Does Russia Really See Iran as an Ally in Syria?

Despite the constant drumbeat of pseudo-security blogs and magazines like SouthFront, ZeroHedge, and SputnikNews claiming that the Russian and Iranian partnership is something akin to a strategic alliance, that if one relies only on those sorts of sites for regional affairs they come off baffled by Putin’s agreeable attitude towards Israel’s security demands visa vi Iran.

Regardless of the desires of most of these pro-Iranian English media outlets there has never been reason to believe that Russia and especially Putin saw Iran as anything more than a tool to clean out the Western back jihadists who came onto the scene under Obama.  Putin approached Syria carefully without a strong desire to place meaningful troops on the ground.  Assad was close to being toppled so the only real foot soldiers available at the time were Hezbollah and Iran.

Now that Assad is comfortably in control of the southwestern part of Syria, minus Darra and the Golan area, Iranian troops as well as Hezbollah are far less useful to Putin whose only interest is holding onto Syria as a strategic location for his fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean.  More so, Putin has a strong distrust of Iranian goals in the region and ultimately sees Tehran as a competitor on the energy production scene.

Putin and the Russian military do not see Iran as a reliable strategic ally.  They do however, see Israel as a stabilizing force in the region and although at odds with its Western bent, Putin and his team trust Israeli intentions not to inflame the region.  More so, they believe Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intent to stop Iran at all costs, which would ultimately send the region into a period chaos.  This is something Russia cannot afford at this point.

It is also key to look at the historical relationship between Russia and Persia (Iran).  Between the 17th and 19th centuries they fought a total of five wars, which ultimately saw Russia overpower the Persian empire.

In short, Putin’s strategic goals line up far more with Israel’s security needs than they do with Iran’s hegemonic desires.  Couple this with a negative history between Iran and Russia and it is easy to see why Putin is ready to encourage the Ayatollahs to leave Syria.

Iran Tells Israel it is Ready to Abandon Syria in Covert Meetings

Rumors are swirling the Arab media that an Israeli delegation met with their Iranian counterparts in Amman, using Jordan as a go between.  First of all, the idea they are talking at all is truly astounding, but what was discussed is even more surprising.

Elaph, the Saudi owned news site was the first to break the story.

Middle East Eye summarizes the Arabic language story as follows:

Iran reportedly pledged to stay out of fighting in southwest Syria between Syrian forces and rebel groups while Israel said it will not intervene in battles near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights or the Israel-Jordan border so long as Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias are not involved.

For the negotiations, Iran’s ambassador to Jordan, Mostafa Moslehzadeh, stayed in a hotel room with Iranian security personnel next door to a room of senior Israeli security officials, including the deputy head of Mossad, Elaph reported.

Jordanian officials served as mediator, shuttling messages between the two rooms, according to the report.

Apparently, the two sides did come to some agreement of terms. Middle East eye continues:

One participant told Elaph that the Iranians “arrived at a quick agreement” that its forces would not intervene in fighting near the Golan Heights and the Israel-Jordan border, surprising the Israeli representatives.

Assuming all of this is true, it would signal a major concession by Iran. In a sense Tehran can be seen as capitualting in the face of an unprecedented offensive by Israel. Given the fact that Israel has been tacitly backed by Russia over the last few months, while the IAF has essentially wiped out Iran’s IRGC holdings in southwest Syria seems to have made an impression on Tehran.

Sources indicate that the next stage in the offensive involves the IAF attacking Iranian targets closer to Iraq. Given Russia’s belief that Iran has overstayed its welcome in Syria, then there is no reason to believe the IAF would not have the same degree of free movement it already enjoys in Syria.

Iran Appears to be on the Retreat

Iran’s economy is about to take a serious hit from Trump’s JCPOA decertification. It is also losing its inevitable control over Iraq to a neutral player in Sadr, and its move towards Israel has only bought it destruction.  Does this mean we have seen the last of Iran?  Not at all.  The Ayatollah’s understand they need to shift focus. So rather than Iran doing the heavy lifting, the job of attacking Israel falls to Hezbollah.

Iran will attempt to focus its energies on holding onto its control of the Shiite areas in Iraq as it seeks to dominate the Persian Gulf.

Iran Stays Put in Syria, Raising the Stakes with Israel and the USA

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 point plan to force Iran into complying with normative international behavior is still driving the public discourse on the rogue regime’s nuclear ambitions.  While the Europeans have fought to hold onto the JCPOA, the US has slammed harsh sanctions on Tehran giving the EU a choice  – choose between Iranian oil or the US markets and financial institutions.

