Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Nov 01

Key Kurdish-held border crossing falls to Iranian control, cuts US army land supply line to Syria

Oct 29, 2017 @ 23:03 Iran, Iraqi army, Iraqi-Syrian border crossing, IRGC, Kurds, US army

The Iraqi army and Shiite Hashd Shaabi Brigades militias under Iranian Revolutionary Guards command seized the strategically important northern Iraqi-Syrian border crossing of Faysh Khabur on Saturday, Oct. 28, forcing the Kurdish Peshmerga into another retreat after this month’s fall of oil-rich Kirkuk.

The joint Iraqi-Iranian operation was conducted surreptitiously, masked as an Iraqi military operation “to liberate al Qaim from ISIS” – with which Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi laid a red herring.

This operation, choreographed by Guards General Qassem Soleimani, wrapped up his scheme to round off Iran’s control of the northern sector of that border, in order to achieve four strategic objectives:

  1. To cut off the overland corridor between Iraqi Kurdistan and the three Syrian enclaves ruled by the YPG militia. The Syrian militia is now barred from coming to the aid of its Iraqi brothers, the peshmerga.
    2. To shut the only open door remaining to Kurdish residents wishing to travel outside Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqi government has cut all its air links by seizing the international airports of Irbil and Suliemeniyeh and threatening to shoot down any planes using them. The siege of semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan is therefore complete.
  2. Faysh Khabur was also the only land crossing the American army had the use of used for moving supplies to US forces stationed in northern Syria. The US army is now left only with air transit.
  3. Iran’s overland bridge to Syria via Iraq is now complete unimpeded by either the US or Israel.

Many people in the Middle East are asking again where were the US Trump administration and its pledges not to let Iran build a land bridge through Iraq to Syria. And where were Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and their tough rhetoric vowing not to allow Iran to deepen its military grip on Syria? While they made speeches and tweeted, Tehran with swift cunning ran off with high-value strategic and military assets.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8794

Oct 30

Prophecy Is Taking Shape As Iran Is Now Conquering Northern Iraq And Forming Its Shiite Crescent

By Shoebat Foundation on October 20, 2017 in Featured, General, Highlight

We have been saying it all along, that whenever ISIS is defeated in Iraq, Iran will move in. While the media says that “Iraqi forces took over Kirkuk this week”, reality is it was Iran and not Iraq that took Kirkuk. The military operation of today and yesterday was carried out under the banner of the Iraqi military, sure, but the ground forces were Iranian-backed Shiite militias which even included the aid from Al-Quds Force which was lead by Qassem Soleimani who bribed certain elements of U.S allied Kurdish factions to cut and run abandoning their positions. This opened the runway for the Iranian backed Shiites to take over Kirkuk.

The Kurds of Kirkuk (biblical Medes) read the writing on the wall that Babylon is now in the hands of the Persians and one hundred thousand Kurds fled Kirkuk. With the return of Kirkuk to Iran’s puppet, the balance of power appears to have shifted between the ethnic communities in the Kurdish-majority city to the delight of its Turkmen residents. We have always maintained that the issue is not Sunni versus Shiite, the Turkmen (ethnic Turks) allied to Turkey are Sunni and the Iraqi forces that took over Kirkuk are Shiites.

And besides Iran’s interests, Turkey has interest in Kirkuk’s Turkmen and Iran now has control over the richest oil spot in the region (40% of Iraq’s oil). Iran, the biblical bear, is eating its share of flesh to soon devour all three ribs that make up Iraq, the biblical lion, which had its wings plucked by the U.S after it ousted Saddam out of power.

Kurdistan (biblical Media) is defeated and has no power in the unfolding event since the bear (Medo-Persia) rises only on one side; Persia without Media. The latter is defeated and its hope to form a state is shattered.

Its always the case in warfare, the smaller dog, in this case the Kurds who defeated ISIS simply cleared the runway for the bigger dog: Iran to control northern Iraq, and Turkey to control northern Syria. Both will swallow much territory in the coming future and the U.S. can do very little for the Kurds. When it comes to nations there is no such thing as permanent allies.

And it should be to no surprise that Turkey, a Sunni rival to Iran came out to confirm its support for Iran’s backed Shiites to enter into Kirkuk. Kirkuk’s Turkmen (Sunnis) welcomed Iran’s militia. Last August, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalan, said of the city: “Yes, the Kurds and the Arabs, but the basic identity of Kirkuk is a Turkmen city.”

