The Syrian civil war has crossed a red line. Some people may think this happened a few weeks or months ago but at any rate it is clearly true now. The prospects for an Islamist (Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist, and Jihadist) takeover have risen high enough that it is better to freeze Western intervention. In other words, the West should not do more to aid the rebellion and should consider stopping its current efforts in that direction.
Here is a fact so shocking that it should be the centerpiece of any discussion over Syria. It is so important I’m going to put it in bold:
The Obama Administration is backing (Islamist) Turkey as the distributor of weapons supplied by (opportunistically pro-Islamist) Qatar. Turkey and Qatar want to give the Muslim Brotherhood a monopoly over receiving weapons even though most of the rebels are non- and even anti-Islamist. As this happens, the Obama Administration is thus working directly to install a revolutionary Islamist regime in Syria that will disrupt the region, help shred, U.S. interests, and battle with Israel for decades to come. A number of Republican senators see no problem with this strategy. Actually, it’s even worse. Due to historical developments, the Syrian Brotherhood is more radical than its Egyptian counterpart. To maintain illegality under President Husni Mubarak, for decades the Egyptian Brotherhood had to restrain itself. Those who wanted violent revolution and faster action left to form separate Salafist groups. The Egyptian Brotherhood today sometimes cooperates with these groups–whose party finished second in the parliamentary elections–but they are also rivals.In Syria, however, the underground Brotherhood had no incentive to hold back. Consequently, while there are certainly a lot of non-Brotherhood Salafists, there are also a large proportion of really violent, impatient, open extremists in the Syrian Brotherhood. To do a simple analogy, the Syrian Brotherhood is more like Hamas than those slick Brotherhood leaders in Cairo who care to fool the West with their honeyed words. A Brotherhood-run Syria, with Salafists egging on the regime, would be an instant nightmare.
And so Western and especially American policy is doing tremendous harm: not by helping the “rebels” but by working with Turkey and Qatar to help the most anti-Western, anti-American, antisemitic, extremist rebels, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jihadists from smaller groups all the way up to al-Qaida. If you are interested in the details read this remarkable report
by Ammar Abuhamid, the best-informed and very honest Syrian analyst on what’s going on.
In brief, there is a massive battle on the opposition side to see who emerges as the greater power–the Islamists or the anti-Islamists ( defected army officers who are nationalists; moderate Sunni Muslims from the urban middle class; conservative, traditionalist Sunni Muslims who hate the Brotherhood; Kurdish nationalists; and even local, non-ideological warlords. And the West is supporting the wrong side.
By the way, the Saudis have a slightly different perspective. On one hand, they want a Sunni-dominated regime in Syria that will be anti-Iran and friendly to Saudi Arabia. They wouldn’t mind if it was heavily Islamic and since the main priority is destroying Iran’s number-one Arab ally, the Saudis will help the Muslim Brotherhood and various smaller Jihadist groups. But they prefer a regime that isn’t going to subvert them and create regional instability. In Iraq the Saudis supported Sunni groups that were affiliated with al-Qaida to beat the hated Shia. In Lebanon, the Saudis support moderate Sunni forces against pro-Iran Hizballah.
If there was U.S. leadership, a U.S.-Saudi partnership could promote a combination of Syrian moderate Sunnis and defected officers plus some sleazy–but non-Islamist–warlords. The American president would tell the Saudis–as well as Qatar and Turkey–that it regarded arming small Jihadist groups and the Brotherhood as an unfriendly act. That is not happening.What is happening is that the Turkish regime and Qatar want a radical Islamist Syria and are getting the Obama Administration’s help in bringing it about, an outcome supplemented by Saudi aid to America’s enemies.
Yet now there are clearly different groups in the opposition, as Abuhamid explains in detail. To give one example, the powerful Syria Martyrs’ Brigade is traditionalist but not Islamist, while the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria tells you its goal in its name. To compile a list of groups that will and will not get arms would be an easy task for the U.S. government.
