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Trump, Israel & The Middle East

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#81
US secures $285M cut in UN budget

The Hill

Avery Anapol
10 hrs ago


The U.S. Mission to the United Nations announced Sunday that it negotiated a major reduction in the U.N.'s budget for the upcoming fiscal years.

According to a statement from the mission, the 2018-2019 U.N. budget will have a $285 million reduction from the previous two years.

"In addition to these significant cost savings, we reduced the UN's bloated management and support functions, bolstered support for key U.S. priorities throughout the world, and instilled more discipline and accountability throughout the UN system," the statement reads.

One of the Trump administration's goals has been to reduce the amount of contributions that the U.S. makes to the U.N. The U.S. currently provides for about 22 percent of the annual budget, or about $3.3 billion per year, according to PolitiFact.

The U.N. General Assembly previously approved a $5.4 billion operating budget for 2016 and 2017. The regular budget is separate from the body's budget for its sprawling peacekeeping operations, which totaled $7.8 billion for 2017 alone.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said that the budget cut announced Sunday is a "big step in the right direction" for the U.S., and that she will continue to pursue "ways to increase the UN's efficiency while protecting our interests."

"The inefficiency and overspending of the United Nations are well known," Haley said. "We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked. This historic reduction in spending - in addition to many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable UN - is a big step in the right direction."

Conservatives have long criticized the U.N. as not being in the U.S.'s interests, and many have amplified their concerns after the global body overwhelmingly voted for a resolution last week to oppose President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump suggested earlier this month that the U.S. may cut off foreign aid to nations who voted for the U.N. resolution, and Haley said that the U.S. would be "taking names."

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...-in-un-budget/ar-BBHiW7s?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp
 

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#82
'The winds of war are blowing': The Pope warns of the risk of global conflict in Christmas address as he calls on Israelis and Palestinians to 'resume dialogue' after Trump recognized Jerusalem
  • Pope Francis called for peace in Jerusalem in his traditional Christmas address
  • He urged the world's 1.3 bn Catholics to not to ignore migrants fleeing danger
  • 'The winds of war are blowing,' encouraging on Israel and Palestine to talk
  • It comes a short while after President Trump was accused on fanning flame by recognizing Jerusalem


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5209613/Jerusalem-tensions-cast-shadow-Holy-Land-Christmas.html#ixzz52HOqDdNr
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the_shootist

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#83
'The winds of war are blowing': The Pope warns of the risk of global conflict in Christmas address as he calls on Israelis and Palestinians to 'resume dialogue' after Trump recognized Jerusalem
  • Pope Francis called for peace in Jerusalem in his traditional Christmas address
  • He urged the world's 1.3 bn Catholics to not to ignore migrants fleeing danger
  • 'The winds of war are blowing,' encouraging on Israel and Palestine to talk
  • It comes a short while after President Trump was accused on fanning flame by recognizing Jerusalem


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5209613/Jerusalem-tensions-cast-shadow-Holy-Land-Christmas.html#ixzz52HOqDdNr
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Not interested in the any Christmas message from the commie bastard in a robe!
 

gringott

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#84
Peace keeping operations?
Where exactly has the UN brought peace?
Nowhere that I have knowledge of.
Do some research on UN "peacekeepers" and child molestation.
Or here's one, the UN "peacekeepers" that came to Haiti brought and spread deadly cholera.
Reported by the Globalist National People's Radio of all the mouthpieces.
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo...ti-cholera-outbreak-that-has-killed-thousands

Get US out of the United Nations!
 

Aurumag

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#85
Couldn't agree more.

One question.............Why would an American prez give a fat rats ass where the capital of some middle eastern country is? Is he an Israeli stooge? Seems that every president from Bush on has been digging the US in deeper and deeper in that shit hole.
POTUS Trump is a Zionist Christian.

Did you notice that he was hanging with Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr last week?

Zionist Christians believe that the U.S. is obligated to preserve Jerusalem in preparation for the Messiah's Second Coming; literally interpreting the book of Revelation chapter 21 and the new Jerusalem.

All the while leading us into World War X.
 

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#86
US cuts funding for UN, citing inefficiency and overspending
RT


Published on Dec 25, 2017
The U.S. goverment has decided to slash its contribution to the United Nations budget, for the coming year.
Ambassador Nikki Haley gave a statement, explaining the move.
Read more: https://on.rt.com/8vls
 

latemetal

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#88
Wowzer, cut spending because of inefficiency and overspending, if we did this in America, we could solve the National Debt...If we applied the same standards to Israel, the middle east would resolve itself.
 

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#89
Capital shift: US proposes 12,000-dweller village as capital of Palestine
RT


Published on Dec 29, 2017
The US ambassador to Israel has said Palestinians 'overreacted' to Donald Trump's decision, in an 'ugly' and 'anti-Semitic' way. Meanwhile, it's been revealed Washington proposed to make a small West Bank village the Palestinian capital, as part of a bigger peace plan. RT's Paula Slier visited the village, called Abu Dis.
 

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#90
Palestinians remove their envoy from Washington in protest after President Trump proclaims Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and plans to move U.S. embassy there
  • The Palestinian envoy to Washington is being temporarily called back for consultations over the future of relations with the U.S.
  • The move was caused by President Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, proclaiming the city to be Israel's capital
  • Trump's annnouncement reversed decades-worth of foreign policy and rattled the Middle East


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5224945/Palestinians-call-envoy-US-talks-future-ties.html#ixzz52sBUqC8i
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FunnyMoney

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#91
Couldn't agree more.

One question.............Why would an American prez give a fat rats ass where the capital of some middle eastern country is? Is he an Israeli stooge? Seems that every president from Bush on has been digging the US in deeper and deeper in that shit hole.
Yes, he is a stooge, not to Israeli (they only have their own cabal nothing more), but to TPTB.


Is official. Trump has done it...
Wouldn't it be neat to know the real reason he did it?
He did it because he is a suck up to criminal, evil elements. Just like all the others before him, Obummer, Mr. Awol, Cigar-cheat,... and so on...

It was a quick 5 min. phone call, after viewing the real footage of the JFK incident, the POTUS usually just replies, "Yes, yes sir," and the conversation is over.

.
 

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#92
Now Trump warns he could end aid to Palestinians saying they show 'no appreciation' for payments and 'don't even want to negotiate peace'
  • President Trump tweeted the U.S. gets no 'appreciation or respect' from the Palestinians despite providing aid
  • He said that the U.S. had taken status of Jerusalem 'off the table'
  • He complained: 'They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel'
  • 'Why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?'
  • Trump tweeted on Monday that said the U.S. had 'foolishly' given Pakistan $33 billion and received 'lies & deceit' in return
  • Trump's administration had been threatening to keep the $255 million over Pakistan's alleged ties to the Haqqani network, since August
  • UN ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed Tuesday that assistance to Pakistan would continue to be withheld until Islamabad stops backing terrorists


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5230115/Now-Trump-warns-end-aid-Palestinians.html#ixzz537Qyr5r7
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latemetal

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#93
Neither side will make good faith efforts to talk peace, can we take back OUR money and go home? Boycott Israhell now!
 

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#94
Neither side will make good faith efforts to talk peace, can we take back OUR money and go home? Boycott Israhell now!

It's too late ...........

 

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#95
Jerusalem is 'not for sale', Palestine's president says after Trump threatened to cut the state's $300million annual aid to force it to negotiate
  • Trump sparked outrage by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital last month
  • Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said US could now no longer play any role in the Middle East peace process
  • US President then threatened to cut aid worth more than $300million annually
  • Abbas's spokesman hit back saying Jerusalem 'is not for sale for gold or billions'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5231445/Palestinians-say-wont-blackmailed-Trump-threat.html#ixzz538f0gnhy
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#96
'Jerusalem is not for sale’: Palestinians angered by Trump’s threat to cut $300mn aid
RT


Published on Jan 3, 2018
A spokesperson for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said that Jerusalem is not for sale, responding to a threat by US President Donald Trump to cut annual aid to the Palestinian Authority.
 

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#97
Trump To Present Mideast Peace Plan "With Or Without The Palestinians"

by Tyler Durden
Fri, 02/02/2018 - 01:00


A 'post hoc' attempt to present the US as a sincere broker in the peace process?

Axios reports that amidst the current complete disconnect in relations between the White House and the Palestinian Authority there is serious consideration underway of moving forward with President Trump's Middle East peace plan with or without the Palestinians at the negotiating table.

A senior administration official told the diplomatic correspondent for Israel's Channel 10 news Barak Ravid that Trump may simply place his plan before the world "so the parties and international community can judge it at face value." As quoted in Axios, the senior official elaborated on the plan as follows:

"Since it's not done, we haven’t decided yet how we are going to put it forward and what happens if one of the sides isn't ready to come to the table. We are not there yet. But we are very optimistic that all relevant countries who want to support a peace agreement between the two sides are still waiting for our plan, want to work with us and realize we cannot be replaced. Despite all of the false reports about our plan, we are confident it will be beneficial to both sides and both peoples."



Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with President Trump in Jerusalem during a May 2017 visit. Image source: AP via Politico

As recently as a week ago Trump repeated his threat of cutting US aid to the Palestinian territories, telling reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he could cut $700 million in annual U.S. aid "unless they sit down and negotiate peace."

Trump has frequently visited the subject following the fierce international reaction to the early December move which gave formal US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which includes plans to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. At Davos, just before a planned meeting held on the sidelines of the economic summit with Israel's prime minister, Trump heightened his rhetoric, saying of the Palestinian side represented by Mahmoud Abbas, "They're going to have to want to make peace, or we're going to have nothing to do with them any longer."

Trump added further, "We give them tremendous amounts, hundreds of millions of dollars. That money is on the table, because why should we do that as a country if they're doing nothing for us?" And concluded by saying he simply wants "peace" and "to save lives": "And what we want to do is help them. We want to create peace and save lives. And we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens. But the money is on the table."

The December 6th announcement unleashed a wave of protest among Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem which resulted in multiple deaths during clashes with Israel security forces. Dozens of rockets were also launched out of Gaza, with Hamas leadership calling for a new 'intifada' - or mass uprising against Israeli occupation - soon after Trump's announcement. In addition, Vice President Mike Pence was twice forced to push back plans to visit Jerusalem and the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the latter which was canceled altogether as Palestinian officials declared their intent to snub the vice president during this visit.

Pence finally made the trip less than two weeks ago but failed to meet with Palestinian leadership, and gave a speech before Israel's Knesset wherein he reaffirmed Trump's commitment taking the next steps necessary to making the US recognition of Jerusalem a reality on the ground, saying "In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year [2019]." He further said, "Our president made his decision in the best interest of the United States,” and added, "The United States has chosen fact over fiction" while peppering his speech heavily with Old Testament references throughout while pledging to "stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny."

Palestinian officials have claimed that the US under Trump has fully abandoned its role as an "honest broker" - however its unlikely that the Palestinians ever genuinely perceived the Americans in that role to begin with, as US aid to Israel - the bulk of it in the form of military support - has for years been in the billions per year. In 2016 the US signed off on a record $38 billion military aid package to Israel over the next decade. Abbas recently summarized the Palestinian Authority's reaction to the Jerusalem move by slamming the decision as the "slap of the century" .

And CNN reported the Palestinian Authority's reaction to Trump's Davos comments, as well as its view of the future prospect of a peace plan, as follows:

"If Jerusalem is off the table, then America is off the table as well," President Mahmoud Abbas' official spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a phone call with CNN, reiterating that Palestinians no longer recognize the US as a mediator in any peace negotiations with Israel.

There will be no negotiations, Abu Rudeineh said, until the current American administration abides by international law and agrees to work toward a two-state solution, which would see a state of Palestine created along 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Per the Axios report, should the White House move ahead to present a Trump peace plan before the international community it will likely be a mere post hoc attempt to present Trump as a sincere broker in the peace process. A December 21 United Nations vote to condemn the US Jerusalem recognition was dubbed a "stunning rebuke" of the US President's decision after 128 countries voted against the US and Israel, and with 35 abstaining.

While Palestinian officials saw the move as a final nail in the coffin concerning the peace process, Trump ironically presented it as "the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and Palestinians."

He said during the December 6 speech rolling out of the plan, "This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and work towards a lasting agreement." Trump generally framed the decision as a way to put his own stamp on one of history’s oldest conflicts. "The record is in: after more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians," the president said at the time. "It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result."

According to Axios' report today, "Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said he will react to the Trump plan after he sees it but stressed he is ready to renew peace talks." No doubt, the Israelis now see the US as firmly in their corner after the Jerusalem recognition, in line with the long-running Jewish claim on the contested capital.

* * *

Meanwhile, Axios summarizes the latest developments as follows:

  • U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt held a series of meetings with Netanyahu, his advisers and several ministers over the last two weeks. Greenblatt also met with opposition leader Hertzog and briefed EU member states representatives in Tel-Aviv and East Jerusalem. He did not meet with any Palestinian officials but met with Palestinian students and private sector executives.

  • On Wednesday, Greenblatt participated in an emergency meeting of the donor countries to the Palestinian Authority. The meeting focused on the crisis in the peace process and on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also participated in the meeting. It was the first time senior Palestinian and U.S. officials were around the same table since the Jerusalem announcement. Greenblatt and Hamdallah shook hands but didn’t hold a meeting.

  • In his speech during the plenary meeting, Greenblatt referred to Hamdallah and said he hopes that the fact he is participating shows the Palestinians are still committed to the efforts to renew the peace process. Greenblatt also said President Trump's announcement was just a recognition of reality and the connection of Israel and the Jewish people to Jerusalem. Greenblatt also said in his speech: "Did the President’s decision prejudge any final status issues? No. We have not taken a position on borders".

  • Greenblatt stressed that the Trump administration continues drafting its peace plan and called on the Palestinians to return to the peace talks: "Peace will not be achieved by walking away from negotiations. It is easy to walk away from the table. But that helps no one, and it reduces or perhaps eliminates the chances of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement. And that would be terrible for the Palestinian people".
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-01/trump-present-mideast-peace-plan-or-without-palestinians
 

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#98
Will Washington's Chess Game In Syria Lead To War With NATO Ally Turkey?

by Tyler Durden
Fri, 02/02/2018 - 02:00


Authored by Darius Shatahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

It’s not clear if the United States knows what it is doing in Syria anymore. Having successfully toppled the Libyan government in 2011, former President Barack Obama subsequently spent a good three years attempting to bring about the fall of the Syrian government, under the guise of humanitarianism, that embroiled the region in chaos and civil strife.

Incessant calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to formally step down, combined with the billions of dollars in arms and funding for radical Sunni jihadists who sowed the seeds of sectarianism and a bloody civil war in order to divide and conquer Syria, plagued Obama’s foreign policy for years. And let’s not forget the extensive strike plan Obama drew up in 2013, which would have almost certainly extinguished Assad’s presidency.

Unfortunately for the establishment, Obama’s strike plan didn’t have the approval of America’s warmongering partner in crime, the United Kingdom; and was strongly opposed by Russia. Most importantly, there was significant disapproval among the general public and military, and the U.S. knew it would never garner the support needed to carry out such an intervention.

Then in 2014, the U.S. military found backdoor access by riding the international outrage and horror provoked by the radical group ISIS, which had attained huge swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria. Anyone who had been paying attention knew deep-down that the focus on ISIS was essentially just a façade to pave the way for the U.S. military to take on Assad directly — though this scenario proved much harder than expected, after Russia’s formal intervention in 2015. With Russia backing the Syrian government directly, there was little the U.S. could do but direct most of its energy towards ISIS, with some minor, albeit noticeable, exceptions.

And then came Donald Trump, the alleged Russian stooge and lackey, who was going to focus on making America great again and who had proposed instead to work with Assad and Russia. Whether or not Trump has any say in the matter is unclear, but it became quickly apparent that the war-hawks in his administration are just as schizophrenic as their predecessors.

Working Through the Plan Alphabet and Back Around to Plan A




Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, waves after speaking to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, left, in Stanford, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. In a speech at Stanford University, Tillerson signaled a deeper American commitment to the Mideast nation of Syria, saying the U.S. military will remain there for the foreseeable future. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson initially maintained that Assad had to leave, but then appeared to change his mind. Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, only added to the confusion. Barely days after this flip-flop, a chemical weapons attack in April last year immediately brought us back to another strike plan on the Syrian government; and the go-to mantra ever since appears to renew the longstanding call for Assad’s departure.

But why did the U.S. want to remove Assad so badly that it justified manufacturing an entire bombing campaign against another force? There are many competing theories, but Assad as a stalwart Iranian and Russian ally poses a major threat to the U.S. empire, as well as to adversarial states such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In 2009, Qatar put forward a proposal to run a pipeline through Syria and Turkey and into Europe to export gas from Saudi Arabia. The Assad government instead forged an agreement with Iran and Iraq to run a pipeline into Europe — leaving out Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey completely. If these kinds of deals can be arranged under the cover of Russian air power, the United States risks losing out much of the region and its spoils to Russia and Iran.

Now that ISIS has been successfully (more or less) “defeated,” the U.S. is openly staying in Syria indefinitely to counter both Assad and Iran’s alleged expanding influence. Tillerson put it bluntly in mid-January this year:

“Continued strategic threats to the U.S. other than ISIS persist. I am referring principally to Iran. Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops; supporting Lebanese Hezbollah; and importing proxy forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. Through its position in Syria, Iran is in a stronger position to extend its track record of attacking U.S. interests, allies and personnel in the region.”

“Syria remains a source of severe strategic problems and a major challenge for our diplomacy,” Tillerson added. “But the United States will continue to remain engaged.”

The U.S.-Turkey Debacle




Turkish troops take control of Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured the strategic hill in northwestern Syria after intense fighting on Sunday as their offensive to root out Kurdish fighters enters its second week, Turkey’s military and Syrian war monitor reported. (DHA-Depo Photos via AP)

As reports began to emerge of Washington’s plan to build a 30,000-strong Kurdish and Arab force on Turkey’s border in Syria, it became quite clear that Turkey itself was days away from invading Syria directly. To no one’s great surprise, the Turkish military intervened in the days that followed, most notably in the city of Afrin, before announcing it would extend its operations right up to the border with Iraq.

The U.S. surely knew this would happen, yet continued to antagonize both parties to the fullest extent possible. Neither the U.S. nor Turkey has the legal basis to conduct military operations in Syria, yet the two of them believe they have the right to call the shots as to the best way of handling the situation. First, Turkey urged the U.S. to leave the area of Manbij because that is where the Turks have set their sights, getting closer to the border with Iraq. A top U.S. general immediately responded by saying the U.S. had no intention of leaving Manbij at all, further aggravating the situation.

The only consistent strategy employed by the U.S. that can be ascertained (to a point) is that of maximizing the chaos in Syria. Even as we speak, Russia has begun a peace process of its own in Sochi. Why did the U.S. decide to announce its unlimited troop presence in Syria days before the peace talks were to commence; and do they genuinely believe their presence in Syria contributes to any meaningful peace for that country?

Just as disturbing is America’s unrivaled ability to commit itself to wars left, right and center without any domestic democratic accountability or approval from the international community. As The New York Times notes, this new Syria strategy is “illegal under both the Constitution and international law.” It was illegal when Barack Obama began a covert war of aggression to topple the Syrian government as far back as 2011; it was illegal right up until he began bombing Syrian territory in 2014; and everything the United States has done right through the Trump administration until today is equally illegal.

The Times’ assessment that allows for the U.S. to be in Syria solely to defeat ISIS is questionable at best; but it proves one thing: not even the warmongering mainstream media can put a positive legal spin on the plan to stay in Syria to confront Assad and Iran: because there is no legal basis to do so.

As it stands, the U.S.’ strategy in Syria is beginning to make less sense by the day. Turkey, a longstanding opponent of the Assad government, now might be working to establish a formal dialogue with Assad himself, to counter what it deems to be the principal threat: the U.S.-backed Kurds.

According to Robert Fisk, reporting from on the ground in Syria, the city of Afrin hasn’t even been bombed by Turkey yet, while Turkey has been continuously threatening a grand offensive to retake the city. That’s because it’s Russia, not the U.S., that controls the airspace over the city of Afrin, and any incursion into Afrin would most likely need Russian approval. By Fisk’s research, if Turkey’s army wanted to take Afrin, it could do so in less than half an hour. So far, there have been signs of violence around Afrin, but not in Afrin itself. Indications are that Turkey is relying on its newfound proxy force instead, in the hopes of re-establishing a sizeable anti-Assad force of its own — one that can continue to fight for Turkey’s interests without compromising its position on the Kurdish question.

There’s a reason that Turkey is arresting journalists and critics of the invasion by the hundreds even as I type. With Western media relying on state-approved Turkish correspondents without the capacity for dissent, it is unlikely that those of us on the outside are getting the full picture. Fisk is most likely the only journalist on the ground who won’t be simply echoing Erdogan’s narrative, and already he has alleged that Turkey is conducting outright civilian massacres, not “surgical” strikes on “terrorists.”

Turkey is a member of NATO. It has invaded Syria just as the U.S. has, but with what appear to be polar-opposite interests.

According to Haaretz, the real reason Turkey is involving itself in the region is not to stop an independent Kurdish state, but to stop Assad from incorporating the current Kurdish political infrastructure into his own future Syrian state. Haaretz explains:

“Russia knows the survival of Assad’s regime and his control of the entire country depends to a large extent on his ability to assimilate the Kurdish districts into Syria, with the ideal scenario being one that allows the Kurds to run their federation as part of the Syrian state under Assad’s rule. The United States also sees the Kurdish federal system in Syria and the principles of the Kurdish constitution as being no less worthy of defending than the Kurdish region in Iraq.”

The media won’t admit it outright, but this too is a deal-breaker for the U.S., and hanging the Kurds out to dry and drawing Turkey into a direct confrontation might be the principal way in which the U.S. can continue to dismantle any hopes for a unified Syria in the not-too-distant future.

Where Are We Headed?




A U.S.-backed anti-government fighter mans a heavy automatic machine gun, left, next to an American soldier as they take their positions at Tanf, a border crossing between Syria and Iraq (Hammurabi’s Justice News/AP)

Clearly, Washington’s distaste for Assad lies in his geopolitical proximity to Iran and Russia. This should be no secret, as the U.S. has maintained its view of both countries as American arch-rivals right through the previous administrations.

As The Washington Post noted just days ago, the U.S. has finally admitted its true intention in Syria:

“After months of incoherence, the Trump administration has taken a step toward a clear policy on Syria and its civil war. In a speech last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson bluntly recognized a truth that both President Trump and President Barack Obama attempted to dodge: that ‘it is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, and assist the Syrian people . . . to achieve a new political future.’

