March, 2017 Middle East

Assad

 By NEVILLE TELLER 
Back in the glory days of the so-called “Arab Spring”, when Middle Eastern dictators were falling like ninepins, it seemed that the overthrow of Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya and Saleh of Yemen would inevitably be followed by the downfall of President Bashar Assad of Syria.

 ISIS Lebanon as Next Target

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 
American helicopters Thursday and Friday, March 23-24, dropped Kurdish and Arab fighters over a region west of the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. Those forces quickly captured at least five villages and so cut jihadist concentrations in the northwestern Syria off from their Raqqa stronghold. DEBKAfile’s military sourcesreport this operation was the opening shot of the US-led campaign to isolate the Islamic State’s Syrian capital before storming it.

Turkey Russian-Kurdish deal


AUTHOR Fehim Taştekin TRANSLATOR Timur Göksel

Turkey’s plans to expand its Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria and isolate Kurdish forces in the region appear to be backfiring.

Israeli-Russian clash


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

The Israeli drone that targeted the Syrian militiaman Yasser Sayad outside the Golan town of Quneitra Sunday, March 19, reinforced the message first carried by the Israeli Arrow 2 which shot down a Syrian SA-5 anti-air missile Friday. The Israeli ambassador was called twice to the Russian foreign ministry.

 Final Raqqa assault


AUTHOR Fehim Taştekin TRANSLATOR Timur Göksel

It sounded dramatic: The leaders of 50 Syrian Arab tribes met in Sanliurfa, Turkey, and announced they would set up the Army of Al-Jazirah and Euphrates Tribes to end Russian and Iranian occupation of Syria and cleanse the Euphrates and Al Jazeera areas of the Islamic State (IS), the Kurdish nationalist Democratic Union Party/Kurdistan Workers Party (PYD/PKK), Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria Iran

Author: Ali Hashem, Al Monitor

 

Six years into the crisis in Syria, Iran sees the outcome of the conflict as shaping the new Middle East. It was Iran’s first overt foreign intervention in decades, one that some Iranian ideologues have called a war for existence. Iranian officials say it spared the Islamic Republic from having to fight a similar war within its own borders. 

Erdogan Route

 

By Altay Atli
As the diplomatic squabble between Turkey and the Netherlands continues to fester, concerns are raised about whether — and to what extent — the tensions will harm bilateral relations, particularly in economics where the two countries have robust trade and investment connections.

Hizballah’s trust in Russia


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

Israel finally took a hand in the swiftly moving events looming from Syria over its northern borders by launching multiple air raids against the key northern Syrian air base known as T4 near Palmyra early Friday night March 17.

 ISIS  Al Qaeda

 By: Jim Sharp
First things first; and I want to make myself very clear on this point: ISIS and Al Qaeda (as well as all their off-shoots and affiliate groups) are lethal. All have the capability to carry out attacks across the globe, and they will continue to do so as long as they have the means available to them. They will never voluntarily give up on their idea of jihad, and there is no economic, diplomatic or humanitarian leverage that can be exerted to make them do so.

Qatar Turkey

Author Metin Gurcan

Turkey has been expanding its relations with Gulf Cooperation Council members, particularly Qatar. Turkey-Qatar relations have gained significant momentum during the past three months, led by the personal actions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who address each other as "brother." This interesting development calls for a closer look.

Russia, Turkey,  Israel


BY MICAH HALPERN 
Israel and Russia need to keep on good terms to make certain the region does not spiral into crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin is a world-class master when it comes to getting what he wants. He leaves nothing to chance.

General Khalifa Haftar

By Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali and Lin Noueihed | WASHINGTON/CAIRO

Russia appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya in recent days, U.S., Egyptian and diplomatic sources say, a move that would add to U.S. concerns about Moscow's deepening role in Libya.

ISIS-Syria Al Qaeda


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 
The main thrust of the campaign against the Islamic State in Syria ordered by the Trump administration is still ahead, but ISIS forces did not wait in their Raqqa stronghold for the axe to fall. They moved southeast into the Deir ez-Zour region, where they are beating back Hizballah’s elite Radwan Battalion, which has just been deployed there.

Military summit on Syria

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

EXCLUSIVE: For the first time ever, the top soldiers of the United States, Russia and Turkey are holding a secret meeting in the Turkish town of Antalya for an urgent two-day effort to avert a clash between their three armies, which stand ominously face to face in northern Syria.
(See DEBKAfile’s exclusive disclosure on March 6)

EASTERN MOSUL


by Jonathan Spyer, The Jerusalem Report
EASTERN MOSUL, IRAQ "So I'm a sniper, right, and I see four IS guys approaching. I'm on a roof. I take down two of them. Then the rifle jams. And they're coming forward. So I make it down the stairs, and I throw a grenade as theyre in the courtyard of the house. One of them's killed outright. 

John McCain in Syria

By Whitney Webb

Just a matter of days after John McCain’s “unusual” trip to Syria and Turkey, the Turkish government has cut off water supplies from the Euphrates River into northern Syria, violating international conventions on water rights.

Turkish Army in Syria

If Russia and the Syrian army have anything to say about it

by PAUL IDDON
Fresh from its victory over Islamic State militants in Al Bab in northwest Syria, Turkey is reiterating its longstanding threat to attack the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Manbij to the east.

Kurdistan

Verda Ozer
Will an independent Kurdistan be built in northern Iraq? This question has long hung over our heads. However, in his op-ed for the Washington Post on Feb. 22, Bilal Wahab suggested that this is the wrong question. “How many Kurdistans will be formed? This is the right question to be asked from now on,” he wrote.

Turkey’s misstep in Manbij


Turkish move blocked by Syrian forces

SUMMARY
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest threat complicates Pentagon planning to oust the Islamic State from its so-called capital; United States provides intelligence for Iraqi strike in Syria.

Arab Summit


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

Secret contacts currently underway ahead of the Arab League summit later this month may bring about a sea change in the Arab world’s relationship with Syrian President Bashar Assad, DEBKAfile’s sources report. 

 Euphrates Shield

Murat Yektin
Turkey started its military operation into Syria on Aug. 24, 2016, following a suicide attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), or DEASH with its Arabic initials, that killed 59 civilians in the border city of Gaziantep on Aug. 20.

Ayatollah Khamenei

The Iranian Parliament just hosted its annual conference on Palestine and, among the dignitaries - that included Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani - and the 700 foreign guests from more than 50 countries was Asia Times columnist Pepe Escobar.