SYRIA WAR REPORT – OCTOBER 19, 2017: U.S. BLAMES ASSAD FOR ‘HINDERING’ ITS ANTI-ISIS EFFORTS

SOUTH FRONT

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and ISIS are still fighting for the city of al-Qaryatayn in the province of Homs. On October 18, the SAA retook the railway station north of it. On October 17, ISIS claimed that 20 SAA members were killed in clashes in the city’s vicinity.

According to local sources, the SAA has still not started a direct storm of the city because ISIS uses local civilians as human shields.

In Deir Ezzor province, the SAA has advanced against north of the provincial capital, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. According to pro-government sources, all villages there are now under control of government troops. However, these reports still have to be confirmed by photos or videos.

On October 18, the Republican Guard’s Gen Issam Zahreddine was killed in an IED explosion during the operation against ISIS in Saqr Island northeast of Deir Ezzor city. Zahreddine was one of the most prominent Syrian generals and a hero of the battle for Deir Ezzor. He had been leading government troops defending the city from ISIS terrorists over the past years. Under his command, local government troops kept control over the military airbase and a part of the urban area until the unblocking force reached the city and broke the ISIS siege in September 2017.

On the same day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee accused the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance of hindering efforts of the US-led coalition against ISIS during the battle for Raqqa city.

“This eminent victory by the global coalition and our brave servicemembers comes at a high cost, particularly to the Syrian Democratic Forces who suffered many casualties as they fought to liberate their own country from the oppression of ISIS,” she said adding that “Unfortunately, the Syrian regime and its supporters hinder the efforts to liberate Raqqa. Instead of focusing on fighting ISIS, the pro-regime forces attacked our partners and attempted to block them from liberating the Syrian people from the brutality of ISIS.“

Huckabee also added that the US remains “committed to supporting stabilization efforts and local security forces in liberated areas through a political transition in Syria.”

During the Obama administration, the words “political transition” meant that the US is seeking to overthrow Assad and to enforce the rule of the “moderate opposition” [accidentally linked to al-Qaeda] in Damascus. Right now, it is not clear what the Trump administration means when it uses these words.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) media wing announced that the US Special Envoy for the US-led coalition Brett McGurk claimed during a meeting with the SDF-linked Raqqa Civil Council that the “Syrian regime will never have a foothold in Raqqa.”
The American rhetoric definitely show that Washington is going to use the SDF and the SDF-held area as a foothold for own diplomatic and, in the worst-case scenario, military actions in the expected standoff against the Damascus government and its allies in post-ISIS Syria.

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israel Exposed for Secretly Paying ISIS terrorists to Protect Rothschild, Murdoch Oil

Israel Exposed for Secretly Paying ISIS terrorists to Protect Rothschild, Murdoch Oil

ISIS members NOW CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN RECEIVING LOGISTICAL AND OTHER SUPPORT DIRECTLY FROM ISRAEL FOR YEARS AND THE MOTIVE IS PERFECTLY CLEAR.

Syria has devolved into a morass of civil conflict, proxy wars, and an ostensive international effort to quash thriving terrorist groups, but one revelation might top the rest in potential contention: Israel has been covertly supporting ISIS members

in the disputed Golan Heights territory — providing funds, fuel, food, and medical supplies — according to fighters insisting they’ve received such aid.

Newsweek reports:

“BUT WHAT MAKES THESE CASES NEWSWORTHY IS THAT THE CIA HAS APPARENTLY TURNED ITS BACK ON THE TWO, OFFERING NO SUPPORT AND EVEN COOPERATING WITH THE PLAINTIFFS BY VOLUNTARILY TURNING OVER DOCUMENTS AND REFUSING TO SUPPLY CIA OFFICERS TO SERVE AS DEFENSE WITNESSES.

“ISRAEL IS OPPOSED TO THE RULE OF ASSAD AND HIS FORCES. IT ALSO SEES MILITANTS BELONGING TO LEBANESE MILITIA HEZBOLLAH WHO SUPPORT ASSAD’S REGIME FORCES AS POSING A THREAT TO ITS SECURITY ON THE GOLAN HEIGHTS BORDER.”

Fierce wrangling over Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights region surrounds rich hydrocarbon deposits and the rights for New Jersey-based Genie Energy, Ltd. — parent company of Afek Oil and Gas, and whose cadre of investors include Jacob Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, and a number of others — to extract oil for transport and profit.

It could be no shock, then — given the potential for profiteering and political ramifications concomitant from safe fossil fuel extraction —ISIS members

claim to be receiving such a high degree of assistance from the Israeli government.

“Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” asserted Moatasem al-Golani, spokesman for Fursan al-Joulan, or the Knights of the Golan, to the Wall Street Journal, adding the group of around 400 fighters receives $5,000 each month from the Israeli government — effectively ensuring its existence.

“WE WOULDN’T HAVE SURVIVED WITHOUT ISRAEL’S ASSISTANCE.”

Fighters allege support began in earnest once the wounded were allowed to be treated in hospitals located inside Israel.

Although the WSJ did not name its sources — described albeit vaguely as “half a dozen rebels and three people familiar with Israel’s thinking” — that moderate rebels have been treated medically inside the border of Israel has long been known, making the account at least feasible, if not verifiable.

They claim, according to Haaretz, “Israel’s secret dealings with the rebels began as early as 2013 under former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and that they continue to this day, with the goal of keeping pro-Iranian groups, like Hezbollah, away from the border.”

Also unsurprising is Israel’s firm alignment with U.S. political aims to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — which, at least theoretically in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eyes, would preventHezbollah from securing an arms, supply, support, and transport line from Iran through to occupied Palestine and elsewhere.

Fursan al-Joulan, unlike other militant groups deemed “moderate rebels” by the West, does not receive similar support from coalition and allied entities, so Israel’s active assistance has literally kept the group from disbanding.

Beyond years-long medical support for certain Syrian rebel groups, Israel claims only to have intervened directly in Syria’s quagmire upon ostensible threats to national security — primarily along the bordering, contentious Golan Heights.

Israel also asserts any funding crossing its border into Syria has been allotted for humanitarian reasons — a characterization disputed by Fursan al-Joulan, whose unnamed fighters told the Wall Street JournalIsraeli funds are used for salaries and the purchase of munitions.

While the Israeli military refused to elaborate on supposed humanitarian assistance or comment on Fursan al-Joulan’s claims, Israel is “committed to securing the borders of Israel and preventing the establishment of terror cells and hostile forces … in addition to providing humanitarian aid to the Syrians living in the area.”

With the U.S. military now directly striking Assad’s forces in Syria — and the ultimate, longstanding goal of regime change not yet pulled from the table — news of contentious actor, Israel, directly supplying rebels intent on deposing the Syrian leader threatens to further destabilize an already-precarious powder keg of hostilities in the war-ravaged nation.

Indeed, the downing of a Syrian military aircraft by the U.S. slid relations with regional proxy foe, Russia, further toward a nadir not even seen amid previous Red Scare tensions during the 1950s. Israel — being, of course, a nuclear power and itinerant if controversial friend to Washington — might yet find itself aligning with the U.S. against Moscow militarily should this simmering war by proxy abruptly explode into conflict on the scale of a world war.

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Syrian Army Captured Large Number of ISIS Weapons and Military Equipment “Made in USA”

Syrian Army Captured Large Number of ISIS Weapons and Military Equipment “Made in USA”

By South Front,

In Mayadin City. Overview, Photos, Videos

On Thursday, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) released a video showing of the weapons and ammunition captured by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces from ISIS in Mayadin city.

The video showed that the SAA has captured dozens of light, and heavy machine guns and sniper rifles. The SAA also captured several anti-tank weapons including at least 3 Russian-made RPG-29. In addition, 2 unidentified man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs) were captured by the SAA. The SAA also seized more than 20 drones, and what appears to be some ISIS made DIY drones

The SAA also captured the following heavy weapons:

  • 3 T-55 tanks one of them up-armored;
  • 1 T-62 tank;
  • 1 Humvee armored vehicle;
  • 1 VBIED;
  • 1 M-46 130 mm artillery pieces;
  • 2 D-20 152 mm artillery piece;
  • 1 D-30 122-mm artillery piece mounted on a truck.

A US-made M198 155mm artillery piece was also sized by the SAA. The piece was likely captured by ISIS from the Iraqi Army back in 2014. The ISIS serial number on the artillery is (008), which could mean that ISIS captured at least 8 of these US made artillery.

Syrian pro-government sources released another video that showed a communication center of ISIS. According to the sources, the SAA captured many US-made military radio systems inside the center.

An officer of the SAA told SANA that the weapons and ammunition that were displayed are only 25% of what the SAA sized inside Mayadin. The amount of the weapons captured by the SAA proves that ISIS didn’t expect the SAA could advance so rapidly towards this strategic city.

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

Syrian Army Captured Stunning Number Of ISIS Weapons And Military Equipment In Mayadin (Overview, Photos, Videos)

All images were taken from South Front.

 

israel & ISIS best of buddies again after accidental attack

Israeli Defense Minister: Israel Forgives ISIS For Attack Following Apology

“As we understand, it was done by mistake and it was only once.”

Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)<img class=”size-full wp-image-227505″ src=”http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/AP_16180514617220.jpg” alt=”Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)” width=”1600″ height=”781″ srcset=”http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/AP_16180514617220.jpg 1600w, http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/AP_16180514617220-300×146.jpg 300w, http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/AP_16180514617220-768×375.jpg 768w, http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/AP_16180514617220-800×391.jpg 800w” sizes=”(max-width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px” />

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

Israel has decided to “absorb” an unintended attack by Daesh after the terrorist group “apologized” for it, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters on Wednesday.

Expanding on comments made last week on the effectiveness of Israel’s “red lines” policy (by which Israel responds even to unintentional fire), Yaalon asserted that the policy had effectively deterred Daesh’s alleged affiliates in both war-torn Syria and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“Generally speaking, both ISIS [Daesh] in Syria and ISIS in Sinai have been deterred [this way] by the Israeli Defense Forces,” Yaalon said when asked whether Israel had responded to the reported Daesh attack.

“They appreciate our military superiority,” he added.

“So we absorbed a single, isolated attack executed by ISIS elements on the Syrian border,” Yaalon said. “As we understand, it was done by mistake and it was only once.”

Israeli officials have refrained from providing any information about the unintentional attack other than to say it occurred on the border with Syria.

Yaalon, for his part, declined to elaborate on the nature of the terrorist group’s “apology”, including the means by which it was delivered to Israel.

Israel has a policy of responding to any fire directed towards it or which strikes its territory, whether by armed groups in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip or by the various elements now fighting in neighboring Syria

 

Is America Now Fighting on the Side of the Terrorists in Syria?

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By Dmitriy Sudakov,

Thre are two international coalitions fighting against terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq. One of them consists of Russia, Turkey and Iran, and the other one is made of a variety of actors under the leadership of the United States.

Technically, the two coalitions pursue at least one common goal: the destruction of the Islamic State terrorist organisation (banned in Russia). Like Russia, the USA considers the destruction of the terrorist organisation its first priority goal in Syria and Iraq, and Donald Trump outlined this goal clearly in the very beginning of his presidency

Prior to Trump’s arrival in the White House, Washington’s position was somewhat different: his predecessor, Barack Obama, insisted on the removal of legitimate Syrian President Bashar Assad, whereas the destruction of the Islamic State was a second priority goal for him.

When Trump announced the change of priorities in Syria, many hoped for a possibility to establish practical cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States. In reality, it turned out differently.

Washington was extremely reluctant to communicate with the Russian military. Coordination or joint actions were out of the question, but there were no attempts of direct opposition either. The exception was the cruise missile strike on Shayrat, but it was more likely aimed at the Syrian army and Assad. It did not show a significant negative impact on the actions of the Russian military. The consequent warning and the deployment of new air defence systems proved to be enough for the Americans to abandon their ill-considered actions.

Presently, against the backdrop of the apparent success of joint operations conducted by Syrian and Russian forces against terrorists, a question arises again: is the USA going to help or hinder Russia and Syria in the destruction of ISIL?

The question is not idle. It arose first in connection with the death of Russian General Valery Asapov in Syria. The attack was too precise and too timely; the terrorists would not have been able to do it without assistance from the outside. At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defence drew attention to the suspiciously close and peaceful neighbourhood of US servicemen and terrorists on the Syrian territory.

The Americans declined to comment on the matter, but they launched a thesis about the allegedly unfolding “race” for the right to inflict the last fatal blow on ISIL. The trophy is the right to gain control over the strategically important Syrian-Iraqi border, which is about to fall into the hands of the United States and its clients from the “moderate” Syrian opposition. The Americans claim that Moscow and Damascus make one mistake after another out of indignation, which is obviously nonsense.

As for “mistakes,” a number of questions arises: why do terrorists manage to arrange counterattacks? How do they get together all the necessary forces and means, including weapons and ammunition, transportation, as well as intelligence? Why do these counter-attacks come from the areas of the deployment of American military and pro-American forces?

Without waiting for any clear answers from Washington, the Russian side decided to strike a decisive blow on Jabhat an Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia), which is responsible for the death of General Asapov. At the same time, military operations against terrorists were intensified in the east of Syria. If the Americans want to take Raqqa and announce their triumph for the world – let them come and do it. However, the Americans are not taking any measures. On the contrary, the USA has cut activities of its Air Force in the area.

The Russian Defence Ministry demanded clarifications from the USA to find out America’s real goals in Syria. Is the destruction of ISIL and other terrorist groups still remains priority number one for Washington or does the USA want to stop Assad’s troops from winning the war with Russia’s support? Does the USA support the restoration of Syria’s territorial integrity? Indeed, what is the USA doing in Syria? The question remains.

Featured image is from the author.

The disintegration of NATO and the post-World War system تفكك الناتو ونظام ما بعد الحرب العالمية

 The disintegration of NATO and the post-World War system

أكتوبر 17, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,تفكك الناتو ونظام ما بعد الحرب العالمية

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, Washington decided to expand the NATO to the borders of Russia, but it collided with a solid Russian position that prevented the inclusion of countries which form a backyard to Russia as Ukraine, so it retreated. The retreat has led to redrawing new red lines in the international game. But the war for which Washington has employed tens of the allied countries from inside the NATO and outside it against Syria was an opportunity to turn the international equations in favor of Washington, to besiege Moscow and Beijing, and to alienate them from the Mediterranean Sea, by reaching to their borders from the Islamic Republics in the Central Asia after the Ottoman influence that formed the heart of the US attack starting from Syria has stabilized. The Americans have granted to the ruling organization in Ankara awards and incentives that have been represented by the handover of Ankara the power in Cairo and Tunisia, and by preferring Doha to Riyadh in the Gulf.

The loss of the war in Syria was not only a failure of the project of the US unilateralism in managing the world through the failure in having control on the region which separates the Mediterranean Sea from the borders of China and Russia,  and it was not only an economic failure of the plans of hegemony on the sources of energy and the passages of its pipelines, but the most dangerous failure was the fall of the project of the new Ottoman  which has presented for the first time an answer to the identity in order to cover the US hegemony on the East, that is equal to what was presented by the European Union for the issue of the identity in order to cover the US hegemony on the West. So it was not mere a practical coincidence the decomposition which affected the two vital aspects of the new common identities under the US cover in the West and East. So the fall of the new Ottoman has coincided with the start of the disintegration of the European Union. This has occurred in the center not in the parties, so Turkey the center of the new Ottoman started the repositioning at the same time of the exit of Britain from the European Union as an announcement of the end of the era of the US rise.

The transformations witnessed by the region of the main conflict in Asia in the eastern of the Mediterranean do not allow the cold change to affect Turkey as Britain. The change is happening at skate and it is creating accelerating challenges. The issue of the Kurdish secession in each of Iraq and Syria is one of the consequences resulted from tampering in the central countries in the region, as what Turkey did in favor of the project of the new Ottoman, but the failure of that project and the keeping of its repercussions is the best thing produced for the Americans, so they invested on that, thus the Kurds become more important than Turkey, so the main Turkish concern has become to combat the danger of the emergence of the Kurdish entity on its borders  that threatens its unity. Washington found itself face-to-face with Ankara its first ally, its base, and its important pillar in the wars of domination over the region.

