Svijetu Mir Lennon Ivan Stil – Dio 369

 

Ukratko, mislim na «Svijetu Mir Lennon Ivan Stil – Dio 369» kao uvjerenje da IRAK i SIRIJE pobjede su najvažnije za desetkovanje od ISIS, dok SIRIJSKI pregovori moraju dovesti do mira, usredotočujući se na nove geopolitičke realnosti, pri čemu su najveće zabrinutosti napetosti između IZRAEL i IRAN, kao poticaj za potencijalni Treći i Konačni Svjetski Rat, tako da svi lideri širom svijeta moraju povećati svoje napore, kako bi identificirali kreativne diplomatske mogućnosti za smanjenje napetosti, s razmatrajući imenovanje THE ROCK kao posebnog izaslanika za SREDNJE ISTOČNE ZEMALJE, jer trenutna situacija između IZRAEL i IRAN opisuje nove geopolitičke stvarnosti u regiji, pri čemu čini se da Američki Predsjednik Donald Trump je shvatio da mu je potreban saveznik u SREDNJE ISTOČNE ZEMALJE, pa su stoga UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE usmjerile svoje pozornosti na SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU koja se bori s KHASHOGGI skandalom, zbog čega je došlo do međunarodne zanose zbog navodne ubojstvo novinara SAUDIJSKA u konzulatu SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU u glavnom gradu ISTANBUL, TURSKA, s Predsjednikom UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE, Donald Trump, koji je u početku glumio odnosne javnošće prednjak i zavrtitelj-liječnik odnosa s javnošću za kraljevsku obitelj SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU, spekulirajući na skitničke ubojice, istodobno inzistirajući na tome da se kraljska obitelj SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU pretpostavlja nevinim dok se ne dokazuje krivnja, dok je sada prisiljen kvalificirati svoju početnu bezuvjetnu podršku sa WOW, dok je Američki Predsjednik Donald Trump podržao SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU da IRAN nedvojbeno sponzorira nedavne napade na naftne objekte u SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU, jer štrajk došao sa sjevera, uz tvrdnju da su UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE spremne za rat, iako ga želi izbjeći, tako da je naredio povećane sankcije na IRAN, dok IRAN inzistira na tome da IRAN nije imao nikakve veze s napadom koji je oborio više od polovice mogućnosti izvoze nafte od SAUDIJSKE ARABIJE, budući da IRAN ne smatra dokaz od SAUDIJSKE ARABIJE u obliku komade rakete i bespilotne letjelice koji dolaze sa sjevera kao materijalne dokaze, budući da u IRAQ još uvijek postoji broj militanata koji su mogli sa vlastite dogovore ispaliti rakete i bespilotne letjelice, iako nema sumnje da IRANSKA ekonomija je nanošena sa štetu, tako da su ekstremisti izravno pukli na naftne infrastrukture od SAUDIJSKE ARABIJE, jer je IRAN odabrao ponos prije nego što se ustupi centimetar prema UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE, iako nije ostalo puno toga da UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE čini, jer mjerače ekonomske pritiske prilično su vec na maksimu, tako da je Ministar Vanjskih Poslova IRAN, Mohammad Javad Zarif, upozorio UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE i SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU da će svatki napad na IRAN, u znak odmazde za naftne napade u SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU, rezultirati sa potencijalne sveobuhvatni rat, jer čak iako IRAN ne želi rat, IRAN neće treptati sa očima da se obrani, iako je Američka vojska zaključana i učitana da odgovori, dok je IRAN optuživao UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE i SAUDIJSKU ARABIJU da iznose optužbe, pokušavajući predložiti krivnju na IRAN, utemeljene na lažima i prevarama, iako IRAN ne blefira da UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE i SAUDIJSKA ARABIJA znaju da za njih u regiji neće biti sutra, jer će IRAN uzvratiti, iako se sada čini da će se IRAN uključiti u rizičnije manevre, u pokušaju uvjeravanja UJEDINJENE DRŽAVE da uklone oštre ekonomske sankcije nad IRAN.

 

TURKEY News

 

During the week ending on Sunday, September 22, 2019, the focus in TURKEY seemed to shift to the TURKISH struggling economy, largely attributable to a lack of confidence by foreign investors, due largely to TURKEY’s repressive crackdown measures on all opposition movements. It is important to note that, several months ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allowed TURKEY’s two-year state of emergency to come to an end but as trials of dissidents and journalists continue, human rights campaigners continue to pressure TURKEY to do more to reverse a suffocating crackdown on free speech. Critics claim that the state of emergency, in place since the failed “Coup D’État” in July of 2016 that killed 250 people and wounded 1,400, has been used to detain opponents of the governing AKP for lengthy periods of time without trial to intimidate dissidents and to prosecute media outlets. That is, more than 120,000 people in the police, military, academia, media and civil service have been detained or dismissed from their jobs, over their alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, who is the exiled TURKISH preacher based now in the U.S., who TURKEY blames as the brains behind the operations for the failed “Coup D’État”.

However, the behaviours of TURKEY’s governing AKP seem to be taking their toll on the TURKISH economy as turbulent politics have resulted in economic turmoil whereby the sliding TURKISH Lira set-off alarm bells across TURKEY as businesses struggle to cope with the financial impacts of a declining TURKISH Lira. Unfortunately, TURKEY’s fragile economy recently received another economic blow when TURKEY’s growth forecasts for this year and next year were dramatically reduced, triggering further drops in the value of the TURKISH Lira. It is important to note that TURKISH Finance Minister Berat Albayrak stated that growth would be 2.3% in 2019, revised downwards from the initial forecasts of 5.5%. Ironically, TURKEY’s finance minister insisted that TURKEYS’s economy did not face any significant risks, despite the TURKISH Lira plunging to its lowest point after new economic data was released that points to the risk of a sharp economic slowdown in TURKEY. Furthermore, TURKISH banks that borrowed heavily abroad now face the near impossible task of refinancing short-term debt in expensive U.S. Dollars and E.U. Euros. Therefore, TURKEY will be hit with a currency mismatch as TURKEY mostly earns returns on investments in TURKISH Lira, while it has to payback its foreign currency denominated debt by converting a plummeting TURKISH Lira, resulting in significantly higher debt payments.

Nonetheless, this week TURKISH Finance Minister, Berat Albayrak, continued to focus on the TURKISH economy, as TURKEY’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate on hold sticking to its promise to stand firm on inflation even as the economy suffers a sharp slowdown in growth. Furthermore, it is important to note that the TURKISH economy officially sank into recession in the fourth quarter of 2018. However, TURKISH Finance Minister, Berat Albayrak, stated that the TURKISH economy had survived the most serious speculative attack in its history such that the current data for 2019 shows the TURKISH economy is making a rapid recovery, such that the decline in economic growth is temporary. Furthermore, TURKISH Finance Minister, Berat Albayrak, stated that the expedited economic reforms in the post-election period would reinvigorate the normalization of TURKISH markets as a new comprehensive economic package was announced on April 8, 2019. It is important to note that TURKISH Finance Minister, Berat Albayrak, stated that there should be no major election issues in TURKEY for four-and-a-half years following the March 31, 2019 polls, such that TURKEY should swiftly proceed into a new era of economic stability. Thus, this week TURKISH Finance Minister, Berat Albayrak all but dismissed that an economic recession is taking place, despite a surge in unemployment and a slump in consumer confidence, while highlighting a 5% decline in inflation from a 15 year high, and a sharp contraction in the current account deficit, due to a decline in demand for imports, as key TURKISH government achievements.

It is important to note that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has resolved to stand firm on TURKEY’s decision to buy the RUSSIAN S-400 missile defense system based on grievances that include: (1) U.S. armed Syrian KURDISH forces in war against ISIS, although TURKEY regards this as a threat to its territorial integrity; (2) U.S. refused to extradite the exiled TURKISH preacher, Fethullah Gulen, who TURKEY blames as the brains behind failed “Coup D’État”; (3) Turkey’s economy has been hurt by U.S. sanctions on IRAN that are driving up energy prices; and (4) U.S. is backing TURKEY’s rivals in a natural gas dispute with CYPRUS and in other regional conflicts. Nonetheless, this week, the U.S. held firm that it will not allow TURKEY to purchase both the F-35 fighter jet and the RUSSIAN missile system. Ironically, TURKEY appears to be undeterred by the threats, arguing that the U.S. has no right to remove TURKEY from the F-35 program under existing agreements, while threatening to take reciprocal steps to any U.S. imposed sanctions. However, the first batch of the RUSSIAN S-400 surface-to-air, missile defense system equipment was delivered to TURKEY, even after repeated U.S. calls to cancel the deal or face punishment, defying increasingly vocal warnings from the U.S. that TURKEY faces sanctions over the US$ 2.5 billion acquisition.

Nonetheless, TURKEY’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that a controversial RUSSIAN missile defense system will be fully deployed in April of 2020, despite the threat of U.S. imposed sanctions, while adding that the next step would be to jointly produce the S-400 surface-to-air, missile defense systems with RUSSIA. Furthermore, the U.S. removal of TURKEY from the F-35 joint fighter program comes at a considerable cost to the NATO alliance, overlooking the fact that TURKEY has spent millions on developing the US$ 1.5 trillion stealth fighter that was only possible through joint investment. However, there is a cost for the rash decision that the U.S. appears to have deferred for the time being, consisting of the fact that TURKEY produces nearly 900 parts for the F-35 program, and thus its removal will cost the program an additional US$ 9 billion for participants across the board, with losses of at least 500 million dollars. Furthermore, TURKEY has warned the U.S. that TURKEY would retaliate against what TURKEY calls an unacceptable threat of sanctions by the U.S. over TURKEY’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence systems.

However, TURKEY’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to warn the SYRIAN regime, RUSSIA and IRAN that an all-out military offensive on IDLIB could lead to a disastrous outcome for TURKEY by triggering a new wave of refugees heading towards the TURKISH borders. Thus, the world has been bracing for months for the Bashar al-Assad Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to attack IDLIB, where around 2.5 million civilians are living in opposition-held territory with no clear escape routes if fighting escalates. Hence, TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached a ceasefire deal with RUSSIA, in recent months, to prevent an all-out attack on IDLIB, as TURKEY is worried that an attack on IDLIB will trigger a mass exodus of refugees fleeing towards the TURKISH border. It is important to note that the weapons, which have entered SYRIA in large quantities, in recent months, including ammunition and GRAD rockets, clearly indicated that TURKEY would be providing complete TURKISH military support, for a long drawn-out battle over IDLIB, if necessary, that functioned as an effective deterrent from a full scale attack by the SAA and its RUSSIAN and IRANIAN backed allies. However, in recent months, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which includes former AL-QAEDA terrorist fighters among its ranks, seems to be attempting to consolidate power in northern SYRIA with waves of arrests of civilians during the TURKEY and RUSSIAN brokered ceasefire.

Unfortunately, escalations in fighting this week resulted in the SAA unleashing a powerful assault across the southern countryside of IDLIB, targeting several areas controlled by the terrorist HTS rebels, as the SAA repeatedly fired several artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles towards HTS positions. Furthermore, RUSSIA made it clear that it will not allow the de-escalation zone in IDLIB to be a safe zone for terrorists. However, at this stage, RUSSIA also opposes any large-scale military operation in the region, citing numerous civilians who can be used as human shields by the HTS militants. However, this week, opposition fighters in SYRIA’s northwest withdrew from the key town as SAA government forces pressed ahead with their IDLIB offensive, as the rebels were forced to withdraw from KHAN SHEIKHOUN, after the town was completely surrounded by SAA government forces. It is important to note that the fighters, who withdrew, were from the JAISH AL-IZZA rebel faction and from the TURKISH-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), a loose coalition of armed groups considered by the U.S. to be part of the moderate opposition.

Furthermore, this week, the leaders of RUSSIA and TURKEY stated that they shared deep concerns over fighting in northwestern SYRIA, with TURKEY warning that it would take the steps necessary to protect its troops there. It is important to note that after meeting for talks in RUSSIA, RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin and TURKEY’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated they hoped to work together to ease tensions in IDLIB province. However, TURKEY does back the moderate rebels in northwest SYRIA and has deployed TURKISH forces in the IDLIB region, such that it is difficult to differentiate between military and humanitarian convoys. Nonetheless, TURKISH Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, stated that right now, TURKEY does not have any intention of moving its observation posts elsewhere, such that TURKEY will carry on with its mission at the MOREK observation post regardless of the recent attack. Unfortunately, this week, airstrikes once again hit IDLIB, after a ceasefire was declared 10 days ago, such that intense airstrikes by RUSSIAN and SYRIAN warplanes accompanied another SYRIAN government push to re-take the area, with intensified ground fighting and shelling. Ironically, the U.S. stated that its forces had also carried out air strikes against an AL-QAEDA facility in IDLIB.

 

SAUDI ARABIA News

 

In an unusual chain of events that triggered a change of fate, international uproar over the alleged killing of a SAUDI journalist inside the SAUDI ARABIAN consulate in the capital of ISTANBUL, TURKEY continues, whereby the SAUDI ARABIAN officials had promised consequences for anyone, even a member of the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family, found responsible for the assassination. Thus, TURKEY has led a relentless campaign to hold SAUDI ARABIA accountable, as TURKISH authorities have allowed media leaks to the international press. Furthermore, TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally denounced SAUDI ARABIA for initially trying to deny involvement in the killing, as after weeks of lying, SAUDI ARABIA finally admitted that Jamal Khashoggi was dead, such that as per TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, covering up this kind of savagery will hurt the conscience of all humanity.

Therefore, in an unusual twist of fate, CIA Director Gina Haspel obviously presented a solid case behind her conclusion that there is a high level of confidence that Crown Prince MBS was complicit in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Thus, CIA Director Gina Haspel garnered extensive support for her conclusion from both top Republican and top Democratic leaders to the point that the entire Senate Committee voted unanimously to overrule U.S. President Donald Trump by officially blaming Crown Prince MBS for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Thus, the official response from the SAUDI ARABIAN Foreign Ministry was that Saudi Arabia categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership, and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature. Thus, in a decisive move by Crown Prince MBS and the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family, they have ceased offering new versions of their own account of what transpired, with the final official SAUDI ARABIAN version remaining, that the SAUDI ARABIAN assassins killed Jamal Khashoggi with an injection of sedatives, and then immediately set to work dismembering him and hiding his remains. Hence, SAUDI ARABIA put the Jamal Khashoggi murder suspects on trial, whereby the prosecutor, SAUDI ARABIA’s attorney general, demanded the death penalty for 5 of the 11 suspects.

Hence, a group of U.S. Democratic senators introduced a bill that would require the leader of the U.S. intelligence community to submit an unclassified report on the death of SAUDI ARABIAN journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to the bill, the report must include identification of those who carried out, participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi. However, the CIA has already concluded that Crown Prince MBS personally ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s murder while U.S. President Donald Trump has steered clear of blaming the SAUDI ARABIAN leader on the basis of a lack of substantive evidence, clearly signalling that he will not take strong action against SAUDI ARABIA, a key U.S. ally, or Crown Prince MBS. Ironically, last week, some U.S. Senators formed a bipartisan opposition movement to attempt to find ways to block U.S. President Donald Trump’s US$ 8 billion in arm sales to SAUDI ARABIA, initiated without congressional approval, by applying legal loopholes by declaring a national emergency, to bypass the U.S. Congress. It is important to note that the House approved resolutions on blocking U.S. President Donald Trump’s emergency arms sales to SAUDI ARABIA and other GULF allies. However, U.S. President Donald Trump has vetoed the resolutions, representing his third veto, and the second veto related to SAUDI ARABIA, such that U.S. President Donald Trump succeeded with his third veto as the Trump Administration argued that the arms sales are necessary because of what it calls heightened threats from IRAN.

However, it is important to note that U.S. President Donald Trump is now focusing his efforts on strengthening ties with SAUDIA ARABIA and UAE, while the U.S. Congress persists to challenge him every step of the way, as bipartisan majority in U.S. Congress fed up with U.S. President Donald Trump’s deference to SAUDI ARABIA and UAE, which has allowed those countries to act with impunity under his Administration’s policies. It is important to note that U.S. Congress will be pushing forward several provisions, including the SAUDI ARABIAN and UAE led coalition airstrikes, using U.S. made precision-guided munitions, that have been a leading cause of civilian deaths in YEMEN, responsible for over 8,000 of approximately 11,700 fatalities reported in connection with direct targeting of civilians in YEMEN. However, this week, U.S. President Donald Trump supported SAUDI ARABIA who stated that IRAN unquestionably sponsored recent attack on SAUDI ARABIAN oil facilities. That is, SAUDI ARABIA’s military displayed pieces of missiles and drones while stating that the wreckage is proof that the recent attack that crippled SAUDI ARABIAN oil production was sponsored by IRAN. It is important to note that a SAUDI ARABIAN military spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, stated that the strike came from the north, not from YEMEN, where HOUTHI rebels have not claimed responsibility for this attack, such that it must have come from IRAN as only IRAN and IRAQ are north of SAUDI ARABIA. Ironically, the attack took place shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in JIDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, to meet with Crown Prince MBS on ways to deter IRAN. Obviously, Mike Pompeo blamed IRAN for the attack, calling it an act of war against SAUDI ARABIA, given that the attack took place on SAUDI ARABIAN soil, constituting an act of war against SAUDI ARABIA directly.

Ironically, the U.S. Democratic senators are still frustrated by U.S. President Donald Trump downplaying their hype regarding Jamal Khashoggi by focusing on senior adviser Jared Kushner’s face-to-face meeting with Crown Prince MBS and his father King Salman to discuss U.S. and SAUDI ARABIAN cooperation, the ISRAELI and PALESTINIAN conflict and economic investment in the region. However, this week, the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that the counter-revolutionary forces may have created with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi seem to have dissipated, with the waves of protests sweeping across ALGERIA and SUDAN suggesting that a second manifestation of the ARAB SPRING may very well be underway in the MIDDLE EAST, that bears a similar resemblance to the first wave witnessed in 2011. As a friendly reminder, the ARAB SPRING was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the MIDDLE EAST in late 2010, that began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living commencing with protests in TUNISIA. Subsequently, the effects of the TUNISIAN Revolution spread strongly to five other countries consisting of LIBYA, EGYPT, YEMEN, SYRIA and BAHRAIN, where either the regime was toppled or major uprisings occurred, including riots, civil wars or insurgencies.

Furthermore, civilians in YEMEN struggle to buy food to break their fast culminating after four consecutive years of civil war that has resulted in the YEMEN currency sinking to its lowest levels in history while the cost of food has soared triggering a major food crisis like YEMEN has never before seen. It is important to note that many in the capital, SANAA, which is under HOUTHI control, work without pay and have no money to buy food. However, SAUDI ARABIA focused its attention on the HOUTHI rebels after HOUTHI forces crossed the border into neighbouring SAUDI ARABIA, currently leading a military coalition against them, and took control of more than 20 positions. It is important to note that the military sites in SAUDI ARABIA’s southwestern NAJRAN province were captured in a surprise offensive. Furthermore, more than 200 SAUDI ARABIAN-UAE military coalition fighters battling the HOUTHI rebels had been killed or wounded as part of the attack, while many others were captured along with large quantities of military equipment. It is also important to note that the HOUTHI rebels had launched multiple attacks on several SAUDI ARABIAN military positions in NAJRAN because it is strategically located adjacent to the YEMENI border.

However, in regards to this week’s SAUDI ARABIA and UAE intercepting and destroying a HOUTHI rebel drone fired from YEMEN’s SANAA, the attack came amid ongoing claims that the HOUTHI rebels continued to violate the HODEIDA agreement, albeit, the YEMENI army foiled HOUTHI rebels attempts to infiltrate YEMEN army from the east of HODEIDA. It is important to note that the SAUDI ARABIA led effort to crush the rebellion by IRAN-aligned HOUTHI rebels in YEMEN appears to be in a stalemate, as neither party ready nor willing to relinquish control. It is important to note that the SAUDI ARABIA and UAE coalition have succeeded in preventing a strategic control disaster by preventing HOUTHI rebels from capturing BAB AL-MANDEB, a critical transportation point between the RED SEA and the GULF OF ADEN. Nonetheless, HOUTHI rebels remain in control of YEMEN capital, SANAA, a considerable part of YEMEN coast and main urban centers of YEMEN. Unfortunately, anti-HOUTHI rebel forces, have now turned on one another, with the UAE-backed SOUTHERN TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL (STC) challenging SAUDI ARABIA supported forces aligned with official YEMENI government led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, such that the STC fighters now control the port of ADEN, with potential for further clashes between the sides escalating over time.

It is important to note that SAUDI ARABIA and UAE pledged to keep their floundering coalition war against YEMEN’s Houthi rebels together after a UAE troop pullout and the rise of the YEMENI southern separatists they once supported. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the UAE, part of the SAUDI ARABIAN led military coalition in YEMEN, is not leaving the war-torn country despite an ongoing withdrawal and redeployment of UAE forces. Ironically, U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths stated that all fighting sides and the international community support a U.N. peace deal brokered in SWEDEN last December and are making progress towards achieving it. Furthermore, Martin Griffiths stated that he believes that this war in YEMEN is eminently resolvable, as both parties continue to insist that they want a political solution, as a military solution is not available. As a friendly reminder, YEMEN’s latest conflict broke out in late 2014 when the HOUTHI rebels, allied with forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and backed by IRAN, seized much of YEMEN, including the capital, SANAA. Subsequently, the war escalated in March of 2015 when a military coalition led by SAUDI ARABIA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched a fierce air campaign against the HOUTHI rebels in a bid to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Unfortunately, since then, tens of thousands of civilians and combatants have been killed and as many as 85,000 children appear to have literally starved to death, while each respective side holds on to what appears to be a never ending conflict for power and control.

