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Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel Agitate For More American Involvement

Next Cold War 2/22/16

Saber Rattling Saudi FM Tells Der Spiegel Saudis Want Syrian Rebels MANPADs.

_ “In an interview, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir expresses his continued support for regime change in Syria and his desire for rebels to be supplied with anti-aircraft missiles that could shift the balance of power in the war.”  He also said the decision is up to the anti-ISIS coalition.

_ To get a sense of the Saudi FM, watch this video of his speech at the Munich Security Conference.

_ WaPo reports that “concerns have mounted about its expanding military involvement in the conflict” as Saudis, including their foreign minister, ‘flex their muscles’ and say they can handle another war in Syria while they continue their war on Yemen. An anonymous “political observer” who is close to “senior officials” in Saudi Arabia said “Our economy is really struggling, and yet some leaders come out and say things that could get us caught up in a war in Syria against Russia […] I think there’s a sense that we’ve lost an ability to look at things realistically.” WaPo believes this is in reference to the young Saudi defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman.  It might be another sign of a shake up in the royal palace.

_ Other sources say the Saudis see Iran and Russia winning in Syria as a threat to their security but think their options are limited. What they’re really trying to do is get their “principal allies engaged again.” In other words, get the US to step in and fight their battle.  Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi says the saber rattling is “more of a test of U.S. support for the kingdom’s policies” where they fear the Obama administration will no longer back them on Syria.

Israel Openly Sides With Syrian Rebels, Says West Must Back New “Third Force” of “Less Extreme” Sunni Jihadists and Kurds

_ “Israel is changing its approach to Syria war […] Israeli official believe West must intervene in favor of moderate rebels […] Israel has been quietly wishing success to both sides and would not have been against the bloodletting continuing for a few more years without a clear victor.”  Israel wants to form a “third force” with “less extreme Sunni rebels” and wants to turn the Kurdish militias against the Syrian government. At the moment, the Syrian Kurds, YPG, are cooperating with the Assad government and the Syria/Russia coalition.  The Syrian forces are beginning to recapture the border of the border of the Golan Heights, most of which was under rebel control.

_ Israel reportedly no longer objects to Syrian opposition having portable anti-aircraft missiles, MANPADS

ISIS Suicide Attacks in Homs and Damascus

_ “A string of suicide bombings near a Shiite shrine outside Syria’s capital and in Homs claimed by jihadists killed at least 150 people Sunday, as Washington and Moscow worked to secure a ceasefire.” A car bombing near Damascus and two suicide attacks near another Shiite shrine, Sayyida Zeinab, killed 96 people and 178 injured.

_ The reported numbers of casualties still vary as CNN reports at least 122 people killed and scores injured and BBC reports 140 killed.

_ Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the attacks and said they were aimed at “subverting attempts” to reach a political settlement.

Oil Revenue Loss Hurting ISIS, Kurdistan, Turkey

_ KRG announced that they’ve lost $14 million from the cessation of “crude oil exports from the region to Ceyhan Port have been interrupted since an attack on the pipeline on February 16″ which hurts its ability to pay the Peshmerga fighters.  This and other issues have caused serious trouble to the finances of Iraqi Kurdistan, which wasn’t in particularly good shape to begin with, but the attack on the Ceyhan Pipeline plus the drop in oil prices, refugees, and budget disputes with the Baghdad government have brought it to crisis level.

_ Al Rai war correspondent Magnier writes that ISIS hasn’t been paying salaries to their fighters in northern Syria in awhile either.  “No oil,  no money, no Jihad.”

_ ISIS is rigging the USD – Iraqi dinar exchange rate to “prop up finances” and “squeeze money out of local people as coalition bombers attack the group’s finances” as they sell goods in dollars but pay fighters and public workers in dinars.

Russia-Turkey Crisis

_ Russian Foreign Ministry Briefing, Friday 2/18/16: Transcript

_ Turkey calls for unconditional support from US. “If 28 Turkish lives have been claimed through a terrorist attack we can only expect them to say any threat against Turkey is a threat against them.”  US State Dept. said Washington would continue to support ground forces who are effective against ISIS. YPG is the most effective fighting force among US allies.

Kerry Calls for Al Qaeda to be Exempt From Airstrikes. Vague provisional ceasefire announced.

_ Over the weekend and for a few days before that, US media has started to report that the US is fighting a proxy war against itself, where US-backed Kurds are fighting US-backed unicorn moderate Syrian rebels.  Even those who don’t follow the extremely complicated war closely enough to understand what’s really going on can understand how crazy this policy is.

_ Friday’s UN Security Council meeting ended without a resolution after Russia called for Turkey to stop shelling across the border into Syria and for countries to tone down extremist and inflammatory rhetoric.  But the US, UK and France refused to support the resolution and in fact reneged on important provisions of the recent and very important UN Resolution 2254, which called for a ceasefire against opposition fighters while the opposition would join the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda. Some time in the past week, Kerry decided to try to exclude al Qaeda from any attacks and also reneged on the provision for Syrian territorial integrity.

_ On Saturday, John Kerry announced a provisional ceasefire has been reached but “it’s not finalized and all parties might not automatically comply.”  He said he had discussed the terms with Russian FM Lavrov by phone but that they both need to reach out to the opposition.  He hoped that Obama and Putin would talk soon.


_ Reports of Iranian air force operating in Syria.


_ Syrian army and allies compelted encirclement of ISIS in East Aleppo_

_ Syrian forces recaptured Aleppo’s thermal power plant 



_ “US Airstrikes in Afghanistan Killing Civilians at Greatest Rate for Seven Years, New Figures Show

_ “Afghan forces have pulled out of bases in Musa Qala, a strategic district of the southern province of Helmand“. Taliban moved in and reported that it had captured heavy equipment abandoned upon withdrawal. British and American troops “fought hard to control” this district from 2006-2008. “General John Campbell, recently sent hundreds of American troops to Helmand, where they assist and train Afghan forces but do not fight.”


_ Russian diplomat Gennady Gatilov told Spiegel:

“Bashar Assad could have prevented the escalation if he had taken democratic reforms in time. Without them, the conflict continued to spread. It drew the attention of terrorist groups [and] created a breeding environment for them,” he added.

_ New Assad interview with Spanish media, El Pais.


_ EU’s Operation SOPHIA against human traffickers might include “sending ground troops to war-torn Libya” according to a document leaked to Wikileaks and VICE Alps.

Wall Street and the Supreme Court (Composit image via Dave Center and OZinOH on Flickr)
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Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.