Does Russia Have a Deal With Israel on Quneitra De-escalation?

With Russian forces moving into Quneitra as early as July 16th, the realization that Israel is being cornered by Iranian and Hezbollah contingents has now become apparent.  Local Quneitra community councils welcomed the opportunity to force “militants associated with Zionist entity” to lay down their arms.

Russia is aware that the Netanyahu government is not happy about the ceasefire deal hammered out between Trump and Putin at the G-20 on July 7th.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister had this to say:

“I can guarantee that we have done everything and the US side has done everything to ensure that Israel’s security interests within this framework are taken fully into account.”

There is more to this statement than just acknowledgment.

Former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said the following on Monday in relation to the Iranian presence so close to the Golan:

“Israel may need to take military action to prevent Iran or Hezbollah from setting up permanent bases in Syria.” 

This is no accidental comment. Amidror is a close confidant of the Prime Minister and his comment was meant to send a message to the Russians.

The idea that Iran and Hezbollah is setting up permanent bases so close to Israel’s Golan Heights may appear to be a dangerous step for Israel.  The Russian forces that have now entered the region have only complicated the situation. The peril for Israel cannot be overstated.  However, Amidror’s comments contain a hint of possible solution to the menace forming on Israel’s border.

The Russian’s have at times allowed Israel to take out Hezbollah and Iranian arms transfers, with analysts observing that Russia itself tipped off the Israeli airforce to the location of the hidden arms and gave it fly by capabilities to destroy the targets.  If Israel can convince Putin it is far better to let Israel defend itself by destroying Iranian and Hezbollah fighters on its border than making the IDF attack covertly, then a similar relation can develop even within the framework of the current ceasefire.

More than 18 months ago I wrote the following:

Many analysts believe that Russia, in the long-term, has no interest in allowing Iran to take over the Middle East. Russia views its relationship with Iran as a tactical necessity to prop up Assad and destroy Sunni radicals. After this task is done, the experts in this particular camp believe their paths will diverge.  

If this is so, then logic lends itself to believe Putin wants relationships and long term strategic partnerships with countries that are not only stable, but also share similar security and economic outlooks with himself, and yet will not step in his way. Israel is one of these countries.

We are about to see if this theory holds weight.  If Russia does not prevent Iran and Hezbollah from building up their forces on Israel’s border, then Russia either will have to allow the Israeli airforce to neutralize the growing threat or risk losing leverage over Israel.

Putin has spent much of the Syrian Civil War navigating a variety of local interests while cementing Russia’s control over the Northern Levant. The question remains: At what point does Putin jettison his relationship with Iran in favor of a more moderate and stable relationship with far more rational actors?

If Russia truly wants a stable Middle East then we may be about to see the beginning of a Russian-Iranian divergence.


Are Post ISIS Alliances Already Taking Shape?

As the Raqqa operation gets underway, with the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) ploughing forward into the “capital” of ISIS, the terror group’s leaders and fighters are said to have already travelled to safe havens along the middle Euphrates.  With the American backed SDF bogged down in strett to street fighting, Iranian paramilitary units are pouring in from where they helped fight to free Mosul to Eastern Syria to destroy the heads of ISIS.

This struggle for land as ISIS collapses is forming the beginnings of regional boundaries that in essence brand new lines between ethnic units as well as defined frontiers of regional alliances.

Rising up from the rubble of ISIS are two clearly definied groupings.

The first consists of Russia, Iran, Syria (Assad), Turkey, and Qatar.  None of these countries trust eachother, but work together under a common interest in battling back America as well as seeking a piece of what they see as a rising Middle Eastern hegemony.

The second group is made up of the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Kurds and Israel.  This grouping sees the first group as an existential threat and has been conjoled to work together by the Trump administration.

With the fall of ISIS a matter of weeks, the real battle will come after. Iran has used the chaos to reach to the Israeli border.  They have shown the ability to capitalize on the weaknesses of their enemies. Besides Iran, Hezbollah can now turn its sites on Israel.

The Middle Eastern alliances now taking shape even before the last of the caliphate are buried not only put Iran im the drivers seat, but increase the likelihood of war sooner rather than later.  The Syckes-Picot agreement, the document based colonialist and neo-colonialist pinciples set in motion by France and Germany is becoming irrelevant as a new set of states and mini states take shape.

As the chaos spreads throughout the region and beyond, the Saudis backed by Israeli tehnology will attempt to push back on the Shiite gains in order to create a buffer between the Kingdom and its enemies. The Kurds backed covertly by Israel and overtly by America will be encouraged to push forward in order to stabilize Northern Syria and Iraq and break the link between a power hungry Turkey and their allies in Qatar.

Be prepared the Great Game of the Middle East is about to begin. It could very well be far more destructive than the havoc ISIS has caused.


…and bring peace to the Middle East.

In 1990, there were half as many Palestinians as Kuwaitis in Kuwait. Two years later there were almost none.

With the support of the international community, some 700,000 Kuwaitis expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their country. If they had not done it, basic arithmetic shows that the Palestinians would have outnumbered Kuwaitis in Kuwait in a generation.

The Palestinians of Kuwait were kidnapped, tortured and killed.  “Kill a Palestinian and Go to Heaven,” became the slogan. When Kuwait was “liberated”, tanks and armored vehicles were sent into the Hawally suburb of Kuwait City known as Little Palestine. Half the buildings were knocked down by bulldozers. Some detained Palestinians were buried in mass graves. The vast majority, including those who had been born in Kuwait, were deported or forced to flee a land they had lived in for a generation.

The violent ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians went mostly unremarked. While the Kuwaitis were ethnically cleansing their Palestinians, they continued to fund Palestinian terror against Israel and condemn Israel for violating the human rights of those they were deporting.

And the world shrugged.

President George H.W. Bush defended Kuwait’s actions. “I think we’re expecting a little much if we’re asking the people in Kuwait to take kindly to those that had spied on their countrymen that were left there,” he said. This was in the same press conference in which he condemned Israeli “settlements.”

A year later, Israel expelled 400 Hamas members.  Every human rights organization was outraged. The State Department “strongly” condemned Israel. And Israel was forced to take them back.

The Kuwaiti Nakba isn’t much remembered. There are no rallies full of old women clutching house keys to lost homes in Hawally. They had made a bad bet by backing Saddam Hussein. And paid the price for it.

Kuwait refused to allow Palestinian Authority leader Abbas to visit until he apologized for supporting Saddam. And apologize he did. “Yes, we apologize for what we have done,” the terror boss whined.

The PLO has yet to apologize to Israel for the Muslim settler role in the attempted 1948 genocide of the indigenous Jewish population and the thousands who were maimed and murdered by its terrorists.

Israel, like Kuwait, should have demanded an admission of guilt from Abbas for the PLO’s crimes.

The Kuwaiti Nakba has much in common with what took place in Israel. Palestinians had arrived in both Kuwait and Israel as a cheap labor force to take advantage of the economic boom of a feudal economy becoming industrialized. The “Palestinians” of Israel were not some ancient people but a mass of migrants, mostly from Israel’s neighbors, but occasionally from as far away as Sudan and Senegal in Africa, who were seeking economic opportunity. The existence of the Afro-Palestinians makes it quite clear that they are not a distinct ethnic or national group, but migrants who came from outside Israel.

Over half of the so-called “Palestinian” population lives outside Israel. Many continue to be economic migrants. That is what brought them to Kuwait. And the Kuwaitis were not the only ones to kick them out. Nor are the “Palestinians” the only migrating group that got caught without a country when the game of national musical chairs ended with a lot of new countries with old names dotting the map.

“Palestinians” embraced an imaginary and ahistorical identity because they had been locked out of every other political setup by new governments and tribal arrangements. And that’s not unique.

Kuwait’s other stateless group are the Bedoon. Like the Palestinians, the Bidoon were migrants. The Kuwaitis chose not to recognize them as citizens. There is one Bidoon for every ten Kuwaitis. But that is typical in a region where large nomadic groups around the region exist outside governmental structures.

In this century, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Many of the countries in the region are on the verge of similar civil wars between quarreling ethnic and religious groups. The mass flow of migrants into Europe is an extension of the migratory nature of the region.

All of these problems have a single cause. That cause is the failure of the Arab Muslim nation state.

This century exposed how fragile and artificial most of the countries whose existence we take for granted, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Libya, really are. A little instability and they collapse into quarreling tribes. These tribal conflicts have the same root cause as the “Palestinian” problem.

The Palestinian problem can’t be solved without resolving the problem of the Arab Muslim nation state.

The civil wars in Syria and Iraq, the flow of migrants into Europe and the latest itineration of the failed Palestinian peace process all stem from the conflict between the natural tribe and the artificial nation state. The Arab Muslim nation state is incapable of resolving these tribal conflicts.

That is the source of the tyranny, instability and violence in the Middle East.

No amount of concessions or negotiations by Israel will do anything except create more instability. Decades of Israeli concessions have only led to terrorism, violence, death and misery. If Israel ceased to exist tomorrow, the place where it was would be as much of a disaster area as Yemen or Syria.

It’s often pointed out that the Palestinians are a fictional national identity. But the Iraqis, Syrians and many others are equally artificial; historical names attached to fake countries. We weren’t the first Westerners to think that we could fix the Middle East by making them just like us. Before we tried exporting democracy, the British and the French exported nationhood with all the trimmings of flags, constitutions and anthems. Just like Arab Muslim democracy, the Arab Muslim nation state is a farce that spreads misery, instability and violence.

We can best fix the Middle East by ending all the failed efforts to turn it into Europe and America. And reversing them. Stop recognizing Arab Muslim countries that have incompatible populations. They’re dictatorships on the verge of a civil war. And that civil war will eventually drag us in as Iraq and Syria did.

Whenever possible, deal with tribal and other organic regional leaders, not fake national governments. In Iraq, that means an end to the failed policy of only dealing with the Shiite puppet regime in Baghdad while ignoring the Sunni tribal leaders and the Kurdish authorities. That policy helped create ISIS.

We should recognize discrete regions based on the settlement of natural ethnic, religious and tribal identities. There will inevitably be conflict between these tribal territories, but they will claim far fewer lives than Saddam’s efforts to suppress the Shiites and the Marsh Arabs did. Tribes will kill fewer people than a tribal nation state striving to stamp out rivals and competitors with a powerful domestic military.

Borders should not be viewed as permanent. The Middle East is migratory. It is not Europe. An Arab Muslim who moves from Iraq to Syria or flees Kuwait for Jordan is not a refugee. When you start defining every migrant in a region with an extensive nomadic history as a refugee, the end result is the absurdity of the Palestinian refugee cities of Jordan or the million migrants showing up in Europe.

If you go back far enough, everyone in the Middle East is a refugee.

Instead of trying to resettle fake refugees, we should encourage the settlement of discrete territories with natural borders that create physical and defensible divisions between different groups. That rules out any of the lunatic peace schemes for a Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem and a territory that cuts through Israel. These plans have failed and will go on failing for the same reason that Iraqis are still killing each other despite our best efforts to talk, bribe and bomb them out of it.

The indigenous Jewish population and the Muslim migrants who settled in Israel are inherently incompatible. The Palestinian problem might be solved somewhere in Jordan or Syria. History and experience tells us it will never be solved in Israel.

The Israeli government should begin distinguishing between the Muslim settler population based not on artificial borders dating back to a particular war but on clan and ethnicity.

The Circassians who migrated to Israel in the 19th century from the Caucasus have not been a problem. These Ottoman military colonists are Muslims, but they serve in the Israeli military and have no interest in joining in the tribal wars of other Muslims against the Jews. The Husayni clan, which gave us Arafat and the Mufti of Jerusalem, has been a source of strife and violence in the region for far too long.

Israel doesn’t have a national problem with the “Palestinians”, it faces threats from marauding clans which dominate the leadership of Islamic terror groups such as the PLO and Hamas. No one has managed to make peace with the Husaynis yet. And they never will.

The first step to solving the Palestinian problem is to recognize that it doesn’t exist. The second is to determine which clans would be more compatible where. That is a process that must take place across the region in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Israel and beyond. And it is far more likely to bring peace than any amount of negotiations and peacekeeping missions.

The great error of Western foreign policy in the region was the belief that stability was best achieved through modernization.  The Arab Muslim world is not going to turn into Europe.

We should let it be what it is. Its tribalism won’t bring peace. But it can limit the scope of its wars.

Originally Published on FrontPageMag.

Salon’s Attack on Trump’s Plan to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem is FAKE NEWS

This past Sunday, Salon ran a piece titled: “Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is a bad idea for everyone — except Israeli hard-liners and their American friends,” in which the author focused on three main points in an attempt to craft an argument for not moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The author does this by way of creating a hypothetical meeting between two Arab leaders.  The King of Saudi Arabia and the King of the UAE.

“When the two most influential leaders in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman and his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed, get together to discuss how Washington can demonstrate its renewed commitment to regional allies, it is a safe bet that moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is not on their list.”

The author uses the above “pretend meeting” to set up a false narrative where a move of the US embassy to Jerusalem reignites the “Israeli-Palestinian” conflict as well as tearing apart the “normally quiet” Middle East.

The move he insists, is being pushed by Trump to soothe his “radical base” as well as supported by Israel’s “hardliners.”