 

IRAQ News

 

This week, IRAQ finds itself caught in the crossfire as U.S. President Donald Trump plans to revert U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East by an eventual complete withdrawal of U.S. troops. However, with the impending U.S. withdrawal, IRAQ appears to be on high alert for ISIS fighters fleeing SYRIA, as there are legitimate security concerns that the fleeing ISIS militia will attempt to regroup in areas they once controlled in northern and western IRAQ. However, IRAQI President Barham Salih stated that foreign ISIS fighters would be tried under IRAQI law, such that they could be handed death sentences for acts of terrorism, if found guilty of killing IRAQIS, as IRAQI law allows for capital punishment. It is important to note that at least 200 mass graves containing up to 12,000 victims have been discovered in IRAQ, as IRAQ continues to struggle to emerge from the psychological damage caused by the four-year battle with ISIS militants. Ironically, IRAQ’s military announced that it is granting a reward to anyone with information related to senior ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is important to note that leaflets stated that “The leader of ISIS and his fighters stole your land and killed your people, and now he is hiding in safety away from the death and destruction that he planted. With your intelligence reports, you can avenge. Any individual with intelligence that could result in the detention of the leader of the ISIS terrorist group will be receiving a reward of USD 25 million.”

Ironically, IRAQI Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi made his first visit to SAUDI ARABIA after SAUDI ARABIA reopened its consulate in Baghdad, IRAQ and announced $ 1 billion in aid for IRAQ. Hence, Adil Abdul-Mahdi visited SAUDI ARABIA, the Americans prime ally in the MIDDLE EAST, demonstrating that Iraq wants to maintain good relations with both IRAN and the U.S. However, the U.S. is well apprised of IRAQ’s current dependence on IRANIAN gas and electricity, as although the U.S. re-imposed tough sanctions on IRAN’s energy and finance sectors last year, IRAQ continues to benefit from several temporary exemptions granted by the U.S. to allow IRAQ to continue importing IRANIAN gas and electricity, crucial to IRAQ’s weak power sector. However, the shadow of senior ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi continued to hover over IRAQ this week, as rumours continued to circulate, that the latest video of him filmed in a remote location might very well be IRAQ. Thus, IRAQI Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi stated that ISIS remains a potent threat around the world despite reduced capabilities, adding that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had made his latest video appearance in a remote area while never specifically confirming that it was in fact IRAQ. It is important to note that this week, IRAQI President Barham Salih focused on U.S. and IRANIAN tensions by clearly stating that war is the last thing the MIDDLE EAST needs, as the last war on terror against ISIS has not yet been completed.

It is important to note that the Middle East has been overshadowed by rising tensions and the threat of war between the U.S. and IRAN, while it is certain that IRAQ would be caught in the middle of such a conflict, as IRAQ is still a base for thousands of U.S. troops and IRANIAN paramilitary units. Therefore, IRAQI President Barham Salih made it clear that under no circumstances will IRAQ allow the U.S. to use its bases in IRAQ to launch any attacks on neighbouring IRAN. Furthermore, IRAQI President Barham Salih made it clear that IRAQ does not want IRAQI territory to be a staging post for any hostile actions against any IRAQI neighbours, including IRAN, such that utilizing IRAQ as a base to launch attacks against IRAN is definitely not part of any agreement between the IRAQI government and the U.S.

 

SYRIA News

 

As a friendly reminder, in recent months, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along with its RUSSIAN allies retook a town, DERAA, that was at the heart of the SYRIAN civil war, that engulfed SYRIA for over seven years now, as SAA government forces raised the SYRIAN flag, in the birthplace of the SYRIAN war. It is important to note that the SAA along with their RUSSIAN allies now continue to focus their attention on IDLIB where they have vowed to wipe out all terrorists. It is important to note that the SAA and RUSSIA have signalled that an all-out offensive to retake the last rebel-held province in SYRIA consisting of IDLIB is only a matter of time. Therefore, the SAA and RUSSIA have triggered rising fears over a major humanitarian crisis as it has become evident that IDLIB will eventually be subjected to an intense bombing campaign.

It is important to note that after 8 years of bloodshed that has killed over 500,000 people and forced over 7.5 million people from their homes, IDLIB, in the northwest of SYRIA is the last opposition stronghold, including extremist terrorist elements such as HTS to existing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Thus, for the 2.5 million people trapped in IDLIB, with no way out, the tense ceasefire still currently in effect could very well be the only difference between life and death, albeit the de-escalation zone in SYRIA is witnessing ongoing and large-scale cease-fire violations by multiple parties. Furthermore, this week, RUSSIA made it clear that it will not allow the de-escalation zone in IDLIB to be a safe zone for terrorists. However, at this stage, RUSSIA also opposes any large-scale military operation in the region, citing numerous civilians who can be used as human shields by the HTS militants. Nonetheless, a large number of SAA soldiers were redeployed to HAMA and IDLIB, as the SAA military appears to be making new preparations for a wide-scale offensive to liberate the remaining areas of SYRIA once and for all. It appears that SAA forces have nearly doubled this week, as dozens of military units seem to have redeployed to the demilitarized zone that was established on September 17 in Sochi. Hence, this week, SAA forces along with the RUSSIAN air force bombarded residential areas in the suburbs of IDLIB and ALEPPO, as air raids killed dozens of civilians amidst the heaviest fighting in months. It is important to note that the SAA and its Russian allies intensified their bombing campaign on IDLIB this week, as the area has seen a dramatic increase in violence, including airstrikes, barrel bombs and artillery attacks. Furthermore, it is important to note that escalating military operations in northwestern IDLIB this week are literally bringing a new massacre each day.

However, this week, opposition fighters in SYRIA’s northwest withdrew from the key town as SAA government forces pressed ahead with their IDLIB offensive, as the rebels were forced to withdraw from KHAN SHEIKHOUN, after the town was completely surrounded by SAA government forces. It is important to note that the fighters, who withdrew, were from the JAISH AL-IZZA rebel faction and from the TURKISH-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), a loose coalition of armed groups considered by the U.S. to be part of the moderate opposition. Nonetheless, this week, a new deal between TURKEY and RUSSIA has been reached, on a demilitarised zone in IDLIB province, with dimensions that will be different from the one agreed upon in SOCHI last year, but nonetheless, it will once again depend on the cooperation of armed groups on the ground in IDLIB. Ironically, RUSSIA was blasted at the U.N. for carpet-bombing SYRIA, as RUSSIA and CHINA face backlash after vetoing U.N. resolution calling for a ceasefire in SYRIA’s besieged IDLIB province. It is important to note that the double-veto marked the thirteenth time RUSSIA blocked U.N. action on SYRIA, and the seventh time for CHINA, in an eight-year conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and divided world powers.

 

IRAN NEWS

 

Meanwhile, the tensions between IRAN and ISRAEL seem to have continued to escalate again after ISRAELI airstrikes targeted IRANIAN military infrastructure inside SYRIA, in recent months. Obviously, IRAN condemned the wave of ISRAELI air strikes in SYRIA and clearly stated that these attacks by ISRAEL represent a blatant violation of SYRIA’s sovereignty such that IRAN has backed SYRIA’s right to defend itself against ISRAEL. It is important to note that the strikes were the heaviest strikes carried out by ISRAEL on SYRIA in decades that came right after twenty rockets were fired at ISRAELI military positions in the occupied Golan Heights of SYRIA. It is no secret that the strikes hurt IRAN that has deployed hundreds of troops inside SYRIA as military advisers to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) while thousands of IRANIAN militia armed, trained and financed by IRAN, have also been battling SYRIAN rebel forces alongside the SAA. ISRAEL stated that ISRAELI fighter jets struck almost IRAN’s entire military infrastructure inside Syria consisting of some 70 targets in ISRAELS biggest assault since SYRIA’s civil war commenced in 2011.

Subsequently, the tone escalated between ISRAEL and IRAN, as ISRAEL continues to look to RUSSIA for help to protect ISRAEL from IRAN’s presence in SYRIA to prevent IRAN from gaining a permanent foothold in SYRIA. ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to be adamant that the IRANIANS want to stay in SYRIA, and ultimately take over control of SYRIA, that will be a threat not only to ISRAEL but also for other countries in the region, such that IRANIANS should not be allowed to remain in SYRIA. However, in recent months, IRANIAN forces did pull back from the Golan Heights that seems to be a step in the right direction. However, tensions seemed to have risen with IRANIAN’s fuming at the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions to an IRANIAN economy already suffering from high unemployment and an IRANIAN Rial currency that has lost around half of its value since April of 2018. The new sanctions target IRANIAN purchases of U.S. dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and IRAN’s auto sector although the toughest sanctions targeting oil exports have only taken effect recently. However, IRANIAN President Hassan Rouhani clearly stated that IRAN would not let the enemy bring IRAN to its knees such that if the enemy thinks they will defeat IRAN, they will take their hope to the grave with them.

Hence, U.S. President, Donald Trump, warned that the U.S. is developing a new strategy for the war in SYRIA that would focus more heavily on pushing IRAN’s military and its proxy forces out of SYRIA. However, U.S. President, Donald Trump, then seemed to realize that he needed an ally in the Middle East and hence the U.S. turned its attention to SAUDI ARABIA who has been grappling with the KHASHOGGI scandal whereby there has been an international uproar over the alleged killing of a SAUDI journalist inside the SAUDI ARABIAN consulate in the capital of ISTANBUL, TURKEY. Nonetheless, U.S. President, Donald Trump, seemed to have initially sided with the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family by speculating about rogue killers, while insisting that the SAUDI ARABIAN family must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Obviously, with the IRANIAN oil embargo plans that took effect on November 5, 2018, when sanctions kicked-in, success of the embargo depends on SAUDI ARABIA pumping extra oil to compensate for the anticipated shortfall.

However, IRANIAN President Hassan Rouhani stated that IRAN would exceed the enrichment level set out under the 2015 Nuclear Deal, in response to failure by other parties to the deal to keep up their promises, including providing IRAN with relief from the U.S. imposed sanctions. Furthermore, President Hassan Rouhani stated that as of July 7, 2019, IRANIAN enrichment levels would no longer be 3.67%, as IRAN will withdraw from this IRANIAN commitment, while IRAN will increase the enrichment level beyond 3.67%, to as much as IRAN desires, as much as IRAN deems necessary, or as much as IRAN requires. It is important to note that the enrichment maximum set in the 2015 Nuclear Deal is sufficient for commercial power generation, but far below the more than 90% level required for a nuclear warhead. Not surprisingly, IRAN enriched uranium to 4.5%, representing enough enrichment for IRAN to power its peaceful, already-active BUSHEHR nuclear reactor, but far short of the 90% threshold for weapons-grade uranium. It is important to note that enriching uranium to 90% is an enormous technical challenge that requires building and operating very advanced centrifuges, such that IRAN is not yet even close to producing weapons-grade uranium.