What is going on on the US-Turkish front for the past two years represents an irrevocable diagram of transformations that are greater than the ability of Washington and Ankara to avoid. The opposed positioning is an objective expression of geography and its ruling actors in politics. Thus the NATO becomes something from the past that is unable to react to the present’s challenges. Kurdistan which did not turn into an independent country seems closer to the leader of the NATO from the important original founder member namely Turkey, Turkey the member in NATO finds its closest ally with two countries, one is classified by NATO as a source of the main danger namely Russia and the other is classified by NATO as the main regional enemy namely Iran.

The war of visas between Washington and Ankara is the first one between the leader of the NATO and one of its pillars since the founding of the alliance which seems that it has become from the expired memories and has become a burden of its owners. There are new alliances with new considerations. Therefore the remaining of the post- World War II system is ending with the absence of NATO, which was no longer considered when Ankara two years ago has provoked Moscow and asked the support, but the alliance was dead and waited for its burial.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

تفكك الناتو ونظام ما بعد الحرب العالمية

أكتوبر 10, 2017

ناصر قنديل

تفكك الناتو ونظام ما بعد الحرب العالمية

– بعد تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي وحلف وارسو، رغبت واشنطن بتوسيع حلف الناتو إلى حدود روسيا، لكنها اصطدمت بموقف روسي صلب، حال دون ضمّ دول تشكل حديقة خلفية لروسيا كحال أوكرانيا، فتراجعت، وشكّل التراجع إعادة رسم للخطوط الحمراء في اللعبة الدولية، وجاءت الحرب التي جنّدت لها واشنطن على سورية عشرات الدول الحليفة داخل الناتو وخارجه، فرصة لقلب المعادلات الدولية لحساب واشنطن، ومحاصرة موسكو وبكين، وإبعادهما عن البحر المتوسط، وبلوغ حدودهما مع الجمهوريات الإسلامية في آسيا الوسطى، بعد استتاب النفوذ العثماني الذي شكّل قلب الهجوم الأميركي، انطلاقاً من سورية. وقد منح الأميركيون للتنظيم الحاكم في أنقرة جوائز وحوافز تمثلت بتسليم أنقرة مقاليد الحكم في القاهرة وتونس، وتمكين الدوحة من التقدّم على مكانة الرياض في الخليج.

– لم تكن خسارة الحرب في سورية فشلاً لمشروع الأحادية الأميركية في إدارة العالم فقط بالفشل في السيطرة على المنطقة التي تفصل البحر المتوسط عن حدود الصين وروسيا، ولا فشلاً اقتصادياً فقط لخطط الهيمنة على منابع الطاقة وممرات أنابيبها، بل الفشل الأخطر كان في سقوط مشروع العثمانية الجديدة، الذي قدّم للمرة الأولى جواباً في الهوية لتغطية الهيمنة الأميركية على الشرق، يعادل ما مثله الاتحاد الأوروبي في الجواب على قضية الهوية لتغطية الهيمنة الأميركية على الغرب، ولم تكن مجرد مصادفة عملية التحلّل التي أصابت المجالين الحيويين للهويّات الجديدة الجامعة تحت المظلة الأميركية، في الغرب والشرق، فتزامن سقوط العثمانية الجديدة وبدء تفكك الاتحاد الأوروبي، وجرى ذلك في القلب وليس في الأطراف، لتبدأ تركيا قلب العثمانية الجديدة بالاستدارة بتوقيت خروج بريطانيا من الاتحاد الأوروبي إيذاناً بنهاية عهد الصعود الأميركي.

– التحوّلات التي تشهدها منطقة الصراع الرئيسية في آسيا شرق المتوسط، لا تتيح تحوّلاً بارداً لتركيا كحال بريطانيا. فالتغيّر يجري على صفيح ساخن ويخلق تحديات متسارعة، وما بروز مسألة الانفصال الكردي على سطح الأحداث في كلّ من العراق وسورية إلا من التداعيات الناتجة عن العبث بالدول المركزية في المنطقة الذي مارسته تركيا لحساب مشروع العثمانية الجديدة. وبفشل المشروع بقيت تداعياته هي أفضل ما أنتجه للأميركيين، فاستثمروا عليها، ليصير الأكراد أهمّ من تركيا قلب المشروع الأصلي، لكن ليصير الهمّ التركي الأول التصدّي لخطر نشوء كيان كردي على حدودها، يهدّد وحدتها، وتجد واشنطن نفسها وجهاً لوجه في تصادم مع أنقرة، حليفها الأول وقاعدتها وركيزتها الوازنة، في حروب السيطرة والهيمنة على المنطقة.

– ما يجري على الجبهة الأميركية التركية منذ سنتين، يمثل خطاً بيانياً لا رجعة فيه، لتحوّلات أكبر من قدرة واشنطن وأنقرة على تلافيها. فالتموضع المتعاكس لهما هو تعبير موضوعي عن الجغرافيا ومفاعيلها الحاكمة في السياسة، وحيث يصير حلف الناتو شيئاً من الماضي الثقيل العاجز عن الإجابة على تحديات الحاضر، فها هي كردستان التي لم تتحوّل دولة مستقلة تبدو أقرب لزعيم الناتو من عضو أصيل مؤسّس وازن هو تركيا، وها هي تركيا العضو في الناتو تجد حليفها الأقرب مع دولتين، واحدة يصنّفها الناتو كمصدر خطر أول هي روسيا، وثانية يصنفها الناتو كعدو إقليمي أول، هي إيران.

– حرب التأشيرات بين واشنطن وأنقرة هي الأولى من نوعها بين زعيم الناتو وأحد أركانه، منذ تأسيس الحلف الذي يبدو أنه من ذكريات انتهت صلاحيتها، وصارت عبئاً على أصحابها، فيما تتبلور تحالفات جديدة بحسابات جديدة، ويغيب آخر بقايا نظام ما بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، مع غياب الناتو، الذي غاب عن السمع عندما تمادت أنقرة قبل عامين في استفزاز موسكو وطلبت المؤازرة، ليظهر أنّ الحلف قد مات وينتظر مراسم دفنه.

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Now that israel’s ISIS terrorists have more or less been defeated, attention turns to israel’s repeated violations of Lebanese territory

For the First Time Since the War Began, Syria Attempts to Confront Israel in Lebanon

How a “routine” flight has turned into a fight between Lebanon, Syria and Israel.

Lebanon Israel Syria da76a

Lebanon is a country that has come so far since the troubled times of its recent past. A lengthy civil war which wasted just as much in human blood as it did in years of time. Much of what was damaged during the Lebanese civil war, which including the years of Israeli occupation of Lebanon, has been replaced or rebuilt, yet, the country is still plagued to this day by troubles along its southern border which it shares with Israel and Syria.

Lebanon’s southern border is a largely disputed stretch of land which in part connects Lebanon, Syria and Israel altogether. The Shebaa Farms are a well-known disputed area which is considered an Israeli occupied territory by Lebanese and Syrian’s. The Golan Heights is another example, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria which Israel occupied following the Arab – Israel ‘6 Day-War’ in 1967. Israel later unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 and the move was never recognised internationally – and so the dispute continues to this day.

“Routine” border violations

The political disputes of this region are merely the context for a much more disconcerting situation along the border. The almost daily illegal breaches of Lebanese sovereignty by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) which has, at times, risked pushing the region into a new bloody confrontation. The numerous breaches come in many forms; the sight of Israeli military aircraft looming above towns and villages of South Lebanon has become a well-known phenomenon among the local inhabitants but the IDF also conducts regular ground and naval intrusions into Lebanese territory in clear defiance of two United Nations Security Council Resolutions, 425 and 1701.

To bring you an even greater idea for the sheer scale of the number of regular illegal intrusions committed by the IDF we should take a look at this months reported infringements as an example: so far this month the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have registered at least seven severe incidents of Israeli military movements which have defied Lebanese territorial integrity between 4th – 16th October. These incidents include an IDF tractor vandalizing vegetation on the Lebanese side of the border, an IDF naval vessel entering Lebanese waters for a period of 25mins before departing back and an armed five-man IDF patrol which walked at least 50 meters into Lebanese territory and attempted to “kidnap” an unarmed Lebanese shepherd before exiting back across the border. These examples may appear inconsequential but on such a volatile border these small incidents can bubble up fast and erupt into something much more disastrous – a scenario the IDF is very much aware of.

On Monday the Israel air force breached Lebanese airspace a total of three times throughout the day, one of the morning breaches was a “routine” IDF reconnaissance flight over Lebanon that quickly escalated into a mini clash as a Syrian anti-aircraft missile launcher fired at the Israeli spy plane. The missile – an SA5 surface-to-air rocket – failed to hit its target, and, according to an Israeli military spokesperson, the anti-aircraft battery located 30 miles from Damascus was then hit by separate Israeli jets, “incapacitating” the launcher with four strikes.

This is the first time Israel has been challenged by Syria while spying on Lebanon since the Syrian war began. A clear sign from Syria that a day is coming when Israel won’t be free to violate Syrian & Lebanese sovereignty without retaliation. A freedom which Israel took full advantage of during the Syrian war, striking targets with complete insusceptibility, including senior Hezbollah figures and arms shipments, Iranian IRGC members and the Syrian Arab Army.

These types of highly combustible incidents have been allowed to escalate, becoming commonplace in the Levant, as the international community does little to rein in Israel’s intrusive behaviour while simultaneously adding fuel to the fire in conflict zones such as Syria & Iraq. The Lebanese, Syrian & Israeli border dispute has become a much greater cause for concern in recent years as the list of despicable offences continues to grow in number and rigorousness. In all honesty, many of the clashes could be avoided if the IDF choose to de-escalate its activity along the border region but has instead chosen to involve itself in Syrian & Lebanese affairs. The IDF have even been so bold as to criticise the UN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) for not confronting Hezbollah in Lebanon. The IDF’s aggressive policy of intimidating local Lebanese civilians and antagonising the LAF, UN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) and (most notably) the Hezbollah could lead to a new, much more gruesome, confrontation causing me to wonder if Israel really does want a new war.

The last war fought between Hezbollah and Israel was in July 2006 which began as a result of long escalating IDF vs Hezbollah border skirmishes, eventually, leading to a full-blown war between the IDF & Hezbollah. The IDF attempted to defeat Hezbollah militarily as it had done to the Palestinian PLO in Lebanon back in 1982 which evolved from the initial Israeli invasion to become an occupation of Southern Lebanon which went on to inspire the local Shia resistance – and so, Hezbollah was then born. The IDF’s anti-PLO objectives in the 82 war succeeded, Arafat lost his power in Lebanon and the PLO never returned to the South, but their similar plans in the July 2006 war against the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah failed miserably, only leading to death and destruction for both sides and a revitalized reputation for the Hezbollah.

Following that dreadful war, Lebanon’s people have now to live with the constant fear of low flying Israeli military aircraft posturing in a provocative fashion; emitting sonic booms that frighten and confuse local civilians who all live in fear that a new deadly war may once again commence. A war which several senior Israeli figures (including IDF Military chiefs and the Israeli Minister of Defence) claim will target civilian areas and vital Lebanese infrastructure across the country – which was also the case in the 2006 war.

The Lebanese government continues to respond to the endless list of border violations with an equally endless list of formal complaints to the UN about the IDF’s behaviour. The UN can do little except officially record the grievances and “investigate” the claims but no real action is ever taken to hold the IDF to account, and so, the violations continue.

Despite the UN’s best efforts the problem continues and with the promise to worsen as the war in Syria calms down leading to Israeli fears that Iran will expand its presence in Syria and look to challenge Israel for its dominance on the Golan & the Shebaa farms, however, the border dispute problem doesn’t only apply to the land but also to the sea as Lebanon and Israel now both look to the riches promised by the Mediterranean for the future prosperity of their nations – leading to yet more escalations coinciding with provocative political posturing between the Lebanese & Israeli’s.

The Mediterranean dispute

Lebanon and Israel are currently locked in a dispute over maritime boundaries. The 1949 Israel-Lebanon armistice line serves as the de facto land border between the two countries, and Lebanon claims roughly 330 square miles of waters that overlap with areas claimed by Israel based in part on differences in interpretation of relative points on the armistice line. The disputed stretch of water fanning out from the Lebanese coast towards Cypriot seas has been discovered to have huge reserves of natural gas and potential oil reserves below the seabed. Just another area of fierce contention between Lebanon and Israel which, following the estimates of the potential value, could lead to a new war according to some. Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, has described the maritime territory as “the Shebaa Farms of the sea”.

“If (Israel) continues with its expansionist plot through the government and the Knesset, that means that the spark of war is looming on the horizon,” Nabih Berri gave these comments to Lebanese journalists following news that Israel planned a complete annexation of the disputed sea area if the Knesset passed a new bill which lay official Israeli claim to the area – the bill would be recognised by Israel only, no one else.

Nabih Berri continued to say, ”We, on our side in Lebanon, we will not be quiet and we will not accept any compromise on our people’s rights to these resources, which have a degree of holiness to us.”

Lebanon is in desperate need for energy, a new industry to create jobs and a source of consistent revenue – all these things could be solved by the promise of lucrative natural gas fields off Lebanon’s coast but should Hezbollah begin to receive a profit from any future gas industry then Israel could find that intolerable. Similarly, if Israel does follow through with an annexation of disputed areas then the Lebanese may see it as a duty to respond with force to protect what Lebanon’s government considers its people’s birthright.

Israel has already begun to drill for gas and in 2010 entered into an agreement with Cyprus that draws a specific maritime border delineation point relative to the 1949 armistice line leading to major protests by the Lebanese. It has been estimated that the gas reserves in that area could be so lucrative that Israel, which has a naturally small demand for energy, could become an exporter of gas in the future creating huge new revenue and boosting the country’s independence. Lebanon has been left behind in this respect due, in part, to a long-lasting political deadlock and alleged government mismanagement of the affair. Now that Lebanon has a new President the country is looking towards the future and sees the Mediterranean’s gas and oil as a ticket to success. This would explain one reason why President Aoun has been so eager to move the Syrian refugees out of Lebanon, by any and all means, in order to free up Lebanese resources so they can pursue their gas drilling ambitions.

Lebanon currently consumes mostly oil and has no gas consumption whatsoever. If Lebanon did one day begin to produce its own gas it could replace the oil consumptions monopoly as oil makes up 93% of all the Lebanese energy consumption material with only coal and renewerble energy making up the remaining 7% – gas is cleaner to produce than oil and could help Lebanon to hit environmental targets while a revival in Lebanon’s domestic energy industry would simultaneously provide a solution to Lebanon’s crippling energy cut-outs that plague Lebanese daily life.

The future

President Aoun has wasted no time in kickstarting the process. This month the Petroleum Administration in the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water has already announced that an international consortium has won two licenses for exploration in two of Lebanon’s maritime blocks, zones 4 and 9 (Zone 9, located off the coast of Southern Lebanon, is one of the blocks which borders the disputed triangle zone which Israel lays claim too).

Israel has yet to decide on its reaction to the latest news and as Lebanon races to catch up with its regional gas rivals, the possibility of a new dimension to the heated disputes between Lebanon and Israel. Judging by the IDF’s behaviour on land and in the air, we will likely see Israel continue to push boundaries in the sea. The key difference between the dispute on land compared to the dispute in the Mediterranean is money – an element which history proves can easily drive countries to war.

Syria has sent a significant signal to the IDF by targeting an Israeli spy plane in Lebanon that a day is coming that Lebanon & Syria will, once again, not tolerate large-scale Israeli encroachment on their assets and will be willing to retaliate to any violations of new red lines – not just Syrian territory but Lebanese territory too. If the IDF wants to continue pushing boundaries – including in the Mediterranean – they will risk an escalation which will include Damascus and by default Tehran too. The IDF’s “routine” in Lebanon is no more. Russia shares good relations with Damascus and Tel Aviv so won’t enter into any future clash between the two, especially if it is just a Hezbollah – IDF skirmish but the possibility of further gas field discoveries could lead to more boundaries being tested risking further complications on the land, the sea and in the air.

References

[1] http://www.lpa.gov.lb/

[2] http://services.globes.co.il/en/article-lebanon-awards-exploration-license-bordering-israeli-waters-1001208038

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/16/israeli-jets-attack-anti-aircraft-battery-in-syria-in-retaliatory-strike

[4] https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R44591.pdf

[5] https://www.ft.com/content/0250eed4-1082-11e7-b030-768954394623?mhq5j=e6

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