Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

May 15

Russian monitors for Syrian Golan – not Iranians

DEBKAfile Special Report May 11, 2017, 4:23 PM (IDT)

Moscow this week responded to Israel’s concerns about posting Iranian and Turkish officers on its borders to monitor the potential “de-escalation” zones Russia is proposing for Syria. In respect of those concerns, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that Russia agreed in high-level contacts in the last few days to replace them with Russian military officers in the Mt. Hermon region and the areas where Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian borders meet. The proposal also calls for the expansion of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which supervises the cease-fire between Israel and Syria on the Golan.

(debkafile was the first publication to reveal Israel’s concerns on May 3 and May 5.)

The Russian military are preparing to establish four ceasefire safe zones in Syria. The southernmost would be located along Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan. The issue came up during Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on May 11, and a day earlier, in a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, was also involved in the exchanges on the ceasefire zones between Washington, Moscow and Jerusalem during his visit to Israel this week as the guest of the Israeli chief of staff, Lieut. Gen. Gady Eisenkott. On Tuesday, May 9, Dunford said that “Israel is concerned about the possibility of having Iranian or Iranian-backed forces, such as Hizballah, so close to its border.” Both Putin and Lavrov promised that neither Iranian, pro-Iranian, nor Turkish officers would be placed in areas close to the Israeli border.

Our military sources report that during talks between Washington, Moscow and Jerusalem on Thursday, May 11, the three sides agreed to continue to discuss the Russian proposal.

Another issue raised among them was who will deal with the ISIS forces in the Yarmouk area near the Israel-Jordan and Israel-Syria borders, including the bases established by the Khaled bin al-Walid army, which has sworn allegiance to ISIS.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8539

May 09

Putin & Trump discuss Iranians on Israel’s border

DEBKAfile Special Report May 3, 2017, 7:54 PM (IDT)

Israel was seriously dismayed Wednesday, May 3, when first reports reached Jerusalem about the telephone conversation between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin Tuesday, during which Trump agreed to consider Putin’s plan for “de-escalation zones” in Syria, in place of the American security zones proposal. The Russian president’s plan includes the posting of Iranian military officers as co-monitors for those zones, one of which is to be located on the Syrian-Israeli border.

President Trump described the conversation as “Very good.”

The four “de-escalation zones” proposed would be situated at:

  1. The northwestern province of Idlib up to the Turkish border;
  2. The central Syrian province of Homs (where also the Al-Shariat air base hit by US Tomahawks last month is located);
  3. The East Ghouta suburb of Damascus (including also a big military airfield);
  4. The Southern region along Syria’s borders with Jordan and Syria.

The Russian president explained that the “guarantor countries” – i.e. Russia, Turkey and Iran – would appoint the monitors for the de-escalation zones.

debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that Israel was deeply concerned to discover that President Trump had nodded to Putin going forward with his plan, despite Iran’s active involvement. He was even ready to send a US official for the first time to the fourth round of the Syrian peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Astana Wednesday, although this process is jointly sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran. Stuart Jones, acting assistant Secretary of State, was sent to attend the meeting in the Kazakh capital as an observer, thereby elevating the former American representation from ambassador..

This development caused Israeli disquiet on a number of grounds:

  1. a) The Iranian monitors for the new zones will sit directly opposite the Israeli border. Notice has gone out to Washington and Moscow that the Israeli government will on no account countenance an Iran military presence along its border.
  2. b)  Israel also eyes with mistrust the possible deployment of Russian and Turkish offices along its border with Syria.
  3. c)  Declaring eastern Damascus a protected zone would obstruct Israel aerial operations for keeping Iranian air shipments of advanced weapons via Syria out of Hizballah’s hands. Iran would be able to renew its shipments under full protection.
  4. d)  There were also some misgivings in Israel about the way National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster characterized President Trump’s approach to foreign policy, shortly before Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas arrived at the White House on Wednesday.
    “The president is not a super-patient man,” he said. He does not have time to “debate over doctrine, and instead seeks to challenge failed policies of the past with a businessman’s results-oriented approach,” McMaster said.

The trouble is that Middle East issues, such as the Syrian conflict and Israeli security, demand patience and rather more than a businessman’s results-oriented approach, else they may lead to such potentially disastrous consequences as an Iranian military presence that is far too near and dangerous for Israel to countenance.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8527

May 09

NATO Returning to ‘Historic Role as War Fighting Command’

May 04, 2017

Leaders take part in a NATO Summit meeting in Chicago.

General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, head of United States European Command, said that, “In the east, a resurgent Russia had turned from partner to antagonist” and that NATO will be returning to its historic role as a war fighting command.

(WASHINGTON, DC) The commander of NATO and US forces in Europe has called for yet more armored vehicles and troops to be deployed on the continent to counter what he calls “a resurgent Russia.”

