Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

The emerging Caliphate of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Look for deal-making with Russia and Iran on future of Syria

Published: 12 hours ago

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of special reports by Joseph Farah in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin on the gravest global threats facing the world in 2018. A future report will deal with the North Korean-Russian-Chinese axis.

By Joseph Farah

WASHINGTON – One day, it’s going to happen.

Don’t be surprised. It’s inevitable. In fact, it will be a shock if it doesn’t happen sometime in 2018.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is going to declare himself the global Caliph, having set up alliances with most Middle Eastern Muslims – Sunni and Shia alike.

How is that possible? The biggest divide in the Muslim world today is between Sunni and Shia. Just look at mortal enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia. How could any personality bridge that split?

Erdoğan has found a path – and it’s one that could set the world ablaze, not just the Middle East.

In fact, while it’s true that Sunnis and Shiites have some serious disharmony, Erdoğan, a Sunni himself, has already demonstrated his ability to work with Shia Iran. And Erdoğan has his sights set on a Caliphate that will, at least temporarily, bring together most of the Muslim world around common enemies – namely Israel and the U.S.

The Sunni-Shia conflict was 1,400 years in the making, dating back to the years immediately after Mohammad’s death in 632 when the two sides clashed over naming a successor. In the Middle East Sunnis outnumber Shiites five to one. Erdoğan is a leader who has demonstrated his ability to straddle the divide.

To bolster his international strength and alliances, he has increasingly good relations with Russia and China. Nothing would make either of those countries happier than a friendly caliph who could bring an end to terrorist attacks within their borders. Yes, both Russia and China have Islamic terrorist problems, too.

The biggest holdout left in the Muslim Middle East is Saudi Arabia, even though in terms of Islamist ideology they have been the closest. What caused that rupture? Two words: Donald Trump. That’s who has turned the Saudis around.

What makes Erdoğan such a formidable force to be reckoned with is his ability to deftly change positions in focusing on his long-term goal to re-establish the Caliphate, which only Turkey, the center of the Ottoman Empire, has been able to manage historically over the last 1,000 years.

Look for Turkey and Erdoğan to work some magic early in 2018 by plotting with Russia and Iran on the future of Syria – a deal that will make those players and allies happy.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8939

Turkey, Russia sign deal on supply of S-400 missiles

Tuvan Gumrukcu, Ece Toksabay

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey and Russia on Friday signed an accord for Moscow to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, Turkish authorities said, finalizing a deal set to deepen military ties between NATO member Turkey and the Kremlin.

Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems drive during the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The S-400 deal, reportedly worth some $2.5 billion and in the works for more than a year, has worried the West because the system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture.

As part of NATO’s collective defense pledge, the allies integrate their ships, planes and weapons systems to make them work together, as well as sharing command across the alliance.

The accord is the latest in a series of moves by Ankara to boost its defense capabilities as it faces threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants at home and conflicts across its borders in Syria and Iraq.

In a statement late on Friday, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) said that Moscow would supply the S-400 missile batteries to Ankara in an initial delivery planned for the first quarter of 2020.

On Wednesday, Sergei Chemezov, head of the Russian state conglomerate Rostec, told the Kommersant daily that Russia would supply Turkey with four batteries of S-400s under the deal.

However, the SSM said Turkey would buy two S-400 batteries from Russia under the agreement, with one being optional, and added the systems would be used and managed “independently” by Turkish personnel, rather than Russian advisors.

It said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) would have full control over the systems, and added that the accord signed earlier on Friday included clauses on cooperation for technologic gains and joint development.

Turkey’s purchase of the systems has unnerved NATO member countries, who are already wary of Moscow’s military presence in the Middle East, as the system is incompatible with the alliance’s systems.

NATO officials have warned Turkey about unspecified consequences of purchasing the S-400, but Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said ties with NATO remain strong.

Chezmezov said Moscow was expected to begin the first deliveries in March 2020 and that Turkey was the first NATO member state to acquire the advanced S-400 missile system.

Earlier on Friday, Turkish newspapers cited Erdogan as saying Turkey would borrow in the Russian currency in a loan deal under the accord.

BORROWING “IN RUBLES”

“We will not borrow in dollars in this loan, we will borrow in rubles,” Hurriyet newspaper quoted Erdogan as telling reporters on his plane, returning from a trip to Africa.

According to Chemezov, Turkey would pay 45 percent of the cost of the agreement up front, with Russia providing loans to cover the remaining 55 percent.

The Russian Finance Ministry will finance a deal from the state treasury, while Russian banks will take part solely in the transfer of funds in the deal, a Russian banking source said.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara deteriorated sharply in 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian air force jet that it said had crossed into Turkish airspace, but they have since repaired ties despite having backed different sides in the Syrian war.

They are now cooperating on Syrian peace efforts as well as projects in the defense industry and energy sectors.

While pushing ahead with the S-400 project, Ankara has sought to secure defense deals with other countries as well.

In November, Turkey signed a letter of intent with France and Italy to strengthen cooperation on joint defense projects. As a first step, the Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium and Turkish companies will look into a system based on the SAMP-T missile systems.

