Syria

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 »

Four Americans killed in Syria; ISIS claims responsibility

Featured image Four Americans were killed in Manbij, Syria today — two soldiers, a Defense Department civilian, and a military contractor. The deaths were the result of a suicide bombing for which ISIS claimed responsibility. An undetermined number of Syrians, including some Kurdish fighters, also died. The Washington Post suggests that the deaths cast doubt on the wisdom of President Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria. Why? Because the bombing »

The internal resistance to Trump

Featured image Following a mortar attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad in September by a group linked to Iran, John Bolton reportedly asked the Pentagon to provide the military with options to “strike back” at Iran. The request reportedly raised concern at the Pentagon. “It definitely rattled people,” a former senior U.S. administration official told the Wall Street Journal. “It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.” What boggles »

Pompeo’s thankless visit to the Middle East

Featured image Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Middle East trying to assure friends, allies, and non-adversaries that the U.S. isn’t walking away from the region. He claimed that progress has been made in addressing Turkey’s objections to Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria and that Turkey has provided “commitments” that Kurds who fought with U.S. forces against ISIS will be protected when the U.S. leaves Syria. The only public commitment »

Erdogan snubs Bolton, then denounces him on TV

Featured image On Monday, John Bolton declared that the Trump administration’s plan to pull U.S. forces out of Syria is conditioned on protecting the Kurdish warriors who bore the brunt of our fight to defeat ISIS. This condition seemed to preclude a complete withdrawal in the foreseeable future. As I explained: I don’t see how a complete U.S. withdrawal can be accomplished without putting the Kurds in serious jeopardy at the hands »

How serious is Trump about withdrawing from Syria?

Featured image The U.S. withdrawal from Syrian might not be as precipitous as it was originally described by President Trump. It also may not be as complete. Yesterday, during a visit to Israel where he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, John Bolton outlined objectives that must be met before the U.S. withdraws from Syria. “The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement,” he explained. One objective, of course, »

The Cost of Betraying Syria’s Kurds

Featured image Tommy Meyerson, a former Marine who served in Syria, has written an op-ed for Wall Street Journal called “The Cost of Betraying Syria’s Kurds.” He argues that withdrawing from Syria will likely produce catastrophic humanitarian consequences and cause harm to U.S. interests. Meyerson begins by noting the immense contribution the Kurds have made in the war against ISIS: The U.S. and the West have quietly relied on the Syrian Kurds »

Victor Davis Hanson on the Syria pullout

Featured image Victor Davis Hanson has been a strong defender of President Trump across-the-board. However, he views Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria as misguided. He writes: The abrupt pulling of U.S. troops out of Syria is likely a mistake — given that for the size (about 2,000 troops on the ground) and cost of the deployment (few casualties), we were keeping ISIS moribund, somewhat checking Iran as well »

Trump to pull troops out of Syria [UPDATE: MATTIS IS STEPPING DOWN]

Featured image President Trump says he’ll quickly withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. As I understand it, we have about 2,000 of them there. Most are in the north helping the Kurds root out the remnants of ISIS. I think Trump’s decision is badly misguided. I agree with Sen. Marco Rubio. He worries that the U.S. withdrawal will turn Syria over to Russia and Iran, and might lead to another conflict between »

The Keane critique

Featured image I recoil when I hear Senator Rand Paul’s praise of President Trump’s decision to withdraw our forces from Syria. It follows directly from Paul’s old-fashioned isolationism. By contrast with Paul, General Jack Keane is a serious man and a formidable analyst of national security issues. He addressed the Trump’s decision in conversation with Trish Regan on FOX Business Network last night. Mediaite’s Josh Feldman reports on it in “Fox News »

The horror! U.S. sides with Israel over Syria

Featured image Every year the joke that is the United Nations passes a resolution condemning Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights. Every year, the U.S. abstains from voting on the resolution. Every year, it passes with only Israel voting against it. But not this year. This year, the Trump administration decided to oppose the resolution. It passed by a vote of 151-2. Bravo, President Trump. The Golan Heights tower over Northern Israel. »

John Kerry regrets [UPDATED]

Featured image Former Secretary of State John Kerry has written a book: Everyday Is Extra. Margaret Brennan of CBS News must be one of the few who have read it. This Sunday on Face the Nation, she pressed Kerry on his admission in the book that the U.S. paid a price for not enforcing President Obama’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Kerry does some dancing, »

A Trump-Putin deal on Syria?

Featured image According to David Ignatius of the Washington Post: “The catastrophic war in Syria is nearing what could be a diplomatic endgame, as the United States, Russia and Israel shape a deal that would preserve power for Syrian President Bashar al -Assad in exchange for Russian pledges to restrain Iranian influence.” Is this true? The words “is” and “could be” leave me unclear whether Ignatius is speculating or reporting what he »

Rapprochement with Russia?

Featured image Amir Taheri suggests that Vladimir Putin wants to reach out to the United States to reduce tension and consolidate his gains. Taheri says this desire is based on Andrei Gromyko’s “duopoly” theory — the idea that only the USSR and the United States counted as powers that could truly affect things. The relevance of duopoly theory to today’s world, in which China is more important than Russia, seems dubious. Moreover, »