Testifying before a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, head of United States European Command (EUCOM) – in charge of all US forces in Europe, as well as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander – accused Russia of threatening regional and global security.

“Today we face the most dynamic European strategic environment in recent history,” he said in his testimony. “In the east, a resurgent Russia had turned from partner to antagonist as it seeks to undermine the Western-led international order and reassert itself as a global power.”

“Accordingly, we are adjusting our plans, our posture, our readiness to remain relevant to combat the threats we face,” he added. “In short, we are returning to our historic role as a war fighting command.”

Two American combat brigades are permanently stationed in Europe: the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany and the 173rd Airborne in Italy, which make up around 10,000 of the 60,000-strong American troop presence in Europe. Scaparrotti says more troops are needed – specifically more armored and infantry divisions to counter Russia’s western flank, as well “enablers” like engineers, aviation and fire support staff for the European Reassurance Initiative.

“Russia’s posture is not a light force, it’s a heavy force,” he continued.

“In order to have the posture that is both credible and of the right composition, we need more armored forces… to make sure that we do have a force of enough size that enables us to deter Russia.”

“Five or six years ago, we weren’t concerned about being ready [to fight] today,” Scaparrotti added. “That has changed.”

During the Senate hearing, Scaparrotti also called for more funding to improve local capabilities for infrastructure capable of moving and housing troops.

The European Reassurance Initiative was launched in 2014 in the wake of the political crisis in Ukraine and the perceived Russian intervention there, leading to the most vocal members of NATO – Poland and the Baltic states – claiming that they would be Moscow’s next target. This prompted leading members of the alliance to agree on troop deployments. In March, 800 British soldiers began arriving in Estonia, while Germany sent troops and tanks to Lithuania. Earlier in April, 1,350 NATO soldiers arrived in northeastern Poland in line with the planned buildup.

Russia has consistently criticized the NATO buildup on its doorstep, describing it as a threat to regional security.

“We deplore that deployment, for it raises tensions in Europe along the border between NATO and Russia. Russia doesn’t pose any threat to Estonia nor any other NATO member state,” Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko recently told the Daily Mail.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8525

Apr 13

World War 3 Will Set The Stage For Future Prophecies To Be Fulfilled – If Erdogan’s Taking His Place Upon Satan’s Throne In Pergamos, The Anti-Christ May Soon Be Revealed

Will The ‘Burden Of Damascus’ Soon Be Realized?

By Stefan Stanford – All News Pipeline – Live Free Or Die

The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. Isaiah 17:1

The lead story on the Drudge Report today over at The Sun reports Russia and Iran have pledged to respond to American aggression following air strikes in Syria if the US ‘crosses the red’ line again. The story has gone viral, republished in various capacities seemingly everywhere. However, according to the Kremlin in this brand new story from Sputnik News, they are unaware of such statements being made and apparently never made it themselves. Judging by the response Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had about the viral story, the ‘red line’ story is totally ‘fake news’.

On Sunday, Reuters reported, citing a joint command center allegedly comprising the forces of Russia, Iran and militias supporting Assad that the recent US missile attack against the Syrian Ash Sha’irat airfield had crossed “red lines.” According to the media outlet, the allies would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for Damascus.

“We are not aware about that, we cannot confirm that and we do not know where Reuters got this and where these anonymous sources appeared from again,” Peskov told reporters.

With Peskov’s statement providing more proof for us that someone is pushing for ‘an incident’ in the Middle East, a powder keg that could go up effecting the entire world in a moment’s notice, we learn today that President Trump is allegedly pushing back against those within the ‘deep state’ pushing for a Syrian invasion. And while anybody in their right minds will want to avoid the world war 3 ‘apocalypse’ scenario such an invasion of Syria might bring to US soil, as Steve Quayle reminded us, there are those who NEED a WW3 apocalypse to bring in their ‘Mahdi’ and an ‘end of the world’ global Islamic state.

“Everybody needs to keep this in mind….in order for them to bring on the Muslim caliphate, those who will not allow any other religion to exist but Islam, there HAS TO BE nuclear war to bring in the Muslim ‘mahdi’. Those who believe in a Muslim caliphate will do ANYTHING to initiate World War 3.”

The new story over at the Jewish Journal is called “How Complicated Is Syria? Trump Just Helped ISIS” in which they publish the spaghetti chart seen above showing just how crazy and mixed up what is happening now in Syria and throughout the Middle East has become. Long known as the ‘powder keg’ that could kick off a global war, both Syria and Turkey also figure prominently in Biblical prophecy.

And as we arrive at a day where story title’s include, whether ‘real’ news or ‘fake’;

RUSSIA’S THREAT TO STRIKE BACK AT TRUMP

Kremlin tells U.S. it’s ‘one step from war’ as Trump warns he will hit Syria AGAIN after his attack on Russia’s ally Assad triggers fears of World War Three

we see why so many people are so concerned we may be living in the last days. As the Jewish Journal story reports, what is happening in the Middle East right now is so incredibly mixed up and complicated, we’ve reached a point in time where simply ‘an accident’, or ‘fake news’, could spark a global war.

