Documents obtained by the Israeli government through a covert operation indicate that the Iranian nuclear weapons program was larger and more sophisticated than once suspected. [The New York Times] 16 July 2018
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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : EUROPE (WEST) & TEHRAN (EAST) FEAR TRUMP – PUTIN MEETING
Maxim A. Suchkov July 13, 2018 – AL MONITOR – Article Summary – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent his top adviser to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the Russian leader’s meeting with Trump, in hopes that Moscow will remain wary of US promises.
MOSCOW — Days before the historic summit in Helsinki between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, each president is honing his negotiation skills. While the US leader has been in Europe arguing with NATO allies, the Russian president is having yet another diplomatic marathon with Syria’s vital stakeholders. No sooner had the Israeli prime minister left Moscow than Putin hosted Ali Akbar Velayati, the supreme leader of Iran’s senior adviser for international affairs, at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and presidential aide Yury Ushakov also took part in the meeting.
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ISRAEL STÜTZT ASSAD – Wieso Israel sich weigert, Putin als Feind zu betrachten – Jüdische Rundschau
Der Teufel, den man kennt, ist besser“: Experte zu Israels Haltung zu Syrien
13 Juli 2018 – RT/sputnik – Trotz der zunehmenden Spannung in den syrische-israelischen Beziehungen scheint Tel Aviv seinen Ton gegenüber dem syrischen Präsidenten gemildert zu haben. Der israelische Sicherheitsexperte Dr. Mark Heller hat in einem Interview mit Sputnik diesen Tonwechsel Israels kommentiert.
Zuvor hatten Medien unter Verweis auf einen ranghohen israelischen Beamten berichtet, dass der israelische Premierminister Benjamin Netanjahu bei seinem jüngsten Treffen mit dem russischen Präsidenten Wladimir Putin geäußert, Tel Aviv versuche nicht, den syrischen Präsidenten Bashar al-Asad zu stürzen, und werde sich nicht in syrische Angelegenheiten einmischen, falls die bestehende Vereinbarungen eingehalten werden sollten.
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS ANALYSIS
Discussions of U.S. policy on Syria mostly revolve around two things: counter-terrorism (i.e. combating the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist groups) and counter-Iran, the latter of which has gained much more prominence since the Trump administration came to power.Proposals on the counter-Iran angle from many think-tanks largely focus on a policy of containment and/or hurting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Syria. At the most ambitious, the policy aim is set at removing the IRGC entirely from Syria, which is similar to Israel’s demands on the matter. Policy recommendations that come about within these frameworks include:
Don’t Get Out of Syria – Assad’s Victory Will Only Lead to More Chaos – By Jennifer Cafarella ( FOREIGN AFFAIRS) 11 July 2018
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS Snapshot : LISTEN TO JENNIFER CAFARELLA (ISW)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not won his country’s civil war; rather, the war is entering a more dangerous phase. Forces fighting on his behalf have made important gains in recent years, capturing Syria’s second city, Aleppo, in 2016 and securing his capital, Damascus, in 2018. They are currently attacking the rebel stronghold in the southern provinces of Quneitra and Daraa, where the revolution began. Together, these victories have changed the trajectory of the war, weakening the moderate opposition and suggesting to many international observers that the fight for Syria is all but over.
But although the regime’s advances are impressive on a map, they will not end the war. Assad is weaker than he seems. His rule depends on the backing of foreign patrons, such as Iran and Russia, and the exhaustion of states that once opposed him, such as Jordan. His decision to internationalize the war will lay the foundation for future wars, and his tactics of mass slaughter threaten to fuel a long-term, global jihadist insurgency that will keep combat raging in Syria for years to come.