Turkey has also invested heavily in the development of its domestic defense industry, with projects encompassing areas including combat helicopters, tanks, drones and warships.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8937

Violent Protests On Streets Of Tehran Brings Iran To Brink Of Revolution As Trump Warns ‘World Is Watching’

US President Donald Trump posted on Twitter two clips of his speech to the UN General Assembly in September in which he took aim at the Iranian regime, which Washington has held out as its top adversary in the Middle East. ‘Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!’ he tweeted, quoting from the speech.

 

by Geoffrey Grider December 31, 2017

A videos posted on social media in Iran appeared to show two young Iranian men lying motionless on the ground and covered with blood and a voiceover said they had been shot dead by police.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Iranian people have had enough of the oppressive rule of their Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and have engulfed the streets of Tehran with protests that turned deadly over the weekend. President Trump warned Iran that the “world is watching”, signaling willingness on the part of the United States to hold the regime accountable for any mistreatment of their people. Say whatever you like about Trump, but you’ve got to respect a leader who doesn’t sit on the sidelines and throw up his hands like the last one we had. 

It claimed security forces fired on protesters in the western town of Dorud and killed at least two as other protesters in the same video were chanting, ‘I will kill whoever killed my brother!’.

Other videos showed protesters setting fire to a government office in the city of Khorramabad while in the capital Tehran, demonstrators were filmed tearing down a picture of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Demonstrators attacked a town hall in Tehran as protests spilled into a third night despite government warnings against any further ‘illegal gatherings’ and moves to cut off the internet on mobiles.

After a day of clashes in Iran between rock throwing protesters and riot police, who responded with tear gas, at Tehran University, the demonstrations continued after dark and spread across the country.

There was chaos earlier around the capital’s university as hundreds took to the streets, blocking traffic and shouting slogans against the regime. Travel restrictions and a near-total media blackout from official agencies, made it difficult to confirm the reports.

The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Thousands already have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning at first on Thursday in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims. But the authorities could also count on a show of strength, with hundreds of counter-demonstrators seizing control of the university entrance, chanting ‘Death to the seditionists’.

The authorities were also fortunate that annual rallies marking the defeat of the 2009 protest movement had already been scheduled for Saturday morning and brought thousands of regime supporters to the streets across the country.

The rallies, scheduled weeks earlier, commemorated a challenging those who rejected the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid fraud allegations.

US President Donald Trump posted on Twitter two clips of his speech to the UN General Assembly in September in which he took aim at the Iranian regime, which Washington has held out as its top adversary in the Middle East.

‘Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!’ he tweeted, quoting from the speech

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8935

Iranian Military Crossed Into Syria Marking The Launch Of The Long-Planned Road Between Tehran To Damascus And Then To Armageddon

If one sees the red in the map above to being a leaping Leopard (Anatolia) or a Bear (Persia/Iran) it makes no difference;  Armageddon is a battle that magnetizes an army of hundreds of millions coming from an Iranian-Turkish alliance rushing into the Jezreel Valley. It can only happen when there is an access to Syria, then to the Golan Heights, and then to the Jezreel Valley’s Har-Megiddo. Armageddon cannot be accomplished without an access to Syria. In everything that happens in the Middle East, Jezreel (Armageddon) should be our main focus of attention since it is the main goal to sprint into northern Israel heading towards Jerusalem, a city we already hear the world rumbling about.

And today the mechanism of such access was officially activated.

“An Iranian military convoy has crossed into Syria through Iraq, possibly marking the launch of the long-planned road link between Tehran and Damascus, Iraqi officials and members of the military have told The New Arab.”

“Military sources stationed in the border town of al-Baaj said that the convoy carrying troops from Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary crossed into Syria this week.”

“The route – which provides Tehran unhindered land access to its allies in Syria and Lebanon – was secured this summer. The land route is the biggest prize yet for Iran in its involvement in Syria’s six-year civil war.”

How did all this happen? After the Bashar Assad regime and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi fighters (Popular Mobilization Forces) gained possession of the regions once occupied by ISIS near the Syria-Iraq borderline, military activity began at that line. This was the first time Iran dispatched military delivery through this route, by which Iran reached the Mediterranean.

Now, Iran has the opportunity to maintain its military presence in Syria a lot easier even getting closer to northern Israel.

With this, Iran has achieved milestones of leverage and influence that rival any regional power in the past half-century.

When US forces ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan and then toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam in 2003, they removed the two main strategic enemies on Iran’s flanks. With Iran’s backed terrorists inflicting heavy casualties against U.S. troops in Iraq,  this caused the US to withdrawal in 2011. The U.S. also contributed $5.3 billion in foreign aid to Iraq in 2016 alone after losing nearly 4,500 US soldiers. With the U.S. pull-out, Iran reached its new superpower regional status.

By 2014, Iraq’s Shiites through al-Hashad al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Forces) became the ruling power in Iraq with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issuing a fatwa calling on all able-bodied to take up arms as ISIS came close to Baghdad.

Only Saudi Arabia attempted to push back against Iran’s growing influence. This was without success. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Khamenei “the new Hitler of the Middle East”.

In Iraq, Iran controls every TV and radio station. All 28 political parties backing Iran’s Shiite militias will be voting in the 2018 coming elections. By 2018, Iraq, in reality, will belong to Iran.

In other words, by 2018, Iraq’s military will become Iran’s Hezbollah.

As we get closer to Armageddon, people should start changing their perspective. When the U.S. announces victory over ISIS, reality is, Iran has the victory over the U.S.

ISIS is exactly what Iran was looking for. As we warned for decades, the U.S. with its mediocre discernment about the Middle East is no match for centuries of Islamic deception.

But one has to look at the long term goals. Yesterday the talk was over Syria where Turkey, the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia where encroaching into Syria to only pull out handing it over to Iran, the terror state, that is making secret deals with Turkey to divide the entire region.

And today we hear rumblings over Jerusalem. Ezekiel 38 has Turkey and Iran lead an invasion into Israel. This will be via the Jezreel valley (Armageddon).

This year, east and west, sounded the trumpets of victory over ISIS in Syria, but as it turns out Iran was the victor. No one expected that Iran will cash in on its investment in Syria.

With ISIS, Iran was able to find the perfect alibi for its expansion. Today Iran works with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

With such corridors, besides Sunnis and Kurds being under threat, Christians and Israel too will suffer. The Iran backed militia (Al-Nujaba) is already looking beyond the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. In March, it announced the formation of a “Golan” brigade to push Israel out of the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1981.
Decades ago, when nothing was happening, I watched many focus on Armageddon. Now that something is happening, few focus on the daily fulfillments. The signs of the times is when virgins without oil are sound asleep.

The name Armageddon is a corruption of the Hebrew Har Megiddo (Mount of Megiddo) in Jezreel where more than thirty bloody battles have been fought during the past four thousand years by Egyptians, Israelites, Greeks, Muslims, Crusaders, Mongols, British, Germans, Arabs. From Thutmose III, Deborah, Gideon, Saul, Jonathan, Jezebel, Saladin, Napoleon to Allenby, Megiddo was the ground zero for battles that determined the very course of civilization.

This is why John (the author of Revelation) has this battle determine the outcome of the war between the forces of good and evil. The litmus test to knowing which side you are on is simple: what is your position on Jerusalem? Would you prefer its tops to have the Crucifix or the Crescent?

In Islam, it is believed that the turning point of the battles will be with the West at a place called Al-A’maq or Dabiq in Syria.

Muslims will unite over Dabiq. This is why Turkey says nothing about Iran’s expansion towards the Mediterranean since Dabiq, is the name of the battle the Ottomans won which paved the way for their occupation of Iraq and the Levant for more than four centuries. For Muslims, Dabiq (Syria) is the springboard for the Islamic armies to fight the Rum (Romans/Catholics) in their quest for world domination.”

In the Hadith it says: “The Final Hour (of history) will not be established until the Romans land at either al-A’maq or at Dabiq.” While Muslims believe that al-A’maq is in the Syria/ Turkey border, there is another spot with the same Semitic name: Migdal HaEmek. But this (HaEmek) is a city in the Northern District of Israel at Megiddo. Emek or A’maq means the same thing: “the gorge” or “the split”

Al-A’maq/HaEmeq (the gorge) is where God judges tyrants. Even Gog is judged on his way to Jericho in al-Ghour (the gorge) where the armies of Hammon-Gog are buried near the Dead Sea, the very gorge that split east from west.

Interesting how God ordains the names to mean ‘split’ and is where we get Pesach (split) as the Jordan was the ‘split’ and the Red Sea another ‘split’ … a gorge was always the separator between two warring parties and in the case of the Jezreel, it splits between north and south.

This is why one finds in the Bible, God judges the “northern army” and Gog’s hordes come from “the north quarters” while Christ in Zechariah 9 comes with “the whirlwinds of the south”.

Splits is what we will see commencing in the next couple decades. Even Europe will split between north and south with the south being the ‘ships of Chittim’, the good guys from the regions of the Mediterranean who come against Antichrist’s northern hordes.

Until then, the world will continue to err leading us all in that direction. In 2015 we warned against the complete eradicating of ISIS stating: “The Caliphate wars will not be over with ISIS, but this is only the beginning.”  We added:

All this mess happened as a result of removing Saddam, the essential plug which kept the dam from cracking. It is therefore crucial to reinstall another Saddam, a Sunni, not a Shiite. That or else break up Iraq into its three original provinces if and when ISIS is defeated by Iraq. The U.S. pulling out of Iraq without solving the issues of oil in Mosul and allowing Shiites to rule over Sunnis was a catastrophe.

Now we have Badr Organization, Asai’b Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kata’ib Hezbollah and various Sadrist elements. They are all Shiite. Certain militias such as the Badr Organization and AAH appear to be taking direct orders from Tehran [Iran].

From Tehran’s perspective, its intervention could even provide more leverage on other issues, including the nuclear negotiations. “The world has understood the reality that the first country to rush to the help of the Iraqi people in the battle against extremism and terror was the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in December.

Now Iran, a state which sponsors terrorism is fighting a war on terror? No. It is fighting to consume much flesh, to expand into Iraq, Syria and the Middle East.

So when Daniel says of the bear’s rise to consume much flesh, he is speaking of Iran’s expansion. And when he speaks of the Leopard also sprinting to cover the land, he is speaking of Turkey where ancient Greece once was.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8918

Hezbollah Terror Leader Hassan Nasrallah Says President Trump’s Decision On Jerusalem Is ‘Beginning Of The End’ For Israel

Calling for a new intifada, the Hezbollah leader said the group was almost done fighting extremists elsewhere in the region, and would now “give all its time” to Jerusalem and the Palestinians. “All Arab peoples must repeat with the Palestinian people: ‘We will be millions of martyrs to sacrifice for Jerusalem’,” Nasrallah said, a pledge echoed in unison by a crowd numbering tens of thousands.

by Geoffrey Grider December 12, 2017

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his terror group was wrapping up fighting in Syria and would turn its attention to fighting Israel, as he raged against the US recognition of Jerusalem Monday.

“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” Zechariah 14:2,3 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The question is not will Israel be attacked, repeatedly, but how many terror groups and nations will join the fight. The world at large has been absolutely repulsed by the idea of Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, and Trump’s recognition of such is indeed the flame that has lit the fuse. And the fact that Israel is coming up on their 70th anniversary of being regathered is about as prophecy-infused as you could ever get. Is the LORD getting ready to make His Presence known in His holy land of Israel? Watch and see…but I’m thinking He just might be.

“For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10 (KJV)

Nasrallah’s statement came at a massive rally in Beirut attended by tens of thousands of supporters. “We will never abandon Jerusalem,” Nasrallah told the crowd in an address beamed on massive screens. (click here to watch video.)

Calling for a new intifada, he said the group was almost done fighting extremists elsewhere in the region, and would now “give all its time” to Jerusalem and the Palestinians.

“All Arab peoples must repeat with the Palestinian people: ‘We will be millions of martyrs to sacrifice for Jerusalem’,” Nasrallah said, a pledge echoed in unison by a crowd numbering tens of thousands.

During the rally, Hezbollah supporters chanted “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” in protest over the US decision. Protesters marched through the Iran-backed terror group’s south Beirut bastion, carrying banners reading “Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Palestine” and “Jerusalem is Ours.”

Nasrallah charged that US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem move has left the US and Israel isolated against the rest of the world.

“Trump’s decision on al-Quds will be the beginning of the end of Israel,” he said, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

“If you hold on to al-Quds as the everlasting capital of Palestine, neither Trump nor anyone else can do anything other than that,” Nasrallah said. “The whole nation must stand in the face of this American threat.”

Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group, is committed to Israel’s destruction, as is its patron.

“Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and will be until Judgment Day,” said Iman Ghadbun, 28, attending the protest with her seven-year-old daughter.

The rally was held under tight Hezbollah security and passed without incident, a day after a violent protest outside the US embassy in Beirut, where security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at rowdy protesters who pelted them with stones. The protesters were hundreds of meters from the embassy.

“When the world stands together Trump has to change his mind, right?” said Hassan Mousa, a 28 year-old photographer with a hipster beard and slicked back hair. “We’re the children of Hezbollah, of course we’re ready to fight,” he said.

JERUSALEM IS A ‘CUP OF TREMBLING’ BECAUSE BOTH THE DEVIL AND JESUS CHRIST CLAIM IT FOR THEIR KINGDOMS

Nasrallah’s call for an intifada, or violent uprising, echoed the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which has called for intensifying violence against Israel in response to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has allowed thousands of Gazans to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza border fence in recent days.

Nasrallah also urged the Palestinian Authority to sever diplomatic ties with allies of Israel, and called on Jordan and Egypt to repeal their peace treaties with the Jewish state.

AS THEIR 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF BEING REGATHERED APPROACHES, IS THE LORD PREPARING TO VISIT ISRAEL?

“We must put pressure on the Arab and Islamic states to repeal peace treaties and other deals with Israel,” Nasrallah said. “I call on Palestinians to kick out any delegation that aims to visit them from countries that have normalized relations with Israel, no matter what the background of those delegations is.”

Nasrallah had called for Monday’s demonstration last week after Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

The move has been widely condemned and sparked days of protest in Muslim-majority countries. Israel and Lebanon fought a devastating war in Lebanon in 2006 that left more than 1,200 Lebanese and 120 Israelis dead.

Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000, ending a 22-year presence in the country, and Hezbollah filled the vacuum. The two countries remain technically at war and there have been occasional border skirmishes.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8903

Satellite Photos Show IDF Strike Destroyed Iranian Base in Syria

By JNS December 5, 2017 , 8:30 am

“You slap all my enemies in the face; You break the teeth of the wicked.” Psalms 3:8 (The Israel Bible™)

A satellite photo showing last weekend’s alleged Israeli strike on a purported Iranian military base that was under construction in Syria. (ImageSat International)

Israeli satellite photos published on Monday show the destruction of several buildings at a purported Iranian military base that was under construction in Syria. The buildings were allegedly hit by an Israeli airstrike last weekend.

The images, which were taken by the Israeli satellite company ImageSat International, apparently show the destruction of seven buildings at the base located near the Syrian city of Al-Kiswa, just 31 miles from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. The structures that were damaged appear to be barracks and garages.

In a BBC report that revealed the Iranian base’s presence in November, satellite images showed the construction of some two dozen new structures in the area that are likely used for housing soldiers and vehicles. Analysts estimate that up to 500 troops could be housed in those facilities.

Several Arab media reports last weekend suggested that the strike purportedly killed 12 Iranian military personnel.