We like our problems clean and direct. Good versus evil. Good fights evil. Good wins.

The Syrian regime of President Assad is evil. Its use of chemical weapons to murder children was barbaric. (ANP: whether ‘real’ news or ‘fake news’) It makes sense to not let him get away with it. So, you can argue that President Trump was right to order missile strikes against the regime.

This satisfying moral action, however, should not make us dumb down a complicated conflict. The dominant reality of the Syrian conflict today is that it represents evil vs evil. You can get rid of one evil only to see something worse replace it.

On one side of the conflict, you have the Assad regime, supported by Iran, Russia and Hezbollah. A few years ago, Assad was on life support. Now, with his strong partners, he’s made a comeback.

On the other side of the conflict are anti-regime rebel groups who fight each other as much as they fight the Assad regime.

The largest is ISIS, with 25,000 to 80,000 fighters. ISIS has become the enemy par excellence in the Western world. Trump has talked incessantly about destroying them. Now consider this: By striking Assad, Trump ended up helping ISIS.

Complicated enough?

The new story over at CBN asks if what is happening now in Syria is fulfilling Biblical prophecy. Claiming both Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 could be playing out before our eyes, they report headlines seen in news stories of today can be seen in Biblical verses from long ago. One recent such example comes to us from the Daily Mail titled “Prepare For Real War: Russia and Iran Warn Trump They Will Retaliate Militarily Against US If It Crosses Their ‘Red Line’ Again With Attacks On Assad In Syria” which clearly reminded them of Ezekiel 38-39 and the War of Gog and Magog (even though that story could very well be ‘FAKE NEWS’).:

“We’re watching Damascus unravel…is that the prelude to the completion of those prophesies?” Joel Rosenberg rhetorically asked, pointing back to Isaiah and Jeremiah, which both say that the city will be “destroyed.” “We don’t know, but Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city on the planet…so the fact that it is coming apart is quite extraordinary.”

“The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel wrote 2,500 years ago that in the ‘last days’ of history, Russia and Iran will form a military alliance to attack Israel from the north,” Rosenberg also wrote. “Bible scholars refer to this eschatological conflict, described in Ezekiel 38–39, as the ‘War of Gog & Magog.’”

He added, “Are these sudden and dramatic moves by Moscow and Tehran…simply coincidental, or [do they] have prophetic implications?”

According to this story from CBN and Revelation 2:12, the ‘seat of Satan’ lies in Pergamum in what is now Turkey. Also the home to some of the greatest inventors and innovators of that time which gave birth to ‘advanced’ technologies, there was also a very dark side to that region that lived on for thousands of years. Through the massacre of nearly 2 million  Armenian Christians by the then Ottoman Empire in the year 1915, their war upon Christianity carries on today.

At the end of the first century, Pergamum was a thriving city. So why does the book of Revelation call it the dwelling place of Satan? The answer lies in the ruins of the city’s temples.

“On one side, it was a very beautiful city,” says Renner. “But on the flip side, it was one of the darkest, eeriest cities in the whole Roman Empire.”

The people of Pergamum were known as the “Temple-keepers of Asia.” The city had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman emperor, another for the goddess Athena, and the Great Altar of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Many scholars believe this altar is the “Throne of Satan” mentioned in the book of Revelation.

“That word ‘throne’ was used in a personal private residence, and it was a chair for the lord of the house, the master of the house,” says Renner. “The very fact that Jesus would use this word means that Satan felt at home there. He sat on a throne there. It was his territory. He was the master of that house.”

According to this September 1st of 2016 story from Shoebat, Turkey’s henchman dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans on rebuilding the ‘temple of Zeus’, that which is also believed to be ‘Satan’s throne’ according to this CBN story. As this July 2016 story from Fox News reports, Turkey and Erdogan are ‘the real caliph’, or so he’d like to think. Claiming that there are ‘no moderate Muslims’ while calling for a return of a global Muslim society to surpass the Ottoman Empire, this September 2016 story from WND claims Turkey will also be the source of the anti-Christ, an ominous development in the former Ottoman Empire they report. From Shoebat.:

Erdogan is telling everyone – including his people – that he is the savior of the Muslim world. 

A Caliphate will arise out of Turkey and the Gog of Turkey will portray himself as the re-incarnation of Muhammad, Saladin and the Ottoman Sulaiman Al-Qanuni (Sulaiman the law-giver).

 Unlike western media, which is in collective denial, the “Turkish Model” is today admired in all Muslim nations. Millions in the Muslim world are calling for Erdogan to lead them with his modernistic Islamist model. With the “Turkish Model”, Turkey and the Muslims will deceive the West into thinking that at least “moderate” Islam is better than fundamentalism.

