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The US, Israel & The Middle East

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Syrian War Report – Oct. 26, 2018: US Military Plane Operated UAVs That Attacked Russian Airbase
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Jamal Khashoggi's fiancée rejects Trump's invitation to come to the White House

  • Khashoggi's fiancée says she will not take President Trump up on his offer to visit the White House, unless his administration acts on the journalist's brutal murder
  • Hatice Cengiz initially said that she would consider it if the U.S. 'makes a genuine contribution to the efforts to reveal what happened inside the Saudi consulate'
  • Based on Trump's 'opposing' statements she now says: 'I do not think of going to the United States'
  • 'They were simply statements to gain public sympathy,' she argued
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...jects-Trumps-invitation-come-White-House.html
 

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Syrian War Report – Oct. 29, 2018: Putin - Idlib Offensive Is Option If Terrorist Threat Remains
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Saudi arms deal Trump claimed will create 500,000 jobs will lead to fewer than ONE THOUSAND - but it WILL boost employment in the kingdom

  • Trump claims the $110 billion arms deal he negotiated with Saudi Arabia last year will lead to '500,000 jobs'
  • Claim is central to his reasons for not sanctioning kingdom over murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul
  • But internal Lockheed Martin document says fewer than 1,000 U.S. positions would be created by defense contractor
  • Real boost would be to Saudi, where 10,000 new jobs would be created
  • Raytheon expects to sustain 10,000 existing jobs and create a small percentage of that figure
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ms-hundreds-new-U-S-jobs-Saudi-mega-deal.html
 

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Panel: Iran Benefits from Saudi Arabia’s Involvement in Yemen
By: Sam LaGrone
October 26, 2018 4:40 PM



Iranian leaders are gaining leverage and advantage over Saudi Arabia and its allies as the conflict in Yemen drags on, a leading expert in Middle East security issues said Thursday.

Tehran has spent “a pittance” in support of the Houthis while the Saudis with American intelligence and support for its fighter and strike aircraft and ground forces have spent $50 billion since 2015 trying to defeat them, Bruce Riedel said at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Iran has used Hezbollah, its proxy based in Lebanon, to fight alongside the Houthis, whom he described as “ruthless thugs” and some financing to buy arms. Tehran also provided the expertise to finish ballistic missile construction the Houthis have used to attack Saudi capital Riyadh and targets in the United Arab Emirates.

“I think Iran has been telling the Houthis to fight to the last Houthi, to fight to the last Yemeni,” he added. Fatima Abo Alasrar, senior analyst for the Arabia Foundation, added, for Iran, “It’s the card they played,” knowing the Houthis had no political allies in Yemen but a fierce determination to fight for control of the country. The Iranians see the civil war as a way “to antagonize Saudi Arabia” because it is being waged on its borders and “exhaust it.”

“The war was supposed to be ‘Decisive Storm'” and was led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Riedel noted. “His prestige is linked to the war and is now tied up into what happened to Jamal Khasoggi,” a Washington Post contributing columnist and Saudi national who was murdered in its consulate in Istanbul.

As the fighting stalled, the crown prince pulled back from publicly being associated with what was happening Yemen, Riedel said.

But while the original coalition of nine Middle Eastern and African nations arrayed against the Houthis, which had seized 90 percent of Yemen, succeeded in rolling back their hold on territory, it was not able to put an end to the rebellion that toppled the Yemeni government.

Alasar and Dafna Rand, vice president for policy and research at Mercy Corps, pointed out that the Houthis fell back into Yemen’s largest population centers, meaning civilian casualties would rise if they were attacked there.

“There never was a thoughtful discussion … on targeting,” Rand said.

The result has been the imposition of authoritarian, police state rule in the territory held by the Houthis, Alasar added. In some cases, this meant dragooning youths 15 and under into fighting units. On a larger scale, “the biggest source of employment in Yemen now” is fighting on the side of the Houthis or the coalition to earn money to buy food.

Inflation is skyrocketing, the panelists said, making food more expensive even where it is available.

“No one [country] is interested in economic development” until the war ends, she added.

The U.N. estimates that 14 million Yemenis are in near famine conditions. If fighting continues into next year, the estimate rises to between 18 million and 19 million. Although Yemen geographically is a very large country, most of it is desert and its population is estimated to be about 28 million.

Rand said complicating matters has been the closing of roads to send food and medical supplies to areas, often under Houthi control. Port facilities are unable to quickly disperse cargo and danger of an attack on airfields has limited their usefulness.

Alasrar added the Houthis conducted “one of the biggest landmine operations since World War II” to slow coalition ground forces, making surface transportation exceedingly dangerous.

“The issue is the access,” Rand said in distributing relief over so large a country.

The continued coalition air strikes are resulting in thousands of civilian casualties, destruction of hospitals and food depots has been condemned by U.N. investigators as possible war crimes.

“The Saudis have become the bad guys” in the eyes of the many nations because of these air strikes. The strikes are viewed inside and outside Yemen as causing the widespread hunger and privation, spreading disease like cholera and displacement of hundreds of thousands of families caught up in the fighting.

The Houthis are succeeding in portraying themselves as national heroes to the Yemeni and the conflict as one where “the foreigner attacks us.”

Riedel said the Trump administration looks at the civil war in Yemen as “damaging and crippling to Iran” and has continued to keep the logistical chain open from “tires to spare parts” to keep Saudi aircraft flying. So has the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s second largest arms supplier.

On the other hand, he added, “I think [the Iranians] think the end is in sight” in the 2020 elections. Or possibly occur earlier through congressional action cutting the logistical chain to the Saudi and coalition air forces. He and the other panelists said another way Congress could bring about negotiations, if not an end to the fighting and famine, says the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Al Qaeda does not apply in a civil war.

Saudi Arabia is the United States oldest ally in the Middle East, a relationship that dates to World War II.

The question becomes “what are we going to do; what is the Trump administration going to do” if any of the Houthi-launched missiles hit their targets either in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates” that result in large numbers of civilian dead and wounded.

For now, Riedle told USNI News the Houthis “have ratcheted down” their missile threats to U.S. warship and maritime traffic, most commonly tankers, through the straits off Yemen’s coast.

In 2016, several U.S. Navy ships came under attack by shore-launched anti-ship missiles fired from Yemen.

https://news.usni.org/2018/10/26/panel-iran-benefits-saudi-arabias-involvement-yemen
 

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French Ambassador Says Washington Could Do More to Help Shape Syria’s Future
By: John Grady
October 30, 2018 3:19 PM



The Bashar al Assad regime’s ever-tightening circle on Syrian resistance fighters could send a million or more refugees into Turkey and scatter thousands of Islamic extremists around the region, France’s ambassador to Washington warned Monday.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., he added, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met over the weekend in Istanbul to discuss the possible fallout as resistance crumbles in Idlib, city and province, Gerard Araud said.

“Someone [was] missing,” he asked said, referring to the United States. American news outlets also largely ignored the conference over how to de-conflict military operations, handle the expected flow of refugees and what to do about foreign fighters who would be fleeing the onslaught of ground forces from the regime and Iranian-proxy militias backed by Russian air strikes, he said.

The Iranians and the Syrian regime and resistance groups also were not present.

The broader aims of the Istanbul talks were to arrange a ceasefire and lay the groundwork for a peace process to begin that would include the return of refugees from Syria’s neighbors and Europe.

“Russia and the regime have the upper hand” in Syria now, Araud said.

As the meeting concluded in Turkey, Macron was quoted as saying, “There will be no real, sustainable, credible return of the refugees if the political process is not initiated.” The U.N. estimates that 400,000 Syrians have died in the war that began in 2011 and millions have fled the country, seeking refuge first in neighboring Turkey and Jordan but many pressing onto Western Europe.

“We don’t have any illusions about Russia” in the Middle East or in Europe, Araud added. He noted Moscow’s stepped up naval air operations in the North Sea, its political pressure on the Baltic States and its past behavior in backing separatists with arms and intelligence in Georgia and Ukraine.

At the same time, “we don’t see Russia as the U.S.S.R. revisited.” He said the combined defense spending of France, the United Kingdom and Germany exceeds Moscow’s. “Russia is raising some political problems,” especially with its behavior in Ukraine, but is not the intimidating superpower of Cold War days.


Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Oct. 21, 2015. Kremlin Photo

And when it comes to putting its money where its mouth is in confronting Moscow’s new aggression, Araud said, “we have done the job” in applying increasingly severe sanctions on Russian banks, businesses and individuals as a member of the European Union and as a nation. “Our trade is 10 times the United States’ trade with Russia,” so the sanctions’ impact is felt far more in Europe than America. As an example, he said for France their impact has been particularly felt in agriculture, a sector that had been heavily engaged in trading with Russia, he said.

While France is the United States’ oldest continuous ally, dating to the Revolution, the relationship has not always been a smooth one. To French leaders, Washington’s walking away from the Iranian nuclear agreement and willingness to impose tough sanctions on third party nations and businesses trading with Tehran is “a bit weird [since] we have the same diagnostics” on its behavior.

Araud cited Tehran’s ambitious missile program, its meddling in affairs of other Middle Eastern countries and backing of Shia extremist groups as examples of where Washington and Paris see eye-to-eye; but when it came to continuing to remain in the agreement, Paris and Washington have moved far apart.

Adding new tensions to that split is the looming Nov. 4 deadline set by the administration of President Donald Trump to impose a new round of broader sanctions. The wording of the proposed ban is general and sweeping, he said, and that is extremely worrisome to Europeans, Russians and Chinese. France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the United States signed the agreement with Iran in 2015. The EU was also included in the pact.

So far, international inspectors have found Iran abiding by the pact that halted for a decade its nuclear weapons development program; and countries like France and Germany have been working with Tehran to keep it in place in exchange for freer trade with their nations.

Even the sale of medicines and other goods considered humanitarian assistance by France or any other country to Iran could fall under the scope of the new sanctions. “Let’s see if we can work together” in defining what is liable and what is acceptable. France is “expecting our American friends to make some moves” in clarifying Washington’s position.

“You need to be more precise,” he said.

Araud, speaking before Merkel’s announcement she would not seek re-election in 2021, said France has emerged as a leader in the European Union at a time when political leaders in Italy, Hungary and Poland are questioning its value to their nations and the continent as a whole.

As the EU nations face elections this spring to its parliament, Araud said it was vital for EU backers like France to show citizens in member nations that it “it is important for our security” and they benefit from free trade on the continent and in their economic dealings outside Europe.

As an example of its security guarantees being used, France invoked its EU membership when terrorists launched a wave of attacks in Paris in 2015, rather than seeking assistance through NATO. “The fact is the EU is muddling through” on migration from economically stressed regions such as the Sahel in Africa and refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria. Immigration was at the top of the list of nationalists’ concerns about the viability of the EU, Araud said.

“We are not naive” when it comes to growing Chinese economic influence globally. “China is on the rise,” Araud said. “In relative terms, the U.S. is in decline.” He called this dynamic “a re-balancing” and power politics that can be mitigated through international law and dialogue between the two powers.

Russia is no longer the global superpower that the Soviet Union was, he said earlier. “Now the major relationship” is between Beijing and Washington.

https://news.usni.org/2018/10/30/french-ambassador-says-washington-help-shape-syrias-future
 

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Syrian War Report – Oct. 31, 2018: Turkey Finishes Preparations For New Large Operation Against YPG
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Published on Oct 31, 2018
 

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Kill those Saudi backed ISIS scum Mr. Assad!
 

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‘Petrodollar’ Exposed: The Root of Special US-Saudi Relationship
RT America


Published on Nov 1, 2018
In a special segment, Anya Parampil speaks with In Question producer Kei Pritsker to examine the roots of the special relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Kei explains how the alliance is based on Saudi’s ability to manipulate global oil markets through its petrol production, as well as the fact that Riyadh saved the US dollar following the collapse of the gold standard in 1971. Saudi’s decision to only accept the dollar for oil purchases in 1974 breathed new life into the US currency, the viability of which was in question following the Nixon Gold Shock.
 

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Khashoggi's body was dissolved in acid after he was strangled, Erdogan adviser claims, as it emerges Saudi prince branded him a 'dangerous Islamist' in phone call to Trump's Middle East envoy Jared Kushner

  • Turkish official said it looks likely that Khashoggi's body was melted in acid
  • Yasin Aktay said remains were dismembered to make them easier to dissolve
  • Elsewhere it was claimed that Mohammed bin Salman called Jared Kushner and John Bolton and branded Khashoggi a 'dangerous Islamist'
  • Analysts say move was 'character assassination' before truth of killing came out
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...anded-Jamal-Khashoggi-dangerous-Islamist.html
 

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Syrian War Report – November 2, 2018: Syrian Army Discovers ISIS Depot With US-supplied Ammunition
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Published on Nov 2, 2018
 

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Khashoggi killing is horrendous but punishment must not destabilise Saudi Arabia, warns Israel's Netanyahu who claims 'Iran is the bigger problem'

  • Israeli PM warns kkilling of Khashoggi musr not destabilise the region
  • Said it was a horrendous act which should be duly dealt with
  • Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime, was murdered inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul last month
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...s-writers-death-stresses-Saudi-stability.html
 

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Censored ‘Israel Lobby’ Doc Leaks
RT America


Published on Nov 2, 2018
Anya Parampil reports on Al Jazeera’s censored four-part investigation series on the Israel lobby in the U.S., which was leaked by the Electronic Intifada. She explains why the Qatari network opted to censor their investigation series after years of production. Co-Founder of the Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah, explains why Americans must see the films to understand the full scope of Israel Lobby interference. Later, former member of UK Parliament, George Galloway, joins the show to discuss the Israel Lobby’s influence on Al Jazeera’s decision to censor the investigation.
 

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The U.S. "Cannot Win Militarily" In Afghanistan, Says Top Commander In Shocking Interview


by Tyler Durden
Sat, 11/03/2018 - 21:30


Historians of the now seventeen-year old U.S. war in Afghanistan will take note of this past week when the newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations in the country made a bombshell, historic admission. He conceded that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan.

Speaking to NBC News last week, Gen. Austin Scott Miller made his first public statements after taking charge of American operations, and shocked with his frank assessment that that the Afghan war cannot be won militarily and peace will only be achieved through direct engagement and negotiations with the Taliban the very terror group which US forces sought to defeat when it first invaded in 2001.

"This is not going to be won militarily," Gen. Miller said. "This is going to a political solution."


Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the U.S. commander of resolute support, via EPA/NBC

Miller explained to NBC:

My assessment is the Taliban also realizes they cannot win militarily. So if you realize you can't win militarily at some point, fighting is just, people start asking why. So you do not necessarily wait us out, but I think now is the time to start working through the political piece of this conflict.​
He gave the interview from the Resolute Support headquarters building in Kabul. "We are more in an offensive mindset and don't wait for the Taliban to come and hit [us]," he said. "So that was an adjustment that we made early on. We needed to because of the amount of casualties that were being absorbed."

Starting last summer it was revealed that US State Department officials began meeting with Taliban leaders in Qatar to discuss local and regional ceasefires and an end to the war. It was reported at the time that the request of the Taliban, the US-backed Afghan government was not invited; however, there doesn't appear to have been any significant fruit out of the talks as the Taliban now controls more territory than ever before in recent years.

Such controversial and shaky negotiations come as in total the United States has spent well over $840 billion fighting the Taliban insurgency while also paying for relief and reconstruction in a seventeen-year long war that has become more expensive, in current dollars, than the Marshall Plan, which was the reconstruction effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

Even the New York Times recently chronicled the flat out deception of official Pentagon statements vs. the reality in terms of the massive spending that has gone into the now-approaching two decade long "endless war" which began in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.



Via NYT report

As of September of this year the situation was as bleak as it's ever been after over a decade-and-a-half of America's longest running war, per the NYT's numbers:

But since 2017, the Taliban have held more Afghan territory than at any time since the American invasion. In just one week last month, the insurgents killed 200 Afghan police officers and soldiers, overrunning two major Afghan bases and the city of Ghazni.​
The American military says the Afghan government effectively “controls or influences” 56 percent of the country. But that assessment relies on statistical sleight of hand. In many districts, the Afghan government controls only the district headquarters and military barracks, while the Taliban control the rest.​
For this reason Gen. Miller spoke to NBC of an optimal "political outcome" instead of "winning" the latter being a term rarely if ever used by Pentagon and officials and congressional leaders over the past years.

Miller told NBC: "I naturally feel compelled to try to set the conditions for a political outcome. So, pressure from that standpoint, yes. I don't want everyone to think this is forever."

And ending on a bleak note in terms of the "save face" and "cut and run" nature of the U.S. future engagement in Afghanistan, Gen. Miller concluded, "This is my last assignment as a soldier in Afghanistan. I don't think they'll send me back here in another grade. When I leave this time I'd like to see peace and some level of unity as we go forward."

Interestingly, the top US and NATO commander can now only speak in remotely hopeful terms of "some level of unity" perhaps just enough to make a swift exit at least.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...anistan-says-top-commander-shocking-interview
 

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“Iran Sanctions Will Speed Up ‘Multipolar World’: ex-Pentagon official”
RT America


Published on Nov 6, 2018
Former Pentagon official Michael Maloof and journalist Hadeel Oueis join Rick Sanchez to share their insights to discuss the US ties with Saudi Arabia and antipathy toward Iran, the likelihood of Iran sanctions “accelerating a multipolar world order” wherein Iran looks more to China and Russia, and the role of US-Israeli relations in US foreign policy vis-a-vis Iran.
 

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Will Iran Sanctions Force World to De-dollarize?
RT America


Published on Nov 6, 2018
Anya Parampil reports on new US sanctions targeting Iran as well as efforts from the international community, including Russia, China, and Europe, to sidestep the new rules. Anya talks to Mohammad Marandi, Professor at the University of Tehran, about how Trump’s policies could lead to the isolation of the United States, as countries work to de-dollarize.
 

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Yemeni War Report – Nov. 8, 2018: Saudi-led Coalition Achieves Successes In Battle Of Al-Hudayadh
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France Takes The Lead In Protecting Iran Oil Trade From U.S. Sanctions


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 11/09/2018 - 05:00

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via Oilprice.com,

France aims to lead the European Union (EU) efforts in defying U.S. sanctions on Iran, by supporting the creation of a payment mechanism to keep trade with Iran and making the euro more powerful, France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview with the Financial Times.



“Europe refuses to allow the US to be the trade policeman of the world,” Le Maire told FT, adding that the EU needs to "affirm its sovereignty" in the rift between the EU and the United States over the sanctions on Iran.​
The EU has been trying to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that would allow the bloc to continue buying Iranian oil and keep trade in other products with Iran after the U.S. sanctions on Tehran return.

The idea behind the SPV is to have it act as a clearing house into which buyers of Iranian oil would pay, allowing the EU to trade oil with Iran without having to directly pay the Islamic Republic.

As the U.S. sanctions on Iran snapped back on Monday, the SPV hasn’t been operational and reports have had it that the undertaking is very complicated and politically sensitive. The bloc is also said to be struggling with the set-up, because no EU member is willing to host it for fear of angering the United States, the Financial Times reported recently, citing EU diplomats.

On Monday, the Belgium-based international financial messaging system SWIFT said that it would comply with the U.S. sanctions on Iran and would cut off sanctioned Iranian banks from its network. This was a blow to the EU’s attempts to defy the U.S. sanctions.
The decision by SWIFT highlights the need for an SPV, France’s Le Maire told FT, but he refused to name countries that could host such a special vehicle. Yet, there have been expressions of interest, he told FT.

Meanwhile, the United States has been dismissive of the idea of an SPV, and Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State, said in a press briefing with European reporters on Monday:

“We have not seen much, if any, demand for the Special Purpose Vehicle. I think if you take a look at the over 100 corporations that have decided to choose the United States market over the Iranian market, they’re not looking to avail themselves of any type of vehicle.”​

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-08/france-takes-lead-protecting-iran-oil-trade-us-sanctions

 

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Op Shader Four Years On: The Battle To Defeat Islamic State | Forces TV
Forces TV


Published on Nov 8, 2018
Op Shader, the UK’s contribution to war on the so-called Islamic State terror group, is now four years old. In an exclusive report, Forces News has been speaking to two senior RAF commanders about the air campaign and battle to defeat Daesh.

Read more: https://www.forces.net/news/op-shader...
Subscribe to Forces TV: http://bit.ly/1OraazC
Check out our website: http://forces.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ForcesTV
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ForcesNews
 

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Syrian War Report – November 9, 2018: Govt Forces Freed All Hostages Captured By ISIS In Al-Suwayda
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What Keeps Afghanistan Off the Front Pages
RT America


Published on Nov 8, 2018
Twelve nations and the Taliban are set to embark on peace talks in Moscow to end ongoing violence in Afghanistan. The US is notably absent from the table. The war in Afghanistan has cost American taxpayers more than $1,000,000,000,000. How can the US go about extricating itself from what former naval intelligence officer John Jordan calls “nation building run amok?”
 

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Moscow hosts Afghan peace talks, Taliban attends
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Published on Nov 9, 2018
#Afghanistan #Taliban

Highly anticipated Afghan peace talks are underway in Moscow.
A dozen countries were invited to take part, and the Taliban is also represented.
 

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Hamas commander 'is killed as Israeli Special Forces launch bid to kidnap him sparking gun battle that causes casualties on both sides'

  • WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: At least four militants believed to have died
  • Israeli military has confirmed 'an exchange of fire' took place in the Gaza strip
  • Local witnesses say 20 missiles fired into open areas where incident took place
  • Deceased Hamas commander named as Nourreddin Mohamed Salama Barake
  • Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris as a result

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...nior-Hamas-commander-sparking-gun-battle.html
 

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Israel destroys Hamas' TV station in the Gaza Strip as three Palestinians are killed and seven Israelis wounded in heaviest exchange of fire since 2014

  • Palestinian militants bombarded Israel with dozens of rockets and mortar shells while Israeli planes struck
  • The fighting appeared to be the most intense exchange of fire since a 2014 war between Israel and Palestine
  • Palestinian officials said at least three people, including two militants, were killed by Israeli fire
  • In Israel, the national rescue service said at least seven people were wounded, including a 19-year-old soldier
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6382121/Israel-destroys-Hamas-TV-station-Gaza-strip.html
 

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Saudi’s are dumb Arab Jews any plan of theirs will suck they need US help for any hope of success.
 

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Gaza Conflict Report – November 13, 2018: Gaza Is On Edge Of Israeli Ground Invasion
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Published on Nov 13, 2018
 

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The End Game In Afghanistan Is Beginning


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/13/2018 - 23:05


Authored by Lawrence Sellin, op-ed via The Daily Caller,

China and Pakistan have plainly stated their plans for Afghanistan and South Asia.

According to a press release from the November 12 conference held at Islamabad’s Pakistan-China Institute, “Pakistan-Afghanistan-China Trilateral Dialogue supports the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] as key to peace and regional cooperation.”

Pakistani news outlets emphasized the point, one stating, “Pakistan and China on Monday urged Afghanistan to join the Belt & Road Initiative as well as the CPEC.”



Is it a coincidence that such plain speaking occurs in parallel with an uptick in the frequency and intensity of Taliban attacks inside Afghanistan?

Within a span of a few days, Jaghori - long considered a safe district - was being overrunby 1,000 Taliban, while other Taliban killed at least twelve Afghan soldiers and four tribal elders during an attack on a military base in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province. And bombs continue to explode in Kabul.

In an effort to lure the Taliban to the bargaining table, the Trump administration may ask the Afghan government to postpone presidential elections - a move the Taliban will undoubtedly construe as a sign of American weakness because they have always claimed the Kabul regime as illegitimate.

In that respect, the Taliban are correct. Other than a “presence” in Afghanistan, the United States has no strategic cards to play.

There is no military solution in Afghanistan, at least from the standpoint of the manner in which we have conducted the war.

