News Roundup for October 16, 2019

October 16, 2019

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

Top News and Analysis

Democratic Presidential Debate: Candidates Attack Trump’s Syria Withdrawal, Betrayal of Kurds, Haaretz
Several Democratic presidential candidates attacked President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria during a televised debate on Tuesday night. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a centrist candidate, invoked Israel into the discussion by saying: “Think about our ally Israel, what do they think now?”

NDAA negotiators set to spar over border wall, Iran authorization, Politico (Pro)
House and Senate leaders are set to clash this week over their starkly different defense policy bills — including deep disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over President Donald Trump’s border wall and possible military action against Iran. A conference committee tasked with negotiating a compromise National Defense Authorization Act meets for the first time Thursday. The process will test whether chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), can overcome their political differences in their first year wielding their respective gavels.

In Syria, Russia Pleased to Fill an American Void, New York Times
Russia asserted itself in a long-contested part of Syria on Tuesday after the United States pulled out, giving Moscow a new opportunity to press for Syrian army gains and project itself as a rising power broker in the Middle East. Russian and Syrian troops drove through a key town where the United States had held sway and picked over abandoned American outposts to announce their presence in the area and deter the Turkish incursion that began last week. The Russian advance, enabled by President Trump’s decision to pull back, may boost Russia’s Syrian ally, President Bashar al-Assad, while blunting the Turkish incursion. It was a telling demonstration of how influence over the eight-year-old conflict in Syria has shifted from the United States to Russia. But in this case, there appeared to be little balance left in the Americans’ favor.


Rivlin Unlikely to Extend Netanyahu’s Deadline to Form Government, Sources Say, Haaretz
With one week left until the expiration of the 28-day period given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government, the general assessment is that President Reuven Rivlin will not give the prime minister a two-week extension, but instead transfer the mandate to Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz, who would then have 28 days to try to form a coalition.

As violent crime spikes in Israeli Arab towns, so does anger over a double standard in policing, Washington Post
More than 75 Israeli Arabs have been killed in violent attacks so far this year, a spike of nearly 50 percent over 2018. The wave of violence has prompted outrage in the country’s Arab communities, near-daily protests and accusations that law enforcement protects some Israelis more than others. On Tuesday another man was shot dead after right after an anti-violence protest.

Former PM Olmert Slams Netanyahu for ‘Strategic Failure’ on Iran, The Jerusalem Post
“Israel’s greatest security defense failure – the greatest in the last 50 years, since the Yom Kippur War – is that we allowed Iran to penetrate into Syria,” he said, slamming Netanyahu for playing on the politics of fear and misreading US President Donald Trump’s policies.

Loose lips? Mossad denies its chief gave interview on Iran, killings, ambitions, Times of Israel
Mossad officials on Sunday denied that the director of the nation’s intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, had given an interview to an ultra-Orthodox magazine, days after Cohen was quoted by the publication supposedly threatening a top Iranian general, discussing assassinations of Hamas officials, and talking about his aspiration to be a future political leader of Israel.

Man Shot Dead in Israeli Arab Town as Protests Against Police Inaction Continue, Haaretz
Earlier, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the police station in the central city of Ramla, protesting what they call Israel Police inaction to handle violent crime in Arab communities.

Israel arrests Palestinian Jerusalem governor, Fatah official during raid, i24/AFP
Attorney Mohammed Mahmud said police arrested governor Adnan Ghaith and the Fatah general secretary for Jerusalem, Shadi Mutour, in their east Jerusalem homes Monday morning. He said they were accused of engaging in activity on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the city.

Opinion and Analysis

Yes, Netanyahu’s Iran Policy Has Failed and Tehran Will Strike Back, Haaretz
Amiram Levin writes, “Rather than leave Syria, Iran, which is militarily and economically weak, did the expected and pushed Hezbollah and other militias into the Golan Heights. Despite the hardships caused by the economic sanctions, Iran is accelerating its nuclear program, not slowing it.”

‘Our Boys’ exposes the Mizrahi-Palestinian fault line, +972 Mag
Moran Habaz writes, “Our Boys’ shows that Mizrahi racism has transformed into a real and deadly threat. As the younger generation of Mizrahim, we must accept accountability for and develop a new understanding of Mizrahi-Palestinian relations.”

Trump’s blunder in Syria is irreparable, Washington Post
The Editorial Board writes, “Until now, it was possible to hope that the damage caused by President Trump’s terrible incompetence, ignorance and impulsivity in foreign policy was largely theoretical, and possibly reparable. That is no longer true. The cost of his latest Syria blunder is unfolding before our eyes: Innocent lives lost. U.S. servicemen and -women betrayed. Butchering dictators emboldened. Dangerous terrorists set free. A ghastly scene is playing out, and it almost surely will get worse.”

‘You Are Leaving Us to Be Slaughtered’: Putting Out Trump’s Syria Fire, New York Times
Spencer Bokat-Lindell writes, “One week after President Trump’s explosive decision to clear the way for a Turkish military assault against America’s longtime Kurdish allies in Syria, many of the most dire predictions about the fallout have already come to pass.”

The nuance industry invades Syria, Times of Israel
Henry Greenspan writes, “Predictably, as things get worse in northern Syria, a cadre of ‘old hands’ on the regional players and politics join the commentariat. Their message is essentially the same, however old (or soiled) their hands: Life is complex. Some Kurds are schmucks. It’s not the first time the Kurds have been shafted. Their assertions are true. They are also irrelevant.”

The Problem Isn’t Just Bibi: It’s the Bibism With Which He Has Infected Israeli Politics, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The problem isn’t Bibi, per se, but the Bibism with which he has infected Israel’s body politic. As long as Netanyahu is around, the chances for complete recuperation are slim.”