Although he did not confirm the alleged strike, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Saturday reiterated Israel’s oft-stated position that the Jewish state will not allow Iran to maintain a military presence in Syria.

“We will not allow a regime hell-bent on the annihilation of the Jewish state to acquire nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “We will not allow that regime to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express purpose of eradicating our state.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8879

The new peace partners and the next war

Analysis: A new kind of peace is taking shape before our eyes between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. No longer cold, indifferent and hostile, peace is hiding in the highest places of the government echelons. Together, the new peace partners are learning to assess the dimensions of the next conflict, which will likely be the worst we’ve ever experienced.

Smadar Perry |Published:  29.11.17 , 23:32

An old friend called me from Jordan on Monday. Help me out of the imbroglio, he requested. I have an urgent personal issue, and I must get to Tel Aviv. I need no explanation from my friend: the Israeli Embassy in Amman has been under lock and key for four months now, and there is no one to issue him an entry visa and stamp his passport.

Here’s a reminder: King Abdullah is angry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to end the security guard affair. The Jordanian street is furious over the unsolved death of two citizens. Israel promised to hand over the investigation report and bring the guard to justice. The king and the street have lost their patience.

A solution has already been found for hundreds of passports that got stranded in the empty embassy building, including passports from Egypt which were sent to Amman after the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was shut down. In Jordan, new documents were issued. In Cairo, anyone wishing to visit Israel is required to first of all present “the yellow note.” The process of obtaining that note, in the general security service’s offices, is deterring. No one wants their name and address to be listed, as someone may pay them a visit at night to inquire why they are rushing to Tel Aviv. No one wants to “get caught in normalization” either.

A new kind of peace is taking shape before our eyes. It’s no longer cold, indifferent and hostile peace, but peace hiding in the highest places of the government echelons. Leader vis-à-vis leader, in Egypt’s case, and apparatus vis-à-vis apparatus, in Jordan’s case.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announces at his own initiative that he talks to Netanyahu, and the prime minister makes a comment about “an interesting conversation with the Egyptian president.” As for the angry king of Jordan, the street no longer has to launch protests against signs pointing to normal relations. Everything is concealed, and Israel is drifting away.

Now, a third partner is entering the picture. The young crown prince from Saudi Arabia, who is imposing a new political, economic and maybe even social order. As far as he’s concerned, the sky’s the limit. Who should we believe: Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is scattering statements about covert contacts and cooperation, or Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who is firmly denying this, and insisting that such things never happened?

I’m going to guess that had there really been no contacts, the Saudi minister would have allowed himself to keep quiet. There are too many signs stacking up on the ground that there is, in fact, a dialogue going on at a high rank. Riyadh and Jerusalem are connected by a whole lot of interests under the rug, led by the Iranian threat. I’m willing to believe the Saudi foreign minister when he insists that we have yet to reach the path of open relations. The test will take place soon: will the Saudis issue entry visas for the Israeli chess team, and how will be greeted, if at all?

The new peace draws the boundaries of the “good guys” camp versus the “bad guys” camp in our neighborhood, between the moderate Sunni-Muslim axis and the evil Shiite axis, as Iran has already succeeded in settling in four capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa and Beirut. The Revolutionary Guards are not on an annual field trip; they have come to gain strongholds.

The moderate axis is learning how to walk on eggshells. If a conflict breaks out in one of the places, the next war will be the worst and toughest war we’ve ever experienced, with weapons we never dreamed of, soaked with blood and destruction. It won’t be a war between states. It will be a war within the Muslim camp which everyone is now trying to curb, and Israel—being stuck in the middle—will have trouble evading it.

Together, the new peace partners are learning to assess the dimensions of the next conflict. We should take note of the warnings from one side (Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah) and the “all clear” signals from our side. No one is planning to initiate an adventure in Lebanon against the Iranians and Hezbollah’s missile arsenal. No one in Riyadh, Cairo and Amman will assume responsibility for taking the first step against Iran, when no one knows where and how it will end. And peace? It will remain in its new, covert place, moving away from the civil level, because the leaders are busy.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8871

Netanyahu said to warn Assad: We’ll strike if you let Iran set up bases in Syria

In latest sign of PM’s mounting concern, Israeli TV says he has conveyed stark message to Syrian president via third party

By TOI staff 26 November 2017, 9:42 pm 5

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel will intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war if Assad gives formal permission to Iran to establish a military presence in Syria, Israeli TV reported on Sunday night.

Netanyahu conveyed the message to Assad via a third party, Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) veteran Middle East analyst Ehud Yaari reported.

The warning specified that Israel will depart from the policy of non-intervention it has maintained throughout the six years of the civil war to date, Yaari said, if Assad “invites Iranian forces to establish themselves in Syria via an agreement of any kind.” Iran has provided significant logistical, technical, training and financial support for Assad’s regime and forces, as well as deploying military advisers and some combat troops in Syria. It also arms, trains and funds Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group that has sent thousands of gunmen to fight alongside Assad’s troops.

Thus far, Israel has provided medical and humanitarian aid to victims of the war across its border, has hit back when gunfire has crossed the border, and has used air strikes to target weapons stores and convoys intended for the Hezbollah terrorist organization. But, to date, “there was no direct targeting of the Syrian Army or of Assad,” Yaari noted.

