Thursday, August 27, 2020

From Ian:

Isaac Herzog and Michael Herzog: Israel's Right to Self-Determination Does Not Depend on the Palestinians
The historic breakthrough towards normalizing Israeli-Emirati relations demonstrates a sea change in the Arab world’s outlook on Israel. In a region plagued by failed or failing states, wars and radicalism, Israel is increasingly perceived as a beacon of stability.

It also demonstrates that offering the Middle East a brighter future can no longer wait for the truly noble goal of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israel-UAE deal is a welcome outcome for a region destabilized by Iranian ambitions, Islamist extremism and internal strife. And a comprehensive framework for normalized Israeli-Arab relations that goes far beyond a “cold peace” not only deals a blow to the enemies of peace, but also creates an essential space for keeping the two-state solution alive.

Amazingly, there are those who continue to view the region through the sole prism of the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the point of suggesting the dystopian paradigm of dismantling the Jewish state into one state for Israelis and Palestinians.

The stories of the childhood of our father, Israel’s sixth president Chaim Herzog, in civil war-torn Belfast have shaped our perspective on the need for separate political entities for Israelis and Palestinians. Our father’s earliest memory was witnessing a gunfight resulting in murder. Today, some pundits cite Ireland as a hopeful example of resolving a centuries-old conflict between rival groups within one state. Yet this paradigm does not translate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which involves two competing national movements with bitter history and sharply different cultural and religious characteristics, espousing conflicting narratives and aspirations over the same piece of land.

Forcing Israelis and Palestinians together into one state is highly unlikely to produce a melting pot of coexistence and equality. Rather, it would trigger an endless struggle over dominance and only inflame and perpetuate the conflict, to the detriment of both peoples.

The debate over one state or two states is particularly significant in the aftermath of last month’s 20th anniversary of the Camp David Summit. One of us was there, as well as in most peace negotiations with the Palestinians since 1993. Fresh in our memory is Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat denying that there was ever a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Nor can we forget his nod to a terror campaign that took the lives of over 1,000 Israelis in the wake of Camp David.

In the decades since Camp David, the Palestinians have persistently rejected or ignored far-reaching Israeli and American peace proposals. Is Israel seriously expected to make a choice between fully accepting Palestinian demands or else dismantling itself?
Pence: Trump's Jerusalem recognition changed region
US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday cast the re-election of President Donald Trump as critical to preserving America's safety and economic viability while claiming the administration's pro-Israel decisions helped bring it closer to the Arab world.

Amid widening protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin, Pence and other Republicans at their national convention described the Nov. 3 contest between Trump and Biden as a choice between "law and order" and lawlessness.

"The hard truth is you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America," Pence told the crowd seated on a lawn at historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Pence added that a vote for President Trump is also a vote for law and order worldwide. Stating that this administration has "Stood up to our enemies and we've stood with our allies. Like when President Trump kept his word and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, setting the stage for the first Arab country to recognize Israel in 26 years."
JPost Editorial: Pompeo is a great friend to the State of Israel
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s four-minute video clip addressed to the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem on Tuesday has triggered an avalanche of criticism.

Some have criticized him for literally using Jerusalem as a prop in US President Donald Trump’s campaign; others, for politicizing his office and being the first secretary of state in memory to address a national political convention.

Both criticisms ring somewhat disingenuous.

It is quite understandable that the Trump campaign wants to highlight its move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It views this as one of the president’s crowning achievements, and something of great importance to millions of Evangelicals who form a core component of Trump’s constituency. What better way to highlight that than for Pompeo to mention the embassy move to the convention with the domes and steeples of Jerusalem’s Old City glittering in the background?

And regarding politicizing the secretary of state’s office, c’mon! The secretary of state is a political appointment. Did anyone really fall of their chair watching that clip and discovering that Pompeo supports Trump’s foreign policies?

Khartoum Emerges As Place To Watch After Pompeo Visit
Ignore the political noise accompanying Secretary of State Pompeo’s Mideast trip. Watch Khartoum instead.

The Sudanese capital is the most intriguing leg of Mr. Pompeo’s swing through the region. The press will focus on legal niceties involving an address to the Republican convention, recorded Monday on the roof of Jerusalem’s King David hotel. Yet, by making, on Tuesday, the first known direct flight from Israel to Sudan, once one of the most rogue of rogue states, Mr. Pompeo may well culminate a diplomatic coup.

