Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today's Links

1-- U.S. calls for action to halt Iran's growing 'network of proxies'

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called on Saturday for more forceful action to halt Iran’s development of what he said was an increasingly powerful network of proxy armies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

“So the time is now, we think, to act against Iran,” he told the Munich Security Conference, calling on U.S. allies to halt trade that was helping underwrite the expansion of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the most powerful military and economic force in the Islamic Republic.

2--- Damascus, Syria (4:05 P.M) The Syrian government have reached an agreement with the Kurdish forces in northwest Syria to officially enter and defend Afrin region, Kurdish media sources reported. 

3-- There is no justice

Most shocking to me, was the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants by US air strikes.
Their destruction resulted in epidemics of cholera and other water-born diseases. Children were the primary victims. The UN asserted that over 550,000 Iraqi children died as a result of contaminated water. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later notoriously asserted that these deaths were ‘a price worth paying.’ I call them a war crime.

Journalists like myself who asserted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were fired or marginalized. I was blacklisted at CNN after the White House told the network to fire me at once. All the ‘presstitutes’, who acted as government boosters for the war, were promoted and lauded. Welcome to the new Soviet media....

If this war crime was being properly litigated, Washington would likely end up being assessed something like $100 billion in damages just to replace physical infrastructure destroyed in the two wars, never mind the deaths of so many Iraqi civilians. Iran would also have a claim against Iraq’s western and Arab backers for Baghdad’s 1980-1988 war of aggression against Iran that caused an estimated one million Iranian casualties.

4--  Turkey turning its eyes to implementation of deals with US on Syria: Erdoğan

“Holding negotiations is surely valuable but we are most interested in results. Our main interest is in implementation [of the agreements] and developments in the field. In this process, the ones who need to correct their mistakes and to pull themselves together is our [U.S.] counterpart,” Erdoğan said in an address at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) provincial convention in Ankara on Feb. 18....

“A terror organization cannot be defeated through the support of another terror organization. We told them that they would be remembered notoriously because of this alliance. We also said they shouldn’t deny the weapons delivered and training given [to the YPG]. This policy should be abandoned immediately,” Erdoğan added.

“We have enough sources and capabilities to fight all kinds of terrorists, as long as no soldiers from our allied countries stand with them,” he also said

5--Mad Dog meets The Sultan

“We concur with Turkey on the need for locals taking control of the liberated areas. We are going to work with Turkey on locals taking control, and with Turkey on every other irritant, diversion, or distraction,” Mattis said.

We have many areas of absolute concurrence too,” Mattis told reporters en route to Washington, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.

6--Outta gas?  Saudis look to nuclear power

7--Israel looks to support Kurdish statehood 

Iran is now closer than ever to securing a land corridor that will connect it to the Mediterranean through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This corridor will expand its sphere of influence from the Strait of Hormuz in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, and will ensure that Israel is surrounded by land and sea.
Israel would do well to eye Rojava with interest, and not only to confront Iran’s penetration. Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan are the only entities in the Middle East, apart from Israel, that enjoy open, secular, and liberal rule granting considerable rights to the opposition, women, and minorities. This is particularly notable in a region where radical and totalitarian ideologies prevail.

Should Israel strengthen its relationship with the Syrian Kurds, its gains would extend beyond strategic, political, and security benefits. Rojava’s natural resources, especially its oil, can contribute to Israel’s energy supply and be invested in projects such as an oil pipeline through Jordan to Israel. US troops are stationed at several military bases in Rojava, which could offer an alternative to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Kurdish leaders regularly stress that US forces will remain in their areas for a long time, indicating that this is not an “understanding of necessity” dictated by provisional circumstances.
For the past six years, Israel has followed a policy of non-intervention in Syria except when the security of its northern borders is challenged. Its efforts to strike alliances with effective groups on the ground have failed. Tehran is clearly determined to establish a foothold on Israel’s northern border and set up bases for Hezbollah, which would amount to a Syrian version of the Lebanese militia. It appears abundantly clear that the Kurds are the most qualified, if not the only, candidate in Syria on which Israel can count for support.
Even if Netanyahu backs the efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state in Iraq, it goes without saying that the Israeli government should listen attentively to former IDF deputy chief, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, who refuses to label the PKK a terrorist organization. Israel should act swiftly to support the emerging Kurdish region in Syria and draw a distinction between its relations with Ankara on one side and the Kurds on the other – an effort that has become necessary in light of Erdoğan’s persistent advocacy for Hamas...

Thus, any Israeli influence in Rojava could be valuable. Iraq is ruled by Tehran’s allies, and Turkey is cozying up to Iran. It is very much in Israel’s interest to have a reliable and trustworthy friend in the new Syria. If Jerusalem hopes, together with its ally in Washington, to prevent Tehran from establishing its long-sought land corridor, it will need to strengthen its influence in the Syrian Kurdish region to serve as a wall blocking Iran’s ambitions.

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