The Antichrist is said to rule from Pergamus (Revelation 2:12-13), which Christ proclaimed would be the future seat of Satan. This is on the sides of the northern lands (Asia Minor / Turkey). In 2014 and beyond, Turkey will be spreading its tentacles throughout the Muslim nations. Eventually Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, Algerians, Moroccans, Mauritanians, Sudanese, Somalis, Syrians, Pakistanis, Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Turkmens will all be looking at Turkey’s Islamist model and pledging allegiance to the New Ottoman Empire.

With Turkey one neighbor to Syria, Erdogan and Turkey clearly are among those who stand to benefit the most should the US attempt to depose Assad, possibly quite quickly leading to repercussion from Russia or Iran and setting in motion a series of events which leads to World War 3, just as those seeking a global Islamic state wants there to be. In fact, according to this story from Russia Insider, Turkey should be investigated for the recent chemical attacks in Syria having previously provided the poison gas used in the 2013 proven false flag attack.

In the first video below, videographer The Watchman has put together an excellent compilation of recent videos which he says proves the ‘stage setting’ is now taking place for future Biblical prophecy to be fulfilled. As we hear in the 2nd and 3rd videos featuring former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and current Congressman Marco Rubio, there is no agreement on who ISIS is, who the Syrian rebels are nor who was responsible for the recent chemical attack with Rubio actually claiming ISIS is loyal to Bashar Assad. The final video below examines Erdogan’s quest for caliph and why it’s actually he and his Islamo-fascist dictatorship in Turkey who are a much bigger threat to the West than Syria and Assad.

With a deadly World War 3 now possibly ahead based upon possible lies, we’ll take a deeper look tomorrow at the unfolding ‘war upon Christianity’, the secrecy behind many Western leaders and their embracing of Islam and what that might mean for the Trump administration to possibly have ‘Islamic, sharia-1st sleepers’ left over from the Obama administration in various capacities within his administration. Also scattered throughout Congress and Washington DC as well as all across Western government’s now, we see why some people actually WANT a war with Russia, despite the fact that it could lead to global nuclear annihilation – which is exactly what they want and need.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8438

Apr 11

The U.S. Entered World War I On April 6, 1917 – Did Trump Just Start World War III On April 6, 2017?

By Michael Snyder, on April 7th, 2017

Did World War III begin on April 6th, 2017?  After Donald Trump fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria on Thursday night, millions of Americans were cheering, but the cheering isn’t going to last for long if a new world war erupts.  What is amazing to me is that this happened on the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I.  The U.S. officially entered that war on April 6th, 1917, and now 100 years later to the day Donald Trump has essentially declared war on Syria.

If you think using the term “World War III” is alarmist, you might want to tell that to the vast numbers of people that are buzzing about a new world war all over social media.  If you don’t yet understand why a strike on Syria could be so dangerous, go back and read my article from yesterday.  If we continue striking Syria, we could very easily find ourselves in a direct military conflict with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Hopefully last night will be the full extent of U.S. military action.  If Donald Trump and his national security advisers pat themselves on the back for “looking tough” and decide that was enough, we probably won’t see a major regional war break out.

But if the U.S. decides that regime change is necessary and continues to conduct more strikes, we will have war.  And unfortunately, there are already signs that this may happen.  On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated that the Trump administration “is prepared to do more”

“The United States took a very measured step last night,” Haley said. “We are prepared to do more. But we hope that will not be necessary. It is time for all civilized nations to stop the horrors that are taking place in Syria and demand a political solution.”

I don’t understand why so many Americans seem to have a thirst for war.

I have been studying war virtually all my life.  When I was just a small boy, I would check huge volumes on World War I, World War II and the Korean War out of the library and read them cover to cover.  And let me tell you, war is hell.  Nobody should actually want to see war, and now we are closer to the next world war than we have been in decades.

Needless to say, the Russians are extremely angry about what Trump has done.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced it as an “illegal act of aggression”,  and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that the U.S. came “within an inch” of a direct conflict with Russian forces…

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said the US air strike on a Syrian air base came “within an inch” of militarily clashing with their forces.

He said the action taken by the Americans was in breach of international law and their own internal procedures, and accused Washington of “barely avoiding combat clashes with Russia”.

In a post on Facebook, Mr Medvedev said the air strike had “completely ruined relations” between the two superpowers.

What in the world is Trump thinking?

The Russians very much wanted Trump to win the election because they felt that there was a very high probability of war between our two nations if Hillary Clinton would have won.

And the Russians were quite right to think that.

So the Russian people rejoiced greatly when Trump won, because they thought that it would be a new day for relations between our two great countries.

But after last night that hope is dead.