For Iran’s part they have not backed down.  If anything they see Pompeo’s speech given at the Heritage Foundation on May 21st as a “declaration of war.”  In usual Iranian parlance they have redoubled their efforts to strengthen their positions in Syria as well as ordering their Houthi proxy in Yemen to increase missile attacks..

For Israel, Iranian intransigence and its deepening hold on the southern areas of Syria pose the  most dangerous threat.  While Russia has appeared to sit back allowing Israel to roll back Iranian advancements, it still continues to provide advanced weaponry to Assad as well as allowing the Iranians to restock their forces in Syria.

Putin has masterfully pinned both Israel and Iran against each other in Syria allowing him to strengthen his holdings while ensuring the growing conflict between the Mullahs and Jerusalem keeps the USA’s focus off of his actions.

Will Jordan Fall to Iran?

Iranian and Hezbollah troops in southern Syria are not only becoming a threat to Israel, but are in a position to harm Jordan.  While there are significant US troops by the Yarmuk, they will be over matched by Hezbollah and Iran, if Putin decided to provide air support for any attacks the group may need to carry out cross border attacks in the fragile Hashemite kingdom.

Expect protests by Palestinians to continue against the King at the same time the kingdom faces an external threat from Iran.

Clash Between USA and Iran Inevitable

Anyone who believed that Iran would learn from new USA sanctions is missing the point on why the Trump administration pulled out of the JCPOA.  The Trump team determined it is far better to face a weaker Iran now than a regional powerhouse with nuclear capabilities in a few years. Trump’s team like many clear-sighted people understand that the Iranian regime will not change.  Afterall the Mullahs are set on conquest. It is part of their ideology and religious belief set.  The Iranian leaders will not stop being a menace to global security unless they are removed.

Syria is now ground zero for the coming war between the USA and Iran.

Caroline Glick: 5 Key Points About the U.S.-Led Syria Strike

The United States, United Kingdom, and France joined in a combined operation on April 14 that used “precision” strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure. The following are key points about the raid.

1. Operationally, the strike showed the U.S. has the capacity to conduct airstrikes with allies, against significant targets, with minimal lead time.

It took less than a week for the U.S. and its allies to organize and position the air and naval platforms they used to carry out the missile assault. Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, Secretary of Defense James Mattis delayed the strikes twice, despite operational readiness.

This demonstration of operational speed and competence tells us two things. First, President Donald Trump is respected by U.S. allies. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May trusted Trump’s seriousness of purpose enough to join him in launching the missile strikes with little to no diplomatic jockeying.

In 2013, when then-president Barack Obama geared up to attack Syrian regime targets after Syrian President Bashar Assad killed 1,400 people in a sarin gas attack on East Ghouta, the British parliament refused to authorize British forces to participate in the planned strike.

The French, for their part, were left in a lurch by Obama. French bomber pilots were in their cockpits waiting to take off when they were informed that Obama had called off the airstrikes at the last minute.

In addition, Saturday’s strike showed that the U.S. has the capacity to degrade and destroy high value targets through indirect fire. U.S. pilots did not have to fly over their targets to bomb them. By the same token, if it chooses to do so, the U.S. can destroy the vast majority of Iran’s nuclear installations from a safe distance with Tomahawk and other precision guided weapons.

2. The operational success of the missile strike does not infer either tactical or strategic gains.

Tactically, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is correct that by bombing chemical weapons targets, the U.S. and its allies “set [the Syrians’] chemical weapons program back years.”

At the same time, the advance warning the U.S. provided the Syrians regarding the impending strike gave the Syrians the opportunity to remove significant assets and manpower from bases and installations before they were attacked.

As a consequence, high value materials and personnel were probably not at the installations when they were attacked on Saturday morning.

Haley said on CBS News’ Face the Nation that the U.S. was not interested in “killing anyone” in the attack. That is fine in and of itself. But by providing advance warning of the impending strike, the U.S. diminished the tactical losses that Syria incurred. This is doubly true given that according to Mattis and Marine General James Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the installations attacked were engaged in developing sarin gas. To date, the U.S. and its allies have said that they lack conclusive evidence that the April 7 chemical attack involved sarin. According to Mattis, they have only been able to determine conclusively that the Assad regime used chlorine gas in the attack. In other words, Syria’s ability to carry out further chlorine attacks was apparently not diminished on Saturday morning.

3. From a strategic perspective, it is difficult to know whether the strike was meaningful, largely because the Trump administration has given contradictory statements about its actual goals in Syria.

Officially, the Trump administration’s goal in Syria is the same goal that the Obama administration articulated: defeating the “Islamic State,” or ISIS. Mattis has been assiduous in opposing the expansion of that strategic goal. His insistence on preserving Obama’s strategy in place in Syria has confounded observers, who note that the purpose of Obama’s campaign against Islamic State was to protect the Assad regime to placate Iran in the hopes of developing a strategic alliance with Teheran. Obama’s keenness to align U.S. policy with Iranian interests made him blind to the threat that Teheran’s expansionism and nuclear proliferation constituted to the U.S. and its allies.

On Saturday, Mattis told reporters the missile strike was a “one-time shot.” Last Thursday, Mattis told  Congress, “Our role in Syria is the defeat of ISIS. We are not going to engage in the civil war itself.”

Following Saturday’s strike, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said, “This operation does not represent a change in U.S. policy nor was it an attempt to depose the Syria regime.”

But then, it isn’t clear the degree to which Mattis speaks for President Trump.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump pushed Mattis and his generals to expand the range of the attack to punish Iran and Russia for enabling the regime’s use of chemical weapons. Trump was reportedly “unhappy with the more limited options they… presented to him.” The same report indicated that Mattis said that “anything other than a ‘show strike’ risked broader escalation with the Russians in particular.”

With former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gone, the Journal report claimed that Mattis was the lone voice calling for the U.S. to take no strategically significant action. Haley, along with new National Security Advisor John Bolton and Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan, all supported a more expansive effort.

In her interview on Face the Nation, Haley contradicted Mattis’s position that Obama’s strategy in Syria must be preserved. Haley indicated that the U.S. goals in Syria extend beyond defeating ISIS. Haley said the US has three goals it needs to achieve before it can withdraw its military forces from the country. First, she said, the US needs to ensure that there can be no “chemical weapons usage anywhere.” Second, she said that ISIS needs to be fully defeated. Third, Haley said, “We want to make sure that the influence of Iran doesn’t take over the area. They continue to cause problems throughout the region and we want to make sure that there is a hold.”

Haley added, “The president has asked the allies to step up and do more when it comes to Syria.” Apparently, they are.

On Saturday night, the Syrian media reported loud explosions at an Iranian base south of Aleppo. According to reports – which were contradictory – unidentified aircraft executed the strike. Some reports alleged that the aircraft were Israeli. If Israel did strike the Iranian base, it would be the second Iranian position Israel has been accused of bombing in the past week.

Speaking to his cabinet Sunday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The element that is undermining the Middle East more than any other is Iran, and … President Assad must understand that when he allows Iran and its proxies to establish its military presence in Syria, he is endangering Syria and the stability of the entire region.”

4. The U.S.-led attack signaled that at least for now, the U.S. has made its peace with Russian power in Syria and the wider Mediterranean basin.

Mattis succeeded in blocking any action against Russian interests in Syria. As Dunford noted, the Pentagon was in close contact with the Russians to ensure that there was no conflict between U.S. and Russian forces in Syria. Mattis’s explicitly stated concern with avoiding conflict with Russia indicated that at least as far as the Pentagon is concerned, the U.S. must not challenge Russia’s entrenchment in Syria.

Regardless of the actual policy adopted regarding Russia, objectively, Russia’s presence in Syria is a problem for the U.S. for three main reasons. First, Russia views its deployment in Syria first and foremost as a means to restore Russia’s superpower status by challenging U.S. power. In other words, Russia’s main goal in Syria is to weaken the U.S.

Second, U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia are no match for Russia. So long as Russia remains in Syria, it facilitates and protects Iran’s entrenchment in the country. Since neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia can contend with Russia, they cannot prevent Iran from effectively taking over the country both directly and through its Syrian and Hezbollah proxies. In other words, dealing with Russia is a job the U.S. cannot subcontract to its regional allies and they cannot achieve their regional goals so long as Russia remains unchallenged.

Finally, the Russian presence in Syria is a problem for the U.S. because it expands Russia’s influence over Turkey at America’s expense. It is true that Turkey has not been a credible U.S. ally for several years. But it is also true that the more Putin pushes Turkey away from the U.S., the more damage the U.S. will suffer to its strategic interests in the region.

The U.S. may very well lack good options for challenging Russia. Obama’s acquiescence to Russia’s entrenchment in Syria destroyed U.S. dominance in the Middle East in one fell swoop. Haley claimed Sunday that the U.S. intends to punish Russia for its facilitation of Assad’s war crimes by implementing new sanctions against Russian “companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use.”

It remains to be seen how those sanctions will impact Putin’s cost-benefit analysis. But it is hard to see that sanctions, however harsh, will outweigh what Putin perceives as the benefits of maintaining Russia’s presence in Syria.

5. Saturday’s strike showed that the U.S. is again a force to be reckoned with in Syria.

Despite the limited if not altogether nonexistent immediate tactical and strategic significance of the strike, by undertaking it, Trump took another important step towards restoring U.S. credibility and power in the region. This is a necessary precursor to any tactically and strategically significant operation in the future. Since the administration is clearly revisiting its strategic posture and goals in Syria, this is an altogether positive achievement.

Obama wrecked U.S. credibility in the Middle East, and arguably worldwide, in 2013, when at the last moment he failed to enforce the red line he drew regarding chemical weapons attacks. It is not clear that his red line, according to which the U.S. would respond to chemical weapons attacks, was a reasonable one. By saying the U.S. would respond to chemical attacks, Obama signaled that conventional killing methods were fine by him. Assad, who used conventional munitions to kill nearly half a million people, understood the message and continued killing.

But whether or not Obama’s red line was rational is beside the point. Once Obama drew a line in the sand, and then failed to maintain it when it was challenged, he weakened America in a fundamental way.

As a consequence, Trump has to defend Obama’s red line to restore American power and credibility. By retaliating against Assad’s April 7 chemical attack in Douma — and doing so with Britain and France – Trump communicated clearly that the U.S. demands respect. This message was a necessary precondition for successfully implementing whatever strategic goal the president and his team adopt regarding Syria and its Iranian and Russia sponsors.

Originally Published in Breitbart.

Israel Must Brace for Impact

The “smart” missiles have now been fired into Syria and according to the Pentagon they were successful.  For all of Trump’s bellicose rhetoric, the operation to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities took a few short hours on Saturday.  On the surface of it, Trump accomplished his goal of destroying Assad’s ability to harm civilians using chemical weapons while not getting involved enough to draw Russia into a direct confrontation.

Of course, on the ground things are far different.  Within a few hours of the missile barrage, unidentified aircraft struck an Iranian base in Aleppo, Syria.  Most sources suggest this was an Israeli attack. Iran and Russia have already pledged to respond to the US attack, which will most likely take the form of attacking an American proxy rather than the US itself.  Stability was never an adjective to describe Syria, but whatever semblance of order there was it had not completely vanished until now.

Despite Bibi Netanyahu’s public support for the US attack on Syria, Israel has little need or desire for an American attack which will end up causing the Jewish state serous damage. Russia’s response will be calculating and not come right away. Putin has held Iran and Hezbollah back from attacking Israel. This has seemingly changed after Trump’s attack on Syria.

Although Israel has the free reign to do what is necessary, Russian involvement may neutralize some of its capabilities when dealing with an Iranian/Hezbollah advance into the Golan or the Galilee. While Russia is no America and Iran’s traditional military has taken a backseat to its ballistic missile program, both would be a formidable force for the Israeli military to defend against.

Trump’s attack on Syria, while forceful was merely a quick carrying out of a hit and run strategy that may have unknown consequences on geopolitical structures in the Middle East and the broader region.

Trump’s day of reckoning for Syria has come and gone, but Israel’s standing in relation to Russia has now deteriorated placing its populace in direct danger.

Israel must now brace for full impact as it is the number one target for Russia and Iran’s retaliation against America.


Three Potential Responses Putin May Take to a USA Attack on Syria

It is safe to assume that the current war of words between President Trump and Putin will escalate to a US attack on Syria.  At this point there is little doubt that Trump will follow through on his threats to attack Assad.  “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” Trump Tweeted yesterday.

The real unknown is the Russian response to a NATO backed US attack on Syria.

Putin will likely decide to create as much chaos as possible in responding to the USA.  Three things to expect after the attack (assuming the attack is limited to infrastructure) are the following:

Iranian Attack on Israel: Iran and Hezbollah will be given a green light to attack Israel in both the Galilee and the Golan.  This will draw Israel into a direct war, which has the potential to decimate Israeli population centers and more importantly for Russia to remove Israel from a position of help to the USA.

Overthrow elected governments in Lithuania and Latvia: These two Baltic States have been a  target for Putin’s desire to rebuild the former Russian empire.  Not only can he pull off coups in both places, he can easily move his forces into both countries using Russian separatists in the same way he has in Ukraine’s Donbass. This will be a major blow to both EU and NATO expansion and send the continent into a frantic tailspin.

Support Transnistria: Putin has long thrown soft support behind the Moldovian province of Transnistria, which would give him an anchor on the west of the Black Sea.  This may not be as threatening as overturning Lithuania or Latvia, but the message would be clear.  Russia is on the move and a real threat to European stability.

World War Three?

The above responses assume that Trump’s attack will be limited, but if Trump and his NATO allies or Israel actually take out Assad, then Russia and perhaps China will use that as a reason to threaten the USA and the West in a far more global manner.

Israel Refrains from Turning anti-Russia

In stark contrast to the US and the rest of NATO the Netanyahu government has continued to refrain from attacking Putin and Russia.  There are a few reasons for this.

While the US and NATO have used the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England as a pretext for expelling Russian diplomats and making Putin enemy number one, there has been no actual proof it was Russia. The anti-Russian narrative of the West, while not completely without basis has served a culturally and economically challenged NATO to help find an enemy in a new multi-polar world.

Israel has consistently maintained good relations with Russia’s leaders.  It has held back from expelling Russian diplomats unlike its Western counterparts. This is part of Netanyahu’s personal belief in a neutral foreign policy.  This is not to say that neutrality means a lack of alliances. Israel has clear strategic alliances with the US and India, but an alliance does not mean going to the proverbial mat with your allies when you don’t have to.

With Russia, Israel’s situation is far more complicated, which prevents the Netanyahu government from getting on board with Trump’s new anti-Russian moves.  Putin directly or indirectly pulls the strings of Iran and Hezbollah, which are situated to Israel’s north.  With these two combatants aiming more than hundred thousand missiles at Israel, Netanyahu cannot afford to go full negative against Russia.

Israel also has a sizable Russian population, which has remained less integrated  than other immigrant groups. This creates a different sort of connection to Russian maneuvers in the region.

Another aspect, is in connection to Afrin and the general abandonment of the Kurds by the USA. The Kurds had been offered a security pact by Russia to protect their enclaves, but the Kurds spurned the offer in hopes th USA would back them against the Turks.  With Afrin now occupied by the Turkish army and the militant FSA, Kurdish leadership has been forthcoming in their need to find common ground with the Syrian regime.

Israel has been placed in an eerily similar situation.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to remain neutral when it comes to picking sides at this point.  With the US undecided about its future in the area,  Israel cannot afford to make a clear decision that could imperil the entire country.

Is Russia Behind Hezbollah’s Threats to Israel’s Gas Fields?

In a live broadcast Hezbollah’s leader Hasan Nasrallah warned Israel to back off its claims over disputed oil and gas field just off the southern Lebanese coast, threatening that Hezbollah could “disable [Israel’s offshore oil installations] within hours.”

The dispute is over the Block 9 which is near Lebanon’s maritime boundaries, but not within.  in January, Lebanon put up bids for developing Block 9.  Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in late January, “They [Lebanon] are announcing a tender on the gas field, including Block 9, which is ours by any definition,” and Lebanese actions “very, very challenging and provocative conduct here.”

So whose right?

Given all international agreements, Israel has sole control over Block 9.  Even Hezbollah would be foolish to openly declare war against Israel’s gas installations.  With this in mind, it is worth connecting the dots between Russia’s goal of controlling Middle Eastern energy choke points as well as valuable assets.

In 2016 Globes reported the following:

“Gazprom negotiated for several months to buy up to 30% of the Leviathan reservoir. The initiative to recruit a strategic partner in the rights to the reservoir originated in the realization by the current partners that they lacked the financial capability, know-how, and connections needed to realize the huge reservoir’s potential as soon as possible. According to reports, other companies that expressed interest in a partnership in Leviathan included South Korean company Kogas, Chinese company CNOOC, and Australian company Woodside. Gazprom has apparently submitted the highest bid.”

Putin even insinuated that if Israel agreed to the deal then he would be able to protect it from Hezbollah.

