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

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey