President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the first phase of Turkey’s military operation in Syria, dubbed the Euphrates Shield, has ended while heralding that new operations will follow. “We have completed the first phase of the Euphrates Shield Operation with the cleaning of Syria’s al-Bab from terrorists. It is now over and there will be [operations] from now on. Right now, we are preparing for new operations to walk all over terror organizations in other regions. We will give new names to new operations. We have very good surprises for all terror groups, including the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] YPG [the People’s Protection Units], DEASH [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization], waiting for the spring. With God’s will, the upcoming months will be the dead winter of terrorists while it will be the spring of Turkey and the Turkish nation”, Erdoğan said April 3.
As world powers focus on toppling ISIS, Iran is quietly gaining traction in Syria – posing a direct threat to Israel, eastern Mediterranean countries and the entire Arabian Peninsula, according to National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz. The problem is: Israel has two challenges in Syria. One is ISIS and one is Iran. The greater threat is coming from Iran, and not just from its nuclear program. The most immediate and urgent threat is the Iranian plan to transform Syria, after this horrible, brutal civil war is over, into some kind of extension of Iran. With the end of the civil war in Syria ISrael and other countries of the Middle East are facing a serious problem. For example Syria will also become an Iranian military base. So Israel invited USA and Russia to sit together and prevent this scenario. Israel and other countries have heard from President Donald Trump and his people that Iran should be contained, that Iran is destabilizing the entire Middle East and that Iran should stop and postpone its longer range inter-ballistic missiles.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will pay a visit to Turkey on March 30 to discuss the case of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed 2016 coup, and the U.S.-led offensive to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The secretary of state also plans to discuss an “interim zone of stability” in Syria based on cease-fires. Tillerson will discuss “interim de-escalation zones based on cease-fires or other means” with Turkey, a State Department official said March 27. The deal there is that Turkey has an agreement, a commitment to deliver elements of the opposition, and critically, Russia has a commitment to deliver the regime to make sure that these cease-fires hold”, the official said
Iraq’s former finance minister Hoshyar Zebari said. Sky News reported that Zebari had said that ISIS had gone from earning $5 million a day to going broke, and now the group cannot pay the fighters under its command. “They were a very, very rich organisation. Now, I think they are on the retreat and they are broke. Also they are losing ground, so this battle in Mosul is decisive to end their caliphate – to end their so-called Islamic State”, Zebari said. The funds allowed the militant organization to recruit fighters with the lure of a monthly wage – foreign fighters in particular were paid well. However with shrinking territory in Syria, and on the verge of losing their former Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, the militant group is on the decline, unable to hold on to territory and recruit and pay fighters to defend their self-proclaimed caliphate.
The northern Syrian city of Raqqa is expected to join a decentralized system of government being set up by Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies once it is freed from Islamic State, a leading Kurdish politician told Reuters on Monday. The political project is causing deep alarm in Turkey, which sees the YPG and its political affiliate, the PYD, as an extension of Kurdish groups that are fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil. Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, said it would be up to the people of Raqqa to decide their future once the city is freed from Islamic State, but he thinks the city will join the “democratic federal” system. He added that Raqqa needed to be in “friendly hands” otherwise it would form a “danger to all Syria, particularly northern Syria, the federal system of northern Syria, the areas of self administration”.
We have a lot of contradictory reports, most of them unconfirmed and unofficial, regarding Israeli-Russian understandings over the war in Syria. After the launch aircraft missiles Israelo ambassador was summoned immediately. Media reports suggested that President Vladimir Putin, who is the sponsor and savior of the Syrian regime, expressed anger, while Syria’s ruler, Bashar Assad, boasted to Russian lawmakers that Putin had promised to rein in Israel. Israeli commentators wrote that the operational freedom hitherto enjoyed by the Israel Air Force is over. Since Moscow deployed its forces in Syria 18 months ago, Israel added another factor to the equation; it reached understandings with Russia in order to know each other’s interests and avoid mistakes and even dog fights between their two air forces. These understandings are formulated in the creation of direct lines of communication between the intelligence and air forces of the two countries, and are known as a “deconflicting mechanism”. So Putin on one hand understands the Israeli concerns and interests, but on another hand he has no choice but to publicly denounce it. The recent success of the Assad regime and expected defeat of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria make this scenario more and more possible. Iran and Hezbollah hope to be positioned on the border and thus threaten to open a second front alongside Lebanon against Israel in case of a future war.Israel is committed to stop this, either by reaching another understanding with Putin, and through him influencing Assad, Iran and Hezbollah in that direction, or, as a last resort, by force.
Jihadists and other rebel groups made advances against the Syrian army north of Hama on Thursday, a war monitor said, part of their biggest offensive for months, underscoring the bleak prospects for peace talks which resume later in the day. The assault coincides with clashes in the capital Damascus, where rebels and the army are fighting on the edge of the city center in the Jobar district for a fifth day amid heavy bombardment, state media and the war monitor reported. Increased fighting, despite a ceasefire brokered in December by Russia and Turkey, casts further doubt on peacemaking efforts in Geneva, where talks resume on Thursday after making no progress towards peace in recent rounds. “We hope to see some serious partner on the other side of the table”, Salem al-Muslet, spokesman for the opposition’s High Negotiating Committee (HNC), said in Geneva.
U.S.-led Coalition members will hold a two-day meeting in Washington to discuss the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.The meeting of foreign ministers and senior leaders of the Global Coalition, hosted by U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, starts on Wednesday with participation of all members of the Coalition forces, a total numbering 68, the U.S. State Department said. An Iraqi delegation headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, will be attending the meeting in Washington. “The ministerial will include a detailed discussion of priorities for the Coalition’s multiple lines of effort, including military, foreign terrorist fighters, counterterrorist financing, counter-messaging, and stabilization of liberated areas, to increase the momentum of the campaign”, the State Department statement added.The ministers will also discuss the humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria during the meeting, it added.
During the meeting chaired by King Salman, the Cabinet renewed Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Syrian air attacks on UN humanitarian aid convoys, that led to the suspension of assistance in the country. The Cabinet also expressed concern on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the regime,ita allies and militias against Syrian people. Moreover the EU on Monday imposed sanctions against four senior Syrian military officials accused of using chemical weapons on civilians and also targeted Syrian companies accused of manufacturing them. The four military officials will be banned from travelling to the EU. In fine EU sanctions also include an oil embargo, restrictions on investments, a freeze of Syrian central bank assets and a ban on exports of equipment and technology that could be used against civilians
Israel must remain vigilant on Middle East dynamics, pursue mutual interests with friend.As long as the ayatollahs’ regime exists, Iran will pose a challenge to Israel. We can’t talk anymore about “Arab Spring” but we are talking about a log winter.Some countries have disintegrated, and some, like Iraq, Libya and Syria, are in the process of failing. The world in general and the Middle East in particular have undergone tremendous changes, not all of which could be predicted. We have four primary dangers to Israel in the region. The first threat is the conventional one, which has clouded Israel since its inception, namely regular armies with air forces and the ability to stage ground maneuvers. The second one is the nuclear threat; the third one is terrorist and guerrilla groups and the last one is the cyber dimension. It’s a relatively new threat, but we have already seen its power.