July 24, 2020

PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION: THE CURRENT BALANCE OF FORCES IN THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR AND ISRAELI CONCERNS

Israeli soldiers in an abandoned military outpost overlooking the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria on Tal Hazika near Alonei Habshan.

PDF version available here Aided by Hizballah and Iraqi Shi’a volunteers, the Asad regime scored significant gains in the civil war in Syria in the first months of 2014.  The regime has completed its re-conquest of the Qalamoun mountains and driven the rebels out of Homs. These gains constitute a consolidation by the Asad regime of its area of control in Syria, which runs from Damascus to the western coastal area, and now includes all the country’s provincial capitals with the … [Read more...]

Victory Without Obama

barry-rubin

Kerry shuttle diplomacy? Ha. Let's talk about what is really going on in the Middle East: Chattanooga, Tennessee, November 25, 2020   At the assault on Lookout Mountain, the Union advance faltered against the Confederate lines high atop Missionary Ridge. Suddenly Union soldiers spontaneously advanced without orders led by six flag-bearers, one of them Arthur MacArthur, father of Douglas MacArthur. A Union officer remembered:   “Each battalion assumed a triangular shape, the colors at … [Read more...]

“Chaos in Middle East Grows as the U.S. Focuses on [Harassing] Israel”

I. Here's the story of the Middle East and of U.S. policy over decades in a few words  in a headline from an article by Mark Landler and Jodi Rudoren:. "Chaos in Middle East Grows as the U.S. Focuses on Israel" I'd call it: Kerry Shuttles as the Middle East Burns Once again the United States is too busy trying to get the Holy Grail of Arab-Israeli peace while every country is in turmoil. Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Iran, etc., are in dangerous crises. Yet the White House stays wake at … [Read more...]

Taken – a novel by Michael Totten. Book Review.

jonathan-spyer

Taken’ is the first novel by Michael Totten. Totten, an American blogger and foreign correspondent, is the author of ‘the Road to Fatima Gate’ and two other works of reportage.  In the Middle East, he has reported from Lebanon, Iraq and Israel. Totten has pioneered an approach to the work of the foreign correspondent’s trade appropriate to the digital age.  Travelling light, unencumbered by formal affiliation to bureau or newspaper, he has managed in his reportage to achieve an … [Read more...]

What Obama Didn’t Say: Peace Requires More than Israeli Willpower

barry-rubin

I don’t have big problems with what President Barack Obama said in his lecture to Israeli students. He said that peace is good, that peace is good for Israel, that peace is possible, and that people should work for peace and conciliation. All fine sentiments. The students applauded wildly because they didn’t think he was attacking Israel but voicing the sentiments they already hold, indeed that most Israelis and their leaders have held for decades. The only problem is that Obama … [Read more...]

Did Israel `Apologize’ to Turkey? Well, No, Not Exactly

barry-rubin

Israel apologizes to Turkey, reads every headline. That simply isn’t true in the sense it is taken to imply. To understand what happened one must examine the long negotiations on this issue. The issue began when several ships were sent to break the Israeli sanctions on the Gaza Strip in May 2010. These sanctions were put on by Israel—Egypt, then under the government of President Husni Mubarak, had its own restrictions—against a radical Islamist regime in the Gaza Strip that openly … [Read more...]

As Obama Continues Israel Visit, His Themes Are Reinforced

barry-rubin

As President Barack Obama continued his visit to Israel, the themes remained the same as the ones I covered with theprior post. The two main public events were a speech by Obama to Israeli university students, and a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas. In his speech, Obama spoke at great length about Israel’s history, concerns, and related matters to try to show that he “gets it” when it comes to Israel. The phrases were in many cases similar to … [Read more...]

Obama Visit to Israel: A Love Fest with Lots of Policy Complications

barry-rubin

The Obama visit to Israel has become an unlimited love fest with expressions of mutual admiration and total agreement. In his joint press conference with Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the foremost issue they were discussing was “Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons.” (Don’t miss the “P.S.”, below.) Netanyahu put forward his position by praising Obama for saying he was determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons by using “determined … [Read more...]

The Secret Document That Set Obama’s Middle East Policy

barry-rubin

  “We have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.… America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security — because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people.”  --President Barack Obama, Cairo, June 2009. “The United … [Read more...]

Why, As President, Obama is a Disaster and Why, As a Country, Israel Should Applaud Obama

barry-rubin

On the eve of President Obama's first visit to Israel as chief executive, I have just returned from briefing a high-ranking official of country x about the Middle East. We kept coming back to a vital theme: the incredibly shrinking power of the United States. Try to explain American behavior to neutral, open-minded third parties for whom U.S. policy activities have become just plain bizarre! One of my recent articles for example, published here, shows how terrorists, including the murderers … [Read more...]