Russia Cuts Out USA By Playing Dealmaker Between Israel and Syria

According to an anonymous Israeli source, Kuwati newspaper Al Jarida reported on Sunday that Israel relayed a message to Putin that the IDF would destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers of Israel’s Golan Heights.

The message was relayed to Putin directly by Prime Minister Netanyahu.  The Russian President took the liberty to pass the threat in person to President Basher Assad of Syria who surprisingly was said to offer a deal to Israel.

According to Al Jarida the source reported that “Assad said Damascus was ready to discuss the disarmament of the Golan Heights with a zone equalling 40 kilometers from the Golan as well as considering autonomy for the Kurds and Druze.”

Whether Iran ultimately agrees with this or not is still the stumbling block to the deal going through. Yet, it is important to note that it is Russia that has begun to play the vaunted role of “peace” maker in the region.  With the USA playing a soft power role within the behind the scenes shuffling in Saudi Arabia, Israel has had no choice but to reach out to Putin in a last-minute play to stave off a wider war with Iran and Hezbollah.

While there has been much noise that Israel and the Saudis are locked together against Iran and Hezbollah, that is only strategic.  There appears to be tactical differences between the two countries.  Afterall, if Israel were to go after Hezbollah in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, it would potentially suffer far more casualties and damage than the Saudis, whose land mass is far bigger.

Netanyahu’s approach has always been to hold off on what many see as the impending conflict with Iran and rather cut deals when possible.  This is of course a great short-term tactic, but relying on Putin to cut your deal for you may not be the best strategic option.

The unfolding changes across the Middle East are happening at a fast pace.  Giving Assad a pass now will not help once the Sunni-Shiite conflict reaches a far more acute phase. Strategically speaking, Israel is tied to Saudi Arabia and the moves the USA is making and setting place in the region.  The Russian may be seen now as the big winner in the region, but strategically speaking that is only if they are not given an outsized role by others.

The Russian propaganda machine and those online that support it have been spreading a narrative of a collapsing Sunni front under dwindling oil revenues.  While there is some truth to that, one must remember that Sunni Islam represents 90% of Muslims around the world.  Iran was able to achieve its geopolitical successes not because of its advanced military or technology, but rather it road the coattails of bad policy decisions flowing from the previous US administration that created a vacuum in the Middle East.

Russia has been adept at cutting out the USA when necessary, especially in relation to America’s long time allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia.  On one hand Russia claims it wants to play the role of peacemaker, yet this is more or less equivalent to a person claiming they want peace, but does so while holding a gun up to the other person’s head.

The lure of ensuring that 40km of Syrian land would be demiliarized may be attractive, but it also will come at a price, which has yet to be made public.


Trump-Putin Deal on Syria May Bring War Closer With Israel

While the agreement concerning Syria made between Trump and Putin in Vietnam has been touted by almost everyone as the beginning of closure to the Syrian Civil War, it may have achieved little more than a huge win for the Russian-Iranian-Syrian axis.

The joint statement  between the US and Russia says the following:

President Trump and President Putin confirmed the importance of de-escalation areas as an interim step to reduce violence in Syria, enforce ceasefire agreements, facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and set the conditions for the ultimate political solution to the conflict. They reviewed progress on the ceasefire in southwest Syria that was finalized the last time the two Presidents met in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017. The two presidents, today, welcomed the Memorandum of Principles concluded in Amman, Jordan, on November 8, 2017, between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. This Memorandum reinforces the success of the ceasefire initiative, to include the reduction, and ultimate elimination of foreign forces and foreign fighters from the area to ensure a more sustainable peace. Monitoring this ceasefire arrangement will continue to take place through the Amman Monitoring Center, with participation by expert teams from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States.

It is worth pointing out that although one of the deconfliction zones buttresses Israel’s Golan Heights, they are not mentioned as one of the parties that will observe whether or not the deconfliction mechanism is working. Furthermore, Syrian and Russian troops can move freely within the deconfliction zones, which are about 20km in width. Outside the deconfliction zones Iranian and Hezbollah troops can move with ease.

Essentially, the arrangement ensures a return of the Syrian regime now overtly backed by Russia to Israel’s border, while giving Iran and Hezbollah a free pass to build up their presence outside the deconfliction zone. The arrangement, while sounding good on paper, actually encourages conflict between Israel and Iran/Hezbollah.

With Israel and the Sunni alliance beginning to push back against the growing Iranian threat, any weakening of their position against Iran will seemingly not be tolerated.  An Iranian/Hezbollah force allowed to build up their presence 20km from Israel will most likely not be tolerated.

Beyond Negotiations

Israel has taken a more passive route when it has come to the American-Russian agreements on the deconfliction zones, but this strategy has clearly failed. What is left is for the Israeli government to take a proactive policy in destroying Iranian and Hezbollah forces that are busy preparing to attack Israel.

Israel will only be taken seriously when it acts on its own.  Until then, the Trump-Putin agreement has created a military nightmare for Israel that brings the region closer to war, not farther away.

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.

Mueller Indicts Manafort, Is a Soft Coup Underway?

Paul Manafort the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump and Manafort’s longtime business partner Rick Gates have been charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements.

To most experts, these indictments issued by Special Counselor Robert Mueller III are only the beginning.  Retired Gen. Flynn who served as the head of the NSC for a brief time in the beginning of Trump’s term is under active investigation as are other members of Trump’s campaign.

The real question is whether Mueller will go as far as investigating and indicting Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. who both met with Russian linked associates during the campaign. With Mueller on the roll, the investigation will be pushed ahead and risks entrapping Trump with the Nixonian decision to either let Mueller go the distance or fire him, which could bring about articles of impeachment by both Democrats and Republicans looking to take him down.

All of this of course appears to be a massive move by the Deep State to either pressure Trump to run the country according to their designs or face removal.  With Mueller making a political issue that much more divisive by only focusing on Trump when it has been proven that Hillary Clinton cavorted with the Russians during campaign, the special council risks tearing an already divided country apart.

Chaos, Russian Style

The investigation into Russian influence during the campaign appears to be Russian influenced itself.  Putin never had a winning horse in the race, but wanted to create the feeling he was involved in order to inflict doubt about the winner across the American public.  With Mueller’s probe continuing and both right and left at each other’s throats, Putin has begun to gain the upper hand against the USA by pushing its internal divisions to the extreme.  This has allowed Russia to take advantage of an administration that has been “under the proverbial gun” since the beginning.

For Putin, it doesn’t matter if Trump is removed or not, the mere fact that there is an investigation is enough to weaken America and allow Russia to assert control and influence over Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Iran on the Move, But Does it Fit Into Putin’s Agenda for the Middle East?

The fall of Kirkuk to the joint Iraq-Iran army last week may very well be seen in years to come as a gret turning point in Middle Eastern and World history. The collective punditry is that Iran chalked up a big win in its drive for Middle Eastern hegemony.  This is correct, yet the Iranian occupation of Kirkuk, a historically Kurdish city may be the very thing which begins to undo the Shiite advancement in the fertile crescent.

Up until now, there has been a very tight working relationship between the Russian military and the Iranians.  The two armies have consistantly worked together in turning around the Syrian Civil War.  This has allowed Iran to sweep across the Middle East to within 20km of the Golan Heights, a turn of events that has made Israel very nervous.

Yet, the occupation of Kirkuk has alarmed the Russians, as has Iran’s clear movement of military personel and equipment to the frontlines on Israel’s Golan.  Russian president Vladamir Putin needed Iranian ground forces to help crush ISIS and the Syrian rebel groups, but now that the bulk of the war is finished, Putin would like to be viewed as the great statesmand peace maker not destablizer. The Iranians have different plans.  They would like to use their newfound stature to corner both the Kurds and Israel and finish them off.

However, the Iranian advancement towards Erbil seems to have shaken Putin from his daze. For the Iranians, there is no difference between Iraq and Syria. The problem is that Russia does not view the Kurds with any sort of animosity and has gone out of the way to bring the Kurds into their orbit.  Russia has invested billions into Kurdish infrastructure and oil and gas development.  Putin has no interest in seeing these contracts destroyed.

In the coming weeks, Iran will continue to make gains, but a wary Puting will allow mor Israeli military flights over Syrian territory. Putin’s goals are to create the appearance of Russian military might in the face of the West as well as building a reputation as the great stablizer.

This his goal in the Middle East.  To become the address for those in dispute an then only Putin can ensure a stable Middle East.


Is Trump Preparing to Take on Both North Korea and Iran at the Same Time?

President Donald Trump said the following in a Tweet Storm Saturday morning:

“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”

While there maybe a desire to play this sort of verbage down, the prevailing opinion is that the comments portend to a direct conflict between North Korea and the USA coming very soon.

To complicate matters even more, rumors from within the White House make it clear that President Trump is seriously considering pulling out of the nuclear treaty with Iran. None of this is disconnected as it may seems. Most observers agree that Iran and North Korea are in nuclear symbiotic relationship where the latter develops weapons in exchange for needed money.