The report noted tellingly that this non-intervention contrasted with previous Israeli policy. In 2006, for instance, Israeli jets broke the sound barrier flying over Assad’s presidential palace in Latakia, in what was seen as a warning to him against supporting Palestinian terrorist groups.

The reference to any formal Syrian “invitation” or “agreement” with Iran, the TV report elaborated, stems from the fact that Iran and Russia have been discussing future arrangements for Syria, under which all foreign forces would have to leave the country, except those which are present by agreement with, or invitation from, Assad. Russia’s forces are engaged in Syria on the basis of such an invitation, and Netanyahu’s aim in issuing the warning “is to deter Assad from issuing” a similar invitation to Iran.

The Iranians, the TV report noted, want to build “a naval base, possibly for submarines, an air base and arms factories for precision weapons.”

Earlier this month, the BBC, citing a Western security official, reported that Iran was setting up a permanent base on a site used by the Syrian army near el-Kiswah, 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus, and 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Israeli border.

Satellite image of alleged Iranian base in Syria from October 2017 (Airbus, Digital Globe and McKenzie Intelligence Services/BBC)

The TV report came days after Netanyahu was quoted telling French President Emmanuel Macron in a phone call that Israel sees Iranian activity in Syria as “a target” for its forces, and may carry out strikes against Iranian objectives if its security needs require it.

According to a transcript of their November 19 phone call reported by Israel’s Channel 10 TV, Netanyahu told the French leader that “from now on, Israel sees Iran’s activities in Syria as a target. We will not hesitate to act, if our security needs require us to do so.”

Macron reportedly attempted to reassure the Israeli leader and dissuade him from “hasty” action.

But Netanyahu was adamant, reportedly saying, “The goal must be to minimize Iran’s influence, not only in Lebanon but also in Syria… Israel has tried up until now not to intervene in what is going on in Syria. But after the victory over Islamic State, the situation has changed because the pro-Iranian forces have taken control… From now on, Israel sees Iran’s activities in Syria as a target. We will not hesitate to act, if our security needs require us to do so.”

Netanyahu vowed in a speech last week that Iran would not be allowed to gain a regional foothold. “We have made it clear many times that we will not accept nuclear weapons in Iran’s hands, nor will we allow the establishment of Iranian forces near our border, in the Syrian region in general, or anywhere else,” he said.

Underlining the rising tensions, an Iranian military commander declared on Thursday that any future war in the region would result in the annihilation of Israel. Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, told Iranian reporters that “any new war will lead to the eradication of the Zionist regime.”

On November 21, Netanyahu also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone about a ceasefire deal in the Syrian civil war and the Iranian presence near Israel’s borders, the Prime Minister’s Office said. “The conversation lasted about half an hour and dealt with Syria, and Iran’s attempt to entrench itself in Syria,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. “Netanyahu insisted on Israeli security and reiterated his opposition to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.”

The call was the latest in a series of high-level contacts between Israel and Russia, amid a dispute between the countries over allowing Iran and Shiite militias backed by Tehran to maintain a foothold in Syria near the Israeli border.

On October 17, Netanyahu met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Jerusalem, where the two men discussed the Islamic Republic’s attempt to establish itself militarily in Syria. “Iran needs to understand that Israel will not allow this,” Netanyahu told Shoigu, according to his office.

According to an unnamed Israeli official, under the Syrian ceasefire deal, militias associated with Iran would be allowed to maintain positions as close as five to seven kilometers (3.1-4.3 miles) to the border in some areas, Reuters reported two weeks ago.

The Israeli Air Force has carried out numerous airstrikes in Syria on weapons convoys bound for the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, though it rarely acknowledges individual raids.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8854

Analysis: Russia-Iran-Turkey meeting is message to US

By Seth J. Frantzman

November 19, 2017 06:33

Moscow, Turkey and Iran are all sending symbolic messages to Washington that the Americans are out in the cold and the post-ISIS era may well be dictated by regional powers.

4 minute read.

SYRIAN RESIDENTS react to a shelling in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Friday. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Turkish, Russian and Iranian diplomats will meet in Antalya on Sunday in the run-up to a major get-together in Sochi on November 22. The meeting is supposed to focus on Syria, but its real purpose is part of a larger effort by Moscow to illustrate its influence in the region.

Moscow, Turkey and Iran are all sending symbolic messages to Washington that the Americans are out in the cold and the post-ISIS era may well be dictated by regional powers.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the meeting was intended to find out “how we can restore stability and peace in Syria.”

According to Hurriyet Daily News, the foreign ministers from Moscow, Ankara and Tehran will meet in Antalya, followed a few days later by a meeting in Sochi between Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani that is being billed as a “trilateral summit.”

Turkish officials, this year, have been increasingly critical of US policy.

Erdogan accused the US of not keeping its promises regarding the withdrawal of its partnered forces, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from areas liberated from Islamic State.

“Unfortunately, the current administration also tells us it is in cooperation with the SDF, the new name of the YPG. They shouldn’t do this.

We were here before them and we know perfectly well who is who in this region,” Erdogan said.

In comments that reflect the official Turkish view, Ibrahim Kalin, a special adviser to the Turkish president, wrote in the Daily Sabah: “There is growing assessment that the US is using both Daesh and the YPG as an excuse to remain in eastern Syria as a potential counter-weighing force against the Russian-Iranian presence.”

