The president decided to withdraw U.S. forces without consulting allies or understanding the facts on the ground.
By Brett McGurk – THE WASHINGTON POST – Brett McGurk was the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS. – January 18 at 6:00 AM
On Dec. 17, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked for an important call with me and a few other senior State Department officials; I took the call from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, where I traveled often to help manage America’s fight against the Islamic State. I was there to walk through plans with Iraq’s new government to ensure that our gains in that fight would endure. We’d come a long way from only four years earlier, when the Islamic State was at the gates of Baghdad: Today, according to the United Nations, Iraq is safer than at any time since the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq began keeping track six years ago.
By Anna Borshchevskaya, opinion contributor — 01/17/19 06:30 PM EST
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill
The Kremlin could barely contain its glee at Trump’s move. Putin praised the decision as “correct,” and Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the U.S. pullout creates good prospects for a “political solution” in Syria.
As Bashar Assad re-consolidates military control over the country with Russian and Iranian military support, international attention has turned to a “political solution” in Syria. With the United States largely vacating its remaining influence, what will Russia’s strategy be?
It pays to consider the Chechnya precedent. It was the Second Chechen War (1999-2009) that launched Putin’s political career, when in September 1999 a series of apartment bombings in several major cities shook Russia. Putin, then prime minister, immediately blamed Chechnya and declared, war which brought him from obscurity into the presidency.
Posted by Scott Lucas | Jan 19, 2019 | EAWORLDVIEW – The Arab League has split over the readmission of Syria’s Assad regime after more than seven years.
At least eight heads of state were originally expected in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, but only the Somali and Mauritanian presidents will join Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit.Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said at a pre-summit meeting on Friday that the Assad regime should return to “our embrace” after its suspension over violent repression of the Syrian uprising.But the Arab League’s Secretary General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said on Thursday there was “no Arab agreement over the return of Syria”.
First test for IDF’s Kochavi: 10,000 pro-Iran troops massing to cross into Syria from Iraq
18 Jan 2019 – DEBKA FILES – This would be the largest pro-Iranian military increment into Syria since the Hizballah intervention of 2014 – and Tehran’s rejoinder to Israel’s warnings.The 10,000 troops massed on the Iraqi border belong to the large Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) aka the Hashd Al-Shaabi militia, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report. They have been ordered to stand there by Iran’s Middle East commander, Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Their commander is one of his deputies, Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi of Iranian descent. This Iraqi force awaits a green light to cross into northern Syria from President Bashar Assad.
It is intended to be Tehran’s response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “advice” to Iran to “hurry up and get out of Syria” ahead of the IDF’s action. Soleimani has responded by “hurrying up” to top up Iran’s forces in Syria, before Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has had three days to settle into his new job as IDF’s Chief of Staff.
Syrian Kurdish official: Safe zone must be ‘without Turkish fingers’
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Syrian Kurdish official said that he supported a proposed buffer zone along the Turkish border as long as Ankara has no involvement.Salih Muslim, the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told Kurdistan 24, “We really need a safe area, but without Turkish fingers.”
“We want a safe area with an air embargo,” he added. “There must be no role for Turkey.”
Basnews English – 18/01/2019 – 18:56 – ERBIL — Turkey said on Friday that it would not accept the presence of Syrian regime in the Kurdish city of Manbij in northern Syria.
“In no case can we facilitate the provocations by the Syrian regime in Manbij, as well as attempts by members of the YPG [Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units] to open the door to the regime’s forces,” Sputnik quoted Turkish Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Hami Aksoy.
The official reiterated his country’s commitment to remove the YPG from the region as Ankara views them a threat to its national security despite good relations between the US and Syrian Kurds.
“Clearing the YPG out of Manbij is a matter of national security for us.”
The remarks came two days after a deadly blast rocked central Manbij, killing and wounding dozens of people, including US servicemen. “The terrorist attack in Manbij once again showed the importance of clearing the region of terrorists and the need to implement the road map for Manbij,” Aksoy added.
ISIS’s Naba magazine speaks to a member of its amni apparatus in Manbij, on the situation there. He says American forces are present in small bases outside Manbij. Three known bases, US forces move regularly between them through convoys of 5-10 vehicles accompanied by YPG guards More via www.mesop.de
A security zone in Syria? • Washington Source: U.S. doesn’t want Turkey in Kurdish dominated Syrian cities along the border • Instead, Turks along with French, British forces should patrol and hold unpopulated areas • US to maintain no-fly zone
Not only with SDF not accept, but I’d bet that Massoud Barzani wouldn’t accept it on behalf of Roj Pesh either. That doesn’t mean someone’s not stupid enough to try to promote the idea laid out by ragip!
More details of US proposal from @ragipsoylu • TR/FR/BR patrols in rural border areas • Roj Pesh (PYD/YPG’s opposition) to control Kurdish-maj. urban areas • Arab groups w/in SDF to control Tal Abyad, Arab-maj. areas No way SDC/F will accept as-is
More via www.mesop.de
Justin Huggler, Berlin – 17 January 2019 • 5:58pm THE TELEGRAPH UK – The death of a Syrian activist in a brutal killing in Hamburg has raised questions over whether he was targeted for his opposition to the regime of president Bashar al-Assad. Mohamed Joune was found on a busy Hamburg street on Wednesday evening covered in blood. One of his fingers had been cut off and he had multiple injuries to his face and body. According to local reports he appeared to have been attacked with an axe. He was rushed to hospital but later died of his injuries.
Kirill Semenov January 16, 2019 – AL MONITOR – Article Summary
As Idlib in western Syria falls to an extremist rebel faction, Moscow and Ankara consider their options there and in northern Syria. The sand continues to shift in Syria, as each of the many players there maneuvers for its most advantageous position.The terrorist-designated rebel alliance Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has managed to expand its control over virtually the entire Idlib de-escalation zone. After days of fierce fighting, HTS devastated the Nureddin Zengi Brigades (NZB), one of the largest factions of the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF). The other NLF forces there then signed a cease-fire agreement with HTS on Jan. 10 without any substantial resistance. Under the arrangement, the NLF handed over all the territories it controlled there to the so-called Syrian Salvation Government — the civil administration wing of HTS. Those moderate opposition groups then had to leave, evacuating to Afrin.