The above facts point to a two front war between the USA and Iran and North Korea at the same time. Considering that any conflict in this arena risks bringing in both China and Russia, the stakes are consitantly growing higher.  Trump and Washington are losing ground in both the Pacific and the Middle East as Saudi Arabia is making serious agreements  with Russia’s Putin.

In order to hold Saudi Arabia within the US network, a more robust policy is necessary against its arch-enemy Iran.  Given the fact that Russia appears to have taken large areas of the Middle East as well as funding the North Korean regime, Trump has no choice but to push back.

It appears that the USA is at a breaking point in terms of holding to a non-poractive foregin policy.  Trump is now willing to change that, but it could be too little, too late.

Does Saudi Shift to Russia Leave Israel Cornered?

Saudi Arabia opened its historic four day visit to Moscow with a clear indication that it is ready shift towards the Russian orbit.  With the Kingdom penning a $3 billion arms deal with Putin and agreeing to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system, the seismic shift is clearly well underway.

Up until now the prevailing assumption was that Israel had growing covert relations with the Sunni leader due to the ascendancy of Iran, but a Saudi shift to Russia puts this theory on ice.

With a US on freefall and a Russia in firm control of the Middle Eastern future, Saudi Arabia has no choice but to switch allegiences in the hope that Russia would be able to hold back Iran from attacking.

Israel has always prided itself on  having a neutral foreign policy which has allowed it in recent years to expand relations to countries previously off its radar such as China, India, and much of East Africa.  Yet, the presence of Russia and the shifting positions of its Sunni allies in the face of a US in the midst of a regional pullback, changes its calculus in relating to the growing strength of Iran on its border.

Israel can no longer pretend to remain neutral while Russia allows Israel’s Persian nemesis to gain the upperhand.  Jerusalem must decide to either stick it out by itself while its long time ally America pulls back or finally decide like the Saudis that it is better to cut a deal with Putin in hopes he holds back Iran rather than face them alone.

BREAKING: Israel Strikes Syrian Chemical Weapons, Assad Threatens to Retaliate

The Syrian military threatened a harsh response to Israel’s alleged attack on their chemical weapons facility near Massyaf in the Hama countryside.  The attack occurred at 2:42 AM from Lebanese airspace.

The SANA news service published the following Syrian military statement:

“This aggression comes in a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale of the ISIS terrorists after the sweeping victories achieved by the Syrian Arab Army against terrorism at more than one front, and it affirms the direct support provided by the Israeli entity to the ISIS and other terrorist organizations,” the Army Command said in a statement.

Israel warned Putin when Bibi visited the Russian leader in Sochi that he would not tolerate the Syrian regime and Iran closing in on Israel’s Golan border.  This attack is the first time Israel has struck since their meeting.

SANA reported the Syrian Military “warned against the dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region.”

Amos Yadlin a retired Israeli General and now the Executive Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) released the following Tweets:


Yadlin’s hint that either Israel had tacit approval to fly through Russian installed radar systems or has found a way to evade detection should not be lost on anyone.  This point is key to understanding Israel’s ability to keep an edge in the next war which appears to be fast approaching.

The fact is the attack took place North of Lebanon, so if it was indeed Israel, Russia must have known about it and if Russia knew about, why would they let Israel bomb Syria?

The answer lies in Putin’s balance strategy which involves playing Syria and Israel off each other. This does not mean Israel has a green light.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Israel must go to Putin to ask permission when it needs to hit a Syrian facility.

The fact is, most observers bought into the viewpoint that Bibi got nothing from Putin in Sochi.  Russia’s disinformation magazine Pravda indicated this:

“According to eyewitnesses of the open part of the talks, the Israeli prime minister was too emotional and at times even close to panic. He described a picture of the apocalypse to the Russian president that the world may see if no efforts are taken to contain Iran, which, as Netanyahu believes, is determined to destroy Israel.”

Yet, the strike in the early morning hours so close to Latkia and near Homs indicates Putin has held true to his policy of keeping strategic balance in the region. The real question is: Will this would also apply to Iranian forces near the Golan?

Putin continues to play puppet master in the Levant, but his puppeteering is setting up the region for all out war. Will this give Putin the chance to play peacemaker?

Putin Holds the Key to the Golan

The pervading assumption is that Vladamir Putin, Russia’s President was willing to work with Israel.  Afterall every time there has been a near conflict of interest between Israel and Russia, Bibi Netanyahu and Putin have met to smooth it out. This was the appearance this past week between the two leaders in the Russian resort city of Sochi.