After an initial small-footprint victory in late 2001, driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan, the U.S. chose to mount an exhaustive and expensive counterinsurgency campaign with its nation-building component.

At the same time, Pakistan, sustaining the Taliban, waged a proxy war in Afghanistan, much like Pakistan’s and, indirectly, China’s reported support and use of the Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates against India.

Pakistan has always controlled the operation tempo of the war as well as the supply of our troops in landlocked Afghanistan.

U.S. inability or unwillingness to attack Taliban safe havens in Pakistan or forcing Islamabad to withdraw its support, essentially rendered a counterinsurgency victory unachievable. It is an obvious deduction the Pentagon should have made long ago, except for its blind love affair with Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency.

After 17 years of strategic mismanagement, the Trump administration is left only with bad options. Getting out of Afghanistan is inevitable. Given the current trends, we couldn’t stay even if we wished to do so.

We should let Pakistan and China “win” and then help them ruin their victory.

Clearly, CPEC is the foundation upon which China and Pakistan intend to exploit their triumph, which is highly vulnerable to the very instability they were inciting in Afghanistan.

Forty years ago, Pakistani President Zia ul Haq said that to control Afghanistan, the country should be kept “boiling at the right temperature.”

Like a frog, CPEC will be slowly boiled in South Asia’s pot of instability. CPEC is the flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s blueprint for global domination. As the maxim, widely attributed to Napoleon, says “Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself.”

That is, by harnessing the potential power of ideological fissures, ethnic fault lines and differing national interests, in essence, the ability to manage instability, the U.S. can transform an untenable “presence” into longer-term regional leverage.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-13/end-game-afghanistan-beginning
 

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Murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi WAS ordered by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, says the CIA after the kingdom blamed the death on 'rogue elements'

  • CIA says Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist in Istanbul
  • It comes after Turkish government said it had audio disproving Saudi narrative
  • The kingdom had said the men sent to apprehend Khashoggi acted beyond brief
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ered-Saudi-Arabias-Crown-Prince-CIA-says.html
 

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Starting to look like the CIA set up the Saudis. Kashoggi might not even be dead.
 

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'We were told that he did not play a role': Trump continues to defend Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite CIA concluding that he WAS behind brutal execution

  • Trump reiterated uncertainty over Crown Prince's involvement in the murder
  • But CIA has reportedly determined that bin Salman did order hit on Khashoggi
  • President says he expects to receive a briefing from CIA sometime on Saturday
  • Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...-CIA-briefing-Saturday-Khashoggi-killing.html
 

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President Trump labels CIA's claims Saudi Crown Prince had Khashoggi killed 'very premature' and reveals the US will reveal who killed him within days

  • CIA has reportedly determined that Prince bin Salman ordered hit on Khashoggi
  • President has hit back saying that the assessment was 'very premature'
  • He said government will reveal who they think was behind the murder Tuesday
  • Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...-Saudi-Prince-Khashoggi-killed-premature.html
 

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Syrian War Report – Nov. 19, 2018: Government Forces Crushed ISIS-held Pocket In Southern Syria
South Front


Published on Nov 19, 2018
 

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Go Bashir Al Assad! Kill those Israel supported ISIS scumbags!!
 

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Trump Affirms Support For MbS, Warns "World Is A Dangerous Place"


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/20/2018 - 13:00


After promising to publish a "very full report" about the CIA's findings related to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's complicity in the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump on Tuesday instead released a statement where he once again defended the US's relationship with the kingdom, and questioned whether MbS even knew about the killing.

While Trump described the murder as a "terrible" and "unacceptable" crime, he claimed that as US intelligence agencies continue to investigate, they could still find that MbS wasn't responsible for ordering Khashoggi's murder.



Oil prices moved lower on the statement as investors interpreted it as just another sign that the US won't follow through with any material sanctions or other punitive measures against the kingdom itself (though the Treasury Department did sanction 17 individual Saudis, including a senior aide to the prince, over their alleged involvement. Presumably, as long as the kingdom does everything in its power to keep oil prices low, Trump won't give them any problems.



Read the full statement below:

America First!

The world is a very dangerous place!

The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq's fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East.

Iran states openly, and with great force, "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" Iran is considered "the world's leading sponsor of terror."

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $45c) billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $45 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries - and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!

The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already said to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an "enemy of the state" and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that - this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad b. Salimn vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event - maybe he did and maybe he didn't!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our count, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-20/trump-affirms-support-mbs-warns-world-dangerous-place
 

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'Traitor, you will be brought to account!': Parts of Khashoggi tape revealed


USA Today
John Bacon
1 hr ago


Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is heard yelling at his attackers and is called a traitor in recordings from the final hours of the Washington Post columnist's life, a Turkish newspaper reported Tuesday.

Habertürk columnist Çetiner Çeti, citing Turkish security sources, says the recordings indicate Khashoggi, a longtime critic of the Saudi government, was seized moments after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

“Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?” Khashoggi says early in a recording from a unit of the consulate that deals with visas and other routine paperwork. Habertürk reports that Khashoggi and his captors argued for about seven minutes before he was brought to another section of the consulate.

The recording from the second location included several minutes of arguing followed by the sounds of a physical fight, beating and torture, the newspaper reports.

“Traitor! You will be brought to account!’” a man says. The recording finally goes quiet. More than an hour later, another man's voice is heard saying “It is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago."


The recordings have been given to intelligence officials in the U.S. and Canada as well as several European nations. President Donald Trump said U.S. intelligence officers have listened to them but he has not.

Khashoggi, 59, had gone to the consulate to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage. His subsequent disappearance directed severe scrutiny on the kingdom. Video footage showed Khashoggi entering the consulate but not leaving it.

The Saudis initially claimed Khashoggi had left the consulate that day, and security footage shows someone wearing his clothes walking away. For weeks Saudi Arabia denied any knowledge of Khashoggi's fate.

The Saudis ultimately revised the story, saying Khashoggi died after a fight broke out during his interrogation. The regime said 18 people had been arrested in the incident. A Saudi prosecutor said last week the death penalty would be sought for five suspects.

More: President Donald Trump has many ways to penalize Saudi Arabia

More: Trump trying to resolve foreign policy crisis over Khashoggi murder

Turkish authorities say Khashoggi was strangled to death and his body dismembered – and that the hit squad was sent by the "highest levels" of the Saudi government. That has cast the spotlight on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who manages the Saudi government and was expected to one day succeed his father as king.

The Washington Post and other news outlets reported last week that the CIA has concluded that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump later said the CIA had not "assessed anything yet" and reaffirmed his support for the leadership in the close U.S. ally.

The Saudis adamantly deny that Mohammed either ordered the attack or knew of it in advance. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the Saudi-owned Al Sharq Al Awsat that Turkey has assured Saudi intelligence that Turkeys claims were not directed at Mohammed.

“The Saudi leadership, represented by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed are a red line and we will stand against attempts to undermine or harm them," he said.

The Trump administration, under international pressure to severely sanction the kingdom, has barred 21 Saudi nationals linked to Khashoggi's death from traveling to the U.S. And the Treasury Department has frozen U.S.-held assets of 17 Saudis and prohibited Americans from doing business with them.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Traitor, you will be brought to account!': Parts of Khashoggi tape revealed

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...khashoggi-tape-revealed/ar-BBPVbjT?ocid=ientp
 

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Trump’s full statement giving Saudi Arabia a pass for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, annotated


By Aaron Blake
November 20 at 1:07 PM

President Trump on Tuesday pretty much erased any doubt that he wouldn’t hold the Saudi royal family accountable for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi — even as the CIA has concluded with high confidence that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was behind it.

Perhaps anticipating a damning report, Trump released a long, exclamation-point-laden statement preemptively making the case for not punishing Mohammed or his father, King Salman, even if they were involved. It’s a remarkable statement that even includes a smear against the slain journalist, while insisting that Trump didn’t believe the smear.

Below is the statement in full, with our annotations.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia

America First!

The world is a very dangerous place!

The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries — and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!

The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction — and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels — so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/poli...l-khashoggi-annotated/?utm_term=.8c24cd08dd63