Turkey sees the YPG as the “Syrian branch” of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and, thus, a terrorist organization. In his piece, Kalin referenced claims that the US-led coalition and SDF allowed hundreds of ISIS fighters and their families to leave Raqqa in October.

“[This shows] once again the utter poverty of the policy of having one terrorist organization fight another,” he wrote.

Kalin says Turkey demands that “Syria’s territorial integrity must be maintained” and that foreign fighters for the regime and the YPG must leave Syria: “A transitional government should be established to include all Syrian stakeholders and prepare the ground for free and fair elections.”

He argues that the YPG “cannot be part of any political solution,” and that Assad “is not the person to lead Syria to a democratic and all-inclusive rule.” The meeting in Sochi is supposed to address these issues, alongside the talks that have taken place in Astana and Geneva.

The Russians, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, see the summit as including the “guarantors of the process of political settlement and stability and security that we see now in Syria.”

The Sochi meeting comes just a week and a half after Putin met US President Donald Trump in Danang, Vietnam.

“The presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria,” a joint statement read on November 11. The statement called for the implementation of UNSCR 2254, which would involve constitutional reform and “free and fair elections under UN supervision.”

The statement emphasized the importance of communication in eastern Syria between US and Russian forces and “deconfliction” efforts. It also mentioned the southwest Syrian cease-fire agreed to with Jordan.

It was a practical statement, whereas the Sochi meeting is seen to be an important diplomatic step with wider regional implications.

Russia, Iran and Turkey all differ on the Syrian conflict, but over the last year it appears their relationship has trended toward a more harmonious one and the Americans have been left out in the cold.

Turkey and Iran grew closer over the Qatar crisis in July and over the Kurdistan independence referendum in northern Iraq in September. Turkey and Russia also surmounted the crises of the 2015 shooting down of a Russian Su-24 by Turkey.

The Trump administration faces political problems at home over the relations his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had with Turkey and his former campaign chair Paul Manafort had with pro-Russian elements in Ukraine. This, to some extent, ties his hands on relations with Moscow and Ankara.

In addition, Ankara is outraged at the increasing presence of the US in eastern Syria and inferences that it intends to stay for the long term.

Trump already has rolled out a robust policy to confront Iran in the region, a policy that, as yet, has no practical elements to it but is thought to have empowered the Saudis in their moves in Lebanon and the Gulf.

What the Americans don’t have is a post-ISIS strategy for Iraq, Syria and the region.

The trilateral summit enshrines the inability of US strategy to make headway. Iran, an enemy of the US is sitting with Turkey, a NATO ally, alongside Russia. Washington’s allies in eastern Syria should be concerned.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8844

Iranian military force taking shape right under Israel’s nose

Analysis: Just 30 kilometers from the Israel-Syria border, Iran is recruiting young Shiite locals to create the 313th Battalion, which is receiving equipment, training and high salaries from the Revolutionary Guards, as well as help from Hezbollah operatives.

Dr. Yaron Friedman|Published:  14.11.17 , 23:24

In the past months, there has been a lot of talk in the media about a possible threat to Israel, if and when Iran establishes permanent bases in Syria. Just last Friday, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that Iran was building a permanent military base in Syria, very close to Damascus and 50 kilometers from the Golan Heights.

Meanwhile, however, without any public declarations, Iran is quietly recruiting young Syrians to establish a battalion just 30 kilometers from the Israeli border. Meet the Iranian force taking shape right under Israel’s nose.

The 313th Battalion: Waiting for the ‘messiah’

Opposition organizations in southern Syria, one of the rebels’ last strongholds, revealed recently that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have set up headquarters in the Christian village of Izra in the Daraa Governorate (near the Syria-Jordan-Israel tripoint), to recruit Shiite and possibly members of other pro-Iranian minority groups.

The alleged Iranian base as documented last month in Syria (Photo: Digital Globe, McKenzie intelligence Services, BBC)

The number 313 is known in Lebanon’s Shiite sector as a magic number. According to tradition in this branch of Islam, 313 is the number of fighters that will arrive with the Mahdi, the Shiite “messiah.” The founders of the 313th Brigade (which is still the size of a battalion) gave it both a messianic number and a messianic name, Ansar al-Mahdi (supporters of the messiah).

The feeling of victory among the Shiite militias supporting the Iraqi and Syrian armies against the Islamic State (ISIS), the “Sunni Satan,” has created a sense of euphoria and an expectation for the arrival of the messiah among Shiite religious circles. Now, Iran is interested in leveraging the Shiite revival in Iraq and in Syria for a battle against “the Zionist enemy.”

 

Most of the information about the new battalion hasn’t reached the press yet, but it can be found in the Facebook and Twitter accounts of locals who fear for the fate of the Sunni majority in the Daraa Governorate. According to their reports, the Revolutionary Guards are recruiting members of minority groups, primarily from Shiite villages in the region (such as Busra al-Harir, Namar Khirbet Ghazaleh and al-Shaykh Maskin). They are well-equipped, receive an army uniform and are trained by officers from the Revolutionary Guards. They are also assisted by Hezbollah operatives in the towns of Izra and the nearby al-Shaykh Maskin.

