Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Russia + Syria + Hezbollah = Hamas

by Elliott Abrams
April 11, 2011

On April 6, Hamas terrorists fired a Russian Kornet laser-guided missile at a school bus in southern Israel. How did Hamas get such a missile?

It turns out that Russia does not license others to produce this missile; every single Kornet is manufactured in Russia at the KBP factory. The KBP web site helpfully touts all the wonderful qualities of this weapon.

So how did Hamas get its hands on the Kornet it used to try to kill dozens of Israeli schoolchildren? Syria is the obvious guess, as Russia sells Kornets to Syria and Syria maintains close relations with Hamas and Hezbollah. The United States has previously sanctioned the KBP plant for providing missiles to Syria that then reached Hezbollah, as this Israeli news item notes. The only thing we don’t know is whether it was Hezbollah or Syria who turned Kornets over to Hamas.

The ultimate culprit remains Russia, which is selling Syria missiles that it has every reason to know will be given to terrorist groups. Russia is of course a member of the Middle East Quartet, whose goal is supposed to be peace—not arms supplies to terrorists. If the scheduled Quartet meeting takes place this Friday, April 15, Sec. Clinton should lead off by telling Russia Foreign Minister Lavrov that this must stop. A discussion of how Russian arms get to terrorists who murder Israelis would be a great deal more useful than hours of debate over what tactics to use in the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime’s cozy relations with terrorists groups provides yet another reason we should hope the people of Syria are successful in their efforts to rid themselves of the odious dictatorship under which they live.

Post a Comment 16 Comments

  • Posted by Haytham Tabesh - Lebanon

    Well, i believe as important the Russian role appears to be, the Syrian role is far more major.
    If Russia continues to supply Syria with these missiles, if Damascus does not have the will to play evil then all this won’t happen.
    It is crucial to target Syria as the main hub for terrorism in the region. Be it in Iraq1, Lebanon Gaza and even in Libya, as news reports mention.
    This regime seems to be very clever at deceiving not only the Arabs but also the US when it says something and makes the contrary.
    I am firm that the US admin should take a quick decission that this regime needs to be changed.

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    I’m afraid that Lavrov will simply shrug and give Clinton the “Who …US ?” look . Russia’s unabashedly disgraceful behavior shouldn’t surprise anyone at this juncture . Neither should the pusillanimous behavior of the Obama Administration .

  • Posted by Taulant

    And I’m afraid that ISRAEL has nuclear missiles!!!

  • Posted by William deB. Mills

    Gaza is a terrorist factory – the ghetto prisoners naturally use whatever means they can muster to break out; the jailers in turn use whatever means they can muster to repress dissent. Be it Hamas terrorism against Israeli civilians with rockets or Israeli state terrorism against Gazan civilians with collective punishment or white phosphorus bombs, the point remains: the people of Gaza must be given justice not just for moral reasons but because the current situation is a cancer on the body of mankind.

  • Posted by john Abrahms

    The only issue i see with this article is that reporters like your self must be bias in order for your reports to seem some what convincing. Hamas reacted with an action from that was initialized by israel. Hamas has the right to defend its country and its self defence acts should not classify them as terrorists.

  • Posted by Abraham

    One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter, why dont we condemn the U.S for supplying Israel with sophisticated weaponry that kill innocent Palestinian women and children daily. Why doesn’t NATO enforce a “no fly zone” over Gaza to stop Israel from using its aircrafts to kill civilians in Gaza?
    Looks like double standard policy from the West

  • Posted by nate levi

    well, i just hope the russians would not point fingers back to our deeds in georgia – supplying & training her with intel, drones, avionics, & conventional weaponry upgrades. despite our efforts to reiterate that those instructors did not act on behalf of our military, not even on behalf of I.I.
    question is what leverage we have over them & what they want in return …

  • Posted by EDJ

    Mr. Abrams got the equation very wrong. Here is the correct version.
    North Korea + Russia + Hamas + Hizbollah + Iran + Cuba + Venzuela + Libya’s Kaddafy = Syria.
    Whom are you kidding Mr. Abrams. I guess you have gotten a serious F. in your courses in foreign politics.

  • Posted by Sam Tajari Iran

    I just can’t see why the likes of Abrams would readily raise hell when a few Israilis die in a violence ridden part of the world but do not raise eyebrows when his brethren in Israil raze the houses and kill the children. not that I’m supportive of Hamas or palestinians for that matter,they are not friends of ours Shiites,if anything, once the dust settles they’ll be ardent enemies. I believe Israilis should be more critical of their policies for the sake of peece and survival.

  • Posted by Sherkoh Abbas

    The Kurds make up around 10 percent of Syria’s population. They oppose not only the Baathist regime, but also the Muslim Brotherhood. Represented in exile by the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, since 2004 they have sought the overthrow of the Assad regime and its replacement by democratic, decentralized federal government. Decentralizing authority, they believe, is the best way to check tyranny of both the Baathist and the Muslim Brotherhood variety. The Kurdish demand for a federal government has been endorsed by the Sunni-led exile Syrian Reform Party.

    This week the KNA released a statement to the world community. Speaking for Syria’s Kurds and for their Arab, Druse, Alevi and Christian allies in Syria, it asked for the “US, France, UK and international organizations to seek [a] UN resolution condemning [the] Syrian regime for using violence against [the Syrian] people.”

    The KNA’s statement requested that the US and its allies “ask for UN-sponsored committees to investigate the recent violence in Syria, including the violence used against the Kurds in 2004.”

    The KNA warns, “If the US and its allies fail to support democratic opposition [groups] such as the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria and others, [they] will be making a grave mistake,” because they will enable “radical groups to rise and undermine any democratic movements,” and empower the likes of Hezbollah and Iran.

    Led by Chairman Sherkoh Abbas, the KNA has asked the US Congress to hold hearings on Syria and allow representatives of the opposition to state their case for regime change.

    Opponents of regime change in Syria argue that if Assad is overthrown, the Muslim Brotherhood will take over. This may be true, although the presence of a well-organized Kurdish opposition means it may be more difficult for the Brotherhood to take charge than it has been in Egypt.

    Aside from that, whereas the Brotherhood is clearly a worse alternative in Egypt than Mubarak was, it is far from clear that it would be worse for Syria to be led by the Brotherhood than by Assad. What would a Muslim Brotherhood regime do that Assad isn’t already doing? At a minimum, a successor regime will be weaker than the current one. Consequently, even if Syria is taken over by jihadists, they will pose less of an immediate threat to the region than Assad. They will be much more vulnerable to domestic opposition and subversion.

    EVEN IF Assad is not overthrown, and is merely forced to contain the opposition over the long haul, this too would be an improvement over what we have experienced to date. In the absence of domestic unrest, Assad has been free to engineer and support Hezbollah’s coup d’etat in Lebanon, develop nuclear weapons and generally act as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sub-contractor.

    But now, in a bid to quell the anti-regime protests, Assad has been forced to deploy his military to his own towns and villages. Compelled to devote his energies to staying in power, Assad has little time to stir up fires elsewhere.

    The first beneficiary of his weakness will be Jordan’s King Abdullah who now needs to worry less about Assad enabling a Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood-instigated civil war in Jordan.

    Depressingly, under the Obama administration the US will not lift a finger to support Syrian regime opponents. In media interviews Sunday, not only did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rule out the use of force to overthrow Assad, as his troops were killing anti-regime protesters, Clinton went so far as to praise Assad as “a reformer.”

    The US retreat from strategic rationality is tragic. But just because President Barack Obama limits American intervention in the Middle East to the places it can do the most harm such as Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian conflict with Israel, there is no reason for Israel not to act independently to help Assad’s domestic opponents.

    Israel should arm the Kurds. Israeli leaders and spokesmen should speak out on behalf of Syria’s Kurds from every bully pulpit that comes their way. Our leaders should also speak out against Assad and his proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

  • Posted by Powerless

    Elliot- you make some interesting points and raise critical questions.

    That said, how do you expect the international community to have long lasting respect for a government that nearly shuts down over a few billion when the deficit is near 15T?

    This is no longer 2000, when the U.S. was viewed as leader in a Uni-polar globe. Year over year our international relations and power are on a decline, and with that decline comes less of a voice in the international arena.

    Israel maybe better seeking a close alliance with China, who’s strategically the new worlds prime broker and so to be prime influencer.

  • Posted by Maine's Michael

    “Our weapons ending up in Hamas’ hands, targeting school buses filled with Jewish children?

    That’s not a bug, that’s a feature!”

    And these are the aXXholes who make up 1/4 of the ‘quartet’.

  • Posted by Muhammad

    Your account provides a great insight of who is doing what in the middle east conflict. However, at the same time we need to question who is providing/provided support to non-state actors (like Hamas, Hezbollah) in Afghanistan, Africa, Libya and others ?

  • Posted by Melissa Rossi

    This strikes me as a case of the pot calling the kettle black. While Russia selling arms to Syria, which in turn supplies them to groups that target children is indeed problematic, you seem to be overlooking the bigger problem of too many arms floating around in the region. And this blog brings a few questions to mind:
    1) How did Hamas come to power? An election that the previous U.S. administration insisted take place, ignoring warnings from Jordanian intelligence (and others) that Hamas would win.
    2) Who is by far the biggest seller of arms in the Middle East, giving freebies to Israel (and Egypt) to the tune of over $2 billion a year, as well as very heftily arming the governments of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain (and previously Iran) among others? Well, it’s not Russia.
    3) As the largest supplier of arms in the Middle East, including a-hem, previous arms deals to Iran during a scandal now thankfully forgotten, does the U.S. think that our arms will not be used by terrorists? Hmmm, those stingers we handed out in Afghanistan come to mind for one.
    4) Does the U.S. have any reason to believe that the sophisticated arms that it gave or sold to allies haven’t been used on the children of their enemies? Or perhaps a more timely question is do we have any reason to believe the arms we’ve sold haven’t been used by oppressive governments to steamroll uprisings of those demanding democracy?
    Indeed it’s “not helpful” that Russia is selling arms to Syria. It’s “not helpful” that Syria is providing them to Hizballah and Hamas. But please, let us not forget that this is largely a reaction to the U.S. over-arming the region, and loading up the foes of these groups. And frankly, despite the big bucks we haul in from those arms sales, I find our role as weapons pusher in the Middle East “not helpful” at all.

  • Posted by Joseph Tajari

    I Like that.

  • Posted by dieta para adelgazar

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