Libya – U.S. Reveals Support For Hafter’s Side

By Moon Of Alabama

April 19, 2019 “Information Clearing House” – The Libyan National Army (LNA) troops of General Hafter attack the militias which support the UN recognized government in Tripoli from the south. The LNA still lacks forces for a larger break through. Several objects at the front changed hands several times. There are bloody skirmishes but no big fights. Those are still to come.


Map by South Front – bigger

Some people doubt that Hafter can be successful:

Analysts believe that Haftar over-estimates the strength of his LNA.

They say the controversial field marshal, who backs an administration rival to the GNA based in eastern Libya, was counting on a quick collapse of Tripoli militias.

But pro-GNA reinforcements from around Tripoli rushed to assist in driving back his forces.

It was never clear if Hafter really hoped that a lightning attack on Tripoli would achieve a fast victory, or if his sudden move was intended to rally support from outside. He is now certainly getting such support and that will be to his decisive advantage in the longer play.

As we described it:

Hafter has open support from France, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia. The Trump administration is not interested to step into the mess. Hafter is an old CIA asset and if he takes control there is a good chance that the U.S. will have influence over him. As long as Libyan oil flows and keeps the global oil price down Trump will be happy. Russia is trying to stay in the background to not give the anti-Russian forces in Washington an excuse to intervene.

The Muslim Brothers, supported by Turkey and Qatar, are still in play in Misrata but have otherwise lost their influence on the ground.

Since then the Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia pledged tens of millions of dollars to support Hafter’s move on Tripoli. During the last week Hafter visited President Sisi of Egypt.

Europe is disunited over the issue. Italy wants to keep its influence in its former colony Libya and its historical position in the Libyan oil industry. It is also concerned about a new wave of refugees. It supports the government in Tripoli. France is supporting Hafter with an eye on taking over some oil business. It is also concerned about Islamist activities in former French colonies west and south of Libya. With Italy and France in a clinch, the European Union only issued a weak statement that called for a stop of fighting without naming any side.

Concern over the militias which support the Tripoli government increased too. They not as harmless as many seem to have thought:

A week after an aspiring strongman launched a surprise attack on the Libyan capital, an assortment of criminal gangs and extremists are rushing into the fight against him, raising new questions for the United States and other Western powers that have condemned his attack.

But an increasingly unsavory cast has joined the coalition against him, including a group closely tied to a militia sanctioned as a terrorist organization by the United States and the United Nations; an extremist warlord sanctioned for undermining Libya’s stability; and other militia leaders sanctioned for migrant trafficking. That mix so alarms Western powers that some may deem General Hifter the lesser evil.

Yesterday the U.S., which had said little when Hafter launched his assault on Tripoli, came out of the closet:

The United States and Russia both said Thursday they could not support a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya at this time, diplomats said, as mortar bombs crashed down on a suburb of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his Libyan National Army (LNA) advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States gave no reason for its position on the draft resolution …

Today we learn that Trump spoke with Hafter several days ago:

President Donald Trump spoke on Monday with a Libyan strongman whose forces are advancing on the nation’s capital, the White House said, in a move that may undermine support for the country’s internationally recognized government.

Trump discussed “ongoing counterterrorism efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya” with Haftar, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. Gidley called Haftar by the title “field marshal.”

“The president recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system,” Gidley said.

The key point for Trump is the oil price. His administration put sanctions on sales of Iranian and Venezuelan oil. Since the beginning of the year crude oil prices rallied from the low $50 per barrel to over $70 per barrel. Trump plans to reduce waivers he gave to some of the countries that continue to buy Iranian oil. That would further decrease Iran’s output. Any additional disruption of Libya’s oil production would increase the oil price and harm the U.S. economy. It would thereby make Trump’s plan for total sanctions on Iranian oil impossible.

Hafter controls most of Libya’s oil supplies. With open backing from the U.S., Russia and France, support from the military in Egypt, and with enough Saudi cash to finance his army, he surely has all the needed support to sustain a longer fight.

His next move will likely be against the small air force the Misrata gangs assembled. The U.S. might give him a helping hand in that. Hafter could then close down the airspace for flights from Turkey and Qatar. That would cut into the resupply Misrata and Tripoli need for a longer fight.

Those who say that “there is no military solution” to the situation in Libya will likely be proven wrong. Hafter has all he needs to win the fight.

This article was originally published by Moon Of Alabama” –

==See Also==

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Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis (Axis of Resistance) continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Among the many statements released, two in particular reveal the high level of cooperation between the two countries, as well as demonstrating how the Shia axis (Axis of Resistance) is in full bloom, carrying significant prospects for the region. Abdul-Mahdi also reiterated that Iraq will not allow itself to be used as a platform from which to attack Iran:

“Iraqi soil will not be allowed to be used by foreign troops to launch any attacks against Iran. The plan is to export electricity and gas for other countries in the region.”

Considering that these two countries were mortal enemies during Saddam Hussein’s time, their rapprochement is quite a (geo)political miracle, owing much of its success to Russia’s involvement in the region. The 4+1 coalition (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria plus Hezbollah) and the anti-terrorism center in Baghdad came about as a result of Russia’s desire to coordinate all the allied parties in a single front. Russia’s military support of Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (together with China’s economic support) has allowed Iran to begin to transform the region such that the Shia axis (Axis of Resistance) can effectively counteract the destabilizing chaos unleashed by the trio of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the gaps to be filled in the Shia axis (Axis of Resistance) lies in Lebanon, which has long experienced an internal conflict between the many religious and political currents in the country. The decision by Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel pushed the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to make an important symbolic visit to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

Once again, the destabilizing efforts of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans are having the unintended effect of strengthening the Shia axis (Axis of Resistance). It seems that this trio fails to understood how such acts as murdering Khashoggi, using civilian planes to hide behind in order to conduct bombing runs in Syria, recognizing the occupied territories like the Golan Heights – how these produce the opposite effects to the ones desired.

The supply of S-300 systems to Syria after the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane took place as a result of Tel Aviv failing to think ahead and anticipate how Russia may respond.

What is surprising in Moscow’s actions is the versatility of its diplomacy, from the deployment of the S-300s in Syria, or the bombers in Iran, to the prompt meetings with Netanyahu in Moscow and Mohammad bin Salman at the G20. The ability of the Russian Federation to mediate and be present in almost every conflict on the globe restores to the country the international stature that is indispensable in counterbalancing the belligerence of the United States.

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange. Another military and economic example can be found in a third axis; not the Shia or Saudi-Israeli-US one but the Turkish-Qatari one. In Syria, Erdogan started from positions that were exactly opposite to those of Putin and Assad. But with decisive military action and skilled diplomacy, the creation of the Astana format between Iran, Turkey and Russia made Turkey and Qatar publicly take the defense of Islamist takfiris and criminals in Idlib. Qatar for its part has a two-way connection with Turkey, but it is also in open conflict with the Saudi-Israeli axis, with the prospect of abandoning OPEC within a few weeks. This situation has allowed Moscow to open a series of negotiations with Doha on the topic of LNG, with these two players controlling most of the LNG on the planet. It is evident that also the Turkish-Qatari axis is strongly conditioned by Moscow and by the potential military agreements between Turkey and Russia (sale of S-400) and economic and energy agreements between Moscow and Doha.

America’s actions in the region risks combining the Qatari-Turkish front with the Shia axis (Axis of Resistance) , again thanks to Moscow’s skilful diplomatic work. The recent sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA (the Iranian nuclear agreement), has created concern and bewilderment in the region and among Washington’s allies. The act of recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel has brought together the Arab world as few events have done in recent times. Added to this, Trump’s open complaints about OPEC’s high pricing of oil has forced Riyadh to start wondering out aloud whether to start selling oil in a currency other than the dollar. This rumination was quickly denied, but it had already been aired. Such a decision would have grave implications for the petrodollar and most of the financial and economic power of the United States.

If the Shia axis (Axis of Resistance), with Russian protection, is strengthened throughout the Middle East, the Saudi-Israel-American triad loses momentum and falls apart, as seen in Libya, with Haftar now one step closer in unifying the country thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia, with Fayez al-Sarraj now abandoned by the Italians and Americans awaiting his final defeat.

