Syrian Truce Holds During Islamic Eid al-Adha

by James M. Wall

al-adha-eid-hamouria-2nd-day-ceasefifre-afp

Syria’s cease-fire, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, began Monday night on Eid al-Adha, the Islamic festival which commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

The agreement, reached last Friday, began under a cloud of opposition within the U.S. and Israeli governments. The plan would lead to American and Russian forces jointly targeting terrorist groups. 

The New York Times reported that the cease-fire exposed “an increasingly public divide between Secretary Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter”.

Secretary Carter “was among the administration officials who pushed against the agreement on a conference call with the White House last week as Secretary Kerry, joining the argument from a secure facility in Geneva, grew increasingly frustrated”.

In the end, Secretary Kerry prevailed. After hours of debate, on Friday President Obama approved the cease-fire, even as Pentagon officials “remained unconvinced”.

The Australian Broadcasting Company reported that under the truce agreement, the United States and Russia would reduce violence over seven consecutive days before moving to the next stage of “coordinating military strikes against Nusra Front and Islamic State militants, which are not party to the truce”.

Secretary Carter and Israel’s right-wing government are united in their opposition to this “coordination”. 

In an appearance on The Real News Network, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Bush Administration, said:

A lot of what’s going on in Syria, indirectly or directly, has impact on Israel.  I think what the Israeli leadership is thinking right now is that the longer this war goes on, the safer Israel is, because it can do as [Prime Minister] Netanyahu has said, for example, in regard to the Golan Heights: they’re ours forever; we’re never going to give them up.

Wilkerson added that, in his opinion, anything else Israel can grab away from Syria “while this turmoil is going on is [Israel’s]” increasing the distance an enemy would have to come to invade Israel”.

From Wilkerson’s perspective, Netanyahu opposes the current cease-fire because “all these powers are occupied killing one another, as it were, and so they can’t take on Israel”. 

Wilkerson “begs to differ” with Netanyahu, insisting: 

I think strategically this [fighting in Syria] is dynamite for Israel. We are looking at the potential for things to start falling apart for Israel quickly and dynamically and dramatically. .  .  .

The United States [has] some really serious choices to make about this. . . That is another element we don’t like to talk about much in the United States, but it is intrinsic to this situation, and certainly to an ultimate solution to it.

A retired army officer now teaching at Georgetown University, Wilkerson is that rare U.S. public figure willing to point to Israel’s influence over U.S. policy.

In spite of this U.S.-Israeli military opposition to the cease-fire, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Syria’s cease-fire appeared to take firmer hold on its first full day Tuesday, with the main opposition monitoring group reporting calm in major provinces. .  .  .  the battlefields were noticeably quieter, according to residents and activists on the ground.”

Through Thursday morning, the cease-fire was holding. Diplomacy is working.

In the AFP picture above, young men and children celebrated Eid al-Adha Tuesday on a street in Hamouria.

About wallwritings

James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Jim launched this new personal blog April 24, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
This entry was posted in Israel, John Kerry, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Syrian Truce Holds During Islamic Eid al-Adha

  1. Jack Graham says:

    Israel and the U. S. military industrial complex opposed the cease fire in Syria because both initiated the American policy of waging war against the Assad regime on Israel’s demand, in this way creating ISIS. The oddity is that Israel directs American foreign policy in the Middle East into a series of unjust and necessary wars, with the backing of the major news media of the United States which have taken a rather characteristic stance in the pending election for President in the United States. The candidate favored by the New York Times and CNN in the present election is also the candidate who will continue unjust and unnecessary wars for Israel in the Middle East. By the way, Tim Kaine joined John McCain in during the 113th Congress in supporting repeal of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to facilitate these wars for Israel, so we are not talking partisan politics here. We are talking about raw subversion of American sovereignty by a foreign power, which claims to be, but certainly is not a friend of the United States. Our special relationship with Israel should be terminated in favor of normal diplomatic relations. We now have an opportunity to form an alliance with Russia to settle affairs in the Middle East. And given the signals of the major news media of the United States, and the attitude of the two major candidates for President in the present election toward Vladimir Putin, it is clear enough who should claim our votes. Again,it is not a question of political party, but the enlightened national interests of the United States

  2. AWAD SIFRI says:

    War criminal Netanyahu has rather cozy relations with Putin. He visited Russia, not long ago, to ensure certain critical guarantees for Israel (kept secret) in any potential solution in Syria. And as someone observed, Netanyahu probably exchanged red-blotched shirts with Putin (souvenirs from Gaza and Ukraine), as they were seen dashing into the sunset, riding a tamed “Elephant” and a tame “Donkey”.

    And in recognition of Netanyahu’s role as US “ally” (should it be spelled, “A-Lie”), now, Israel will receive $38 Billion Reward over the next ten years from the America’s tax payers – no conditions attached – to ensure and support Israel’s occupation of Palestine; Israel’s Apartheid system; and Israel’s hegemony over the entire Middle East/North Africa region (22 countries)..

    Israel had an ever-present primary role in the joint Israeli-US policy in the Middle East. Their strategy was to instigate the civil war in Syria’s ‘fertile’ ground, including the “Hollywoodish” role of US Ambassador Ford, touring towns and villages in what he must have considered as his Syrian “fiefdom”, calling for rebellion against the host country’s regime – not that they needed more than a wink.

    Let no one be deceived, the PRIMARY reason for igniting the civil war in Syria was to sever the relationship between Syria and Iran and, consequently, ensure Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine.

    Israel sees no interest in helping its Russian-US allies in ending the civil war in Syria, and so much as said : “Let them all kill each other”.

    After Iraq, Israel wants to ensure the destruction of Syria (Done!); followed by the division of Syria (Done!); and continues to establish settlements and ‘facts on the ground’, in the entirety of Palestine, between the Sea and the River.

    But, hold on. We have a saying in Arabic:: “Winds may not blow as sails desire”.

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