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Posts Tagged ‘rebels’

Support the Syrian Rebels?

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Washington Post article today, “Assad forces gaining ground in Syria” by Liz Sly, argues that recent events suggest that the Assad regime is not just surviving but has gone on the offensive. Drawing on local analysts, she finds that in the civil war, “there is little doubt that the pendulum is now swinging in favor of Assad … bolstered by a new strategy, the support of Iran and Russia and the assistance of fighters with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.”

If this in fact be the case, then, Western governments should respond by helping the rebels to prevent Assad from crushing them.

This advice is consistent with my argument (in an article titled “Support Assad” published just a month ago, when Assad appeared to be going down) that the West should prevent either side in the civil war from emerging victorious by “helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.”

This policy recommendation of “helping whichever side is losing” sounds odd, I admit, but it is strategic.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review, Online, May 11, 2013.

Syrian Rebels Take 4 UN Peacekeepers Prisoner

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Syrian Rebels are holding four UN peacekeepers prisoner. The four Filipino peacekeepers were on the Golan Heights to monitor the ceasefire line between Syria and Israel.

The Rebels claim they are holding them, to keep them safe.

What’s Best for the Jews: Agencies Split Over Assad Vs. Rebels Options

Monday, April 29th, 2013

There appear to be sharp disputes among Israel’s intelligence agencies, over the best outcome of the two-year Syrian civil war. Against the background of a public debate about whether the Red Line has been crossed by the Syrian government, which likely attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, Israel’s government experts are differing in their assessments of whose victory would better serve the Jewish state’s security interests: the Assad regime in Damascus or the rebels.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assembled, for the first time since the start of his current coalition government, the Security Cabinet, to discuss the situation in Syria and the Israeli response to recent developments, Maariv reported.

Israeli intelligence agencies are split on how to act regarding Syria. One organization believes that the focus should be kept on the Iranian nuclear issue, and, therefore, if the Assad regime collapses, the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis would absorb a mortal blow, thus improving Israel’s ability to handle the nuclear threat.

One of the factors delaying an Israeli raid on the Iranian nuclear facilities—certainly not the only one—is the probability that Iran’s clients, Syria and especially Hezbollah, would retaliate, peppering Israel’s civilian centers with the estimated 50 thousand short- and medium-range missiles Hezbollah has in its possession. With Syria turning anti-Iranian—the rebels are Sunni, Iran is Shiite—and with a consequently embattled—also Shiite— Hezbolla, The likelihood of a retaliation would diminish.

But another intelligence agency’s evaluation focuses on the border between Syria and Israel, and away from the Iranian strategic threat. It is estimated that removing Assad would create chaos and the disintegration of the central government, and as rebel groups then settle on the Syrian-Israeli they are highly likely to initiate attacks against Israel. Therefore, this agency recommends, the best course of action is to allow, and whenever possible even encourage the warring parties in Syria to continue to wear each other down over time.

So far, everyone agrees that the ongoing civil war has been a bonanza for Israeli security concerns, especially as it has been drawing Hezbollah fighters into the conflict, and returning scores of them to their homeland in convoys of coffins. As a result, Hezbollah, which has done better against the IDF in the 2006 Lebanon War, may be losing its clout in Lebanese politics, and may even be facing internal strife over its direction. The rumors about the organization’s leader Hasan Nasrallah being stricken with cancer (he’s been denying it) are a good thing, too.

It isn’t clear, according to Maariv, where Netanyahu stands in this debate. At the moment he is most concerned with the possibility that the United States would be pushed by public opinion to supply the rebels with weapons—which it may be doing via clandestine channels already.

But Netanyahu has a different perspective on the Red Line issue regarding President Obama’s decision on becoming involved directly in Syria. A Sunday Times report suggested that when Obama was visiting in Israel, he was given a full and thorough report on the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. Netanyahu’s concern is not whether or not Obama takes steps to punish Assad on using chemical weapons, but whether or not Obama ever makes good on his word regarding Red Lines.

What will Obama do at one minute before midnight—which is bound to take place this summer—when Netanyahu provides him with irrefutable proof that Iran had crossed its Red Line, and is now capable of producing and launching nuclear weapons?

And so, the competing interests here are the “convenience” of having two kinds of Syrians delivering one another into the embrace of 72 maidens in the hereafter—versus the existential need to force the president of the United States to keep his promise on Israel’s life or death issue.

A component that has not been in discussion until recently is the attitude of Israel’s on-again, off-again Muslim ally in the region, Turkey. The Turks have been feeling the effects of the Syrian civil war in a much more pronounced way that Israel. Their territory has been breached several times by aggression from the other side of the border, while thousands of Syrian refugees are flooding across the same border. Does Turkey want a quick end to the war, and whom do they like better, Assad or the rebels? And is Turkey not equally terrified of a nuclear Iran as are Israel and Iran’s neighbors along the Gulf?