Turkey has a historic interest in Kirkuk since Ottoman times. Last month, a slogan by Turkish President Erdogan was written in the Ottoman script on the walls of Kirkuk: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan ‘we may come suddenly one night’”. Erdogan promised that one day he will enter northern Iraq, suddenly and by surprise. It seems that Iran beat him to the punch or else they combined efforts to divide the region to form their two crescents: Shiite and Sunni, but this time united.

The U.S. concern and meddling in the Middle East should teach us a lesson: throw out one tyrant (Saddam) from Iraq and you will get ISIS; drive ISIS out of Iraq and you will get Iran; get rid of Iran and Turkey will move in; get rid of Turkey and the Middle East will finally be at rest. At least this is what happened when the Ottoman Empire was finally bruised. Will westerners learn from the lesson’s that Jesus gave: get rid of one demon and a host of other demons will enter. Never fight one evil. All evils must be equally fought.

It is all about regional interests. In fact, the U.S. knew about Iran’s intents. Haider al-Abadi stated “At a minimum, the U.S. knew that the attack was coming.”

Iran’s entering Kirkuk is for a reason. Years ago we stated:

The U.S. is gazing away from the encroaching Iranian forces taking up forward positions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where they are busy fashioning a Shiite Crescent that encircles Sunni Arab states as well as Israel … They key to advancing these agendas is ISIS. While we rejoice when we see ISIS lose battles, what many fail to see, is that ISIS is the chip used to make all the moves to bolster two tyrannies, Iran and Turkey.

We were correct because we try to study scriptures to correct our errors. Today ISIS is pretty much gone, Turkey (the biblical Leopard) is flexing its muscles and Iran (the bear) is already consuming.

Back in 2015 we predicted:

“the US will allow Iran to reach the status of a pre-nuclear power and regional hegemon, while Tehran, in return, will send “boots on the ground” to fight in Iraq, Syria and even Afghanistan, allowing “the bear to eat much flesh” (Daniel 7:5). Iran through Iraq, we have always maintained, will prove the linchpin in an area of Iranian influence among predominantly Shiite governments and organizations that stretched across Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip. This zone has been variously described as an Iranian or Shiite “Arc of Influence” or the Shiite Crescent.”

These days prophecy is being fulfilled faster than ever. Kirkuk is strategic. Not only does it have vast oil resources, Iran’s takeover eliminates any possibility for an independent Kurdish state to emerge from the Kurdish Regional Government area in northern Iraq. We have been saying this for a while now since the “bear” (Medo-Persia) will arise on one side. This is Iran’s rise (Persia) without the Medes (the Kurds).

Iran had an edge over Turkey in Iraq for several reasons. Iran’s skilful use of Shia militias gives it an edge over Turkey’s direct military intervention, which is unwelcomed by the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Also, the Iraqi government officials (Shiites) have been very critical of the ‘illegal’ Turkish military presence in Northern Iraq so Turkey’s incursions will not gain Iraqi government support. For Iran, Iraq is strategically more important than any other Arab country since it shares more than 1400 km of its borders with Iraq. After Saddam’s fall, Iran played a significant role in shaping Iraq’s new political system and is why it is often described as an ‘Iranian puppet government’.

The next to be taken over is Sinjar city, close to the border with Syria and with that Iran can begin its long awaited program we spoke about: to form the Iranian Crescent.

These two crescents, the Iranian ‘Shiite-Crescent’ and the ‘Sunni Crescent’ led by Turkey will eventually form the pincer around Jerusalem.

Shiite Crescent

Indeed, it is Iran (not Iraq or Turkey) that is taking over the richest land (Kirkuk). Besides Iran’s Al-Quds Force, in Iraq the main military militia force is Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) that is backed by Iran. Besides Asaib Ahl alHaq, there are the Badr Brigades, formed in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War, and the younger and more secretive Kataib Hezbollah, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by the State Department. The three militias have been instrumental in battling ISIS, the rival Wahhabist Sunni sect. These militias are the three small Iraqi Shi’ite armies, all backed by Iran, which together have become the most powerful military force in Iraq since the collapse of the national army and are key to Iran’s power and influence inside neighboring Iraq.

