Washington Is Encouraging Normalization with Syria

When Bashar al-Assad launched a war on his own people that left half a million dead, drove millions from their homes, and left his country ruins, he became a pariah in the Arab world and many governments severed their diplomatic ties with Syria. More recently, however, Arab leaders have been welcoming him back into the fold. David Adesnik explains that they have done so with tacit U.S. approval:

The administration has not offered any clear rationale for supporting engagement. The primary cause seems to be fatigue. With unstinting support from Russia and Iran, Assad has demonstrated his staying power. The administration does not appear to want to invest the diplomatic capital necessary to keep him isolated.

On moral grounds, the case for isolating Assad is unassailable. But it is also in the United States’ narrow self-interest. Increasingly, the Syrian regime resembles a narco-trafficking cartel, flooding the region with an amphetamine-like drug known as Captagon. Damascus also remains an integral part of the Iranian network that transfers advanced weapons and hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas and Hizballah—the U.S.-designated terrorist organizations that brought the region to the brink of war earlier this month with rocket attacks on Israel.

Assad’s rehabilitation has only come this far because the administration gave his neighbors the green light. A reversal could stop the process in its tracks.

Read more at FDD

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Hamas, Hizballah, Middle East, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security