The aggressive partition of Syrian territory by Russia, Iran, Turkey and ISIS, has security implications for the United States and our regional allies that cannot be ignored.
The Syrian government’s chemical attack on civilians in the rebel-held suburb of Douma this weekend is the complete responsibility of the war criminal Bashar Assad, his Russian bedfellows, and his Iranian bankers. However, the fact that President Trump had announced that the U.S. is nearly finished its mission to defeat ISIS (which is questionable) and wants to leave Syria quickly may have encouraged the others to speed up their efforts to divide Syria’s corpse.
An independent country for only two years longer than the State of Israel, Syria has reverted to its prior status as space across which the competing interests of bigger empires and armies are played out. President Trump claims to be uninterested in who rules Damascus — which is wise of him — but the aggressive partition of Syrian territory by Russia, Iran, Turkey and ISIS has security implications for the United States and our regional allies that cannot be ignored.
Syria — as land — has had many masters:
Today, Russia claims that the Syrian government controls 85% of the country, but although it can (with cover from its allies) drop poison chemicals on civilians in much of the country, Damascus does not and cannot govern 85% of anything.
Russia props up and abets the criminality of the Assad regime, maintaining positions along the northeastern part of the coast where it has two naval bases and an airbase in generally secure Alawite territory. According to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, “It is also now clear that Russia has betrayed its obligations to guarantee the end of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.”
|Russia props up and abets the criminality of the Assad regime in Syria. Pictured: Syrian President Bashar Assad is greeted in Moscow by Russian President Vladimir Putin, October 20, 2015.|
Turkey occupies a slice of northern Syria as part of its effort to kill as many Kurds as possible. The Kurds had two unconnected areas in which they are the majority — Turkey now pretty much controls one; the Kurds hope the U.S. will protect them in the other, or they may turn to Iran for help against Turkey.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) manages 80,000+ militiamen in Syria, partially comprised of Syrians but with large Lebanese Hezbollah units and Shiite mercenary groups of Pakistanis and Afghans. Iran is said to control more Syrian soldiers than the Syrian government. And there are still Sunni anti-government forces, whether the U.S. supports them or not.
ISIS still has about 3,000 fighters straddling the area between Syria and Iraq — enough to do damage.
The triumvirate of Russia, Iran and Turkey met last week to assert their interests, announcing that their troops would remain in the country for the foreseeable future in what is most appropriately known as imperial occupation.
President Trump has been clear that Iran’s land-grab across Iraq and Syria — plus its proxy state in Lebanon governed by Hezbollah — poses a threat to American interests and allies. Defense Secretary James Mattis declined to rule out retaliation for Syria’s weekend chemical strikes. Israel has been explicit about its determination to prevent Iran from creating a permanent presence in Syria, and backed it up with an airstrike this weekend. (It was reported that Washington, but not Moscow, was notified in advance.)
As the U.S. has no designs on the control of Syrian territory, although the U.S. might change its mind, it should limit its interference on the ground to:
This is not the time for the United States to be suggesting that its interest in the ramifications of Syria’s demise has flagged. Rather, the U.S. its allies and its adversaries should understand that the president intends to push back on Syria’s criminal behavior, Iran’s regional threat posture, and Russia and Turkey’s delusions of empire.
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center.
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We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases