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World View: Assad’s Attacks on Daraa Threaten Clashes with Israel, Jordan on Syria’s Border

For Syrian rebels in south, options range from bad to worse
JOHN J. XENAKIS

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Syria and Russia resume full-scale assault on Daraa
  • Jordan fears repercussions from Syria’s military offensive in Daraa
  • Israel concerned about infiltration from Iran and Hezbollah

Syria and Russia resume full-scale assault on Daraa

Displaced Syrians camp near border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights (AFP)
Displaced Syrians camp near border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights (AFP)

After a brief lull in the attacks to provide an opening for negotiations, Syria and Russia have resumed full-scale attacks on rebel-held areas in Daraa province. As in the attacks on Aleppo and Ghouta, women and children are particularly targeted. Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad uses the technique of attacking peaceful protesters and then, when there is some sort of violent revenge attack, uses that as an excuse to call the entire population “terrorists” and then perform ethnic cleansing.

Daraa has played a special part in Syria’s war and is considered the place where it started. In spring of 2011, two 15-year-old boys posted graffiti in Daraa saying, “Freedom. Down with the regime. Your turn, Doctor,” suggesting that al-Assad would suffer the same fate as leaders in Egypt and Tunisia during the “Arab spring.” The word “Doctor” refers to the fact that al-Assad, had been a ophthalmology student when he attended college in London, at a time when his father Hafez al-Assad had been conducting genocide in Syria. This graffiti infuriated al-Assad. He ordered the two boys to be tortured and imprisoned, and he launched a furious attack on the people of Daraa. Now he wants to finish up the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Daraa. There is no hope of a negotiated peace in Daraa because al-Assad has every intention of completing the genocide and ethnic cleansing.

That is presumably the reason that al-Assad and the Russians are not giving the people of Daraa the same choices they gave to the people of Aleppo and Ghouta. In the latter two cases, the rebels were allowed to leave with their weapons and their families and travel to Idlib province. But in the case of Daraa, al-Assad and Russia are demanding that the rebels immediately give up their weapons, and are prohibiting the families from going anywhere. We can expect to see a bloody genocidal attack of monumental proportions.

EU foreign affairs spokesman Maja Kocijancic said on Saturday that the attacks by al-Assad and the Russias are a violation of international law:

Such attacks are clear violations of international law and international humanitarian law that also put at risk any progress in Geneva for the resumption of the political talks under UN mediation.

Over the years, I have documented several attempts at peace talks, and each time, al-Assad has made complete fools of the peace mediators, by making promises and then immediately ignoring them. Al-Assad uses peace talks as a cover for further genocide and ethnic cleansing. Al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century. I always receive comments from people who say that al-Assad is a nice guy because he supposedly protects Christians. That is like saying Hitler was a nice guy because he protected Christians – except that he did not. Al-Assad may protect Christians now because he considers them to be useful idiots, but he would not hesitate to kill all of them if he had no further use for them.

About 300,000 people in Daraa and in the adjacent Quneitra province fled their homes and headed to the borders with Jordan and Israel. Both Jordan and Israel have closed their borders to the refugees, but are providing humanitarian aid. More people are moving to the Israeli border because they believe that al-Assad and Russians will not risk a war with Israel by attacking them there. AFP and Arab News and Middle East Online and World Bulletin (Turkey)

Jordan fears repercussions from Syria’s military offensive in Daraa

There is a great deal of international pressure on Jordan to allow the Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in Daraa to cross the border into Syria. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch said:

The abject refusal by Jordanian authorities to allow asylum seekers to seek protection not only goes against their international legal obligations, but against basic human decency. Jordanians themselves are appealing to their government’s basic decency and calling for those in need to be let in.

The European Union is making a similar plea.

However, Jordan estimates that it is already hosting some 1.3 million refugees, and this week said that it is unable to host a new wave of refugees, and so the border will remain closed, although Jordan is providing humanitarian aid.

However, Jordan has several major concerns about the military action in Daraa.

First, closing its border to refugees fleeing violence is a great embarrassment for Jordan, which maintains good relations with all Western powers and human rights organizations.

However, Jordan believes that the world has given up on refugees, and is no longer willing to provide funding for the support of refugees in refugee camps. There is particular concern that this year the Trump administration cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, but there are 193 countries in the United Nations, and those other countries are not stepping up to fund Palestinian refugees, either. The cut in funding is particularly hard on Jordan, which hosts more than two million Palestinian refugees, and Jordan’s economy is already in serious trouble.

Another concern for Jordan is the lack of security along the border. Jordan has suffered previous terrorist attacks in 2005 and 2016 when jihadists entered Jordan along with waves of refugees.

Jordan is also concerned about a demographic change in Daraa. In particular, Jordan is concerned that al-Assad’s ethnic cleansing and genocide will empty the region of its Sunni population, to be replaced by people from Iran and Hezbollah. Jordan Times and Human Rights Watch and Middle East Eye and Jordan Times

Israel concerned about infiltration from Iran and Hezbollah

Like Jordan, Israel is keeping its border closed to the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing violence from al-Assad and Russia. Syrians are coming to the area because they hope that the proximity to Israel will protect them and that al-Assad’s troops and warplanes will not bomb them there.

Israel has technically been at war with Syria since 1948, and there is a UN peacekeeping force on the border between Syria and Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israel has been working with the peacekeeping force to set up “safe zones” within Syria that will be safe from al-Assad’s ground forces and Syria’s and Russia’s warplanes.

On Friday, the Israeli army announced that it had taken 300 tents and several tons of food, medicine, and clothing to the other side overnight, as humanitarian aid for the Syrian refugees. However, Israel will not allow Syrian refugees to cross the border because of the fear that Iranians and Hezbollah will infiltrate.

Debka, an analyst service based on Israeli military and intelligence sources, but which sometimes gets things wrong, is reporting that the U.S. and Israel have begun launching military actions along the border, to counter infiltration by Iran and Hezbollah.

It had been hoped that Iran and Hezbollah would not take part in the Daraa and Quneitra attacks, but Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, “Iran is one of the key powers in the region and it would be absolutely unrealistic to expect it to abandon its interests.” Times of Israel and Deutsche Welle and Debka

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Daraa, Russia, Jordan, Aleppo, Ghouta, Turkey, Jordan, Quneitra, Israel, Golan Heights, Iran, Hezbollah, Maja Kocijancic
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