Ironically, IRAN turned around in a twist of fate, and offered a deal to the U.S. in which IRAN would formally and permanently accept enhanced inspections of its nuclear program, in return for the permanent lifting of U.S. sanctions. It is important to note that the offer was made by IRANIAN foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to NEW YORK, but it was not warmly received by U.S. President, Donald Trump, who is currently demanding that IRAN make a range of sweeping concessions, including cessation of uranium enrichment and support for proxies and allies in the region. However, Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that his offer was a substantial move, as that it was not about photo ops, but rather substance, as he advised reporters at the IRANIAN mission to the U.N. in New York that there are other substantial moves that can be made. Furthermore, Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that if U.S. President, Donald Trump was putting U.S. money where their U.S. mouth was, the U.S. was going to do it, such that they do not need a photo op, or a two-page document with a big signature. Ironically, President Hassan Rouhani had previously stressed that IRAN’s action would be reversed if the other parties to the 2015 Nuclear Deal made good on their side of the bargain, consisting of relief from sanctions.

However, this week, IRAN’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, warned the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA that any attack on IRAN, in retaliation for the oil attacks in SAUDI ARABIA will result in the potential for an all-out war, as although IRAN does not want a war, IRAN will not blink an eye to defend itself. It is important to note that Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comments as tensions in the MIDDLE EAST continue to rise after attacks on SAUDI ARABIA’s oil infrastructure that halted production of about 5% of the world’s oil supply. Ironically, U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated that the U.S. military is locked and loaded to respond against those responsible for the oil attacks. Ironically, IRAN has categorically denied any responsibility for the attacks, while the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA claim that IRAN unquestionably sponsored the attacks, as the weapons used were IRANIAN made, while not going so far as to directly blame IRAN. However, Mohammad Javad Zarif, went so far as to say that the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA were making allegations up as they now want to pin the blame on IRAN, in order to achieve an upper hand with IRAN, such that there is an agitation for war because allegations are based on lies and on deception. Furthermore, IRAN stated that the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA have realized that they have been playing with the tail of a lion, which is highly dangerous, such that if they take action against IRAN at any time, they know there will be no tomorrow for them in the region.

 

 

TURKEY News – THE ROCK’s Opinions

 

This week’s focus in TURKEY seemed to shift to the TURKISH struggling economy, largely attributable to a lack of confidence by foreign investors, due largely to TURKEY’s repressive crackdown measures on all opposition movements. In my opinion, over the last two plus years, TURKEY has been radically transformed with emergency measures used to consolidate authoritarian powers, silence opposition voices and take away basic human rights and civil liberties. However, the behaviours of TURKEY’s governing AKP seem to be taking their toll on the TURKISH economy, as turbulent politics have resulted in economic turmoil, whereby the sliding TURKISH Lira has set-off alarm bells across TURKEY, as businesses struggle to cope with the financial impacts of a declining TURKISH Lira.

In my opinion, the underlying problem is that TURKISH banks and companies borrowed a lot of U.S. dollars, as TURKISH foreign currency debt represents about 30% of TURKEY’s GDP, such that TURKEY is now struggling to pay down the debt as the TURKISH Lira is falling. In my opinion, TURKEY’s economy is struggling in large part due to the TURKISH Lira losing almost 40% of its value against the U.S. dollar since the beginning of 2018, albeit recovering slightly since it hit its lows during October’ 2018. In my opinion, there are a slew of reasons dissuading investors from TURKEY, but at the end of the day, many investors continue to try to liquidate their TURKISH Lira given that it has been dropping fast since the beginning of 2018. Thus, the solution from my point-of-view is quite obvious, that TURKEY needs to raise interest rates in order to counter its problems of high inflation and a declining TURKISH Lira, while its economy should be able to bear the brunt of higher interest rates, without significant drops in current production levels. Nonetheless, Berat Albayrak, TURKEY’s finance minister stated that TURKEY does not foresee a big risk on the TURKISH economy and banking system as the TURKISH economy has strong fundamentals.

Hence, although THE ROCK kindly and politely offered his consulting services to Berat Albayrak to help TURKEY straighten out their economic and geopolitical mess, Berat Albayrak seems to be heading in the right direction as TURKEY continued this week to focus on the TURKISH economy. In my opinion, this week’s news from TURKISH Finance Minister, Berat Albayrak urging foreign investors to once again put their funds into TURKEY’s expanding economy is not surprising, as TURKISH companies are cushioned against bankruptcy, with cash reserves that add up to US$ 6.5 billion more than their debts while TURKEY’s own debt levels are also low compared to other countries. In my opinion, although there is a recession going on right now in TURKEY, it has not yet turned into an economic crisis, despite all of the instability and incredible fall in the value of the TURKISH Lira. Furthermore, in my opinion, most economies would have collapsed, but TURKEY has a very dynamic economy given that TURKISH people seem to have grown accustomed to instability. Nonetheless, it appears that TURKEY will now likely be facing an L-Type crisis consisting of an economic downturn characterized by a sharp decline followed by a slow recovery that takes at least two years to return to healthy growth levels because of the breadth of the capital market drawn into the economic crisis and the TURKISH government’s lack of ability to manoeuvre.

Thus, in my opinion, this week it does appear that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may end up losing the long-term game of bringing TURKISH interest rates lower, after installing a new TURKISH central bank governor. Thus, in my opinion, interest rate cuts will begin in July of 2019, and probably proceed until interest rates fall to 17% or slightly lower, before the TURKISH Lira exchange rates and financial consequences wreak havoc. However, in my opinion, it does appear that the easing of interest rates is set to begin with a reduction from 24% to 22% shortly, while the interest rate will eventually fall to 14.5% in the first quarter of 2021. In regards to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making it clear that he expects the TURKISH central bank to respect his calls for interest rate cuts, after the shake-up following an interest rate policy pause that lasted for more than nine months, it is obvious that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is convinced that higher interest rates cause inflation, such that his replacement will now provide stronger support for the TURKISH government’s economic program. Furthermore, in my opinion, the interest rate stimulus will come in handy, for a TURKISH economy struggling to gain momentum, as it now appears there will be a deeper contraction through the third quarter of 2019 than previously forecast, before Gross Domestic Product (GDP) returns to annual growth.

Nonetheless, in my opinion, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may remain convinced that his enemies are out to get him, but it is difficult to hold foreign powers responsible for TURKEY remaining in recession, following a disastrous 2018 TURKISH Lira currency crisis, along with current fears that a new financial crunch is imminent, as unemployment and inflation in TURKEY are elevated, while business is depressed. Thus, in my opinion, the announcement by the TURKISH central bank that it was cutting its key policy interest rate to 19.75%, from 24%, and setting the stage for more, was not surprising. In my opinion, TURKISH Finance Minister Berat Albayrak made it clear that with the important reduction of interest rates in TURKEY, and based on the fact that the interest rate trend will come down more strongly in the future, TURKEY has entered a period of interest rate cuts, while stressing that the TURKISH central bank makes its monetary policy and interest rate decisions based on its own data set. However, in my opinion, TURKEY was forced to lower interest rates as economic confidence in TURKEY fell during July of 2019, to 80.7 from 83.4 in June of 2019, while any reading below 100 indicates pessimism about the future among businesses and consumers.

In my opinion, this week’s announcement by TURKISH Defense Minister Hulusi Akar that there could be a delay in the delivery of the RUSSIAN S-400 missile-defense system, that threatens to exacerbate tensions between TURKEY and the U.S., could result in future difficulties for TURKEY to obtain IMF financing. In my opinion, TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to purchase the S-400, surface-to-air, missile defense system from RUSSIA, has completely ignored the U.S. opinion that the presence of the RUSSIAN S-400 missile defense system on NATO soil would compromise the security of the U.S. and its allies. In my opinion, the U.S. has a valid point that if the S-400 missile batteries were deployed inside TURKEY, RUSSIA could obtain confidential information about the U.S. F-35, which is supposed to become NATO’s principal combat aircraft. In my opinion, U.S. President Donald Trump appears to have given TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an informal deadline of next month to choose between the U.S. F-35 and RUSSIAN S-400 given that TURKISH Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has delayed the first delivery of the RUSSIAN S-400 missile defense system from June of 2019. Thus, in my opinion, given that TURKEY has consistently refused to abandon the RUSSIAN S-400 deal, the U.S. has threatened to withhold the sale of the U.S. F-35 fighter jets to TURKEY, or to impose sanctions on TURKEY under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Therefore, in my opinion, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the right strategic move this week, by stressing that there is no evidence proving that the S-400 systems will harm NATO or the F-45 aircraft, while suggesting the establishment of a joint TURKISH and U.S. commission to discuss the U.S. S-400 concerns. Thus, in my opinion, U.S. President Donald Trump should consider taking the right steps, by attempting to salvage the U.S. and TURKEY bilateral relations, as TURKEY seems to find itself hostage to the S-400 issue, while U.S. President Donald Trump has demonstrated throughout his Presidency that he only makes important business decisions based on substantive evidence. In regards to RUSSIA delivering another battery of RUSSIAN S-400 missile defenses this week, as the shipment of the second batch scheduled to be completed in several weeks, while the S-400 complete system will be ready for use by April of 2020, I am not surprised that TURKEY is proceeding full speed ahead, as TURKEY has in essence stood firm against the pressure imposed by the U.S. to cancel the S-400 deal with RUSSIA at the expense of ruining its ties with its NATO allies.

In my opinion, I was not surprised to see TURKEY focus its attention on IDLIB and continue to warn the SYRIAN regime, RUSSIA and IRAN, that an all-out military offensive on IDLIB could lead to a disastrous outcome for TURKEY, by triggering a new wave of refugees heading towards the TURKISH borders. In my opinion, TURKEY has already sheltered 3.5 million SYRIANS such that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under significant domestic pressure to not take in any more refugees. Nonetheless, RUSSIA’s worries about AL-QAEDA linked terrorist groups based in IDLIB are legitimate but a full-scale military attack is not the way to deal with this situation as it will certainly put the lives of all innocent civilians at risk and create a humanitarian crisis. Thus, TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to receive full credit for being able to negotiate a ceasefire deal with RUSSIA, in recent months, to spare IDLIB from disastrous consequences for the time being. In my opinion, the large quantities of weapons entering SYRIA, in recent months, indicated that TURKEY would be providing complete TURKISH military support for a long drawn-out battle over IDLIB, if necessary. Thus, RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin once again made the right strategic decision to hold back the SAA and IRANIANS from engaging in a full fledge military assault on IDLIB that in my opinion will have disastrous consequences for all parties.

Hence, TURKEY already struggles to provide for the 3.6 million SYRIAN refugees it currently hosts, while the possibility of 800,000 or more refugees fleeing towards TURKEY from an offensive in IDLIB represents a potential humanitarian catastrophe. In my opinion, it is unfortunate that IDLIB is far from the front pages of major news publications, as the recent escalation and use of chemical weapons showcases the level of impunity the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allied partners, Russia and Iran, continue to enjoy while inflicting ongoing damage and destruction in IDLIB. That is, escalations in fighting this week resulted in the SAA unleashing a powerful assault across the southern countryside of IDLIB, targeting several areas controlled by the terrorist HTS rebels, as the SAA repeatedly fired several artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles towards HTS positions. In my opinion, although the RUSSIAN and TURKISH armed forces have attempted to quell the violence in northern HAMA and southern IDLIB, the tit-for-tat attacks between the SAA and the HTS rebels persists with no foreseeable end to the violence in sight.