While the globe continues its multipolar transformation, the delicate balancing role played by Russia in the Middle East and North Africa is emphasized. The Venezuelan foreign minister’s recent visit to Syria shows how the front opposed to US imperialist bullying is not confined to the Middle East, with countries in direct or indirect conflict with Washington gathering together under the same protective Sino-Russian umbrella.

Trump’s “America First” policy, coupled with the conviction of American exceptionalism, is driving international relations towards two poles rather than multipolar ones, pushing China, Russia and all other countries opposed to the US to unite in order to collectively resist US diktats.

EGYPT PULLED OUT OF U.S. EFFORTS TO FORM “ARAB NATO” TO COMBAT IRAN: REPORTS

 

Egypt Pulled Out Of U.S. Efforts To Form "Arab NATO" To Combat Iran: Reports

IMAGE: eipss-eg.org

Source

14.04.2019

Egypt pulled out of US and Saudi Arabia’s effort to form an anti-Iranian “Arab NATO,” Israeli media reported citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

The country told the US and other participants in the Middle East Security Alliance, or MESA ahead of a meeting on April 7th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

One of the anonymous sources said Cairo did not send a delegation to the meeting, the latest gathering held to advance the U.S.-led effort to bind Sunni Muslim Arab allies into a security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran.

An Arab source also said that this came as a disappointment:

“We all want Egypt to be a part of an Arab NATO,” said the source, “especially as it has the largest army of any Arab nation, and because it carries importance.”

The reasons behind the decision, according to the sources, is that Egypt doesn’t wish to harm its relations with Iran, as well as it doesn’t believe that US President Donald Trump would be elected for a second term. If Trump is gone that jeopardizes the entire “Arab NATO” idea since the next POTUS may decide not to follow through.

On April 9th, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi visited the US and met with Donald Trump. Trump said that they spoke of security issues, but the Arab NATO nor Iran were mentioned in the press conference following the meeting.

Both leaders praised the warm relations between the countries, which could presumably be spoiled if the reports of Egypt giving up efforts are true.

In addition to the US and Saudi Arabia, the MESA proposed participants include the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Jordan.

Two anonymous sources also told Al Jazeera that the project would be moving forward and that Egypt would be pressured into not revoking its membership. The project was initially proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2017, and was perpetuated by US President Donald Trump.

The aim of the Trump administration with the project is to form a a new security body comprising Sunni Middle Eastern countries that would be geared toward countering Shiite Iran’s ‘regional adventurism’. Reportedly, MESA member-states would seek deeper cooperation in the realms of missile defense, military training and counter-terrorism, while strengthening broader political and economic ties.

“It would serve as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism and will bring stability,” a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council asserted in reference to the potential association.

“It’s not a new project. However, its implementation is what matters,” said Qassem Qaseer, a Lebanese political analyst. He confirmed that the US has been working with Arab states for a while now to form such a body, noting that “the issue remains with the different agendas and political approach of its member of states.”

Qaseer said that the Arab countries don’t agree on more than one critical issue, pointing out that the Arab NATO is still an idea with no structure.

“They aim to pressure Iran on the ground by such initiative, although, they need to make it a reality first,” Qaseer said.

A Saudi political analyst, Sulaiman al-Oqaily, also said that there must be one strategy among the Arab nations that form the alliance, as well as a clear target in order for such an endeavor to succeed.

Al-Oqaily claimed that there must be one united Arab bloc that has agreed that the “Arab NATO” would protect the Arab world from all kind of threats and security challenges. “Its members’ motives and determinants have to be the same.”

Al-Oqaily says that the sectarianism with which Iran targets the Middle East is more dangerous than Israel.

“Iran is taking advantage of its culture and religious links to the Arab world to expand there and destroy it. Israel can’t violate the Arab society like Iran, but through its intelligence services.”

Between November 10th and 13th, 2018, Egypt hosted the Shield of the Arabs 1 military exercise, with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan.

Egyptian military spokesperson Tamer al-Rifai back then said the exercises were part of Egypt’s efforts to enhance military cooperation with other Arab countries but declined to speculate on whether they could evolve into some sort of a military alliance. 

Egypt on the other hand, appears to have stable relations with Iran currently.

Iran hailed the reports of Egypt giving up on the efforts. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was cited by the IRNA News Agency, praising the possible decision.

He said that it wasn’t yet confirmed, and Iran was examining whether it was true, but if it was confirmed it would be “welcomed.”

“Egypt is an important and powerful country both in the Arab and in the Muslim world that can play a key role in creating peace, stability and security in the West Asia region,” said Qasemi.

He said that Egypt can exercise realism to help foster unity among Muslim countries and bring them closer together.

Qasemi expressed hope that Egypt, ‘as an undeniable power of Arab world’, can carry out its historical duty in the most sensitive conditions of the region.

In addition the decision, if it were true, would help foster better relations in the region and assist in fighting terrorism, provide security and sustainable stability, and give a boost to mutual understanding and multilateral cooperation.

Qasemi also expressed Iran’s doubt that the Arab NATO endeavor would be successful, arguing that NATO was founded in Western world ‘under certain historical and geographical conditions, based on a series of certain values and necessities and even very certain commonalities’ which is not likely to be copied in the Arab world.

Egypt’s relations with Russia also appear to be on the rise. Russia is a key partner of Iran, especially in Syria.

On March 18thRussian outlet Kommersant reported that Russia had inked a $2 billion contract for the delivery of 20 fighter jets to Egypt.

The contract was signed at the end of 2018 and delivery of the aircraft, as well as weapons for the planes, will begin as early as 2020-21.

Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) said that no contracts for aircraft supply were signed in the second half of 2018. So the report may be false.

Regardless, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on April 9th warned that Egypt would be subject to US sanctions if it did, in fact, purchase the Russian Su-35 fighter jets.

“We have made clear that systems were to be purchased that… would require sanctions on the regime,” Pompeo told the Senate Committee on Appropriations. “We have received assurances from them, they understand that, and I am very hopeful they will decide not to move forward with that acquisition.”

Earlier, on October 17th, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also signed a strategic cooperation treaty designed to increase trade, military, and other ties between their two nations.

Putin said the talks encompassed “the whole spectrum of bilateral relations as well as key international and regional problems.”

He added that he and Sisi discussed expanding arms trade and military ties, pointing out that Russian and Egyptian paratroopers were conducting military maneuvers in Egypt.

«Deal of Century»: An Arab NATO in the Making

By Staff, Agencies

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is and ancient proverb that is never outdated when it comes to politics and geostrategic policies. Given the light of the situation in the region, the “Israeli” entity is literally in its pursuit.

“Israel” is smart enough not to tarnish its hands with its dirty work against Iran and have others do that on its behalf. But this time, it’s not the United States – its best friend and long supporting ally – instead, it has been focusing on our side of the globe: the Middle East.

Not long back, the “Israeli” entity has been engaged in normalization efforts with various Arab nations among which are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman; the same countries which are also part of a Saudi Arabian initiative called the so-called “Arab NATO” – the Middle East Strategic Alliance [MESA] – to combat Iran in the region.

The kingdom on April 8 hosted a meeting with the high-level participation of Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Jordan. According to the Saudi WAS news agency, the meeting was “an important step to launching the alliance, which aims to strengthen the security and stability of the region and the world.”

Sulaiman al-Oqaily, a Saudi political analyst, says there must be one strategy among the Arab nations that form the alliance, as well as a clear target in order for such an endeavor to succeed.

First, al-Oqaily points out that there must be one united Arab bloc that has agreed that the “Arab NATO” would protect the Arab world from all kind of threats and security challenges. “Its members’ motives and determinants have to be the same,” he says.

Al-Oqaily says that the sectarianism with which Iran targets the Middle East is more dangerous than Israel.

“Iran is taking advantage of its culture and religious links to the Arab world to expand there and destroy it,” he claims. “‘Israel’ can’t violate the Arab society like Iran, but through its intelligence services.”

He also speculates that if Iran weren’t involved in Iraq, the latter would have peace by now.

The US administration has since last year been exploring the creation of a new security body comprising Middle Eastern countries that would be geared toward countering Iran. Reportedly, MESA member-states would seek deeper cooperation in the realms of missile defense, military training and counter-terrorism, while strengthening broader political and economic ties.

