The Great Battle for Aleppo

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Jordan’s Arabic daily al-Dustour [Constitution] is reporting on what it calls ‘the Great Battle for Aleppo.’

Such a battle isn’t, ideally, supposed to be taking place, by the terms of the cessation of hostilities reached in late November. The rebels in East Aleppo (pop. 300,000) and surrounding areas should have ceased attacks, and the regime in West Aleppo (pop. 2 mn.) should have ceased artillery fire. Both should have prepared for new elections in which they could choose members of parliament to their liking.

The cessation of hostilities never included the radical al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front or Support Front. It kept attacking regime-held areas south of Aleppo, trying to cut supply lines to West Aleppo. Unfortunately, some of the US-backed Free Syrian Army remnants allied with al-Qaeda in these offensives. Russia used air power to hit back hard, sometimes striking not al-Qaeda but US-backed rebels. Those attacks led US Sec. of State John Kerry to warn a couple of weeks ago that the US was losing patience with Russian and Syrian regime attacks on Free Syrian Army units. But Russia complains that Kerry, despite his promises, has been unable to separate the FSA fighters from their al-Qaeda allies, so it is inevitable that some of the former would get hit in Russian airstrikes on the latter. Last week the Russians said it is they who are losing patience, with the failure of the US-backed ‘vetted’ groups to dissociate themselves from al-Qaeda and its offensives, which break the cease-fire.

These squabbles over details cannot hide a very big elephant in the room, which is that Russia and the Damascus regime of Bashar al-Assad want to take East Aleppo.

This move is not justified in any defensive way. Al-Qaeda isn’t big in East Aleppo, though some of the FSA units have gone pretty far in the fundamentalist direction and are considered terrorists by Moscow. This offensive is a naked power grab, and if it succeeds it could translate into more years of survival for al-Assad and his Baath government.

Al-Dustour says that Russian and Syrian fighter jets (apparently in tandem) have for the past few days been subjecting East Aleppo and the area immediately to its north to intensive aerial bombardment, in support of Syrian Arab Army troops of the regime who are attempting to surround the opposition brigades in the east of the city. The SAA is being helped by Lebanon’s Shiite Hizbullah militia, which has vowed to send more fighters to Aleppo.

The aerial bombardment of East Aleppo did not stop Saturday night at all and continued into Sunday morning. The Syrian observatory alleged that the Russian strikes have been aimed at a road in the north of the city which constitutes the last supply route into the east. The Syrian air force has been bombing East Aleppo itself. Some three dozen have been killed by this bombing, including civilians.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

AFP from a couple of days ago: ” Syrian regime airstrikes kill at least four in Aleppo”

Posted in Featured,Syria | No Responses | Print |

The Greater Middle East Reacts to British Exit from EU

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The oil-rich Gulf Cooperation countries may see additional buying opportunities in the British market after Brexit. BBC Monitoring reports:

“Political analyst for regional issues and Gulf Cooperation Council Hamad Ahmad Abdul Aziz al-Amer says in Saudi pro-government Ukaz that the Britain’s leaving the EU “might lead to successful talks with the Gulf Cooperation Council to reach distinctive partnership as the dropping of the British sterling will lead to increasing Gulf investments in Britain . . .”

In general, former British colonies often feel they have a special opportunity for trade and investment with the UK, with which EU commitments sometimes interfered. They now hope to step in to fill the vacuum left by UK departure from the EU.

A senior aide to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said that Brexit offered Iran “a historic opportunity.” Countries that had been informally colonized by the UK are afraid of European power, and anything that weakens the former is seen as a great good thing.

Meanwhile Turkey seems to be offering itself to the European Union as a substitute for the UK. Turkey’s officials said that they hoped the EU would now become more inclusive. Turkey has been in a queue for EU membership since the late 1990s, .


Related video added by Juan Cole:

TRT World: ” Turkey’s EU minister Omer Celik addresses Brexit”

Did Trump-Style Islamophobia break up the European Union?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

In a historic referendum, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. The motivations were complex, including a lack of trust in Prime Minister David Cameron, but it seems undeniable that an irrational fear of Muslim immigrants played at least some part in the vote.

A recent ITV poll showed a surge in concern about immigration, with only 15% of respondents saying it was their number one concern in the Brexit issue in early April, which grew to 20% by late May. Arguably, that shift was the margin of victory for the Leave side.

