Archive for April 10, 2017

Islamic State (ISIS) Rockets from Sinai hit southern Israel on Eve of Passover

April 10, 2017

Islamic terrorists launched rockets from Sinai, on the eve of Passover, two of which landed in southern Israel. ISIS has claimed responsibility.

By – on April 10, 2017

Source: Islamic State (ISIS) Rockets from Sinai hit southern Israel on Eve of Passover – Geller Report

 

Anyone that tells you that is is not a religious war will also sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. And if you do not believe this is a religious war, you’ll probably buy the bridge, too.

Churches attacked on Palm Sunday, Israel on Pesach eve.

ISIS Rockets from Sinai hit southern Israel on Eve of Passover

By World Israel News, April 10, 2017:

Islamic terrorists launched rockets from Sinai, on the eve of Passover, two of which landed in southern Israel. ISIS has claimed responsibility.

A greenhouse was damaged but there were no injuries when ISIS rockets slammed into southern Israel on Passover eve.

Authorities are prohibiting citizens from entering the Sinai Peninsula.

In wake of Monday’s rocket-launching, Israeli authorities closed the Taba Crossing into Sinai, urging all citizens to return home.

“Given the validity of the National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau (NSCCTB), in light of the increased severity and immediacy of the threat, and in accordance with the approval of the political leadership, Transportation and Road Safety, and Intelligence, Minister Yisrael Katz – pursuant to his legal authority and in consultation with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the relevant agencies — has decided not to allow the passage of Israeli nationals through the Menachem Begin Border Terminal (aka Taba Crossing) in the direction of Sinai, effective immediately until after Passover (18 April), and subject to assessments of the situation. It should be noted that the entry of Israeli citizens from Sinai back to Israel will be permitted,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.

“Increased activity by the [Islamic State-affiliated] ‘Sinai Province’ in recent months has also found expression against Israel in its desire to commit terrorist attacks against tourists in Sinai, including Israelis, in the immediate term.

“The National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau (NSCCTB) recommends that Israelis in Sinai leave the area forthwith and return to Israel. The families of Israelis in Sinai are requested to contact their loved ones and update them regarding the acute threat. It must be emphasized that, for their own protection, Israelis planning to go to the area will not be allowed to cross into Sinai; therefore, they are requested not to go to the crossing and to listen to instructions.”

The NSCCTB recently released an urgent warning to Israeli citizens vacationing in the Sinai Peninsula, urging them to leave the region “immediately,” due to the threat from ISIS.

U.S. Options in Syria Don’t Include Ground Troops

April 10, 2017

U.S. Options in Syria Don’t Include Ground Troops, PJ Media, David P. Goldman, April 10, 2017

FILE – In this file image provided on Friday, April 7, 2017 by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. missile attack has caused heavy damage to one of Syria’s biggest and most strategic air bases, used to launch warplanes to strike opposition-held areas in central, northern and southern Syria. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP, File)

The war has already displaced half of Syria’s 22 million people, and Iran plans to replace Sunnis with Shi’ite immigrants in order to change the demographic balance. The Sunni side of the conflict has become globalized with fighters from the Russian Caucasus, China’s Xinjiang Province, as well as Southeast Asia.

The U.S. State Department last year estimated that 40,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries were in Syria; Russia cited a figure of 30,000. Whatever the number is today, it would not be difficult to add a zero to it.

Russia and China must be frightened of America’s prowess, especially in military technology. A Reagan-style effort to established unquestioned U.S. supremacy in military technology is the Big Stick we require. Tomahawk missiles are not a Big Stick. They speak loudly. Trump was magnificently right to send the signal to Moscow and Beijing, especially (as Secretary Tillerson said) in the light of Russia’s duplicity or incompetence in the matter of Syrian poison gas. Now we need to get to work.

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Writing in the Washington Post, neo-conservatives Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh propose to send U.S. ground troops to fight Iran and its proxies in Iran and Syria:

It is way past time for Washington to stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime on the limes of its Shiite empire. This will be costly and will entail the use of more American troops in both Syria and Iraq. But if we don’t do this, we will not see an end to the sectarian warfare that nurtures jihadists. We will be counting down the clock on the nuclear accord, waiting for advanced centrifuges to come on line. As with the Soviet Union vs. Ronald Reagan, to confront American resolution, the mullahs will have to pour money into their foreign ventures or suffer humiliating retreat.

They’re nuts.

It isn’t Iran that we would be fighting: It’s an international mercenary army that already includes thousands of fighters recruited from the three million Hazara Afghans now seeking refuge in Iran, from the persecuted Pakistani Shi’ites who comprise a fifth of that country’s huge population, and elsewhere. As I reported recently in Asia Times:

The IRGC’s foreign legions include volunteers from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Shi’ites are an oppressed minority often subject to violent repression by the Sunni majority. IRGC-controlled forces include the Fatemiyoun Militia recruited mainly from Shi’ite Hazara refugees from Afghanistan, with reported manpower of perhaps 12,000 to 14,000 fighters, of whom 3,000 to 4,000 are now in Syria. Iranians also command the Zeinabiyoun militia composed of Pakistani Shi’ites, with perhaps 1,500 fighters in Syria.

The manpower pool from which these fighters are drawn is virtually bottomless. The war has already displaced half of Syria’s 22 million people, and Iran plans to replace Sunnis with Shi’ite immigrants in order to change the demographic balance. The Sunni side of the conflict has become globalized with fighters from the Russian Caucasus, China’s Xinjiang Province, as well as Southeast Asia.

The U.S. State Department last year estimated that 40,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries were in Syria; Russia cited a figure of 30,000. Whatever the number is today, it would not be difficult to add a zero to it.

Russia and China, as I explained in the cited Asia Times essay, blame the U.S. for opening the Pandora’s Box of Sunni radicalism by destroying the Iraqi State and supporting majority (that is, Shi’ite) rule in Iraq. Sadly, they are broadly correct to believe so. Thanks to the advice of Gerecht and his co-thinkers at the Weekly Standard and Commentary, the Bush administration pushed Iraq’s and Syria’s Sunnis into the hands of non-state actors like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

A seventh of Russia’s population is Muslim, and 90% of them are Sunnis. China has a restive Muslim population among the Uyghurs in its far West, and all of them are Sunnis. Moscow and Beijing therefore support Shi’ite terrorists as a counterweight to Sunni jihadists. A Eurasian Muslim civil war is unfolding as a result. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum thinks America should let Sunnis and Shi’ites exhaust each other. If it were just Syria, that would make sense, but the Syrian conflict is the nodal point for a much larger and more dangerous conflagration. If the 300 million Muslims of Southeast Asia were to become involved, the consequences would be horrific.

Gerecht and Tayekh want the U.S. to back the anti-regime forces whom Obama left twisting in the wind during the 2009 demonstrations against Iran’s rigged elections. That is the right thing to do. The Trump administration should create a special task force for regime change in Iran and recruit PJ Media’s Michael Ledeen to run it. Iran is vulnerable to subversion. With 40% youth unemployment and extreme levels of social pathology (the rate of venereal disease infection is twenty times that of the U.S.), Iranians are miserable under the theocratic regime.

But I don’t know if that will work: Iran gets all its money from oil, and the mullahs have the oil, the money, and all the guns. If we can’t overthrow the Iranian regime, we will have two choices.

The first is to bomb Iran — destroy nuclear facilities and Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps bases. That risks war with Russia and China. It is an option, but a dangerous one, and not anyone’s first choice. We could have done this before Iran became a Russian-Chinese ally.

The second is to cut a deal with Russia and China: We muzzle the Sunni jihadists whom we (or our allies like Saudi Arabia) supported, and Russia and China cut Iran off at the knees. I sketched out such a deal in August 2016. It won’t happen easily, or any time soon, because Russia and China are not sufficiently afraid of us to want to come to the table. Russia would demand other concessions (e.g., recognition of its acquisition of territory by force in Ukraine). As the use of poison gas despite past Russian assurances makes clear, one can’t trust the Russians unless, of course, they really are scared of us.

So it all comes down to Grand Strategy: Russia and China must be frightened of America’s prowess, especially in military technology. A Reagan-style effort to established unquestioned U.S. supremacy in military technology is the Big Stick we require. Tomahawk missiles are not a Big Stick. They speak loudly. Trump was magnificently right to send the signal to Moscow and Beijing, especially (as Secretary Tillerson said) in the light of Russia’s duplicity or incompetence in the matter of Syrian poison gas. Now we need to get to work.

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Update: Christina Lin, a former senior U.S. Defense Department analyst and fellow at SAIS (and frequent Asia Times contributor), told The Diplomat in an interview today:

As a recent Israeli intelligence report documented, there are thousands of Chinese Uyghurs fighting in the ranks of al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS in Syria, namely in the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) based in Idlib — an al-Qaeda stronghold. The August 30, 2016 bombing of the Chinese embassy in  Krgyzstan, planned by TIP in Syria and financed by Al Nusra, signals increasing threats to Chinese citizens and interests overseas if Syria becomes a terrorist safe haven.

Because of “inter-mingling” with Ahrar al Sham and other so called “moderate” jihadists, TIP and Nusra enjoy U.S. and its allies’ protection even though they are designated as terrorist organizations. The have procured advanced Western weapons such as U.S.-supplied anti-tank TOW missiles, Grad missiles, and likely anti-aircraft MANPADS, and drones that they used to record their recent suicide campaigns against the Syrian army. These Western weapons enhance their war fighting capabilities to launch future attacks on China and Chinese interests, so Beijing will likely step up its military support to the Syrian army. Chinese military advisers are already on the ground in Syria, according to media reports.

Humor | Syria Issues Travel Ban On U.S. Missiles

April 10, 2017

Syria Issues Travel Ban On U.S. Missiles, Duffel Blog, April 10, 2017

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad ordered the immediate closure of all Syrian airports and airfields to U.S. missiles today, fulfilling a threat he issued after U.S. missile strikes on the country.

In a ceremony at the presidential palace attended by most of the Syrian government, Assad signed the ban to rapturous applause, only briefly punctuated when several generals prematurely stopped clapping and were summarily executed.

“We don’t want these missiles here,” Assad told the cheering crowd. “We don’t need these missiles here. We are perfectly capable of destroying our own infrastructure without these foreign missiles coming over here to do a job that Syrians are perfectly capable of doing themselves.”

To illustrate his point, he ordered his Shabiha militia to immediately massacre all remaining Syrian soldiers at the Shayrat air base.

Assad added that he planned to extend the missile ban to the United Kingdom, France, Israel, and most of Western Europe.

“We only want to admit missiles into our country that will help our people, like those launched from Russia, Iran, and hopefully China,” Assad told reporters.

Assad’s decision was immediately condemned by a number of human rights groups.

“This impacts the most vulnerable group in America today: the Navy’s surface fleet,” said Neill O’Connor, a spokesman for Amnesty International. “All these poor sailors want to do is feel like they’re actually part of a war and tell their sweethearts how much danger they’re in before going back to the galley for mid-rats.”

The Syrian Civil Liberties Union vowed to oppose what it called a “racist ban,” and lawyers for the group were traveling to military bases, airports, surface-to-air missile sites, and bunkers on Monday. Interestingly, the Assad regime did not attempt to thwart their travel in any way, and in some instances, bussed them to military facilities for their scheduled protests.

 

Former Obama Admin Ambassador: ‘We Always Knew’ Syria Still Had Chemical Weapons

April 10, 2017

Former Obama Admin Ambassador: ‘We Always Knew’ Syria Still Had Chemical Weapons, Washington Free Beacon, April 10, 2017

(Sorry about the formatting, but it’s the best I could do with the article. — DM)

AP

A former ambassador who served during Barack Obama’s presidency admitted Sunday that the administration “always knew” Syria still had a stockpile of chemical weapons, despite public assurances to the contrary.

Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and senior official on Obama’s National Security Council, took to Twitter to defend the previous administration’s efforts to dismantle the Syrian chemical weapon program.

“I strongly disagree with those who say Assad’s [chemical weapons] attack on Idlib [Province] proves that the 2013 [chemical weapons] deal struck by Russia & the US was worthless,” he wrote.

Shapiro argued that the deal, brokered by the U.S. and Russia to eliminate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile, successfully managed to remove and destroy all 1,300 tons of the regime’s declared arsenal. He then added that the Obama administration was aware the Syrian government likely hid away part of its chemical weapons program.

“We always knew Syria likely squirreled away some residual undeclared stocks and/or production capability, now proven by Idlib strike,” he admitted.

11. By mid-2014, all 1,300 tons had been removed, supervised by the OPCW, and carefully destroyed on ships at sea.

12. We always knew Syria likely squirreled away some residual undeclared stocks and/or production capability, now proven by Idlib strike.

Shapiro’s comments came the same day another former Obama administration official told the New York Times the same thing.

“We always knew we had not gotten everything, that the Syrians had not been fully forthcoming in their declaration,” former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken told the paper.

Both claims appear to contradict previous statements made by the Obama administration. In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. had removed Assad’s entire stockpile.

“We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

As late as January, Obama’s former national security adviser, Susan Rice, likewise told NPR that “we were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.” The Washington Post fact-checker gave that statement Four Pinocchios in light of the recent chemical attack, meaning the Post deemed the comments completely false.

Shapiro noted in his Twitter remarks that he supports President Trump’s decision to order military strikes against a Syrian government airbase following Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack carried out by the Assad regime on civilians in northern Syria.

1. There’s some serious revisionist history afoot regarding the 2013 CW deal. I offer this perspective from serving in Israel at the time.

2. I’ll start by clarifying that I support the strikes against Syria last week, as I made clear at the time. pic.twitter.com/ylcwFDRpr7

Rephidim, Amalek then: Bir Gafgafa, ISIS now

April 10, 2017

Rephidim, Amalek then: Bir Gafgafa, ISIS now, DEBKAfile, April 10, 2017

Bir Gafgafa’s mission is to provide the Egyptian forces fighting in Sinai with a shield, as well as securing the Suez, one of the world’s most important waterways, against ISIS attack.

It will also serve as a hub for coordinating air operations over Sinai and the Libyan border. It is vitally important to prevent the jihadist networks based in ungoverned Libya and the lawless heartland of the Sinai Peninsula from reaching Egypt’s main cities.

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They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” The Lord said to Moses, take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord. Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword. (Exodus 17)

About 3,200 years later, Moses would not have recognized Rephidim. In 1967 it was called Bir Gafgafa and was the site of the Egyptian Air Force’s biggest air facility in Sinai, known as “Egyptian Air Force Base 244.”

From there, Egyptian ruler Gemal Abdul Nasser declared that year: “If Rabin wants war, let’s go!”

And so when the Israeli Air Force preemptively wiped out Nasser’s air force on the ground at the outset of the Six-Day war, Bir Gafgafa was hit first. Rephidim was next transformed into Baha 3, the main Israeli Air Force operations base in Sinai during the War of Attribution and the Yom Kippur war. It was supported 8 kilometers away by a radar and electronic warfare station.

But then, Rephidim aka Bir Gafgafa stepped back into history in its next reincarnation as the very first base from which Israeli withdrew in late 1979 after Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David peace accords, Israel’s first peace pact with an Arab nation.

Another 37 years went by and in 2017 Rephidim now serves another Egyptian President, Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi, for his life-and-death struggle with the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.

The Egyptian Air Force is in the course of transforming the small air field there into the largest air base in Egypt, this time with Israel’s concurrence. The base is being tailored to serve a wide variety of warplanes, attack helicopters and UAVs, with long runways, hangars and storage depots for bombs, missiles and fuel.

The Egyptian have built an enormous hangar 70×57 meters for housing long-range Wing Loong UAVs purchased from China, which are 9 meters long with a 14-meter wing spread. The Wing Loongs are also being deployed at the Uthman Air base in the Western Desert just 68km from the Libyan border.

The huge base will also have a large civilian passenger terminal at its northeastern end to serve the large army contingents deployed in Sinai. Today the 2nd and 3rdArmies are waging war against terror in Sinai supported by Border Guard units which are undertaking special training in anti-terror warfare.

Rephidim is today hemmed in by packs of the new Amalek, the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis which has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi El-Sisi and is battling Egypt under his direction. The base is accessible only by air or convoys escorted by armored vehicles.

But El-Sisi has big plans for defeating them, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Bir Gafgafa’s mission is to provide the Egyptian forces fighting in Sinai with a shield, as well as securing the Suez, one of the world’s most important waterways, against ISIS attack.

It will also serve as a hub for coordinating air operations over Sinai and the Libyan border. It is vitally important to prevent the jihadist networks based in ungoverned Libya and the lawless heartland of the Sinai Peninsula from reaching Egypt’s main cities.

The importance of this mission was demonstrated this week. On April 9, President El-Sisi reported that three gangs of terrorists had infiltrated the country from Libya and sent two suicide bombers to blow up two Coptic churches celebrating Palm Sunday, taking the lives of 45 people and injuring 150.

The jihadist menace points more than one way. The next day, Israel closed the Taba crossing into Egyptian Sinai to Israeli holidaymakers bound for the beach resorts, after its security services had received intelligence of an imminent ISIS death-cum-abduction attack afoot for the 10,000 Israeli trippers.

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria

April 10, 2017

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, April 10, 2017

On Thursday evening, President Trump met with China’s President Xi and bombed Syria. The decision came as Trump traveled on Air Force One to meet with Xi at Mar-a-Lago. An hour into their dinner, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched and pounded an airbase in Syria. The message wasn’t just for Assad and Putin. It was for Xi and his North Korean client state. The era of a weak America was over.

Xi had come to America expecting an easy photo op visit. President Trump would urge action on North Korea and Xi would smile coldly and shoot him down. Talk of fairer trade would be similarly dismissed.

And then Xi would go home and laugh that the bold new American leader was another paper tiger.

Except that President Trump had a different plan. Instead of Xi showing how tough he could be, Trump gave him a front row seat to a display of American power. The message was both obvious and subtle.

And President Xi, along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, aren’t laughing.

The obvious part was as blatant as a 1,000 pound explosive warhead slamming into concrete and steel, and as obvious as upstaging Xi’s efforts to stonewall Trump while warning that North Korea could be next if the Chinese leader continues to be obstinate.

Trump had warned throughout the campaign that he would not be laying his military plans on the table. “You’re telling the enemy everything you want to do!” he had mocked Clinton.

His address to the nation came an hour after the missiles had struck. The element of surprise had held.

And Xi came away with a very different message. The Obama era was over. The new guy was bold, dangerous and unpredictable. Like many of Trump’s American opponents, Xi understood now that the jovial man sitting next to him could and would violate the rules of the game without prior warning.

China would have to be careful. There was a cowboy in the White House again.

And that was the subtle part. Trump does not care very much about Assad. What he truly cares about is American power. Left-wing critics quickly pounced on Trump’s past opposition to strikes on Syria and his criticisms of Obama for not enforcing his own “red line”.

There is no contradiction.

Trump didn’t believe that strikes on Syria were a good idea. But once we had committed to a red line, then we had to follow through if we were going to be taken seriously.

And so Trump enforced Obama’s red line. Not because of Obama or Syria. But because of America.

“When he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world because it was a blank threat,” President Trump said.

President Trump intends to get things done. And he knows it won’t happen with “blank” threats.

Asked about whether the strikes represented a message to Xi and North Korea, Secretary of State Tillerson replied, “It does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line and cross the line on violating commitments they have made.”

“President Trump has made that statement to the world tonight,” he added.

The message is more subtle than a 1,000 pound warhead. But not by that much.

President Trump’s move bewildered leftist critics who had to shift from accusing him of having a secret relationship with Russia to accusing him of ruining our relationship with Russia. It also enraged some supporters who maintained a dogmatic non-interventionist position. But Trump doesn’t make decisions based on ideology. He measures policies against real world objectives, not abstract philosophies.

What he has always wanted to do is solve real problems.

The problem he was solving on Thursday wasn’t Assad. President Trump recognizes that Syria is an unsolvable problem and that little good can come of extended engagement with it. There are no good guys in Syria. Only Sunni and Shiite Jihadis and their victims. Syria is and will always be a dead end.

The problem is that Obama thoroughly wrecked American prestige and power over eight years. And that makes it painfully difficult to get anything done when no one in the world will take us seriously.

President Trump sees North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a major threat. But he also sees the crisis as a way to leverage our military might to achieve better trade deals with both partners and rivals. He is not wedded to a globalist or anti-globalist ideology. Instead he sees every problem as an opportunity.

He is not committed to any international coalition, globalist or anti-globalist, except where it temporarily serves American purposes. That is what being a true nationalist actually means.

That is what makes him so unpredictable and so dangerous.

President Trump made a point in Syria. He timed that point for maximum effect. The point isn’t that Assad is a bad man. Though he is. It’s not that he isn’t a Russian puppet, though only the lunatic left could have believed that. The point is that he is determined that America will be taken seriously.

Cruise missile diplomacy isn’t new. Bill Clinton fired over 500 cruise missiles into Iraq. Not to mention Sudan. Bush fired cruise missiles into Somalia. Obama signed off on firing cruise missiles into Yemen and Syria at terrorist targets. The difference is that Trump isn’t just saving face with cruise missile diplomacy.

President Trump’s real objective isn’t the Middle East. It’s Asia. He doesn’t see Russia as our leading geopolitical foe, but China. Syria was the opening shot in a staring contest with the People’s Republic. The moves in this chess game will sometimes be obvious and sometimes subtle. And Trump is usually at his most subtle when he’s being obvious. That’s what his enemies usually miss.

President Trump’s first step in Syria was to reestablish physical and moral authority on the international stage while the President of China had to sit there and watch. He humiliated Democrats and their media operation at the peak of their Russia frenzy. And he sent the message that America is back.

It’s not a bad return on a $60 million investment. We’ve spent much more in the field with less to show for it.

The Obama era in international affairs ended with whimper and a hollow Nobel Peace Prize as a trophy. The Trump era in international affairs began with 59 cruise missiles and a big bang.

Arabs: Abu Ivanka (Trump) Is a Hero!

April 10, 2017

by Bassam Tawil
April 10, 2017 at 4:00 am

Source: Arabs: Abu Ivanka (Trump) Is a Hero!

  • Arabs and Muslims have long lost faith in their leaders’ ability to deal with the crises plaguing Arab and Islamic countries. The civil war in Syria, which has been raging for more than five years and which has claimed the lives of more than half a million people, is seen as a shining best example of Arab and Muslim leaders’ incompetence and apathy.
  • Others are calling Trump “Lion of the Sunnis”, “Caliph of the Muslims” and “Defender of the Islamic Holy Sites.” Some wrote: “Blessed be the hands of Abu Ivanka al-Amiriki (Trump),” and expressed hope that he would do more to rid the Syrian people of their dictator. “We love you Trump” and “Trump is our hope” are two of many hashtags that have become extremely popular on social media, especially Twitter. Many of the writers are Syrians, Egyptians and Gulf citizens.
  • Many Arabs and Muslims perceive themselves to have been betrayed by the Obama administration. They felt, rightly, that the Obama administration turned its back on Washington’s friends and allies in the Arab world in favor of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.

A new hero has been born in the Arab world and his name is Donald Trump. And this is not a joke.

Arabs and Muslims love leaders who talk tough and do not hesitate to use force. In the Arab world, compromise is a sign of weakness.

Until recently, Trump was anathema to many Arabs and Muslims. So what happened? U.S. President Donald Trump did something Arab leaders have failed to do: he helped the Syrian civilians who were being gassed by their ruler.

Arabs and Muslims have long lost faith in their leaders’ ability to deal with the crises plaguing Arab and Islamic countries. The civil war in Syria, which has been raging for more than five years and which has claimed the lives of more than half a million people, is seen as a shining best example of Arab and Muslim leaders’ incompetence and apathy.

The most recent Arab League summit in Jordan, which brought together many Arab heads of state and monarchs, will be best remembered for the photos of leaders falling asleep during the discussions. These pictures, which have been circulating widely in the Arab media, feel like salt in the festering wound of Arab leaders’ indifference to their peoples’ plights.

The summit, which utterly failed to find a solution to the ongoing killings in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other Arab countries, is now being sarcastically referred to by many Arabs as the “Sleep Summit.”

The recent Arab League summit in Jordan, which brought together many Arab heads of state and monarchs, will be best remembered for the photos of leaders falling asleep during the discussions. Pictured above: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abba (left) and the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (right) snooze during the summit proceedings.

Few Arabs, of course, were expecting their leaders to step up. As far as many Arabs are concerned, their leaders are “traitors” and “puppets” in the hands of the U.S. (and sometimes Israel), and interested only in preserving their seats and enriching themselves and their families on the backs of their constituents.

Even gassing civilians in Syria did not surprise the Arab people. Scenes of children and other civilians suffocating from poisonous gas are not new to the Arab world. Similar atrocities have already taken place in Iraq and other Arab countries in the past few decades.

Desperate for a leader who is willing to send a strong message to the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, many Arabs and Muslims are now looking at Trump as their “savior.” His recent action in Syria stands in sharp and positive relief to the treacherous inactivity of the corrupt Arab heads of state who have turned their backs on their own people.

The missile strike that Trump ordered in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons in Syria has earned him unprecedented appreciation and respect throughout Arab and Islamic countries. The last time a U.S. president won such praise was when George W. Bush liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s army.

Now, Arab leaders can only sit on the side and watch with envy as their constituents heap praise on Trump for ordering the military strike against Assad’s forces. Thousands of Arabs have taken to social media to express their admiration and gratitude for Trump after the U.S. missile strike. Many are affectionately referring to Trump as “Abu Ivanka al-Amriki.”

Others are calling Trump “Lion of the Sunnis”, “Caliph of the Muslims” and “Defender of the Islamic Holy Sites.” Some wrote: “Blessed be the hands of Abu Ivanka al-Amiriki (Trump),” and expressed hope that he would do more to rid the Syrian people of their dictator. “We love you Trump” and “Trump is our hope” are two of many hashtags that have become extremely popular on social media, especially Twitter. Many of the writers are Syrians, Egyptians and Gulf citizens.

Arabs are replacing their profile photos on Facebook and Twitter with an image of Trump. “Trump did in a few months what Obama was unable to do in eight years,” many of them commented. “For the first time in six years, the Assad regime is being held accountable for its atrocities.”

Lebanese journalist Maria Maaloof wrote: “Thank you Mr. President for not ignoring the cries of the (Syrian) children.”

By striking Syria, Trump seems to have made America great again, at least in the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims.

Many Arabs and Muslims perceive themselves to have been betrayed by the Obama administration. They felt, rightly, that the Obama administration turned its back on Washington’s friends and allies in the Arab world in favor of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is no surprise, therefore, that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries were among the first to voice support for the U.S. strike against Syria.

For now, Trump’s military strike in Syria has partially restored U.S. credibility among Arabs and Muslims. Moreover, it has broadcast that the days of the Obama administration’s appeasement and inaction are over. Arabs love world leaders who stand up to oppression and injustice; his swift and strong response accounts for the about-face on Trump in the Arab world. The U.S. strike is a first step towards restoring the U.S. role as a true leader. It remains to be seen whether Trump will demonstrate the same determination in dealing with the duplicity and malevolence of other Arabs and Muslims.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.