Kurdish Disunity In Historical Perspective by Michael M. Gunter – Kurdish Identity, Disunity, and the Future of Kurdistan – Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy & International Relations
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS HISTORICAL ANALYSIS BY MICHAEL GUNTER
Kurdish nationalism is challenged not only by the more developed counter-nationalisms of the states in which the Kurds live (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria) but also by the problem of Kurdish disunity and infighting. The seventeenth-century Kurdish poet Ahmad-i Khani, for example, lamented in Mem u Zin (the Kurdish national epic): “If only there were harmony among us, if we were to obey a single one of us, he would reduce to vassalage Turks, Arabs, and Persians, all of them. We would perfect our religion, our state, and would educate ourselves in learning and wisdom.”1 A century ago the Wigrams (Christian missionaries who chronicled their travels through Kurdistan) concluded that although the Kurds “are a very ancient people,” they ‘have no national cohesion,” and “a ‘United Kurdistan’ is a…Utopian conception.”2 Jonathan Randal (the then senior foreign correspondent of the Washington Post) jocularly “suspect[ed] a rogue chromosome in Kurdish genetics causes…fissiparous tendencies.”3
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS GENERAL FORECAST : NOT JUST TRUMP MEETS PUTIN – LSO MEETING ALSO WITH NETANJAHU (THE PUTIN / NETANJAHU DEAL)
July 11, 2018 – SPECIAL DISPATCH No. 7562 – Russian Commentators: What Can Be Expected From The Third Putin-Netanyahu Meeting This Year?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Moscow for more than viewing the World Cup tournament. He will meet with Vladimir Putin and it is a foregone conclusion that the Iranian presence in Syria is the main topic of their discussion. The meeting has drawn interest because it shortly precedes the July 16, 2018 summit between Donald Trump and Putin in Helsinki. On July 6, 2018, Henry Meyer published an article on Bloomberg.com stating that a deal was in the works in which Iran would be kept away from Israel’s borders, and the U.S. would drop its demands for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s ouster. The Netanyahu visit and the Meyer article have provoked discussion in Russia on how to placate the Israelis and Trump without angering the Iranians, whose boots on the ground in Syria helped maintain Assad and limited the cost of Russia’s interventions in Syria. Below are a few Russian comments on the issue and on the timing of the two meetings.
Solonnikov: Trump-Putin Meeting Will Build On Netanyahu-Putin Meeting
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS “TURKEY PULSE” : NO EXISTENCE IN SYRIA FOR PKK/PYD(YPG) WITHOUT THE HELPING HAND OF THE U.S.
WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) – Manbij holds the key to improved Turkish-US ties
Semih Idiz July 10, 2018 – AL MONITOR – Article Summary – Ankara is worried the United States and Russia may be working on a deal in Syria that will be to Turkey’s disadvantage.
Although attention in Turkey turned to domestic politics in the lead-up to the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, Ankara’s focus will be back on Turkish-US ties now that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been sworn in as Turkey’s first all-powerful executive president and announced his new Cabinet.Developments in northern Syria, particularly in the city of Manbij, will continue to determine the course of these relations, which are already beset by many disagreements.
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS „MONOGRAPHS“ : Toward a New U.S. Policy in Syria Ground Zero for Countering Iran and Deterring an Islamic State Revival THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE)
By Katherine Bauer, Soner Cagaptay, Patrick Clawson, Michael Eisenstadt, James F. Jeffrey, Barbara A. Leaf, Matthew Levitt, Dennis Ross, and Robert Satloff
12 July 2018 – Today, Syria is the sole battlefield in the world where American, Russian, Turkish, Iranian, and Israeli military forces all operate, along with a kaleidoscope of proxy actors foreign and domestic. As the preeminent arena of strategic competition in the Middle East and a wellspring of potential Islamic State resurgence, Syria matters a great deal for a host of U.S. interests. The question is whether U.S. withdrawal is the best way to safeguard those interests.
In this special report, a working group of Washington Institute fellows outlines an alternative approach. Rather than abandoning U.S. allies and exacerbating regional perceptions of U.S. retreat, they show how the Trump administration can couple a no-fly/no-drive zone and a small residual ground presence in the northeast with intensified sanctions against the Assad regime’s Iranian patron. In doing so, Washington can support local efforts to stabilize the area, encourage Gulf partners to “put skin in the game,” drive a wedge between Moscow and Tehran, and help Israel avoid all-out war.
Katherine Bauer, Soner Cagaptay, Patrick Clawson, Michael Eisenstadt, James F. Jeffrey, Barbara A. Leaf, Matthew Levitt, Dennis Ross, and Robert Satloff
BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | July 10, 2018 | THE LONG WAR JOURNAL
On May 21, the Turkistan Islamic Party’s (TIP) arm in Syria released an hour-plus, documentary-style video encouraging Muslims in the West to emigrate for jihad. There is a deluge of jihadist-related content online these days, with much of it being redundant. But the production was noteworthy because the TIP, which is predominately comprised of ethnic Uighurs, framed its jihad as part of al Qaeda’s global struggle.
This is not altogether surprising, as there is voluminous evidence connecting the TIP to al Qaeda’s network. But the timing of the video stands out. It was released at a time when the TIP’s larger cousin, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is publicly distancing itself from al Qaeda’s notorious brand. HTS claims to have disassociated from al Qaeda, while the US government still considers the group to be an al Qaeda “affiliate.” Either way, HTS does not openly celebrate al Qaeda’s legacy — not like the TIP’s Syrian arm did in late May.