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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb 16, 2012 / 23 Shevat, 5772

Listening to the Syrian Resistance

By Clifford D. May






Assad has created a humanitarian crisis --- and a strategic opportunity


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, members of the resistance movement inside Syria were able to have a secure conversation last week with a small group of foreign-policy mavens in Washington, D.C. What they told us boils down to this: A revolution is under way. On one side is the dictator Bashar al-Assad, backed by Iran’s rulers, Hezbollah, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. On the other side are ordinary Syrians, facing bombs and bullets with the kind of courage exhibited in Tiananmen Square. Meanwhile, those who should be their allies dither.

“Why is Syria not as important as Egypt and Libya?” asked “Muhammad,” one of the resistance leaders on the Skype call connecting the offices of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies with an undisclosed location outside Damascus. His comments were translated by FDD fellow Ammar Abdulhamid , a prominent Syrian dissident who was forced into exile in 2005. “We are facing a killing machine,” Muhammad added. Indeed, the Assad regime is estimated to have slaughtered more than 7,000 Syrian men, women, and children to date. “We are not asking for any boots on the ground,” he added. So what do they want? Supplies, equipment, secure communications technology — and, yes, the means to defend themselves, their families, their homes, and their communities.

Recent upheavals in the Middle East, mislabeled “the Arab Spring,” have so far brought change only to countries where those in power had been cooperating with the U.S.: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. By contrast, the 2009 uprising against Iran’s anti-American theocrats was brutally suppressed, while Western leaders lifted not a finger and said hardly a word. If Assad manages to remain in power, the lesson will be that it has become less dangerous to be America’s enemy than to be America’s friend.

This formulation, I suspect, goes a long way toward explaining Russia’s staunch backing of Assad. Putin is sending a message to his fellow autocrats everywhere: Moscow, unlike Washington, can be counted on when the chips are down.


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The resistance leaders we spoke with sounded determined: They will not give up, even if it costs them their lives. But they also are frustrated: They are facing helicopters, armor, and artillery. They have only small arms — and not enough for all those willing to fight.

Muhammad called the diplomatic debate over Syria that has been taking place at the U.N. a “farce.” Another resistance leader — Abu Alnour is his nom de guerre — said that the Arab League also has proved useless and, besides, cannot be trusted. As for Turkey, Muhammad said it is “only capable of words, it seems.”

The United States continues to be seen as the resistance movement’s last, best hope because, Muhammad said, Americans are “the only ones who protect democracy and human rights in the world.  They are the only ones who actually do that. So we are hoping that they will review their position.”

What these besieged revolutionaries may not appreciate is how disillusioned many Americans have become. In recent memory, American power has been deployed to defend Kuwaitis, Bosnians, Kosovars, and, yes, Iraqis and Afghans. We did not necessarily expect deep affection in return, but we were hoping for better than the animus that is directed at us by so many in the Islamic world (an increasingly accurate label).

Some Americans have become skeptical of Muslims who claim to be democrats. Others have come to believe that while there are Muslim freedom fighters, they are too small a minority to be significant. Recent developments in Egypt, where Muslim Brothers and Salafis won an overwhelming majority of the votes in the recent elections — and now are holding hostage Americans who came to Egypt to assist with democratic reform — have reinforced such views.

All of which misses this point: Americans should support the revolutionaries in Syria based on strategic self-interest at least as much as altruism. Assad is an enemy of the United States. He facilitated the killing of hundreds of American in Iraq and arranged the assassinations of pro-Western Lebanese leaders who dared defy Syrian domination. 

And he is the handmaiden of Iran, the most significant national-security threat facing the United States today. Oil-rich and perhaps soon to be armed with nuclear weapons, Iran’s rulers intend to lead what they see not as an Arab Spring but as a global Islamic ascendancy and a jihad against the West. However, because they are Persian and Shia, they need a bridge into the Arab and Sunni worlds. Assad has been providing that bridge. Syria also has been Iran’s land link with Hezbollah, which, thanks to Iranian money and weapons, is now the dominant force in Lebanon.

Assad’s downfall would represent a major strategic defeat for Teheran. It also would fan the suppressed flames of revolution within Iran, where, thanks to increasingly tough sanctions, the economy is in steep decline.

Iran’s rulers get it. That’s why the head of Iran’s elite Quds force, Qassem Suleimani, is reportedly in Syria, along with hundreds if not thousands of what might be accurately labeled Iranian storm troopers, advising and training Assad’s forces how to more efficiently kill demonstrators and smash the Free Syrian Army. Syrian resistance leaders say the Quds force is assisting with everything from monitoring protesters’ use of text messages to training snipers.

“We are in communication with people inside the regime who . . . are passing on information about Iran’s and Hezbollah’s involvement,” said Muhammad. “There is an actual training camp run by Hezbollah near Damascus. The people who maintain security inside Damascus, many of them are Hezbollah members.”

Assad’s forces, said Abu Alnour, need such foreign assistance because they are “demoralized. They cannot take over territories, and the only reason that the soldiers are fighting is because they are afraid of getting shot as defectors if they don’t.”

Ammar Abdulhamid added, “We are talking about people who are well positioned. When they make the decision to defect, they want to make sure that there is a place to go to, there is protection for them and their families, and at the same time, they want to feel assured a little bit that the international community has made up its mind about the Assad regime.”

That would require, at a minimum, the establishment of safe zones, perhaps protected by a NATO-led no-fly zone as was established in Libya. Marc Ginsberg, a Democrat who served as ambassador to Morocco under President Clinton, recalled that when the rebel-held city of Benghazi was threatened, President Obama “marshaled his top officials to explore every conceivable avenue to thwart Gaddafi’s forces.”

By contrast, Ginsberg added, “while the appalling massacre of innocent civilians escalates daily across Syria, and images from Homs and other Syrian cities are far worse than anything witnessed in Libya. . . . President Obama has so far not evidenced much in the way of Libya-style resolve.”

The day after our Skype conversation, at least 137 civilians, including eleven children, were killed by government forces. Hadi al-Abdullah of the Syrian General Revolutionary Council, based in Homs, told a reporter for Al-Arabiya that missiles were being launched from a nearby military college and that helicopters were “targeting all those who are trying to help the wounded.” He asked, “Is this not a massacre?”

Of course it was. But what is mislabeled the “international community” is highly selective about which massacres require action and which may be regretted and dismissed. Our friends in Syria are right: If Americans won’t provide leadership — protecting civilians while advancing the West’s security interests — no one will.


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Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism. A veteran news reporter, foreign correspondent and editor (at The New York Times and other publications), he has covered stories in more than two dozen countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, China, Uzbekistan, Northern Ireland and Russia. He is a frequent guest on national and international television and radio news programs, providing analysis and participating in debates on national security issues.




Previously:


02/09/12: Are Sanctions Working? If the purpose is to penalize Iran's rulers for their crimes and discourage civilized people from buying blood oil, yes
01/26/12: If Pakistan fails it, there must be consequences
01/19/12: How terrorists lose their stigma
01/12/12: Muslims Attacked! But they are the wrong types of Muslims, so who cares?
01/06/12: The Historian, the Diplomat, and the Spy
12/29/11: Iran and Al-Qaeda: Together again for the first time
12/22/11: The Case for Palestinian Nationalism
12/15/11: What's Islam Got to Do with It?
12/09/11: Buried Treasure
11/24/11: What Would the Gipper Do?
11/17/11: Appease, temporize, posture and gesture?
11/11/11: Brave New Transnational Progressive World
11/03/11: What's Wrong with Economic Justice?
10/27/11: Autocracies United
10/20/11: The most critical threat confronting America
10/13/11: We've Been Warned
10/06/11: Anwar Al-Awlaki's American Journey
09/22/11: Cheney Got It Right on Syrian Nukes
09/15/11: The European Caliphate
09/08/11: Disoriented: The state of too many Western leaders ten years after 9/11/01
09/01/11: Palestinian Leaders to Seek the UN's Blessing . . . for a two-state solution. For a two-stage execution
08/25/11: Better understanding of Islamist experience needed
08/18/11: The Arab Spring and Europe's fall
08/11/11: Borrowing from Communists to pay Jihadis?
07/28/11: Who's to Blame for Terrorism?
07/28/11: Do Somali pirates have legitimate gripe?
07/21/11: Why Bashar al-Assad matters to the West--- and what the Obama administration still doesn't grasp
07/07/11: MAD in the 21st Century





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