Land for War

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

President Obama’s recent charm offensive in Israel apparently had two aims: First, to lull Israel into forfeiting timely military action against Iranian nukes in the hope that Obama will act instead; and second, to convince Israelis that now is the time to revisit the land-for-peace formula.

For years, the conventional wisdom — among Israel’s peace camp and its proponents abroad (Obama included) — has been that if Israel just relinquishes enough territory to its enemies, peace will arrive. But on most of Israel’s borders, history has revealed the naïve folly behind an idea that could just as aptly be called “land-for-war.”

Consider Syria. From 1948 to 1967, the Syrians regularly fired artillery shells from their dominant positions on the Golan Heights down at Israeli border communities and Fatah used the territory to launch terrorist raids into Israel, until Israel captured it in 1967. But since the U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and Syria began in 1999, peaceniks have posited that a full withdrawal by Israel from the strategic plateau in exchange for peace with Syria involved a risk worth taking. Their rationale was that — in an era dominated more by aerial threats (jets and missiles) than terrestrial ones (soldiers and tanks) — the territory was no longer vital to Israeli security and could be traded for a double boon: peace with Syria and elimination of Iran’s greatest strategic ally.

Current events reveal the deeply flawed assumptions underpinning the land-for-peace-with-Syria paradigm. No Israeli territorial concession is needed for Iran to lose its only Arab ally; the Syrian civil war will ultimately accomplish that. Basher Assad’s regime will eventually fall because the daily slaughter of one’s own people (with over 70,000 dead) is unsustainable when each atrocity can be instantly uploaded to the Internet. Whoever replaces Assad will be no friend to those who armed, funded, and prolonged his massacres: Iran and Russia. Iran and its proxy Hizballah have also been substantially involved in fighting the rebels on the ground, and thus will be distanced from postwar Syria far more than any Israeli-Syrian peace could have separated Iran and Syria.

More importantly, the land-for-peace formula with Syria would have transferred the strategic territory from Israel to an Alawite-led regime reviled by the mostly Sunni rebels who will eventually overthrow it and likely disavow its commitments — including any peace deal that might have been reached with Israel.

Indeed, the Syrian rebels already control much of the 200 square miles comprising the Syrian side of the Golan Heights (where they recently kidnapped 21 U.N. peacekeepers stationed there) and have openly threatened to attack Israel next. Israel comprises about 8,000 square miles. If those same rebels were on the 500 square miles constituting the Israeli side of the plateau thanks to an earlier “peace deal,” Israel would be that much closer to the errant projectiles of Syria’s civil war, and that much more exposed to whatever terrorist attacks on Israel the Syrian jihadist fighters plan after finishing Assad.

Hence, Israel’s tangible security asset (earned with the blood of its soldiers in the Six Day War) would have been traded for “peace” with Assad, but land-for-war with Syrian Islamists is what Israel may have received just a few years later.

Indeed, “land-for-war” has a compelling record. In 2000, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon and in 2006 was attacked from there by Hizballah. It was only the force of Israel’s military response in the war that followed — rather than any territorial concession — that prevented any subsequent cross-border attacks by Hizballah, although the terrorist group still pursues murderous plots abroad, including in Europe (which still cowers from labeling Hizballah a terrorist organization).

Since Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, Palestinian terrorists have launched almost 10,000 rockets from there at Israeli civilians (most recently on three days of last week and during Obama’s visit to Israel, violating yet another cease-fire agreement). Since the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord requiring Israel to hand over parts of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terrorist attacks have killed over 1,000 Israelis.

The 1994 Jordan-Israel peace involved very little land (and heavily depends on survival of the Hashemite Kingdom), so the best precedent supporting the land-for-peace model is Egypt, which agreed to peace with Israel for return of the Sinai Peninsula. That cold peace has held since 1979 mostly thanks to over $60 billion of U.S. aid to Egypt and an unpopular, secular autocrat (Hosni Mubarak). After Islamists hijacked Egypt’s 2011 revolution, the future of the Egypt-Israel peace is less certain, although Egypt now has so many economic and political problems that foreign military adventures seem unlikely.

Fierce Clashes between Rebels and Hizbullah at Lebanese Border

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Fierce clashes have broken out between Hizbullah’s terrorist army and Syrian rebels, increasing the threat that the civil war will spread as far south as Israel’s border with Lebanon, where the fragile government fell last week.

Syrian opposition sources told the London-based Arabic language Al Asharq Awsat that Hizbullah suffered heavy casualties and that dozens of wounded fighters were taken to a Beirut hospital.

Hizbullah reportedly has ringed the hospital and is asking for blood donations.

Meanwhile, the rebels attacked again in Damascus, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens more in a business district that houses government bank and finance ministry offices.

UN ‘Peacekeepers’ Afraid to Go Out After Dark

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

As Syria’s blood-soaked Assad regime approaches its demise, Israel’s northern border is getting greater focus in light of the growing scope of activity on the Syrian side by jihadist rebel forces.

A Ynet article today [“Fearing terror attacks, IDF boosts forces on Syrian border“] says the IDF is mainly concerned at this stage with the danger of shooting attacks from the Syrian side on the contract workers putting up a sophisticated border fence that includes sensitive new alarm systems incorporating a fiber that sounds an alarm at the slightest touch. But it’s clear that the far greater concern is with how dangerous the border is likely to become when a new Syrian jihadist regime is in place, which seems inevitable.

The Ynet report says Syrian rebels released a video clip yesterday (Saturday) showing their men firing weapons close to the Israeli-Syrian border and within sight of a U.N. sign indicating the area’s demilitarized status. Another scene captures verbal threats from one of the rebels:

“We are now in front of the occupied Golan, the blessed land sold by Hafez Assad… For 40 years, not a single gunshot has been fired on this land. For 40 years, not a single gunshot has been fired towards Israel…” [Ynet]

The U.N. has had a contingent of ‘peacekeepers’ in the area since 1971. But the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) that was established by Security Council resolution has seen prouder days. Twenty-one soldiers from the Filipino contingent of UNDOF peacekeepers were kidnapped by Syrian rebels earlier this week and were handed over to Jordan’s Foreign Minister yesterday.

Ensuring that such embarrassments are less likely to happen in the future, U.N. management in New York has changed the ground rules, as Times of Israel reports:

U.N. peacekeepers on Syrian border halt night patrols: International teams fear more kidnappings, violence; Israel beefs up border security | Times of Israel | March 9, 2013 | Peacekeepers from the UN’s UNDOF mission have ceased patrolling the Israel-Syria Golan Heights border area at night, for fear of being kidnapped or hurt in the violence in the area, Israeli TV reported on Friday night… The news came as the UN continued efforts to extricate 21 members of UNDOF from the Philippines who have been held captive since being kidnapped Wednesday by rebels from a group calling itself the Martyrs of the Yarmouk Brigades. Their convoy was stopped on the outskirts of Jamlah, a Golan village less than a mile from the Israeli border. Eight more UN peacekeepers fled to Israel Friday, abandoning their posts to escape the fighting between the rebel groups and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad… The IDF has urged the remaining three UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) member-nations — Austria, India and the Philippines — not to abandon the 40-year mission, after Japan and Canada withdrew their forces in recent months, and Croatia announced plans to do so, a Channel 2 report said.

The outcome?

The reduced patrols in the buffer zone, which extends for some 50 miles along the border, are already enabling al-Qaeda forces among the Syrian rebels to take greater control of the Syrian side of the Israeli border, and Israel has accelerated work to bolster security at the fence, Channel 10 reported Friday night. Israel has also deployed troops from the standing army to replace the reservists who usually guard the border, the report added. [Times of Israel]

In case anyone fears an outbreak of do-nothing-ness on the part of the UNDOF men, their website assures us differently:

March 5, 2013 – UNDOF assisted again after more than one year in Apple Crossing in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross. An eight-year-tradition continued when a range of ICRC trucks transferred apples again from A-Gate to B-Side… Within the next three months 18.000 tons of apples like Golden Delicious and Starking Delicious will be transferred. With assistance of UNDOF Military Police in coordination and traffic management, all apple boxes were carefully delivered to B-Side. The ICRC and UNDOF peacekeepers were well prepared to assist in this important procedure. The first apple crossing in UNDOF’s history took place in the year 2005, when 4.000 tons were transferred. It happened then after 31 years of no trading activities between Syria and Israel… [UNDOF website]

Visit This Ongoing War.

Syrian Rebels Kidnap 20 UN Observers from Golan Border (Video)

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Syrian rebels calling themselves “Martyrs of Yarmouk” kidnapped 20 United Nations observers stationed at the Golan Heights border and are demanding that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s soldiers withdraw from the nearby village of Jamla.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted a video , which said it received it from rebels, showing men standing next to vehicles with the letters UN written on them. The observers were accused of collaborating with Assad against the rebels.

One of the men was in civilian clothes and said, “If no withdrawal is made within 24 hours we will treat them as prisoners,”  he said.

The Jamla village and its surrounding areas have witnessed violent clashes in the past couple of days, and rebel fighters from several factions took hold of the rebels’ mortar division and several checkpoints in Jamla, according to the Observatory.

UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said the observers, who monitor the 1974  ceasefire between Israel and Syria, were on “a regular supply mission” when the armed men stopped them.

Heavy fighting in the area damaged the post last week  and the observers were evacuated to another location.

Last week, the United Nations admitted that one of its officials was kidnapped last month but gave no details, and it is not known where he was taken.

The United Nations condemned the kidnapping and demanded the release of the observers.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/syrian-rebels-kidnap-20-un-observers-from-golan-border-video/2013/03/06/

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