Why America Shouldn’t Leave Syria, and the Kurds, Behind

President Donald Trump may about to throw the Kurds under the bus – and with them, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and American interests in the Middle East.

If concerns for securing the Pentagon budget are what convinced Trump to sign the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill last month, Pentagon concerns about keeping Islamist Turkey in NATO seem to be informing Trump’s thinking about abandoning the Kurds.

To the dismay of America’s allies and the delight of its enemies, President Trump declared last Thursday, in a speech in Ohio focused on infrastructure renewal, that he will soon recall U.S. forces now deployed to Syria to fight the Islamic State (or ISIS).

In his words: “We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.”

On its face, Trump’s statement seems reasonable. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama received congressional authorization to deploy U.S. forces to Syria to defeat ISIS, which had seized large swathes of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq, and had set up its so-called capital in Raqqa, Syria. But Obama’s war against ISIS was lackadaisical and inconclusive.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump pledged to obliterate ISIS. Upon taking office, he loosened the rules of engagement for U.S. forces, and devolved authority for making attacking decisions from Washington to the forces on the ground.

The results paid off. In December 2017, Iraqi President Haider al-Abadi announced that ISIS had been defeated in Iraq.

In October 2017, U.S. forces working with the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces defeated ISIS forces in Raqqa.

If fighting ISIS were the only reason for US forces to be in to Syria, then a reasonable argument could be made for leaving and letting “the other people take care of it [Syria] now.”

But that’s the thing, ISIS was arguably the group in Syria that constituted the smallest strategic threat to the US and its allies. Indeed, while supporting Obama’s decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior Israeli defense and military officials saidrepeatedly that Iran’s entrenchment in Syria constituted a far greater threat to the region and to global security than ISIS ever did.

Which brings us to the issue of “the other people” in Syria that Trump expects to take care of things after he removes U.S. forces.

Those “other people,” are not American allies. To the contrary.

The forces in position to take over the areas where U.S. forces are now deployed are Turkish, Iranian, and Russian. Unlike the Israelis and Saudis, the Iranians, Turks, and Russians share none of America’s interests in Syria.

Which brings us to the Kurds, who will be the immediate casualty of an American withdrawal from Syria.

The US victory against ISIS in Syria and Iraq would never have happened without the Kurdish YPG and the YPG-dominated SDF militia in Syria, nor without the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq. The Kurds were the ground forces that won the war.

Through their successful operations in Iraq and Syria, the Kurds earned U.S. support for their political aspirations for an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, and an independent Kurdish region in post-war Syria. Such independent Kurdish zones serve the larger American strategic interest of blocking Iran’s imperial aspirations. An independent Kurdistan in Iraq would block Iran from controlling the Iran-Iraq border. An independent Kurdish province in a post-war Syria would prevent Iran from controlling the Iraqi-Syrian border and thereby from gaining the capacity to extend its hegemonic reach from Tehran to Lebanon.

For the past several months, at a minimum, the Pentagon has been Turkish president Recep Erdogan’s most powerful ally in his political and military campaign against the Syrian Kurds in Washington.  The Pentagon’s consistent preference for Turkey over the Kurdish forces that brought the U.S. victory against ISIS springs from its desire to keep Turkey in NATO. The U.S. directs its operations in Syria through NATO’s Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The U.S. also stores nuclear warheads at the base.

After the failed military coup against Erdogan in July 2016, the regime cut off the power to Incirlik and effectively held the NATO personnel stationed there, including 2,700 U.S. military personnel, prisoner for several days. Rather than take the hint and make plans to remove U.S. nuclear weapons from the base and diminish American reliance on the base for NATO operations in the Middle East, the Pentagon worked to salvage U.S. relations with Turkey and Erdogan.

The argument has always been that no one wants to “lose” Turkey. But in the time that has elapsed since the failed coup, Erdogan has made clear that Turkey is already gone. In December, for example, he concluded a deal in to purchase Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile defense system. The U.S. has repeatedly said that the deal is unacceptable given Turkey’s NATO membership.

Turkey has also been threatening U.S. forces in Manbij, Syria, for months, claiming the YPG forces there are terrorists aligned with the Turkish Kurdish PKK force, which the U.S. has designated a terror group.

US and Kurdish forces seized Manbij from Islamic State in 2016. Until then, the Manbij was the hub of ISIS’s supply chain from Turkey. Indeed, Manbij’s fall exposed Turkey’s key role in facilitating ISIS operations in Syria.

Turkey launched an assault against the Kurdish-controlled Afrin province along the Turkish border in western Syria in January. In the three-month operation, the U.S. provided no support for the Kurdish YPG fighters while the Russians permitted the Turks to bomb the population from the sky at will.

In mid-March, the Kurdish defenders were routed and a massive stream of refugees, including Yazidis and Christians as well as Kurds, abandoned the area to the Turks. Speaking to Reuters and other media outlets, a Kurdish spokesman said that the Turks’ aim was demographic displacement and ethnic cleansing, as fleeing Kurds, Christians, and others were replaced by Sunni Arabs and Turkmen.

Fresh on the heels of his victory in Afrin, this week Erdogan aannounced his intention to attack Kurdish PKK forces in Sinjar, Iraq. Kurdish forces in Sinjar have protected the Yazidis, who returned to the area after it was overrun by ISIS in 2014.

On March 28, Defense Secretary Mattis indicated that the U.S. supports the Turkish intention to remove the PKK forces from Sinjar.

But rather than demonstrating appreciation for the administration’s support, Erdogan is escalating his strategic embrace of Russia and Iran  – at America’s expense.

On Tuesday, Erdogan will host Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Mediterranean coastal town of Akkuyu for a ceremony marking the opening of a Russian-built nuclear power plant at the site. From there, the two leaders will travel to Ankara for a trilateral summit on the future of Syria with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday.

If the U.S. removes its forces from Syria, Iran and Turkey can be expected to annihilate the Kurds. And, as they did in Afrin, the Russians will stand on the sidelines.

A rout of the Kurds in Syria will be an unmitigated strategic disaster for the U.S. and its allies on two levels.

First in relation to Syria itself, without the Kurds, the U.S. will have no allies on the ground. The Turks, Iranians and Russians will divide the country between them. Iran will have accomplished its goal of controlling a contiguous band of territory stretching from Iran to Lebanon. With its gains in Syria consolidated, the prospect of war between Iran and Israel on the one hand, and Iran and Saudi Arabia on the other, will rise to near-certainty.

In the event of such a war, the damage will not be limited to America’s chief strategic allies in the Middle East, which will absorb devastating losses through joint attacks by Iran and its Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iraqi proxies.

As global financial analyst and strategic commentator David Goldman notes, the prospect of a global financial shock will rise to near certainty. “When you throw a lit match into a barrel of gas, you will get a big fire,” Goldman explains.

If Iran and Saudi Arabia go to war, they will target one another’s oil installations, he explains. “The price of a barrel of oil will rise to $200. Even though the U.S. is energy independent, the global price will still rise due to supply loss, and the global economy will be shut down.” Goldman continues.

“This will be the Trump Depression,” he concludes.

In other words, the 2,000 American troops in Syria are what stand between the U.S. and a meltdown of the global economy. They prevent war in the Middle East by denying Iran the ability to consolidate its victories in Syria and to launch wars directly, or through its proxies, against Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This brings us to the second problem with Trump’s appeasement of Turkey and his intent to withdraw from Syria.

If the U.S. betrays the Kurds in Syria, it will scupper any prospect of a popular rebellion inside of Iran that can destabilize and ultimately overthrow the regime. The Iranian Kurds, like the Syrian, Turkish and Iraqi Kurds, suffer from state-sponsored discrimination and oppression. They are geographically and culturally distinct from the rest of Iran. If inspired to do so, they would play a key role in a popular uprising against the regime. Without the Kurds, it is difficult to see how such a revolution could succeed or even begin.

If the U.S. abandons the Kurds of Syria, any chance that the Iranian Kurds would rise up is gone.

In the next five weeks, Trump will decide whether to remain in Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran or to abandon it. If the U.S. remains in Syria, then a U.S. abandonment of the nuclear deal coupled with a reinstatement of significant economic sanctions against Tehran would diminish Iran’s regional standing and economic prospects. But if Trump abandons the deal and abandons Syria, the moves would likely cancel one another out.

Iran will be so empowered by a U.S. abandonment of Syria that it will likely be in a position to abandon the nuclear deal in response to a U.S. move, reinstate its high-level uranium enrichment activities, and suffer few consequences. No longer concerned about U.S. responses, many nations will make their peace with a nuclear-armed Iran and defy American sanctions.

Trump is right to wish to bring the troops home from Syria. But the price American will pay – militarily, strategically and economically — for removing U.S. forces from Syria and abandoning the Kurds will far outpace the advantages of walking away from the mess.

Indeed, the price America will pay for “losing” the already-lost Turkey will be far lower than the price the US will pay for abandoning its Kurdish allies.

Originally Published in Breitbart.

Israel Must Stand With the Kurds Against Turkey

There are times that we cannot afford to remain silent.  We who witnessed our own people nearly wiped out just over 70 years ago know that feeling of an impending genocide.  Perhaps this is due to our collective PTSD or something engrained in us since our forced expulsion from the Land of Israel by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago.

President Erdogan of Turkey fashions himself as a sort of neo-Sultan ready to lead Turkey to a new golden age. Part of this golden age is a drive to wipe out those who Erdogan finds in his way.  For Erdogan, no other group exposes Turkey as an autocratic, racist power as the Kurds do and this is exactly why Erdogan and the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) are hell-bent at wiping them out where ever they are.

Last week’s successful invasion and defacto occupation by the TAF and their FSA allies under orders from Ankara represent our generation’s Sudetenland.  Sudetenland was Hitler’s first stop in conquering much of Europe and the world powers in 1938 did nothing actionable to stop him.  Erdogan’s wife has already stated that her husband intends to settle 500,000 Syrians and other Arabs in the once Kurdish majority city of Afrin.  This is not only a clear case of ethnic cleansing and indiscriminate killing of men, women, and children, it is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Erdogan will not settle for just Afrin.  Due to the United States’ unwillingness to stop the “mad-man” in Ankara they have grown his appetite for more.

Not only has Erdogan promised to enter Manbij, which is a majority Kurdish populated city in Syria to the east of Afrin, he is even threatening to enter Sinjar in Iraq as he claims the terrorist group PKK is there.

“We told the central government to resolve the problem. Or we may will enter Sinjar and wipe the PKK terrorists out overnight. They told us that they would give us information, but we have not received any information so far. If this process lasts long, a new Olive Branch operation can be launched,” he stressed.

Erdogan has also indicated that he will push further south in Syria.

“We made our decision and entered the field. In short time, we will control Tal Rifaat and end the operation [Olive Branch],” Erdogan said in Trabzon, according to the Turkish news outlet, Ahval.

The TAF, who are known for their brutality towards non-Turks cannot be trusted to simply pinpoint their attacks on would-be terrorists.  In fact many of the so-called terrorists Erdogan killed in Afrin were women and children as evidenced by the countless videos and pictures streaming from Afrin city.

It is obvious that the USA lacks the will to intervene on the Kurds behalf.  Russia and Syria seem not to want to be bothered by Turkey’s drive to create a new Ottoman Empire.  Iran clearly is thankful it is Turkey that is will to finally put down the Kurds.  There seems to be one that cares enough to stop the growing Turkish genocidal menace.

This is where Israel must rise up and take the leadership mantle it is meant to have.  On all other matters in the Middle East Israel is respected as a leader.  We as Jews know what it means to be hunted down and murdered.  It is time to demand that the government in Jerusalem break ties with Turkey as a first action and warning to Erdogan that more will come unless he ceases his attacks on the Kurds.

The IDF should try to find a way to supply intelligence, humanitarian supplies, and even military equipment to the both the Syrian Kurds and the Kurds in northern Iraq.  Israeli leadership has been used to undertaking these missions covertly. It may be time to show the world what it means to stand against evil.  The Kurds have always stood with Israel and they appear to be the only other group of people in the Middle East that are genuinely forward thinking and capable of building a successful society.

Now is the time for Israel to lead.

Turkey is the Enemy to Watch Out For

As the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) have now unofficially invaded, occupied, and essentially stolen Afrin City from its indigenous inhabitants, the Syrian Kurds, it is important to understand the implications of this for the Middle East and specifically Israel.  The Israeli government has spent more than a decade convincing the world and most importantly the United States that Iran is the most dangerous threat to Israel. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came back from his meetings with Trump explaining that their meeting centered on Iran.

While it is true Iran poses an existential threat to Israel by way of its ballistic missile program and sponsorship of Hezbollah, its armed forces are still considered very inadequate as compared to Israel’s. Once again, this is not to say Iran should be ignored, especially since they are run by the Ayatollahs.

With all of Iran’s nastiness and genocidal aspirations, they have yet to accomplish what Erdogan has done in Afrin.  Not only has he destroyed ethnically cleansed its Kurdish occupants, but Erdogan seems to actually revel in the complete destruction of the Kurdish city.  This is why Turkey is dangerous.  Erdogan wants and desires to restore the Ottoman Empire to its full glory and will stop at nothing to do so, including mass ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Unlike Iran, Turkey is a NATO member and hosts the US airforce that is needed in the region to finish off ISIS and face off against Russian and Iranian expansion.  Erdogan knows the US won’t be able to move it’s airbase in the short run and so has a free hand to murder civilians and occupy the territory of others.

Erdogan has made it clear. Afrin is only the beginning.  After he has finished killing as many Kurds as he can he will move on and wipe out more and then head south to conquer Damascus and then the ultimate prize, Jerusalem.

Last summer the Turkish Foreign Ministry invoked the Ottoman Empire in connection to Jerusalem: “At the Ottoman era, communities belonging to different religions and sects lived in peaceful coexistence and enjoyed freedom of worship for centuries. In this context, Jews would be expected to know best and appreciate the unique tolerance during the Ottoman era.”

Of course Turkey failed to mention the oppressive policies against Jews in Jerusalem by the Turkish authorities as well as the purposeful flooding of the Land of Israel of hundreds of thousands of non-indigenous peoples by the Ottomans to offset the growing Jewish population.  In fact, one can say that the British learned from the Turks on effective measures on one hand to utiize the Jewish influx of economic know-how and on the other how to rile up the Arab street against the Jewish population.

If the world does not stop Erdogan, what is going on in Afrin will only the beginning.  This is why it is important to take a stand.  Israel needs to lead the way on this.  First, the Kurds have always been pro-Israel and friendly to the Jews.  Furthermore, the Kurds are an open society that makes a point of cherishing personal freedom.  What Erdogan is doing is wiping out an entire culture and if that is allowed nothing will stop him coming after Israel when he is done.

Israel can pressure the US to finally pick a side in this fight and stop back stabbing the Kurds.  It is true Iran is dangerous and may even be true that switching gears at this moment may muddy the ater, but the alternative is far worse.


AFRIN UPDATE: Turkish Planes Bomb City Center, TAF Continues to Shell Civilians

As Turkey shuts down Afrin’s water and begins the seige of the predominately Kurdish city, civilian wounded and dead have been piling up. With Afrin’s Kurdish resistance now decimated one must ask, what the reason is for Turkey to continue to essentially wipe out Kurdish civilians.  Of course a deeper question arises and that is where is the rest of the world and why is it not doing anything about this?

Take a look at the following tweets and videos as Turkey continues to commit ethnic cleansing with a near intent on genocide. Of course Turkey is no stranger to genocide, they wiped out their Armenian minority population of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1917.

The TAF under Erdogan continues to pound innocent civilians.  The question is: Does anyone care?

Who Will Stop Turkey’s Land Theft of Kurdish Areas in Afrin?

Multiple reports confirm that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and their allies the militant FSA are closing in on Afrin’s city center.  The Turkish President is so confident about taking Afrin that he boasted “Afrin will fall by the night.”  Turkey’s war on the indigenous Kurds of Afrin has created 700,000 new refugees in a matter of weeks.

More than this Turkey has been moving ethnic Turks and Arabs into villages where Kurds have lived for years.  Kurdistan 24 reported the following:

Redur Xelil, head of foreign relations for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the Kurdish YPG forces are the leading component, said in an online statement that Turkey was conducting a policy of intentional demographic change in Afrin.

“The Turkish government is settling Turkmen and Arab families in the villages of Afrin that it occupied after forcing out its people and is distributing the belongings of the people of Afrin to the new settlers,” he said.

If the claims are true, the actions would amount to ethnic cleansing. Various forms of forcible transfer of populations, especially of ethnic or religious groups, are considered war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Afrin’s Fall is Blow to the USA and Democratic Syria

Allowing the Kurdish population of Afrin to be permanently displaced is not just a stain on the international community, but can be seen as a blow to America’s ability to hold together its anti-ISIS and post Assad vision of Syria.  The SDF has been trained by the US to defeat ISIS and form the nucleus of a post Assad democratic Syria.  By allowing Afrin to fall to Erdogan’s Turkey, the USA has doomed its ability to call on the Kurds to help push its view of a democratic Syria. It has also allowed a genocidal maniac to continue to gain strength.

The USA’s non-intervention appears to be forcing the Kurds to look elsewhere for help, namely Iran. Without a SDF that is Wetern oriented, the USA risks losing its ability to steer Syria’s future.

Turkish Air Raids May Drag Syria into Afrin Against Them

Ironically the TAF appears to have allowed their determination to finish off the Kurds to possibly be their undoing.  Through their continuous indiscriminate bombing the TAF has managed to not only decimate civilian population centers but has now destroyed checkpoint that was commandeered by pro-Syrian-government Shi’ite militiamen located on the road to Afrin in northwestern Syria.  The airstrikes killed five pro-Syrian mitiamen connected to the Assad regime.  Whether or now this causes Assad to push against Turkey remains to be see, but it is easy to see that where the USA pauses to enter, Syria will decide to do so thus helping the Kurds to shift allegiences to the  Russian backed Shiite axis.

Will Syria now come to Afrin’s aid?

Kurds Losing Ground to Turkey in Afrin

Kurdish forces in the Afrin Canton of northwest Syria continue to lose ground to the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and their terrorist allies known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA). This Free Syrian Army made up of thnic Turkmen should not be confused with the militia of the same name in the south. What seemed to be a growing quagmire for Erdogan and the TAF has now given way to a Turkish push towards Afrin City.  The current success of the TAF is significant for a variety of reasons.

  1. Syrian forces have yet to take up arms against Turkey despite Assad’s rhetoric
  2. Russia continues to stand aside and allow his rival Erdogan to push back against the Kurds
  3. The US has clearly decided to consolidate the SDF/YPG holding on the eastern side of the Euphrates

The moves in Syria allow for Erdogan to save face by keeping his invasion of Syrian Kurdistan to the isolated Afrin district while giving the US what it has wanted, Turkish acquiesence to a Kurdish proto-state east of the Euphrates. It is clear that Russia has abandondoned the Kurds of Afrin, that is unless the Turks overstay their welcome and invade Afrin City, then the unstable arrangement detailed above may come apart.

Image Source: Syrian Civil War Map


Turkey and Syria Head for Direct Clash in Afrin

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has now entered the Afrin conflict by threatening to push Turkey and Turkish aligned militants out.  In return, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) have threatened to attack the SAA if it enters Afrin. As of yesterday, the SAA was seen entrering the Afrin area.  In response the TAF had already begun bombing the approach to Afrin City.

According to Turkish sources the SAA has now halted deployment in the district.

Anadolu Agency (source):

“Pro-regime groups, who tried to enter Syria’s Afrin to support YPG/PKK-Daesh against Turkey’s ongoing operation in the region, have withdrawn Tuesday before reaching the city following warning shots, according to reliable sources on the ground.

The pro-regime groups departed in the Nubl-al-Zahraa region, in southern Afrin, at around 5.00 p.m. (1400GMT) with the aim of supporting YPG/PKK-Daesh terror groups against Operation Olive Branch, said the source on condition of anonymity due to speaking to the media.

The militias tried to advance into the city with a convoy of 20 vehicles including armored vehicles with DShK heavy machine guns

The withdrawal of the pro-Bashar al-Assad terror groups came when they were about 10 km (about 6 miles) away from Afrin, in northwestern Syria.”

In direct contradiction to Turksh claims the SAA has already entered Afrin City over night and are still there. Sputnik News reports the following:

“We maintain contact with the Syrian army, authorities in Afrin and the Kurdish self-defense units (YPG). The forces sent [to Afrin] are directed from the Syrian government, from the command of the Syrian army. Erdogan turned out to be a bad road policeman today, saying that he stopped the movement of Syrian forces that were heading to Afrin. These words are wrong, the forces are is already in Afrin,” YPG spokesman Reizan Hedu said.

Afrin remains tense and appears the main trigger point to a wider war involving Turkey, Russia/Syria/Iran, and the USA. Accordign to many observers Afrin seems to be the sacrificial lamb to Turkey in order to keep them out of eastern Rojava (northeastern Syria).  It is in that area where the majority of US bases exist.

The Syrian regime and the Syrian Kurds have never been allies and in fact have been violently opposed to one another.  Yet, with Afrin isolated and Turkey posing a far bigger threat to both, the Kurdish leadership in Afrin has decided to tactically allow the Syrian regime to push back on Turkey.

Is This a Trigger Event?

My analysis says that this very well could be the trigger event we have been anticipating.  Remember Erdogan wants to reestablish the Ottoman Empire in which his conquering of Damascus plays into an important mythos concerning the rise of the neo-Ottoman empire at the End of Days. The SAA’s entry into Afrin ups the ante and sets up a Turkish-Syrian conflict that has the ability to bring in Russia and the USA.


PACKER’S CORNER: The Middle East is a Mess

Just when you thought the Middle East couldn’t get any messier – it does! So far this week:

-Turkey continues to attack the Kurds in northwest Syria, but the Kurds seem to be hanging tough. Additionally, the Syrian rebels shot down a Russian fighter jet and then killed the pilot on the ground (because why not?). And then the American forces in Syria killed approximately 100 Syrian soldiers as they were trying to conquer areas previously liberated from ISIS.

– Another civil war has broken out in Yemen. How many civil wars does it take to stabilize Yemen? Apparently 3 isn’t enough. Now a group has broken off from the “official government” and is fighting for a southern Yemen independent entity. Surely this will be the solution to all the problems. Meanwhile, death continues to be Yemen’s #1 commodity.

– Reports emerged that Israel has been bombing ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula – part of Egypt. How many times? Like 100! This is actually not very surprising given the dramatically changing dynamics of the region that are pushing moderate sunni muslims and Israel together to combat Iran and sunni extremism. The large number of attacks is a bit surprising. Although not many Egyptian soldiers have been killed recently by ISIS, so I guess it all makes sense now.

Speaking of Israel, let’s continue with what’s going on there!

Nearly a month after the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, hy’d, of Havat Gilad, there have been serious developments. The Israeli Government has declared that Havat Gilad will be LEGALIZED! As mentioned in previous pieces, this is a very big deal (and quite rare). Additionally, the leader of the terrorist cell that committed the murder was just now killed by Israeli forces. It would seem that all involved have either been killed or captured at this point – this is a good thing.