In fact, historians will probably mark April 6, 2017 as the day when the relationship between the United States and Russia officially died.

And it didn’t take long for the Russians to start to respond.  The following comes from Business Insider

The Russia Foreign Ministry announced that it suspended an agreement to avoid clashes between Russian and US-led coalition jets over Syrian airspace, while Reuters reporter Idrees Ali reports that Russia withdrew from a deconfliction channel, which the US used Thursday night to warn Russian forces of the incoming cruise-missile strikes (which took place Friday morning local time).

In addition, it has been announced that Russia will be significantly bolstering air defenses in Syria, and according to Fox News a Russian warship has been dispatched to confront the two U.S. naval vessels that fired the cruise missiles at Syria…

A Russian warship entered the eastern Mediterranean Friday and was heading toward the area where two U.S. Navy destroyers launched missile strikes into Syria, Fox News has learned.

The Russian frigate, Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494, crossed through the Bosphorus Strait “a few hours ago” from the Black Sea, according to a U.S. defense official.

Here in the United States, we need to start making our voices heard very loudly so that President Trump will understand that most Americans do not want to go to war in Syria.

And of course the same thing can be said about a potential war with North Korea.  After last night’s cruise missile display, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is warning that his nation is on the “brink of war” with the United States.

One of the angles that is not getting a lot of discussion in the mainstream media is how the events of last night were viewed by the Chinese.

Donald Trump grew up in New York City at a time when the mafia still had a dominant presence, and to put a “hit” on another rival across town when you are sitting down for a meeting with a top boss from another family sends a very, very powerful message.

The fact that Trump ordered those 59 cruise missiles to rain down on Syria at the exact moment when he was having dinner with the president of China is going to be remembered by the Chinese for a very, very long time.  In Asian cultures respect is a very big thing, and the Chinese had to be deeply embarrassed by what just happened last night.

On top of everything else, the truth is that Donald Trump blatantly violated the U.S. Constitution by conducting a military strike against Syria without the approval of Congress.  This is something that U.S. Senator Rand Paul pointed out very clearly in an editorial that was released on Friday

The Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president. Even the War Powers Resolution, shoved forward by hawks as justification, clearly states criteria under which the president may act – a declaration of war, a specific statutory authorization, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States.

That’s it. Absent those criteria, the president has no authority to act without congressional authorization. Congress must stand up and assert its authority here and now.

Conservatives always protested whenever Barack Obama violated the U.S. Constitution in this manner, and so they should protest when Donald Trump acts in the same fashion.

A lot of people will read this article and they aren’t going to grasp the importance of what is going on because they do not understand where all of this is ultimately heading.

But there are some of you that have major alarm bells going off in your head because you have been listening to the warnings and you know what comes next.

We have entered a season of time that myself and other watchmen have been warning about for many years.  I just can’t believe that it is starting to happen so quickly.  Many had been hoping for a time of peace and prosperity during a time of “reprieve” under Donald Trump, but you can forget that now.

The events of April 6th, 2017 have changed everything, and most Americans are completely unprepared for what will soon follow.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8432

Apr 07

EU nations, Israel eye world’s longest undersea gas pipeline

Mediterranean, European countries see new gas pipeline as way to boost cooperation and boost supply.

AFP, 03/04/17 14:19

Italy, Israel, Greece and Cyprus pledged Monday to move ahead with the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to southern Europe, with support from the European Union.

If carried out as planned, the long-discussed $6.2 billion pipeline would take gas from Israel and Cyprus’s recently discovered offshore gas reserves to Europe and could help reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian energy at a time of ongoing tensions.

In a joint news conference in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv, energy ministers from the four nations, as well as the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete, pledged their commitment to the project.

Feasibility studies had been completed, the ministers said, but work on developing it would not begin for several years – with current expectations for it to go online in 2025.

“This is going to be the longest and deepest sub-sea gas pipeline in the world,” said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud).

Gas prices have fallen, however, and the project’s financial feasibility is based on expectations they will rise again, Elio Ruggeri, chief executive of IGI Poseidon – one of the companies developing the plan – told AFP.

Both Israel and Cyprus have started to extract gas from their offshore fields in recent years, with far larger fields expected to come online in the future.

Officials from the countries have sought to market the gas to Europe as an alternative to dependence on Russian imports, and Canete admitted it would help limit reliance on the Nord Stream pipeline via Russia.

“The north stream is a pipeline (which) adds nothing to the security of supply,” said Canete. “Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers.

“We highly value gas supply from the region as a vital source of our gas supply that can make a valuable contribution to our strategy to diversify sources, routes and suppliers.

“This is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union.”