To do that, the United States will continue to deploy several thousand personnel in the country and help allied Syrian forces maintain control over enclaves in the southwest, near Israel and Jordan, and the northeast, on the border with Iraq and Turkey.” [emphasis added]

Yet as long as Russia maintains a military presence in Syria, with the capability of establishing a no-fly zone of its own in much of the country, there is little the U.S. can do regarding Assad without taking on Russia directly. In the meantime, however, it clearly can do its utmost to put a dent in Iran’s expanding influence. By allowing its proxy forces to take over the strategic areas of al-Tanf and parts of Deir ez-Zor, the United States will put a major hole in Iran’s ability to link itself to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as directly as it otherwise could. This bridge of Iran-allied nations, known as the Shia Crescent, is Saudi Arabia’s worst nightmare.

In that context, however, the current stand-off will remain a stalemate for some time, as Iranian-backed troops will continue to render America’s military bases all but useless — as they have more or less taken control of the areas that surround the bases, cutting the U.S. military off from using the bases effectively.

Whether or not the U.S. is prepared to launch a direct strike on these forces and go further than merely cutting them off is unclear, but it seems unlikely at this stage. Given that the U.S. knows Israel is itching to bomb Syria and Lebanon to confront Iran’s growing military presence, it seems more likely that the U.S. will instead rely on Israel to kickstart such a war. At the same time, Washington can continue to rely on its proxy forces to take on the so-called Iranian threat, without fighting Iran directly.

Either way, America’s schizophrenic approach to the conflict and its desire to prolong the war as long as possible does nothing to ease the suffering of ordinary Syrians. It should be clear that the U.S. has no desire to bring peace to Syria, as it continues to violate international law and aggravate other major players in the region, all of whom have conflicting and contradictory visions for the future of Syria.

America’s current Syria strategy opens up the door for a war with Turkey and a potential war with Iran and Syria. All the while the U.S. loses its status as the so-called global leader, with Russia emerging unscathed from the conflict as the region’s major power broker.





The corporate media would do well to follow the footsteps of The New York Times and call this strategy what it is: illegal — not to mention chaotic and maniacal. There is no happy ending to this story; but the least Washington could do is allow Syria to resolve its problems on its own, without further igniting a regional bloodbath.

* * *

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https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...ns-chess-game-syria-lead-war-nato-ally-turkey
 

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#99
The towels on the heads of these "Red-Headed Step Children" of the Muslim world are rapped too tight.
East Jerusalem is still available as the Capital for Palestine.
But the Towel Heads and PROGS prefer to go Butt Hurt ( which is the way Muslim Men want their "Boys" anyway) . Jus' sayin'.

IF Israel is ever taken out the Muslim Factions would start to work on eliminating those same Palestinians.
psst - Nobody really wants the Palestinians. The Jews of Israel is really the best friend they have. There are Palestinians living and working in the Israeli controlled part of Jerusalem.
 

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Russian fighter jet 'is shot down by jubilant Syrian rebels': Pilot ejects and shoots at rebel mob before being killed in defiant last stand after his plane crashed in a ball of flames
  • Dramatic video shows Sukhoi 25 plummeting out of sky after it was hit in the north-western province of Idlib
  • Another video then shows jubilant rebels celebrating as the wreckage burns on the ground, releasing smoke
  • The pilot reportedly managed to eject and parachute to the ground before being captured by the rebels
  • Rebels later posted images of what they claimed was the his dead body, and his death was then confirmed


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5348005/Russian-fighter-jet-shot-Syria.html#ixzz564VugMNA
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Turkey's Offensive In Syria: The US Falls Into A Trap Of Its Own Making

by Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/07/2018 - 02:00

Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

In the heat of the battle for Afrin, Turkey has warned it will go farther to establish control over vast swathes of land in northern Syria. The offensive is supposed to take Turkish forces as far as Syria’s border with Iraq. On Jan. 28, Ankara called on Washington to withdraw its military from Manbij (100 km from Afrin) before it launches an operation to clear that area of Kurdish militias. It’s important to note that the US had provoked Turkey’s action by announcing its decision to set up a new border security force in the areas under Kurdish control. So Washington has created this situation all by itself – a trap of its own making. Having sown the wind, it reaps the whirlwind.

A push to the east will potentially force a confrontation between Turkish troops and the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Kurdish combat units in Afrin missed their opportunity to avoid a worst-case scenario.



Some Pro-Kurdish sources say Russia had betrayed the Afrin Kurds by pulling its peacekeepers out before the Turkish attack began. This is a very misleading statement. Let’s look at the facts. Moscow believes all regions west of the Euphrates should be under the control of the regular Syrian army, because these areas belong to Syria – a territorially cohesive country with a legitimate government. Russia had asked the Kurds in Afrin to interact with Damascus and allow its regular army into the area. They refused. Moscow is still ready to act as a mediator to broker talks on autonomy within Syria. So far that initiative has been rejected. The Kurds have preferred the US as their protector. Now they are on their own. They've made their bed, now they must lie in it.".

The US military has not defended the Kurds in Afrin, claiming it does not regard them as allies on par with the Kurds who are part of the SDF farther east. The US maintains that the Kurds in Afrin did not fight the Islamic State (IS). But even so, those Kurds did protect Afrin and kept their land from being invaded by jihadi militants. Perhaps the US never committed itself to defending the Kurds in Afrin, but it did accept the responsibility of protecting the SDF in Manbij. What will happen now? It is next to impossible to make predictions with any degree of accuracy, but we can contemplate some potential scenarios.

The Turkish Hürriyet Daily News reported that the US and Turkey are in talks over ways to de-escalate the conflict. NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller has confirmed that fact, but it’s not clear how that would jibe with the offensive announced by Ankara to capture the land held by the SDF. In any event, it would be too humiliating for Washington to give in to Turkey’s demand. If the US fails to protect its Kurdish allies, it will have no reason to maintain its military presence in Syria. It will have to leave the country, just as Russia and Syria have requested.

One potential scenario would include inciting a broader uprising of Kurds that would encompass Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. That might reshape the regional map. A development like that is not outside the realm of possibility.

Another consequence – NATO’s cohesion has already been undermined now that Turkey and the US are supporting opposite sides. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the US will either blink first or it will ask NATO to suspend, or even expel, Turkey from that organization, at least as long as President Erdogan is in power. This would naturally push Ankara in the direction of Moscow and Beijing, if it should move from NATO to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. President Erdogan only recently mentioned how tired he was of the whole EU membership process.

A political defeat for the US is the most probable outcome. Washington will have to pay for its lack of a clear action plan in Syria and its inability to fully grasp the situation. Obviously Washington is in a predicament. It is up against a very hard choice.

If the US intends to stay in northern Syria, it certainly needs the Kurds. But if America sides with the Kurds, it will lose Turkey. It might find itself excluded from the entire nation-building process, since it is hostile toward all the major actors: the Syrian government; Russia; Iran; and Turkey. If it abandoned the Kurds, that would be a blow to its credibility in the Middle East, given its recent split with the Palestine Authority over the recognition of Jerusalem.

If the US manages to reach an agreement with Turkey, that will mean farewell to the prospect of Syrian Kurdistan obtaining a special status that would make it an independent state, whether just in practice or perhaps even officially. The Turkish offensive is likely to make the Kurds more willing to negotiate with Damascus. A future alliance with the Syrian government is an alternative that would push the Kurds into the peace process. It would boost Syria’s chances of remaining an undivided state. Moscow could act as a mediator between Damascus, the Kurds, and Ankara. After all, Moscow is one of few capitals where the Syrian Kurds maintain a representative office.

All efforts should be exerted within the framework of the Astana peace process, which is being directed by Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran. Washington has always emphasized that its goal in Syria was to fight against IS. But that jihadist group is now so diminished as to be insignificant in Syria. The mission has been accomplished. Why should Washington expend more time and effort, balanced on the brink of armed conflict with Ankara or with any other actor in Syria? After all, if the Astana peace process succeeds, America’s European allies will heave a sigh of relief as the waves of refugees from Syria abate. The best thing the US could do under these circumstances would be to pull out of Syria, focus on diplomacy, and just give peace a chance.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-06/turkeys-offensive-syria-us-falls-trap-its-own-making
 

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Israel To Deport 38,000 African Migrants With $3,500 Cash & Ticket To Uganda or Rwanda (REACTION)
Anthony Brian Logan


Published on Feb 8, 2018
The Israeli government intends to tell tens of thousands of African migrants and refugees to leave the country or face arrest.

Thirty-eight thousand mainly Eritreans and Sudanese who entered Israel illegally will be given a plane ticket and $3,500 until the end of March to leave, AFP reported Wednesday.

After March, payments will decrease. People who still refuse to leave will be arrested from April, the BBC reported.

"Every country must maintain its borders, and protecting the borders from illegal infiltration is both a right and a basic duty of a sovereign state,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

Rwanda and Uganda have agreed to accept those who cannot return to conflict-ridden or repressed areas in Sudan and Eritrea if they agree to the plan, according to activists.

Israel's treatment of African refugees has come under attack from local human rights groups, who say a country founded by Jewish refugees persecuted during World War II should be more understanding of the asylum seekers' plight.

(ARTICLE: USA TODAY)
 

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...The Jews of Israel is really the best friend they have. There are Palestinians living and working in the Israeli controlled part of Jerusalem.
The details go on forever. The only time we've been able to make any kind of positive difference in the ME was by staying at home and sending diplomats to help them negotiate about their mile long list of problems.

We don't need to be involved militarily over there, it costs beyond enormous sums of our wealth, but our blood and plenty of suffering all around.

Americans should have long since been marching in the streets. The issue goes back to Nam and before. But today, the way the BS news is, you'd think the costs were not too much and there's a true purpose behind it. The true purpose is a lie from the devil. We should pull everyone back and work on fixing our own problems, before it's too late.
 

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Israel To Deport 38,000 African Migrants With $3,500 Cash & Ticket To Uganda or Rwanda (REACTION)
Anthony Brian Logan


Published on Feb 8, 2018
The Israeli government intends to tell tens of thousands of African migrants and refugees to leave the country or face arrest.

Thirty-eight thousand mainly Eritreans and Sudanese who entered Israel illegally will be given a plane ticket and $3,500 until the end of March to leave, AFP reported Wednesday.

After March, payments will decrease. People who still refuse to leave will be arrested from April, the BBC reported.

"Every country must maintain its borders, and protecting the borders from illegal infiltration is both a right and a basic duty of a sovereign state,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

Rwanda and Uganda have agreed to accept those who cannot return to conflict-ridden or repressed areas in Sudan and Eritrea if they agree to the plan, according to activists.

Israel's treatment of African refugees has come under attack from local human rights groups, who say a country founded by Jewish refugees persecuted during World War II should be more understanding of the asylum seekers' plight.

(ARTICLE: USA TODAY)
He had a better idea!

nopeyouregettinggassed.gif
 

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Trump says he's 'not sure' Israel is interested in making peace with the Palestinians in rare criticism of the country
  • President Trump questioned Israel's interest in making peace in a new interview with Israel Hayom daily
  • 'Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace, they are not looking to make peace,' Trump said first
  • He then added, 'And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace'
  • In the interview, Trump also criticized Israel's West Bank settlements, which his administration has been more reluctant to do than previous ones
  • Relations between the U.S. and Palestinians have been more fraught since Trump announced in December the U.S. embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5378281/Trump-questions-Israels-making-peace.html#ixzz56tEL59PD
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
 

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RUSSIAN MERCENARIES TRIED TO TEST THE US MILITARY IN SYRIA — AND GOT WHOOPED || WARTHOG 2018
Warthog Defense


Published on Feb 18, 2018
More details have emerged from the massive battle in Syria that is said to have killed hundreds of Russian contractors — and it looks as if they tried to test the US. Reports have said that the forces loyal to the Syrian government advanced and fired at a US-held position in Syria and that the counterattack obliterated them.
It looks as if the Russian contractors and their Syrian and Iranian allies may be too weak to budge the US without getting the Russian military involved.

By: Alex Lockie

http://www.businessinsider.com/russia...
 

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Geo economics of Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project
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Published on Feb 19, 2018
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BAKU - Saudi Arabia announced plans to construct a new megacity in the northwestern corner of the country by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. The ambitious project will cost about 500 billion USD and seeks to link to neighbouring Egypt and Jordan. Besides its economic feasibility, the proximity of the project could lead to Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Israel. Suffice to say, a project of this magnitude is not without its geo-economic challenges.

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Israel And Iran: Inching Toward Armed Conflict


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 02/23/2018 - 02:00


Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Can you hear the drumbeat of war? It is getting louder.




Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on the final day of the Munich Security Conference that Israel might go a step beyond striking the proxy powers and instead take direct action against Iran. He was especially concerned about the possibility of a land bridge stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. According to the PM, Iran represents an existential threat and its permanent military presence in Syria is unacceptable to Israel.

The Feb. 10 incursion of what Israel called an Iranian drone from Syria into Israeli airspace has spiraled into a major fight, resulting in the downing of an Israeli jet and a broad wave of strikes against military targets in Syria alleged to be linked to Iran. This was the first time Israel has used force directly against Iran.

If Iran itself is attacked, its sites related to its nuclear program will top the list of the prime targets for Israel’s F-35, F-15, F-16, and Kfir fighters, drones, and intermediate-range Jericho missiles. There are different routes they could take, but all of them would require flying through the airspaces of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, or Turkey. None of these Muslim countries will openly allow Israel to use their airspace, but anti-Iran sentiments are strong in the Sunni-dominated Arab states. Some of them might be willing to look the other way. A clandestine agreement to tacitly allow Israeli aircraft to cross their air space is entirely possible. Anger could be vented publicly once the mission has been completed.

Iraq is not focused on monitoring its airspace - it has many other problems to deal with and Israel could take advantage of that. The route through Iraq looks like it might be the best option.

The distance that would need to be covered would be between 1,500 km (930 miles) and 1,800 km (1,120 miles). The aircraft will also have to make a return trip, so in-flight refueling will be a necessity. Israel is only believed to own between eight and ten large tanker aircraft (such as Boeing 707s). That will hardly be enough. The Israeli military is not particularly adept at aerial refuelling. If the aircraft have to fly undetected, the F-35s will have to forgo their externally mounted weapons in order to preserve their stealth capabilities. Then their payload will be reduced to only two JDAM-guided bombs in the internal bay. Pretty underwhelming.

Then Iran’s radars will have to be spoofed, and its air defenses, especially the Russian-made S-300, will have to be knocked out. It won’t be easy.

Israel has a few dozen laser-guided bunker buster bombs (the GBU-28). The Jericho III is an Israeli three-stage solid propellant missile with a payload of more than a ton and capable of carrying multiple low-yield independently targeted reentry warheads. All the targets in Iran fall within its range of up to 6,500 km (4,038 miles). These missile strikes are capable of destroying every command and control site, as well as all major nuclear facilities.

The Heron-2 and Eitan drones can hover in the air for more than 20 consecutive hours to provide guidance and intelligence and to jam Iranian communications and confuse its radar.

Israel would wage electronic warfare against Iran’s military and civilian infrastructure, such as its electric grids and Internet, creating interference with Iran’s emergency frequencies.

After the war has begun, Israel will come under rocket and missile attack from Iran’s proxies: Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah has up to 150,000 rockets that can reach anywhere in Israel. It is true however, that Israel possesses a sophisticated, multilayer, air-defense shield. A first-class intelligence and early-warning system will mitigate the fallout, but substantial damage will be unavoidable.

Israeli troops will have to deploy in the Strip and move across the Lebanese border. But the Shia group will have to fight on two fronts: in Syria to prop up the Assad government, and in Lebanon against Israel. Syria is likely to find itself involved in combat operations. Israel will go to any length to keep Iran and Hezbollah away from its border.

Iran may try to block the Strait of Hormuz. But even if it does not, global oil prices would go up. Iran or its proxies might attack US forces in the Middle East, primarily in Syria and Iraq. Should that happen, Iraq would likely become a battleground between US forces and Iranian proxies, with American reinforcements rushing in. Iran could punish the Americans for their support of Israel in Afghanistan.

A conflict between Israel and pro-Iranian forces would douse the light at the end of the tunnel so recently kindled as a result of the diplomatic initiatives in Syria by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Once the shooting starts, all that work will go down the drain. This scenario could be prevented. As we have seen in some other situations, Russia is the only actor capable of effectively mediating. The US has become openly hostile toward Tehran and may have a hidden agenda in which peace is not the goal. There may be forces interested in sparking any conflict that would exacerbate the situation in Syria and bring a large-scale war against Iran even closer.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-22/israel-and-iran-inching-toward-armed-conflict
 

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It's Time To Tell Israel And Saudi Arabia To Fight Their Own Wars


by Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/28/2018 - 18:28


Authored by Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest,

" ... it is wise to be skeptical about Israeli claims regarding Iranian intentions to build bases and construct missiles in Syria.

Those claims made by Israel’s Mossad have not been confirmed by any western intelligence service, not even by America’s totally corrupted and subservient CIA."

The original title of this article is "Blundering Into Iran"

The deluge of recent reporting regarding possible conflict with nuclear armed North Korea has somewhat obscured consideration of the much higher probability that Israel or even Saudi Arabia will take steps that will lead to a war with Iran that will inevitably draw the United States in.




This has gone way too far

Israel is particularly inclined to move aggressively, with potentially serious consequences for the U.S., in the wake of the recent incident involving an alleged Iranian drone and the shooting down of an Israeli aircraft. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been repeatedly warning about the alleged threat along his northern border and has pledged that Israel will not be in any way restrained if there are any hostile moves directed against it. The Israeli Transportation Minister Ysrael Katz has warned that Lebanon will be blasted back into the “stone age.”

There is also considerable anti-Iran rhetoric currently coming from sources in the United States, which might well be designed to prepare the American people for a transition from a cold war type situation to a new hot war involving U.S. forces. The growing hostility towards Iran is coming out of both the Donald Trump Administration and from the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is warning that the “time to act is now” to thwart Iran’s allegedly aggressive regional ambitions while U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley sees a “wake-up” call in the recent shooting incident involving Syria and Israel. The hostility emanating from Washington is increasing in spite of the fact that the developments in the region have little or no impact on vital U.S. national interests, nor is Iran anything like an existential threat to the United States that would mandate sustained military action.



Houston, we have a problem

Iran’s alleged desire to stitch together a sphere of influence consisting of an arc of allied nations and proxy forces running from its western borders to the Mediterranean Sea has been frequently cited as justification for a more assertive policy against Tehran, but that concern is certainly greatly exaggerated. Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, is, to be sure, a major regional power but militarily, economically and politically it is highly vulnerable. Its economy is struggling and there is a small but growing protest movement regarding the choices being made for government spending.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is well armed and trained, but much of its “boots on the ground” force consists of militiamen of variable quality. Its Air Force is a “shadow”of what existed under the Shah and is significantly outgunned by its rivals in the Persian Gulf, not to mention Israel. Its navy is only “green water” capable in that it consists largely of smaller vessels responsible for coastal defense supplemented by swarms of Revolutionary Guard speedboats.

When Napoleon had conquered much of continental Europe and was contemplating invading Britain in 1804 it was widely believed that England was helpless before him. But Admiral Earl St Vincent was nonplussed. He said at the time: “I do not say the French can’t come, I only say they can’t come by sea.” In a similar fashion, Iran’s apparent threat to its neighbors is in reality decisively limited by its inability to project power across the water or through the air against other states in the region that have marked superiority in both respects.

And the concern over a possibly developing “Shi’ite land bridge,” also referred to as an “arc” or “crescent,” is likewise overstated for political reasons to make the threat more credible. It ignores the reality that Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon all have strong national identities and religiously mixed populations. They are influenced and sometimes more than that by Iran, but they are not puppet states and never will be. Even Lebanon’s Hezbollah, often cited as Iran’s fifth column in that country, is not considered a reliable proxy.

Majority Shi’a Iraq, for example, is generally considered to be very friendly to Iran but it has to deal with considerable Kurdish and Sunni minorities in its governance and in the direction of its foreign policy. It will not do Iran’s bidding on a number of key issues, including its relationship with Washington, and would be unwilling to become a proxy in Tehran’s conflicts with Israel and Saudi Arabia as such a move would be extremely unpopular. Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, the highest-ranking Sunni in the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi government, has, for example, recently called for the demobilization of the Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces or militias that have been fighting ISIS because they “have their own political aspirations, their own [political] agendas. … They are very dangerous to the future of Iraq.”

A seemingly legitimate major concern driving much of the perception of an Iranian threat is the possibility that Tehran will develop a nuclear weapon somewhere down the road. Such a development is quite plausible if only from a defensive point of view as Iran has been repeatedly threatened by nuclear armed Israel and the United States, but the current Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action provides the best response to the possible proliferation problem. The U.N. inspections regime is rigorous and Iran is reported to be in compliance with the agreement. If the plan survives the attacks by the White House, there is every reason to believe that Iran will be unable to take the necessary precursor steps leading to a nuclear weapons program while the inspections continue. And it will be further limited in its options after the agreement expires in nine years because it will not be able to accumulate the necessary highly enriched uranium stocks to proceed if it should ever make the political and economic decisions to go ahead with such a program.

The recent incident involving the shoot-down of a drone alleged to be of Iranian provenance followed by the downing of an Israeli fighter by a Syrian air defense missile resulted in a sharp response from Tel Aviv, though reportedly mitigated by a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that anything more provocative might inadvertently involve Russia in the conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accordingly moderated his response but his government is clearly contemplating a more robust intervention to counter what he calls a developing Iranian presence in Syria. It is important to recall that Netanyahu’s prime objective in Syria and Lebanon is to have both nations in turmoil so they cannot threaten Israel. With that in mind, it is wise to be skeptical about Israeli claims regarding Iranian intentions to build bases and construct missiles in Syria. Those claims made by Israel’s Mossad have not been confirmed by any western intelligence service, not even by America’s totally corrupted and subservient CIA.

Netanyahu is also facing a trial on corruption charges and it would not be wildly off target to suggest that he might welcome a small war to change the narrative, just as Bill Clinton did when he launched cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan to deflect congressional and media criticism of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky. Unfortunately, if Netanyahu does wind up being charged and going to prison his successor will likely be even more hardline.

It must be understood that the mounting Iran hysteria evident in the U.S. media and as reflected in Beltway groupthink has largely been generated by allies in the region, most notably Saudi Arabia and Israel, who nurture their own aspirations for regional political and military supremacy. There are no actual American vital interests at stake and it is past time to pause and take a step backwards to consider what those interests actually are in a region that has seen nothing but U.S. missteps since 2003.

