How to Prevent a New Wave of Millions of Iraqi Refugees

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A Shiite effort is already underway to purge Iraq of its majority Sunni population. The result may soon be a new mass exodus of Iraqi refugees, a multiplication of the migrant crisis that could have dire consequences for the rest of the world. One way to avoid this scenario is to turn Iraq into a federation of emirates – a solution that could also be productively applied to the West Bank, Jordan, Sudan, and Yemen.

Syrian President Basher Assad is regaining power with the help of an Iranian Shiite coalition made up of Iranian fighters joined by Hezbollah as well as Iraqi and Afghan militias. It is possible that in the near future, this coalition will try to rid Syria of the millions of Sunnis who make up the majority of the country’s citizens, in order to prevent further rebellions of the type Syria experienced from 1976 to 1982 and over the past six-and-a-half years.

After writing last week about this possibility, I was contacted by Sheikh Walid Azawi, an Iraqi Sunni living in exile in Europe, who heads a party called “The Patriotic 20 Rebellion.” He described the situation in Iraq, where he claims that for years now, Tehran has been the real ruler, with its ayatollahs dictating Iraqi government policy and actions.

Iranian hegemony blends in well in Iraq, most of whose citizens are Shiite. Now that the Islamic caliphate established by ISIS in Iraq has disintegrated, the Sunnis there have no armed organization to protect them from Iranian and Iraqi Shiite rage.

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A Grim Portrayal of Syria at War

The blurb of Destroying a Nation: The Civil War in Syria presents the author, Nikolas Van Dam, as an experienced Dutch diplomat with a direct knowledge of the Middle East.

Having served as Holland’s Ambassador to Egypt, Turkey and Iraq, Van Dam also had a stint (in 2015-16) as his country’s Special Envoy for Syria. In that last assignment Van Dam monitored the situation from a base in neighboring Turkey.

Van Dam’s diplomatic background is clear throughout his book as he desperately tries, not always with success, to be fair to “all sides” which means taking no sides, while weaving arguments around the old cliché of “the only way out is through dialogue”.

Thus he is critical of Western democracies, which according to him, deceived the Syrian opposition by making promises to it, including military intervention, which they had no intention of delivering. He is especially critical of former US President Barack Obama who launched the mantra “Assad must go” and set “red line” which the Syrian despot ended up by crossing with impunity.

The first half of the book consists of a fast-paced narrative of Syrian history before the popular uprising started in the spring of 2011. The picture that emerges is that of a Syria in the throes of instability and frequent outburst of violence including sectarian conflict. Van Dam then juxtaposes that with Syria as it was reshaped under President Hafez al-Assad, who seized power in 1970, and his son and successor Bashar al-Assad.

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Russia Woos the World with New Plan on Syria

Caught between the hope of securing a lasting foothold in the Middle East and the fear of inheriting an impossible situation, Russia is trying to re-gauge its Syrian policy with possible support from the Trump administration in Washington.

The key feature of Russia’s evolving new strategy is an attempt at changing the narrative on Syria from one depicting a civil war to one presented as a humanitarian emergency that deserves massive international aid.

Western analysts say the new narrative has the merit of pushing aside thorny issues such as the future of President Bashar al-Assad and power-sharing in a future government.

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Trump’s Syria Ceasefire Lets Bashar Assad Off the Hook

Two weeks after the White House threatened to impose a “heavy price” on Syrian President Bashar Assad if it launched a new chemical attack, President Donald Trump’s first attempt at peacemaking looks set to keep the autocrat in power for the foreseeable future.

A regional ceasefire took hold in Syria’s southwest on Sunday, following negotiations with Russia and Jordan. It’s the newest curveball in the Trump administration’s evolving policy on Syria, which has gone from bombing Assad’s military in April and shooting a Syrian warplane from the sky in June, to the new ceasefire deal and renewed calls for cooperation with Assad’s chief outside supporter, Russia.

Observers and former U.S. officials say the ceasefire deal effectively guarantees Assad’s regime remains in place, in spite of Trump administration rhetoric to the contrary. Trump discussed the Syrian truce during his first face-to-face meeting as president with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany on Friday.

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Syria: Boris Johnson urges action over nerve gas attack

Boris Johnson has urged action against the Syrian regime after a watchdog ruled an attack that killed more than 90 people used sarin nerve gas.

The foreign secretary said he had “no doubt” President’s Bashar al-Assad’s government was behind April’s atrocity.

Russia blocked a UK-backed move at the United Nations to condemn the attack.

Mr Johnson is now appealing to world leaders to “unite behind the need to hold those responsible to account” by imposing further sanctions.

He was speaking after The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found the deadly attack on Khan Sheikhoun, a town in Northern Syria held by rebel forces fighting the regime, on 4 April, could only be “determined as the use of sarin, as a chemical weapon”.

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No, Assad’s Survival Isn’t a Good Thing

Misguided voices in Israel and elsewhere argue that a strong Syrian president with firm control over the state is a vital interest for Israel. This amazing conclusion was drawn from the long quiet period along the Golan Heights border during the strong dictatorship of the Assad family.

The notion that it is preferable to have strong enemies is strange. Common sense tells us that weak enemies are preferable because they can do less damage. Violent conflict is about exacting pain from the other side. States are more dangerous than militias and terrorist groups. A weak Syria can cause less pain than a strong Syria.

A Syria embroiled in civil war has much less energy and means to hurt Israel than a strong Syria. A dysfunctional Syrian state torn by civil war is not a result of Israeli machinations, but a positive strategic development from an Israeli point of view. What is left of the Syrian army is busy protecting the regime and trying to expand the territory it holds. It is not capable of challenging the IDF in a conventional war, and it will take years for it to build a serious military machine.

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Aleppo After the Fall

Robert F. Worth reports from Aleppo, a city in ruins. Speaking with residents about the current state of existence, Worth also examines the social and political seeds of the Syrian War, now in its sixth year. The war has been supported by a cast of foreign sponsors on both sides. Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah have backed the Assad regime, which dropped bombs and chemical weapons on its own citizens, while Saudi Arabia and Turkey have aided the rebels attempting to overthrow Assad. With Aleppo firmly back into the hands of the Assad regime, Syrians and exiled expats are starting to wonder whether backing Assad is their best chance at ending the war so they can begin to rebuild their lives.

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