The Syrian Ceasefire and the Fate of One Captured Israeli Soldier

Earlier this week, the U.S. announced that it had successfully negotiated a ceasefire among various warring parties in Syria. Noting that the agreement is riddled with problems, Liel Leibovitz cites Israel’s experience with a previous American-brokered ceasefire as reason for further skepticism:

[E]ven putting aside the weakness of the specific Syria ceasefire terms, the Obama administration’s credibility with ceasefires has been, and remains, badly damaged. The reason for this precedent can be described with one name: Hadar Goldin.

Early in the morning of August 1, 2014, nearly a month into Hamas’s war on Israel, a 72-hour U.S.- and UN-brokered ceasefire took hold. Two hours into that ceasefire, Palestinian terrorists exploited the lull in the fighting to emerge into southern Israel from a Gaza attack tunnel. They immediately murdered two Israeli soldiers and abducted Goldin, almost certainly killing him as well. . . .

Now, however, more than a year after Goldin’s death, Hamas still refuses to return his body for burial in Israel, a blatant violation of international law and basic human decency alike. It’s also an embarrassment to the Obama administration, which had backed the lull that the Palestinians used to slip into Israel. . . .

If the Obama administration wants to be taken seriously as a force for diplomacy and peaceful resolution in Syria and elsewhere, it must show that it is serious about accountability, and that the warring factions currently slouching their way to the negotiations table have reason to trust that America’s word is solid. Goldin’s case is a great place to start.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, Protective Edge, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy