Weekly Snapshot

10-16 February 2019

1. The US will be out of Syria by the end of April

The Pentagon is preparing a withdrawal plan for US troops fighting in Syria. As of now, the plan calls for a major withdrawal in mid-March with a full withdrawal set for the end of April. This comes after President Trump’s announcement that sent shockwaves through the international community, the main opponents being Kurdish fighters in the region.

The United States has been fighting alongside the Kurdish rebels for years and has helped them with tactics and equipment. One of the main objectives of the US involvement has been the protection of the Kurds from Turkey. With this withdrawal, no plan has been set for the protection of the Kurdish rebels.

It is still early in the planning stages of this withdrawal, and the State Department still holds that there is no timetable for withdrawal in place yet.  In the next few weeks, plans will be developed and troops will be pulled out, however it’s still unclear what the international repercussions will be.

2. Missiles to Lebanon

The United States delivered its latest shipment of military hardware to the Lebanese army. This time coming in the form of laser-guided rockets valued at more than $16 million dollars. This is the latest in a long line of military tech that the United States has shared, including the fleet of A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft in which these missiles are set to go on.

Since 2005 the United States has supplied the Lebanese military with over $2.3 billion in assistance due to the dominating military presence of the paramilitary terrorist organization in the country, Hesbollah. Hezbollah, supported and funded by Iran, uses its military power to seek radical change inside Lebanon, as well as to attack Israel. It is funded and supplied by the Iranians and has been seeking power in Lebanon for years.

3. Iran accuses the US of a terrorist attack

This week a bomb went off in southeastern Iran that killed 27 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The Revolutionary Guard is the military corps in Iran devoutly loyal to the Islamic Republic. Its main job is to protect the Islamic Republic and prevent foreign influence or military coup. It was created by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 shortly after the Iranian revolution.

Jaish al Adl or Army of Justice is a militant Sunni group that has taken responsibility for the attack: a suicide bombing that hit a transport bus carrying Revolutionary Guard soldiers. Jaish al Adl claim they are fighting for better rights and living conditions for the oppressed Sunni minority in the Shiite-majority Iran. 

President Hassan Rouhani blamed the United States and Israel for the violence saying, “The crime will remain as a ‘dirty stain’ in the black record of the main supporters of terrorism in the White House, Tel Aviv and their regional agents”. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei weighed in saying “There is a link between this crime… and some regional and international spying and intelligence agencies”. It is ironic and yet unnerving that the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism is calling out the United States (a country that has devoted billions if not trillions of dollars to defeating terrorism) for committing a terrorist attack. As tensions continue to rise, Iran will say or do anything in order to denounce the United States.