“It would serve as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism and will bring stability,” a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council alleged in reference to the potential association last year.

“It’s not a new project. However, its implementation is what matters,” says Qassem Qaseer, a Lebanese political analyst. He confirms that the US has been working with Arab states for a while now to form such a body, noting that “the issue remains with the different agendas and political approach of its member of states.”

For example, Qaseer says that the Arab countries don’t agree on more than one critical issue, pointing out that the Arab NATO is still an idea with no structure.

“They aim to pressure Iran on the ground by such initiative, although, they need to make it a reality first,” Qaseer says. It is noteworthy that the Idea of an Arab NATO coalition is one of the results of the Arab-Islamic summit hosted by Riyadh in May 2017.

Over the past year, senior American officials, including President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner and international negotiator Jason Greenblatt, have conducted shuttle diplomacy among Middle East capitals. These visits have laid the foundation for MESA, although the notion reportedly was first raised by Saudi Arabia.

Regarding the “Israeli” entity, its relations with regional Arab nations are by most accounts improving, primarily the result of a shared interest in curbing Iran.

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FINALLY, GUAIDO TO BE STRIPPED OF IMMUNITY; SYRIA REDUX

Image result for elliott abrams

(Photo Credit: Codepink.org) Elliott Abrams, a Zionist katsa neo-con slug has been tasked with overthrowing the legitimate president of Venezuela. This “ojete chingado” was convicted of lying to Congress back in the days of the Iran-Contra scandal and should have had his career terminated but for the fact that he is the kind of rodent loved by Washington’s neo-con cabal of murdering Zionist sociopaths.

Ziad Fadel

People are finally realizing that the situation in Venezuela is the same as that of Syria in 2011.  It is becoming increasingly clear that die-hard, entrenched Zionist neo-cons in Washington will not give up on their insane crusade to make the Zionist Apartheid State both unassailable and durable.  Maduro has taken our advice, evidently, and is studying the Syrian model closely.  The Russians, who are committed to Maduro’s survival, are also giving him advice based on the rich records they have of the war in Syria and their own involvement.  They have told him to stay put and control the streets.

In Syria, the so-called “peaceful” demonstrations were not enough to oust the sitting government in Damascus.   Dr. Assad stayed put.  The street demonstrations in both Der’ah and Homs transmogrified into a full-blown insurrection complete with Islamist fanatics, foreign mercenaries and, even direct assistance from NATO countries.  Some of you might remember the “Shpionshiffe” Merkel sent to the coastline of Turkey in order to monitor the movements of the SAA to help the terrorists to destabilize Syria.

I don’t believe the U.S. will follow that program for several reasons.  The first is that Gulf nations which had the ability to fund the arrival of tens of thousands of mercenaries to fight alongside the Syrian terrorists are no longer on speaking terms and are unlikely to try their hand again at regime change.  Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are at odds with one another over terrorism support and relations with Iran.  The scenario in Venezuela is distant in both geography and politics.  If Elliott Abrams thinks he’s going to get a repeat of the disastrous intervention in Venezuela, he is in for a tough awakening.

Add to this the prospect of another insurrection against a sitting president when that president has the support of the Russian Federation.  Again, Abrams would be foolish not to consider again the disgraceful failure of the U.S. under Obama to effectuate a clean ouster of Dr. Assad.  It would be even more ignominious for the U.S. to fail in a country located well within the borders of the Monroe Doctrine, like Venezuela.

We must also remember that most Latin American countries are loath to invite the U.S. to invade a nation in South America.  Memories of the tragic death of Salvador Allende in Chile, with the blood-stained hands of the United States all too visible, remain a formidable disincentive for any Latin American president, even Bolsinaro, to contemplate accommodation with Washington.  Other incidents of Yanqui involvement include Cuba, Mexico and Nicaragua.  The U.S. simply cannot afford another debacle in its own backyard.  Supporting the CONTRAS was egregious enough in Nicaragua,  what with the surreptitious Iranian deal-making that brought the U.S. into international disrepute;  imagine the fallout if the U.S. were to engage the services of something like FARC to help topple President Maduro.  But, FARC is in the Maduro camp.  There is no Saudi Arabia or Qatar to finance the arrival of religious fanatics from the four corners of the world to help to unseat the legitimate president of Venezuela.  Elliott Abrams is looking into Nietsche’s darkest abyss.  And it’s staring back at him.

Maduro is clearly feeling better.  His Constituent Assembly has ordered Guaido’s immunity removed on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  It is obvious the upstart Yanque stooge is going to be arrested finally for treason.  The U.S. has repeatedly warned Maduro that arresting Guaido would cross a red line.  Abrams has said it.  So has Bolton.  And so have Pence and Pompeo.  Yet, it appears the Americans have talked themselves, once again, into a corner.  With all sanctions imposed on Venezuela, what is there left for Washington to do?  Invasion?  Surgical strikes on infrastructure?  They did all that in Syria and where did that get them?  In Libya, the Americans nihilistically bombed the country into pure devastation, destroying the nation with the highest standard of living in all Africa.  Hillary Clinton, shrieked with joy after telling the world that Qaddafi was dead.  And now, the Yanquis, and their miserable frog and limey allies are trying to pick up the pieces of one of history’s most reprehensible acts of political gluttony.  The U.S. cannot afford another disaster like that.  Or can it?

Oh, Europe will be aghast at the arrest of Guaido.  The Europeans will pontificate and self-congratulate themselves for their own civility.  They will tsk-tsk at Mr. Maduro, who, just like Dr. Assad, will blow his nose at the mentally corrupt hypocrites, like Macron, May and Merkel, all of them, descendants of the European barbarians who colonized the world with their toxic philosophies of greed and rapine – the same doctrines which led to the infamous creation of that metastatic, cancerous tumor known to my readers as the Zionist Entity.

Maduro stands with the Palestinian people.  That should be reason enough for well-meaning countries to stand up and fight to keep him in power.

Note to readers:  Until the Russians sell the S-400 to Turkey and Turkey begins to receive and deploy the systems, little will happen in Syria.  There is simply a scarcity of news.  .

 

Iran Is Working To Restore Hamas Ties With Damascus – Report

Iran Is Working To Restore Hamas Ties With Damascus – Report

Hamas members. FILE IMAGE: AP

South Front

03.04.2019

The Palestinian Hamas Movement is working to restore its ties with the Damascus government after strengthen its relations with Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran recently, Al-Monitor reporter on April 3.

Hamas’ leadership declared its support for the Syrian opposition and closed its offices in the Syrian capital in the first months of the Syrian crisis. Damascus also says that the Palestinian group was responsible for training several militant groups throughout Syria, especially in the period from 2011 to 2012.

An Iranian official told Al-Monitor that Iran has been mediating between the Syrian government and Hamas since early 2017. However, the official admitted that Damascus continues to view the Hamas attitude in the early years of the crisis as a stab in the back.

“The Iranian mediation, and Hezbollah’s mediation, have eased Damascus’ stance toward Hamas,” the source, who declined to be named, added.

The new leadership of Hamas, which was elected in May 2017, managed to recover the group’s relations with Iran and Hezbollah and adopted a new stand on the Syrian issue. Last month, the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

“The Golan will remain an integral part of the Syrian territory … We stand by Syria in the face of the US arrogance that does not abide by international norms, covenants and laws,” Haniyeh said on March 25, according to Al-Monitor.

Ali Baraka, a member of the Hamas’ political and Arab relations bureau, declined to speak about the Iranian and Hezbollah efforts to restore the relations between the group and Damascus. However, he affirmed that there is high-level coordination among the so-called “resistance axis” to counter U.S. actions in the Middle East.

Despite these efforts by Iran and Hezbollah, local observers believe that restoring Hamas ties with Damascus will not be an easy task. Government supporters accuse the Palestinian group of committing multiple war crimes in the early years of the war. This public image of Hamas also impacts negatively any efforts regarding the restoration of ties between the two sides.

More on this topic:

 

Trump”s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other”s arms

Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms

MARTIN JAY | 15.03.2019 | FEATURED STORY

Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms

Trump’s foreign policy gambles in the Middle East just continue to shake the region up, causing confusion, betrayal and, more recently, a new arms race which is all heading towards more bloodshed there, as ISIS appears to be in decline and Russia, Iran and Turkey continue to look like stronger players.

Despite Iran sanctions, Tehran continues to show its strength in its sheer resilience and its brash cavalier attitude towards other countries in the region; barely days after if foreign minister resigns – but then withdraws it – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani takes a trip to Iraq, to remind the Americans that Tehran still wields considerable power and influence there, as well as Syria, Lebanon and also Qatar and Turkey.

The shake-up which is as a direct result of Trump’s erroneous decisions in the region has led though to an arms race starting, amid rumours of Trump wanting to sell nuclear arms to Saudi Arabia – despite Riyadh going rogue recently on arms procurement and looking more to Russia and China. In recent weeks we heard of reports of Hezbollah’s new missiles in Lebanon having updated heads fitted which makes them even more precise than previously thought, which is a chilling thought for the Israelis who have been mulling the timing of Hassan Nasrallah’s threat to use them if Israel continues to target Hezbollah fighters in Syria. More recently, American THAAD missiles were sent to Israel, as a direct consequence of the Nasrallah comment, as the Hezbollah leader never does empty threats; but it’s also about Iran’s missile capability which is making the Israelis a tad skittish.

And they’re right to be, but not exclusively because of the Iran sanctions and its missile capabilities.

It’s also about Turkey. In January, a secret document revealed that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE considered Turkey to be the real threat to their power in the region, which has changed the focus of their aggression and, in part, is responsible for a number of embassies reopening in the Syrian capital. The West believes that a softening of isolation might bring Assad farther away from Iran and Russia and align itself more with the Arab super powers in the region.

This idea, on its own, had some feasibility, until just very recently when it looked like Turkey’s firebrand leader had fired the starter’s pistol on a new level of difficult relations with Washington by making it clear that Ankara’s new accord with Russia over missiles – the revered S-400 system – is a done deal. President Erdogan has made it clear that nothing will stop this deal going ahead which means for Israel that he is edging closer to the Russia-Iran powerbase and, critically, towards a situation which the author has been arguing for months is inevitable: a thaw of relations with Assad.

Given that part of the Saudi-Israeli plan was to support the Kurds in Northern Syria in a new campaign to clear Turkish forces of their large enclave – perched in between Al Qaeda extremists on one side and Kurdish fighters on the other – it has pushed Erdogan to do what many would argue would be a no brainer, which is to consider cooperating with Assad, as both have a common objective of hitting the Kurds, Israelis and the Saudis at the same time. A triple whammy for both of them.

This scenario, if it pans out (as so far we have only heard reports of back channel talks between Ankara and Damascus) would be devastating for Israel, which is struggling presently with having Russia as an Assad ally to bypass before it hits Hezbollah targets; but for Turkey to be even a distant ally of Assad could spell disaster for Israel, which cannot afford to clash with Turkey – itself the premise of a completely new conflict which has been brewing for years, given the acrimonious and vociferous exchange of insults both leaders have flung at one another last year; Erdogan attacks Netanyahu over the latter’s appalling treatment of Palestinians, while the Israeli leader uses Erdogan’s unparalleled fondness of locking up journalists as return-fire ammo.

In reality, both of them are tarnished with an abysmal human rights record but both have used one another for political capital. That arrangement, until now a verbal one, might change if Assad were to actually let bygones be bygones and strike a deal with Erdogan.

If that were to happen, Trump would also completely slam the door on Turkey and make it also a target of hatred and ridicule – as no one but Trump will take it as personally as the US president, who has shown remarkable resilience towards the Turkish leader who has tested his patience on a number of occasions in the last two years. An Assad-Erdogan pact could spark a crisis within NATO and make Russia and Iran bolder than ever before in the region as Trump’s refusal to stop arming Kurdish factions in northern Syria – along with suspending the F-35 fighter jet program – is likely to reach a tipping point between Ankara and Washington. For Erdogan to play the ace card – Assad – would be a smart move to put Trump in his place, assert Turkey’s power in Syria and weaken the Kurds in one blow.

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