Another issue that is being mishandled is that of Syria’s Kurds. The easiest thing the West could do would be to help Syria’s Kurds who just want autonomy, not to be subject to the current directorship, radical Arab nationalists, or Islamists. This would make the Kurds of Iraq, American allies, very happy. But Obama won’t do that because it would make Islamist-ruled Turkey, an enemy of America that President Barack Obama loves more than any other country in the region, very unhappy and so probably won’t happen.
I’m very sorry to write this article for two reasons:
–The Syrians have suffered so much it is understandable that one should help end this civil war as soon as possible and get rid of the current anti-American and pro-Iran dictatorship.
–It would be easy to have a good policy toward Syria: funneling help to the non- or anti-Islamist rebel forces. Yet the United States has not made this distinction under Obama and neither the mass media nor the politicians even seem to be aware of this issue. Its help often goes to radical anti-American who want to impose another dictatorship on Syria. The Turks want a Muslim Brotherhood government; the Qataris do, too. The Saudis want to get rid of the current regime and replace it with a Sunni, anti-Iran one. With proper U.S. leadership and coordination the Saudis might play a constructive role but given Obama’s policy they will mainly just support Sunni Islamists as they did in Iraq.As if to outdo America, the French government is actually supporting for Syria’s leader a loudmouth former regime insider of no proven talent who is a radical Arab nationalist and someone who the rebels loathe.
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
A rare meeting took place Monday in Ramallah, between Rabbi Menachem Chai Shalom Fruman, Nachum Pachnik, chairman of the Eretz Shalom movement, the movement’s director Rabbi Tzuriel Krispel, Rabbi Michael Melchior, and Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef, and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Kikar HaShabbat reported.
The rabbis came to the meeting in order to encourage a series of meetings between rabbis and clergymen and senior Palestinian officials.
Abbas addressed the Iranian threat against Israel, and, surprisingly, expressed his objection to permitting Iran to possess a nuclear bomb, thus dragging the entire region into great danger. “I hope there won’t be a war, because any bloodshed is forbidden (Haram).”
Further astounding his guests, Abu Mazen added, “The State of Israel was established in order to remain in existence and not, like some extremists claim, that it’s necessary to annul its existence.”
But he added that alongside Israel “there is a country that’s missing – Palestine.”
Rabbi Krispel requested from Abbas’s blessing “for more meetings between rabbis and sheiks, to form a connection. We believe that we can broaden these circles and create an environment of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.”
As reported, Mrs. Adina Bar Shalom, Rav Ovadia Yosef’s daughter, also participated in this meeting. Rabbi Fruman introduced her to the Palestinian officials and even called her “Rabbanit.”
“We did not bring the Rabbanit because of her opinions,” said Rabbi Fruman. “Even though she is a ‘rabbi’ in her own right and I do address her as Rabbi Bar Shalom. She is here because she is the closest person to her father, closer than the reporters whom you rely on.”
“Rav Ovadia Yosef is not what the newspapers make him out to be. Rav Ovadia uses his influence on the Israeli public and also on the Israeli government,” Rabbi Fruman told the Palestinian officials.
At the end of the meeting, Abu Mazen requested to convey his greetings to Rav Ovadia Yosef and even expressed hope of a future meeting with him.
Saturday, August 11th, 2012
Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Iran on Saturday, killing 250 people and injuring more than 2,000, with many buildings being reduced to rubble, and completely destroying 6 villages according to Iranian officials.
Thousands are fleeing their homes and staying outdoors, fearing more damage from aftershocks – at least 20 of which have hit the region.
Casualty figures will probably continue to rise, say Iranian officials, since many of the injured are in critical condition, and many civilians are still trapped under the rubble.
Iran is situated between two major fault lines and has endured a few devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 which demolished the southeastern historic city of Bam and killed at least 25,000 people.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured Saturday’s first quake at 6.4 magnitude and said it struck 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles). A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 49 km (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later at a similar depth.
