FROM Jonathan Spyer
Israel, Hezbollah and a New Phase in Syria's Civil War The ongoing crisis in Syria continues to raise thorny issues about US intervention in the civil war there. That war began as part of the Arab Spring in 2011 but has developed into the most intractable conflict of the revolutionary movement. More than 70 thousand people have been killed. Now, Hezbollah is stepping up its engagement, helping government forces battle a crucial rebel-held town. That means Iran is also deepening its involvement. US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Moscow in an effort to find common cause in the Syrian civil war. Is that conflict entering a new phase? Will Israel's military strikes near Damascus push the US to take action?
War or Peace in the Middle East? Condoleezza Rice is back in the Middle East , where continuing rocket fire has Israel threatening more attacks on Gaza. In Ramallah today, the Secretary of State asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to re-open peace talks he cancelled because of Israel's military incursion into Gaza. Although Israel has pulled out, Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, refused Rice's request, saying he first wants to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But Israel and the US are opposed. Can Secretary Rice get the Annapolis peace process back on track?
The US gets deeper into Middle East wars. What's the endgame? President Trump welcomed Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House today… just one of the changes in America's approach to the Middle East since Barack Obama left office. We hear about that and the escalation of warfare as well as civilian casualties.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.