How the Syrian Government Helped Create Islamic State

According to apologists of Bashar al-Assad, and those they have managed to dupe, he has been making war for the past ten years against terrorists, and any Western attempt to engineer his ouster would be to let the terrorists win. But in fact Assad did much to help Islamic State (IS) come into being, and to keep it alive. Matthew Levitt writes:

One key tactic the Assad regime employed was to focus its military efforts against the moderate Syrian rebel groups opposing the Assad dictatorship, in particular the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and not Islamic State. . . . [Moreover], Syrian intelligence agencies were deeply involved in the Assad regime’s efforts facilitating and providing cover for the terrorist pipeline that ran through Syria into Iraq and helped build up al-Qaeda in Iraq, which later became IS. . . . In fact, this relationships [went] back to 2001-2002.

In May 2011, in the wake of some of the early Arab Spring protests in Syria, the Syrian government began to release hardline Islamist terrorists [from its prisons] in the first of a series of official government amnesties. . . . At the same time, the regime was arresting large numbers of peaceful protestors, students, and human-rights activists. Several of the terrorists released in these first amnesties went on to head Islamist extremist groups in Syria, including Islamic State.

One reason the Assad regime may have elected not to target Islamic State positions in eastern Syria was the regime’s business dealings with the group. The regime purchased oil from Islamic State, and bought wheat from areas under the group’s control, which IS was able to tax, thereby profiting from the transactions with the Assad regime.

While Islamic State remains an insurgent threat in Iraq and Syria, and a global threat as a terrorist network, it no longer controls significant territory and represents a fraction of the threat it once did. But there is no clear global coalitionneither political nor militaryto address the threat posed by the Assad regime, which has killed exponentially more people than Islamic State, facilitated that group’s terrorist activities, and caused population displacement, migration flows, and tremendous regional instability.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Al Qaeda, Bashar al-Assad, ISIS, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security