The Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem as it looked in 1948
Several days ago, in posting an article about the vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries in the US, I mentioned the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem and the wanton destruction that has been perpetrated on it by Israelis over the past 60 years or so.
In that piece I quoted from a Wikipedia article which relates that the Mamilla graveyard–on top of which the Israelis have built a park, public restrooms, and a parking lot–contains the bodies of both Muslims and Christians. The latter number in the thousands, the majority of which were “killed in the pre-Islamic era,” the article says.
Israelis began destroying tombs and grave sites in the cemetery in the 1950s, while more recent developments include a project launched by the Simon Wiesenthal Center to build a “museum of tolerance” on the…
WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.
Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.
The White House showed no indication that it would back down from Mr. Trump’s claims. On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election. In a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.
In addition to being concerned about potential attacks on the bureau’s credibility, senior F.B.I. officials are said to be worried that the notion of a court-approved wiretap will raise the public’s expectations that the federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia’s efforts to disrupt the presidential election.
Mr. Comey has not been dealing directly with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the matter, as Mr. Sessions announced on Thursday that he would recuse himself from any investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence the election. It had been revealed on Wednesday that Mr. Sessions had misled Congress about his meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.
It is not clear why Mr. Comey did not issue a statement himself. He is the most senior law enforcement official who was kept on the job as the Obama administration gave way to the Trump administration. And while the Justice Department applies for intelligence-gathering warrants, the F.B.I. keeps its own records and is in a position to know whether Mr. Trump’s claims are true. While intelligence officials do not normally discuss the existence or nonexistence of surveillance warrants, no law prevents Mr. Comey from issuing the statement.
In his demand for a congressional inquiry, the president, through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, issued a statement on Sunday that said, “President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.”
Mr. Spicer, who repeated the entire statement in a series of Twitter posts, added that “neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”
A spokesman for Mr. Obama and his former aides have called the accusation by Mr. Trump completely false, saying that Mr. Obama never ordered any wiretapping of a United States citizen.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Kevin Lewis, Mr. Obama’s spokesman, said in a statement on Saturday.
Mr. Trump’s demand for a congressional investigation appears to be based, at least in part, on unproven claims by Breitbart News and conservative talk radio hosts that secret warrants were issued authorizing the tapping of the phones of Mr. Trump and his aides at Trump Tower in New York.
In a series of Twitter posts on Saturday, the president seemed to be convinced that those claims were true. In one post, Mr. Trump said, “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
On Sunday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy White House press secretary, said the president was determined to find out what had really happened, calling it potentially the “greatest abuse of power” that the country had seen.
“Look, I think he’s going off of information that he’s seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential,” Ms. Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And if it is, this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that I think we have ever seen and a huge attack on democracy itself. And the American people have a right to know if this took place.”
The claims about wiretapping appear similar in some ways to the unfounded voter fraud charges that Mr. Trump made during his first days in the Oval Office. Just after Inauguration Day, he reiterated in a series of Twitter posts his belief that millions of voters had cast ballots illegally — claims that also appeared to be based on conspiracy theories from right-wing websites.
As with his demand for a wiretapping inquiry, Mr. Trump called for a “major investigation” into voter fraud, saying on Twitter that “depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” No investigation has been started.
Senior law enforcement and intelligence officials who worked in the Obama administration have said that there were no secret intelligence warrants regarding Mr. Trump. Asked whether such a warrant existed, James R. Clapper Jr., a former director of national intelligence, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Not to my knowledge, no.”
“There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate or against his campaign,” Mr. Clapper added.
Mr. Trump’s demands for a congressional investigation were initially met with skepticism by lawmakers, including Republicans. Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said he was “not sure what it is that he is talking about.”
“I’m not sure what the genesis of that statement was,” Mr. Rubio said.
Pressed to elaborate on “Meet the Press,” Mr. Rubio said, “I’m not going to be a part of a witch hunt, but I’m also not going to be a part of a cover-up.”
Bioquark, a biotech company based in the United States, has been given the go-ahead to begin research on 20 brain-dead patients, in an attempt to stimulate and regrow neurons and, literally, bring the patients back from the dead.
By implanting stem cells in the patient’s brain, in addition to treating the spinal cord with infusions of chemicals and nerve stimulation techniques (both of which have been shown to bring people out of comas), they hope to reboot the brain and jump-start neural activity.
The result could be people coming back to life.
There isn’t much evidence that this will work, though there is one well-known neurological researcher and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Calixto Machado who is involved with the study as a panel expert.
Bioquark’s CEO, Ira Pastor, said:
“to undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness. We hope to see results within the first two to three months.”
He added, “it is a long-term vision of ours that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility, although that is not the focus of this first study.
Because police “cannot cope” with the “huge” influx of reports on child abuse, they now say pedophiles whose ‘only’ crime is viewing child pornography should undergo rehabilitation — instead of going to prison.
In a mere three years, child abuse reports have skyrocketed in volume by 80 percent; and, as Chief Constable Simon Bailey of the National Police Chiefs’ Council and head of Operation Hydrant, “which is investigating multiple allegations of historic sexual abuse across the UK,” the BBCreports, “knew his view would cause nervousness and draw headlines.
“But he said the numbers of reports of abuse were at ‘huge proportions’ — an NSPCC study in late 2016 used figures which suggested the number of individuals looking at such images could exceed half a million.”
Child pornography, indeed an incredibly serious crime from any standpoint, seems to have erupted in popularity — Bailey toldBBC Radio 4’s Today program around 400 people each month are arrested by police working with the National Crime Agency for viewing indecent images.
“There are undoubtedly tens of thousands of men that are seeking to exploit children online with a view to meeting them,” he continued, “with a view to then raping them and performing the most awful sexual abuse upon them.
“That’s where I believe our focus has got to be. They are the individuals that pose the really significant threat.”
Bailey’s stance isn’t unfamiliar to the dark realm of child sexual abuse, but it’s exceedingly unusual for a police official of such high rank to advocate re-prioritizing criminality — particularly given the murkier crime at hand perpetuates and fuels the cycle.
Without providing statistics or references, Bailey championed referrals to rehabilitation for viewing child porn, saying they “increasingly are effective” — as would be vacating the court system of these cases, to “speed things up.”
Because the child abuse and exploitation is so rampant, the overwhelmed chief constable believes the imperative to target the worst pedophile offenders far outweighs the severity of the crime of viewing explicit images — despite the latter being a serious, repeat transgression against the victim.
“Every time an image is viewed, the victim is being victimised again and there is nothing as abhorrent. But we have to be able to manage the totality.”
Besides police operations, a spokesperson for the Home Office told the BBC it had allotted £20 million (over $24.8 million) to the National Crime Agency, specifically for battling child sexual exploitation on the web.
“Alongside ensuring we have a tough law enforcement response to bring offenders to justice, we are also committed to preventing offending in the first place,” the spokesperson said.
Prison terms and harsh punishment can be efficacious as deterrents, but, a spokesperson from the NPCC noted, “We cannot arrest our way out of the situation. If we are to protect more children we must make prevention and rehabilitation a priority.”
Resources across the U.K. have been stretched to the breaking point recently, after a series of high-profile cases of child abuse and sexual exploitation involving prominent figures had commandeered headlines for weeks. Such astonishing scandals might have provided public awareness and a platform for victims, but reports to police and pleas to charitable organizations for help have created an enormous backlog.
Lisa Thornhill, a senior practitioner at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, “which works with people who have sexually harmed or fear they may harm a child,” said the center is not only full to capacity, but has had to turn away hundreds asking to be rehabilitated.
“Most people who commit these offences have some idea what they are doing is wrong,” Thornhill told the BBC. “We appeal to the brave and responsible part of those people to get in touch with us and stop, and stay stopped.”
According to the station, “Calls to the helpline are over capacity – about 800 people each month call, but about 2,500 calls are unable to be taken due to demand.”
Whether or not Bailey’s appeal to lessen the severity by default for pedophiles who view child pornography will result in a change in policy or law remains to be seen, but a furious backlash from victims and their families will almost certainly ensue now.
The Smart Parka takes the guess work out of being prepared for ever-changing cold weather.