The four ministers agreed to meet every six months for the coming years.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8425

Mar 30

Israel’s airstrike on Syria spooks Middle East

By Nicholas Blanford, The Arab Weekly   |   March 27, 2017 at 11:48 AM

 

BEIRUT, March 27 (UPI) — Israeli warplanes carrying out airstrikes on a shipment of Iranian arms to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in Syria managed to evade Syrian air-defense missiles but the incident is a graphic demonstration of how the war has the potential to further inflame the region.

There are likely to be further Israeli airstrikes against Hezbol­lah in Syria, reflecting deepening Israeli concerns that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and their Lebanese ally are establish­ing a new front on the divided Go­lan Heights from which to fight the Jewish state.

These developments are increas­ing the chances of a miscalculation that could trigger a war that both sides insist they do not want. As tensions mount amid an unprece­dented cluster of interlocking con­flicts across the hair-trigger region, clashes like the aerial action over Palmyra could easily escalate out of control.

The Israeli airstrikes climaxed after weeks of verbal threats from all sides, aggravated originally by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump vowing to roll back Iran’s influence across the Middle East.

Israel has signaled repeatedly that it would not allow Iran to es­tablish a permanent presence in Syria nor permit Hezbollah to ob­tain game-changing weapons, such as advanced air-defense systems, anti-ship missiles and long-range guided missiles.

Israel first launched airstrikes against suspected Hezbollah arms consignments in January 2013. Since then there have been at least 19 airstrikes, most of them in the Damascus area and further north in the Qalamoun region where there are a large number of Syrian mili­tary bases, including missile sites.

Israel’s March 16 operation, involving four jet fighters, was its deepest strike inside Syria since 2013. The Israeli jets flew north over Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Hez­bollah’s heartland, before entering Syrian air space and launching sev­eral missiles, reportedly at a con­voy carrying unspecified weapons for Hezbollah.

The target was in the Palmyra area of northeastern Syria and several reports claimed the convoy originated from the T-4 airbase at Tiyas, west of the oasis town. In response, Syria launched at least four anti-aircraft missiles, believed to be relatively antiquated Russian-built SA-5s.

Syria claimed one aircraft was shot down and another damaged. Israel insisted all four aircraft re­turned safely.

Unusually, Israel deployed an Ar­row anti-missile system for the first time in a combat situation to shoot down a Syrian missile that entered Israeli airspace. Fragments of the Arrow missile, which is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles at high altitudes, landed inside Jor­dan.

This, along with the air raid si­rens and sound of explosions in the night sky above Jerusalem, ap­parently compelled Israel to pub­licly admit for the first time that its aircraft had struck targets inside Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no secret that there may be more such attacks.

“When we identify attempts to transfer advanced arms to Hezbol­lah and we have intelligence in­formation and we have the opera­tional plan, we act to prevent it,” he said. “That’s what happened and that’s what will happen.”

The T-4 airbase is not an obvious location for gathering armaments destined for Hezbollah. It lacks underground facilities and is rela­tively distant from the Lebanese border. The main locations in Syria for Hezbollah arms repositories are believed to be in military bases near Adra and Qutayfah north of Damascus.

In the past, Iranian weapons for Hezbollah have supposedly been flown into Damascus airport or the nearby Mezzeh airbase. However, Israeli airstrikes at facilities at those locations as well as Qutayfah may have spurred Iran to seek to outmaneuver the watchful Israe­lis by using T-4.

Even so, T-4 is at least 175 miles from the Lebanese border over open terrain, making any arms vul­nerable to Israeli interception.

In earlier Israeli airstrikes in Syria, Damascus either publicly condemned the attacks or ignored them. However, the question now is whether the decision to launch anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli jets was a one-off gesture of dis­pleasure or whether it marks a change in policy.

Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s U.N. envoy, said the Palmyra strike “changed the rules of the game” and that Is­rael should “think a million times from now on” before staging more attacks.

Israel, however, continues to signal its determination to target advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned after the March 16 clash that the Israe­li Air Force would wipe out Syria’s air-defense system if its jets were targeted again.

With the Assad regime gaining the upper hand in much of Syria against rebel forces and with Iran and Hezbollah eyeing the Golan as a springboard against Israel, the risk of miscalculation is growing.

Hezbollah and Israel know only too well from experiences dating to the 1990s how easily a minor incident can quickly escalate out of control — such as in July 2006 when a Hezbollah border raid in south Lebanon triggered a massive Israeli response that flared into a highly destructive 34-day war

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8412

Mar 16

Global Leaders Rattle Their Sabers As The World Marches Toward War

By Michael Snyder, on March 9th, 2017

Iran just conducted another provocative missile test, more U.S. troops are being sent to the Middle East, it was just announced that the U.S. military will be sending B-1 and B-52 bombers to South Korea in response to North Korea firing four missiles into the seas near Japan, and China is absolutely livid that a U.S. carrier group just sailed through contested waters in the South China Sea.  We have entered a season where leaders all over the globe feel a need to rattle their sabers, and many fear that this could be leading us to war.  In particular, Donald Trump is going to be under the microscope in the days ahead as other world leaders test his resolve.  Will Trump be able to show that he is tough without going over the edge and starting an actual conflict?