The above could not be further from the truth.

Let’s set the record straight:  President Donald Trump does not view the Two State Solution or the splitting of Jerusalem as necessities in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The fact is, most Israelis support an Israel with a united Jerusalem as its capital.  Given these facts, why does it matter if the Palestinians are erked?  Why are their grievences necessarily assumed to be equal to Israel’s?

Furthermore, the author wants to make the case that the Middle East will fall into chaos if the US moves its embassy to Jerusalem.  Perhaps the author has forgotten about the chaos that flows from Iraq to Syria to Yemen. Let’s face it, the Middle East is about as chaotic as it can get.

As for his assertion that Saudi Arabia or the UAE would care?  So what. They are not going to do anything about it. They both need the USA and Israel to hold off Iran.  The most they will do is throw a public fit in order to appease their wound up street, which deep down inside doesn’t care anyway.

Here are some facts:

  • Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since the 1880s
  • Jews are the nationality to have a continuous presence in Jerusalem for 3000 years
  • Jews are the only people to have an established capital in Jerusalem 3 times

In light of these, why wouldn’t the US move its embassy to Jerusalem? In fact, if one truly wants to make a point of ending the conflict once and for all, taking Jerusalem off the table will bring the “Palestinians” to their knees and yes bring peace faster than leaving the conflict simmering the way it is now.

President Trump and the majority of supporters of Israel as well as the US Congress are completely justified and correct in wanting to move the US embassy to the historical and political capital of the only Jewish State.

The author ends his article with this:

“Rather than demonstrating American resolve and commitment, moving the embassy to Jerusalem actually has the potential to strengthen Iran, weaken Israel’s ties to the Arab world, and sow violence between Palestinians and Israelis. This should all be abundantly clear, but when it comes to U.S. policy in the Middle East, illogical arguments often reign.”

This final statement is the hubris which Middle East policy has been driven through for the last 5 decades.  It is the author who has made a series of illogical arguments.  These arguments and mentality are about to be bulldozed into the dustbin of moral relativism and Arabist apologetics by the 45th President.

Boris Johnson, Israel, and the Shifting Sands of Global Leadership

Boris Johnson is an unconventional politician.  After successfully leading the Brexit camp to the victory, he has now been named as Theresa May’s new Foreign Minister. Boris Johnson is not only an unabashed nationalist in the British mold, he has recognized that the world has changed.  During the Brexit campaign Johnson and politician Nigel Farage rightly argued that an overly bureucratic European Union stuck in a 20th Century paradigm was choking Britain and holding it back from dealing with a rising China, Russia, India, and Israel.

By naming Boris Johnson as her foreign minister, May essentially sends a signal that the game the Europeans have been playing with the world is up.  Afterall, when the game turns deadly, what else can be expected.  Britain has always had two sides to her.  One as the highly manipulative colonial overlord and the other being the liberty seeking altruist. Neither is 100% representative of Great Britain’s demure, but Boris Johnson’s ascendency to the face of the Kingdom seems to be an acquiesence that Britain can no longer remain attached to the ideas of old.

Afterall, Johnson himself caught much flack when he slammed the BDS movement. “I cannot think of anything more foolish” than to boycott “a country that when all is said and done is the only democracy in the region, the only place that has in my view a pluralist open society,” he said.

Britain as a partner rather than an unwanted interloculator  is of course a postive step. Yet, as has been noted in the past, Britain ends up doing whatever is good for Britain and by whatever means is necessary.  Right now those that control the purse have decided to let the liberty contingent assume power, yet if May and Johnson rock the  boat too much their control won’t last long.

The British elite which are the ones who have set policy since the beginning of the kingdom have always had to bend at times of rising populism.  The tide right now seems to be going in that direction.

Israel must not forget that it was Britain, as colonial master in the Land of Israel, incited Arabs to inflict maximum damage to Jews, while preventing the Jews from defending themselves.  It was the British government which actively blocked Jews from coming to the Land of Israel only to be sent back to Europe to die. It was the British who armed and directed the Arab armies against the young Jewish State. The same British overlords reveled in the the choas they created here in Israel and across Africa and the Middle East in order to ensure maxmum profit without the obligations of justice. They shifted populations and aided Arab allies in migrating, conquering, and controlling much of the indigenous non-Arab populace.

Can Theresa May and Boris Johnson rectify the past sins of the old order without being thrown out by the British elite?  This is highly doubtful, but for now though Boris Johnson becoming Foreign Minister is at least an acknowledgement that global leadership may be shifting away from Europe and shifting fast.