On days like today (when winds are gusting up to 40 miles per hour in New York), you can’t exactly leave the house without your scarf, your hat, your gloves, and just about every other piece of clothing in your possession. And as cozy as you may be while braving the streets, finding an effective way to take all those layers off and store them once you’re back inside can be something of a challenge. The Smart Parka may help. While it’s not “smart” in the connected sense, this winter coat may just be one of the most clever pieces in your closet, or heck, even your home.
Essentially, this water resistant parka comes with everything. In the coat sleeves are a pair of water resistant leather gloves — when you need them, just unzip each sleeve to pull them out, and when you’re back inside, tuck them right back into their special pockets. The same goes for your scarf. Just pull it out from the parka’s collar area, and keep your face and neck warm.
Then there’s the Tablet Pocket, which is large enough to carry your iPad, or maybe even your purse. Because really, when it’s winter, you want to be as compact as possible. A smaller pocket promises to fit reading glasses, sunglasses, or ski goggles safe, too. And of course, there’s a pocket for your phone. The Smart Parka also has a Coat Extension, which gives wearers a bit of extra length when it’s particularly brutal outside.
Even if it’s not all that chilly, this jacket can come in handy thanks to its removable interior layer. Adapt to just about any climate, but don’t worry, you’ll never lose functionality — every layer has duplicate pockets so you’re still wearing the same jacket.
Located in the parka’s hood is a hat pocket, so that you don’t have to stuff your headwear into some other odd crevice. And finally, the coat has a tracker tag pocket in its interior so that if you lose this coat (and literally all your winter gear), it’s easy to find.
Available now for just $300, the Smart Parka promises to be at your doorstep in just five days for most addresses in the U.S. and Canada. And best of all, Smart Park is offering refunds and exchanges at any time. “If you feel like you don’t need a coat, simply return it for a full refund,” the website reads. Be warned though, this pricing ends March 5.
So if you need to prepare for next winter, the Smart Parka just may be your all-in-one solution.
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro will join a Tel Aviv-based think tank as a visiting fellow.
The Institute for National Security Studies announced the appointment on its website on Sunday.
Shapiro will participate in several of the Institute’s research programs, including those on Israel-U.S. Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Relations, the Arab World, and Israeli Society and Public Opinion, according to the announcement. According to the think tank, he will study opportunities and make policy recommendations to strengthen the U.S.-Israel strategic, economic, and societal partnership, and to preserve, expand, and strengthen the common interests between the two states.
INSS Director Amos Yadlin said that Shapiro “possesses keen insight, deep experience, and a broad network of relationships in Israel, the United States, and the Middle East.”
Shapiro was appointed to his post by former President Barack Obama in July 2011. He resigned on Jan. 20, vacating the position for President Donald Trump’s appointee, David Friedman.
Shapiro reportedly took the unusual step asking the State Department for permission to stay in Israel as a private citizen so that his daughter could complete the school year. His daughter is in the 11th grade, a year that is heavy with Israeli matriculation exams.
At the end of January, Shapiro wrote an article for Foreign Policy, in which he laid out a path for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a stated goal of the Trump administration.
A family from Syria’s war-torn Aleppo is appealing to the state of Israel for refuge, citing their Jewish heritage, Amy Radio reported Sunday.
“There is nobody who can help us to get out of this place,” said 30-year-old Aleppo resident Razan (real name withheld) in an audio recording aired on the radio station. “We are asking that the Israeli government does not abandon us, but helps us get out of here to another country. I ask that the government demands from the entire world to do this. All my love and loyalty is to this religion [Judaism].”
Razan’s younger brother, going by the name of Salah, contacted Army Radio with the family’s story, after having himself escaped to London a year-and-a-half ago. He says his mother is Jewish and his father Muslim, and that he and his siblings had always considered themselves Jewish.
“When I was a child my mother told me I am a Jew, and I understand that. Before the war I told everyone, everyone knows I’m Jewish, all the neighbors around me, but after the war I couldn’t say that because it’s very difficult,” he said.
“The [Israeli] government is a great government, and I don’t believe it will abandon a single Jew in the world,” Razan said. “Every Jew knows that it won’t neglect them – because it’s the best country in the world.” Salah also said that he wishes to move to Israel.
Elizabeth Tzurkov, a Syria researcher at the Forum for Regional Thinking told Army Radio: “…a number of Syrians have approached me who are descendants of Jewish women, who converted to Islam or who did not convert, and inquired how they can move to Israel.”
Jewish Agency spokesperson Avi Mayer told The Jerusalem Post: “We are looking into the matter in order to determine whether the information can be verified and will act accordingly.”
Meanwhile, the Population Immigration Authority told the Post that it was not aware of this case and would require further details.
In 2015, an Israeli rescue operation was reported as the final evacuation of the last Jews left in Aleppo – the Halabi family.
According to Motti Kahana, who engineered the operation, there are no Jews left in Aleppo, aside from one member of the Halabi family whose immigration to Israel was denied, citing her conversion to Islam – the source of a dispute between the Jewish Agency and Kahana. The latter still sends Kosher food to the woman, and maintains that though she signed conversion papers –which is required by Syrian law when marrying a Muslim– she did not really convert.
Kahana has been corresponding with Salah’s foster mother in London regarding the case of his family, but told The Jerusalem Post that as of yet, he has not received information verifying that the family is Jewish. He says that usually leaders of the close-knit Syrian community in Brooklyn are able to easily verify the Jewish heritage of Syrian Jews, but that in this case, the family has not produced the necessary documentation.
“I would love help them. If I could prove they were Jewish I would help them in a second, but I couldn’t prove it,” he says.
Headstones were found toppled in Brooklyn’s Washington Cemetery on Sunday morning. Early reports characterized the incident as a ‘possible hate crime’ however the cemetery director and ADL official Evan Bernstein confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the tombstones in question had long been deteriorating and some had toppled over years ago.
Police now say the issue is still under investigation as a “possible bias incident” and not as a hate crime.
According to the cemetery director and a local woman the tombstones fell from age deterioration years ago.
ADL NY regional director Evan Bernstein said that “based on the number of antisemitic incidents amid threats to the Jewish community over the last 6 months or more, it’s natural for people to be on edge. However, I think it is critical that we as a community get all the information first before we jump to any conclusions.”
Adding that “we thank the NYPD for all their help and resources.”
The cemetery is located in the Mapleton neighborhood, located between Borough Park and Bensonhurst.
The New York Police Department’s hate crimes division has been notified of the incident, the spokesman said, adding that police would investigate on Sunday to see if the incident may have been weather-related.
Local news reports said about five headstones were toppled.
New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind tweeted photos of some of the downed headstones on Saturday night. He said he was alerted to the incident by the Boro Park Shomrim organization, a Jewish security patrol.
In 2010, some 200 headstones were toppled in the same cemetery, also over a Friday night and Saturday, when it is closed.
Washington Cemetery was founded in 1850, and it became a Jewish burial-ground as early as 1857.
The incident brings to four the number of Jewish cemeteries vandalized in the past two weeks, including the Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, in upstate New York. Dozens of gravestones were toppled and damaged at cemeteries near St. Louis and in Philadelphia as well.
The Settlements Law could place individual Israeli politicians, military personnel and civilians before the International Criminal Court at The Hague on war crime charges, 13 NGOs told Israel’s High Court of Justice on Sunday.
It was one of a long line of arguments the Israeli NGOs, led by Yesh Din and Peace Now, made as they petitioned the court to reject the newly-approved law, which retroactively legalizes some 4,000 settler homes built on private Palestinian property.
The NGO petition is the second one to be filed against the law.
In asking for an immediate injunction against the law’s implementation, the NGOs cited what they said was the criminal nature of the bill under international law and argued that it constituted annexation of portions of Area C of the West Bank.
“The petition stresses that the implementation of the provisions of the law may serve to incriminate Israeli citizens and security personnel who would implement it, as well as the MKs who voted in support of the law, as their actions may be considered war crimes according to international criminal law,” the NGOs said.
In passing the law the Knesset acted outside its jurisdiction, because it has no authority over the West Bank, which is beyond the border of sovereign Israel, the NGOs said.
“To date, and for nearly 50 years, Knesset legislation in relation to the West Bank was limited to individual legal rights – applying only to Israeli citizens who live in the West Bank – while legislators refrained from directly administrating the area itself,” the non-governmental organizations said.