The same surge was apparent in Northern Ireland, according to a poll reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

“Like our March and April Opinion Panel Tracker poll the No. 1 reason for voting ‘Leave’ is Immigration, and lack of border controls. However, again in this May poll (like our April poll) this reason was even further ahead of Reason No. (2), showing that Immigration/Border Controls and controlling immigration is increasingly now becoming the overwhelming reason for NI people voting ‘Leave’.”

While there are Britons who worry about too much immigration from eastern Europe via the EU, immigration discourse is often dominated by Islamophobia.

Far right nationalist leader Nigel Farage has accused British Muslims of disloyalty to their country and has asserted that the EU endangers the UK because of risk of terrorists posing as EU migrants.

Aljazeera points out,

“With net migration to the UK rising to 330,000 [per annum] – over half of which was from the EU countries in 2015 – this gave huge ammunition to the Leave campaign.”

The hysteria about Muslim immigrants is irrational in a number of ways. Some of it derives from a fear that Turkey will be let in by the EU and Britain would be flooded by Turks. But neither thing was likely to have happened.

Immigration to the UK is evenly divided between EU nationals and those from the rest of the world, including former British colonies. It is the second source of immigration that accounts for most of the Muslims coming in, not the EU. If Britain didn’t want Muslim and Hindu citizens, it shouldn’t have ravaged India for 200 years.

The hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees admitted to Continental Europe this year and last raised fears among the British pubic that many of them would gravitate to the strong British economy.

British Christians are the religious group most likely to favor leaving the EU, while Muslim were the most supportive among religious groups of staying.

Still, the more than three million British Muslims (in a population of 64 million for the UK) were themselves divided on whether to leave the European Union.

The UAE’s The National reports,

“Miqdaad Versi, an Oxford-educated management consultant, [believes] that the benefits of remaining far outweigh the bloc’s imperfections.

Mr Versi says Muslims, too, are swayed by “the impact on their wallets”. He cites data showing their importance to Britain’s economy – £34 billion (Dh182.5bn) of Islamic finance issued through the London Stock Exchange, £20.5bn of spending power, businesses creating 70,000 jobs in London alone and a £1bn halal industry.”

Versi also said that it only costs £350 per capita per year for Britain to stay in the EU, whereas each realizes £3,000 in economic benefit. Ooops.


Related video:

USA Today: “Brexit passes: U.K. votes to leave the EU ”

As Putin Slams NATO, Russia loses Patience with US-Backed Rebels in Syria

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

On Wednesday President Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian parliament on the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s attack on his country. He said Russia would have to increase its military preparedness given NATO’s “aggressive” actions on Russia’s borders. (He was talking about NATO defensive moves in Poland and the Baltic states). Putin lamented that it would have been possible for the West to find a way to cooperate on security with Russia in the face of the threat from terrorism, but that it hadn’t tried.

At the same time, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu made a surprise visit to Damascus. Speculation ran rife as to the reason for the visit.

BBC Monitoring translates from Trud, “The Russian defence minister’s visit was somewhat of a surprise to experts, although he does visit Syria regularly,” Boris Dolgov, senior scientific assistant at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies Arab and Islamic Research Centre, explained to Moskovskiy Komsomolets. “But the meeting with Al-Asad was important. Of course, it was connected to the memorandum from the State Department officials, who were demanding that the US authorities undertake more resolute actions against the Syrian government army, and to the US complaints about the actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces. In my view, Shoygu saw for himself on the spot the plane on which the Russian Aerospace Forces’ operations are proceeding and what the situation in Syria is like. One further point about the visit: It is the continuation of the process of the signing of the agreement on a cease fire by the armed groups which are operating against Al-Asad’s army but which are not radical. In my view, that was also within the sphere of what Shoygu was inspecting.”

The deputy Minister of Defense, Gen. Valery Gerasimov (also the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia) implicitly hit back against US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry had warned last week that the US was losing patience with the Syrian regime’s attempt to take east Aleppo, in violation of the cessation of hostilities arrived at in February. On Wednesday, Gerasimov said it was Russia who is losing patience, with US-backed rebels who are sometimes making tactical battlefield alliances with radical groups.

