President Obama gave a speech on Monday about the progress of the United States-led military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) in which he said that America would “do more to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria.” This is a promise that has been made repeatedly made and repeatedly broken. The President’s strategy of détente with Clerical Iran has given Syria to Tehran as a sphere of influence—which precludes the U.S. building up a viable alternative to both ISIS and the murderous Assad regime, which has been effectively under Iran’s control since late 2012. Continue reading
President Obama invited the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to a meeting at Camp David on Thursday to clear the air as the President looks to finalize his nuclear deal with Iran. But on Sunday, Saudi King Salman said he was not attending, and soon after the Bahraini monarch followed. The only Gulf leaders in attendance will be the Emirs of Qatar and Kuwait. Since leaders do not just have other things to do when they are scheduled for a private meeting with the President of the United States, this can be taken as a pointed snub to President Obama, and no amount of administration spin about Salman’s absence having nothing to do with political substance will change that. Continue reading
Lee Smith’s The Consequences of Syria is part of the Hoover Institution’s “The Great Unravelling” series, which also included The Struggle for Mastery in the Fertile Crescent by the late Fouad Ajami (which I reviewed here.) You can purchase a copy here.
Published in June 2014, Smith narrates Syria’s terrible war to the opening months of 2014, the innumerable excuses made by the Obama administration for letting it run, and the theoretical framework behind the administration’s decision. The book is relatively short and the prose is direct; it takes very complex discussions of ideas and puts them in easily-digestible terms—all while keeping the reader’s eye on the practical implications.
Smith starts with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the central event in President Obama’s thinking about the Middle East. Continue reading
The National Security Strategy is never a riveting read, and the NSS put out by the Obama administration on Feb. 6, only their second (the last in May 2010), was no exception. “Strategic patience” was the mantra with which this NSS was launched, to fairly wide derision as a rationalisation of the last six years of hesitancy and retrenchment. It was a criticism with some basis in fact. Continue reading
This is the fourth of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. The first part looked at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq; the second part looked at the policy’s application in Syria; the third part looked at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and this part is a conclusion. Continue reading
This is the third of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. This first part looked at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq. The second part looked at the policy’s application in Syria; this part will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading
Last month, Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic published an interview with Hillary Clinton. At 8,000 words it can be off-putting to plough through, but I have now finally got around to it, and it is rather interesting. The interview focusses on the three areas where President Obama’s foreign policy has so conspicuously failed—Syria, Iran, and Israel—and also includes sections on Egypt and Libya, where the administration’s failure has been somewhat less in the news. Continue reading
On Wednesday night, President Obama gave a speech, the purport of which was to be a war plan to defeat the Islamic State (I.S.). Indeed in the speech the President committed to a “roll back” of the territory the I.S. had conquered, and to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Takfiri Caliphate. But as to how he was going to do that, the details were few. Continue reading
With the Arabian Revolt sweeping the Middle East in early 2011, Libya’s turn came on February 17. Throwing off decades of fear, and not bothering with peaceful demonstrations as Tunisia and Egypt had to free themselves of tyranny, nor the Syrians who tried peaceful demonstrations for six entire months, the Libyans went straight to armed rebellion, and soon the city of Benghazi had been pried from the regime’s grip and become the de facto capital of the revolution. Continue reading
Can it really be twelve whole months since Bashar al-Assad gassed to death more than 1,400 people in a morning? I happened to be in London when the attack on the Damascus suburbs of Ghouta took place, exactly a year ago. London has become (in)famous recently for mass-protests that throw around the word “genocide“—against Israel’s (in my view ill-thought out) recent response to HAMAS’ rocket fire. London had no time for Syria’s grief: Continue reading