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Adam Taylor, writing at the Washington Post, discusses the impact a picture that is making the rounds on social media might have. The picture shows Palestinians in the refugee camp of Yarmouk lining up to receive UN food aid. Will anything convince the world to get involved in the fight in Syria? Taylor is skeptical:
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It’s been almost two years since we first began seeing striking images from Homs after heavy government shelling, for example, and almost a year since we saw the videos showing the truly horrific aftermath of an alleged government gas attack. The Syrian conflict has lasted almost three years, but broader public interest, not to mention the possibility for intervention, appear to have waned over the years.
Thursday, February 27th, 2014 at 8:37 AM | Stand For Israel
For years, Hezbollah has imported Iranian weapons across the Lebanese border with Syria. It is the main pipeline for the rearmament of the Iranian proxy that, before 9/11, had killed more Americans than any other terror organization.
The United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) — which has been “interim” since 1978 — was mandated in the cease-fire following the last Israeli-Lebanese conflict in 2006 to interdict arms shipments and prevent Hezbollah from resupplying. That effort (calling it an “effort” is extremely generous) has entirely failed. If the U.N. soldiers were to simply hand their own weapons over to Hezbollah, the resupply might go slower out of sheer lack of challenge. Instead, Hezbollah now has more and better rockets than they did before the 2006 war.
Israel has, out of international political necessity, tolerated this intolerable situation for years. One can stand on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border and, with binoculars, see the Hezbollah fortifications (openly flying the bright yellow Hezbollah flag) dug in directly in front of the UNIFIL positions on the other side of the border. To strike at Hezbollah is to risk hitting U.N. troops.
Prior to the Syrian civil war, the border with Lebanon and Iran’s ability to move within the country was at least theoretically limited by the Assad regime. Today, in the chaos of Assad’s fight to survive and the life-or-death struggle between Al-Qaeda-allied terrorists and the Iran/Hezbollah terror axis (if it were a soccer match, you’d root for the stadium to collapse), the border has become totally uncontrolled.
But, if the chaotic situation in Syria makes the border more porous, it also allows Israel to act with diminished potential for repercussions. Assad, Hezbollah, and Lebanon don’t have bandwidth to look cross-eyed at Israel right now. And that means that Israel can risk doing what they did earlier this week: take out a convoy that probably was shipping weapons.
But Israel can’t police a foreign border perfectly or permanently. And, with Iran developing more advanced…Read More » Comments (13) »
Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 at 8:22 AM | Stand For Israel
Writing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, retired Israeli Brigadier General Shimon Shapira wonders if the ongoing debate inside Iran on the expenditure on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is a portent of an upcoming Iranian disengagement from civil war-torn Syria in the form of pulling out Iran’s client terror organization, Hezbollah:
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Although Hezbollah’s leaders claim it is fighting in Syria in order to protect Lebanon, Lebanese Shiites are not convinced and Hezbollah’s supporters are dubious. Hezbollah has now lost almost 350 men in Syria, not all of whom have been brought back to Lebanon for burial, while the number of wounded has passed a thousand. This puts into question Hezbollah’s ability to keep sacrificing its fighters in Syria when its target of jihad is Israel.
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 at 8:35 AM | Stand For Israel
Ignoring politics and conflict, a group of Israeli youth are collecting much-needed winter supplies for Syrian refugees facing the cold. Writing for Times of Israel, Debra Kamin applauds the altruism and care shown by Operation Human Worth. The drive run is collecting blankets, coats, and other items to be distributed to refugees by young Israelis, during a serious situation when politics are far from their minds:
“This is an emergency situation which we cannot ignore. Our history as a nation and the fact that we are a democratic society obligates us from a moral perspective in order to help all victims, no matter who they are,” Layish said in a press release. “A human disaster of enormous proportions is taking place four hours by car from Tel Aviv, and a mere hour from the Sea of Galilee, committing us as Israelis and human beings to act so lives are saved.”
The actions of these young people mirror times when Israel itself has ignored political divisions in order to help those in need. Despite initial resistance to assistance from Israel after suffering a devastating earthquake in 2011, Turkey accepted mobile homes and other aid flown in by the Jewish state, as well as by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, collected to “ensure the victims’ immediate needs are addressed.”Comments (1) »
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 at 2:19 PM | Stand For Israel
Writing for Commentary, Max Boot delivers a strong indictment of U.S. policy regarding Syria – or, at least, the outcome of that policy. According to Boot, the West, which was so adamant that Assad could not remain in power in Syria, has largely decided to tolerate his continued dictatorship in exchange, essentially, for not being required to do anything:
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Intelligence agencies have retracted their previous assessments that it was only a matter of time before Bashar Assad fell–a staple of the president’s own rhetoric from the start of the full-blown uprising in 2011 until early 2013. No longer. In 2013 Iran and Hezbollah increased their commitment to Assad while the U.S. and its allies made no comparable commitment to the rebels, preferring instead to strike a deal for Assad to give up his chemical weapons–while he goes right on pulverizing the opposition and any civilians unlucky enough to be caught in his indiscriminate attacks.