Gerasimov said that for the past three months, Russia has been supplying the US with detailed information on the locations and movements of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) and al-Qaeda in Syria (the Nusra Front), but that the US appears to have made no use of this information in its bombing raids at all. He blamed American refusal to cooperate for the ripostes that Daesh has been able to make against the campaign of the Syrian Arab Army to retake a military base in al-Raqqa province, a campaign that has failed.

The Russian press is also suggesting that there is a split between President Obama and John Kerry on Syria, inasmuch as Obama is said to be tired of the State Department’s requests that he expand US military operations in Syria. This week some 50 hawkish State Department employees called for Obama to bomb the Syrian government, which is said to have alarmed Moscow (which is backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad.)


Related video

a href=” “> CCTV News: “US, Russia jets clash over Syria”

Posted in Featured,Syria | 15 Responses | Print |

$206 Mn. to Hate Groups to Promote anti-Muslim Sentiment

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender and the Council on American Islamic Relations have jointly produced a new study on hatred of Muslims in the United States.

As The Guardian notes, it finds 74 organizations promoting hatred of Muslims in the US, with 33 of these institutions having been founded and having their primary purpose the spread against this religious group. Those 33 have had access to $208 million from donors in the past 8 years.

The report’s top 4 key findings:

Key Finding 1: Seventy-four (up from sixty-nine in 2013) groups are identi- fied as comprising the U.S. Islamophobia network.

Key Finding 2: The U.S.-based Islamophobia network’s inner core is cur – rently comprised of at least thirty-three groups whose primary purpose is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims.

Key Finding 3: Between 2008 and 2013, inner-core organizations had access to at least $205,838,077 in total revenue.

Key Finding 4: An additional forty-one groups whose primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, but whose work regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes, make up the network’s outer core.

As The Guardian notes, the end result of the activities of groups like Abstraction Fund, Clarion Project, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Middle East Forum, American Freedom Law Center, Center for Security Policy, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Jihad Watch and Act! for America, is an increase in attacks on mosques and attacks on Muslim individuals.

Some of them, such as the Middle East Forum, are part of the Israel lobbies, and apparently they believe the best way to go on keeping Palestinians stateless and without rights is to convince Americans that all Muslims are wicked and deserving of any abuse visited on them by the Likud Party. But that Jews should be assiduously spreading hatred of a religious minority is past shameful (and also very unwise, since once you get white people hating one exotic religious minority, they may go after others; and we’ve seen some of this blowback among the Trumpists).

Another key finding (no. 7):

“In 2015, there were 78 recorded incidents in which mosques were targeted; more incidents than ever reported in a single year since we began tracking these reports in 2009. Incidents in 2015 have more than tripled compared to the past two years ”

To underline that the report focuses on hate speech, it carries a caveat:

“Caveat: Questioning Islam or Muslims is Not Islamophobia
It is not appropriate to label all, or even the majority, of those who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes. Equally, it is not Islamophobic to denounce crimes committed by individual Muslims or those citing Islam as a motivation for their actions.”

The report advises Muslims to get involved in high-profile philanthropic work and in politics and community service– to demonstrate that they are actively helping people in their community. (Many already do, but the high percentage of first-generation immigrants in the community, perhaps half, leads to their being shy about sticking their heads up, or to their not knowing avenues for fruitful involvement).

It also advises Americans that they need to realize that being prejudiced against Muslims is just as bad as being bigotted toward Jews or toward African-Americans.

If we had 33 influential organizations funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars whose express purpose was to spread hatred of Jews, there’d be a big outcry. But this is no different.

There has also been a rash of anti-Muslim legislation in state legislatures, all of which is either redundant or will eventually be struck down as unconstitutional. (The cookie cutter laws forbid the use of Islamic law in the US court system, which hasn’t, like, ever happened). The legislation is just to mark millions of Muslim Americans as second class citizens.

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After Trump bashed Brown Immigrants all Year, it’s the British White Guy who tries to Kill Him

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Donald Trump’s blatantly racist attacks on immigrants have all along had as their subtext the implication that there is something wrong with those brown-skinned people and maybe it is unwise to let them in.

Trump even said “‘it’s time’ for the UK to depart the European Union because of ‘the craziness that’s going on with migration’ and reaffirmed he thought that some parts of London had become ‘radicalised’. He said he thought that British voters would vote to leave because of “unrest” over ‘people pouring in all over the place.’ He also said that ‘thousands and thousands’ of people (i.e. white people) in Britain supported his call for a ban on Muslim immigration.