While experts foresee a historical Ottoman-Persian rivalry in Mesopotamia we see it differently. What we see is a unity between the two since Turkey is Sufi and has kinship to Shiites sine the religious apparatus of Iran are Azeri Turks. Secondly, the neo-Ottoman Turks are warming its relations and increasing economic and energy ties with Iran and its other Muslim neighbors. Turkey’s economy is growing, and Iran is the only land corridor for Turkey to reach Asia and Iran’s needs are similar. With the Eurasian and E.U dealings Turkey will soon play a significant part to form an economic superpower with Germany and Northern Europe to lead the global economy. Germany and Turkey have been allies since 1871 when Germany was founded as a nation.

Turkey is treading very carefully not to be seen as, effectively, a Sunni power grouped with the Arab states’ agenda in Iraq or the Wahhabists agenda of Saudi Arabia. Prophetically speaking this will be the case since Persia and Turkey will unite against Jerusalem while Arabia (Sheba and Dedan) condemn this coalition and stand on the sidelines.

In conclusion, the Middle East is not that complex to understand. The problem is the oversimplification by westerners who want simplified answers. The problem with most people is that they always think that there is only one demon.  When the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist government it resulted in the emergence of a Shia dominated government in Baghdad replacing it with an Iraqi Shiite government friendly to Tehran. Today no one can argue that this decision eliminated Iraqi Sunnis from the equation. These have been an existential threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran and had tipped the local balance of power significantly in Tehran’s favor. As a result of NATO’s supposed exorcizing one demon they simply brought in other demons like ISIS and now Iran and Turkey. So everyone said that we need to eliminate ISIS. We said this does not make a single bit of difference and in fact ridding the world from ISIS will be worse. We stated years ago that:

“once Iran cleans the ISIS mess in Iraq, we will all rejoice. Iran will be happy, the U.S. will be happy, while all we’ve done is chase out ISIS while Iran’s Shiite militias are already running amok in Iraq. All that, while Israel awaits the outcome, that when Sunni and Shiite want to put aside their differences in efforts to stabilize the region will begin by uniting both the Shiite and Sunni crescents, the two horns, the pincer if you will, by focusing and switching their energy towards Jerusalem … The West will be happy to get rid of ISIS out of Iraq, while Iran will be happy to camp in Iraq permanently.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8788

Oct 11

Analysis: What does historic Saudi-Russia meeting mean for Israel?

Analysis: What does historic Saudi-Russia meeting mean for Israel?
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
10/09/2017
Will Moscow heed Israel and Saudi Arabia’s concerns about Iran in the region?

 

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday wrapped up a four-day visit to Moscow where he met President Vladimir Putin.

It was the first visit by a ruling Saudi king to the Russian capital, a symbolically historic meeting that has wide-ranging implications for the Middle East.

With Iran influence at an all-time high in the region, the visit especially has major implications for Israel as Jerusalem tries to navigate the threats posed by Iran’s involvement in Syria and Lebanon.

Will Moscow heed Israel and Saudi Arabia’s concerns about Iran in the region? Saudi Arabia’s opening to Russia comes in the context of the decade-long decline of US influence in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has been a pillar of US policy and alliances in the region for more than half a century, but under president Barack Obama, the Kingdom began to sense that US policy was drifting from its familiar tether.

At the G20 in January 2016, Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir said he wanted to “improve our relationship with Russia,” and called Russia a “great power.” Obama was snubbed by the Kingdom when he arrived on a visit in April 2016, met on the tarmac by the governor of Riyadh and not the king. According to various reports, Saudi Arabia and Russia have been discussing a major arms deal since 2015.

The visit by the Saudi king comes at a unique time in the Middle East. The post-Arab spring revolutions were meant to bring democracy but instead brought conflict to Libya and Syria. From Saudi Arabia’s point of view, they engendered chaos and extremism that threaten the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia intervened to stop the monarchy in Bahrain from being overthrown in 2011 and backed General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in Egypt in 2013. Initially, it supported the rebellion against Bashar Assad, endorsing the Geneva 1 communique and UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that envisioned elections and a transition from Assad’s rule.

Saudi Arabia welcomed Donald Trump’s election and hosted him in May for the Arab Islamic American Summit, attended by 50 Muslim countries; Trump criticized Iran at the summit.

