“Bahrain Rulers Must Take Lesson from Fates of Saddam, Shah, Other Tyrants”

November 29, 2017

Ayatollah Araki

Secretary General of World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (WFPIST) Ayatollah Sheikh Mohsen Araki held Bahraini rulers responsible for deterioration in health of prominent cleric, Sheikh Issa Al-Qassem.

“News on deterioration in health of Ayatollah Qassem has worried Muslim nation as well as its leaders,” Ayatollah Araki said Wednesday in a statement.

Ayatollah Araki called for immediate lift of siege imposed by Bahrain regime forces on Ayatollah Qassem’s house in Diraz.

“We hold the government of Bahrain responsibility of any harm inflicted on his eminence (Ayatollah Qassem),” said the Iranian cleric, who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts in the Islamic Republic.

“We advise the Bahraini government to meet the demands of its oppressed people and to quit its arbitrary policy aimed against leaders of this firm people.”

Ayatollah Araki concluded his statement as saying: “We remind the Bahraini government that it must take lessons from what happened to tyrants of our era like Saddam Hussein, (Iran’s) Shah and others.”

SourceIranian media

“Ayatollah Qassem in Critical Condition, Stop Collective Punishment against Diraz”

November 30, 2017

Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, Head of Religious Freedom unit at Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Prominent Bahraini human rights defender, Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman called on Bahraini authorities to lift siege imposed on the house of Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Al-Qassem, stressing that every moment of delay in treating the prominent Shia cleric is dangerous to his health.

In a press conference held in Beirut, Sheikh Salman, who heads the Religious Freedom unit at Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said that people of Diraz have been for months subjected to collective punishment represented by siege imposed on the whole town by Bahraini regime forces.

As he called for lifting the siege on the town of Diraz and on Ayatollah Qassem’s house, Sheikh Salman said the top cleric is in critical condition after being denied a safe healthcare.

He was referring to medical treatment by sides whom the family of Ayatollah Qassem trusts.

Sheikh Salman meanwhile, accused Bahraini authorities of carrying out a deliberate and slow killing of Ayatollah Qassem.

The Bahraini cleric stressed meanwhile, on the influential role played by Ayatollah Qassem in the country’s modern history.

“Ayatollah Qassem is one of the founders of Bahrain’s first constitution,” Sheikh Salman said, noting that the prominent cleric “doesn’t only condemn violence, but rather prohibits it,” referring to pro-democracy protesters’ demands deemed by the regime in Manama as “violent”.

Bahrain has been witnessing since February 2011 peaceful protests demanding a just system representing all Bahrainis be established. The protests have been met by brutal crackdown by Al Khalifa that saw prominent opposition leaders and human rights activists prisoned, deported or held under house arrest.

Source: Al-Manar




South Front

The world today, is on the brink of seeing a new conflict over Lebanon. While the chances for escalation are high, the essential pre-conditions for a new, large-scale war in the region, are still in the works.

On November 22, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri temporarily suspended his resignation following an alleged request by the country’s president Michel Aoun to reconsider the decision.

Hariri originally announced his resignation in a televised speech from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on November 4. Hariri’s resignation sparked a new round of tensions between Saudi Arabia on one end and Lebanon with Hezbollah on the other.

Saudi Arabia accused Lebanon of “declaring war” on Riyadh by allowing Hezbollah “aggression” against the kingdom. Meanwhile, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Tehran of delivering missiles to Yemen’s Houthi forces for use against the kingdom, an act he described as “direct military aggression”.

On November 19, an emergency meeting was held between Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, calling for a united front, to counter Iran and Hezbollah. In a declaration, issued after the meeting, the Arab League accused Hezbollah of “supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries, with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.” In turn, the Lebanese authorities and Hezbollah said that Hariri was held captive in Saudi Arabia because he had not returned to Lebanon as he promised. On November 22, Hariri arrived at the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and suspended his resignation. This marked a new phase of the political standoff between the sides.

Hariri is a compromise figure in the Lebanese politics.