So, the message is that white people are good and the big bad EU is making a white country accept all those radical brown people.

So the first known assassination plot against Trump (if you don’t count far-right loonies and White Guys Brad Thor and Glenn Beck), it turns out, comes from the British white guy. He tried to grab the gun of a policeman at a Trump rally. Even after he was arrested, he said he’d like to give it another try.

Another irony. In Britain, most police don’t carry guns as a routine matter, and so there the firearm wouldn’t even have been available to be grabbed.

It is not known whether he self-radicalized on the internet or to what pack of lone wolves he belongs.

His defense lawyer says he appears to be competent.

But what with being white and all, and given the terroristic implications of gunning for a presidential candidate, he is almost certainly mentally ill.

(Though note that most mentally ill people are just struggling with a problem and aren’t violent).


Related video:

Wochit News: “UK Man Denied Bail in Attempt to Kill Donald Trump”

The Palmer Raids: When Trump’s Grandfather and Wives could have been Profiled

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Marx said that every great event in history happens twice, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce. In this regard, the Red Scare of the late teens and early 20s of the last century, promoted by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, was the tragedy. Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant hatred today is the farce, albeit a dangerous farce. What is ironic is that the Trumps could have been Palmer’s victims, themselves.

Donald Trump is pushing for racial profiling again now that, as the GOP standard bearer, he has free access to the Sunday morning news shows.

It won’t matter to Trump or his acolytes, of course, but the practice is unconstitutional. It violates the 4th amendment prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure, as affirmed by the California 9th District Court of Appeals (it found that it is not allowed to take Latino origin into account in stops in Southern California.)

Moreover, the 14th Amendment was passed specifically in an attempt to outlaw treating some Americans differently than others under the law (then it was African-Americans). The amendment wasn’t actually enforced by federal or local authorities very often, which is what allowed for Jim Crow. But there is a sense that the Civil Rights Movement was about translating the ideal law of the 14th amendment into positive law, actual practice. It has also been argued that the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery, is antithetical to racial profiling of African-Americans.

Trumpism is about repealing the 14th Amendment; maybe it is about repealing the Constitution in favor of whatever Trump thinks the law should be on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

We have seen Trumps before in our history. Palmer in the “Palmer Raids” had thousands of first-generation Americans arrested with no due process or warrant, and had them jailed for months without charge. He had hundreds of people summarily deported with no hearings or any shred of legality. He also put 200,000 first-generation or “hyphenated” Americans (as he sneeringly called them), under surveillance. Fully a third of FBI agents of the time were just following around Hyphenated Americans.

Many of Palmer’s targets were Germans, the working-class counterparts of Friedrich Trumpf (that’s how Ellis Island recorded his name), the Donald’s grandfather, who died in 1918 when Palmer was active. Trumpf changed his first name to Frederick, and he probably dropped the ‘f’ at the end of his name sometime during World War I because of strong anti-German and anti-immigrant feeling at that time. He had to keep a low profile during the war, which prevented him from buying some land.

Let me just repeat this: Donald Trump’s name is spelled like it is because his immigrant family suffered from anti-immigrant prejudice! And, the family’s interest in real estate would have been seen as dangerous on the part of The Hun in the teens of the last century.

Trump’s mother, Donald Trump’s mother, Mary Anne Trump née Macleod, was a first-generation immigrant from Scotland, a Hyphenated American.

Scots were also targeted by Palmer during his raids, according to a Congressional inquiry:

“Fellow Worker McDonald was arrested in Spokane, Wash., in May, 1918 and was shipped to Ellis Island in February on the ” red special.” A short time ago he was ordered released on a writ of habeas corpus by Judge A N. Hand of the New York Federal court, the judge deciding that the evidence upon which he was held was insufficient, but he was rearrested by the immigration authorities without being permitted to leave Ellis Island.

When asked what he thought of this action, he said: “This is the third time that the immigration authorities have framed up on me to prevent my release; so in view of two previous frame ups. I expected this one.”

“The Roy sisters,” he continued, “held on Ellis Island for deportation to Scotland for being members of the I. W. W., had their baggage taken away from them and shipped to Liverpool, England, about a week ago, and are now almost without any other clothes except those which they are wearing. That is a fair example of the things which have been done to deportees by the immigration authorities.”