Competition with Syrian army and Russians

Iran’s direct recruitment effort in southern Syria aims to compete with the Syrian army and its Russian patrons. The Iranians, who are operating in the region under the nose of the Syrian army’s 12th Brigade, are persuading young locals to join the new battalion by offering a higher-than-average salary (about $200 a month). The young men are joining the battalion to evade regular and reserve service on the war fronts in Bashar Assad’s army, where they would likely have to sacrifice their lives.

The 313th Battalion’s training is also held “close to home” in the same area. Another way of tempting the young locals to join the battalion is by providing them with documents and certificates with the Revolutionary Guards symbol. These papers are sort of VIP certificates, which allow the battalion members to pass through the infamous crossings and roadblocks—Syrian army checkpoints where car drivers are extorted and threatened.

Sources report that the 313th Battalion’s recruitment headquarters have been set up in a youth center in southern Izra, and that some 200 people have already enlisted. Many of the recruits are people who left organizations that support the Syrian regime in a bid to improve their conditions.

 

This is basically the first time Iran directly recruits Syrian citizens. Up until now, the Iranian militias were made up of foreigners: The Lebanese Hezbollah, the Afghan Fatemiyoun and the Iraqi Najabaa.

The idea behind the initiative is to prepare the ground by creating a sort of “Syrian Hezbollah” in case Russia accepts one of the opposition’s main conditions for an agreement in Syria—a removal of all foreign forces from the country. This way, Iran will be able to keep running a Shiite organization in Syria by remote control.

Abu Tawfik al-Diri, the Free Syrian Army’s military coordinator in the area, said in an interview to a Jordanian paper that he believes the purpose of the new battalion is to serve as an Iranian wing cooperating with Hezbollah against Israel.

 

Jordanian concerns

In Jordan, concerns are growing over an Iranian presence in southern Syria which could threaten the Hashemite Kingdom as well. Mohammad Sabra, a legal adviser to the Syrian opposition who is taking part in the Geneva talks, said in an interview to the Jordanian press that the Iranian presence in southern Syria was a violation of the agreement to ease tensions in Daraa, which was reached by Jordan, the United States and Russia on July 7.

Furthermore, the Iranian recruitment contradicts the Hamburg agreements between the US and Russia, that the militias must not get any closer than 35 kilometers from the Jordanian and Israeli borders. Jordan’s official stance is similar to Israel’s: The kingdom won’t accept the presence of Iranian militias on its border.

Project 313: A continuation of previous operations

Hezbollah’s attempts to create a front against Israel in the Golan Heights have failed several times before. The year 2015 seemed like the end of the Iranian project in southern Syria. It began in January with the assassination of Jihad Mughniyeh, who was in charge of creating a Hezbollah front against Israel in the Golan, and ended in December with the assassination of Samir Kuntar, the terrorist who tried to recruit the Druze in al-Suwayda to Hezbollah.

But Iran used the Russian intervention in the past two years, which led to a changeover in the civil war in Syria, to its advantage. The current formation of the Iranian 313th Battalion is essentially the second stage after the creation of what the Syrians refer to as the Shiite “triangle of death.”

 

Last year, about 500 Hezbollah fighters in southern Syria took over the triangle area between southern Damascus, Quneitra and Daraa. Hezbollah committed ethnic cleansing against some 40,000 residents in that area, mostly Sunnis. Most of them fled following the battles with the rebels and are now not allowed to return under the excuse that it’s a “closed military zone.”

New demographics working in favor of Shiites

The departure of millions of refugees from Syria and the death of hundreds of thousands of residents changed the country’s demographic structure. Until 2011, the Alawi rulers made up 11 percent of Syria’s population and the Shiites made up 2 percent. Among the minorities loyal to the regime, the Christians made up 10 percent and the Druze 3 percent. Ten percent of the population are Muslim Kurds. The Sunni Arabs—most of the opposition’s supporters—made up about 64 percent of the population in 2011.

 

Some of the wealthy Sunnis living in the western cities supported the Assad regime because of the benefits and economic monopolies they received from the regime in Damascus.

Due to the fact that most Syrian refugees (more than 5 million) and the people who died (more than half a million) are Sunnis, the number of Sunni Arabs in the country recorded a considerable decline (down to perhaps 50 percent). This dramatic change gives the Syrian regime and Iran a stronger control base. These numbers are joined by the thousands of Shiites “imported” by the Iranian forces from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq to western Syria, as well as Hezbollah members from Lebanon. This is the demographic infrastructure for Iran’s expansion in western Syria.

Shiite deployment in Syria

According to open sources (primarily Arab media and social networks), Iran has three military bases in Syria today: One in the south, the main base in the Damascus airport; another one not far away, in the Set Zaynab area in the Damascus suburbs; and a third one in the north, in Jabal Azzan near Aleppo.

Hezbollah has four bases along the border with Lebanon: In Al-Qusayr, in al-Zabadani, in the Qalamun Mountains and in southern Sargaya.

Apart from these seven Shiite bases, Iran is now trying to reach an agreement with Russia to open a naval base in northwestern Syria and build air bases in other areas in the country.

The two Iranian bases in Damascus, only 70 kilometers from the Golan Heights, could be a serious threat to the State of Israel’s security in the near future. The 313th Battalion, which is currently taking shape 30 kilometers from our border, is a close and imminent danger.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8835