Israel and Saudi Arabia share common interests in concerns about the Iranian threat to the region; Iranian involvement in Syria; and support for Hezbollah.

Saudi Arabia, since the 1989 Taif Accords, has been a keen broker in Lebanese affairs only to watch Hezbollah slowly digest Lebanese politics.

Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has cemented close ties with Moscow through repeated personal meetings and phone calls.

Israel has stressed the importance of denying Iran permanent bases in Syria and its concerns about an Iranian presence near the Golan, particularly after a July cease-fire brokered by Russia, Jordan and the US.

It is “much more than just a symbolic visit,” says former Israel ambassador to Russia Zvi Magen, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.

“It’s not just a visit of the Saudi King, it’s a change of Russia’s image in the area,” he says, arguing that the Syrian context is important because Russia is the main backer of the Assad regime alongside Iran and Iran is an enemy of Saudi Arabia.

With Saudi Arabia the leader of the Sunni camp in the region, he says there is a “bitter competition” and Israel is involved on the side of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

Russia has become stuck working alongside Iran in Syria, “but Russia is not interested only in Syria or only to be a friend of the Iranian player on this table. They want to be an important player in the region, together with the US.”

In this sense, he says Russia has “crossed a river” in welcoming the Saudi King and his massive 1,500 person entourage.

In the complex chessboard of Russia, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Magen says “Israel is not the main factor in this game, but is one of them.”

“We don’t know what will be the result of this visit, but generally speaking Israel is in a good position,” he says.

During the visit, reports emerged that Saudi Arabia had agreed to a memorandum of understanding on arms purchases. According to Al-Arabiya, this could include the S-400 air defense missile system.

Dr. Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, cautions that it could be a long time before this deal happens.

“It was an important visit symbolically and symbolism means a lot [in the Arab world] and to the Saudis,” he says, agreeing that in Syria both Israel and the Saudis want to reduce Iranian involvement.

To get the Russians to try and limit the Iranian footprint in Syria, he says Saudis “are willing to offer investments to Russia, such as an investment fund, and this is payment for what they are asking Russia to do in Syria.”

“Another thing that interests the Saudis in Syria is Saudi investment in rebuilding Syria and the Saudis could do that in the Sunni areas and strengthen the Sunni population,” says Guzansky.

This might be in exchange for Saudi Arabia ending backing for certain extremist rebel groups.

Saudi Arabia understands that the regime backed by Russia and Iran now have the upper hand.

“Assad will remain president for time being so [Saudi Arabia] tries to mitigate risk and lower the losses,” he says.

Another player in all this is the US. Trump is considering a new Iran policy, possibly abandoning the Iran deal or declaring the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization. The US is trying to shore up Saudi Arabia as an ally, announcing that the kingdom was spending $15 billion on a THAAD missile defense system while the king was in Moscow.

“One needs to remember that the US and Saudis have strong relations and with Russia not replacing US instability in the Gulf, they [Saudi Arabia] are hedging their bets and have some accomplishments in Syria,” says Guzansky.

For Russia, the meeting illustrated the increased role Moscow plays in the Middle East as a power broker.

Saudi Arabia wants stability in the region after six years of chaos in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. To that end, it recognizes the dangers of extremist groups that feed off civil wars. This could lead to trade-offs in Syria as Assad remains in power and Saudi Arabia offers to accept Assad back into the Arab fold in exchange for Iranian influence being rolled back.

That would fit the Saudi goal of reducing Iranian influence in Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq.

Russia benefits by being seen as a wise backer of stability in the region. For Israel, this would be a welcome development as long as Jerusalem can be assured Moscow continues to weigh Israel’s concerns and Jerusalem is not left behind by Saudi overtures to Moscow.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8763

Oct 11

Iran: US bases at risk if sanctions pass

By Julia Manchester – 10/08/17 11:03 AM EDT 492

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is reportedly warning Washington against imposing sanctions on Tehran, saying U.S. military bases in the region would be at risk.

“As we’ve announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday, according to an Iranian state media report cited by Reuters. 

Jafari also addressed the White House’s announcement on Friday that President Trump would respond to Iran’s support for “terrorism,” a reference to the influential Revolutionary Guard security force.

