Syria

Operation to retake Raqqa begins

Featured image ISIS is now under attack in both its Iraqi and Syrian strongholds: The operation has begun to retake Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State — and it’s a Kurdish woman commanding the Syrian Democratic Forces who could take the city that brings down the caliphate. The operation called Wrath of Euphrates launched Saturday night and was announced by the SDF alliance today at a press conference in the Syrian »

Apocalypse some other time

Featured image Dabiq is the Syrian village that ISIS promised would be the scene of an apocalyptic showdown, an Armageddon, in which Muslims would win a great battle against the infidels, consisting of 80 nations each ten thousand strong. But recently, as I noted here, ISIS had to abandon Dabiq under pressure from Free Syrian rebels backed by Turkish and U.S. air power. ISIS’s occupation ended not with an apocalypse, but a »

Assault on Mosul begins, presaging another defeat for ISIS

Featured image Iraqi forces have commenced an offensive to retake the city of Mosul, ISIS’s last main stronghold in Iraq. According to the Washington Post, the battle will be waged by tens of thousands of Iraqi troops, perhaps as many as 80,000. The forces will consist of Kurdish peshmerga soldiers, Sunni tribal fighters, army, police, Shiite militias, and elite counterterrorism units. The U.S. will back their effort with air support and “advisers” »

John Kerry threatens the Russians

Featured image Secretary of State John Kerry has threatened to stop talking with the Russians if they and their Syrian ally don’t quit bombing Aleppo. So New York Times reporter Michael Gordon lets on at the top of his story “Syria talks will end if Aleppo bombing continues, U.S. tells Russia.” Adam Entous and Felicia Schwartz add some details in their Wall Street Journal story “Obama administration threatens to suspend talks with »

Obama’s Syria policy explained

Featured image In writing about the pathetic efforts of John Kerry to arrange a cease fire in Syria, I’ve referred to the Secretary of State as the village idiot. But what about President Obama? Though his intellect may be overrated, he’s anything but an idiot. Obama is, instead, a clever operator who often thinks several moves ahead of his domestic, though not his foreign, adversaries. Why, then, has U.S. policy paved the »

Aleppo hammered, Kerry’s “cease-fire” agreement notwithstanding

Featured image John Kerry’s Syria “cease fire” agreement was a farce from its inception. Even optimists of ordinary intelligence realized it was dead when a Russian (or conceivably a Syrian) jet attacked a U.N. convoy near Aleppo earlier this week and Syria declared the agreement over. But John Kerry insisted otherwise. He declared that the agreement is “not dead,” and called for more talks with Russia. Kerry got more talks; Aleppo got »

More Obama-Kerry disgrace in Syria

Featured image John Kerry’s latest “cease fire” agreement in Syria was a farce from its inception. Farce turned to tragedy on Monday when a Russian (or conceivably a Syrian) jet attacked a U.N. convoy near Aleppo. Aid workers say that trucks carrying desperately needed aid to the rebel-held side of the city were repeatedly bombed, as was a warehouse. At least 20 people were killed. Pursuant to the “cease fire” arrangement, notification »

Syria “cease fire” already violated

Featured image Yesterday, I wrote about the farcical Syria cease fire negotiated by John Kerry with Russia. If I had waited a few hours, I would have learned that the agreement, which went into effect yesterday, was immediately violated. According to the Washington Post: Residents and activists of the besieged rebel portion of Aleppo said that Syrian government helicopters had dropped barrel bombs on one neighborhood of the city and that loyalist »

Good grief, John Kerry — Part Two

Featured image After months of negotiating with Russia, John Kerry has obtained a “cease fire” agreement in Syria. The Washington Post characterizes the agreement as “the renewal of a cease-fire,” which tells you all you need to know about the value of this deal. Like its predecessors, this agreement was made to be broken as far as Russia is concerned. Even significant portions of the Obama administration appear not to believe in »

Good grief, John Kerry

Featured image President Obama has become a laughingstock in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and wherever else serious people are paying attention. But it is John Kerry, one suspects, who draws the biggest guffaws. Consider the Syria deal Kerry, with White House approval, presented to Russia in July. According to the Washington Post the proposal was this: the U.S. would share intelligence and coordinate its bombing of terrorists targets with Russia and Russia would »

Turkey moves against our Kurdish allies; U.S. sides with Turks

Featured image This past week, Turkey entered the fight in Syria against ISIS to much ballyhoo from the mainstream media. But according to Christoper Caldwell, who quotes the German weekly Der Spiegel, “ISIS is a pretext, the Kurds are the target.” Says Caldwell, Turkey’s strategic objective is not to “crush” ISIS. It is to crush the most effective part of the anti-ISIS coalition: the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Protection »

Aleppo update

Featured image In early August, I wrote about the apparent break through by Syrian rebels in Aleppo. Before the war, Aleppo was Syria’s economic hub and a cultural treasure. Since 2012, it has been divided between regime forces and opposition fighters. It became the Syrian rebels’ last urban stronghold and, as such, the target of a siege by the Assad regime and Hezbollah forces supported, crucially, by Russian air power. A few »

Syrian rebels reportedly break through in Aleppo

Featured image Syrian rebels say they have broken a weeks-long siege in Aleppo in northern Syria. Such a breakthrough would represent both a symbolic and a strategic victory against the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and their backers — Iran and Russia. The Assad regime denies that there has been a breakthrough. However, video and photos uploaded by rebels and opposition activists suggest that the rebels have at least temporarily broken through the siege. »

Syrian refugee murders woman in Germany [Update: Suicide Bomber In Bavaria]

Featured image Today, a 21-year-old refugee from Syria killed a woman with a machete in southwestern Germany. Police apprehended the murderer after a motorist deliberately ran him over. The man previously had been charged with causing bodily harm in an incident the police declined to describe. The fatal attack on the woman does not appear to have been an act of terrorism. Police believe the act stemmed from “relationship difficulties” between the »

Obama doubles down on failed Russia and Syria policy

Featured image The list of President Obama’s foreign policy failures is long. Thanks in large part to Obama, Iran is rich (and still able to go nuclear at the time of its choosing); Libya is a failed state and significant base for ISIS; the butcher Assad remains in power, while ISIS controls wide swaths of territory in Syria; Russia’s influence in the Middle East and Eastern Europe hasn’t been stronger in decades; »

Breaking: State Dept. Protests Obama Lethargy

Featured image There’s an old joke about how it would be nice if there was an American Interests desk at the State Department, since Foggy Bottom was usually more sympathetic to foreign nations than our own. The truth behind that joke is what makes so extraordinary the story the Wall Street Journal is reporting tonight about the 51 State Department employees who have signed a petition calling for a tougher military policy »

Brexit: “An off ramp from the road to serfdom”

Featured image Next month, Great Britain will vote on whether to exit the European Union. One of the main arguments against a “Brexit” seems to be that Germany and company will punish Britain economically if it exits in order to deter other states from following or perhaps just out of spite. For some, though, this reality may be an argument in favor of leaving. Why remain attached, and cede more and more »