PACKER’S CORNER: President Trump Does It Again

He has done it again! Just yesterday, President Trump officially announced that he is withdrawing from the agreement reached between the obama administration, Europe and Iran concerning their nuclear weapons program. The idea of the agreement, more or less, was to pay Iran tons of money so that they wouldn’t try to make a nuclear bomb. All the while they can continue with terrorism and all that stuff, just no nuclear weapon. Also, this is being done on the honor system. Iran’s 2nd favorite system! (Honor killing system is a consistent #1)

Reactions have been swift and predictable:

For withdrawing: America, Israel, Saudi Arabia
Against withdrawing: Iran, Europe
(its kind of like World War 2 all over again)

This all comes at a time when Iran is threatening to retaliate against a bunch of very successful recent Israeli attacks (including last night) against Iranian targets in Syria. Israel has made preparations for the possibility of an Iranian/Hezbollah attack, but mostly life goes on pretty routine. Most folks focused on next week.

What’s next week?

  • Jerusalem Day (51st anniversary of Jewish victory in the Six Day War and return of Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem and other historical/biblical cities, like Hevron, Shiloh, Shechem, Jericho, etc.)
  • Moving of American Embassy to Jerusalem
  • Ramadan (muslim month of fasting and violence)
  • Shavuos (anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai)

That’s alot going on, even for here.

And finally, yesterday the soldier, Elor Azarya, was released from jail. This is wonderful news and way, way overdue. His brother is getting married tonight and for sure Elor will be celebrated there as a hero. This will likely continue for the rest of his life. He can thank the thoughtless, immoral Israeli left for his lifetime hero status. He’s a cool guy, but they are the ones who made him a hero.

After next week, expect some excitement in the Knesset, strategic building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem and more clarity as to who is running in the Jerusalem mayor elections.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the show!

IDF Clashes with Syrian Army in the Golan

The Syrian Army breaches the DMZ for the first time, breaking international law.

Israeli tanks fired shells at a Syrian army position under construction within the internationally recognized DMZ between Israel and Syria.  Considering that Syria is in direct cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah, the move to build a permanent base in what should be a demilitarized area has now inflamed an already tense situation.

The IDF said they fired the shots because the Syrian army’s actions is in direct violation of the 1974 truce agreement between Israel and Syria. The agreement “prohibits the entry of heavy construction tools or military vehicles into the demilitarized zone.”

The action occurred very close to the Druze village of Hader.  Hader was the site of an incident earlier this month involving Syrian regime forces and Jihadist, which appeared to threaten the safety of the Druze village. The IDF pledged to protect the village of Hader even though it is to the East of the DMZ due to it being Druze.

Leading to War?

The actions by the Syrian forces while not severe from a military standpoint, represent a serious escalation because it directly challenges Israel’s assertion that the IDF would in fact push back on Iranian influence so close to Israel’s border.

Does this mean war is about to break out?  No.  But the escalation is certainly leading the region in that direction.  It also  calls into question the IDF’s defensive posture as unsuitable for an enemy looking to push forward and win. Look for increasing skirmishes along the Israeli-Syrian border region on the Golan Heights.  With Syria and Hezbollah beginning to encircle Northern Israel, the IDF has become increasingly prepared to attack within Syria to push back on the Iranian led advance.



Obama partisans fret as Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US confront reality on Iran.

Friday, long-time US diplomats and Middle East experts Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky published an article in Foreign Policy expressing “buyers’ remorse” over Saudi Arabia’s newfound willingness to take the lead in regional affairs.

Titled, “Donald Trump has unleashed the Saudi Arabia we always wanted – and feared,” Miller and Sokolsky note that for generations, US policymakers wanted the Saudis to take a lead in determining the future of the region.

In their words, “During decades of service at the State Department, we longed for the day when riskaverse Saudi leaders would take greater ownership in solving their domestic and regional security problems and reduce their dependence on the United States.”

But now, they argue, under the leadership of King Salman and his son, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudis are going too far.

Domestically, Miller and Sokolsky accuse Salman and Mohammed of upsetting the traditional power sharing arrangements among the various princes in order to concentrate unprecedented power in Mohammed’s hands. This, they insist, harms the status of human rights in the kingdom, although they acknowledge that Mohammed has taken steps to liberalize the practice of Islam in the kingdom to the benefit of women and others.

While upset at the purge of princes, ministers and businessmen, Miller and Sokolsky are much more concerned about the foreign policy initiatives Mohammed and Salman have undertaken with everything related to countering Iran’s rise as a regional hegemon.

In their words, “Abroad, the Saudis are engaged in a cold war with an opportunistic Iran that’s exploiting their missteps in Yemen and Qatar.”

Miller and Sokolsky note that Mohammed’s campaign to defeat the Iranian-backed Houthi regime in Yemen has been bogged down. His effort – backed by US President Donald Trump – to force Qatar to abandon its policy of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran has similarly come up short.

They continue, “The latest Saudi gambit – pressuring the Sunni Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign in an effort to expose an Iranian- and Hezbollah- dominated Lebanon – is perhaps too clever by half. What are the Saudis going to do, given their Shiite adversaries’ advantages in Syria and Lebanon, when the Lebanese find themselves plunged into domestic crisis or a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah?” The veteran diplomats conclude their missive by urging Trump to implement his predecessor Barack Obama’s Saudi policy. In their words, Trump needs to place heavy pressure “on the king and his son to de-escalate this conflict and restore equilibrium to America’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

“Because make no mistake,” they warn, “Saudi independence is illusory. Riyadh desperately wants us to back them – and bail them out when they get in over their heads with Iran. If Washington is not careful, the Saudis will sandbag America into standing up to Tehran while the Saudis hide behind its skirt.”

As if synchronized, Robert Malley, Obama’s former Middle East adviser, makes a similar argument in an article in The Atlantic. Malley took a lead role in expanding the US’s ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah during the Obama years.

There are several problems with these policymakers’ claims. The first is that in criticizing the Saudis they deliberately ignore the Obama administration’s central role in engendering the current situation in which the Saudi regime feels compelled to take the actions it is taking.

To be clear, noting the role of the previous administration in causing the rapidly escalating instability of the Middle East is not an exercise in deflecting criticism away from the current administration. The simple fact is that it is impossible for the US to chart a rational course for dealing with the present dangers and opportunities without understanding how they arose in the first place.

For eight years, the Obama administration deliberately alienated and willingly endangered Saudi Arabia and Israel by implementing a policy of appeasing Iran. Despite repeated warnings, the US refused to recognize that as far as Iran is concerned, it cannot have its cake and eat it too.

Iran is at war with Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies and with Israel.

Consequently, Miller and Sokolsky’s claim that there can be an “equilibrium to America’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran” which doesn’t involve the US siding with one side against the other is an illusion. On the ground in the Middle East, as events in Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Gaza and Egypt have made clear, Obama’s strategy of appeasing Iran weakened America’s traditional regional allies and strengthened Iran and its proxies.

The change in the balance of forces that the Obama administration’s policy caused forced the US’s spurned allies to reassess their strategic dependence on the US. Contrary to Miller and Sokolsky’s claims, the Saudis didn’t abandon their past passivity because Mohammed is brash, young and inexperienced.

Mohammed was appointed because Salman needed a successor willing and able to fight for the survival of the kingdom after Obama placed it in jeopardy through his appeasement of Iran. Mohammed is the flipside of the nuclear deal.

Malley noted blandly that like the Saudis, Israel has also been sounding alarms at an ever escalating rate.

It isn’t hard to understand why. In 2009, Israel’s borders and territory were far more secure than they are today. Sunday night three former senior missile developers at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – Israel’s premier missile and missile defense developer – went on television to warn that Haifa’s oil refineries and plans to use surrounding areas as a fuel depot will force the evacuation not only of the population of Haifa, but of all the surrounding satellite cities when war breaks out next with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, they warned, now has the precision missile capability to destroy these vital national infrastructures and render the Gulf of Haifa uninhabitable.

Then there is Syria.

Israel has repeatedly insisted that Iran and its proxies must not be permitted to develop a permanent presence in Syria. Russia and the US ignored Israel’s warnings not only during the Obama years, but, in a sign of the continued power of Obama partisans in the US foreign policy community, during the past year of the Trump administration as well. Over the summer the US and Russia concluded a cease-fire deal for Syria that permitted Iran and its proxies to operate in Syria.

Last week, the BBC reported that Iran is now building a military base 50 kilometers from the border with Israel. On Saturday, the IDF shot down a Russian- made intelligence drone launched against it by forces controlled by Iran’s chief Syrian proxy, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Sunday, following threats from Iranian-controlled Islamic Jihad terrorist forces in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will not accept assaults against it across any of its borders.

Netanyahu said that he holds the Iranian-supported Hamas regime in Gaza responsible for any attacks against Israel emanating from its territory.

Netanyahu’s statement was notable since just last week Hamas and Fatah began implementing their power sharing arrangement in Gaza. Fatah forces, controlled by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, supposedly took responsibility for border crossings between Gaza and Israel.

By insisting that Hamas is responsible rather than Fatah, despite the agreement, Netanyahu signaled that as far as Israel is concerned, through its power- sharing deal with Fatah Hamas has succeeded in becoming the Palestinian version of Hezbollah. Just as Hezbollah pretends to be a faction in Lebanese politics, when in fact it controls all aspects of the Lebanese state, so Hamas remains in charge of all aspects of governance in Gaza while using the PA as a fig leaf.

This brings us back to Miller, Sokolsky and Malley and their pining for a reset button.

It is hard to view their positions as the basis for forging constructive US policies for the region, transformed by eight years of US appeasement of Iran at the expense of its allies and interests.

Insisting that Mohammed abandon the steps he has taken to expand the prospects of Saudi survival in favor of a policy of pretending that a stable equilibrium can be struck between Iran and Saudi Arabia (and Israel) is not a policy for restoring equilibrium.

Putting Hariri back in office in Beirut so he can continue to serve as a fig leaf for Hezbollah and Iran is not a policy for restoring equilibrium. They are both means for pretending reality away while enabling Iran to wage a continuous war against America’s allies with ever greater power and capacity.

It makes sense that Obama partisans are unhappy with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed. It makes sense that they are unhappy with Netanyahu and with Trump. All four of these leaders are impudently insisting on basing their policies on recognizing the reality Obama spent his two terms ignoring: Iran is not appeasable.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

Is War Between Israel and Hezbollah Coming?

With reports of increased tension between the Saudis, the Gulf States, and Egypt on one side and Iran and its allies on the other, Saudi Arabia ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately.  This comes on the heels of  the sudden resignation of Saad Harari and the Houthis in Yemen launching an Iranian missile at Riyadh.

Riyadh, Safar 20, 1439, November 09, 2017, SPA — Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Saudi nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon are asked to leave the country as soon as possible.
The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations.

Shortly after this announcement, the Kuwait governmen followed suit.

Given that the only country capable and willing to start a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon is Israel, focus has shifted to the IDF, with most assuming that the Saudis and Israel have decided that it is time to push back against the Iranian advancement.

With the Syrian regime advancing steadily towards the Golan DMZ and more and more battle hardened Hezbollah fighters returning to Lebanon, the time seems now for a push to knock them out.  Already Iran senses that a shift from an Israeli-Saudi defensive position may be shifting to an offensive push against the growing Shiite hegemony.

“You are well aware of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s power and position, and powers bigger than you have not been able to do anything against the Iranian nation,” Iranian President Rouhani warned Saudi Arabia. “The US and its allies mobilized all their possibilities and power, but they could do nothing.”

The Sunni-Israel camp is fast approaching its moment of truth in its battle with an ever expanding Shiite hegemony.  This hegemony is the main destablizing force in the Middle East and as both Israel and the Saudis have found out, its intersection is far reaching through out the region.

How soon is a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah?  Nothing is set, but what is clear is that the rhetoric between the Saudis and Iranians is fast giving way to action and Israel may be asked to shoot the opening shot.

Arab States Are Taking Trump Very Seriously

As an Arab and a Muslim, I could authoritatively confirm Arab states are now taking the US very seriously. This was not the case at all under Obama’s administration. Nonetheless, some in the media think otherwise, an example of that was a recent article by an Israeli-American journalist, who claims America was now “the laughing stock” of Arab and Muslim states, suggesting President Trump was just following Obama’s policies.

Let’s examine facts on the ground, as they speak louder than journalists watching from afar.  

What could be the most pressing issue for Trump’s foreign policy, is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I reported months ago the administration had warned Hamas, PLO and their political partner, Jordan’s king, not to launch a third Intifada.  All three had been planning one.  It took a quick “warning” visit by the CIA’s director to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, instantly, both stopped their calls for a third Intifada.

Further, a so-called reconciliation deal between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas was recently negotiated under Egyptian patronage, and American pressure. Some, claimed the Hamas terror group was receiving US endorsement and legitimization.  Little do they know that Hamas really handed Gaza to Egypt. 

That means America’s strong ally, President Sisi, is now Gaza’s caretaker. With him in position, Hamas can no longer conduct terror raids on Israel. In other words, the so-called reconciliation was a mere façade for this change for a de facto Egyptian takeover.

So, why did Hamas give in to Sisi? Our inside sources confirm the US Administration has authorized him to handle Hamas and even issued a threat: If Hamas begins another war with Israel; the US won’t stop Israel from going after Hamas to the end.

This is important; in 2014, Israel came close to annihilating Hamas but Obama stopped it. Trump won’t do that, to the contrary, he would bless Israel’s efforts. Hamas knows this, and many vocal journalists don’t.

If Hamas decides to rebel against Sisi, Israel would finish it off this time and the US won’t save Hamas.

Another allegation against President Trump is that he “had failed to protect the Kurds against the pro-Iran Iraqi government”. This could not be further from the truth.

The administration has been very supportive of the Kurds, and enabled their troops to establish themselves in huge areas in both Syria and Iraq which the US itself had liberated from ISIS. The US is wisely looking at gradual, de facto, Kurdish self-determination, through intelligence, military, and political commitments.

The US is against a premature Kurdish declaration of independence because it would be too risky to the Kurds themselves at the time, nonetheless, the US remains fully supportive of all the de facto mechanisms Kurdistan is executing. The sticking point appears to be in the “declaration” and not the right to self-determination, because a premature declaration destabilizes US plans that benefits the Kurds.  As the Iraqi state keeps failing – and this is not the US fault by any chance- it is only natural that a fully-functioning Kurdistan could become independent. Kurdistan is not there yet, but once it is, the US will be the most supportive.

Further, our intelligence sources confirm the US has already warned the Iraqi government against an attack on the Kurdish areas beyond Kirkuk.  And even pressured Iraq to use an unprecedented term: “the disputed areas with the Kurds”, now only Kirkuk is a “disputed area”, before that, Iraq’s government considered all of Kurdistan as a mere Iraqi governorate.  

A US Congressman, Duncan Hunter, is making a fuss about Iraqi troops using US tanks while waving Hezbollah flags. What he fails to understand is this: Iraq’s dependence on American arms puts the Iraqi military under the mercy of the US. The US could just stop spare parts supply to Iraq at any moment and those tanks would become junk.  This is why the US has just recently delivered more F16s to Iraq. Should Iraq bomb the Kurds with them, the US could stop spare parts supplies. An Iraqi source has confirmed to me: “Our spare parts supply is enough for our F16s operations for no more than two weeks, the Americans are very cheap with spare parts, they give us drop by drop”.  

In fact, the pro-Iran Iraqi government was so helpless that it had to “criminalize the waving of Israeli flags”. Meanwhile, the Kurds are still waving both the Israeli and Kurdish flags on their soil, more evidence Iraq has no power over Kurdistan. Nor has Iran.

On the other hand, Congressman Hunter began pushing for sales of lethal drones to Jordan’s king just weeks after a Jordanian airman executed three US Green Berets, and Jordan’s regime was officially and publicly defending the killer and blaming the American victims. Why is Hunter so two-faced? 

Meanwhile, many seem to swiftly overlook Trump’s biggest accomplishment: ISIS is almost gone! The very ISIS that had thrived under Obama’s nose

Without publicity and drama, and in his first month in the White House, President Trump deployed US special forces in cooperation with Egyptian and Kurdish troops to attack ISIS in Syria. ISIS has lost 90 percent of its area and thousands of fighters.

Also, Trump has deployed America’s military might to secure a ceasefire in Syria. Bloodshed has dropped to very low rates. No more epic massacres from either side. And while Russia is claiming victory, the US boots on the grounds are calling the shots, and the US has full control of Syria’s airspace.

Additionally, safe zones have been created and Syrian refugees are returning home, while the flow of those into Europe has dropped.

Why is this so avidly overlooked by the liberal and leftist media?

Trump’s war on ISIS did not stop with the military. The President took a trip to Saudi Arabia to meet Arab leaders and pressed Sunni states to cut all kinds of support to Islamist terror. Most of them welcomed the call, while others chose to keep supporting Islamists and are now paying for that.  For example, Qatar, is now under economic and political siege by most Arab countries, while Jordan’s king is isolated and shunned by most Arab states.

This could have never happened if Trump was not in office.

Even more, Trump has offered full support and cooperation to Saudi Arabia’s modernizing crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, who has allowed women to drive, as well as locked up all terror-inciters and radical preachers. Bin Salman is now advocating a 2030 vision for Saudi, where moderation and peace become the norm, with a window open for a just and lasting peace with Israel. As a result, most Arab states are now seeking regional peace with Israel. This is what the president’s peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, has been silently and tirelessly working on, without the show off and noise.

Arab states are taking America very seriously now, they know there is a new, tough, decisive and strong sheriff in town. This is good for America, Israel and us, the Arab people too.

In the MidEast, America is great again!


What the recent political shakeup in Saudi Arabia means for global terrorism funding.

For 70 years, Saudi Arabia served as the largest and most significant incubator of Sunni jihad. Its Wahhabist Islamic establishment funded radical mosques throughout the world. Saudi princes have supported radical Islamic clerics who have indoctrinated their followers to pursue jihad against the non-Islamic world. Saudi money stands behind most of the radical Islamic groups in the non-Islamic world that have in turn financed terrorist groups like Hamas and al-Qaida and have insulated radical Islam from scrutiny by Western governments and academics. Indeed, Saudi money stands behind the silence of critics of jihadist Islam in universities throughout the Western world.

As Mitchell Bard documented in his 2011 book, The Arab Lobby, any power pro-Israel forces in Washington, DC, have developed pales in comparison to the power of Arab forces, led by the Saudi government. Saudi government spending on lobbyists in Washington far outstrips that of any other nation. According to Justice Department disclosures from earlier this year, since 2015, Saudi Arabia vastly increased its spending on influence peddling. According to a report by The Intercept, “Since 2015, the Kingdom has expanded the number of foreign agents on retainer to 145, up from 25 registered agents during the previous two-year period.”

Saudi lobbyists shielded the kingdom from serious criticism after 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were shown to be Saudi nationals. They blocked a reconsideration of the US’s strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia after the attacks and in subsequent years, even as it was revealed that Princess Haifa, wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington at the time the September 11 attacks occurred, had financially supported two of the hijackers in the months that preceded the attacks.
The US position on Saudi Arabia cooled demonstrably during the Obama administration. This cooling was not due to a newfound concern over Saudi financial support for radical Islam in the US. To the contrary, the Obama administration was friendlier to Islamists than any previous administration. Consider the Obama administration’s placement of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in key positions in the federal government. For instance, in 2010, then secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano appointed Mohamed Elibiary to the department’s Homeland Security Advisory Board. Elibiary had a long, open record of support both for the Muslim Brotherhood and for the Iranian regime. In his position he was instrumental in purging discussion of Islam and Jihad from instruction materials used by the US military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The Obama administration’s cold relations with the Saudi regime owed to its pronounced desire to ditch the US’s traditional alliance with the Saudis, the Egyptians and the US’s other traditional Sunni allies in favor of an alliance with the Iranian regime.

During the same period, the Muslim Brotherhood’s close ties to the Iranian regime became increasingly obvious. Among other indicators, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president Mohamed Morsi hosted Iranian leaders in Cairo and was poised to renew Egypt’s diplomatic ties with Iran before he was overthrown by the military in July 2013. Morsi permitted Iranian warships to traverse the Suez Canal for the first time in decades.

Saudi Arabia joined Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in 2014.

It was also during this period that the Saudis began warming their attitude toward Israel. Through Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leading role in opposing Iran’s nuclear program and its rising power in the Middle East, the Saudis began changing their positions on Israel.

Netanyahu’s long-time foreign policy adviser, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president Dr. Dore Gold, who authored the 2003 bestseller Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism which exposed Saudi Arabia’s role in promoting jihadist Islam, spearheaded a process of developing Israel’s security and diplomatic ties with Riyadh. Those ties, which are based on shared opposition to Iran’s regional empowerment, led to the surprising emergence of a working alliance between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE with Israel during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas – the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is in the context of Saudi Arabia’s reassessment of its interests and realignment of strategic posture in recent years that the dramatic events of the past few days in the kingdom must be seen.

Saturday’s sudden announcement that a new anti-corruption panel headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the near simultaneous announcement of the arrest of more than two dozen royal family members, cabinet ministers and prominent businessmen is predominantly being presented as a power seizure by the crown prince. Amid widespread rumors that King Salman will soon abdicate the throne to his son, it is reasonable for the 32-year-old crown prince to work to neutralize all power centers that could threaten his ascension to the throne.

But there is clearly also something strategically more significant going on. While many of the officials arrested over the weekend threaten Mohammed’s power, they aren’t the only ones that he has purged. In September Mohammed arrested some 30 senior Wahhabist clerics and intellectuals. And Saturday’s arrest of the princes, cabinet ministers and business leaders was followed up by further arrests of senior Wahhabist clerics.

At the same time, Mohammed has been promoting clerics who espouse tolerance for other religions, including Judaism and Christianity. He has removed the Saudi religious police’s power to conduct arrests and he has taken seemingly credible steps to finally lift the kingdom-wide prohibition on women driving.

At the same time, Mohammed has escalated the kingdom’s operations against Iran’s proxies in Yemen.

And of course, on Saturday, he staged the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri amid Hariri’s allegations that Hezbollah and Iran were plotting his murder, much as they stood behind the 2005 assassination of his father, prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

There can be little doubt that there was coordination between the Saudi regime and the Trump administration regarding Saturday’s actions. The timing of the administration’s release last week of most of the files US special forces seized during their 2011 raid of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was likely not a coincidence.

The files, which the Obama administration refused to release, make clear that Obama’s two chief pretensions – that al-Qaida was a spent force by the time US forces killed bin Laden, and that Iran was interested in moderating its behavior were both untrue. The documents showed that al-Qaida’s operations remained a significant worldwide threat to US interests.

And perhaps more significantly, they showed that Iran was al-Qaida’s chief state sponsor. Much of al-Qaida’s leadership, including bin Laden’s sons, operated from Iran. The notion – touted by Obama and his administration – that Shi’ite Iranians and Sunni terrorists from al-Qaida and other groups were incapable of cooperating was demonstrated to be an utter fiction by the documents.

Their publication now, as Saudi Arabia takes more determined steps to slash its support for radical Islamists, and separate itself from Wahhabist Islam, draws a clear distinction between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Given Saudi Arabia’s record, and the kingdom’s 70-year alliance with Wahhabist clerics, it is hard to know whether Mohammed’s move signals an irrevocable breach between the House of Saud and the Wahhabists.

But the direction is clear. With Hariri’s removal from Lebanon, the lines between the forces of jihad and terrorism led by Iran, and the forces that oppose them are clearer than ever before. And the necessity of acting against the former and helping the latter has similarly never been more obvious.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

For Saudi Arabia, the Yemen War is Ground Zero for its Fight Against Iran

With the war in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia and coalition of Sunni states against the Houthis, Iranian proxy heating up, the Houthi led military fired a balistic missile over Riyadh on Saturday night. This marked a serious turn in the war.

The missile, producd in Iran, would have no doubt only been fired only with Iran’s permission, which seems to be more comfortable displaying its hegemonic aspirations since its victorious battle in Kirkuk. For Saudi Arabia, the missile is a sort of wake up call on just how serious the Iranian threat is. It also proves that the Iranians, true to their word are not about to stop and rest a bit.

Turki al-Maliki, spokesperson for the coalition forces, said: “The missiles Houthis targeted the Saudi Arabia was produced by Iran, they are not involved in the ammunition of Yemen army.”

Maliki continued: “Houthis couldn’t increase the tension without the support by the Iran regime.”

Controlling Yemen is key to the Iranian strategy and equal in value than building a land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea; although the latter is usually mentioned far more by pundits. Taking full control of Yemen means that the Bab-el-Mandeb Straight which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden will fall into Iran’s hand. 3.8 million barrels of oil a day pass through the Bab el-Mandab chokepoint on Yemen’s southwestern coast.

More than that, taking Yemen completely would supplant on Saudi Arabia’s doorstep, giving it the capability to destroy the Kingdom.

This is why the missile over Riyadh that was taken down by an American Patriot Missile is a serious escalation. Given the fact that Iran is on the move under Russian protection across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia views Yemen as the last chance to stop them before the Kingdom has to take them on the Iranian forces directly.

With the rise of Prince Salman and his purging of his competition in the Saudi Kingdom, the Saudi royals may be forced to rally around the Crown Prince despite his controversial moves.  Embroiling the Kingdom in the Yemen war had always been viewed as a misstep by the young prince, but with Iran using it as a spring board to corner the Saudi Kingdom, Salman’s intereference may have been far more cunning than those who doubted it believed.

Is Israel Trying to Wrest Control of the Druze from Syria?

With Russia and Iran solidly working together to etablish a new Middle Eastern paradigm, Israel appears to be creating one of its own.  Late Friday, the IDF responded to the Duze village of Hader’s request for help against ISIS by stating that Israel will absolutely lend aid to the embattled village.  There is only one problem, Hader is not within the current boundaries of Israel, but rather just East in Syria.

The village residents felt so threatened by ISIS that many attempted to break into Israel for safety where many of their relatives live.  The Druze are a stateless people who are spread between Syria, Southern Lebanon, and Israel.  In Israel, they are considered loyal, with many serving in the top units.

With Syria and Iran threatening Israeli security, the plight of Hader could well be the key for Israel’s entry into creating a formidable buffer against its enemies.  The Druze are loyal to the country they live in, which means the Syrian regime has benefited from outsized Druze support even during its lowest point during the civil war. Yet, Hader lies far West from the Syrian Druze main area called Jabal Al-Druze or Druze mountain.

Due to Hader’s location, Syria has been unable to apply its control there, which gives Israel the possibility for establishing a forward base in Syria, which can be used to push back Iranian control in the area. It is not clear how serious Hader is about its desires for Israeli help or even the ability for the IDF to enter, but given the fact that the region is under remendous mount of chaos, there is a logic in rethinking the borders and relationships in the area.  With the Druze finding success in Israel in a way they don’t in other areas, a unique opportunity may now exist to reach out to Druze communities in Southern Lebanon and Western Syria by offering a chance to ensure these communities security and prosperity under an expanded Israeli security umbrella.

This would send a message to Iran and even Russia that they are not the only ones that can shape and change assumed regional foundations.  The Syckes-Picot agreement has been buried.  It appears to be time for Israel to take charge and push back against Iranian and Russian machinations. Hader is the first test.

Russia and Iran Strike a Deal, Leaving Israel Cornerned

The tension in the region seemed to spike when Israel’s airforce was said to have fired 7 missiles at a weapons depot near Homs, Syria.  This occurred the same day Putin was wrapping up meetings with Iranian leader the Ayatollah Khameini.

The meeting appears to be fruitful in the sense that Iran is willing to follow Putin’s line on the Middle East.

The Tehran Times said the following about Putin’s statements at the meeting:

Putin also said Russia considers Iran as a “strategic partner” and “great neighbor” and that Moscow will use every opportunity to strengthen inclusive ties with Tehran.

Putin also praised cooperation between Russia and Iran in Syria, saying it has produced good results. He also said the two countries should go ahead with their struggle against terrorism in Syria and simultaneously help facilitate a political process for the resolution of the conflict between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups.

Also at the meeting the Khameini said:

“America is the number one enemy of our nation,” Reuters quoted Khamenei as saying. “We will never accept their bullying over the nuclear deal. They are using all the wickedness they can muster to destroy the fruit of the nuclear talks.”

Putin appears to be taking up the leadership mantle and Iran has decided to follow suit. Although Putin puts trust in one, Iran is willing to play to Russia’s tune as long as they get to take on Israel.

With Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran all pining to take on Israel, Russia’s tightening grip on the Middle East paints an ominous future for Israel and others not willing to live under the thumb of Russia.

For its part, the US is drifting away from being a reliable partner seemingly content to nurse its wounds rather than defend its interests. This leaves Israel to fend for itself or make a bad deal with Putin.

Putin Shakes Up Syria, by Inviting the Country’s Kurds to Sochi

According to Asharq Al-Awsat Russia has invited Syrian Kurdish authorities to the Congress of the Peoples of Syria.  The congress is a meeting of Syria’s various ethnic groups that is scheduled to be held in Sochi.

The move appears to be part of Putin’s broader strategy of playing the “great balancer” in the Middle East. The Kurdish move achieves three objectives for Russia.

The first is a message to Iran, that Putin is serious about not letting them have free reign in the region. The second objective is the prying of the Kurdish movement away from America.  By offering the Kurds of Syria a seat at the table, Putin wants the KRG in Iraq to know that they to]o can turn to him and achieve better results than relying on the USA who has essentially allowed Iran to cut the Iraqi Kurds off from the outside.

Putin believes that only by playing all sides against one another, can true stability be achieved in the Middle East. With America losing its grip on the region, will Israel now be willing to play ball with  Russia or will Putin find that Israel is the only hold out to his grand plan?