“Legislating this law is a clear act of sovereignty, and thus constitutes unlawful annexation,” they added.
Legislating a law that deprives people of their property, through a process in which they are not represented, is the “textbook definition of tyranny,” the NGOs said.
Under the rules of belligerent occupation, which are applicable to the West Bank, Palestinians and their property must be protected by the Israeli military that rules that area, the NGOs stated. They cannot confiscate that property for the benefit of Israeli citizens, the NGOs added.
Despite Israeli offers to compensate affected Palestinians, the NGOs said the law violates both Israeli law and regulations that are the foundation of international law. This include the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the Hague Regulations of 1907 and even laws that date back to the American Civil war.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has argued that the law is unconstitutional and has told the High Court that he will not argue for the law on the state’s behalf, explaining that this will be done by a private attorney.
The NGOs filed the petition on behalf of 23 Palestinian local council heads and four Palestinian landowners. At issue, the NGOs said, is some 8,000 dunams on which homes were constructed and thousands more dunams of farm land.
Supporters of the law have argued that by offering the Palestinians compensation, Israel is placed in compliance with international law. Right-wing politicians have further explained that it is the only way to prevent what would eventually become the evacuation of close to 4,000 homes.
Trump waging an oil and gas war, back on track with America’s globalist agenda
Nahed al al Husaini Damascus Bureau Chief
The Trump administration has a plan to extend the war in Syria. Syria has considerable oil and gas reserves, some of which in Idlib and Latakia are easily accessible to the Mediterranean. These are the largest gas reserves deliverable to Turkey and Southern Europe that can offset supplies from Russia and Iran and represent the reason Turkey, and this is how it is now being seen, took Aleppo in the first place and is now threatening Aleppo again.
Secret Oil Map of Syria
Syria’s oil and gas reserves have never been developed and were the relationship Trump outlined during the campaign to materialize, now seen as increasingly unlikely, the Eastern Mediterranean oil and gas reserves being exploited by Israel would be forgotten as major players would seek the much larger fields ashore in Syria and Northern Lebanon, long ago edited from the regions oil maps.
Gas supplies to last Europe until 2300
From Nafeez Ahmed:
US, British, French, Israeli and other energy interests could be prime beneficiaries of military operations in Iraq and Syria designed to rollback the power of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) and, potentially, the Bashar al-Assad regime.
A study for a global oil services company backed by the French government and linked to Britain’s Tory-led administration, published during the height of the Arab Spring, hailed the significant “hydrocarbon potential” of Syria’s offshore resources.
The 2011 study was printed in GeoArabia, a petroleum industry journal published by a Bahrain-based consultancy, GulfPetroLink, which is sponsored by some of the world’s biggest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Total, and BP.
GeoArabia’s content has no open subscription system and is exclusively distributed to transnational energy corporations, corporate sponsors and related organisations, as well as some universities.
Authored by Steven A. Bowman, a Senior Geoscientist for the French energy company CGGVeritas, the study identified “three sedimentary basins, Levantine, Cyprus, and Latakia, located in offshore Syria” and highlighted “significant evidence for a working petroleum system in offshore Syria with numerous onshore oil and gas shows, DHIs (direct hydrocarbon indicators) observed on seismic, and oil seeps identified from satellite imagery.”
France’s secret affair with Assad’s Syria
At the time, when civil unrest was sweeping across Syria, CGGVeritas was contracted to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Sources.
The French company is one of the world’s largest seismic surveyors. Backed by the French government which owns 18% voting rights in the firm, CGGVeritas had acquired seismic data on offshore Syrian resources in 2005, and since then has been the main point of contact for geophysical and geological datasets on behalf of the Syrian regime.
In 2011, the French firm had an exclusive contract with the Syrian government to provide technical support for that year’s Syrian International Offshore Bid Round for firms to explore, develop and produce oil and gas from three offshore blocks in the Mediterranean Sea by the Syrian coast.
“Exploration activity has increased in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years following a series of major multi-TCF (trillion cubic feet) gas discoveries made in the offshore southern Levantine Basin,” wrote Bowman. “Licensing rounds are scheduled to be announced during 2011 for areas in offshore Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus, which are believed to share strong geological similarities with these discoveries.”
