The US has very quietly acceded to Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
Hardly anyone noticed. The Trump administration quietly changed America’s long-held position on Syria’s strategic Golan Heights while attention was focused on the raucous political carnival in Washington. Though barely noticed, the policy change had enormous importance and will lead the United States into a lot of future Mideast misery.
The Golan Heights is a volcanic plateau that abuts Syria, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. The plateau rises abruptly from the plain of Galilee, providing dominance of the entire region. To the north, Mt Hermon rises to over 9,000 feet (2,814 meters); the plateau slopes down at its southern extremity.
Golan provides the headwaters of the Jordan River and 15-20% of Israel’s water from its snow-capped north. Israeli artillery atop Golan can hit Damascus and its airport. Electronic intelligence systems on Golan look down onto southern Syria, intercepting all communications and detecting troop movements.
The plateau is quite fascinating. I have walked most of the Israeli-held side, observing dug-in tanks, artillery and small forts surrounded by anti-tank ditches. Burned out wrecks of Syrian tanks and armor litter the countryside. I’ve also walked the Syrian side and explored the wrecked Syrian town of Kuneitra that was leveled by the Israelis in 1967.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Golan Heights, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria
The Middle East and the US both would be much better off if the latter had stayed out of the former. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:
Read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
The terrorist threat that has arisen from the Sunni side of the Islamic divide is largely of Washington’s own making; and it is being nurtured by endless US meddling in the region’s politics and by the bombing and droning campaigns against Washington’s self-created enemies.
At the root of Sunni based terrorism is the long-standing Washington error that America’s security and economic well-being depends upon keeping an armada in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the surrounding oilfields and the flow of tankers through the straits of Hormuz.
That doctrine has been wrong from the day it was officially enunciated by one of America’s great economic ignoramuses, Henry Kissinger, at the time of the original oil crisis in 1973. The 45 years since then have proven in spades that its doesn’t matter who controls the oilfields, and that the only effective cure for high oil prices is the free market.
Every tin pot dictatorship from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Saddam Hussein, to the bloody-minded chieftains of Nigeria, to the purportedly medieval Mullahs and fanatical Revolutionary Guards of Iran has produced oil. And usually all they could because almost always they desperately needed the revenue.
For crying out loud, even the barbaric thugs of ISIS milked every possible drop of petroleum from the tiny, wheezing oilfields scattered around their backwater domain before they were finally driven out. So there is no economic case whatsoever for Imperial Washington’s massive military presence in the middle east.
Posted in Business, Debt, Economy, Energy, Financial markets, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Imperialism, Military, Politics, War
Tagged al Qaeda, First Gulf War, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria
The current foreign policy establishment, including Trump’s main appointees, needs to be “regime changed.” From Philip Giraldi at ronpaulinstitute.org:
One of the things to look forward to in the upcoming holiday season is the special treats that one is allowed to sample. Fruitcake and nuts are Thanksgiving and Christmas favorites. They usually come in tins or special packages but it seems that this season some of the nuts have escaped and have fled to obtain sanctuary from the Trump Administration.
Currently, there is certainly a wide range of nuts available on display in the West Wing. There is the delicate but hairy Bolton, which has recently received the coveted “Defender of Israel” award, and also the robust Pompeo, courageously bucking the trend to overeat during the holidays by telling the Iranian people that they should either surrender or starve to death. And then there is the always popular Haley, voting audaciously to give part of Syria to Israel as a holiday treat.
But my vote for the most magnificent nut in an Administration that is overflowing with such talent would be the esteemed United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey. The accolade is in part due to the fact that Jeffrey started out relatively sane as a career diplomat with the State Department, holding ambassadorships in Iraq, Turkey, and Albania. He had to work hard to become as demented as he now is but was helped along the way by signing on as a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is a spin-off of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Government, Imperialism, Intelligence, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Israel, James Jeffrey, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Saudi Arabia, Syria
Syria’s now the belle of the ball because now that Assad has survived regime change, it could serve as a counterweight to Turkey and Iran in the Middle East. From Middle East Eye at theantimedia.org:
Last week the United Arab Emirates announced it was negotiating the reopening of its embassy in Damascus and restoring full ties with Syria.
After the opening of the Nassib border crossing on the Jordan-Syria border, for the first time since the war began, Syria now has a through road linking Turkey to Jordan.
At the same time the Israelis have also handed over the Quneitra border crossing in the occupied Golan Heights to Damascus after four years of closure.
It is not just that all roads are leading to Damascus but also there is a quiet – but strategic – shift by the most powerful Arab actors in the region towards establishing a working relationship with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Media, Politics
Tagged Bashar al-Assad, Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
The Syrian government is moving against the largest remaining jihadist stronghold. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.
This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.
Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.
US intervention in Syria and Iraq continues on its disastrous course. From Elijah J. Magnier at ejmagnier.com:
During the International Institute for Strategic Studies 14thdialogue in the Bahraini Capital Manama, Bert McGurk, the US envoy for the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State group (ISIS), took leave of his designated function by expressing unusual solicitude for Syria when he said it is “necessary for the Iran-Backed militias to leave Syria to ensure a stable and independent country”. The US presidential special envoy also said he is looking forward to promoting “mutual US-Iraq interests and for the Iraqis to strengthen their own interests and sovereignty”.
McGurk, who was directly involved in the formation of the Iraqi leadership (Speaker, President and Prime Minister) in the last few months, didn’t manage to return his favourite candidate Haidar Abadi to power and failed to prevent Faleh al-Fayyad from coming to power. According to private sources in Baghdad, al-Fayyad will be nominated as Interior Minister, a position that requires coordination with US forces in Iraq. McGurk clashed with Fayyad on several occasions when he unsuccessfully sought to limit the activity of Iran and Hezbollah in supporting the formation of the new Iraqi leadership in Baghdad.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Imperialism, Insurrection, Intelligence, Media, Politics
Tagged Bert McGurk, Iran, Iraq, Syria
Russia, Turkey, Germany and France are shaping the peace in Syria without the US and Britain. From a Strategic Culture Foundation editorial at strategic-culture.org:
There were several takeaways from the recent Quadrilateral Summit in Istanbul on finding a peaceful settlement to the war in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin convened with his counterparts from Turkey, Germany and France for a two-day summit last weekend in a convivial and constructive atmosphere.
The four powers signed a communique emphasizing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. It was Putin who underscored the inviolability of the Syrian government of President Assad as the internationally recognized authority in the Arab country. The communique also endorsed the right of the Syrian nation to self-determination over the future political settlement, free from external interference.
These principles have been stated before in a previous UN Security Council Resolution 2254. But it seems more than ever that the sovereignty of Syria has been widely accepted. Recall that not too long ago, Turkey and France were calling for President Assad to stand down. That demand is no longer tenable, at least as far as the four powers attending the Istanbul summit are concerned.