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Assad Wants Golan on Negotiating Table, Netanyahu Says Never

Next Cold War Roundup 4/18/16

Syrian president Assad wants the return of the Golan Heights to be an item on the Geneva negotiating table and Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu said Israel will never return the Golan and the world should recognize it as sovereign territory of Israel.  Saudis threaten to remove their assets from the US.  Obama leaves on a trip to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Saudis Threaten As Congress Considers Law Allowing Foreign Assets to be Seized for Terrorism Support

_ The bill would specify that “immunity given to foreign nations under the law should not apply in cases where nations are found culpable for terrorist attacks that kill Americans on United States soil.” Assets in the US could be seized (which is why the Saudis are threatening to move their assets elsewhere). The NY Times artice headline is very misleading.

_ “Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill.” Saudi foreign minister personally delivered the message in Washington that they’ll sell up to $750 billion of US assets and treasuries if Congress passes a bill that “would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” There have been “intense discussions” about it between lawmakers, State Dept. and the Pentagon and anonymous sources say the Obama administration has lobbied against the bill.

New Documents on Benghazi Attacked Released Via FOIA Suit

_ Judicial Watch got more documents related to the Benghazi attack via a FOIA lawsuit and released them late last week.  These include telephone transcripts from the evening of 9/11/12 and telephone transcripts with world leaders.

_ Moon of Alabama’s analysis concludes that the “group who planned and initiated the attack was not only “associated with Al-Qaeda” but the Al-Qaeda leadership itself.

Putin: Turkey Allies With Extremists

“Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the current Turkish leadership does not fight radicals as much as it cooperates with them. Putin said this during his direct line session on April 14.”

Assad – Put Golan on the Negotiating Table. Netanyahu – We’re Keeping Golan Heights Forever

_ Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a “ceremonial cabinet meeting in the Golan marking the one-year anniversary of his current government’s formation.”  Netanyahu said he believes Syria will never be whole again and the world needs to ” finally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.

“I chose to have this festive cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights to send a clear message: The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israeli hands […] It’s time, after 50 years, that the international community finally recognizes that the Golan will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.”

_ The symbolic meeting coincided with the third round of peace talks being held in Geneva to end the Syrian war and stabilize the country. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said he wanted the Golan to be part of the negotiations at Geneva and “include a possible return of the region.” Netanyahu told US Sec of State John Kerry on Saturday that the Golan was not a bargaining chip in Geneva. Netanyahu is, most likely, concerned that Kerry will agree to return the Golan to Syrian in exchange for Assad stepping down, which the US seems desperate to make happen but has few cards to play at the negotiating table.

_ Netanyahu also told Kerry on Saturday that “any settlement should involve the removal of the forces of Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah organization and the Islamic State from Syrian soil.”

_ “The international community, including the United States, has never recognized Israel’s annexation of the heights and views the plateau as Syrian territory occupied by Israel.”

_ Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said they will return the Golan “to the Syrian motherland” by force if necessary. The Syrian foreign ministry said Netanyahu’s cabinet meeting was “reckless” and “provocative.” The Syrian government also said Netanyahu’s meeting in the Golan and statements were“provocative, irresponsible and void in both form and content” and “called upon the UN to ‘intervene immediately to condemn such an irresponsible meeting, and demand that this reckless action not be repeated, particularly as it is held on an occupied Syrian territory'”.

Brazil’s Lower House Votes to Impeach

_ Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted to impeach President Dilma Roussef even though she has not been found to have committed any financial fraud, unlike hundreds of members of Congress who voted to impeach her and are under investigation for financial crimes. The process advances to the Senate.

Syrian Battlefield

_ Saudi-backed Syrian opposition says they’ll pull out of Geneva talks if the Syrian coalition attacks and retakes rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
_ Urban warfare continues inside Aleppo City as government advances in a southern Aleppo suburb. Local Syrian army commanders are trying to convince Kurdish YPG and SDF to join the government in the fight against the rebels who are holding part of the city.
_ FSA and Ahrar al-Sham announced “formation of a joint operations room to begin the battle … in response to violations by the army”.


_ “Silk Road redux: The return of history?

_ “How Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen has made al Qaeda stronger – and richer

_ Washington Post thinks Venezuela, the country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world, “is in desperate need of a political intervention.”

_ “Yemen war one year on: Are peace talks doomed to fail?

Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

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