The Iranians made global headlines on Thursday when they conducted yet another ballistic missile test despite being warned by Trump on numerous occasions…

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to mount, the semi-official news agency Tasnim is reporting that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully conducted yet another ballistic missile test, this time from a navy vessel.  Called the Hormuz 2, these latest missiles are designed to destroy moving targets at sea at ranges up to 300 km (180 miles).

Reports on the latest test quotes Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force, who confirmed that “the naval ballistic missile called Hormuz 2 successfully destroyed a target which was 250 km away.”

The missile test is the latest event in a long-running rivalry between Iran and the United States in and around the Strait of Hormuz, which guards the entrance to the Gulf. About 20% of the world’s oil passes through the waterway, which is less than 40 km wide at its narrowest point.

So how will Trump respond to this provocation?

Will he escalate the situation?  If he does nothing he will look weak, but if he goes too far he could risk open conflict.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, things are already escalating.  It is being reported that “several hundred Marines” are on the ground in Syria to support an assault on the city of Raqqa, and another 1,000 troops could be sent to Kuwait to join the fight against ISIS any day now.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

While the Trump administration waits to decide if it will send 1,000 troops to Kuwait to fight ISIS, overnight the Washington Post reported that the US has sent several hundred Marines to Syria to support an allied local force aiming to capture the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. Defence officials said they would establish an outpost from which they could fire artillery at IS positions some 32km (20 miles) away. US special forces are already on the ground, “advising” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance according to the BBC.

The defence officials told the Washington Post that the Marines were from the San Diego-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and that they had flown to northern Syria via Djibouti and Kuwait. They are to set up an artillery battery that could fire powerful 155mm shells from M777 howitzers, the officials said. Another marine expeditionary unit carried out a similar mission at the start of the Iraqi government’s operation to recapture the city of Mosul from IS last year.

Meanwhile, China is spitting mad for several reasons.  For one, the Chinese are absolutely furious that South Korea has allowed the U.S. to deploy the THAAD missile defense system on their soil…

China is lashing out at South Korea and Washington for the deployment of a powerful missile defense system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, deposited at the Osan Air Base in South Korea on Monday evening.

The deployment of THAAD follows several ballistic missile tests by North Korea in recent months, including the launch of four missiles on Monday, three of which landed in the sea off the coast of Japan. Though THAAD would help South Korea protect itself from a North Korean missile attack, China is vocally protesting the deployment of the system, claiming it upsets the “strategic equilibrium” in the region because its radar will allow the United States to detect and track missiles launched from China.

Of course the U.S. needed to do something, because the North Koreans keep rattling their sabers by firing off more ballistic missiles toward Japan.

But it is one thing to deploy a missile defense system, and it is another thing entirely to fly strategic nuclear bombers into the region.

So if the Chinese were upset when THAAD was deployed, how will they feel when B-1 and B-52 bombers start showing up in South Korea?

Earlier this week, trigger-happy Kim pushed his luck once more when he fired off four ballistic missiles into the seas near Japan.

Now US military chiefs are reportedly planning to fly in B-1 and B-52 bombers – built to carry nuclear bombs – to show America has had enough.

South Korea and the US have also started their annual Foal Eagle military exercise sending a strong warning to North Korea over its actions.

A military official said 300,000 South Korean troops and 15,000 US personnel are taking part in the operation.

The Trump administration has openly stated that all options “are on the table” when it comes to North Korea, and that includes a military strike.

It has been more than 60 years since the Korean War ended, but many are concerned that we may be closer to a new Korean War than we have been at any point since that time.

And of course our relationship with China is tumbling precariously downhill as well.  Another reason why the Chinese are extremely upset with the Trump administration is because a U.S. Navy carrier battle group led by the USS Carl Vinson sailed past islands that China claims in the South China Sea just a few weeks ago.

In China, the media openly talks about the possibility of war with the United States over the South China Sea.  Most Americans are not even aware that the South China Sea is a very serious international issue, but over in China this is a major focus.

And the U.S. military has recently made several other moves in the region that have angered the Chinese

Also in February, the U.S. sent a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Tindal AB in northern Australia, the closest Australian military airbase to China, for coalition training and exercises. It’s the first deployment of that many F-22s in the Pacific.

And if that didn’t get the attention of the Chinese government, the U.S. just tested four Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles during a nuclear war exercise, sending the simulated weapons 4,200 miles from the coast of California into the mid-Pacific. It’s the first time in three years the U.S. has conducted tests in the Pacific, and the first four-missile salvo since the end of the Cold War.

I can understand the need to look tough, but eventually somebody is going to go too far.