The deal eventually went south after Noble energy (the other investor) of the USA struck it down due to Russia’s involvment. With Putin’s goal of control over the Leviathan gas reservoir stymied, Hezbollah is free to force Israel into a potentially far worse deal.  Of course, Noble Energy, being a US company should be able to pressure the Trump administration to help Israel to defend its holdings.  Yet, after taking a look at the tightening noose around Israel, it won’t be a surprise if the US drops the ball on this too.



TURKEY THREATENS US: May Close NATO’s Incirlik Air Base

The breaking apart of NATO continues at full speed.  Erdogan’s invasion of Syrian Kurdistan otherwise known as Rojava in northern Syria has been met with the full force of the American trained SDF.  Although the Turkish Armed Forces (TOF) are gaining ground in Afrin, it is coming at a cost and it is a grind.  Turkey’s lack of real forward movement due to the Trump administration’s full support of the Kurds in northern Syria has sparked a potential direct confrontation between the USA and Turkey, two suppoosed NATO allies.

With frustration mounting in Turkey’s military echelon on the lack of sweeping success with their Afrin operation, they have begun to lash out at the USA and NATO.

Turkey’s latest threat is to close the key NATO Incirlik air base. This has been an important part of NATO’s ability to launch missions if needed in the Middle East.

“If Turkey’s medium and long-term interests require to take a step [to close the base] Turkey certainly would not refrain from taking this step,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Işık said during a press conference, according to the Türkiye newspaper.

Russia is Setting Up a Break Up of NATO

By paving the way for Turkey to invade Afrin, eventhough in other parts of Syria, Russia has pushed back against a break up of Syrian territory, Putin is setting up Turkey to face the USA.  The strategy is to force a direct conflict between two NATO members, thus fast tracking the alliance’s potential disintegration.  For Putin, this is essential as NATO has put more and more military personel into Eastern Europe in order to isolate Russia.

But is Turkey’s presence in NATO necessary?

Does Trump Care About Turkey Being in NATO?

President Trump started his foray into the politics of NATO by declaring it was now obsolete during the campaign trail.  As a reminder here is his statement:

“I think NATO’s obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I’m not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats. We have the threat of terrorism and NATO doesn’t discuss terrorism, NATO’s not meant for terrorism. NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism. And what I’m saying is that we pay, number one, a totally disproportionate share of NATO. We’re spending the biggest, the lion share’s paid for by us, disproportionate to other countries. … NATO is obsolete and it’s extremely expensive to the United States, disproportionately so. And we should readjust NATO. And it’s going to have to be either readjusted to take care of terrorism or we’re going to have to set up a new — a new coalition, a new group of countries to handle terrorism because terrorism is out of control.”

After he became president he changed his opinion and now insists he believes that NATO is not obsolete. Yet, one line stands out in the above statement: “NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism.”  This line appears to be a reference to Turkey. Afterall, it has been proven and reported in countless publications that it was in fact Turkey that fostered and helped grow what became to be known as ISIS.

So Putin may be trying to play both Turkey and the USA off eachother, in a bid to cause chaos in NATO, but what if Trump doesn’t care?  Also what if France and Germany don’t care either?

Perhaps Turkey leaving NATO is part of the equation in suporting a much more stable Middle East without the meddling of would be neo-Ottoman upstarts.  As the battle rages on in Afrin Turkey may opt to leave NATO, but it may ultimately backfire on those attempting to force the alliance’s disintegration.

Israel Strikes Near Damascus

According to Syrian sources, the Israeli airforce attacked targets just outside of Damascus early on Tuesday morning (Jan. 9th) .  The official statement by the Syrian government said “that at 2:40 local time Israeli warplanes launched few missiles at targets near Damascus from the Lebanese airspace. The missiles were intercepted and one Israeli warplane was targeted by air defense forces.”

Despite damage to the military base in Syria, the government was able to utilize its new Russian made defense systems and intercepted most of surface to surface missile strikes.

Following the initial attack, at 4:00 local time, two surface-to-surface missiles were launched from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. They were also intercepted.

At 4:15 local time, Israeli forces launched 4 other missiles from the Golan Heights. One missile was intercepted and the others hit a target causing damage to positions of Syrian force

The damaged base was a known warehouse of scud missiles and other deadly weapons the Israeli government has vowed to keep from being used against its citizens.

The Israeli government has yet to issue an official response.

Despite this, the attack demonstrates that either Putin is allowing these sorts of pinpoint strikes according to his personal agreement with Bibi Netanyahu or the Israeli military has continued to find a soft spot in the upgraded Russian defense system.