Thus, in my opinion, despite strong support from the RUSSIAN air forces, the SAA regime has remained on the periphery of IDLIB while being unable to advance, as TURKEY’s support for HTS rebels has presented the greatest challenge to the Bashar al-Assad regime around IDLIB, as TURKEY does not wish to give SYRIA’s northern regions to its NATO ally the U.S., or any other power. Hence, in my opinion, RUSSIA and SYRIA have stepped up their airstrikes against civilians in IDLIB, as war monitors and rebel commanders in northern SYRIA stated that RUSSIAN and SAA regime air strikes had intensified in civilian areas, of the last bastion of opposition to President Bashar Al-Assad. Furthermore, in my opinion, the U.N. official that condemned world leaders for ignoring attacks on non-military targets, calling the situation in IDLIB a catastrophe, that the world has ignored, summarizes the realities on the ground whereby since April of 2019, the SAA regime offensive against HTS rebel groups in IDLIB has killed at least 400 people, including 90 children, with at least 62 people having been killed across IDLIB since last week alone. Furthermore, in my opinion, RUSSIAN and SAA regime air strikes appear to be revenge for the popular support of the TURKISH backed National Liberation Front (NLF).

In regards to this week’s leaders of RUSSIA and TURKEY stating that they shared deep concerns over fighting in northwestern SYRIA, with TURKEY warning that it would take the steps necessary to protect its troops there, RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin hit the nail on the head by clearly stating that he hoped to work together with TURKEY to ease tensions in IDLIB province. Thus, in my opinion, I was surprised to see RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin adopt a sympathetic tone with TURKEY by stating that RUSSIA understands TURKEY’s concerns regarding the security of its southern border, while RUSSIA believes that TURKEY has legitimate interests. Hence, in my opinion, troops from TURKEY, which has backed some rebel groups against President Bashar Al-Assad, are stationed in IDLIB as part of a buffer zone deal reached with RUSSIA last year but the situation in IDLIB has become so complicated, that at this moment TURKISH troops are in danger. In regards to this week’s airstrikes once again hitting IDLIB, after a ceasefire was declared 10 days ago, intense airstrikes by RUSSIAN and SYRIAN warplanes accompanying another SYRIAN government push to re-take the area was not surprising. However, the U.S. also carrying out air strikes against an AL-QAEDA facility in IDLIB were surprising as the U.S. for the large part has remained on the sidelines for this battle. Thus, in my opinion, the dominant force in IDLIB consisting of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a jihadist alliance formerly known as the NUSRA FRONT, which cut ties to AL-QAEDA in 2016, seems to be a thorn in everybody’s eyes.

 

SAUDI ARABIA News – THE ROCK’s Opinions

 

In my opinion, the international uproar over the alleged killing of a SAUDI journalist inside the SAUDI ARABIAN consulate in the capital of ISTANBUL, TURKEY has still not been resolved. Furthermore, consequences for anyone, even a member of the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family, found responsible for the assassination, must be enforced to the fullest extent of the law as the audio recordings of Jamal Khashoggi being assaulted, tortured, killed and dismembered inside the SAUDI ARABIAN consulate, are disturbing and down right psychopathic in nature. Thus, TURKEY led a relentless campaign to hold SAUDI ARABIA accountable, as TURKISH authorities have allowed media leaks to the international press. Thus, in my opinion, it was not surprising to see CIA Director Gina Haspel garnering extensive support for her conclusion, from both top Republican and top Democratic leaders. However, it was surprising to see the entire Senate Committee vote unanimously to overrule U.S. President Donald Trump, by officially blaming Crown Prince MBS for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Nonetheless, in my opinion U.S. President Donald Trump has made the right decision to stick with Crown Price MBS on the basis that there is no substantive evidence to link him to the crime.

Nonetheless, in my opinion, the final official SAUDI ARABIAN version remaining that the SAUDI ARABIAN assassins killed Jamal Khashoggi with an injection of sedatives, and then immediately set to work dismembering him and hiding his remains, clearly answers the question of who, what, when, where and how but the remaining question of why still remains unclear. In my opinion, the 11 Jamal Khashoggi murder suspects put on trial, demanding the death penalty for 5, is completely expected. However, in my opinion, the 5 death sentence decisions will in substance result in SAUDI ARABIA preventing those people responsible from speaking publicly. Thus, in my opinion, it is to the benefit of SAUDI ARABIA for the truth about Jamal Khashoggi to disappear with the 5 planned executions, such that at this stage it appears that SAUDI ARABIA will execute a 5 to 1 exchange.

Therefore, in my opinion, the introduction of a bill by a group of U.S. Democratic senators that would require the leader of the U.S. intelligence community to submit an unclassified report on the death of SAUDI ARABIAN journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is another formality in the relentless pursuit by the opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump to hold Crown Prince MBS and the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family accountable. However, like the E.U. and the U.N., the U.S. Democratic Senators are now attempting to beat a dead horse to death, although there is nothing more anybody can do at this stage to bring back Jamal Khashoggi. Furthermore, in my opinion, at this stage it would seem more constructive to focus on changing the authoritarian mind sets in the MIDDLE EAST as opposed to overanalyzing the evidence behind the Jamal Khashoggi killing to the point of paralysis, as at the end of the day the elite class rules, such that Crown Prince MBS and the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family are under armour and bullet proof. Nonetheless, in my opinion, the report that must include the identification of those who carried out, participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, will likely not provide any new information, in the sense that there is no substantive evidence to pin Crown Prince MBS or the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family. Thus, in my opinion, focusing on punishing SAUDI ARABIA for its sins of the past will have very little impact, such that the U.S. Democratic Senators should focus on obtaining prospective concessions from SAUDI ARABIA consisting of: (1) Negotiate directly with representatives of the HOUTHI rebels to end the war in YEMEN; (2) End a blockade imposed by SAUDI ARABIA and three other ARAB states on QATAR, in June of last year seeking a political solution, in one of the worst diplomatic rifts with QATAR throughout its entire history; and (3) Release blogger Raif Badawi, women’s rights activists and other political prisoners held in SAUDI ARABIA.

However, in my opinion, the news that some U.S. Senators formed a bipartisan opposition movement to attempt to find ways to block U.S. President Donald Trump’s US$ 8 billion in arm sales to SAUDI ARABIA is not surprising, as it was initiated without congressional approval, by applying legal loopholes by declaring a national emergency, to bypass the U.S. Congress. In my opinion, some U.S. senators are trying to rein in the power of the U.S. President given that although ultimate power may very well rest with the U.S. Congress, U.S. President Donald Trump seems to manage to act on a timely basis day to day, while the U.S. Congress struggles to react. Thus, in my opinion, the bipartisan Senate starting a short process to force a vote on U.S. and SAUDI ARABIAN ties, and possibly delivering one of the strongest rebukes to the Trump Administration’s foreign policies is not surprising.

U.S. President Donald Trump has obviously capitalized on worries about a confrontation between the U.S. and long-time arch-nemesis IRAN that have been escalating, while recently being heightened by suspected attacks on two oil tankers that the U.S. blamed on IRAN, although IRAN obviously denied any responsibility. In my opinion, it is not surprising that the House approved resolutions on blocking U.S. President Donald Trump’s emergency arms sales to SAUDI ARABIA and other GULF allies. However, in my opinion, U.S. President Donald Trump succeeded with his third veto as the Trump Administration argued that the arms sales are necessary because of what it calls heightened threats from IRAN. However, in my opinion, it is important to note that U.S. President Donald Trump is now focusing his efforts on strengthening ties with SAUDIA ARABIA and UAE, while U.S. Congress persists to challenge him every step of way, as bipartisan majority in U.S. Congress fed up with U.S. President Donald Trump’s deference to SAUDI ARABIA and UAE, which has allowed those countries to act with impunity under his Administration’s policies. In my opinion, this week, U.S. President Donald Trump obviously supported SAUDI ARABIA who stated that IRAN unquestionably sponsored recent attack on SAUDI ARABIAN oil facilities. In my opinion, given that the strike came from the north, not from YEMEN, where HOUTHI rebels have not claimed responsibility for this attack, it seems highly probable that the strike came from IRAN or proxies of IRAN still stationed in IRAQ. However, in my opinion, U.S. President Donald Trump made the right strategic move by stating that while the U.S. is ready for war, he wants to avoid it, such that he ordered the U.S. Treasury Department to substantially increase sanctions on IRAN.

Hence, I was not surprised to see IRAN insisting that it had nothing to do with this attack that knocked out more than half of SAUDI ARABIA’s oil-exporting capability. Furthermore, in my opinion, it is no surprise that IRAN’s defense minister, General Amir Hatami, stated that these accusations are wholly, seriously and firmly rejected, on the basis that IRAN has been easily accused without SAUDI ARABIA providing any substantive proof. Thus, in my opinion, IRAN does not consider the SAUDI ARABIA proof in the form of pieces of missiles and drones coming from the north as substantive evidence, as there still exists a number of militants in IRAQ who could have fired the missiles and drones of their own accord without any involvement by IRAN. Nonetheless, in my opinion, this attack was not solely against SAUDI ARABIA but rather it was an attack upon the international community, in the form of an elaborate attempt to disrupt the global economy and the energy industry. However, in my opinion, U.S. President Donald Trump was forced to respond with stepped-up economic sanctions against IRAN, and doubling down on his maximum pressure policy against IRAN that U.S. insists is having a significant impact on IRAN, albeit IRAN denying carrying out this attack. Ironically, this attack appears to be a by-product of the maximum pressure tactics as there is no doubt that the IRANIAN economy is hurting, such that certain extremists obviously snapped resulting in a direct strike upon SAUDI ARABIA’s oil infrastructure. Furthermore, in my opinion, this attack has sent the subliminal warning that the U.S. economic war against IRAN can be reciprocated by a strike against SAUDI ARABIA, as this attack has demonstrated SAUDI ARABIA’s extraordinary vulnerability, a factor that has to be central when the U.S. is considering further escalating its maximum pressure tactics against IRAN. Unfortunately, in my opinion, IRAN is choosing pride before conceding an inch to the U.S. as with the U.S. simply stepping up its maximum pressure campaign, there is not much left for the U.S. to do, as the economic pressure gauge is pretty much already at its maximum. Hence, in my opinion, over time the impact of this maximum pressure strategy against IRAN will likely get worse, such that despite U.S. claims that it is working, Iran does not seem to be reducing its wider influence in the MIDDLE EAST. Thus, in my opinion, as the economic pressure builds on IRAN, extremist factions from IRAN’s allies and proxies like HEZBOLLAH or pro-IRANIAN militias in IRAQ, who seem to have become strong militarily, may very well orchestrate further attacks without formally accepting any responsibilities. Hence, in my opinion, this attack needs to be used as a bargaining tool to bring IRAN back to the negotiating table as the U.S. deterrence through maximum economic pressures, appears to have become an IRANIAN allied provocation, while IRAN shows no signs of being coerced back to the negotiating table, such that there is a real risk that tensions between IRAN and the U.S. escalate into outright conflict.

