Americans want to shut the door on Syrian refugees. According to one poll, 53 percent of Americans disapprove of allowing them into the country while another 11 percent would admit only Syrians who are Christians. Most governors have said that they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states (though they have no legal authority to block them), and now Congress has gotten into the act. By a vote of 289–137, the House passed a bill that would impose substantial hurdles on further refugee settlement.
The liberal commentariat has gone berserk, accusing opponents of nativism and xenophobia. The criteria used to admit refugees are strict, so the risk that any of them will commit crimes is very low. As Alex Nowrasteh points out, almost 1 million refugees have been admitted into the United States since 2001, and none of them has successfully carried out a terrorist attack. Moreover, given the infinitesimal number of Syrian refugees to be let into the country out of the millions of people who would qualify, it would be crazy for a professional terrorist to try to enter this country by pretending to be a refugee. It would be easier to obtain a tourist visa.
Source: Why American people are scared of Syrian refugees.
VICE News filmmaker Medyan Dairieh gains exclusive access to the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, al Nusra, a jihadist group fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the Islamic State (IS).
Spending more than a month with al Nusra and exploring their expanding territory, Dairieh meets the highest-ranking members of the organization, who reveal their identity on screen for the first time and discuss their military doctrine.
Al Nusra, which swore allegiance to al Qaeda two years ago and is now emerging as a powerful force to rival IS in Syria, has seized several strategic towns in the northwestern province of Idlib. While it supplies water, electricity, and food to the local population, a school run by al Nusra is also grooming young boys to become the next generation of al Qaeda and preparing them for jihad.
VICE News also secures exclusive access to the frontlines of the battle for Abu Al-Duhur airport in Idlib, a major airbase held by Assad’s forces, besieged by al Nusra for two years. Aided by dust storms during the attack, the airport was the last remaining government stronghold in the region. Dozens of government soldiers were subsequently executed, according to the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Watch “The Islamic State (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1IwDeVY
Deployment of up to 50 commandos would be first sustained U.S. ground presence in Syria
The Obama Administration on Friday announced the deployment of up to 50 Special Forces troops to Syria to advise on a new military campaign against ISIS. This is the first sustained U.S. ground presence in the country.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. is sending special-operations forces to northeastern Syria, a shift in strategy that establishes the first sustained American military presence in the campaign against Islamic State in the war-ravaged country.
Up to 50 U.S. special-operations troops will assist Syrian rebel units spearheading what the Pentagon says would be a new military offensive against the militant group, marking a sharp escalation in the level of direct U.S. involvement on the ground inside Syria. The American forces are to link up with local forces in Kurdish-controlled territory whose mission will be to choke off supply lines to Islamic State militants in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.
The move marks a change for President Barrack Obama who had long promised not to send ground forces to Syria.
“They are not being deployed with a combat mission,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “The mission of our men and women on the ground has not changed.”
If the initial deployment bears fruit, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday that he would be open to deploying more forces.
“We are going to continue to innovate, to build on what works,” Mr. Carter told reporters on a military jet as it landed in Fairbanks, Alaska, for the first leg of a trip through Asia. “Our role fundamentally and the strategy is to enable local forces. But does that put U.S. forces in harm’s way? It does, no question about it.”
The Obama administration has clearly pulled back from the United States’ recent interventionism in the Middle East, notwithstanding the rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and the U.S.-led air war against it. Critics pin the change on the administration’s aversion to U.S. activism in the region, its unwillingness to engage in major combat operations, or President Barack Obama’s alleged ideological preference for diminished global engagement. But the reality is that Washington’s post-9/11 interventions in the region—especially the one in Iraq—were anomalous and shaped false perceptions of a “new normal” of American intervention, both at home and in the region. The administration’s unwillingness to use ground forces in Iraq or Syria constitutes not so much a withdrawal as a correction—an attempt to restore the stability that had endured for several decades thanks to American restraint, not American aggressiveness.
It’s possible to argue that pulling back is less a choice than a necessity. Some realist observers claim that in a time of economic uncertainty and cuts to the U.S. military budget, an expansive U.S. policy in the region has simply become too costly. According to that view, the United States, like the United Kingdom before it, is the victim of its own “imperial overstretch.” Others argue that U.S. policy initiatives, especially the recent negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, have distanced Washington from its traditional Middle Eastern allies; in other words, the United States isn’t pulling back so much as pushing away.
The long period of American primacy in the Middle East is ending.
In actuality, however, the main driver of the U.S. pullback is not what’s happening in Washington but what’s happening in the region. Political and economic developments in the Middle East have reduced the opportunities for effective American intervention to a vanishing point, and policymakers in Washington have been recognizing that and acting accordingly. Given this, the moderate U.S. pullback should be not reversed but rather continued, at least in the absence of a significant threat to core U.S. interests.
In June 2015, Kurdish forces — supported by the Free Syrian Army and US-led coalition airstrikes — drove out the Islamic State (IS) from the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad — a strategically important gain in the battle against the jihadists. Yet the fighting also forced waves of refugees to cross the border into the Turkish town of Akcakale.
The advance on Tal Abyad, containing a diverse population of Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds, provoked the Turkish government and a coalition of rebel groups to accuse Kurdish forces of “ethnic cleansing” and displacing Arabs and Turkmen — an accusation strongly denied by the Kurdish forces.
Yet allegations of forcible displacement persist among refugees, with some telling VICE News that their hometown is now under another hostile occupation, and others stating that life under IS rule was better.
Many refugees in Akcakale have had to set up camp in parks, or rent overcrowded housing. There is a lack of food and a number of children require immediate medical attention.
VICE News meets the refugees and activists of Tal Abyad, where they describe their new life in Turkey, as well as their fears for the future.
Watch “Inside the Battle: Al Nusra-Al Qaeda in Syria (Trailer)” – http://bit.ly/1OySUxB
Syria’s brutal civil war has created hundreds of thousands of refugees, civilians who have been forced to leave everything behind at home and travel in search of a new life in Europe.
Ismael, 25, filmed his journey to Germany with 19-year-old Naeem, capturing the most dangerous parts of a perilous trip, including the boat crossing from Turkey to Greece where hundreds of refugees have died this year.
In this excerpt from “My Escape From Syria,” exclusive first-hand footage reveals the horror of crossing the rough Mediterranean Sea in an overcrowded inflatable boat, as refugees attempt to navigate their way to Greece in the dark.
Watch “My Escape From Syria: Europe or Die” – http://bit.ly/1LiVIJk