Syria

Erdogan’s visit

Featured image This week, President Trump will welcome Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to the White House. The visit is a coup for Erdogan. It enables him to show that he got his way in Syria at the expense of America’s main partner in the fight against ISIS, yet remains in Trump’s good graces. Thus, there is no doubt as to why Erdogan agreed to come here. But why did Trump reward Erdogan »

America’s withdrawal from Syria: Are congratulations in order?

Featured image Yesterday, President Trump spoke about the cease-fire in northeastern Syria. He declared it a major diplomatic victory for the administration. Trump noted that critics had “scorned” him for removing U.S. troops from areas controlled by the U.S. and our Kurdish allies. “Now,” claimed Trump, “people are saying ‘Wow, what a great outcome — congratulations.'” Most of Trump’s critics aren’t saying this, though. They complain that Trump has opened the door »

Nancy does Syria, again

Featured image Nancy Pelosi is dabbling in Middle East policy again. She’s leading a congressional delegation to Jordan to discuss Middle East “peace” and Syria with members of the royal family. This isn’t Pelosi’s first foray into Syrian matters. More than a decade ago, she met with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. At that time, she pronounced Assad the key bringing peace to the Middle East. “The road to peace is through Damascus,” the »

Ceasefire In Syria

Featured image I don’t pretend to understand what has been going on in northern Syria in the last week or so. My understanding is that Turkey has limited objectives in the area that are not entirely illegitimate, that the handful of troops that we had in the area couldn’t have stopped the Turkish advance, and that President Trump pulled our troops out of harm’s way in recognition of the inevitable. But that »

More bad argument by Trump in defense of the Syria pullback

Featured image There are respectable arguments in favor of the pullback of U.S. troops in northeastern Syria. I don’t find them persuasive, but they are serious. Unfortunately, President Trump persists in making ludicrous arguments. One of them, the fact that the Kurds didn’t help us with the Normandy invasion, I discussed here. I hoped that this argument was a throwaway — a one-off. No such luck. Now, Trump is claiming that the »

Adverse consequences of Syrian pullback mount

Featured image Yesterday, I noted that as a result of President Trump’s decision to pull back U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, raids against ISIS in other parts of Syria have been curtailed. Today comes word of other adverse consequences. One is Turkish atrocities and, perhaps, war crimes. Allahpundit at Hot Air has the relevant links for those with the stomach to check them out. In the age of “America First,” we’re no »

Let’s be clear-eyed about Turkey

Featured image Two things can be true: (1) President Trump’s decision to pull back U.S. forces in northwestern Syria was a good decision; (2) Turkey is an ally in name only and no friend of America. I don’t believe the first statement is true. However, the pullback is a done deal. We can argue about its merit, and I expect to keep doing so, but arguing won’t change the outcome. By contrast, »

Syrian complications

Featured image I have found Michael Doran to be one of our most insightful analysts of American foreign policy in the Middle East. See, for example, his 2015 Mosaic essay “Obama’s secret Iran strategy” or any of his many other Mosaic essays posted here. Doran does not find the choices available to President Trump in Syria as simple as does the chorus from whom we have heard over the past week. Perhaps »

Report: Fight against ISIS flags due to Turkish invasion [UPDATED]

Featured image The Washington Post reports that the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria has forced the U.S. military and its Kurdish allies to curtail significantly their shared military operations against ISIS. The Kurds, under attack by their deadly enemy, have turned their attention to defending themselves from the Turks. Reportedly, hundreds of Kurdish-led fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have relocated to the front lines of the fight with Turkey, and »

The Normandy test

Featured image Defenders of President Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops from a portion of Syria, thereby enabling Turkey to have at the Kurds, make a number of arguments in favor of that move. I don’t find any of them persuasive, but some are better than others. The worst argument I know of comes from Trump himself. He points out that the Kurds didn’t help us at Normandy. He’s right, they didn’t. »

A Sensible Take on Syria

Featured image Liberals’ foreign policy views are inconsistent, but entirely predictable: whatever a Republican president does, they oppose. Thus, Democrats applauded when President Obama prematurely withdrew American troops from Iraq, enabling the rise of ISIS. But when President Trump pulled a few hundred out of Syria, it was: OMG! The Kurds! James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation and the Institute of World Politics gave an interview to the Daily Signal that gives »

Trump abandons Kurdish allies

Featured image Late yesterday, the White House announced that U.S. forces in northeastern Syria will stand down. This clears the way for Turkey to attack the Kurdish forces who fought alongside American troops in defeating ISIS (for the moment). Turkish President Erdogan, no friend of the U.S. and certainly no reliable partner, says that American troops have already started moving out of the area. Approximately 1,000 of them have been stationed there. »

Report: ISIS is gaining in Syria and Iraq

Featured image The New York Times reports that ISIS is gathering new strength and conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria. Observers are confident that ISIS won’t reclaim anything like its former physical territory, a “caliphate” that was the size of Britain and controlled the lives of up to 12 million people. However, if it continues to gain strength, ISIS may soon become a force to be reckoned with and could control »

Syrian refugee arrested on terrorism charges

Featured image Mustafa Alowemer, a 21-year-old man who was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee from Syria, has been arrested on terrorism charges for planning to attack a Pittsburgh church, the Legacy International Worship Center. Alowemer faces one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS, and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction. Alowemer was born in Daraa, »

Shadow Strike

Featured image The Tikvah Fund has posted an intensely interesting podcast with Jerusalem Post editor Yaakov Katz here; I have embedded it below. Katz is the author of Shadow Strike, a new and deeply reported account of Israel’s strike on Syria’s nuclear reactor in 2007. The story remains of current interest in various aspects. Tikvah introduces the podcast as follows: On September 6, 2007, shortly after midnight, Israeli fighters advanced on Deir »

Withdrawing from Syria

Featured image In the current Mosaic podcast (introduced here), the Hudson Institute’s Michael Doran supports the withdrawal of American troops from their stations in Syria. In his January essay for Mosaic, Doran defended the White House’s strategy in Syria based on a prudent assessment of geopolitical realities. Weighing the pros and cons, Doran forcefully makes the case that, if the United States is to succeed in advancing its interests and elevating its »

Max Boot’s less than compelling case for staying in Afghanistan

Featured image Max Boot, writing in the Washington Post, decries President Trump’s decision to remove U.S. forces from Syria and the likely decision to leave Afghanistan once a deal with the Taliban is finalized. I strongly agree with Boot that we shouldn’t leave Syria and tend to agree with him about Afghanistan, as well. What’s striking about Boot’s column, though, is its superficiality. Boot lumps Syria and Afghanistan together, choosing to ignore »