Furthermore, in my opinion, these provocative actions mark a new evolution in the threat IRAN poses to the region, to U.S. partners, and to U.S. own national security, including the security of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who live and work in the MIDDLE EAST. Therefore, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to resist harsh punishment against SAUDI ARABIA over the Jamal Khashoggi killing, arguing that curtailing of the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA relationship would leave American arms dealers exposed as SAUDI ARABIA could and would take their business elsewhere. Thus, in my opinion, it is not surprising that the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has advanced a bill to amend the Arms Export Control Act to prevent future emergency sales to SAUDI ARABIA, with a broader SAUDI ARABIA accountability bill in the coming weeks. However, any amendments would only apply to future arms sales, as the resolutions blocking the current US$ 8 billion in arms sales will be vetoes by U.S. President Donald Trump before the new measures reach the President’s desk.

In regards to U.S. Democratic senators still being frustrated by U.S. President Donald Trump downplaying their hype regarding Jamal Khashoggi by focusing on senior adviser Jared Kushner’s face-to-face meeting with Crown Prince MBS and his father King Salman to discuss U.S. and SAUDI ARABIAN cooperation, the ISRAELI and PALESTINIAN conflict and economic investment in the region, it has become clear almost six months after SAUDI ARABIAN journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, that Crown Prince MBS believed to have ordered the killing has cemented his position as U.S. President Donald Trump’s closest ally in the MIDDLE EAST. However, in my opinion, this week, it was evident how what would appear to be two very different developments, were in fact part of same story, as the Jamal Khashoggi killing triggered the UAE and SAUDI ARABIA to announce that they would provide a joint $ 200 million in urgent aid for people in YEMEN. In my opinion, civilians in YEMEN struggling to buy food to break their fast culminating after four consecutive years of civil war, that has resulted in the YEMEN currency sinking to its lowest levels in history, while the cost of food has soared, has triggering a major food crisis like YEMEN has never before seen.

However, I was not surprised to see, that SAUDI ARABIA focused its attention on the HOUTHI rebels as YEMEN’s HOUTHI rebels crossed the border into neighbouring SAUDI ARABIA, currently leading a military coalition against them, while taking control of more than 20 positions. In my opinion, given that NAJRAN is strategically located adjacent to the YEMENI border, it is not surprising that the military sites in NAJRAN were captured in a surprise offensive, as the YEMENI rebels appear to have chosen to launch this offensive as the U.S. is preparing to ramp up the SAUDI ARABIAN military arsenal, in essence sending SAUDI ARABIA a subliminal message that the YEMENI rebels still have IRANIAN backed power to launch artillery showers. Furthermore, given that the HOUTHI rebel raids come amid heightened regional tensions, after the U.S. accused IRAN of shooting down a U.S. drone over international waters and of carrying out attacks on oil tankers in the strategic Gulf of Oman, the HOUTHI rebels are in essence lending further support to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to exercise his veto power and push through the US$ 8 billion in arms sales to SAUDI ARABIA.

In regards to the SAUDI ARABIAN and UAE coalition subsequently unleashing air raids on YEMEN’s capital targeting several air defence sites and ballistic missile depots in SANAA, it was not surprising as coalition forces warned that they would attack YEMEN’s HOUTHI rebels, aimed at what they called legitimate rebel targets in the capital, SANAA. However, in my opinion, YEMEN’s HOUTHI rebels refuse to cede to the onslaught of air force attacks, and have thus been forced to resort to guerrilla warfare tactics, with drone attacks that target radars and military sites at SAUDIA ARABIAN air bases. In regards to the UAE, part of the SAUDI ARABIAN led military coalition in YEMEN, stating that it is not leaving the war-torn country despite an ongoing withdrawal and redeployment of UAE forces, it is my opinion that at this stage, a pre-mature withdrawal by UAE forces would create a vacuum in YEMEN, as it trained about 90,000 local fighters such that the UAE must remain committed to the coalition and the deposed YEMENI government.

In regards to this week’s SAUDI ARABIA and UAE Coalition intercepting and destroying a HOUTHI rebel drone fired from YEMEN’s SANAA, in my opinion, the attack came amid ongoing claims that the HOUTHI rebels continued to violate the HODEIDA agreement. However, in my opinion, SAUDI ARABIA seems to have mastered the art of war with the HOUTHI rebels by consistently intercepting drones fired from SANAA, as the HOUTHI rebels have fired dozens of missiles and drones into SAUDI ARABIA, but most of them have been successfully intercepted by SAUDI ARABIA, preventing them from reaching their targets. In my opinion, SAUDI ARABIA led effort to crush the rebellion by IRAN-aligned HOUTHI rebels in YEMEN appears to be in a stalemate, as neither party ready nor willing to relinquish control. Furthermore, in my opinion, SAUDI ARABIA and UAE coalition have succeeded in preventing a strategic control disaster by preventing HOUTHI rebels from capturing BAB AL-MANDEB, a critical transportation point between the RED SEA and the GULF OF ADEN. Nonetheless, in my opinion, HOUTHI rebels remain in control of YEMEN capital, SANAA, a considerable part of YEMEN coast and main urban centers of YEMEN due to their sheer resilience to cede defeat, while being supported by IRAN. Unfortunately, in my opinion, anti-HOUTHI rebel forces, have now turned on one another, with the UAE-backed SOUTHERN TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL (STC) challenging SAUDI ARABIA supported forces aligned with official YEMENI government led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, such that the STC fighters now control the port of ADEN, with potential for further clashes between the sides escalating over time. Thus, in my opinion, SAUDI ARABIA would like to see the total defeat of HOUTHI rebels but have proved unable to accomplish this military objective, while UAE now seems to be focused on securing Red Sea shipping lines and restricting influence of SUNNI Islamist forces in areas under YEMEN government control. In my opinion, on-going series of attacks by YEMEN rebels is testimony to military confidence of HOUTHI rebels, who are no longer facing an existential threat to their sphere of influence, but rather have now built firm foundations in their area of control, forming a key force along the broader IRAN-led regional block.

However, in my opinion, an enduring settlement in YEMEN will almost certainly require a de-escalation of tensions across the MIDDLE EAST, which in turn, can come about only if the U.S and Iran reach some kind of binding geopolitical agreement. Nonetheless, in my opinion, for now, U.S. President Donald Trump appears determined on continuing his maximum pressure campaign against IRAN, while supplying SAUDI ARABIA with additional weapons, albeit a war with Iran does not appear to be an option at this stage. Thus, in my opinion, those behind SAUDI ARABIA and the UAE will argue that their interventions have been aimed at fighting off ISLAMIST extremism and promoting regional stability, while those behind IRAN will argue that SAUDI ARABIA and the UAE are in substance driven by their own fears that should a major Arab country transition to democracy, it would lead to upheavals at home in SAUDI ARABIA and the UAE. Nonetheless, in my opinion, since the YEMENI war commenced, tens of thousands of civilians and combatants have been killed and as many as 85,000 children appear to have literally starved to death, while each respective side holds on in what appears to be a never ending conflict for power and control, that does not seem resolvable with heavy artillery.

Thus, in my opinion, despite the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that the counter-revolutionary forces may have created with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the waves of protests sweeping across ALGERIA and SUDAN suggest that a second manifestation of the ARAB SPRING may very well be underway in the MIDDLE EAST, that bears a similar resemblance to the first wave witnessed in 2011. However, in my opinion, the second manifestation of the ARAB SPRING feels more peaceful in its approach and realistic in its aspirations, as everybody seems to have learned from their mistakes of the past, as everyone is now well aware of the dangers that the militarization of protests poses to the effectiveness of the movement, consisting of prolonged civil wars with significant human casualties and horrendous refugee crises. However, in my opinion, the same underlying motive that drove the first wave of the ARAB SPRING in 2010-2011 now drives the second, consisting of social, political and economic conditions deteriorating, while showing no signs of relief in the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, instead of addressing this social and political collapse, many MIDDLE EASTERN countries choose to silence dissident voices that raise these concerns while not only limiting the freedom of speech, but also by now criminalizing the freedom to be silent. Thus, in my opinion, when the freedom to be silent is seen as a form of passive opposition, leading to intellectuals and journalists across the MIDDLE EAST being imprisoned and tortured for refusing to publicly and unconditionally support the existing regime in place, this is a sure sign of existing regimes fearing uprisings through dialogue and free thought within these dictatorial regimes.

Hence, this week I was not surprised to see SUDAN and ALGERIA rise once again in protest, in honour of Jamal Khashoggi’s legacy, as a sign that he was right that the ideas behind the Arab Spring still have some life left in them. Thus, in my opinion, the latest pictures of triumphant popular protests in ALGERIA and SUDAN, trigger a reminder about Jamal Khashoggi who wrote quite clearly about the Arab world’s longing for democracy. Hence, in my opinion, Jamal Khashoggi’s last article for the Washington Post continues to ring in the ears of ALGERIANS and SUDANESE, where he stressed how the lack of freedom in most of the MIDDLE EAST left their citizens either uninformed or misinformed, unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the MIDDLE EAST and their day-to-day lives, whereby a state-run narrative dominates the public psychology, albeit that many do not believe, a large majority of the population does fall victim to this false narrative.

 

IRAQ News – THE ROCK’s Opinions

 

In my opinion, with 80% of the products on the market in IRAQ being IRANIAN made, if the border closes, it will be an economic crisis for IRAQ. Thus, I was not surprised to see many IRAQIS pushing the IRAQI government to maintain trade relations with IRAN because IRAQ, which shares around 1,450 kilometers of border with IRAN, will be badly hurt by the IRANIAN sanctions. In my opinion, IRAQ relies on IRAN for gas supplies, electricity, water and food such that the U.S. has placed IRAQ in a loser position, as by attempting to cut-off the head of IRAN, the U.S. cut-off the waist of IRAQ, such that although IRAN suffers most without its head, IRAQ is unable to reproduce without its waist. In my opinion, IRAQ will certainly experience shortages of key products if IRAQ complies with all of the U.S. sanctions that could lead to political turmoil at a critical crossroads period in IRAQI politics. Therefore, I was not surprised to see Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, obtain U.S. sanction waivers, based on a clear vision of what IRAQ really needs, which includes IRANIAN natural gas, electricity and other critical trade related products that fuel the IRAQI economy.

Thus, in my opinion, SAUDI ARABIAN Crown Prince MBS offer of full support for IRAQ’s continued security, to fill the void left behind by a potential U.S. withdrawal from IRAQ, is not surprising. In my opinion, SAUDI ARABIA is courting IRAQ as part of a combined effort with the U.S. to stem the growing regional influence of IRAN, while IRAQ is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with SAUDI ARABIA. Furthermore, in my opinion, SAUDI ARABIA which is of a majority SUNNI Muslim background is the perfect financial backer for SUNNI Muslim parts of IRAQ, which bore the brunt of the fighting during the war against ISIS, but that now seem to be underfunded by the SHIA-led central government in IRAQ, as the budget appears to be lacking to help the liberated SUNNI Muslim areas. Furthermore, in regards to this week’s turmoil, as IRAQ finds itself caught in the crossfire as U.S. President Donald Trump plans to revert U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East by an eventual complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, it is my opinion that IRAQIS will no longer be able to blame interference by the U.S. for exacerbating IRAQ’s internal problems. However, in my opinion, the impending U.S. withdrawal, will likely trigger ISIS fighters fleeing SYRIA attempting to regroup in areas they once controlled in northern and western IRAQ.