“If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world particularly in the Middle East,” he said.

The comments come as Trump prepares to announce his decision on the multilateral Iran nuclear deal.

The president is approaching an Oct. 15 deadline to certify whether Iran is abiding by the terms of the agreement, which imposes restrictions on its nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump has lashed out at the deal in the past, referring to it as “the worst deal I’ve ever seen.”

Various reports last Thursday said Trump plans to decertify the deal, which would trigger a congressional review over whether to reimpose nuclear sanctions.

Some administration officials, however, have argued in favor of preserving the deal in an effort to neutralize tensions with Tehran.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8761

Oct 09

Now Turkey is Getting Cozy With Iran

Turkey and Iran have been forced into a closer military relationship as a result of last week’s independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.

October 03, 2017

In the wake of last week’s independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iran and Turkey announced they will start coordinating on military activities.

The Washington Times reported:

Iran and Turkey on Monday said they were stepping up military cooperation, including large-scale war games and counterterrorism operations, in the wake of Iraqi Kurdistan’s historic independence referendum vote.

Iranian Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri and Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar announced the plans during a press conference in Tehran. Gen. Akar is also expected to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his visit Monday, which comes days before Turkish President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan travels to Tehrani.

“We held talks on the common threats [Iran and Turkey], and also on the referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region with an emphasis on the maintenance of Iraq’s integrity and rejection of the referendum,” Gen. Baqeri told reporters Monday in Tehran.

Turkey being a NATO member creates a very sticky situation for the U.S. in its efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. Iran still holds rallies in which the government openly calls for “Death to America,” and Turkey is bound by Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to come to the defense of the U.S. should it be attacked.

In this case, however, both Iran and Turkey face their own domestic problems created by the Kurdistan votes. Both have relatively large minority populations of Kurds within their own borders.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8746

Sep 05

Netanyahu: Iran Building Missile Sites in Syria & Lebanon

August 28, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned UN Chief Antonio Guterres that Tehran’s military ambitions in Syria and Lebanon have gone too far.

(JERUSALEM) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran is building sites to produce precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon, with the aim of using them against Israel.

At the start of a meeting in Jerusalem with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Netanyahu accused Iran of turning Syria into a “base of military entrenchment as part of its declared goal to eradicate Israel.”

“It is also building sites to produce precision-guided missiles towards that end, in both Syria and in Lebanon. This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the U.N. should not accept,” Netanyahu said.

Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest backer and has provided militia fighters to help him in Syria’s civil war.

There was no immediate comment from Iran.

Israel has pointed to Tehran’s steadily increasing influence in the region during the six-year-old Syrian conflict, whether via its own Revolutionary Guard forces or Shi’ite Muslim proxies, especially Hezbollah.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu, in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Israel was prepared to act unilaterally to prevent an expanded Iranian military presence in Syria.

Russia, also an Assad ally, is seen as holding the balance of power in achieving a deal on Syria’s future. Israel fears an eventual Assad victory could leave Iran with a permanent garrison in Syria, extending a threat posed from neighboring Lebanon by Hezbollah.

Netanyahu accused Iran of building the production sites two weeks after an Israeli television report showed satellite images it said were of a facility Tehran was constructing in northwest Syria to manufacture long-range rockets.

The Channel 2 News report said the images were of a site near the Mediterranean coastal town of Baniyas and were taken by an Israeli satellite.

In parallel to lobbying Moscow, Israel has been trying to persuade Washington that Iran and its guerrilla partners, not Islamic State, pose the greater common threat in the region.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8695

Aug 28

Netanyahu after Putin meeting: Iran wants the ‘Lebanonization’ of Syria

ByHerb Keinon

August 23, 2017 18:39

“We will not remain passive,” Netanyahu said, adding that he said this in “a clear and detailed manner” to the Russian president.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged from a three-hour discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday saying that Iran seeks the “Lebanonization” of Syria, something Israel cannot tolerate.

Netanyahu, who held a conference call with Israeli reporters after the meeting, said just as Iran took control of Lebanon through its proxy Hezbollah, its aim is to do the same in Syria through tens of thousands of Shi’ite militiamen already in the country.

