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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
A mortar shell fired from Syrian territory exploded on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights along the northern border on Wednesday afternoon.
Two soldiers were injured by the mortar. One soldier sustained light injuries from shrapnel and the second suffered from severe shock. Both of the wounded soldiers have been evacuated to a nearby hospital for further treatment.
In response to the mortar fire stemming from over the northern Golan, IDF forces fired missiles toward the origin of the mortar and destroyed a Syrian cannon post, the army said in a statement.
The IDF said the mortar was stray fallout from Syrian in-fighting near the border.
Following the incident, the army lodged a complaint to the UN.
Fierce battles have been waged between Assad loyalist forces and rebels in the area in recent days.
Please pray for the soldiers’ swift recovery, and for safety for all the men and women of the IDF.Comments (0) »
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 at 1:44 PM | Stand For Israel
Writing at the New York Review of Books, Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth report on what may turn out to be the most destabilizing aspect of the Syrian civil war: the refugee crisis it has forced on surrounding countries and the ever-deepening social and economic time-bomb that crisis has created:
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After months under siege by both rebels and government forces, some neighborhoods of Aleppo have been abandoned; tens of thousands of Aleppines can now be found in Gaziantep, a city in southern Turkey that locals have begun referring to as “Little Aleppo.” Egypt, a country that had hardly any Syrian refugees a year ago, now has more than 100,000.
Monday, October 7th, 2013 at 7:12 AM | Stand For Israel
Russian President Vladimir Putin, previously best-known for such human rights masterpieces as rigging elections, suppressing media and political opponents, ordering the attempted assassination of political candidates in neighboring countries, and plowing under Chechnya has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in getting the US not to attack Syria over its use of chemical weapons (which, by the way, Putin denies happened).
The Nobel Peace Prize has been a joke for a long time. It was even a joke before unrepentant mass-murderer Yasser Arafat won it for telling everyone he was going to do something (make peace with Israel) that he had no intention of doing. It was a joke before the Nobel committee gave the award to a Guatemalan woman named Rigoberta Menchu for an embellished life story. It was a joke before 1929 when Frank Kellogg won it for the Kellogg-Briand pact that – no kidding – made war illegal (in 1929…we seem to recall some wars having taken place since then). As often as the Nobel committee has honored a worthy recipient, they have honored a ridiculous, offensive, or fraudulent one.
Some of the ridiculousness is understandable. Peace is, after all, aspirational and, in human history, is the exception rather than the rule. It’s also worth noting that nomination for the prize and winning it are two very different things. Putin is, by virtually all observers, considered unlikely to win the prize.
Still, the sheer number of spectacular misses on the part of the Nobel committee – we could literally go pick-by-pick – should remind us that these awards are given out by fallible human beings whose vision is not always as clear as the eye of history.Comments (58) »
Monday, October 7th, 2013 at 6:58 AM | Stand For Israel
The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is a time for freedom-loving, clear-eyed observers of the international organization to sit back and watch the rogues’ gallery of dictators, despots, strongmen, warlords, and thugs that make up the majority of the worlds’ leaders take to the rostrum and lecture Western democracies about … democracy. The speeches range from amusing to bizarre to offensive – although the offensive ones tend to be from leaders so inconsequential that it’s hard to get too bent out of shape.
And so it was that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem delivered his country’s speech at the U.N. yesterday and – in addition to denying that there was a civil war in his country – called for Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (more…)Comments (6) »
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Stand For Israel
Max Boot, writing in Commentary Magazine, points out the biggest problem with the U.S.-Russia deal on Syrian chemical weapons: it’s completely unlikely to work. To be sure, there would be serious concerns even if it was guaranteed to work – political, diplomatic, balance-of-power, and ethical concerns would still abound. That very few experts think the plan is likely to succeed makes it … well, see what Boot has to say.
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So the odds are that Assad will offer limited, not whole-hearted cooperation, and all the while this is going on the United States and the rest of what passes for the civilized world is, in effect, locked into a partnership with this murderous regime. Assad thereby gains added legitimacy on the international stage and decreases the threat of international military action against him.
Monday, September 16th, 2013 at 8:48 AM | Stand For Israel