America’s Middle East Allies Should Not Be Paying for Syria’s Reconstruction

Feb. 19 2019

Shortly after Washington announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria, both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain—two reliable supports of American efforts to contain Iran—reopened their embassies in Damascus, effectively announcing their recognition that Bashar al-Assad is the victor in the civil war and thus has regained legitimacy. Worse, the UAE has repeatedly shown interest in investing in Syria. David Adesnik argues that the U.S. must tighten sanctions on Assad and make clear to its allies that they should follow suit:

Well before the White House announced that U.S. troops were coming home, there were signs that the UAE was pursuing reconciliation with Assad. Last August, a leading Emirati investor reportedly met with Syrian regime officials to discuss investment in the Marota City project, the centerpiece of the regime’s reconstruction plans. While reconstruction may sound like a humanitarian endeavor, it is a means for Assad to enrich his accomplices at the expense of impoverished Syrians. To acquire land for Marota City, the regime evicted thousands of residents and razed numerous properties in the neighborhood of Basateen al-Razi, a hub of protests in the early days of the uprising against Assad. . . .

Last November, a senior Emirati trade official announced that his country was complying with all U.S. sanctions on Iran, which the White House had recently re-imposed. The UAE fears Iran—with good cause—and relies on its partnership with the U.S. for security. The White House should make clear that this is a two-way street.

The Assad regime could not survive without Iran’s support. In turn, it serves as a conduit for the transfer of Iranian weapons to Hizballah. It has also begun serving as a base for direct Iranian attacks on Israel. A coherent policy to counter Iran’s malign influence cannot ignore the role of Syria. Turning up the pressure on Assad is both a strategic necessity and a moral imperative.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at The Hill

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates

What to Expect from the Israeli Election

Sept. 16 2019

Tomorrow Israelis go to the polls for the second election of 2019, in which the two main contenders will be the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the centrist Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Neither party is likely to have an easy path to forming the 61-seat Knesset majority needed to form a government, a reality that has affected both parties’ campaigns. Haviv Rettig Gur explains how the anomalous political situation has led to something very different from the contest between left-wing and right-wing “blocs” of parties predicted by most analysts, and examines the various possible outcomes:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month

Register

Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics