Tag Archives: Syria

Extremist Groups in Iraq Threaten Regional War, U.N. Panel Warns – NYTimes.com

“We are possibly on the cusp of a regional war. That is something we are very worried about.”

The onslaught of extremist Sunni militants in Iraq will have violent repercussions in Syria and could bring wider war in the Middle East, a United Nations panel warned on Tuesday.

The conflict in Syria “has reached a tipping point threatening the entire region,” the panel, the United Nations commission of inquiry on Syria, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Attacks in northern Iraq by forces affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the militant group leading the offensive, are likely to cause greater regional involvement in the Syrian conflict, including an influx of more foreign fighters, the panel said.

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“ISIS has shown itself willing to fan the flames of sectarianism both in Iraq and Syria,” the four-member panel warned. “Any strengthening of their position gives rise to great concern.”

Vitit Muntarbhorn, a member of the panel, told reporters: “We are possibly on the cusp of a regional war. That is something we are very worried about.”

Extremist Groups in Iraq Threaten Regional War, U.N. Panel Warns – NYTimes.com

The Middle East’s mounting danger – The Washington Post

FOR YEARS, President Obama has been claiming credit for “ending wars,” when, in fact, he was pulling the United States out of wars that were far from over. Now the pretense is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.

On Monday, a loathsome offshoot of al-Qaeda, the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, captured Mosul, one of Iraq’s most important cities, seizing large caches of modern weaponry and sending half a million civilians fleeing in terror. ISIS, which can make the original al-Qaeda look moderate, controls large swaths of territory stretching from northern Syria into Iraq. On Tuesday, militants advanced toward Baghdad, capturing Tikrit and other cities.

f Iraq joins Syria in full-fledged civil war, the danger to U.S. allies in Israel, Turkey, Jordan and the Kurdish region of Iraq is immense. These terrorist safe havens also pose a direct threat to the United States, according to U.S. officials. “We know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict,” Jeh Johnson, secretary of homeland security, said earlier this year. “At the same time, extremists are actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them, and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission.”

The Middle East’s mounting danger – The Washington Post

USDI Vickers’ Top Threats: Terrorists, Syria, Russian ‘Revanchism’ | Breaking Defense

If you want to understand why President Obama spoke so much about terrorism in his widely panned West Point speech, the head of Pentagon intelligence explained it pretty well today.

Terrorism is and remains the top threat to the United States, Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Mike Vickers said this morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The most interesting, and some would say anomalous, threat assessment he offered: China comes in at number seven after Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the Syrian civil war, Russian “revanchism,” Iran, North Korea and what he called the “persistent volatility” across South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa.

USDI Vickers’ Top Threats: Terrorists, Syria, Russian ‘Revanchism’ « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Idiots. Threats that may kill thousands come before threats that may kill hundreds of millions by getting your country terminated.

My threat assessment looks like this:

Who can kill the most Americans?

  1. Russia and China.

  2. Middle East war and risk of escalation.
  3. Iran

  4. North Korea

  5. Terrorism

  6. Others

Syria, Iraq and Lebanon Merging Into a Single Sectarian War

While few believe that the map of the region is about to be redrawn, the emerging conflict represents a dangerous breakdown of the nation states created in the Sykes-Picot agreement sealed by French and British colonial overlords 90 years ago.

“This region, the Levant, never had national identities or entities before Sykes-Picot,” says Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute in Washington. “The identities, unlike the countries, tend to be cross-border — because you have Shi’ite here and here, Sunni here and here, and Kurd here and here.”

In its duration, geographic scope and extent of its foreign involvement, the conflict resembles the 30 years war, the series of conflicts rooted in religious differences between Protestants and Catholics that devastated 17th-century central Europe.

‘More dangerous than Afghanistan’

The war this time generally pits three increasingly allied Shia-dominated governments in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon against Sunni rebels who appear to be learning tactics from each other and sharing resources. The governments are also taking varied levels of direction from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s regime in Iran. Weaponry supporting the Syrian regime comes from Russia, which with China provides cover from the UN Security Council.

“It’s all one arena under the control of Khamenei,” says Dhaffar al-Ani, an Iraqi Sunni politician. “It’s a Shia-Russian alliance.”

Syria, Iraq and Lebanon Merging Into a Single Sectarian War

There appear to be cracks in several regions around the globe:

  1. The Middle East (Iran) – Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and now Iraq. This is a continuation of the Arab Spring.

Arab Spring: By December 2013, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt (twice), Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings had erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests had broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and the Palestinian territories. Source: Wikipedia.

  1. East Asia (China) – South China Sea and East China Sea.
  2. Europe (Russia) – Tension is in the bordering states of Russia.


Allegations of Chlorine Gas Attacks Imperil Syria Chemical Weapons Deal – WSJ.com

Regime Also in Danger of Missing Key June 30 Deadline to Complete Eradication

A high-stakes U.S.-Russian plan for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons is in jeopardy on several fronts, with the regime in Damascus facing growing allegations that it violated the agreement by attacking rebels and civilians with chlorine gas.

Still, weapons inspectors and Western officials said the regime is in danger of missing the June 30 deadline for the eradication of all its chemical weapons and the facilities used to produce them. In another complication, there are suspicions Syria may not have fully disclosed what it has and could be hiding some chemicals.

Allegations of Chlorine Gas Attacks Imperil Syria Chemical Weapons Deal – WSJ.com

Israeli intelligence: Assad concealing chemical capability | Haaretz

Israeli intelligence is afraid that the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria is acting to conceal a small percentage of the chemical weapons in its possession, while misleading the international community. This assessment joins similar ones heard in the past two weeks from intelligence sources in the United States and Great Britain, and which have been cited in the international media.

The deal for the dismantling of the chemical weapons was achieved, under American and Russian pressure, in the summer of 2013, following the massacre perpetrated by the government, in which about 1,500 civilians were killed in neighborhoods controlled by organizations of Syrian rebels in east Damascus. The Syrian regime was forced to accept the agreement, in light of the threat by the United States to attack military targets in Syria from the air, in punishment for the slaughter. To date about 92 percent of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenals have been dismantled, and the means for producing and launching such weapons are also being destroyed. Assad’s regime missed a second deadline on Sunday, April 27, for the destruction of its arsenal.

Israeli intelligence: Assad concealing chemical capability – Diplomacy and Defense Israel News | Haaretz

Polio Spreads From Syria to Iraq, Causing Worries – NYTimes.com

Syria’s polio outbreak has now officially spread to Iraq, the first neighbor of the war-ravaged country to be hit by the crippling virus despite an ambitious Middle East inoculation effort, and global health officials warned Monday that dozens of vulnerable Iraqi children could potentially be infected.

The transmission of polio, a highly contagious disease that primarily afflicts children younger than 5 and can lead to partial and sometimes fatal paralysis, reflects one of the most insidious effects of the three-year-old Syria conflict, which has sent millions of refugees across the country’s borders and severely undermined its public health system.

Polio Spreads From Syria to Iraq, Causing Worries – NYTimes.com

Syria refugee crisis poses major threat to Lebanese stability: U.N. – chicagotribune.com

The massive influx threatens to upset Lebanon’s fragile demographic balance between Shi’tes, Sunnis, Druze and Christians, and comes as the country, which fought its only bloody civil war from 1975-1990, struggles to contain mounting violence seen as linked to the conflict next door.

Earlier this week, Lebanon’s foreign minister said that the crisis was “threatening the existence of Lebanon.” This month, the Lebanese parliament gave a newly formed cabinet a vote of confidence, ending almost a year of political deadlock.

A major challenge for the new government will be the mounting cost of the refugee crisis, which has strained public infrastructure as people fleeing violence in Syria seek housing, food, and healthcare at a time of economic slowdown in Lebanon.

Syria refugee crisis poses major threat to Lebanese stability: U.N. – chicagotribune.com

Think tank: Syrian rebels face defeat as Assad forces, Hizbullah advance | World Tribune

A leading U.S. think tank has raised the prospect of a collapse of the Sunni revolt in Syria.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy asserted that the regime of President Bashar Assad was advancing along several fronts in Syria. In a report on March 11, the institute said the besieged Sunni rebels could lose their will to continue the three-year revolt.

“While this is unlikely to happen overnight, there is always the possibility of a quick collapse of resistance through the cumulative effects of casualties, logistical problems, loss of will to fight, and declining popular support,” the report, titled “The Assad Regime Winning By Inches?” said.

Think tank: Syrian rebels face defeat as Assad forces, Hizbullah advance | World Tribune

Israel Bombs Hizballah Missile Convoy on Syria-Lebanon Border

Israeli warplanes hit a convoy carrying surface-to-surface missiles into Lebanon on Monday night, a senior Israeli security official confirms to TIME. The air strike, around 10:30 p.m. local time on the border between Lebanon and Syria, was the seventh known operation since the Syrian civil war began in 2011 and was an expression of Israel’s only clear policy regarding that deadly conflict: That it will not let Syria’s war become an opportunity for the militant group Hizballah to improve its anti-Israeli arsenal.

The specifics of the missiles targeted by the Monday strike were not immediately available. But the Israeli official indicated they could carry warheads heavier and more dangerous than almost all of the tens of thousands of missiles and rockets Hizballah now has pointed toward Israel. Earlier airstrikes targeted four categories of armaments Israeli officials warned it would destroy if detected moving into Hizballah’s home territory of Lebanon from Syria, where its forces are fighting on behalf of President Bashar Assad:

Israel Strikes Hizballah Target on Syria-Lebanon Border | TIME.com