When asked about conditions on the island, he stated that the food was bad; sleeping quarters full of bedbugs, and not enough fresh air, but added that they were generally better than when he arrived.

During the anti-immigrant hysteria, in 1917 a Czech-American community sent off some of their sons to fight in the US army in WW I, and had a celebration wearing their traditional clothing. A mob of American nativists attacked them! (If you don’t know what nativism is, just listen to one of Trump’s speeches).

Ivana Trump, the Donald’s first wife, is from Czechia (then Czechoslovakia).

His current wife, Melania, is from Slovenia, which used to be part of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavs in Detroit were accused of being Communists in the early 20th century.

You will say that Palmer bothered leftists and anarchists, whereas the Trumps and their immigree wives have been business people and grifters in equal parts.

But that’s the point. When you profile people based on ethnicity, it doesn’t matter what they really think. They’ve been convicted by how they look or how they talk, or when they arrived. Palmer didn’t need warrants or charges to arrest and hold people, or even to physically deport them. He just needed his bigotry. Any of the Trumps or the Trump wives, had they been around then, could have fallen victim to his dragnets.


Related video:

Wochit News: “Trump Makes Remarks In Support Of Racial Profiling ”

Pyrrhic Victory? As Iraq rolls back Daesh, can it stay together as a Country?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

From all accounts, most people in Fallujah are very happy about being out from under the murderous and puritanical rule of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). But Daesh took the city in January of 2014 for a reason. Locals did not put up much of a fight to keep them out. The Sunni Dulaym tribe predominates in Fallujah, and they have not since 2003 felt that the Iraqi government truly represents them. They think it is a cat’s paw of Shiite Iran.

The social consequences of the conquest of Fallujah are considerable, with hundreds of thousands of fleeing the city in recent months and 20,000 streaming out of it just on Saturday. Fears of outbreaks of cholera in refugee camps with no running water are heightening.

But an increasing number of Sunni Arab Iraqis are putting out calls for the partition of Iraq. These include the tribes of northern Ninewah Province, where the large city of Mosul is situated.

A high Kurdish official in Iraqi Kurdistan has also called for partition once the Daesh insurgency is quelled.

Ominously, the Badr Corps has ruled out so much a partition. Badr was originally trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and is a Shiite fighting force, one of the more effective.

This configuration is dangerous. You have nationalist Kurds, hopeless Sunni Arabs and militantly nationalist Shiites. The Shiites, at 60% of the country, probably have the social and economic weight to keep at least the Arab areas together. But it could be a sullen, cold-shoulder unity.


Related video:

CBS News: ” Turmoil in Iraq leaves economy devastated”

Posted in Featured,Iraq | 15 Responses | Print |

The end of the Beginning: The Fall of ISIL in Fallujah

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

After Montgomery and his troops defeated the Germans and Italians at El Alamain in northern Egypt in 1942, Winston Churchill was relieved finally to have some good news after a string of defeats. He said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi announced on Friday that Iraqi troops had captured the governmental complex in the center of Fallujah. The Lebanese newspaper al-Nahar (The Day) reports that the Iraqi army also took the eastern and southern districts of the city.

Only some residential neighborhoods in northern Fallujah remain in the hands of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). There, however, sources told al-Nahar that Daesh still rules with an iron fist, in the districts of Jolan, al-Muhandis, al-Wahda, al-Jumhuria and al-Andalus in the north. A source inside the city said Friday that it was nevertheless possible that the neighborhoods would fall to the Iraqi government within hours.

The image of invincibility and the projection of power that Daesh has striven for during the past two years has been shattered, the Iraqi source in Fallujah said, at the hands of the various Iraqi forces.

The Iraqi war information bureau said that a counter-terrorism unit liberated the district of Nizal entirely after imposing severe losses on the Daesh fighters. Meanwhile, the 17th Infantry Division, a Baghdad formation, continued to advance and it succeeded in liberating al-Ursan district entirely, and in securing the left bank of the Euphrates.

It also announced that units of the national gendarmes liberated the governor’s mansion for the county of Fallujah in the center of the city and raised the Iraqi flag over it. Dozens of Daesh guerrillas were killed in the confrontations. The government forces advanced to Baghdad Street, expelling the enemy. Battles continue as the army seeks to fulfill all its objectives. Fighting continues as the counter-terrorism division seeks to take Fallujah Hospital.

