MESOPOTAMIA NEWS OVERVIEW : The US and Iran Struggle over the Terms of Future Negotiations

MESOP MIDEAST – Sima Shine, Eldad Shavit – THE INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES – ISRAEL  – INSS Insight No. 1197, July 2, 2019

The recent escalation in the confrontation between the United States and Iran demonstrates the determination of both sides not to concede any ground, on the understanding that doing so would undercut their ability to bargain in any future negotiations. In parallel to the mutual muscle-flexing there are mediation efforts underway, currently led by French President Macron, in an effort to formulate the conditions and nature of a dialogue. Looking ahead, the two likeliest scenarios remain as they were: protracted confrontation between the sides, within the current parameters; or resumed negotiations.

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Ömer Özkizilcik‏ @OmerOzkizilcik 2 hours ago

Thanks for this proof by Abdullah Öcalan’s adoptive son and the head of the #SDF why the #YPG is a national security threat to #Turkey ahead of the (last?) negotiations between the #US and Turkey over the safe-zone in #Syria:

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BOOK RECOMMENDATION :  The EU’s Approach to the Syrian Crisis: Turkey as a Partner?

Uluslararasi Iliskiler, 2019 – By  Çiğdem Nas

The article aims to analyze the European Union (EU)’s approach to the Syrian crisis and to evaluate the role it attributes to Turkey. The EU’s approach staggered between supporting transition in Syria to a post-Assad regime and the need to protect itself against spill-over effects of the conflict. Two issues emerged as urgent priorities that determined the EU’s approach to the conflict. One of them was to control the outpouring of refugees fleeing war and oppression in Syria and the other was to deal…The influx of Syrian refugees through the Aegean and Balkan route to the EU surged in the summer of 2015 leading to practical and political problems for EU countries. In the meantime, ISIL related terror attacks in the EU created a major security problem and led several Member States to bring back border controls in the Schengen area. The EU turned to Turkey and sought Turkey’s cooperation in controlling the refugee flow and also keeping away the ISIL threat. The article looks at cooperation between Turkey and the EU and also points of contention that created hurdles in this cooperation.

Doi: 10.33458/uidergisi.588912

Publication Date: 2019

Publication Name: Uluslararasi Iliskiler

The US warned in early May that Iran or its proxies were threatening the US and US allies. American naval assets were dispatched to the Gulf and war planes followed.

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS OPINION BY SETH FRANTZMAN – Iran outmaneuvers the UK in Gulf tanker conflict -analysis

By Seth J. Frantzman – JERUSALEM POST – July 21, 2019 12:05 – It was abundantly clear what Iran was up to in the Gulf in the days prior to it seizing the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Straits of Hormuz on Friday, July 19. Iran had already sought to impede the movement of the British Heritage tanker, according to reports on July 11. Tehran had warned this after the UK seized an Iranian tanker allegedly transporting oil to Syria.

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I was born in Somalia and grew up amid pervasive Muslim anti-Semitism. Hate is hard to unlearn without coming to terms with how you learned it.

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali July 12, 2019 6:24 pm ET – WALL STREET JOURNAL

I once opened a speech by confessing to a crowd of Jews that I used to hate them. It was 2006 and I was a young native of Somalia who’d been elected to the Dutch Parliament. The American Jewish Committee was giving me its Moral Courage Award. I felt honored and humbled, but a little dishonest if I didn’t own up to my anti-Semitic past. So I told them how I’d learned to blame the Jews for everything.

Fast-forward to 2019. A freshman congresswoman from Minnesota has been infuriating the Jewish community and discomfiting the Democratic leadership with her expressions of anti-Semitism. Like me, Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia and exposed at an early age to Muslim anti-Semitism.

Some of the members of my 2006 AJC audience have asked me to explain and respond to Ms. Omar’s comments, including her equivocal apologies. Their main question is whether it is possible for Ms. Omar to unlearn her evident hatred of Jews—and if so, how to help.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : While the world focuses on Iran, a tragedy is ‘unfolding before our eyes’ in Idlib – 

Trump had asked Putin to protect the city

US President Donald Trump asked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, “Please, take it easy with Idlib,” when they met at the G-20 Summit in Osaka on June 28.

Russia had been providing air support for the Syrian government’s military offensive in Idlib province, which the top UN humanitarian official described as a “humanitarian disaster unfolding before our eyes.” With most of the world’s attention on the threat of further escalation between the United States and Iran in the Gulf, the disaster in Idlib continues to play out with strikingly little urgency.
Unless Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad call off the siege, the unfolding disaster almost certainly will continue.

“They have 30,000 terrorists in Idlib Province,” Trump told the press. As for the city of Idlib, Trump added, “You have three million people. And, you know, getting terrorists is okay, but you don’t want to kill 3 million people or a million people to get the terrorists.”

The conundrum in Idlib is real.

No question, 30,000 fighters, or even 20,000, as the United Nations reported in January, or 20,000-30,000, as General Joseph Dunford, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in September 2018, are all big numbers in the counter-terrorism business. Michael Mulroy, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, said in May, “Idlib is essentially the largest collection of al-Qaeda affiliates in the world.”

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Behind the Lines: The Syrian sideshow

By Jonathan Spyer – JERUSALEM POST – July 18, 2019 – The international news focus has long moved on from the Syrian conflict. Behind the oft-stated clichés of the conflict “winding down” and of regime survival or victory, however, a complex and often deadly reality remains.

The most violent part of Syria today is the northwest, where regime and Russian forces are clashing with Turkish-supported Sunni jihadis. But the regime-controlled and Kurdish/US-controlled areas are periodically also rocked by internecine violence, most of it committed by Sunni Arab elements, including the Islamic State group.

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– Mazloum Dagh, a suspect in Turkish diplomat killing in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, July 18, 2019. Photo: Iraqi Kurdistan’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD)

HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Iraqi Kurdistan’s counterterrorism forces on Thursday identified the lead suspect in their investigation into the deadly shooting a day earlier in Erbil that killed a Turkish diplomat and two others.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEW : DID PKK KILL TURKISH MIT-DIPLOMAT? – Veil of mystery shrouds Turkish diplomat’s murder in Erbil

Amberin Zaman July 18, 2019  – Article Summary – AL MONITOR  – As Turkey buries its diplomat shot in Erbil, little information is emerging about the man Ankara’s mourning as a martyr. – A Turkish diplomat slain in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, was given an official funeral in Ankara today as Iraqi Kurdish authorities kept up their manhunt for the unidentified perpetrators for a second day. The diplomat, Osman Kose, was on a six-month assignment at the Turkish Consulate in Erbil, Turkey’s A Haber news channel reported.

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Policy Alert – July 18, 2019 – If the PKK is confirmed as the perpetrator, Ankara will almost surely launch retaliation in Iraq or Syria, and Washington will have little choice but to stand aside.

On July 17, a Turkish official and two local civilians were killed by gunmen at a restaurant in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil. Contacts in Iraq suggest the attack was carried out by members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the designated terrorist group that has waged intermittent warfare against the Turkish government for decades. If those claims prove true, the incident will have crucial implications for Turkish policy in the Middle East and Ankara’s ties with the United States.

Turkey has cultivated close relations with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the leading Iraqi Kurdish faction. Previously, the party secured an informal arrangement in which the PKK agreed to avoid attacks on Turkish personnel in KDP-controlled urban centers, including Erbil. If the PKK is behind the shooting, the KDP will see it as a violation of its sovereignty and a threat to its relationship with Turkey.

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