If you are familiar with my work, then you know that I believe that war is coming.  Things in the Middle East continue to escalate, and it is only a matter of time before a great war erupts between Israel and her neighbors.  Meanwhile, U.S. relations with both Russia and China continue to deteriorate, and this is something that I have been warning about for a very long time.

We should hope for peace, but we should also not be blind to the signs of war that are starting to emerge all over the planet.  Relatively few people anticipated the outbreak of World War I and World War II in advance, and I have a feeling that the same thing will be true for World War III.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8385

Feb 13

Iran: ‘Only seven minutes needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv’

ByJPOST.COM STAFF, Michael Wilner

05 February 2017 22:00

Iran’s officials vowed to continue launching “roaring missiles,” which they characterized as defensive in nature.

 

“Only seven minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv,” senior member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and former Revolutionary Guard official, Majtaba Zonour, told semi-official Fars News Agency Saturday.

His comments follow days of heated exchanges between US and Iranian officials.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have intensified after the Trump administration announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program.

The US issued the new penalties in response to several Iranian missile launches that international powers say are in violation of Iran’s obligations.

Iran responded forcefully, proceeding with a military exercise that further tested its missile radar capabilities.

Iran’s officials vowed to continue launching “roaring missiles,” which they characterized as defensive in nature.

And they targeted US President Donald Trump himself calling him “reckless” and inexperienced.

Trump said on Twitter that Iran was “playing with fire.” And, in a statement, US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Iran’s “belligerent and lawless” behavior across the Middle East had only increased since it agreed to a deal with six foreign nations meant to govern its nuclear program for more than a decade.

“The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior. The ritual of convening a United Nations Security Council in an emergency meeting and issuing a strong statement is not enough,” Flynn said.

Iran last Saturday condemned the US visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries as an “open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation” and vowed to retaliate.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8335

Jan 27

Strange bedfellows: The Russian-Turkish-Iranian axis

ByOfra Bengio

25 January 2017 12:20

Russia has fulfilled a long-held dream of reaching the warm water of the Mediterranean and is casting itself as the hegemon in the region.

Sixty years have lapsed since the Baghdad Pact which grouped together Turkey, Iran, Iraq and the West in an alliance against the Soviet Union and the concomitant Communist danger. Nowadays this Middle Eastern architecture has shifted 180 degrees to where Russia, Turkey and Iran are in an ad hoc alliance against Islamic State but which may turn against the West as well. Still, the new alliance might be termed as a marriage of inconvenience where each of the parties has different motives and is acting at cross purposes in partitioning the Syrian bear.

Russia has fulfilled a long-held dream of reaching the warm water of the Mediterranean and is casting itself as the hegemon in the region. The erstwhile unipolar world where the US was the only power in the Middle East has disappeared and the resulting vacuum enabled Russia to spread its influence in many countries in the region and become the arbiter in the simmering conflict in Syria.

This structural shift has convinced Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to follow the adage “if you cannot beat your enemy, join him.” Ironically, it was the domestic threat perceptions that threw Turkey into the arms of Russia. So threatening the Kurdish national movement in Turkey and Syria appeared to him that Erdogan was willing to make his peace with Russia disregarding built-in Turkish fears of being flanked by Russia from the north and the south. Driven by the need to contain or destroy the Kurdish autonomous region in Syria, Turkey had in this way to compromise on three geostrategic issues: Russia’s hegemonic power on its southern border, the survival of its nemesis the Syrian regime, and the further solidification of its rival Shi’ite Iran in Syria.

The nuclear deal with Iran which came into force a year earlier had an unexpected but ironic outcome. Rather than moving Iran to moderate its policies, democratize and ally itself with the West, the deal pushed it to increase its hegemonic aspirations in the region, destabilize it and throw its lot in with Russia. But here too the aspirations of the minor hegemon might clash with those of the bigger one as Iran, too, seeks to reach the Mediterranean by building the Shi’ite axis from Iran via Shi’ite Iraq, Alawite Syria and Shi’ite Hezbollah.

In this endeavor its interests might clash in the longer run not only with Russia but Turkey as well.

Russia assumed the mantle of brokering peace in Syria. It has achieved a certain lull in the fighting, it is convening the peace process in Astana, and it is maneuvering the Assad regime for its own purposes, interestingly without having him included in the new found alliance. As for the US it is playing a minor role in the peace process but anyway the fate of Syria will be decided in the battle for liberating Al-Bab and Raqqa from ISIS. There, the US will have to take part while facing a dilemma which of its allies it will support: Turkey or the Kurds.

The Baghdad Pact lasted for only three years (1955-1958). The new tripartite alliance might not survive that long. This new structure is very fragile because of changes which are likely to occur in US under the new Trump administration, the deepening of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide and the multiplying players and conflicts in Syria, all of which promise to preclude stability and lasting alliances

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8317