Unfortunately, in another terrorist attack in the Shomron (Samaria) region this week, another Rabbi was murdered. This time it was a stabbing and the killer remains on the run. The Rabbi killed, Itamar Ben-Gal, hy’d, lived with his wife and four children in the community of Har Bracha. Since the murder, there have been statements by right-wing Israeli politicians calling on the Government to approve significant numbers of housing permits in Har Bracha – upwards of 800. This would not only change Har Bracha (more than double it), but the entire region! A strengthening of the Jewish Presence in the area would pressure the Israeli Government to take further, bolder steps like returning permanently to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (nablus) and the former Jewish communities of Homesh and Sa-Nur farther to the north. (map of the area)

There have been a few other terrorist attacks since these, thankfully, much less successful. Remains to be seen if this is a new trend or just more of the same.

In less important news, leaks are leaking out of the Israeli Police (this is about the only thing they can be depended on to do) that they plan to recommend indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu on bribery charges next week. However, its only a recommendation, the Attorney General will be make the actual decision. There are reports that he thinks the whole thing is going nowhere, but we’ll have to see what happens. Regardless, its remarkable how similar the situations with Netanyahu and Trump are – on so many levels! Fascinating!

On the “diplomatic” front, President Trump’s emissaries, Ambassador David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, are verbally sparring with the Palestinian Authority (PA) pretty regularly at this point. One can only imagine where this will lead President Trump, but its unlikely it will go well for the PA. I’d expect a vitriolic tweet sometime soon.

Israeli Government and Economy are totally stable!

Does Turkey’s Capture of Key Town in Afrin Matter?

Sources from Afrin, Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) claim the Turkish Army and FSA proxy Bulbul, considered to be a strategic town at the center of the Bulbul district, which is just north of Afrin.  The Turkish army claims over 24 Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) were killed and at least one other was captured by Turkish forces during fighting in the town.

The Turkish-backed FSA groups also announced that their fighters had captured the villages of Ali Kar, Za’ra and al-Ham in the Bulbul district.

The SDF stated that its defense forces had killed 20 Turkish soldiers during fighting in the village of Qurna. The SDF also said its fighters destroyed Turkish Army vehicle in the village of Za’ra.

The Turkish Anadolu Agency reported that the Turkish Air Force (TAF) destroyed 18 SDF positions in the general Afrin area in overnight attacks. Kurdish sources are reporting that over 104 civilians have been killed, and 156 other have been injured in the TAF bombardment so far.

Does Erdogan’s Incursions Matter for Turkey?

With Turkey’s invasion into Syrian Kurdish territory taking longer than expected, the Turkish President Erdogan is increasingly hurting his relationship with the West and even Russia.  He may be playing to his base, but without serious gains early on and high civilian casulties, Turkey risks eventual isolation with the very countries it needs.

Still in question is whether Erdogan is willing to go head to head with American troops.  If so, buckle up, the Middle East will get far more bumpy.


Trump Administration Begins to Cut Off Iraq

The Obama administration’s policy of simply turning a blind eye on Iraq’s willingness to work with Iran while using American equipment seems to be on its way out under the Trump administration.

According to an unnamed source in the al-Ghad Press: “The American tank company [General Dynamics] withdrew from its position at Muthanna airport in Baghdad, after considering that Iraq is in violation of the contract with it, which states that the Iraqi army is the only side that’s authorized to use the Abrams.”

The squeeze is on and the beginning of the letting loose of America’s “allies” as they act as trojan horses for the growing Shiite menace is beginning.  Discussed here on Israel Rising was the great pivot Trump’ admnistration is undergoing towards placing its long term strategy for stablizing the Middle East under Kurdish and Israeli spheres of influence.

The move by General Dynamics is the beginning of this pivot.

With Iraq on its way out,  the assumption is that the KRG in Iraq will be back as a real alternative to past US allies.