Describing offshore Syria as “a truly frontier area of exploration”, Bowman — who was also involved in CGGVeritas evaluations of seismic datasets of energy resources in Libya — noted the discovery of several “flat-spots” which, if real, “will represent billion-barrel/multi-TCF [trillion cubic feet] drilling targets given the scale and volumetrics of the structures within which they occur.”
The Turkish Army, heavily reinforced, is only 20 miles from Aleppo from the East and is now moving to encircle from the North.
Turkey, who claims to be an American ally against ISIS and who has an on again, off again agreement with Russia and Iran, has been shown, time and time again, to coordinate military moves with ISIS and al Nusra.
Where the Obama administration had planned to leave office with their Kurdish allies in control of Raqqah and Mosul in Iraq secure, it was the hand of Turkey that offset the US, pouring supplies to ISIS in Mosul, from the North, until threats from Iraq forced them to withdraw their military.
Inside Syria, Russia and the Syrian Army are all that protect not just the Kurds but US forces as well from slaughter in and around Manbij. The Kurds fighting ISIS north of Aleppo, however, now face the Turkish Army as well, on three sides, while that army advances for a possible quick thrust into Aleppo City, an act that would well bring Russian retaliation, which Turkey believes NATO can offset.
[ Editor’s Note: NATO could not legally get involved responding to an attack on Turkish forces attacking the SAA in Syria. Turkey has publicly said as a member of the tripartite group that it recognized Syrian territorial sovereignty, but, like the US coalition, says it is only in Syria for “counter terrorism operations”. Iran and Russia are expected to deal with this issue first…Jim W. Dean ]
High level sources informed VT that the Trump Administration is more concerned than ever to secure a share in Syria after the Syrian Army and its allies snatched Aleppo and Palmyra from the grip of terrorists. Trump’s final objective is to invest in the Syrian crisis politically or economically by playing carrot and stick game with the Kurds and Turks, who are staunch allies of the US.
Sajur River, Aleppo Governate, Syria
The sources added that US led coalition forces which are patrolling the Sajour river are trying to prevent any collusion or clash between the Kurds and Euphrates shield forces.
VT has input saying that Erdogan has lost faith in Trump whose main goal is to strike a deal at the expense of his allies. Erdogan will get closer to Putin again simply because he rethinks the possibility of retaking Aleppo if Raqqa became a Syrian-Russian held territory. Some of the warring factions are now joining the Turkish backed Euphrates Shield to be listed on its payroll. Those factions, which are tiny in size and influence, want to have leverage and money via a firm rooted coalition that is primarily Turkish Army.
The Euphrates Shield is comprised about 15 thousand fighters from the Free Syrian Army, al Shamieh Front, and Nour Al Dein Al Zinki movement. The coalition is recruiting more mercenaries from the renegade factions located in Isis held Edlib and Al Nusra controlled areas. It is expected that new realignments will appear after the rapid fall of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Al Nusra will be part and parcel of the new bloc that will be formed at a large scale level. Al Nusra changed its name to Fatah al Sham to avoid US sanctions but still active and operating in Damascus and its suburbs, in addition to Daraa, Hama, Homs, and Lattakia countrysides.
The US policy is still vague though Trump declared that he is intending to seize Raqqa and set up safe zones to protect civilians. The US Russian cooperation is still in gear and maybe will gain more momentum when Trump and Putin meets to Demarcate the new world map.
This year will be crucial for finding a solution for the Syrian crisis by peace or war. The two giant powers which control the game are fully aware of the risks that entails any failure in Astana or Geneva
Trump administration is playing with fire and stalking for time to drag the war on to exhaust the Syrian army and its allies, believing that this strategy will eventually bear fruit and make the US project easily applicable.
The Syrian leadership which is fighting a military, political and a diplomatic war on all fronts is aware of Trump intentions and schemes. The military organization in coordination with the Russians and the Iranians has preemptively draw a plan to counter the US next moves, especially in North-East Syria oil and gas rich areas.
The waiting game is boring but Syria and its allies will not get impatient as more players from the Gulf are getting ready to send troops in support of Trump’s mysterious “secret Pentagon plan,” more likely formulated by Netanyahu than any American.