The Crisis over the Downed Russian Plane: What Next? By Amos Yadlin, Zvi Magen, Vera Michlin-Shapir – INSS Insight No. 1095, September 27, 2018
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS FOCUS : INSS – INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY (ISRAEL)
The downing of the Russian Il-20 plane by the Syrians on the night of September 17, 2018 has become one of the most complex incidents in the framework of Russia-Israel relations, at least since the start of Russia’s intervention in Syria in October 2015. Following an Israeli attack in the Latakia region, a Syrian SA-5 anti-aircraft battery struck a Russian reconnaissance plane, which crashed into the sea, killing its crew of 15. Although it was Syria that failed to identify the Russian plane, Russia chose to blame Israel for the incident. However, it appears that both Russia and Israel still have a fundamental interest in continuing the good relations between them and maintaining their understandings in Syria.
The Dirty, Dark Side of the Kurdistan Region Parliament Election – By Aras Ahmed Mhamad: 25 Sept 2018 – Kurdistan tribune
MESOPOTAMIANEWS : KURDISTAN REGIONAL ELECTIONS
Voting to elect a new Kurdistan region parliament will begin at 8am on September 30, 2018 and it will end at 6pm the same day. There are 3,085,461 eligible voters in the four cities of Hewlêr (Erbil), Slêmanî, Duhok, and Halabja distributed among 1260 polling stations, according to The Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission. 773 candidates are racing for 111 parliament seats; 30 percent is allocated to females by law.
As usual, ballot fraud, vote rigging, and other irregularities are highly expected. Another problem is voting hours that will be extended surely like all the previous elections. When ISIS captured parts of Syria and Iraq, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) rushed to the Kurdistan region seeking for shelter. A number of these refugees and IPDs have not returned to their hometowns yet and the then opposition parties claim that they are registered by the KDP and PUK to vote in this election.
SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ)
WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) – 25 Sept 2018 – MESOP / AGENCIES – On Monday, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said the long-delayed delivery of S-300 anti-air defenses to the Assad regime will finally be completed: In 2013 on a request from the Israeli side we suspended the delivery to Assad regime of the S-300 system, which was ready to be sent with Assad’s crews trained to use it. The situation has changed, and not due to our fault. Delivery of Russia’s S-300 to Syria will also stop Western coalition from carrying out uncontrolled attacks on Syrian territory.
But the Kremlin later added an assurance to Israel abot limits on the S-300’s use:
It should be obvious to everyone that Russia’s actions aimed at ensuring security for its troops are necessary. This is why in this case, Russia is guided solely by these interests, these actions are not directed against third countries, they are meant to protect our own troops.
The irony in this #Russia claim is extraordinary. The true danger to civilian aircraft is posed by #Moscow’s failure to provide “friend-foe” tech to AD/SAM sales. #Assad’s missiles have been flying blind all this time, which is truly shocking.
Michael A. HorowitzVerified account @michaelh992
But the fact that Syria is using anti-aircraft systems (delivered by Russia) without the Identify Friend or Foe system is fine, I am guessing https://twitter.com/SputnikInt/status/1043778660459794432 …
🇷🇺 in Israel To me, this looks like messaging more than a truly dramatic change in reality/dynamics: – S-300s already deployed in #Syria. – #Israel (& US) uses encrypted radar/GPS; less vulnerable to counter-measures – #Russia has been “jamming” for 2+ yrs. – #Israel fires most from Med.
Russia – 🇷🇺 in IsraelVerified account @israel_mid_ru
#Russia will jam satellite navigation,on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft,which attack targets in the Syrian territory,in the regions over waters of the Mediterranean Sea bordering with #Syria, read…
More via www.mesop.de
MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Will the PKK use drones very soon ? – By Michael Rubin September 20, 2018 | Washington Examiner
Get ready: The Kurds might soon use drones against TurkeyIn 2013, after months of secret negotiations between imprisoned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s representatives, Turkey and the PKK agreed to a cease-fire, one condition of which was the departure of PKK fighters from Turkey. As part of that agreement, many entered Syria where they augmented the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the most successful indigenous force first in the fight against the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and then in the battle against the Islamic State.
ISIS Has Not Vanished. It Is Fighting a Guerrilla War Against the Iraqi State. – September 16 2018, 3:00 p.m. BY SIMONA FOLTYN – THE INTERCEPT
The knock came one night late last year, a persistent bang on the metal door. The family inside shuddered as the sound echoed through the sparsely furnished farmhouse. Officially, their village had been liberated from the so-called Islamic State in October 2017, along with the nearby town of Hawija. But the military campaign had been hasty. The militants had sought refuge in the nearby mountains, leaving Iraqi forces to sweep through the area unchallenged.
The document, obtained exclusively by The National, lists a 10-point plan to avoid an offensive in the northwestern Syrian province. Aside from the demilitarized zone, which would go “15-20 kms deep in the de-escalation area”, the document grants the Iranian-Russian-Turkish coordination centre a role in implementing the ceasefires. The centre was established under Astana talks.
“Effective measures will be taken for ensuring sustainable ceasefire regime within the Idlib de-escalation area. In this regard, the functions of the Joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center will be enhanced,” it said.
Both the Assad government and Iran welcomed the agreement on Tuesday.
The document also declares that transit traffic “on the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored by the end of 2018.”
These routes have not been active since 2014, but have become viable again after the government, backed by Russia and Iran, recaptured Aleppo in December 2016. Those routes would help resume trade between neighboring Turkey and regime-held areas. The document says these steps are a way “to ensuring free movement of local residents and goods and restoring trade and economic relations”.
It indicates that more work needs to be done for a full agreement on the 15 km demilitarised zone. It says that “the delineation of exact lines of the demilitarised zone will be determined through further consultations”. It also adds that “the two sides reiterated their determination to combat terrorism in Syria in all forms and manifestations”.
The document has been already sent to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and current President of the Security Council, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
by Michael Knights, Barbara Leaf, Matthew Levitt, and Phillip Smyth
PolicyWatch 3018 September 17, 2018 – Timing is everything, so Washington should coordinate its designations with Baghdad to avoid upsetting the government formation process or throwing Iran a lifeline.
On September 19, the House of Representatives will introduce the “Iranian Proxies Terrorist Sanctions Act,” which calls for imposing U.S. sanctions on two Iranian-controlled Iraqi militias, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (HHN). If passed, the legislation will also require the State Department to maintain a public list of armed groups funded, controlled, or influenced by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.