January 05 2019 Israel Report
In a call Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made to President Vladimir Putin on Friday the two leaders talked about the situation in Syria after the coming withdrawal of US forces from the country.
The Kremlin press service said in a statement: “They pointed to the need for the final defeat of terrorism and speedy achievement of a political settlement in Syria”.
“To that end, the parties reaffirmed their mutual determination to strengthen coordination through military and diplomatic channels.”
Reliable sources reported earlier that after US forces leave Syria, Israel will need better understandings with Moscow in order to keep its air force in action against Iranian targets from the skies of Syria.
Netanyahu therefore lost no time in contacting Putin for this purpose.
Syrian soldiers flashing the victory sign as they sit on their military vehicle at Naseeb border crossing with Jordan, in the southern province of Daraa, Syria, July 7, 2018. (SANA via AP)
Netanyahu: US will run economic war against Iran, leaving military drive to Israel
January 05 2019
That the US retains the economic side of the war on Iran leaving the military campaign for Israel to manage – in the words of Prime Minister/Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – defines the new reality set out by the Trump administration,
The PM was speaking on Thursday, January 3 at a ceremony in memory of the late Colonel Emanuel Morano, who died in a covert operation against Hizballah during the Second Lebanon War.
Up until now, Israel, when striking Iranian targets in Syria, had relied on the US military presence as a shield for holding the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrians in check.
The removal of this shield, even if it is spread over some months, catches IDF strategists unprepared tactically and psychologically for a solo operation versus Iran in the Syrian arena.
Comments by Netanyahu and Trump that Iran has been pulling some of its people out of Syria are correct but cold comfort.
Tehran is not acting in response to US economic pressure, or because it has been beaten down by Israel’s military assaults, but as a chance to relieve its own forces.
According to reliable military and economic sources, Iran’s Middle East commander, Al Qods chief Qassem Soleimani, is in the process of assembling in Syria a new local army as a proxy powerful enough to stand up to the IDF and make way for the pullback of Iranian combatants from front-line duty.
That army consists of five new, locally recruited militias loyal to Tehran, Hizballah and elements of pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias already present in Syria.
The Iranian general reckons that Iran’s capacity to wage war simultaneously on four fronts – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Gaza Strip – will be a match for Israel’s air supremacy and professional combat skills.
In the meantime, the forces returning home from the Syrian front will boost security for the regime in Tehran and deal with rising unrest.
The US military draw-down from Syria makes Israel’s freedom of action in Syrian and Lebanese air space for holding down the Iranian threat more essential than ever before.
Therefore, it is clearly understood in Washington and Jerusalem that Israel will have to seek better understandings with Moscow in order to keep its air force in action against Iranian targets from the skies of Syria, Lebanon and possibly Iraq.
This may all seem to be perfectly reasonable – until one reads the prophetic scriptures dealing with the nations involved in the area at this time in history.
There is no way that Putin has Israel’s best interests at heart, but his own, and finally they turn out to be entirely evil and disastrous.
US Trade–off for Russia: Take NE Syria – But Degrade Iranian Presence….
05 January 2019
US President Donald Trump told his cabinet on Wednesday, January 2, that the draw-down of US troops from Syria would happen “over a period of time.”
He did not elaborate since his administration is in the middle of secret negotiations for determining what happens to Syria after that draw-down.
US Arab Sunni Gulf partners are already beginning to remould Syria’s post-US pull-back. And if ongoing feelers and discussions pan out and ripen into understandings, a US-Russian deal may emerge. It is difficult to imagine that such an outcome would favour Israel.
It is projected to settle on the following lines: The Americans will mobilize a Sunni Arab military, political and economic presence for Syria opposite Iranian influence, while the Russians force Iran to pare down its military profile in the country and ultimately remove itself.
And as we know Biblically, this is not going to happen!
The prime mover pushing the pieces back and forth between Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin is US National Security Adviser John Bolton.
He is the highest-ranking American visitor to be seen in Moscow these days.
According to some authoritative Washington sources, Trump has assigned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with another mission:
As former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (January 2017 to April 2018), he advised Trump to employ him as point man with the US intelligence community, in which prominent voices continue to accuse Moscow of helping Trump’s 2016 election victory.
Pompeo has undertaken the delicate task of keeping relations between the intelligence community and the White House on an even keel. Interaction with Moscow was assigned to Bolton.
This set-up drew a puzzled comment from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on December 24: “I haven’t spoke to him [Pompeo] in a long time,” he said in a TV interview.
“I have the impression that he doesn’t even handle foreign policy towards Russia any more. If it would be different, he’d know that we need to meet and talk. Dealing with the Russians has obviously been delegated to John Bolton.”
Lavrov [pictured below] appeared to be fishing for confirmation that Bolton was Trump’s credible emissary and wondering what Moscow could expect from Pompeo and the CIA.
This information is vitally important as the Kremlin and the White House feel their way toward an understanding on Syria.
While most people.in Washington and the Middle East were taken aback by the Trump announcement of his decision to pull US forces out of Syria, the more knowledgeable Kremlin took it in its stride.
The next day, Putin commented that Trump had got it right when he said that ISIS had been defeated and withdrawal was the right thing to do.
He also stressed that meanwhile not a single American soldier had left the country.
Putin evidently knew from the start that the US pull-out would stretch over months and advance in stages.
Indeed, careful choreography guides those stages, reliable sources report.
The first centres on the northern Syrian town of Manbij. Whomsoever controls this town, will be able to cross the Euphrates 30km away and take control of the eastern bank.
This week, Syrian government forces and a sprinkling of Russian Spetsnaz (special forces) officers moved into position on the southern outskirts of Manbij to await developments, while large-scale Turkish forces stood on the border not far from Manbij, ready for orders from Ankara to march on the city.
Their allies, Turkish-backed Syrian Turkoman militia fighters are ready to move in from the town of Arima, 30km from Manbij.
The town itself is occupied by US Marine units and Kurdish YPG militia forces.
Ankara failed to obtain approval to move forward from either Washington or Moscow.
Manbij is therefore hemmed in by conflicting armies.
An incautious step by any of them could spark a bloody showdown. They are all on tenterhooks while Trump and Putin negotiate terms for a deal which would allow the Syrian-Russian force to go forward.
That deal would determine the distance the combined Syrian-Russian force crossing the river would be allowed to cover and on what terms.
Our sources report that Donald Trump is playing Manbij as his ace in the hole for extracting a promise from Putin to act with the same resolve as Washington for cutting short Iran’s presence in Syria.
The Americans are meanwhile moving forward apace with their post-withdrawal plans.
In the last few days, Egyptian and UAE military officers visited Manbij and checked out the US and Kurdish YPG militia positions ahead of positioning their own troops instead.
In ongoing talks with the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammed Bin Ziyad (MbZ) and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, Trump is offering a deal:
They will take over US positions in Manbij, where the Kurds have sought protection against a Turkish invasion, and the US will provide air cover against attack.
Bashar Assad is expected to welcome the arrival of his former Arab enemies – not least because the UAE can well afford generous funding for the colossal task of rebuilding his war-ravaged country.
The White House hopes more Sunni Arab forces will deploy to Syria and take up positions for pushing the Iranians out of key areas of Syria.
On the diplomatic front, the US President and Bolton have given the green light for the Sunni oil emirates to flock back to their long-shuttered embassies in Damascus with open cheque books.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Algeria are expected to follow the UAE, which this week reopened its embassy.
A move is also afoot for them to invite Assad to return to his seat at the Arab League table at the March summit, after years of being ostracised and barred from inter-Arab events.
The returning ambassadors will inform the Syrian president that cash for reconstruction will be available only after the Iranians are gone.
The Trump administration is by and large leaving Israel and Turkey to get along with Russia in the Syrian arena, although Secretary Pompeo again confirmed the promise of US air support for Israel’s air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria when he met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, January 2 in Brazil.
This pledge, to be integrated in any Trump-Putin deal for Syria, hassubstantially strengthened Israel’s hand in its dealings with the Kremlin.
Therefore, when Moscow protested against the large-scale missile attack that Israel staged on December 25 against Iranian facilities embedded in Syrian military compounds, an IDF spokesman shot back with a counter-complaint.
Moscow was accused of reneging on its guarantee of last June to keep Iranian forces 80 km back from Israel’s border.
The US State Department then stepped up to say: “Iranian support of and supply to terrorist groups in Syria and across the region that have the clear intent and capability to strike Israel are unacceptable”.
“The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism and we will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively.”
This message was in fact addressed to Moscow. So long as Russia does not deliver the goods on holding Iranian forces 80km back from the Israeli border,neither Syrian nor Russian forces will be allowed to cross the Euphrates into the eastern Syria.
Bolton is expected to tie up the ends of Israel’s role in post-US pull-back when he visits Jerusalem as well as Ankara in the first half of January.
The Trump message gained military teeth with the arrival in the Persian Gulf of the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier group.
The group has come with a variety of missions – not just to curb Iranian expansion, but also to draw a line against Chinese encroachments and more.
Iran to Hand Syria over to 5 New Local Proxies. India Is Tehran’s New Partner vs US.
05 January 2019
President Donald Trump’s sweeping remarks to his cabinet in the White House situation room on Wednesday, January 2, were not immediately consistent – mainly because he kept key connecting links back.
“Iran is no longer the same country,” he said. “They can do what they want in Syria, frankly, but Iran is pulling people out of Syria and Yemen.”
He indicated that, due to his sanctions, Tehran no longer has the money to maintain those forces there and has to pull them out from a country that is “all sand and death.”
But the US president did not reveal that, as he spoke, his predictions of Iranian pull-outs were playing out in Baghdad, 10,000km away – although for unrelated reasons.
According to reliable sources, the liaison officers of Qassem Soleimani’s Al Qods Brigades were informing heads of Iraq’s pro-Iranian Shiite militias that numbers of Iranian officers and advisers would be leaving their country and returning home.
Our sources also reveal that Tehran’s decision in this case was less due to US sanctions than other events:
1. Stories appearing in Iraqi media in the past fortnight accuse senior government ministers in Baghdad of conniving with the two most prominent pro-Iranian militias to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from their departments and handing the money to Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Middle East forces.
The guilty militias are the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), a private army of 150,000 soldiers under the command of Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis [pictured above] and the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which is headed by Qais al-Khazali. Both are minions of the IRGC.
Soleimani is accused of using the stolen loot to fund the establishment of five new Syrian militias loyal to Iran, in which he is engaged at the moment, as well as an injection for Hizballah’s operations in Syria and Lebanon.
2. It was decided at the highest government and military levels in Tehran, that the Iraqi militias combined are stronger than the Iraqi government army, and the five new groups taking shape in Syria plus Hizballah are more powerful than the Syrian government army.
Therefore, Iran can afford to dispense with its own military presence in Iraq and Syria and pull out thousands of the officers and men deployed there.
Tehran is matching Washington’s troop draw-down, step by step, less because of US sanctions than to escape from the pervasive anti-Iranian atmosphere in Iraq.
Iran’s leaders are also watching Presidents Trump and Putin dance back and forth over terms for a deal in Syria and the roles Israel and Turkey are to play.
They are waiting to see how it works out.
Our sources have the impression that Iran’s interest in Syria is waning and the Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Indian subcontinent are gaining in importance. The US and Iran have both shifted their focus to the same arena.
Tehran has grasped that the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group was deployed last December opposite Iran’s Gulf shores for a multiple mission.
It was more than to act as just a deterrent against Iran’s repetition of the nuclear-capable ballistic missiles tests conducted on December 1.
The American warships have their gaze fixed on the strategic new Iranian Chabahar Port [pictured below] on its south-eastern coast of the Gulf of Oman, whose operations were taken over by India on December 24.
An Iranian official said that the state-owned India Ports Global Ltd had been granted a temporary 18-month lease followed by a ten-year period.
This event has momentous geopolitical connotations for the region and for US interests.
Inaugurated last year, Chabahar Port on the Indian Ocean is being built largely by India.
It will provide a key supply route for Afghanistan while allowing India to bypass rival Pakistan to trade with Central Asia.
President Trump therefore has a large bone to pick with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He did not grant Delhi a waiver from sanctions against Iranian oil only to find him acting behind Washington’s back to build Chabahar Port, through which India would help Tehran beat US sanctions.
India’s control of the key port also threatens the US administration’s strategy for Afghanistan.
Iran has found in India a partner for disrupting Trump’s plans to pull US forces out of Afghanistan.