Countering an assumed Iranian threat that is no threat at all and triggering a catastrophic war would be a major mistake that would lead to a breakdown in the current political alignment of the entire Middle East. And it would be costly for the United States. Iran is not militarily formidable, but its ability to fight on the defensive against U.S. Naval and air forces is likely to be considerable, producing high casualty levels on both sides. How would the U.S. public respond if an aircraft carrier were to be sunk by a barrage of Iranian shore-to-ship missiles? And Tehran would also be able to unleash terrorist resources throughout the region, particularly endangering U.S. military and diplomats based there as well as American travelers and businesses. The terror threat might easily extend beyond the Middle East, into Europe and also within the United States while the dollar costs of a major new conflict and its aftermath could also break the bank, literally.

Promoting a robust U.S. role in “regime change” for Iran as a viable military option to support objectives largely fabricated by allies would be a phony war fought for bad reasons. It is not commensurate with the threat that the Mullahs actually pose, which is minimal, and is just not worth the price either in dollars or lives.

* * *

[This article is an edited and expanded version of a memorandum that I prepared for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity which has been released separately on Consortium News].

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-28/its-time-tell-israel-and-saudi-arabia-fight-their-own-wars
 

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Understanding the Turkish mindset
CaspianReport


Published on Feb 28, 2018
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BAKU - Located between West and East, the Republic of Turkey links Europe to the Middle East and the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. The country also controls two maritime chokepoints and holds significant economic, military and cultural influence throughout the region. However, the union between the country’s capital-rich cosmopolitan western provinces and the underprivileged conservative eastern regions has shaped a duality in the geopolitical mindset of Turkey.

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Army Major Explains Why The US Military Should Stay Out Of Iran


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 03/02/2018 - 21:50


Authored Major Danny Sjursen via BreakingDefense.com,

Last week, after Israel reportedly shot down an Iranian drone and Prime Minister Netanyahu proudly displayed a hunk of twisted metal as a war trophy, Americans were treated to fresh calls for regime change from some prominent neoconservatives.



Granted, Iran is no friend to the U.S. and might even qualify as a modest adversary. Its nuclear ambitions should continue to be thwarted, as most reports indicate they are.

Still, what Washington desperately needs right now is some perspective and an honest conversation about the realities of the Middle East. Not alarmism. The last thing the overstretched U.S. military needs is another hot war. It’s already pretty busy. President Obama bombed seven countries in 2016, and President Trump has continued apace.

There’s reason to worry. Trump, who ran on an eminently reasonable platform of disengagement from “dumb” wars in the region, quickly pivoted to a hawkish stance on the Islamic Republic. In December, when protestors hit the streets of Tehran based on mostly economic motives, Trump immediately rallied in support and not-so-subtlety tweeted “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.” Except, that is, for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other illiberal authoritarian regimes we support.

Perhaps Trump simply meant the people of Iran would topple the ayatollahs, but if the recently released National Defense Strategy is any indicator — it lists Iran as one of four core threats —U.S.-imposed regime change is certainly on the table.



Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

It shouldn’t be. At present, Iran does notpresent a clear and present vital threat to American national security. Statements from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however, indicate he disagrees.

Mattis’ Blind Spot
The secretary is the boss, my boss, but his focus on the Iranian regime qualifies as his blind spot, a veritable Iran obsession.

Since at least 2011, Mattis has overstated the Iranian threat and hinted at toppling the regime in Tehran. And he’s only doubling down. This past May, Mattis told “Face the Nation,” that “what we find is, wherever there are challenges, wherever there is chaos, wherever there is violence, whether it be in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, the attempts to unsettle Bahrain. We always find Iran and the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] at it.” He also once told then-President Obama that the top three threats in the Middle East were “Iran, Iran, Iran.” That sounds excessive.

Iran spends about as much on defense annually as the U.S. does on a single aircraft carrier. A simple comparison is instructive: Iran’s GDP was about $427 billion, and it spent some $11.5 billion on defense in 2016. U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia (GDP: $678 billion; defense spending: $66.7 billion) and Israel (GDP: $348 billion; defense spending: $19.6 billion) can more than hold their own. And remember, standing behind them is the real behemoth, the U.S., which plans to spend $716 billion on defense in 2019—that’s $300 billion more than Iran’s entire GDP. The numbers speak for themselves. Conclusion: some perspective is in order.

While Iran definitely is engaged in the Mid-East, its own neighborhood, it’s rarely behind much of anything and doesn’t have nearly the power or influence to pull all the various regional strings. Yemeni and Bahraini unrest were homegrown. Conflict in Syria and Lebanon preceded Iranian deployments there. And Iraq, well, the U.S. handed Baghdad to Iran on a silver platter after that ill-fated invasion. Iran use regional proxies, rather than its own military, precisely because it is weak and fearful.

Furthermore, though he’s recently backed off some of his most bellicose threats, Mattis regularly draws distinctions between the supposedly disenfranchised people of Iran and an ostensibly separate revolutionary regime. There’s something to this, but in Mattis’ statements, it sounds like he’s calling for the fall of the regime. “It’s not the Iranian people,” Mattis added. “We are convinced it’s a regime that is conducting itself in order to stay in power in Tehran as a revolutionary regime, not as a proper nation-state. They are not looking out for the best interests of their own people.”

Maybe that’s true enough, but surely dozens of governments fail to represent their populace the world over. That doesn’t necessitate regime change, does it? Such rhetoric raises tensions and threatens to stoke nationalist tendencies in Iran which work to the advantage of relative hardliners.

The View from Tehran
After all, try and view the last decade of U.S. military actions from Tehran. Washington toppled and seemingly permanently occupied Iran’s neighbors on its western (Iraq) and eastern (Afghanistan) flanks, encircled the country with its military bases, and intervened in just about every country in its neighborhood.



Iranian C-14 missile boat.

I remember way back in August 2002, and even then the rhetoric was chilling: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran,” a British official close to the President Bush team told Newsweek in the lead up to the Iraq War. Who could rationally blame Iran’s leaders for fearing they were next? And who would be surprised to see them turn to Shia militias to trap the U.S. military in a Baghdad quagmire? That’s basic survival instincts. While not excusing their tactics, it’s undeniable that their approach enhanced their standing vis-à-vis Iraq and the region—an unintended consequence of ousting Saddam Hussein.

Iranians also have a long memory. The CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Tehran in 1953. Then, throughout the 1980s, the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s brutal invasion of Iran. Heck, President Reagan even sent one Donald Rumsfeld (remember him?) to make nice with Saddam.

None of this sordid history obviates Iran from acting responsibly in the region—but this must serve as a reality check for Washington’s triumphalism and an unfathomable commitment to strategic overreach. Walking the proverbial mile in an adversary’s shoes isn’t “soft,” it’s smart. Only by understanding the motives of other countries can we correctly predict and counter actions that undermine America’s interests.

Military Action: A Bad Idea
Iran’s military is far from the imposing behemoth threat of hawkish imagination. In fact, Saudi Arabia is much better armed and could likely handle Iran by itself—remember, it spends more than five times much on its military than Iran.

Nonetheless, Iran is spatially large and mountainous with an enormous, fiercely nationalist population. Make no mistake, U.S. military occupation of the Islamic Republic would make the Iraq War, for once, actually look like the “cakewalk” it was billed to be.

America’s armed forces are currently spread thin in a dozen simultaneous operations and deployed in nearly 70 percent of the world’s countries. The Army alone is rotating brigades to deter Russia in Eastern Europe; manning the DMZ in South Korea; training and advising across Africa; conducting raids in Somalia, Yemen, and Niger; and actively fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

So where are the troops available to topple Tehran? They don’t exist. The U.S. military is already running at full throttle, and the American people won’t be flocking to recruiters to stave off an overhyped, distant Iranian threat. The polling data is clear: Americans don’t want another war.

Ubiquitous, over-the-top proclamations aside, Iran’s various regional interventions have been more cost than benefit for Tehran and largely defensive in nature—look no further than recent protests throughout Iran for proof. Iran isn’t seeking a New Persia any more, or less, than our purported Turkish (NATO) ally’s dream of a revamped Ottoman Empire. That’s rhetoric, not reality. And these days, with Turkish tanks just miles from U.S. forces in Syria and openly threatening Washington, guess who the greater threat is?

Indeed, it might be time for Washington to swallow its pride and admit to some common interests with Iran in the region—the defeat of ISIS, suppression on Sunni Islamists, and a stable, non-threatening Afghanistan—rather than harping on the exaggerated negatives.

Look, I don’t take any of this lightly. Iranian-supplied bombs killed two of my soldiers on January 25, 2007. Still, it’s important to remember, no Iranians have attacked the homeland since 9/11 (not something that can be said of our many autocratic “allies” in the region). The proper role of the U.S. military is to prevent enemies killing Americans, not to keep rival Mid-East factions from killing each other.

Forget a new war. Iran isn’t worth it. Not now, probably not ever. The U.S. military is busy, thank you very much. And any trouble it causes can easily be countered by our partners and allies in the region.

Washington should ditch the alarmism and get real in the complex Middle East.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-02/army-major-explains-why-us-military-should-stay-out-iran
 

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‘Stark evidence of US-Israeli influence ignored’ – author
RT America



Published on Mar 2, 2018
The National Press Club is hosting the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, DC to discuss the strategy, tactics, and policies of Israel and its lobby in the United States. RT America’s Anya Parampil speaks with Ali Abunimah, author and founder of the Electronic Intifada, for more on the influence wielded by state actors in the United States and abroad.
 

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America is prepared for military action in Syria, says Nikki Haley as UN fails to implement ceasefire and halt the bloodshed
  • US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned that if the UN Security Council does not act in response to the failed ceasefire, the US will
  • 'It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again' she said on Monday
  • The Security Council demanded a 30-day ceasefire across Syria in a resolution made on February 24, but the council failed to implement it
  • Russia and Syria's government ignored the ceasefire saying it does not apply to the 'terror fighters' they target in eastern Ghouta
  • Ghouta has been pounded with air and artillery strikes that has left 1,160 dead since February 18
  • The civil war, now in its eight year, has killed more than half a million people


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5491831/U-S-warns-act-Syria-onslaught-against-Ghouta-grinds-on.html#ixzz59cSbr83E
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
 

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Trump Asked Saudi King For $4 Billion So US Troops Can Leave Syria



by Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/17/2018 - 22:30


The Washington Post has revealed that President Trump attempted to extricate US troops from Syria by asking ally Saudi Arabia to foot the bill for postwar reconstruction and "stabilization" projects in the area of northeast Syria currently occupied by US coalition forces, to the tune of $4 billion. The deal would involve US allies like Saudi Arabia moving into a lead position regarding coalition policy in Syria, while hastening a US exit.

Though the coalition continues to claim that its occupation of Syrian soil is toward anti-terror and humanitarian efforts, including the reestablishment of civilian infrastructure in a region previously controlled by ISIS, America's top general, CENTCOM chief Gen. Joseph Votel, admitted in congressional testimony this week that the Syrian government along with its Russian and Iranian allies have effectively won the war.





General Votel's very frank admissions on Syria stunned hawks like Senator Graham, who were looking for more muscular policy goals. The Washington Post summarized this part of the exchange as follows:

[A]sked on Tuesday in a Congressional hearing if Bashar al-Assad had “won”, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, replied, “I do not think that is too strong of a statement. I think [Russia and Iran] have provided him with the wherewithal to be ascendant at this point.”
Senator Lindsey Graham asked Votel, “And it is not your mission in Syria to deal with the Iranian-Assad-Russia problem?” Graham asked Votel. “That’s not in your ‘things to do,’ right?”
The general replied, “That’s correct, senator.”
Votel declined to say whether he believed the US military should pursue that broader objective. And asked whether it was still policy that Assad must leave power, Votel said: “I don’t know that that’s our particular policy at this particular point. Our focus remains on the defeat of ISIS.”​
However, US policy does remain fundamentally aimed at preventing Assad and his allies from reasserting control over oil and resource rich northeast Syria, and this is where Trump reportedly envisions the Saudis as having a greater role to play, taking the pressure off US forces.

According to the Washington Post the deal was articulated by Trump directly to Saudi Arabia's King Salman in a December phone call. The Post reports:

In a December phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, President Trump had an idea he thought could hasten a U.S. exit from Syria: Ask the king for $4 billion. By the end of the call, according to U.S. officials, the president believed he had a deal.
The White House wants money from the kingdom and other nations to help rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria that the U.S. military and its local allies have liberated from the Islamic State. The postwar goal is to prevent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian partners from claiming the areas, or the Islamic State from regrouping, while U.S. forces finish mopping up the militants.​

But missed (or more likely deliberately ignored) by the Post reporters is the central irony that Saudi Arabia could possibly "stabilize" anything in Syria at all. As the New York Times concluded in a lengthy investigation over the kingdom's role in fueling the rise of ISIS and directing the broader jihadist insurgency in Syria, the Saudis are "both the arsonists and the firefighters" in Syria and throughout the region.

Revelation of the $4 billion proposed deal comes as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is set to arrive in Washington on Monday for high level talks with US officials, including a Tuesday meeting with President Trump. The Saudi Embassy in Washington refused to comment on the offer, and neither side has yet confirmed or denied that a deal was reached or is in the works.

Last month the US announced a mere $200 million pledge toward reconstruction efforts in Syria - a paltry sum (considering total rebuilding costs have been widely estimated at $200-350 billion) perhaps intended to highlight the need of other countries to share in the burden. The Washington Post continues:

For Trump - who has long railed against insufficient burden-sharing by allies under the U.S. security umbrella - getting others to foot the bill for expensive postwar efforts is important. A $4 billion Saudi contribution would go a long way toward U.S. goals in Syria that the Saudis say they share, particularly that of limiting Assad’s power and rolling back Iran’s influence. By comparison, the United States last month announced a $200 million donation to the stabilization effort.

The more simple translation of Trump's message to the Saudis seems to be something like this: "Our occupation of Syria is costly. If you don't want Assad and Iran to regain the whole country, then you're invited to take over the occupation yourselves."

Judging by Trump's recent maneuvers with the Saudis and CENTCOM chief Votel's congressional testimony, it appears we are in for more long, painful mission creep and perpetuation of the illegal occupation of Syria with no end in sight.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...i-king-4-billion-so-us-troops-can-leave-syria
 

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Another "Tar Baby" the U.S. is stuck to thanks to the previous PROG Administration's "Arab Spring". IMO
 

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But missed (or more likely deliberately ignored) by the Post reporters is the central irony that Saudi Arabia could possibly "stabilize" anything in Syria at all. As the New York Times concluded in a lengthy investigation over the kingdom's role in fueling the rise of ISIS and directing the broader jihadist insurgency in Syria, the Saudis are "both the arsonists and the firefighters" in Syria and throughout the region.
This is an area where the President has betrayed the American people.

Saudi Arabia is by far, the biggest financial and ideological supporter of terrorism.

If Trump were a patriot, he would call out the Saudis and sanction them.

Instead he is allowing the Saudis to use our military and tax dollars in their efforts to conduct proxy/direct wars against Yemen, Syria and Iran.

How are we fighting a war on terrorism while at the same time allied to the Saudis?
 
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