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April 30, 2016 / 22 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Hezbollah Chief Nasrallah Rules Out War With Israel, For Now

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Hezbollah terrorist chief Hassan Nasrallah ruled out a war with Israel, at least imminently, in an interview Monday on al-Mayadeen television.

“I rule out an Israeli attack or war against Lebanon in the near future,” he said.

“Through its readiness, expertise, military skills and stance, the resistance has made the Israelis realize that any war on Lebanon will be very costly,” he warned. Hezbollah possesses a “full list of targets in occupied Palestine, including nuclear reactors and biological research centers.

“Some think that Hezbollah is preoccupied in Syria, but we have a team that is dedicated to the Israeli issue and everything the Israelis say,” he said.

“If anyone in the enemy’s entity is thinking of waging a limited military operation, I tell them that they are mistaken … We will not allow the Israelis to impose a new equation and any step by them will be an uncalculated adventure. We will respond to any attack in a manner that protects our country and the Israelis must expect anything from us,” Nasrallah warned.

However, he added, Israel “weighs its interest and seeks U.S. approval” for any military venture it might consider.

Nasrallah added that Hezbollah would not withdraw from Syria in the near future. “Our presence there is linked to a goal. We are contributing to preventing the fall of Syria into the hands of Da’esh (ISIS), al-Nusra (Al Qaeda) and the takfiri groups,” he said.

The Hezbollah chief also denied claims the group armed, trained or formed any terrorist cells in Bahrain. “All accusations against Hezbollah are baseless and if the Arab League’s decision was based on this issue then it is invalid,” he said. “I call on the Arab foreign and interior ministers to reevaluate these accusations.”

Hana Levi Julian

Prime Paris Attack Mastermind Abdeslam Salah is Caught

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

Prime ISIS Paris terror mastermind Salah Abdeslam, arrested in Brussels last Friday, was charged on Saturday with terrorism offenses in connection with the attacks on November 13.

Abdelslam has been connected with the attack as a key member of the ISIS terror organization that attacked the French capital in a multi-site operation whose ripple effect still reaches out.

Abdeslam told police during questioning he was supposed to blow himself up – as did others – at the Stade de France.

But at the last minute, he told interrogators he had second thoughts and backed out.

The French national, born to Moroccan parents in Belgium, once ran a bar with his brother Brahim in Molenbeek, who also helped in the attacks. But it was Abdeslam who rented the cars involved in the attacks and booked the hotel rooms used by the operatives.

French prosecutor Francois Molins said at a news conference in Paris on Saturday the would-be bomber’s claims raise further questions about the scope of the operation.

Suicide bombers blew themselves near the national stadium, operatives opened fire on bars and restaurants, and terrorists were firing Kalashnikov assault rifles into a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall that night.

He was shot and injured in a raid by anti-terrorism police in the Molenbeek area of Brussels last year, where he grew up. But Abdeslam still managed to stay hidden, according to the British Guardian newspaper.

Three suspects were arrested altogether, but Abdeslam would be extradited to France. The probe is wide and ongoing because the network is “very large in Belgium, France and other European countries,” French President Francois Hollande told reporters on Friday.

“We know there are links which always lead us to Syria, where the Da’esh (ISIS) extremists planned these attacks.”

Hana Levi Julian

Ya’alon’s Assessment of Obama’s Middle East Policies: Not Good

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

It seems a very long time ago that President Obama dismissed ISIS as a gaggle of “junior varsity” terrorists who couldn’t present a serious threat anywhere. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the middle schooler at the table when the wars of the world are being fought is none other than President Obama himself. Obama’s lack of comprehension came in for some serious, if indirect, criticism earlier this week by Israel’s Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya’alon.

Yaalon was speaking Monday afternoon at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. about the surprise announcement earlier that day by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia was withdrawing the bulk of its military commitment from Syria because it has now “largely” accomplished its objectives.

Putin was careful to say that Russia would not be leaving completely, but would leave a significant force behind. Presumably Putin has learned a lesson from the complete abandonment of Iraq by the U.S. That abandonment resulted in the loss of virtually everything the US gained by conquering that country under Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush.

Speaking as he was in the U.S. President’s back yard, Yaalon had little to say about the US abandonment of Iraq. But he had a lot to say about Syria – a country that borders Israel and with which Israel is still nominally at war. A Syria controlled by Islamists is a serious threat to the safety of the Jewish state. And he had some equally blunt warnings about Iran.