Will Sudan join a quiet but significant political trend in the Middle East and Africa, where wide-spread yearning for modernity threatens traditional Soviet-inspired revolutionary ideology, strong-arm rule, and Islamism? Will it be next to establish relations with Israel? Will it be removed from America’s list of terror-sponsoring states?

Or will Sudan become prey to China, which competes with America in the region?

Omar Al-Bashir, Sudan’s strongman from 1989 to last spring, might follow Mr. Pompeo’s visit from his current residence at Khartoum Kobar prison. He’s been incarcerated there since last year, after a Sudanes court conviction on corruption-related charges. That jail cell is quite a spot for a former strongman long wanted by a hapless international justice system.

In 2008 the International Criminal Court at The Hague issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, charging him with orchestrating the mass murder in Darfur. Sudan’s heavy handed war against an ethnic minority in the western part of the country was defined by some as genocide and made the country a global pariah.

Or did it?

Al Bashir, a record holder as the longest-serving president of the Arab League, kept popping up in world capitals. Rather than arresting him, as The Hague sought, leaders as far flung as Moscow and Pretoria feted their Sudanese guest and treated him as a head of state.

In the end, the military coup that ended al-Bashir’s 30 year reign of terror had little to do with the well-documented Darfur atrocities. Instead, he was overthrown in June 2019 after the Sudanese, sick of his self-enrichment and cavalier attitude toward them, took to the streets in large scale protests. The military saw the writing on the wall.
It's Time for Pakistan to Accept Israel Is Here to Stay
Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan said last week: "We cannot recognize Israel until Palestinians get their rights." But while Pakistan remains one of 31 states that do not recognize Israel, the two countries have much in common. Both were founded on religious nationalism, carved along communal lines as per two-state solutions proposed under British mandates. But only one - a separate Muslim state, rather than a separate Jewish state - was unanimously accepted. So what is it about Israel that Pakistan won't accept?

In a country where mosque sermons call for the "destruction of Jews and Israel," and where anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are a part of religious and political discourse, even many "progressives" find it hard to envisage a reconsidering of Pakistan's policy on Israel. But these views haven't stopped the two countries working together when it suits. Islamist dictator Zia-ul-Haq spearheaded the ISI's intelligence collaboration with Mossad in the 1980s, as part of CIA-led operations in Afghanistan. Since then, Pakistan's military and intelligence cooperation with Israel has continued.

Whether Khan likes it or not, the truth is that today Israel is as legitimate as any other post-World War II nation-state.
Dr. Einat Wilf: UAE's Israel Olive Branch Punches a Wall through Decades of Arab Intransigence
The agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is the first peace deal that holds the prospect of being and feeling like true peace. Israel has had peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan for several decades. But it is now clear that these were little more than mutual non-aggression pacts. Egypt and Jordan took every opportunity to make it clear that they have no interest in friendly relations with Israel beyond security cooperation. There has been no broad-based economic cooperation, no open tourism or cultural exchange.

Worse, Egypt and Jordan, in their desperate intent to signal that they are not Israel's friends, have become their sworn enemies in international forums, spearheading various anti-Israel resolutions. Egypt has been for decades the number one producer and purveyor of hard-core anti-Semitic content to the Arab world. Then along comes the UAE, proposing a relationship with an Arab country resembling what we have always imagined peace should be. The entire tone is one of warmth.

Yes, ongoing relations between the UAE and Israel have been an open secret for some time, but the decision to "put a ring on it" matters greatly. The UAE is punching a massive hole through the wall of decades of Arab "anti-normalization." This goes to the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict - the Arab and Islamic view that Israel is a foreign implant in the region that must be ejected.

Normalizing relations, rather than an icy peace, is an acknowledgement that not only is Israel here to stay, but it belongs in the region. Those who continue to oppose "normalization" with Israel will appear increasingly as curmudgeons attached to historical irrelevance.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Some Palestinians Support the Israel-UAE Accord
Some Palestinians do not share their leaders' rage toward the United Arab Emirates. These Palestinians say they are worried that the Palestinian leadership's overreaction to the UAE-Israel deal is counterproductive and will cause further harm to the Palestinian cause.

By ignoring these voices, Mahmoud Abbas and his associates are again showing that they have no problem acting against the interests of their own people. Worse, by condemning the Israel-UAE deal on a daily basis, the leaders of the Palestinians have made it clear that they prefer to side with Iran and its Palestinian and Lebanese proxies -- Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah -- in rejecting any compromise with Israel.

"The peace treaty between the UAE and Israel comes as a significant breakthrough in the course of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations that have been stalled for 30 years. This important achievement reduces Arab expectations, which destroyed many of our lives and dreams and wasted billions of dollars that could have been invested in future generations and modern technology.... The Emirati move is an advanced step towards achieving a comprehensive peace." — Sameh Kaoush, Palestinian poet and journalist, based in the UAE.

By arresting and threatening Palestinians who dare publicly to promote the Israel-UAE deal, the Palestinian leaders are again demonstrating that they, like all other Arab dictators, evidently consider basic human rights a privilege they reserve for themselves alone.
Pompeo arrives in Oman to discuss Iran, peace with Israel
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Oman on Thursday as part of a Middle East tour following a US-brokered deal on normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced on Aug. 13.

Pompeo discussed regional peace and stability with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said in Oman.
In a tweet after the meeting Pompeo said the two discussion the importance of building regional peace, stability and prosperity through a united Gulf Cooperation Council. Grateful for our strong security partnership and economic ties.”

The GCC is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Pompeo in Oman on Thursday as part of a Middle East tour following a US-brokered deal on normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced on Aug. 13.
Egyptian Media Warned Not to Criticize UAE-Israel Deal
The Egyptian government has instructed media outlets not to criticize the agreement to normalize ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates after Cairo came out in support of the agreement, an Egyptian security source told Al-Monitor.

He said talk of resisting normalization is unrealistic and does not take into account the new political and economic dimensions in the region.
Turkey's Hostility to Israel-UAE Peace Accord
When the Israel-United Arab Emirates (UAE) peace agreement, also known as the Abraham Accord, was announced on August 13, the UAE became the third Arab country, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, formally to normalize relations with Israel.

Turkey, however, condemned the Israel-UAE agreement despite its 71 years of diplomatic relations with the Jewish State. The Turkish foreign ministry said in a press release:
"While pursuing its narrowly defined interests, the UAE has attempted to present its betrayal to the Palestinian cause as an act of altruism. The history and the conscience of the people in the region will never forget or forgive this hypocritical act."

Turkey's Communication Director for the Presidency, Fahrettin Altun, said that they consider the agreement between the UAE and Israel "null and void." The head of Turkey's parliament, Mustafa Şentop, condemned the deal, calling it "disgraceful" and a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey was considering suspending diplomatic ties with the UAE and withdrawing its ambassador.

"The step taken towards Palestine is not a swallowable step," Erdogan said.

"Palestine is now probably either closing its embassy [in the UAE] or withdrawing [its ambassador]. The same is true for us now. I ordered my Minister of Foreign Affairs. We might suspend diplomatic relations with the Abu Dhabi administration and withdraw our ambassador there. Because we stand by the Palestinian people. We have never let them eat Palestine and will not let them do so now."

Erdogan's hostile reaction is ironic and irrational: In 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim-majority nation to recognize Israel. In the 1990s, Turkish leaders continuously visited Israel and several significant military agreements were signed. Although relations are now strained, there are still diplomatic and trade ties between the two countries.
US prepared to help Bahrain-Israel normalization if needed
The United States will assist normalization between Bahrain and Israel if needed, a senior US State Department official said during a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Bahrain on Wednesday.

Pompeo is on a Middle East tour following a US-brokered accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations announced on Aug. 13.

"If we can help facilitate normalization with Bahrain we're ready," the official said.

On arrival in Bahrain, Pompeo said it was vital to seize the momentum of the deal. On this trip he has visited Jerusalem, Sudan, Bahrain, the UAE, and will head to Oman on Thursday.

Israel and the United States have said they are pushing more Arab countries to follow the UAE's path. Israel's intelligence minister has mentioned Bahrain as a possible candidate.

"I think that UAE's decision creates a climate that makes it easier for another country to follow, and more countries after that," the state department official on the tour said.

Bahrain welcomed the UAE-Israel accord soon after it was announced and said it raised the chances of peace.
Netanyahu: UN Security Council's Failure to Join American Snapback Sanctions on Iran Is Outrageous
After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "People should realize that the Iran deal failed just as we predicted. Not only did it not mollify Iran's aggression, it fueled it, it increased it. And we've seen Iran, since the JCPOA was concluded, emerging from its cage and devouring one country after another, targeting countries with rockets, with terrorism, pillage and plunder and murder all over the Middle East and even beyond."