His appointment as the Lebanese prime minister was de-facto supported by Saudi Arabia, the United States and some influential groups in Lebanon. This move was aimed to serve the “interethnic dialogue” in Lebanon.

However, the recent developments in the Middle East, including the nearing end of the conflict in Syria and the growing influence and military capabilities of Hezbollah, have changed the political situation in Lebanon. Hezbollah units de-facto fulfil functions of the presidential guard. Lebanese special services and the special services of Hezbollah are deeply integrated. Hezbollah’s victories in Syria and humanitarian activities in Lebanon increased the movement’s popularity among people.

All these have taken place amid the developing crisis in Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a large-scale purge among the top officials, influential businesspersons and princes under the pretext of combating corruption. According to the experts, the move is aimed at consolidating the power of the crown prince and his father, King Salman. In general, the kingdom is seeking to shift its vector of development and to become a more secular state. In 5-10 years, it can even abandon Wahhabism as the official ideology. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is involved in an unsuccessful conflict in Yemen and a diplomatic crisis with Qatar. This situation fuels tensions and a competition for resources among the Saudi clans. As a result, the Saudi regime and the Saudi state in general, are now, in a weak position.

Let’s look at the interests of all parties.

On the one hand, the appearance of a new active foreign enemy could consolidate the Saudi population and its elites. The war with Hezbollah would allow the Kingdom to gain additional preferences from the United States. Furthermore, with Israel entering the conflict, the kingdom would significantly reduce the risks of losses in the direct military confrontation with Lebanon and Hezbollah.

On the other hand, Riyadh has a wide range of foreign and internal problems. Considering the current weakness of Riyadh, any push may lead to a fall of the colossus with feet of clay.

In the case of the conflict in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia will be involved in a military and diplomatic standoff on 3 fronts:

  • North – Hezbollah and Iran;
  • South – Yemen; and
  • East – Qatar.

The conflict will also force a dramatic growth of oil prices. According to various experts, $150 per barrel can be expected by the end of the first month of the conflict, if it is to occur. Some may suppose that this scenario is beneficial for Saudi Arabia or clans that control Saudi Aramco, the largest oil exporter around the world. However, the expected guerrilla war, which will likely erupt in the Shia-populated, oil-rich part of the country, will level out the pros of this scenario. Additionally, there is always a chance, that the main combat actions will be moved to the Saudi territory.

Israel and the West, in general, are not interested in high oil prices. In turn, Russia and Iran, who will not be involved in the initial stages of the conflict, will receive an increase in revenue from this scenario. The problem is that Tehran and Moscow are not interested in this “big new war” as well. Such a conflict in the Middle East will pose a direct threat to their national security

Israel’s attitude is another issue. Tel Aviv believes that the growing influence of Hezbollah and Iran in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Lebanon, is a critical challenge to its national security. The key issue is that Israeli military analysts understand that Hezbollah is now much more powerful than it was in 2006. Now, Hezbollah is a strong, experienced, military organization, tens of thousands troops strong, which has the needed forces and facilities to oppose a possible Israeli ground invasion in Lebanon.

Iran has also strengthened its positions in the region over the last ten years. It has reinforced its air defense with the Russian-made S-300 systems, strengthened its armed forces and got combat experience in Syria and other local conflicts. Tehran also strengthened its ideological positions among the Shia and even Sunni population which lives in the region.

Thus, Israel will decide to participate in a large-scale conflict in Lebanon only in the case of some extraordinary event. It is possible to assume that in the coming months, a large-scale war in Lebanon will not be initiated. Nonetheless, Israel will continue local acts of aggression conducting artillery and air strike on positions and infrastructure of Hezbollah in Syria and maybe in Lebanon. Israeli special forces will conduct operations aimed at eliminating top Hezbollah members and destroying the movement’s infrastructure in Lebanon and Syria. Saudi Arabia will likely support these Israeli actions. It is widely known that Riyadh would rather use a proxy and engage in clandestine warfare.  This means that a peaceful life in the region will not come anytime soon.

In turn, Hezbollah still needs about 1.5 years to further strengthen its positions in Syria and to free additional forces, which could be used in other hot points. The movement will likely put an end to the separation of power in Lebanon. This would mean that Hezbollah and Lebanon would become synonyms. Hezbollah also needs time to expand its network in the Shia-populated part of Saudi Arabia. Additionally, as Hezbollah’s involvement in the Yemeni conflict deepens, the balance of power in the region may begin to shift, creating further setbacks of the Saudi-led coalition.

According to some estimates, Hezbollah will be ready for a new round of the “big game” in the Middle East in the spring of 2019.

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israel’s ethnic cleansing/genocide, one and the same


Recently declassified cabinet meeting transcripts show that top Israeli officials discussed ethnic cleansing tactics to deal with Six-Day War fallout.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Declassified Israeli Transcripts Discuss Ethnic Cleansing

eclassified cabinet meeting minutes show that top Israeli cabinet officials contemplated an ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip and Galilee, rewriting history textbooks in favor of a pro-Zionist version of history, and censoring political speech in newspapers to deal with the fallout of the Six-Day War in 1967.

The material posted to the Israeli archives website shows hundreds of pages of previously classified cabinet meeting minutes, including those between August and December of 1967, which followed closely after the Six-Day War in June. From this archive, Israeli officials demonstrated a lack of direction following the war in which the Israeli military conquered and illegally occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.

Officials initially contemplated the difficulties of administering the illegally occupied lands.

“At some point we will have to decide. There are 600,000 Arabs in these territories now. What will be the status of these 600,000 Arabs?” Prime Minister Levi Eshkol asked.

“I suggest that we don’t come to a vote or a decision today; there’s time to deal with this joy, or better put, there’s time to deal with this trouble,” he said. “But for the record I’m prepared to say this: There’s no reason for the government to determine its position on the future of the West Bank right now. We’ve been through three wars in 20 years; we can go another 20 years without a decision.”

Later documents show that Eshkol felt the pressure of ethnic diversity in the occupied lands which were under the illegal administration of the ethnocentric occupying forces.

“The strip of this country is like a miserable, threatening neck for us, literally stretched out for slaughter,” he said. “I cannot imagine it — how we will organize life in this country when we have 1.4 million Arabs and we are 2.4 million, with 400,000 Arabs already in the country?”

Eshkol and his cabinet later floated a covert ethnic cleansing policy by “working on the establishment of a unit or office that will engage in encouraging Arab emigration.” The prime minister added, “We should deal with this issue quietly, calmly and covertly, and we should work on finding a way from them to emigrate to other countries and not just over the Jordan [River].”

Eventually the cabinet discussed more extreme plans.

“Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” Eshkol said in one meeting. The prime minister also discussed the idea of initiating a war of aggression against Palestinians to force them to leave their ancestral lands.

“Perhaps we can expect another war and then this problem will be solved. But that’s a type of ‘luxury,’ an unexpected solution.”

Realizing the optics of the illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing, Education Minister Zalman Aranne remarked:

“I do not for one minute accept the idea that the world outside will look at the fact that we’re taking everything for ourselves and will say, ‘Bon Appetit,’” he said. “After all in another year or half a year the world will wake up; there’s a world out there and it will ask questions.”

After 50 years, Israel has instituted a “apartheid regime” in Palestine, according to a landmark United Nations report that has since been retracted following political backlash.

Rima Khalaf, the former UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary, affirmed the report’s findings by saying that the report “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.



FAILED: Foreign Policy as We Know It

FAILED: Foreign Policy as We Know It

The Stop the War Coalition has just published a short summary of what’s wrong with foreign policy, going through a partial list of current wars one by one. Of course this is a British organization with a British perspective, but it’s the closest thing to what a well-funded U.S. anti-war organization might produce, and it ought to be considered by people everywhere, as it impacts us all.

I confess that I have throughout the terror-producing “war on terror” envied and identified with the British peace movement. Here’s a country with a capital of nearly 13 times the population of Washington D.C., big rally and march locations, the rest of the country no farther away than an American will drive for a really good concert, and (not coincidentally, I think) peace as part of the political conversation. Plus, of course, Parliament’s opposition to bombing Syria in 2013 was a huge help in delaying U.S. bombing.

When I see people here in the United States cheerfully campaigning for presidential or Congressional candidates as if they actually like them and share a world view with them, I of course feel left out. I want to disarm and transition away from militarism to peaceful sustainable societies. I want to denounce the wars and the weapons dealing as harmful and endangering and environmentally destructive, rather than defensive or necessary or heroic. I don’t share these views with anyone on CNN or MSNBC.

But when people accuse me of somehow choosing to be a radical as if it were a personality trait rather than a result of how far public policy is from what I consider reasonable or decent, I can prove them all wrong by simply pointing across the pond. Let Jeremy Corbyn run for office in Virginia and I’ll run around knocking on doors and littering yards with signs as much as the next guy — more, I bet.

And while I know we don’t have this kind of time to work with, I think I secretly fantasize, somewhere in the back of my tragedy-saturated skull, that as Britain pushed the world toward ending slavery it could, over the coming century, push the world toward ending war.

Stop the War’s analysis of foreign policy failure points out, in general and case-by-case, how “fighting terrorism” by bombing and invading has had exactly the opposite effect. In various countries where Britain has joined with the United States in wars, just about every type of war has been tried, often more than once, and Trump is in most cases simply escalating the least successful approaches.

In Afghanistan, Chris Nineham predicts that the U.S.-backed government will soon control just Kabul. I predict it will have a hard time even with that, as the population explodes with people fleeing the countryside, as the water is depleted, as the trash and sewage pile up, and as those who can recall anything resembling peace die off.

In Yemen, Daniel Jakopovich makes the same demands of the British government that we make of the U.S., namely stop selling Saudi Arabia weapons, stop participating in the war, and advocate for peace.

In Iraq, Shabbir Lakha recounts the counterproductive creation of groups like ISIS now being compounded by repeating the same murderous approaches to saving places by destroying them. I do wish Lakha hadn’t written that alternatives to war had not been exhausted when the U.S.-and-friends attacked in 2003, because it implies that in some theoretical case such alternatives could be exhausted.

In Syria, the Stop the War authors thread the needle of endless disagreements about this sad and ruined land by opposing overthrow without supporting the Syrian government. Stop the bombing, they say, aid the refugees, cut off support for Saudi Arabia’s crimes, and support a peace process without preconditions. Yes, exactly right. But quite disappointing that Stop the War Coalition calls Russian war making legal, even while opposing it. Legal because invited by the Syrian government? But who gave the Syrian government the right to commit the crime of war? Who gets to declare what’s a real nation and what is not, so that wars fought against non-real nations don’t count as real wars?

Stop the War claims Britain is now the second leading weapons dealer on earth, and that NATO members spend 70% of world spending on militarism, not counting NATO allies like Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. This, too, is a very useful perspective for us to take up in the United States and everywhere. It’s not just that the U.S. dwarfs all other militaries in its pursuit of global domination. It’s also that over three-quarters of militarism on earth is all on one team in desperate search of worthy opponents and customers, which it will manufacture if necessary.

A new low point for the USA’s crazy president #Trump

Trump’s Retweets Draw Fire for Hateful Portrayal of Muslims

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump retweeted inflammatory videos from a fringe British political group Wednesday that purported to show violence being committed by Muslims, drawing quick condemnation from civil rights groups as well as a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Trump retweeted videos from Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right British group whose profile was elevated by Trump’s attention.

May spokesman James Slack said Britain First seeks to divide communities through its use of “hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.” He said “it is wrong for the president to have done this.”

But May’s office said an invitation for Trump to pay a state visit to Britain was not being withdrawn, amid calls from opposition politicians for the visit to be canceled.

The group’s tweets read: “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”

Trump did not offer any explanation for why he retweeted the videos. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders later defended his early-morning posts, saying he wants to “promote strong borders and strong national security.”

Asked if the president had a responsibility to verify the content, Sanders said: “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about.”

Sanders said that May and other world leaders “know that these are real threats.”

Britain First is a group that opposes multiculturalism and what it calls the “Islamization” of Britain. It has run candidates in local and national elections, with little success, and has campaigned against the construction and expansion of mosques. Fransen picked up nearly 10,000 Twitter followers in the hours following Trump’s retweets.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations strongly condemned Trump’s tweets. Nihad Awad, the group’s executive director, said in a statement that Trump is “clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims.”

Awad addressed Trump in his own tweet, saying the council has recorded 3,296 anti-Muslim incidents this year and yet “we haven’t heard a peep from you. Some president.”

Arab American Institute Executive Director Maya Berry said in a statement that Trump’s “words and beliefs normalize and lend credence to hate, putting Americans at risk of violence on a daily basis.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, in a tweet, said, “Trump’s prejudice against Muslims reveals itself at every turn_with today’s tweets meant to gin up fear and bias, with statements like ‘Islam hates us,’ and with every version of the Muslim ban.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke welcomed the videos, tweeting: “Trump retweets video of crippled white kid in Europe being beaten by migrants, and white people being thrown off a roof and then beaten to death, He’s condemned for showing us what the fake news media WON’T. Thank God for Trump! That’s why we love him!”

One video from 2013 showed a radical Islamist in Egypt throwing a 9-year-old boy off a roof. The video was filmed in Egypt days after the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by Egypt’s military. The perpetrators of the roof violence were later sentenced to death for killing the boy and another man.

Another shows a man — said to be a supporter of Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate then known as the Nusra Front — smashing a blue and white statue of the Virgin Mary. The video appeared on the internet in October 2013, in the midst of a civil war in Syria, and was reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI.

The third video shows two young men fighting near a river bank. It was originally posted to a Dutch viral video site in May 2017 and picked up by Dutch media the following day. Two 16-year-old boys were arrested, according to De Telegraaf, and police removed the video. The boys’ religion was not included in any of the reports.

Trump’s tweets came two days after he mocked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” during an Oval Office event with Native American veterans, drawing criticism from of Native American war veterans and politicians of both major parties.

It’s not the first time Trump has retweeted inflammatory content or posts from controversial Twitter accounts. He has shared messages from accounts that appeared to have ties to white nationalist groups. He has retweeted a conservative Trump supporter who used social media to draw attention to “pizzagate,” an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims Democrats harbored child sex slaves at a pizza restaurant. He has also retweeted doctored videos, including one that appeared to show him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump offered anti-Muslim commentary, saying he would “strongly consider” closing mosques and insisting that “Islam hates us.” As president he has sought to ban travel from majority-Muslim countries. He said earlier this year that “we have to stop radical Islamic terrorism.”


Fransen has been charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment through leaflets and videos that were distributed during a criminal trial earlier this year. She has separately been charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior” in a speech she made in Northern Ireland in August. She is currently free on bail.

She was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment and fined after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.

Trump’s retweets were condemned by Brendan Cox, whose British lawmaker wife Jo Cox was murdered last year by an attacker with far-right views.

Cox tweeted: “Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.”

Trump’s tweets were also condemned by TV host Piers Morgan, who tweeted: “Good morning, Mr President @realDonaldTrump – what the hell are you doing retweeting a bunch of unverified videos by Britain First, a bunch of disgustingly racist far-right extremists? Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets.”

Israeli Defense Minister Contradicts Netanyahu: “There Is No Iranian Military Force On Syrian Land”

Israeli Defense Minister Contradicts Netanyahu: “There Is No Iranian Military Force On Syrian Land”
The Israeli-Saudi narrative of “blame Iran first” is crumbling fast

As we’ve long pointed out, anytime that Israel carries out acts of aggression against Syria, it can just blame Iran or Hezbollah and escape international criticism or condemnation. International media and Western governments have already demonstrated a penchant for towing the Israeli line whenever Iran can be conceivably blamed as a culprit – evidence or no evidence – this as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it official Israeli policy to oppose Iranian presence in Syria.

But on Tuesday Israel’s own Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman flatly contradicted the prime minister’s jingoistic alarmism by saying that there are no Iranian military forces in Syria, but instead merely stuck to acknowledging “experts and advisers”. In comments to Israel’s Ynet news, Lieberman admitted, “We must preserve our security interests. It is true that there are a number of Iranian experts and advisers, but there is no Iranian military force on Syrian land.”

The comments came on the same day that the IDF Spokesperson made provocative and controversial statements, announcing that in the next Israel-Hezbollah War, “Nasrallah is a target” for assassination and that Israel is currently conducting psychological and media warfare against Hezbollah.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. Image source: The Jerusalem Post

But Defense Minister Lieberman’s statement flies in the face of claims made by Netanyahu in his speech before the UN General Assembly this year when he said, “We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria… And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border.”

According to a BBC report dubiously sourced to “a Western intelligence source” from earlier this month, Syria stands accused of hosting a sizable Iranian military base south of Damascus, a story which Israel utilized to ratchet up rhetoric in preparing its case before the international community for further attacks on supposed Iranian targets inside Syria. Israel has long justified its attacks inside Syria by claiming to be acting against Hezbollah and Iranian targets.

But Lieberman’s surprising comments represent a significant potential backing away from what appeared to be Israel’s long running official stance on the issue. According to Tel Aviv based Haaretz newspaper, Lieberman responded as follows when presented with the contradiction:

Netanyahu has said Iran is working to build military bases in Syria, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its leader there, Qassem Soleimani, have been photographed in the war-torn country neighboring Israel to the north. When asked about this discrepancy, Lieberman said that “all the regional forces know we are the strongest power in the area. Israel is a regional power.”


“Iran has a strategy to creating proxies everywhere. Obviously, they are not physically in Lebanon, that’s what’s Hezbollah is for. In Yemen, they’re not physically present, they created the Houthi rebels. They have the same plan in Syria: creating different kinds of militias.”

It could be that this new emphasis on acknowledging Iranian “proxies” while stopping short of claiming direct Iranian military presence – a clear lessening of Israel’s intensifying rhetoric of late – is connected to a potential Syria-Israeli back channel deal to demilitarize the Golan region. We reported yesterday that unconfirmed Israeli sources are claiming that Putin is personally mediating demands issued between Assad and Netanyahu after both leaders traveled to meet with Putin within the past months.

The Jerusalem Post published a story early this week based on a well placed Israeli source privy to diplomatic maneuvering between Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Damascus. The report said, “the source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad’s regime from power.”

Meanwhile, both Israel and Saudi Arabia have increasingly gone public with their covert relationship based on intelligence sharing against what both sides perceive to be a strong and expansionist Iran.

Earlier this month Israel Defense Force (IDF) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot gave an unprecedented interview to a prominent Saudi newspaper in which he said that, “Israel is ready to share intelligence with Riyadh on their shared arch-foe Iran.” Eizenkot explained further, according to Tel Aviv based i24NEWS, that “Israel and Riyadh – which he noted have never fought one another – are in complete agreement about Iran’s intentions to dominate the Middle East.” 

And like Israel, Saudi Arabia has long scapegoated Iran and the region’s Shia for all of it’s problems, especially as it wages its brutal war on Yemen.

But on Tuesday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back. In comments picked up by Reuters, he said that Saudi Arabia presents Iran as an enemy because it wants to cover up its defeats in the region. Rouhani said in the midst of a live interview on state television, “Saudi Arabia was unsuccessful in Qatar, was unsuccessful in Iraq, in Syria and recently in Lebanon. In all of these areas, they were unsuccessful,” and added further, “So they want to cover up their defeats.”

These words of course could just as well be aimed at Israel too. And with today’s surprise admission by Israel’s defense minister – that there is “no Iranian military force on Syrian land” – it could be that Israel’s bluff has finally been called.

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