The prime minister, accompanied by Mossad head Yossi Cohen, the newly appointed head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin who served as his translator, flew to Sochi on the Black Sea for the meeting, returning to Israel shortly after it ended. This is Netanyahu’s fourth trip to Russia in the last 16 months, and his sixth meeting with Putin during this same time frame.

Netanyahu said the majority of his discussions with Putin focused on the situation in Syria. He said the reason he wanted to hold talks now with the Russian leader was because the situation inside Syria has changed very rapidly over the last few weeks.

Similar talks, he said, were held last week in Washington by a high-level security delegation headed by Cohen.

Netanyahu said that Islamic State will soon be defeated in Syria, something he characterized as a welcome development.

However, the problem this creates “is that Iran is going into areas where Islamic State evacuates.”

Netanyahu said Iran is not hiding its intention to create a land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean, and transfer Iranian forces – air, sea and ground – to Syria to supplement the Shi’ite militia already there.

“The intention is to use this against Israel,” he said.

The prime minister said he made it clear to Putin that this development is very grave for Israel, as well as for others in the region.

“We will not remain passive,” he stressed, adding that he said this in “a clear and detailed manner” to the Russian president.

Netanyahu said he has made clear in the past that Jerusalem cannot agree to the establishment in Syria of Iranian airbases, military bases or a naval port on the Mediterranean, which will then be used against Israel.

He did not reveal how Putin responded, beyond saying that in previous meetings with the Russian president “such conversations served the security of Israel and Israeli interests and I also believe Russia’s interests as well. I think I can say the same thing based on today’s conversation.”

Netanyahu presented Putin with Israel’s understanding of the situation based on intelligence, and he said the Russian president also told him “a couple of things that I did not know.” However, he would not elaborate.

Netanyahu added that there is a notion in Russia, as well as elsewhere around the world, that when Israel sets redlines, it stands behind them. Israel wants to prevent a regional war, he said, adding that therefore it is important to warn beforehand “of things that could lead to a deterioration of the situation.”

Jerusalem is intensively lobbying both Moscow and Washington to ensure that once Syria’s civil war ends, all foreign forces will leave the country.

Russia’s Ambassador Alexander Shane said on Channel 1 on Tuesday evening that Russia agrees that “there should be no foreign forces in Syria, including the Iranian army. [But] at this stage, we must support the peace process, the current government and the struggle against terrorism.”

Netanyahu, sitting alongside Putin for a photo opp before the meeting, said: “We do not forget for one minute that Iran continues to threaten Israel’s destruction every day. It is arming terrorist organizations and is itself instigating terrorism; and it is developing intercontinental missiles with the goal of arming them with nuclear warheads.

For all these reasons, Israel continues to oppose Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. We will defend ourselves in any way against this threat and any threat.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8690

Aug 22

Netanyahu To Meet With Putin Amid Concerns Over Iran’s Syria Presence

By Tazpit Press Service August 21, 2017 , 8:30 am

“A knowledgeable man is sparing with his words; A man of understanding is reticent.” Proverbs 17:27 (The Israel Bible™)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on the Black Sea later this week. The meeting will be Netanyahu’s fifth visit to the Russian capital since Moscow intervened in the Syrian civil war two years ago.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the two will discuss the latest developments in the region as part of ongoing regular talks held every few months in order to discuss bilateral and regional issues and in order to prevent friction between the Israeli and Russian air forces in Syria.

The meeting, which has yet to be confirmed by Russian sources, comes amid reports of growing concern in Israel over the Russian-United States brokered ceasefire in southern Syria, and especially over Iran’s growing presence in Syria. Jerusalem is particularly concerned about Iranian attempts to gain a foothold on the Golan Heights border.

When the ceasefire was announced July 7, Israel stated that it was “utterly opposed” to the deal, which it believes allows Iran to gain a foothold in Syria to use as a launchpad for attacks against it.

Following the announcement of the ceasefire,  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “I can guarantee that we have done everything and the US side has done everything to ensure that Israel’s security interests within this framework are fully taken into account.”

Amnon Sella,  Professor Emeritus for Soviet and Russian studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said ahead of the meeting that Israel’s main concern was preventing the “influence of Iran coming closer and closer to Israel’s borders.”

“The closer Iran is coming to Israel’s borders there will be more attempts to send advanced weapons systems to Hezbollah… this of course calls for a great deal of coordination between Israel and Russia so that they do not come to clash,”  Sela said.