Reports indicated that Prime Minister Netanyahu did indeed lay out red lines for Putin on Iran’s approach to the Golan, but these red lines have already been obliterated as Arab and Israeli media report that Iranian special forces have taken up positions on the Golan border.  According to reports Iran had asked for this allowance as payback for helping Russia stabilize Syria.

This ultimately means that Israel’s North is now surrounded by Hezbollah and Iran under Russian protection.

Russia as the Keymaster

Voices are being raised in Israel for a preemptive strike to knock out Iranian positions East of the Israeli Golan,  but Russian troops positioned there are providing cover for the Iranian militias and Hezbollah.  Israel has little choice but to either take a chance in opening a wider war between Russian backed Iranian militias, Hezbollah, and the Syrian regime or beg for Russia to force these troops back.

Putin understands Israel’s predicament and will want something in exchange for this move. The only question for Israel will be whether his price is too high.

The coming days will be critical in determining Israel’s next course of action. As Iran strengthens its position on the Golan, Israel may have no choice but to knock out these troops before they become to many to quickly get rid of.

A Deal in the Works?

Yet, in the “Great Game” of the Middle East, there is still time for Putin to give Israel a free hand to rid himself and Israel of Iran by allowing the IAF to wipe out the nascent Iranian positions near Israel. Doing so would send a message to Iran not to approach the Golan and would convey Putin’s view that Iran’s partnership can be terminated whenever he deems fit.

Given the present fluid situation, it impossible to predict the next steps, but what is clear is that the region is fast approaching a point of no return.

The Growing Intersection Between Turkey, Trump, Kurdistan, and the Golan

The publication by Turkey of more than 200 US bases and places of presence across Western Kurdistan, now occupied by Syria drew the ire of the Trump administration and the US Defense establishment. The Turkish government went ahead and published this list and map in protest of the US policy in supporting the growing autonomy of Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria), which runs along the border of Turkey in Northern Syria.

“The discussion of specific troop numbers and locations would provide sensitive tactical information to the enemy which could endanger Coalition and partner forces,” wrote Col. Joe Scrocca, coalition director of public affairs.

“Publishing this type of information would be professionally irresponsible and we respectively [sic] request that you refrain from disseminating any information that would put Coalition lives in jeopardy.”

Turkey views the rise of an independent Kurdistan as a non-starter, unless it is contained to the KRG in Northern Iraq.  What is taking shape now though are two autnomous areas, which if joined would inspire Kurds living in Northern Kurdistan, occupied today by Turkey, to fight vigorously for their independence.

It is no secret that the US has ben aiding the YPG (Syrian Kurdish militias) and has rolled them into the broader Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but the continued strengthening of this militia has crossed a red line for Erdogan.

Did Trump trade the Southwest of Syria for Western Kurdistan?

Despite the current opposition from Washington to the KRG’s drive towards a referendum on independence, the Trump administration still views the Kurds as the best avenue to push back on Iran and stablize the region. There is a four way tussle for Syria: Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the USA. Some of the sides work together and others don’t, but these four countries are busy establishing zones of control.

Up until the G-20 Ceasefire with Russia, it appeared that the USA and Russia were heading to a direct confrontation in the Southwestern part of Syria.  To offset this, the Russians backed Turkey’s assault on the indigenous Kurds to the North.  Putin hates Erdogan, but was ready to use him to battle Washington. The ceasefire changes things. With relative quiet in the Southwest, Putin can put the brakes on supporting Turkey’s assault against the Kurdish directed SDF.

Trump’s strategy here is clear. Consolodate the US gains in Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria), while letting Israel and Russia learn to work together in the Southwest. Trump now has a fighting force in Syria that is not only moderate, but is experienced in pushing back against ISIS and other Sunni radicals. More than that he pins Erdogan down, preventing the neo-Sultan from implementing his goals of expanding Turkey.

This strategy seems to benefit the US, but has been seen as dangerous by Israel due to the partnership between Russia and Iran. Given the propensity for Iran to utilize the Russian army as cover to move in on Israel, the tacit agreement with Russia is dangerous. Iran has already moved into the DMZ East of Israel’s Golan. With Hezbollah contantly infiltrating the Har Dov area in the Northern Golan, a similar presence to the East under the protection of Russian troops appears too much Israel to put up with.

With Hezbollah preparing for war, Israel is fast working to establish a deconfliction policy with Russia in the greater Golan area.