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Escalation in Libya and Iraq; Syrian War May Expand to Lebanon

Next Cold War Roundup 3/2/16

The US military is escalating their role in Iraq and Libya.  Saudis are threatening to destabilize Lebanon and open a new front in the Syrian war on its border with northern Lebanon by arming Sunni proxies there.  Turkey is on shaky ground with its NATO and other allies who are now “fear” internal turmoil there.

Mosul

_ “The Battle for Mosul Has Begun […] ISIS is under air, ground, and cyber attack as Iraqi and coalition troops encircle the group’s final stronghold in Iraq, the Joint Chiefs chairman says.” There is a new joint operations center in Makhmur.”Fresh troops from the 82nd Airborne Division already are rotating into Iraq, Carter said.” CNN reported US Army’s Delta Force ” operations to target, capture or kill top ISIS operatives have begun in Iraq, after several weeks of covert preparation.”

_ New York Times confirms the Pentagon is focused on Mosul and says the fight could last for “many months.” Al Rai’s war correspondent: “The Raqqa offensive needs Mosul first and The Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Force to Syria

_ Sec. of Defense is preparing a “series of proposals” to expand the US military role in Iraq.

 

Invading Libya Again

_ “Foreign military intervention in Libya already well under way

_ “[British] Special forces working alongside their US counterparts in Misrata to stop the jihadists’ progress.”

_ US Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc says “our partners need our advice and assistance. They need our training and a certain amount of equipping in order to be successful.” The president has received “options for military operations in Libya” from military officials. Sec. Def, Carter says a unity government is needed to “win support from Libya’s different factions for foreign intervention.” Bolduc says the US, France and the UK have established a “Coalition Coordination Center” in Rome and Italy will lead the intervention, which has been in the planning stage for months. “Western special-operations forces have already been deployed on undisclosed missions.” Bolduc said “his command isn’t working directly with Gen. Khalifa Haftar.”

Opening a New Front in the Syrian War? Northern Lebanon

_ A Turkish ship loaded with two containers holding weapons and munitions and with a destination of Tripoli, Lebanon, was detained on Sunday by the Greek coast guard. This ship was part of what is believed to be a Turkish-Saudi Countermove in Lebanon that threatens Latakia, Syria and could open a new front in the Syrian war.

_ Analysis at the Moon of Alabama blog (here and here) concludes that a March 1 column by David Ignatius, known as a media conduit for the CIA, might confirm that the Saudis and allies are planning (or threatening, as a way to gain leverage at negotiating table) to expand the Syrian war when he casually mentions the Saudi defense minister’s “new effort to destabilize a Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon” and speculates that it might be part of the “Plan B” that Sec. of State Kerry unexpectedly dropped on the table last week during his testimony at various Congressional hearings.

_ The Times of Israel reported today that the “Saudi-led bloc of six Gulf Arab nations formally branded Hezbollah a terrorist organization on Wednesday, ramping up the pressure on the Lebanese militant group fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad in Syria.” The Saudis and Gulf allies recently began economic pressure on Lebanon as well. But the same Gulf States seem to have already declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 2013.

_ In early February, WINEP, a neocon think tank and “part of the core” of the Israeli lobby in the US, (a sampling of their board of advisors members Richard Perle, Condi Rice, Joe Lieberman, James Woolsey, et al) published an article by a French scholar on the Syrian/Russian/Iranian “steamroller” in Syria, in which he said one of the few options left for the Saudis and Turks was to raise up a rebel group from the thousands of willing Sunni men in Lebanon who only lack arms and resources, and open a new front that threatens the key Syrian government strongholds in Latakia, including the port city of Tartus. Notably, Russia’s naval and air bases are in this area.

“Yet Turkey and Saudi Arabia may not remain passive in the face of major Russian-Iranian progress in Syria. […] Another option is to open a new front in northern Lebanon, where local Salafist groups and thousands of desperate Syrian refugees could be engaged in the fight. Such a move would directly threaten Assad’s Alawite heartland in Tartus and Homs, as well as the main road to Damascus.”

Syria Ceasefire

_ DailyBeast discovers “In the Syrian Ceasefire Shell Game, the Good Guys May be Bad Guys” that Ahrar al-Sham might be al Qaeda! Better late than never.

Turkey

_ “Don’t sacrifice Turkey to save Syria“.  A plea from a former French diplomat, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, for western intervention.

_ Israel – Turkey reconciliation “imminent“.

_ Washington Post’s Ignatius says Turkey has worsened it’s relations with “Russia, Israel, Iran and the United States” and “veteran Turkey-watchers fear growing internal turmoil there.”

_ AFP reported that Turkey is blocking NATO’s new deployment of ships in the Aegean Sea to stem the flow of migrants. Ankara is denying it.

Israel’s Sunni Policy in the Middle East

_ At Aspen in 2014, Michael Oren tells Jeffrey Goldberg that the Sunni evil is the lesser of two evils. Clip is below, full interview is here.

 

_ Washington Post editor says Bernie Sanders proposed coalition in the Middle East is “mythical”: “Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders promises to outsource the heavy lifting to a mythical coalition of Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (deadly enemies, but never mind)” as he calls for more American military involvement in the Middle East, using Europe’s “falling apart” and humanitarian concern as an excuse.

US Hawk Strategy for Syria for Next President?

_ This is a good indication of the Syria strategy for the US war party, who will apparently have to wait for the next president to fully implement it.

 Afghanistan

_ “Citing growing shortages of troops because of widespread desertions,” Afghan forces withdrew from a checkpoint in a village in Uruzgan Province.

Oil Output Deal

_ 15 OPEC and non-OPEC countries are nearing a deal in March to cap oil output at January, 2016 levels. Iran wants to increase their artificially, due to sanctions, lows and the Russian oil minister said a deal can still be effective without them, and a separate deal might be reached with them.

The Dulles Brothers and Perpetual War

_ “The Dulles Brothers and Their Legacy of Perpetual War“. David Talbot’s book The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government  book has been on a lot of people’s reading list of late.  Dan Sanchez recommends Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World Warand expands on why they complement each other so well.

Blast From the Past

_ May, 2011: Guardian article about how Goldman Sachs lost 98% of the money the Libyan government’s sovereign wealth fund had under their management ($1.3B) in 2008. The rest of the $53B fund invested elsewhere had “soared in value”. It was frozen by the EU and the UN in February, 2011, before the military phase of the regime change operation began.

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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.