Mossad head Yossi Cohen visited Washington last week to meet with US security officials including National Security Adviser H.R McMasters in talks that were believed to have focused on  security matters of concern to Israel in Lebanon and Syria.

Prior to leaving for Washington, Cohen issued a warning in a briefing to government ministers that Iran is filling the vacuum left as ISIS’s hold on territory in Syria and Iraq wanes.

Netanyahu followed up on Cohen’s briefing by warning that Israel would not allow Iran to fill the vacuum on its borders.

“Today we received a review from the head of the Mossad about the security challenges we face. I will summarize it on one sentence – ISIS out, Iran in. We are talking mainly about Syria,” Netanyahu said.

“Our policy is clear,” he added. “We strongly oppose the military buildup of Iran and its proxies, first and foremost Hezbollah in Syria, and we will do everything necessary to maintain Israel’s security.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8680

Aug 21

Turkey Moves to Closer Relationship with Iran

August 17, 2017

Turkey and Iran have agreed to boost military cooperation after talks in Ankara this week between the Iranian armed forces chief of staff and Turkish leaders, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Thursday.

Iran’s military chief General Mohammad Baqeri met Erdogan on Wednesday on a visit that Turkish media said was the first to Turkey by an Iranian military chief of staff since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin described the visit as “fruitful and successful”, adding that talks focused on counter-terrorism, the battle with Islamic State, and a joint effort by Iran, Turkey and Russia to stem the fighting in parts of Syria:

“An agreement was reached to hold further high-level visits from now on. A series of activities will also be held to boost military cooperation.”

Baqeri’s trip to Ankara came days ahead of a planned visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been strained by Washington’s support for Kurdish YPG fighters leading the assault on Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Turkey says the YPG is indistinguishable from the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey for more than 30 years. Washington sees it as a vital ally in the fight to defeat Islamic State.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Baqeri as saying he had agreed with Turkey to hold joint training courses, and increase counter-terrorism intelligence sharing.

He said Erdogan would visit Iran in the near future.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8677

Aug 18

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup

Iran boosts war spending by $500 million after U.S. issues sanctions

BY: Adam Kredo
August 14, 2017 2:45 pm

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.

The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.

Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.

With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.

Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran’s contested missile programs by around $260 million.

The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean.

“No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its Western waters,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying over the weekend.

“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.

U.S. military officials reported Monday yet another “unsafe” encounter with an Iranian drone that was shadowing a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf region and reportedly came close enough to an American F-18 jet to risk the pilot’s life.

As with other similar encounters during the past months, the Iranian craft did not respond to repeated radio calls by the United States. While the drone is said to have been unarmed, it is capable of carrying missiles.

Iranian leaders have been adamant that the country will not halt its work on ballistic missile technology, which could be used to carry nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued several new packages of sanctions as a result of this behavior, but U.N. members have yet to address the issue, despite recent reporting that found Iran is violating international accords barring such behavior.

“Little-noticed biannual reporting by the UN Secretary General alleges that Iran is repeatedly violating these non-nuclear provisions,” Iran Watch, a nuclear watchdog group, reported on Monday.

“Thus far, the United States has responded to such violations with sanctions and designations of Iranian and foreign entities supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile development,” the organization found. “However, the U.N. and its member states have not responded. More must be done to investigate allegations of noncompliance and to punish violations of the resolution.”

Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), a proponent of a more forceful policy on Iranian intransigence in the region, told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration must make it a priority to address Tehran’s increasingly bold military activity.

“Iran was emboldened to flex its military muscle after eight years of President Obama’s passivity and his delivery of cold, hard cash to the regime, but they should make no mistake: President Trump was elected to put a stop to rogue regimes pushing America around, and the American people know he will address the world’s lead sponsor of terrorism with resolve,” Duffy told the Free Beacon.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.

“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”

“What [former President Barack] Obama and [former Secretary of State John] Kerry essentially did was gamble that if they funded a mad scientist’s lab, the scientist would rather make unicorns rather than nukes,” Rubin said. “News flash for the echo chamber: Iranian reformist are just hardliners who smile more. Neither their basic philosophy nor their commitment to terrorism have changed.”

Update 6:52 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from Rep. Duffy.

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