Friday, January 3rd, 2014 at 8:33 AM | Stand For Israel
With all of the news about Iran, we haven’t carried much news of the ongoing catastrophe in Syria. Fred Hiatt, the editor of the Washington Post Editorial Page, has put together a timeline that shows the conflict from spring of 2011 to the present – a conflict that has worsened and deepened and, recent U.N.-sanctioned peace talks notwithstanding, only shows signs of accelerating:
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Last Friday: The number of refugees has more than doubled again, to 2,272,722. Given their relative populations, this would be the equivalent of 32 million Americans having fled to Mexico and Canada.
About half of the refugees are children.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 at 9:04 AM | Stand For Israel
Elliott Abrams, who served as National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush, writes at the Council on Foreign Relations that, among the groups that has suffered the most during the Syrian civil war, Palestinian “refugees” living in Syria (that is, Palestinians and their descendants who fled Israel during the 1948 war) have had it worse than most. But Palestinians living in other Arab countries suffer terrible treatment, too:
In one sense this is an old story: Arab states using the Palestinian issue against Israel often treat Palestinians badly. Jordan is the only country that has given them full citizenship rights. But there is another story here: the way UNRWA’s special treatment of Palestinians has backfired.Comments (8) »
Thursday, November 21st, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Stand For Israel
Adam Heffez, writing at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that non-Israeli Middle Easterners used to boycott American brands like KFC. Today, the stores are closing in Syria not because of boycotts or violence or even the years-long civil war. They’re closing because the owners can’t afford to keep food in them given Syria’s problem of producing and importing enough to feed its people:
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This hard economic reality means that the little food that Syria continues to produce often doesn’t even reach the country’s suqs (markets). The World Food Program reports that since the crisis, more Syrian livestock has been sold in places where it gets higher returns: Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey. Samir al-Taqi, a physician who heads the Orient Research Center, the country’s leading think tank, calls this trend “de-facto economic annexation.”
Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 8:40 AM | Stand For Israel
Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official and Middle East negotiator in the Clinton Administration, writes in Bloomberg News that a proposed peace conference between the warring factions of the Syrian civil war is unlikely to yield any results and may make the conflict worse or, worst of all, could strengthen Assad:
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Middle East peace conferences have historically been good for one of two things: beginning a credible negotiation process or concluding one. Another hastily conceived gathering in Geneva — the first meeting was held in June 2012 — is unlikely to accomplish either goal. To have any chance for success, the talks must meet two conditions that seem out of reach: There must be a U.S.-Russian understanding that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will leave power, and a unified opposition to the regime, including the groups that are doing the fighting, must be fully represented.
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Stand For Israel
A report out of Syria indicates that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad sees no obstacle to holding – let alone winning – a presidential election scheduled for next year. “No obstacles” is a fascinating choice of words. There are, of course, no obstacles; because Mr. Assad is a ruthless autocrat who kills his opposition. And a lot of his own people.
We’ve said a number of times that it takes more than an election to have a democracy. Syria is another example (strange that this part of the world – except for tiny, democratic Israel – has so many examples of this phenomenon). The first step to democracy is, of course, a free, fair, open election. Syria, Iran, and others in the region fail on those accounts. Next, you need societal institutions that can sustain democracy: free and independent judiciary, a free and vibrant press, freedom of speech, an educated populace, and others. None of these institutions are present anywhere in the Middle East – not even in Turkey which used to have most of them – except Israel.
Assad, who was educated at Oxford and is married to a Western woman, knows full-well that what goes on in his country cannot reasonably be called an election. And he also knows that we know it. The sad fact, though, is that many of his supporters have no idea what real democracy looks like and wouldn’t know what to do with it if they had it. While we believe that the human spirit longs for liberty, the unfortunate truth is that some people aren’t prepared for the responsibilities that come along with it – not because they’re biologically incapable, but because they’ve been conditioned otherwise. Unless and until that conditioning changes, Bashar al-Assad and those like him will keep winning “elections” in landslides.Comments (4) »
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 at 7:30 AM | Stand For Israel