Iran’s Arabic-language al-Alam [The World] reported on al-Abadi’s television address, in which he announced that Fallujah had returned to the bosom of the nation, and that shortly Daesh would be completely expelled from the city. He said, “Our forces fulfilled their pledge, and liberated Fallujah, and next we will head to Mosul.”

He called on all the institutions of the state to exert every effort to take care of the civilians and to deliver humanitarian aid, as well as to be careful of people’s property and homes. He said, “today is a day of forgiveness.” (He meant that although many Fallujans may have collaborated with Daesh because they saw it as savior of Sunnis, they should not now be punished, in the interests of bringing all Iraqis together under the banner of the central government.

He said that Daesh had “no place in Iraq.”

Having taken Tikrit, Ramadi, Hit and Fallujah, the Iraqi government has over the past 2 years decisively rolled bak Daesh. It is now virtually besieged in Mosul, which is landlocked and increasingly surrounded.

As a governmental entity, I wouldn’t give Daesh more than a year. As a terrorist organization, it can be both long-lived and deadly.


Related video:

CBS This Morning: “Iraq troops push into center of ISIS-held Fallujah”


Posted in Featured,Iraq | 15 Responses | Print |

Despite Terrorism fears, 59% of Americans Welcome Syrian, Iraqi Refugees

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) |

“American attitudes on refugees from the Middle East”: A Public Opinion Poll by Shibley Telhami is just out.

Despite the raft of Republican mayors who have pledged to keep Syrian refugees out of their states (that isn’t actually a thing) and the sewage that has spilled from the mouth of Donald Trump, a majority of Americans supports helping Syrian and Iraqi immigrants and letting them into the US, and most Americans recognize that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq contributed to the rise of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), and so to the crisis in Syria.

Key findings:

Of 750,000 refugees admitted since 9/11, only 3 have been arrested on terrorism charges. Most Americans think it is more, and many Americans think it is substantially more.

Nevertheless, 59% of Americans support taking in refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries if the US screens them for security risks (it does– it is an 18-month process of scrutiny). 41% are scrooges opposed. The percentage supporting Syrian refugees in particular is a little lower, 53%, probably because of all the bad press.

Some 55% of Americans think refugees would be welcome in their communities.

With regard to Syrian refugees already in the US, 3/4s of Americans want the country to welcome them and help absorb them into American society. But 21% of Americans would like to expel those already here.

From mainstream press coverage of political attitudes this spring, I would have thought that the expulsionists were substantially more than a fifth of the population.

Although the threat of terrorism is usually highlighted in the press as a reason to be afraid of the Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing . . . terrorism, in fact nearly as big a percentage of those who decline to help these refugees say they do so for economic reasons (41%) as for fear of terrorism (45%).

One of the reasons for majority support of taking in Iraqi and Syrian refugees is that Americans feel a moral obligation to do so. 2/3s of Clinton and Sanders supporters feel this to be a moral obligation, while the percentages are reversed among Trump supporters.

The moral obligation stems from guilt over the Bush administration’s illegal war of naked aggression on Iraq, which 56% of Americans think had a significant role in creating Syrian refugees, and another 31% said had at least a small role in doing so.

I’m actually surprised at these responses, and at how well informed the public is on this matter. Although you could argue that Syria fell apart for indigenous reasons, ISIL wouldn’t have existed to take over the country’s east if it hadn’t been for Bush’s Iraq occupation. ISIL began as the Tawhid of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then became al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, then the Islamic State of Iraq, then the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant when its fighters went over to Syria to join in the civil war there. Its fighters honed their skills fighting the American occupation army. Many leaders were former Iraqi Baath Party officers.

Americans think that the 10,000 Syrian refugees that the Obama administration wants to bring in this year is just about the right number.

Millennial youth and Democrats are generally twice as favorable to taking in or otherwise helping refugees from the Syria and Iraq Wars as Republicans, and Trump Republicans are the least charitable toward them of all.

The survey was “sponsored by the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution and the Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, fielded by Nielsen Scarborough.”

Brookings Institution: “American attitudes on refugees from the Middle East – Part 1”

Brookings Institution: ” American attitudes on refugees from the Middle East – Part 2″