018

A bipartisan movement is afloat in Congress to end American support for the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. With frustration at Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, reports of impending famine and a cholera outbreak in Yemen, and mounting casualties, Congress could go so far as to cut all funding for U.S. involvement in the war. But to do so would be a grave mistake, argues Mohammed Khalid Alyahya:

Unfortunately, calls to “stop the Yemen war,” though morally satisfying, are fundamentally misguided. . . . A precipitous disengagement by the Saudi-led coalition . . . would have calamitous consequences for Yemen, the Middle East, and the world at large. The urgency to end the war reduces that conflict, and its drivers, to a morality play, with the coalition of Arab states cast as the bloodthirsty villain killing and starving Yemeni civilians. The assumption seems to be that if the coalition’s military operations are brought to a halt, all will be well in Yemen. . . .

[But] if the Saudi-led coalition were to cease operations, Iran’s long arm, the Houthis, would march on areas [previously controlled by the Yemeni government] and exact a bloody toll on the populations of such cities as Aden and Marib with the same ruthlessness with which they [treated] Sanaa and Taiz during the past three years. The rebels have ruled Sanaa, kidnapping, executing, disappearing, systematically torturing, and assassinating detractors. In Taiz, they fire mortars indiscriminately at the civilian population and snipers shoot at children to force residents into submission.

[Moreover], an abrupt termination of the war would leave Iran in control of Yemen [and] deal a serious blow to the global economy. Iran would have the ability to obstruct trade and oil flows from both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb strait. . . . About 24 percent of the world’s petroleum and petroleum products passes through these two waterways, and Iran already has the capability to disrupt oil flows from Hormuz and threatened to do so this year. Should Iran acquire that capability in Bab el-Mandeb by establishing a foothold in the Gulf of Aden, even if it chose not to utilize this capability oil prices and insurance costs would surge.

Allowing Tehran to control two of the most strategic choke points for the global energy market is simply not an option for the international community. There is every reason to believe that Iran would launch attacks on maritime traffic. The Houthis have mounted multiple attacks on commercial and military vessels over the past several years, and Iran has supplied its Yemeni proxy with drone boats, conventional aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

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Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran, Oil, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen