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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.

Read more at Israel Hayom

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

What U.S. Success in Syria Should Look Like

April 26 2018

Surveying the history of the Syrian civil war, Jack Keane and Danielle Pletka explain that Bashar al-Assad’s brutal rule and vicious tactics have led to the presence in his country of both Shiite terrorists, led by Hizballah and backed by Iran and Russia, and Sunni jihadist groups like Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. Any American strategy, they argue, must bear this in mind:

The best option is a Syria without Assad, committed to a future without Iranian or Russian influence. This is not a Pollyanna-like prescription; there are substantial obstacles in the way, not least those we have encountered in Iraq. . . . [But] only such a Syria can guarantee an end to Iranian interference, to the transshipment of weapons for Hizballah, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of the kind we saw used at Douma. (Iran has been instrumental in Syria’s chemical-weapons program for many years.) And, most importantly, only such a Syria can disenfranchise the al-Qaeda and IS affiliates that have found a foothold by exploiting the Syrian people’s desperation.

How do we get there? The United States must first consolidate and strengthen its position in eastern Syria from the Euphrates river to the eastern Syrian border. This involves clearing out the remnants of Islamic State, some several thousand, and ultimately eliminating pockets controlled by the Assad regime and Iranian forces in northeastern Syria. This would enable the creation of a control zone in the eastern part of the country as a base from which to build a credible and capable partner that is not subordinate to the Kurdish chain of command, while effectively shutting down Iran’s strategic land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. A regional Arab force, reportedly suggested by President Trump’s new national-security adviser, would be a welcome addition. But we should seriously doubt [the Arabs] will participate without American ground leadership and air support.

In western Syria, the United States should rebuild a Syrian opposition force with advisers, weapons, and air power while upping the pressure on Assad and his cronies to select a pathway to a negotiated peace. Pursuing a settlement in Geneva without such leverage over the Assad regime is pure fantasy. Finally, the United States and other Western powers must impede Iran’s and Russia’s ability to be resupplied. Syria’s airfields must be destroyed, and Syria’s airspace must remain clear.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Hizballah, Iran, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy