On the day Kurds celebrated Nowruz (the Persian new year) and Jews celebrated Purim (the defeat of the Persian who wanted to exterminate them), President Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the Islamic State was defeated.
These milestones in the history of the modern Middle East are a testament to victorious foreign and military policies of America and Israel. The military outcome was presaged last year when Trump altered the rules of engagement, and the political outcome was presaged last week, when the State Department supplanted the official depiction of the Golan from Israeli-“occupied” to Israeli-“controlled” territory.
T. Belman. It bothers me that the US mission in Syria is still described by Defense as the destroying of ISIS rather than the stopping of Iran.
Instead of the full withdrawal the president promised, the United States will leave several hundred troops in Syria.
John Bolton, the U.S. national security advisor and longtime Iran hawk, has won a crucial victory with the partial reversal of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.
In an apparent softening of Trump’s abrupt announcement last December that the United States would pull out completely from Syria—a move that blindsided U.S. allies and prompted the resignation of his defense secretary, James Mattis—the administration now concedes that a small force of roughly 400 troops will remain in the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday revealed plans to return four million Syrian refugees to Kurdish-held northern Syria, fueling fears that Ankara is going to further upend the region’s long-established demographics by forcibly replacing the local Kurds with Arabs.
“We are aiming in the first phase to create safe zones where four million Syrians who now live in our country can return,” Erdogan declared during a speech in Istanbul, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Baghdad and Kurdish leaders have ordered the removal of Iran-backed Shiite militias from Kirkuk and the return of the oil-rich city to the control of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Rudaw reported Thursday.
The move is a testament to the thaw in relations between the Iraqi government and the Kurds following clashes over the Kurdish independence referendum in October 2017.
With the support of the Popular Mobilization Forces/Units (PMF/U), an umbrella organization of mainly Iran-allied Shiite militias, the Iraqi government pushed the KRG out of Kirkuk in retaliation for holding a non-binding referendum on Kurdish sovereignty overwhelmingly approved by the Kurds in October 2017.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States would get out of Syria slowly “over a period of time” and would protect the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down troops.
Trump did not provide a timetable for the planned military exit from Syria, which he announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or U.S. allies participating in anti-Islamic State operations.
The decision prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign. Trump said on Wednesday he had essentially fired Mattis, whose letter of resignation was seen as a sharp rebuke to the Republican president.
The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) have turned to Russia to mediate talks between them and dictator Bashar al-Assad amid threats of an impending Turkish offensive into their territory in northern Syria, a senior Kurdish official reportedly declared on Monday.
President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Middle East similarly claimed that Russia would intervene in these discussions.
The Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), has maintained control of nearly a third of Syria in the northern part of the country along the Turkish border with the help of the outgoing U.S military. Assad controls about half of the country and Turkish-backed forces, al-Qaeda, and to a lesser extent, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), hold the rest.
Trump said Erdogan will “eradicate” ISIS in Syria and praised the Turkish leader as “a man who can do it.
The Syrian war has become a global conflict involving not only Syria, but Russia, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and most particularly, Iran. And despite US President Donald Trump’s announcement of “victory over ISIS,” the Islamic State has not been defeated, although much of its territory and thus oil revenues have been captured by Western and Kurdish forces. The road to the long-term degradation of ISIS runs through Kurdistan at the nexus of geopolitical forces generated by Ottomans, Persians and czarists. The United States should recognize Kurdistan as an essential component of regional politics.
The Alignment of Malign Powers
America’s long-term involvement in the Middle East was disrupted following the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of the Islamic Republic. For the subsequent four decades, the Mullahs have pursued the creation of a “Shi’ite Crescent” connecting Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. The “crescent” threatens America’s Sunni allies – Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt – all of which will fall under it.
By Gerald A. Honigman
The Jerusalem Post article by Yonah Jeremy Bob of September 20, 2018 was titled, “Will Iraqi territory be used to fire rockets on Israel from Iran?” A bit earlier, Seth Frantzman reported on September 9th about a Iranian ballistic missile attack on Kurds deep inside of Iraq which hit the exact building–some say exact room–where Kurdish opposition leaders were meeting. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was sending a message to others besides Kurds, and both articles dealt with the growing threat of enhanced precision missiles in the region. While a nation as tiny and compact as Israel cannot help but take such matters very seriously, what I’m proposing now goes beyond the usual discussion…
The Syrian government’s announced offensive against rebel-held Idlib province could further complicate an already tense relationship between Turkey and the United States, both members of the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization, if Kurdish armed militias were to join the battle alongside the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
It has been reported by Turkish and European media that Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG) fighters, whom the Turks consider affiliated to the rebel PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) movement in Turkey, may help the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies retake Idlib.
Diplomatic offensive achieves success in Paris meetings with Macron after months of post-referendum uncertainty.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and discussed the “need for the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve their differences through dialogue.” The conversation represents an achievement for the diplomacy of the KRG over the last month, as it has sought to shore up confidence following the chaos that resulted from the September referendum and the October clashes with Iraq over Kirkuk and other disputed areas.
The main drivers behind the Kurdistan region’s diplomatic offensive have been the young leaders of the region, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani. The architecture of this policy has largely fallen on Falah Mustafa, the head of the Foreign Relations Department of the KRG, who has been holding daily meetings with a vast array of officials.
WHAT THE HELL!! What this tells us is that big powers will never support the little guy as opposed to currying favour with the big guy. Prime examples are the sell out of Czechslovakia, Israel and the Kurds.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – The United States will cut off its supply of arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria, President Donald Trump told the Turkish president on Friday, in a move sure to please Turkey but further alienate Syrian Kurds who bore much of the fight against the Islamic State group.In a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said he’d “given clear instructions” that the Kurds will receive no more weapons – “and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The White House confirmed the move in a cryptic statement about the phone call that said Trump had informed the Turk of “pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.”
Why Trump must block Iran’s effort to build a land-bridge to the Mediterranean and pushing for Kurdish independence is the way to accomplish that.
America can’t invoke the lame excuse that was invoked to abandon the Iraqi Kurds, namely, their having held the Sept. 25th Independence Referendum, for this occurred just after the Nov. 22nd summit-meeting of the self-dubbed “guarantor powers” for Syria (Iran, Turkey and Russia)—excluding America—in Sochi.
Prospects for a high-profile D.C.-meeting promoting unambiguous and aggressive American support for an independent Kurdistan continue to brighten, as potential supporters emerge; the issuance of a letter by four House members will prompt efforts on Monday-a.m. to link their offices with others who are like-minded. Again, EVERYONE receiving these “Blast” e-mails is cordially invited to pitch-in, for TIME-IS-TIGHT!
By Dore Gold
- The Kurds have been repeatedly targeted for nothing less than mass murder. During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s the army of Saddam Hussein entered Kurdistan and engaged in the destruction of 2,000 Kurdish villages; over 100,000 Kurds were slain in those operations. 5,000 Kurds died as a result of Iraqi use of chemical weapons against them.
- The Kurds have been one of the strongest allies of the West in the Middle East and have led the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
- The Kurds have built up democratic institutions in northern Iraq and the economic progress they’ve made has been impressive.
- The Kurds are a nation that deserves national self-expression. In the long term, they are a strategic asset to the entire Western alliance and deserve diplomatic and political support.
Click here to watch the video.
By Robert Sklaroff and Sherkoh Abbas
The Trump Administration must urgently decide whether it will pursue a muscular long-term foreign policy in the Middle East for, if America is to be Made Great Again by confronting Iran, the Kurds must be supported militarily … aggressively … ASAP.
Time is tight.
We framed the challenge America faces in a heavily-documented essay—that Abbas elucidated during audio, video, video and written interviews—which cites our serial analyses of the Kurds’ plight during the past decade, key facets of which are updated herein.
Russia has invited Kurdish authorities to the Congress of the Peoples of Syria, a meeting of the country’s various ethnic groups that is scheduled to be held in Sochi.
Such a congress would focus on seeking “compromise solutions towards the political settlement” of Syria’s conflict, a Russian negotiator on Syria said earlier this week.
By Robert Sklaroff and Sherkoh Abbas
President Trump’s foreign policy doctrine of “Principled Realism” is failing its first bona fide test in the Middle East, as his goal to maintain neutrality in the Iraq-Kurd civil war is permitting Iran’s hegemony to pave the rest of its “Shi’ite Crescent” highway to the Mediterranean Sea.
After hostilities broke-out on October 16th, the State Department’s clumsy serial-rationales evolved last week from “seeking to rectify a misunderstanding” to “denying Iranians had any role in the invasion” to “advocating calm to all parties” to “asking all parties to refrain from violence” to “offering to mediate a cease-fire” to “asking Baghdad to stop invading Kurdistan.”
By Ted Belman
About 10 years ago Sherkoh Abbas the President Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria contacted me and invited me to be on the Board of Directors for the American Kurdish Friendship League. I accepted and went to Washington to assist with the lobbying.
We have kept in touch.
What follows is an interview of him by Audrey Russo. For an up to date report on what is the situation, this is a major contribution starting at 2:30.
Iraq’s PM launches an operation to free Anbar from ISIS.
DEBKAfile: It is Stage II of the Kurdish campaign for an Iran-backed Shiite takeover of another Sunni region.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi announced on Thursday, Oct. 26 that his army had embarked on a new operation to liberate the western Anbar province from the Islamic State. His troops were on their way to impose a siege on ISIS-held Al-Qaim on the Syrian border. ISIS also still holds Abu Kamal on the Syrian side of the Iraqi border. Abadi said the jihadis had just two options: to die or to surrender.
Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani miscalculated local and international reaction to his unilateral independence referendum last month.
As the war against the Islamic State as an entity controlling territory comes to a close in Iraq, control over territories disputed between the Iraqi central government and the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government (KRG) has come to the forefront. Forces officially affiliated with the Baghdad government, as well as militias aligned with it on this issue, have taken control of several key disputed sites, including Kirkuk city and Sinjar, which were previously held by Kurdish forces.
While it initially seemed that the aim of the operations was just to assert the boundaries that existed prior to the Islamic State surge of 2014, there are indications the rollback may go as far as the 2003 boundaries. What is the root of this crisis? And what, if anything, should be the U.S. role?