Tabriz is a major city and trading hub far from Iran’s oil producing areas. Though buildings in the city are substantially built, homes and businesses in Iranian villages are often made of concrete blocks or mud brick that can crumble and collapse in a strong quake.
A second quake struck near the town of Varzaghan. “The quake was so intense that people poured into the streets through fear,” the Fars news agency reported.
About 210 people in Varzaghan and Ahar have been rescued from under the rubble of collapsed buildings, the official IRNA news agency said, quoting a local official.
“So far 73 bodies from Varzaghan and Ahar have been handed over to the coroner’s office,” IRNA quoted Bahram Samadirad, a provincial official from the office, as saying.
He added, “Since some people are in a critical condition and rescue workers are still trying to rescue people from under the rubble, unfortunately it is possible for the number of casualties to rise.”
Jewish Press Staff
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Turkish journalists that Israel has “no reason to apologize” for the Mavi Marmara incident.
In a meeting on Sunday with the journalists in Jerusalem, Liberman said that Israel is ready to discuss the incident and would consider the issue of an apology as part of a package including other issues, such as Iran, Gaza and Hamas, the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported. He said current developments in the region made it important for Turkey and Israel to normalize relations.
Liberman called the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, a “clear provocation, and it was our right to protect the lives of our soldiers. Frankly speaking, Israel has no reason to apologize,” he said.
Nine Turkish nationals, including a Turkish-American man, were killed in clashes during the May 31, 2010 raid by Israeli commandos.
It was Liberman’s first meeting with a Turkish delegation since the incident.
Friday, July 20th, 2012
A rocket from Gaza hit the Eshkol region in an open area at 2:49PM on Friday. No injuries or damage was reported.
Perhaps they thought they were shooting Ramadan fireworks.
Jewish Press News Briefs
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
In meetings Monday with Israeli leaders, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on them to take steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority.
According to the website Inyan Merkazi, Clinton has received a promise from Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi that he would not end the closure of the Gaza Strip.
During Monday night’s news conference, which began an hour late, Clinton reiterated that the U.S. “commitment to Israel is rock solid. By strengthening Israel’s security we are strengthening U.S. security.”
In her meeting with President Shimon Peres, Clinton said:
“I am here in Jerusalem on such a beautiful day at a moment of great change and transformation in the region. It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity. It is a chance to advance our shared goal of security, stability, peace, and democracy, along with prosperity for the millions of people in this region who have yet to see a better future.”
She added: “And it is in moments like these that friends like us have to think together, act together. We are called to be smart, creative, and courageous.”
According to Clinton, Israel and the United States are on the same page on Iran, Clinton later told reporters in Jerusalem.
“We remain focused on relaunching peace talks,” Clinton said to the reporters, adding that the international community can help but it was up to the parties to do the work.
Clinton also said that during her meetings with Egyptian authorities in Cairo, she offered the message that the U.S. wants the new leadership in Egypt to uphold its peace treaty with Israel.
Clinton arrived in Israel on Monday and met first with President Shimon Peres, where she said they spoke about “Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran and other regional and global issues.” She then met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad before holding the news conference.
She will return to the United States on Tuesday, capping a 12-day, nine-country trip. It is her first visit to Israel in two years and possibly her last as secretary of state.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem next week for talks on Iran’s nuclear program and the situation in Syria, which has been called a civil war by the International Red Cross.
The U.S. National Security Council said Sunday that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon visited Israel over the weekend for consultations with Netanyahu, Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Gen. Yaakov Amidror.
In a statement, NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters on Sunday evening that Donilon had reaffirmed the “unwavering commitment” of the United States to Israel’s security. He said Donilon’s visit was the latest in a series of ongoing U.S. consultations with Israeli officials on a range of regional security issues.
JTA content was used in this report.
Jewish Press Staff