Vladimir Putin entered Syria with both feet back in September of 2015, over President Obama’s objection. No-one has been able to identify any negative consequences experienced by Russia, or its leader, from thus ignoring the red line painted in the sand by President Obama. Ditto for consequences to Syria’s Assad, who has been left completely unscathed even though he crossed another, very bold, red line drawn by President Obama.

Many will recall that, back in 2013, Obama explicitly and categorically demanded that Syria give up its chemical weapons or face the wrath of the U.S. Assad refused to comply. The silence from President Obama was deafening.

The Russians promised to take control over all chemical weapons. But Assad was accused of continuing to use such weapons only two days ago by the Syrian-American Medical Society, which recently issued a report on the subject, discussing the wide variety of chemical weapons and delivery systems used by Assad and by all of the numerous other, non-state fighters supporting and opposing him over the last five years.

As much as Israel might prefer stability in its neighbors, Yaalon said categorically that there would be no stability any time soon on the territory of what was, until 2011, the sovereign and undivided nation of Syria.

THERE IS NO WAY TO PUT HUMPTY-SYRIA TOGETHER AGAIN

Rather, as first reported yesterday by The Washington Times, Ya’alon opined that the nation of Syria no longer exists and won’t be coming back: “there is no way to unify Syria,” Yaalon explained. Putin claimed that Russia is leaving because his ally Bashar Assad again sits safely in power. But Ya’alon made clear that that was, at best, a fantasy. The country has been divided up into numerous enclaves each run by a different tribe, religion or warlord.

And at this point, after five years of intense, urban combat that has killed over a quarter of a million people and created many hundreds of thousands of refugees, “there is no way to unify” the country. The best that Assad and the Russians can hope for, Ya’alon explained, is an Alawistan, a Druzistan and other semi-autonomous areas that might, to a greater or lesser extent, leave each other alone.

Notwithstanding recent fitful efforts by Israel and Turkey to get along better, Ya’alon also predicted, or perhaps even called for, an autonomous region for Kurds — even though such a development would be anathema to the leaders of Turkey, who have fought the Kurds for decades to prevent them from attaining independence and escaping the Turkish boot.

IRAN AS A PRIMARY DESTABILIZING FORCE

Ya’alon also explained that the U.S.-driven Nuclear Iran deal has further destabilized the Middle East and created a threat not only to Israel but also to the Sunni-dominated countries in the region. Iran is over 80% Shia and has been run by Shia mullah-dictators since the Shah’s overthrow in 1979. Obama’s gift to the mullahs of $150 billion in cash is now being spent on terror, and ballistic missile construction and testing. No country in the Middle East except Iran and its proxy states can actually be happy about those developments.

Ya’alon explained that Iran and its clients are now “exploiting the [U.S. Iran] deal now to gain hegemony.” He continued: “for sure they are hegemonic in Tehran. In a way they are hegemonic in Baghdad through the Shiite government [there]. They are hegemonic in Beirut regarding Hezbollah, and now they are going to be hegemonic in Damascus.”

Ya’alon reminded his listeners that Iran has been supporting Houthi rebels in power in of Sa’ana, the capital of Yemen, and he explained the danger of Washington’s willingness to allow Iran to participate as an important negotiator in the talks over Syria.

“To leave us with an Iranian-dominated Syria — we can’t agree with it,” he said.

The hardheaded leaders of Israel and Russia, Ya’alon made clear, are facing the realities on the ground in light of the force structures, and tribal loyalties, that are actually motivating the actors there.

Ya’alon’s discussion of those realities was pessimistic. But it was based on facts and reflected the clear sight and deep knowledge of the neighborhood that Israel’s leaders absolutely must display. It was in stark contrast with President Obama’s opinions, ladled out to Jeffrey Goldberg and printed without much challenge in the Atlantic a few days before. There President Obama explained that his Middle East policies would work well “if only everyone could be like the Scandinavians.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

U.S. VP Joe Biden On His Way to Middle East

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left Washington Saturday night for a five day trip to the Middle East.

Biden’s itinerary includes stops in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

He is set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in Ramallah, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman.

A senior White House official told reporters Friday that no major breakthroughs are expected in the Israel-Palestinian Authority conflict on this trip, however.

Nor will Biden make any major recommendations on the issue, according to the official. Instead, he is expected to focus on increasing cooperation between the U.S. and allies on the fight against Da’esh (ISIS), and the Syrian crisis.

Hana Levi Julian

Turkey, Iran Talk Unity on Syria as Kremlin Punishes Tehran

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Saturday in Tehran with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the final day of a two-day official visit to the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani said cooperation between Iran and Turkey will play a positive role in the settlement of regional issues, according to Iran’s official Press TV.

“Iran and Turkey have common objectives and interests and must strengthen the foundations for peace and stability in the region through [improving] bilateral cooperation and focusing on the fight against terrorism as a common enemy,” Rouhani said.

“We believe that regional problems should be settled by regional countries and nations and Iran-Turkey cooperation will undoubtedly play a constructive role in establishing sustainable peace in the region,” the Iranian president pointed out.

The Iranian president said Tehran and Ankara enjoy great potential to expand ties in different sectors including transportation, energy, trade, joint investment, tourism, science and technology and expressed the country’s readiness to bolster cooperation with Turkey.

Davutoglu arrived in Tehran at the head of a high-ranking political and economic delegation on Friday hoping to expand the trade between the two nations to $30 billion – triple the current amount.

He told Rouhani that Ankara is determined to open a “new chapter” in relations with Tehran, according to Press TV.

The Turkish prime minister also “expressed Turkey’s readiness to cooperation with the Islamic Republic in the campaign against terrorism,” the state news agency reported.

Since Iran is a generous sponsor of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization as well as the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza and their Palestinian Islamic Jihad allies, the statement raises questions.

The international headquarters of Hamas are still located in Istanbul, as they have been for about a year or more. Nevertheless, Turkish officials did deport a top Hamas official who masterminded the abduction and murder of three Israeli yeshiva teens in 2014 — the attack that launched Operation Protective Edge that summer.

Over the past several weeks, Turkish officials have been deeply involved in talks with Israeli representatives to resolve differences and repair the broken ties between the two nations. At last report, two of the three demands of the Turkish government had been met by Israel, and the third was allegedly well on the way towards resolution, according to an announcement by Turkish government officials.

That was a week prior to Davutoglu’s meeting with Rouhani. How is Israel to interpret this latest move?

“It is extremely important for Turkey and Iran to develop some common perspectives in order to end our region’s fight among brothers, to stop the ethnic and sectarian conflicts,” the Turkish prime minister told reporters in Tehran.

Although the two nations are backing different sides in the Syrian civil war, it seems they may have developed a common antipathy for Russia.

The Kremlin has been adamant that Iran withdraw its forces from Syria – including its proxy, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist fighters – who are backing President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has reportedly told Iran their interests are different in Syria.

A highly-placed source told Kuwait’s daily Al-Jarida newspaper that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is retracting the sale of the S-300 anti-missile system. The moves comes as punishment to Iran for violating its pledge not to hand over any of its sophisticated weaponry to terrorist groups.

Israel brought Moscow clear evidence that Iran gave Hezbollah SA-22 surface-to-air missiles. The intelligence was confirmed by reports by Russian fighter pilots who flew sorties over Syria and Lebanon and whose radar could detect SA-22 systems in areas under Hezbollah control.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia Resumes Bombing in Syria, Ceasefire is Shaky

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The cease-fire in Syria that is just two days old may already be gradually grinding to a halt.

Russia has resumed its bombing operations and the regime has launched a new offensive against Homs. Other breaches have been reported as well.

Contrary to the general international perception, the arrangements worked out with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and “moderate” opposition leaders by the United States and Russia do not apply to the entire geographic area of the country.

Thus Russian warplanes were in the skies across Syria on Monday, particularly in northern Aleppo, an area not included in the cease-fire.

“Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reportedly continue to advance south of Shaddadi and toward the ISIS-held town of Markadah,” reported the Levantine Group think tank. The opposition forces were reported to be “clearing ISIS villages along both of the banks of the Khabour river,” the military analysis think tank reported.

Several breaches to the current cease-fire were reported and levels of violence correspondingly have increased.

Local sources reported on Twitter that Russian planes bombed six Syrian towns around Aleppo, and areas north of Homs. Thousands of Syrian refugees were reported to be stranded at the Turkish border after fleeing the northern commercial hub.

However, other news services such as Al Arabiya continued to report the truce “seems to be largely holding, though rebels report what they describe as occasional government violations.”

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Drones Allegedly Seen in Syrian Skies

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Residents of Latakia have reported seeing Israeli drones flying in the skies overhead, according to local sources quoted in social media.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed Monday that his own forces were using the drones to carry out reconnaissance on opposition forces.

Photos of rebel positions were posted to Syrian social media sites. Some of the commentators on the sites have been theorizing that Israel sold the drones to Russia, who then gifted them to Assad.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-drones-allegedly-seen-in-syrian-skies/2016/02/29/

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