In regards the announcement by IRAQI President Barham Salih that foreign ISIS fighters would be tried under IRAQI law, such that they could be handed death sentences for acts of terrorism, if found guilty of killing IRAQIS, as IRAQI law allows for capital punishment, ISIS fighters who committed atrocities should be executed accordingly as their actions were committed without any human decency like savage wild animals without any mercy. That is, with at least 200 mass graves containing up to 12,000 victims discovered in IRAQ, IRAQ continues to struggle to emerge from the psychological damage caused by the four-year battle with ISIS militants. In my opinion, with ISIS in IRAQ killing almost 33,000 civilians, with more than 55,000 injured, it is critical to identity the victims in order to aid the recovery process for their families. However, in my opinion, this week it appears that IRAQ’s military wants to symbolically close the ISIS book with its announcement that it is granting a reward to anyone with information related to senior ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whereby any individual with intelligence that could result in the detention of the leader of the ISIS terrorist group will be receiving a reward of USD 25 million.

In regards to IRAQI Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi making his first visit to SAUDI ARABIA after SAUDI ARABIA reopened its consulate in Baghdad, IRAQ and announced $ 1 billion in aid for IRAQ, Adil Abdul-Mahdi obviously went to SAUDI ARABIA with a large delegation, including officials and businessmen, with trade billed as a prime focus of the discussions between the two largest oil producers in the MIDDLE EAST. In my opinion, the 13 agreements signed in areas such as trade, energy and political cooperation, set the precedent that although the two countries have historically been at odds with each other ever since the IRAQI invasion of KUWAIT in 1990, SAUDI ARABIA has wooed IRAQ as part of an effort to stem the growing influence of IRAN in the region. Thus, in my opinion, the new government in IRAQ is walking a tightrope between appeasing IRAN, the dominant power in IRAQ, while capitalizing on new opportunities from Arab Gulf states with U.S. alliances, such as SAUDI ARABIA. However, in my opinion, the shadow of senior ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hovered over IRAQ this week, as rumours continued to circulate, that the latest video of him filmed in a remote location might very well be IRAQ. However, I was not surprised to see this week that IRAQI President Barham Salih focused on U.S. and IRANIAN tensions by clearly stating that war is the last thing the MIDDLE EAST needs, as the last war on terror against ISIS has not yet been completed.

Furthermore, in my opinion, the Middle East is definitely overshadowed by rising tensions and the threat of war between the U.S. and IRAN, while it is certain that IRAQ would be caught in the middle of such a conflict, as IRAQ is still a base for thousands of U.S. troops and IRANIAN paramilitary units. Thus, in my opinion, IRAQI President Barham Salih was obligated to make it clear that under no circumstances will IRAQ allow the U.S. to use its bases in IRAQ to launch any attacks on neighbouring IRAN. In my opinion, with mounting tensions between the U.S. and IRAN, U.S. President Donald Trump’s voice resonates in the background, as he has stated that one of the reasons he wants to keep a base in IRAQ was to be able to look a little bit closer at IRAN, because IRAN is a real problem, although when asked if he meant that his intention was to be able to attack IRAN, U.S. President Donald Trump clearly stated no as all he wanted to do in IRAQ was monitor IRAN. Thus, in my opinion, IRAQI President Barham Salih wanted to make sure that there were no miscommunications, misinterpretations or over analysis creating any erroneous perception of monitoring somehow being converted into launching attacks, as IRAQ knows very well that although it may be quite easy to start a war, it is very difficult to end a war.

 

SYRIA News – THE ROCK’s Opinions

 

In my opinion, although RUSSIA’s worries about AL-QAEDA linked terrorist groups based in IDLIB are legitimate, a full-scale military attack is not the way to deal with this situation as it will certainly put the lives of all innocent civilians at risk and create a humanitarian crisis. Thus, TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to receive full credit for being able to negotiate a ceasefire deal with RUSSIA to spare IDLIB from disastrous consequences for the time being. In my opinion, RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin is by far the best negotiator currently in the region, who always seems to be able to remain cool, calm and collected, as he once again made the right strategic decision to hold back the SAA and IRANIANS from engaging in a full fledge military assault on IDLIB that in my opinion will have disastrous consequences for all parties.

Nonetheless, in my opinion, the announcement by the RUSSIAN foreign ministry was not surprising that the situation was rapidly deteriorating such that IDLIB was almost under the full control of the HTS rebel group, previously linked to al-Qaeda, that should trigger a coordinated military effort between RUSSIA and TURKEY to stabilize the situation in IDLIB. Thus, this week, I was not surprised to see that RUSSIA and TURKEY are reinforcing their respective positions in IDLIB, as a final imminent battle appears to be inevitable. In my opinion, as the last opposition stronghold, including extremist terrorist elements such as HTS, IDLIB is shaping up to be the site of a geopolitical showdown, including TURKEY, RUSSIA and IRAN while also risking that the U.S. is pulled into the conflict, as all of these powerful foreign militaries have opposing ambitions. In my opinion, for RUSSIA, who supports the existing AL-ASSAD regime, and TURKEY, who have backed the opposition seeking to overthrow the SYRIAN strongman, the conclusion in IDLIB is now stretched to the breaking point whereby it seems that both sides cannot remain, while nobody wants to relinquish any claims. However, RUSSIA appears to be running out of patience with TURKEY as HTS, the Sunni extremist faction that grew out of the al-Qaeda-linked Jab hat al-Nusra, has emerged as the dominant force in IDLIB. Obviously, President Bashar al-Assad cannot accept HTS controlling IDLIB’s economy, by extracting tolls and fees on border crossings and controlling traffic between IDLIB and TURKEY, while imposing its own interpretation of ISLAMIC law and imprisoning and torturing its opponents.

In my opinion, TURKEY already struggles to provide for the 3.6 million SYRIAN refugees it currently hosts, while the possibility of 800,000 or more refugees fleeing towards TURKEY from an offensive in IDLIB represents a potential humanitarian catastrophe. In my opinion, it is unfortunate that IDLIB is far from the front pages of major news publications, as the recent escalation and use of chemical weapons showcases the level of impunity the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allied partners, Russia and Iran, continue to enjoy while inflicting ongoing damage and destruction in IDLIB. That is, escalations in fighting this week resulted in the SAA unleashing a powerful assault across the southern countryside of IDLIB, targeting several areas controlled by the terrorist HTS rebels, as the SAA repeatedly fired several artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles towards HTS positions. In my opinion, although the RUSSIAN and TURKISH armed forces have attempted to quell the violence in northern HAMA and southern IDLIB, the tit-for-tat attacks between the SAA and the HTS rebels persists with no foreseeable end to the violence in sight.

Thus, in my opinion, despite strong support from the RUSSIAN air forces, the SAA regime has remained on the periphery of IDLIB while being unable to advance, as TURKEY’s support for HTS rebels has presented the greatest challenge to the Bashar al-Assad regime around IDLIB, as TURKEY does not wish to give SYRIA’s northern regions to its NATO ally the U.S., or any other power. Hence, in my opinion, RUSSIA and SYRIA have stepped up their airstrikes against civilians in IDLIB, as war monitors and rebel commanders in northern SYRIA stated that RUSSIAN and SAA regime air strikes had intensified in civilian areas, of the last bastion of opposition to President Bashar Al-Assad. Furthermore, in my opinion, the U.N. official that condemned world leaders for ignoring attacks on non-military targets, calling the situation in IDLIB a catastrophe, that the world has ignored, summarizes the realities on the ground whereby since April of 2019, the SAA regime offensive against HTS rebel groups in IDLIB has killed at least 400 people, including 90 children, with at least 62 people having been killed across IDLIB since last week alone.

Furthermore, in my opinion, RUSSIAN and SAA regime air strikes appear to be revenge for the popular support of the TURKISH backed National Liberation Front (NLF). In regards to this week’s new deal reached between TURKEY and RUSSIA on a demilitarised zone in IDLIB province, I was not surprised to see a demand for a ceasefire in IDLIB by mid-day on September 21 and a halt to an aerial bombing campaign that has killed civilians and medical staff and destroyed hospitals. Thus, in my opinion, RUSSIA was blasted at the U.N. for carpet-bombing SYRIA accordingly, albeit RUSSIA and CHINA both facing backlash after vetoing the U.N. resolution calling for a ceasefire in IDLIB province. In my opinion, the existing SYRIAN regime and RUSSIA can deny targeting civilians, ambulances and clinics during an offensive to recapture IDLIB, but it is difficult for them to hide behind their defense that striking fighters including HTS terrorists, that control much of IDLIB and formerly known as AL-NUSRA FRONT with links to AL-QAEDA. Ironically, in my opinion, following months of intensive fighting, the outlook in IDLIB remains uncertain, while an additional U.S. 65 million will be required for the approaching cold winter season. Thus, in my opinion, with a U.N. inquiry set to commence by the end of September’ 2019, into a series of SYRIAN regime and RUSSIAN attacks on U.N. supported facilities in IDLIB, it is unlikely that the U.N. will be able to hold RUSSIA accountable, as any resolutions would once again most likely be vetoed by RUSSIA and CHINA. However, in my opinion, regardless of the results of the U.N. investigation, the SYRIAN regime and RUSSIAN three-month offensive in IDLIB has left at least 17 villages in southern IDLIB not only decimated, but completely emptied as well, with a level of destruction consistent with a bombing campaign aimed at a completely raised territory policy in practice.

 

IRAN News – THE ROCK’s Opinions

 

Meanwhile, in regards to escalation of tensions in recent months between ISRAEL and IRAN, I am not surprised to see ISRAEL continuing to look to RUSSIA for help to protect ISRAEL from IRAN’s presence in SYRIA to prevent IRAN from gaining a permanent foothold in SYRIA. In my opinion, ISRAEL will not back down from its position that IRANIANS want to stay in SYRIA, and ultimately take over control of SYRIA, that will be a threat not only to ISRAEL but also for other countries in the region, such that IRANIANS should not be allowed to remain in SYRIA. However, in recent months, IRANIAN forces have pulled back from the Golan Heights that should be welcomed as a positive development, although ISRAEL clearly stated that such a pull back is insufficient, with no compromises or concessions from ISRAEL’s position of a complete withdrawal being necessary. In my opinion, tensions have obviously risen once again since IRANIAN’s were fuming at the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions to an IRANIAN economy already suffering from high unemployment and an IRANIAN Rial currency that has lost around half of its value since April of 2018. The recent sanctions that target IRANIAN purchases of U.S. dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and IRAN’s auto sector that took effect seem to reflect the U.S. belief that IRAN will eventually surrender via the pressure tactics of sanctions. However, in my opinion IRAN’s pride runs through the veins of a majority of IRANIANS who would prefer to eat sand and drink sewage water before conceding to U.S. pressure tactics via sanctions.