"To see the Security Council not only not join the American snapback sanctions but resist it...I think is outrageous. That means that this regime will get tanks, and aircraft, and missiles and anti-aircraft defenses to continue its campaign of aggression throughout the region and the world."
Palestinians Want What Israeli Arabs Have
Palestinians in the West Bank want nothing more than to see normal life. Two years ago, I took part in a group forum at a West Bank Palestinian university aimed at enabling American visitors to hear from the "20-something" generation of Palestinians. At the Q&A session, the Palestinian professor chairing the event jumped on every question posed to the students and gave her own answers instead. When asked if they would be willing to work with Israeli academics, the Palestinian professor immediately responded that they would never collaborate with Israeli professors or students.

After the session, we invited some of the students to join us at a cafe in Bir Zeit, providing them with a less intimidating atmosphere to speak candidly. They felt their professor prevented them from saying what they would have liked to say, which was that they would very much want to meet and have exchanges with their Israeli counterparts.

At another forum in March where American citizens met with students from several West Bank Palestinian universities, in a location where they were able to speak freely, we heard from each of the five students that they wanted to have exchanges with their Israeli counterparts. Some admitted that they do so on social media. "We are governed by men who are 70 years and older, men who have found ways to benefit and enrich themselves....It is time for another direction," noted one student.

In my numerous visits to the Palestinian territories, in private settings, nearly every Palestinian admits that they just want to be able to enjoy the benefits that their counterparts who hold Israeli citizenship have: access to travel, filling the ranks of Israeli universities.
Palestinian leaders' continued refusal of any cooperation or dialogue with Israel has brought nothing to their people. Moving away from old formulae that never worked is the wise thing to do.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinian ‘Days Since Last Missed Opportunity’ Sign Again Reset To Zero (satire)
Inspectors replaced the digit today on a placard that tracks the time since the Palestinian leadership has squandered a chance to move toward peaceful resolution of the generations-old conflict with Jews over the territory both groups claim, placing a goose-egg figure in the final spot of the “Days since last missed opportunity” marker this afternoon.

Occupation Maintenance and Status Quo Preservation personnel filed their inspection report Thursday following their weekly audit of Palestinian leadership decisions. The report noted that the “Days since last missed opportunity” sign saw replacement of a different digit with a zero for the seventh week in a row. The incident represents the tenth week of the last eleven with a reset of the figure to zero, and, the report observes, the forty-ninth week in a row that the number has failed to break out of single digits.

“Palestinian rejection of the United Arab Emirates peace agreement with Israel forced us to reset the count again,” the report noted. “When reports of the deal emerged last week, Palestinian leaders across the narrow slice of the political spectrum that mainstream Palestinian society considers acceptable blasted the accord. Earlier this week no official statements by those leaders had repeated the rejection, allowing the ‘Days since’ figure to reach as high as three, but by Wednesday morning, accusations of betrayal, illegitimacy, and sundry other epithets had brought the number back down to zero.”
IDF maps house of Petah Tikva terror suspect
IDF troops raided and mapped the home of a Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli man in a stabbing attack in the city of Petah Tikva.

“Overnight, IDF soldiers operated in the village of Rujeeb to map out the home of the terrorist suspected of carrying out the stabbing attack yesterday in Petah Tikva in which Rabbi Shai Ohayon was murdered, may his memory be blessed. The mapping out was conducted in order to examine the possibility of demolishing the home,” the IDF said in a statement.

Rabbi Shai Ohayon, a 39-year-old father of four, was found unconscious near the Segula Junction with multiple stab wounds on Wednesday afternoon and was pronounced dead shortly after.

The 46-year-old Palestinian suspect, Khalil Doikat, who holds an Israeli work permit, was arrested by police shortly afterward with a bloodstained knife apparently used in the attack. He was handed over to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

Shortly after the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter and said the military would demolish Doikat’s West Bank home.
“My wife Sara and I embrace the family – the wife and four children who were left today without a father. We will work to demolish the home of the terrorist and seek the most severe punishment,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Ohayon was laid to rest in Petah Tikva’s Segula Cemetery in the early hours of Thursday morning. He is survived by his wife Sivan and their four children: Tohar, 13, Hillel, 11, Shiloh, 9, and Malachi, 4.
HonestReporting Videos: Palestinian Incitement to Murder Cannot Be Ignored
An innocent Israeli was murdered after prominent Palestinian leaders called for armed struggle against Israel. This incitement was not covered by the international media despite it being the root cause of Palestinian terrorism and the continuation of the conflict. This media silence is nothing short of scandalous.

Incendiary balloon with attached grenade found in Eshkol greenhouses
A grenade-borne balloon was found next to greenhouses in Ohad, located in the Eshkol local council, according to Ynet.
A sapper safely detonated the grenade. No casualties were reported in the incident.
As deadline nears, US, Israel urge UNSC to expand UNIFIL’s mandate
With 48 hours left to extend UNIFIL’s mandate in Lebanon, the US and Israel demand the UN Security Council reform the peacekeeping force, giving it greater freedom of movement and access to areas that are suspected of harboring terrorist activity.

For well over a year, Israel and the United States have been jointly working on getting the United Nations Security Council to upgrade the mandate of the international peacekeeping force based in southern Lebanon, and provide it with greater authority in an effort to weaken Hezbollah.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was established in 1978 and beefed up in 2006 after the Second Lebanon War ended with the passing of Security Council Resolution 1701. UNIFIL’s mandate is renewed annually in August.

Last year, the Security Council voted to renew the mandate to August 2020. The renewed mandate includes a call on the Lebanese government to allow access to UNIFIL forces and increased reporting on the transfer of weapons to terrorists in Lebanon.

A spokesperson for the US Mission in the UN told The Jerusalem Post that the Trump administration wants an effective and accountable UNIFIL, but it is long past time to ask the difficult questions about what the mission has and hasn’t achieved.
JCPA: Hizbullah’s Third Failed Retaliatory Attack against Israel
Hizbullah denied Israeli reports this week claiming that Hizbullah fighters opened fire on Israeli soldiers near Manara on August 24, 2020 and termed the charge a “laughable incident.”1 Hizbullah belittled Israel, saying that since Israel “assassinated” one of its fighters near the Damascus airport in June, the Israeli army has been diagnosed with “severe Hizbullah-mania.” Israel has been reporting Hizbullah-involved incidents that “were fake,” Hizbullah responded.

It appears that Nasrallah’s failures to respond successfully so far to the Damascus event and his inability to achieve a “balanced [casualty] equation” that he is determined to secure, forces Nasrallah to hide the reality and propagate lies that Israel is inventing these events. Nasrallah is resolute to continue and attack Israeli military targets near the border so that he can actually reach his “balanced equation.”
Shurat Hadin to IMF: Condition Lebanon aid on blackballing Hezbollah
An NGO has threatened to intercept the International Monetary Fund's aid money earmarked for Lebanon if Hezbollah’s control over the state’s politics and finances is not ended beforehand.

In a recent letter to the IMF, Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center noted that it represents “hundreds of terror victims, both Israeli and United States citizens. Their family members were brutally murdered or maimed in terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Hezbollah terrorist organization,” and Iran.

Shurat Hadin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner wrote that, “It has been well established that the government of Lebanon” has been “largely taken over, these past two decades” by Hezbollah.

The letter highlighted Hezbollah’s control of the Lebanese parliament and of “every level of government and its financial system,” noting that “the current Lebanese president could not assume office until Hezbollah provided its consent.”

“For all intents and purposes, the failed Lebanese state has become a puppet of Hezbollah and its patrons in Tehran,” said Darshan-Leitner.

Further, Shurat Hadin said, “Hezbollah is clearly moving to control the Central Bank through its Health Ministry with the fourth largest budget in the government as well as the Communication, Agriculture, and Water ministries.”
Hezbollah carried out border shooting under peacekeepers’ noses, Israel tells UN
Israel’s envoy to the United Nations demanded on Wednesday that the world body crack down on its peacekeeping force in Lebanon and deliver meaningful action against Hezbollah following a Tuesday night exchange of fire between the Israel Defense Forces and the terror group.

“The last attack directed at IDF forces, together with Hezbollah’s strengthening and its activities in south Lebanon, raise the chances of escalation on [Israel’s] northern border that could have terrible consequences for Lebanon and the entire region,” Ambassador Gilad Erdan wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council.

He demanded “immediate steps” be taken by the UN to urge the Lebanese government and international peacekeeping force UNIFIL to act, according to a statement to the press by the Israeli mission to the world body Thursday morning.

Erdan attached to his letter an aerial photo with Hezbollah’s estimated firing position marked out.

The Hezbollah force, according to Israel, was situated right in between two UN posts, barely 110 yards from the closer one.

The photo “shows UNIFIL’s powerlessness and the fact that it is not fulfilling its purpose,” Israel’s UN mission said Thursday.

Palestinian factions blame Israel for coronavirus 'catastrophe' in Gaza
Israel is responsible for the lives of Palestinians in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian factions said Thursday.

They said they would not remain indifferent to the “suffocating siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, especially after the outbreak of the coronavirus.”

If the “siege is not lifted and all medical supplies are not brought into the Gaza Strip to confront this pandemic, the Palestinian people will not suffer alone,” they warned in a statement.

If Israel fails to comply with their demands, it will pay a price that would bring relief to the Palestinians and be recorded by history, the factions said.

The threat came as Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi headed to Israel after holding talks in the Gaza Strip with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on ways of ending the current tensions with Israel.

Over the past two weeks, Palestinians have fired hundreds of explosives-laden and incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

ISIS' Jihad in the Coronavirus Era
More than 10,000 Islamic State fighters remain active in Iraq and Syria, the UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov told the Security Council on Monday.

"There is a continued trend of attacks by individuals inspired online and acting alone or in small groups."

In May 2020, the Islamic State perpetrated 400 terror attacks worldwide that caused hundreds of casualties.

In Kirkuk, Diyala, and Saladin provinces in Iraq, ISIS has been attacking army bases, mounting ambushes and raids, laying explosive devices, engaging in sniper fire, launching rockets, and burning agricultural fields.

In Syria, ISIS has been active in the Euphrates River Valley and in the Hauran region in the south, seizing and executing captives, blowing up vehicles, setting ambushes, and engaging in assassinations.

ISIS remains active in the Khorasan region of Afghanistan, with attacks in March and May leaving 74 dead.

In its view, the coronavirus was sent to help ISIS in its struggle to vanquish the "infidels."
Why is the US still helping Turkey sabotage its role in Syria?
Washington sent its most pro-Turkey diplomat to Ankara this week as Turkey’s regime hosted Hamas leaders in a red-carpet ceremony in Istanbul. Former US ambassador James Jeffrey, who is now the US envoy for Syria and the anti-ISIS campaign, went to Turkey and said the US had “proved our value in many fields outside of Syria.” The comments were reported on Turkey’s TRT and by pro-government media in Turkey.

Turkey is the largest jailer of journalists in the world and almost all of its media is now on the side of the ruling party. Jeffrey’s comments appeared to be an attempt to appease Turkey, a day after the US had slammed the regime for hosting Hamas terrorists.

The comments by Jeffrey are the latest in his endless praise of Turkey and never holding the country to account. The US State Department critiqued Ankara for hosting Hamas members. In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed the US had sided with terrorist organizations in Syria. In response, Jeffrey made his comment about how the US was trying to prove its value to Turkey.

Usually, smaller countries like Turkey are expected to prove their values as allies to the US, but in the Ankara-Washington relationship, it is the other way around. Although Turkey buys Russia’s S-400 system and works with Iran and US adversaries, some American officials still seek to placate Turkey, even up to the point of sabotaging other US policies in the Middle East.

In recent years, Ankara has imprisoned an American pastor and consular official, threatened US soldiers and continually bashed the US and its allies such as Israel. However, some in the Trump administration are very close to Ankara and often appear to enable Turkey’s increasingly aggressive behavior against Greece, its invasions of Syria, bombing of Iraq and bashing of Israel.
US soldiers injured in vehicle collision in eastern Syria
US soldiers have been injured in an escalation with Russian forces in Syria. This is one of many incidents involving US patrols in eastern Syria being harassed by Russian forces.

These confrontations are often filmed by Russians or by Syrian regime members on the ground or others and appear to be designed to embarrass the US by showing that Moscow is able to derail US patrols in Syria by either running their vehicles off the road or now harassing them with helicopters.

The White House, unusually in this instance, put out a statement by National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot, saying that, “at approximately 10 a.m. (Syria Time), August 25, a routine Defeat-ISIS Coalition security patrol encountered a Russian military patrol near Dayrick, in northeast Syria. During this interaction, a Russian vehicle struck a Coalition Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) causing injuries to the vehicle’s crew.” The site of the incident was in a town called in Arabic Al-Malikiyah but called Derrick or Dayrick in Kurdish.

The US operates patrols in eastern Syria. Since October 2019, Washington has said it shifted its efforts to secure oil fields in eastern Syria, after withdrawing from an area along the border with Turkey. The US in Syria has backed the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group of fighters who defeated ISIS in Raqqa in 2017. The SDF was spearheaded by Kurdish fighters and has grown to include Arabs, Christians and other groups.

However the US-led coalition that is fighting ISIS – and has helped arm and train some 80,000 SDF fighters – is facing a crossroads in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, the Coalition left the large Taji base and a half dozen other smaller bases in six months as tensions with Iranian-backed groups grew and rocket attacks against US forces became a weekly threat.

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