In my opinion, the U.S. withdrawal from the IRAN nuclear deal has already badly shaken IRAN’s economy, crashing its currency, the IRANAN Rial, such that IRAN will have to choose to either come back to the negotiating table with the U.S. or watch its IRANIAN economy suffer from re-imposed U.S. sanctions. Thus, I was not surprised at U.S. President, Donald Trump warning that the U.S. is developing a new strategy for the war in SYRIA that would focus more heavily on pushing IRAN’s military and its proxy forces out of SYRIA. In my opinion, the new U.S. strategy would probably not involve the U.S. military directly targeting and killing IRANIAN soldiers or IRANIAN proxies, given that the U.S. military only has the right of self-defence authorization in SYRIA, and thus should only strike IRANIAN targets if the U.S. feels threatened. In my opinion, the U.S. plan will likely focus on political and diplomatic efforts to force IRAN out of SYRIA by squeezing SYRIA financially. That is, the U.S. will likely withhold reconstruction aid from areas where IRANIAN and RUSSIAN forces are present and also impose sanctions on RUSSIAN and IRANIAN companies working on reconstruction in SYRIA. Ironically, IRAN seems to be heading in the direction of weathering the storm created by the crippling U.S. sanctions on IRAN’s oil industry that came back into full force during November’ 2018. Therefore, IRAN’s strategy seems to be heading in the direction of maintaining a status-quo arrangement until the fate of U.S. President Donald Trump becomes clearer in terms of whether he will ultimately be elected to serve a second term in 2020.

In regards to the statement by IRANIAN President Hassan Rouhani that IRAN would exceed the enrichment level set out under the 2015 Nuclear Deal, in response to failure by other parties to the deal to keep up their promises, including providing IRAN with relief from the U.S. imposed sanctions, I am not surprised by IRAN essentially fighting fire with fire. In my opinion, the 3.67% enrichment levels set in the 2015 Nuclear Deal which is sufficient for commercial power generation, is far below the more than 90% level required for a nuclear warhead, such that there still seems to be room for further negotiations before IRAN hits 90%. It is important to note that the enrichment maximum set in the 2015 Nuclear Deal is sufficient for commercial power generation, but far below the more than 90% level required for a nuclear warhead. In my opinion, it is not surprising that IRAN enriched uranium to 4.5% this week, representing enough enrichment for IRAN to power its peaceful, already-active BUSHEHR nuclear reactor, but far short of the 90% threshold for weapons-grade uranium. Thus, in my opinion, IRAN does not currently represent a significant risk for enriching uranium to 90%, as this is an enormous technical challenge that requires building and operating very advanced centrifuges. Furthermore, in my opinion, IRAN will likely once again be subject to international attempts to sabotage any significant escalation of IRANIAN nuclear efforts, with computer viruses like STUXNET that previously successfully attacked IRANIAN centrifuges.

In regards to the decision by IRAN to offer a deal to the U.S. in which IRAN would formally and permanently accept enhanced inspections of its nuclear program, in return for the permanent lifting of U.S. sanctions, in my opinion, the offer was made by IRANIAN foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to NEW YORK, but it was not warmly received by U.S. President, Donald Trump, who is currently demanding that IRAN make a range of sweeping concessions, including cessation of uranium enrichment and support for proxies and allies in the region. Hence, I believe that it is in IRAN’s best interests to bring back the same IRANIAN Team to renegotiate the IRAN Nuclear Deal with the new U.S. Administration because they were exceptional in skills last time, while they will now be matched in skills, to renegotiate the sticking points of an end to IRAN’s ballistic missile program and an end to IRAN’s interference in the Middle East. Therefore, only time will tell where the gridlock will lead, as U.S. President, Donald Trump will likely abstain from striking IRAN knowing full well that Jimmy Carter’s attempt for a second term as President was destroyed by the IRAN hostage crisis in 1980 that essentially unseated an American President. However, in my opinion, U.S. President, Donald Trump seems to be the first U.S. President since 1980, who is willing to allow IRAN to flourish, to the extent IRAN focuses on promoting business and prosperity in the MIDDLE EAST, as opposed to conflicts and further civil wars.

Thus, in my opinion, the U.S. imposed sanctions and maximum pressure campaign are forcing IRAN to focus on its own problems, as for years, IRAN was one of the chief enablers and financiers of the NORTH KOREAN nuclear and ballistic threat. However, in my opinion, with 50% inflation and food prices that have risen 85%, IRAN does not have the excess cash IRAN used to have to engage in disruption. Thus, in my opinion, to this point, the U.S. has made the right moves with regards to IRAN but what IRAN will do next will be absolutely critical. However, in my opinion, the imminent threat these days comes from IRAN’s Defense Ministry that warned that any ISRAELI involvement in a U.S. led naval operation into the Strait of Hormuz, would have disastrous consequences for the MIDDLE EAST. Furthermore, in my opinion, this week’s news that a secret cyber attack against IRAN in June of 2019 wiped out a critical database used by IRAN’s paramilitary arm to plot attacks against oil tankers that degraded IRAN’s ability to covertly target shipping traffic in PERSIAN GULF, at least temporarily, is not surprising. In my opinion, senior U.S. officials discussed the results of the strike in part to quell doubts within the Trump Administration about whether the benefits of the operation outweighed the costs, as lost intelligence and lost access to a critical network used by IRAN’s Revolutionary Guards paramilitary forces, obviously crippled IRAN’s abilities to attack oil tankers, such that it would appear that the benefits outweighed the costs. In my opinion, the U.S. and IRAN have long been involved in an undeclared cyber conflict, a conflict carefully concealed to remain in the gray zone between war and peace, while effectively hurting the opposition without a trace.

In regards to this week’s warning by IRAN’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, it is not surprising that IRAN warned the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA that any attack on IRAN, in retaliation for the oil attacks in SAUDI ARABIA, will result in the potential for an all-out war, as although IRAN does not want a war, IRAN will not blink an eye to defend itself. In my opinion, U.S. President Donald Trump may have reiterated that the U.S. military is locked and loaded to respond against those responsible for the oil attacks, except IRAN has categorically denied any responsibility. Furthermore, in my opinion, I was not surprised to see IRAN accusing the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA of making allegations up trying to pin the blame on IRAN, based on lies and on deceptions. In my opinion, IRAN is not bluffing when IRAN states that if the U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA take action against IRAN at any time, they know there will be no tomorrow for them in the region, as IRAN will reciprocate accordingly. In my opinion, IRAN has raised the stakes in order to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to ease the crippling economic sanctions he reinstated when he abandoned the 2015 Nuclear Deal and demanded a new one be negotiated. That is, in my opinion, IRAN’s leaders hope that the risk of the region sliding into civil war will bring world powers to the realisation that the economic sanctions are actually a recipe for disaster. In my opinion, IRANIAN frustrations are running high as IRAN’s oil exports are close to zero, IRAN’s revenue stream are drying up, and IRAN’s reserves of hard currency seem to be sufficient for only the next couple of months. In my opinion, the fall in the value of the IRANIAN Rial has pushed the inflation rate to 40%, and almost halved the purchasing power of IRANIANS, who are now finding it difficult to make ends meet. Nonetheless, in my opinion, a war directly with IRAN, if it ever happened, would be all about air power and missile capabilities, such that neither side would come out of such warfare victorious. Thus, in my opinion, IRAN took a gamble in the sense that IRAN’s leaders may have bet that U.S. President Donald Trump was reluctant to engage in MIDDLE EAST conflicts, such that the U.S. would decline to respond with force, while the crisis instead might prompt world powers to intervene and push the U.S. to lift its crippling economic sanctions. Thus, in my opinion, for the time being, IRAN appears to have achieved most of its objectives, consisting of strengthening its negotiating position with the U.S., displaying its power in the region and potentially, showing SAUDI ARABIA that the U.S. would not come to its aid in any meaningful way. However, the U.S. has chosen the opposite course of action by tightening economic sanctions on IRAN further, albeit IRAN now seems likely to engage in riskier manoeuvres in an attempt to persuade the U.S. to remove its crippling economic sanctions on IRAN.

 

Summary

 

In summary, I refer to “World Peace Lennon Ivan Style – Part 369” as the belief that IRAQ and SYRIA victories are critical to ISIS decimation, while SYRIAN negotiations must result in peace, while focusing on the new geopolitical realities, whereby tensions between ISRAEL and IRAN represent the biggest concern, as the trigger for a potential Third and Final World War, such that all leaders across the globe must increase their efforts to identify creative diplomatic options to reduce tensions, by considering the appointment of THE ROCK as special envoy to the MIDDLE EAST, as the current situation between ISRAEL and IRAN depicts the new geopolitical realities in the region, whereby U.S. President Donald Trump seems to have realized that he needs an ally in the MIDDLE EAST, and hence the U.S. turned its attention to SAUDI ARABIA, who has been grappling with the KHASHOGGI scandal, whereby there has been an international uproar over the alleged killing of a SAUDI journalist inside the SAUDI ARABIAN consulate in the capital of ISTANBUL, TURKEY, with U.S. President, Donald Trump, initially playing public relations frontman and spin-doctor for the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family by speculating about rogue killers, while insisting that the royal SAUDI ARABIAN family must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, while now being forced to qualify his initial unconditional support with a WOW, as U.S. President Donald Trump supported SAUDI ARABIA that IRAN unquestionably sponsored recent attack on SAUDI ARABIAN oil facilities, as strike came from north, while stating that U.S. ready for war, albeit wants to avoid it, such that ordered increased sanctions on IRAN, while IRAN insists that had nothing to do with attack that knocked out more than half of SAUDI ARABIA’s oil-exporting capability, as IRAN does not consider SAUDI ARABIA proof in form of pieces of missiles & drones coming from north as substantive evidence, as still exists number of militants in IRAQ who could have fired missiles & drones on own accord, while no doubt that IRANIAN economy hurting, such that extremists snapped with direct strike on SAUDI ARABIA’s oil infrastructure, as IRAN choosing pride before conceding inch to U.S., while not much left for U.S. to do, as economic pressure gauge pretty much at maximum, such that IRAN Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, warned U.S. & SAUDI ARABIA that any attack on IRAN, in retaliation for oil attacks in SAUDI ARABIA, will result in potential for all-out war, even if IRAN does not want war, IRAN will not blink an eye to defend itself, albeit U.S. military locked & loaded to respond, while IRAN accused U.S. & SAUDI ARABIA of making up allegations, trying to pin blame on IRAN, based on lies & deceptions, albeit IRAN not bluffing that U.S. & SAUDI ARABIA know there will be no tomorrow for them in region, as IRAN will reciprocate, albeit IRAN now seems likely to engage in riskier manoeuvres, in attempt to persuade U.S. to remove crippling economic sanctions on IRAN.

 

Spirit of John Lennon – THE ROCK’s News:



September 22, 2019