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Zain el-Abidine

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  1. You're in denial, Assad is an Alawite but he clearly has adopted the Shia identity, and it isn't a matter of if the IRGC is actively deployed in Syria this is well known, it's not even a secret.
  2. Which is why Assad will have to choose between Iran or Russia at some point but if he does go down the Iran path an alliance with Qatar is on the table, if you're familiar with 1984 you would see that during the entire duration of the story Oceania is at war with Eurasia but by the final scene they are allies and their conflict suddenly never happened and in today's world such a situation is a reality alliances are constantly shifting based on shared interests and ideals, aside from the MB aspect and Qatar's current anti-Assad stance they have the same enemies like the Saudis. Iran is even arming the Taliban, Qatar hosts them, Qatar has pledged to support Iraq economically and politically and is actively seeking a coalition and Iran is Iraq's number 1 backer, and if this continues a consolidation of relations between Iran, Turkey, Qatar and Iraq, Syria could be dragged in. Also seeing how the rebels did not win as expected and are shifting to fighting the Syrian Democratic Forces almost exclusively things are going to change, it's also notable Saudi Arabia is now a major backer of SDF while Qatar backs groups in the FSA actively involved in Turkish led campaigns which also benefit Iran that have an open conflict with the Kurds as well as Iraqi government, Turkey, Iran and Iraq have even cooperated when Iraqi forces took Kirkuk last year and Iraq is allowing the Turkish military to attack the PKK in the North, Turkey is also a major financier of the Popular Mobilization Forces via the Turkmen Brigades. It really is only a matter of time.
  3. Iraq is Iran's puppet it's hardly a sovereign state that's why there are multiple revolts in the country from the Sunni-Baathist revolt in 2014 to today with the Sadrist Movement in Basra the number one complaint has been Iranian occupation.
  4. At this point in time yes they do, but given that Bashar has Shia leanings and ties Iran had no choice to support him, if the FSA was Shia and Bashar was Sunni it would be a totally different story case in point with Iraq and Bahrain, but with the coarse of the conflict shifting from the rebels vs Assad to the rebels vs YPG Iran and Turkey will get over this dispute and Assad he will have to choose between Tehran and Moscow at some point while Turkey is already in Russia's sphere of influence, but it also has a unique position being an MB country and came to Qatar's aid last year along with Iran, there is no doubt in mind there will be a Qatar-Iran-Turkey axis in the near future.
  5. Exactly Iran & Assad also directly supported Hamas the MB in Palestine an MB-Iran alliance is bound to happen
  6. It seems like Iran and the MB are drifting closer and closer as each day passes
  7. You're wrong here Turkey and Iran will be allies in the future and the people you call terrorists today, will be Hezbollah's brothers tomorrow.
  8. Qatar proposes to form new coalition in Mid East – report https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/qatar-proposes-to-form-new-coalition-in-mid-east-report/ BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:30 A.M.) – Qatar has allegedly proposed to form a new coalition with four regional countries in the Middle East, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) of Iran reported, citing Iraqi media claims. According to the IRNA report, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin ‘Abdul-Rahman bin Jassim Al-Thani proposed the formation of a five-party coalition that would comprise of his own country, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. The proposal came during the Qatari minister’s two-day meeting in Baghdad with the Iraqi government. Despite these claims, Qatar and Syria do not have any diplomatic relations, nor does Damascus and Ankara. However, with the Gulf Coalition Committee’s (GCC) isolation of Qatar, a new coalition of this type could challenge the Saudi-led GCC and protect the small nation.
  9. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Protests in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SDF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SDF</a> controlled Al Tayyana because of poor basic services in the area SE <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DeirEzzor?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DeirEzzor</a> pics via <a href="https://twitter.com/DeirEzzor24?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DeirEzzor24</a> <a href="https://t.co/Eq3irhpUUq">pic.twitter.com/Eq3irhpUUq</a></p>&mdash; Drexl Spivey (@RisboLensky) <a href="https://twitter.com/RisboLensky/status/1040900364688601088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 15, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  10. Qasd (SDF) and Peshmerga are totally different entities with different goals, ideologies and work in different countries, SDF which is led by YPG is a far-left organization in Syria that has homosexual foreign fighters and is practically a new Zionist type movement no different from the Kibbutz in Israel they even use women like the Jews in Palestine did to fight, while Peshmerga is an Iraqi militia not affiliated with PKK/PYD which was established by Assad.
  11. Quotes an Iranian agency about Arab affairs that oppose Iran, nice
  12. Iraq was built by America after 2003 Iran just came in afterwards, and likewise with Syria they always had Russia even before Iran, Syria also had good ties to Egypt and for a while Turkey and yes even America during the gulf war don't give me that joke about "poor countries with no help, they are the resistance" Also it seems like you know Russia does everything America does yet you hate America but Russia is okay because it isn't America? That's just irrational
  13. Note: This article is about a year old but it still isn't getting the attention it deserves and is a good reminder, America’s Favorite Syrian Militia Rules With an Iron Fist https://www.thenation.com/article/americas-favorite-syrian-militia-rules-with-an-iron-fist/ The Kurdish YPG recruits fighters at gunpoint, assassinates political opponents, and suppresses the media. By Roy Gutman February 13, 2017 fb tw mail Print A Kurdish fighter from the YPG stands outside the faculty of agricultural engineering, where defaced pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are seen at the northeastern city of Hasaka, Syria, August 21, 2016. (Reuters / Rodi Said) Erbil, Iraq—The raid began at 3 am in a Syrian village close to the Iraqi border. Kurdish-led military police, many masked, piled out of their pickup trucks, set up roadblocks, drew their weapons, and launched a house-to-house search. This is the second of a two-part investigation, which was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. Part one can be read here. It was America’s favorite Syrian militia, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, at work. Top figures in the Obama administration and even the professional military praised the YPG as the most effective Syrian force against the Islamic State, or ISIS. (The Trump administration hasn’t yet indicated how it plans to work with the YPG.) But its mission last September 10 was nothing to brag about. The northeast Syrian village being stormed, Bani Shkawe, is Kurdish, and the Asayish, or military police, were not scouring for radical Islamists but for Kurdish draft-dodgers. They arrested seven young men, but many others got away, local residents said. Two weeks later, the Asayish returned with a force of 700. When a group of young men took flight, the Asayish opened fire, killing Hani Khanjar, an 18-year-old Kurd. They captured three young men, but set them free, since they were under 18. The YPG regularly raids villages such as Bani Shkawe, and several times a month it sets up roadblocks and checkpoints at the edge of major towns and villages, according to opposition politicians and local human rights monitors. Fabrice Balanche of WINEP estimates that 500,000 Kurds have fled northern Syria rather than submit to YPG rule. Measures such as these testify to the unpopularity of the Democratic Union Party, the PYD, the political wing of the YPG, but it’s not the only reason. The PYD runs the region, which it calls Rojava or west Kurdistan, with an iron hand, suppressing political opposition, detaining journalists and shutting down independent media, and expelling tens of thousands of Arabs as it seeks to consolidate control. Forced recruitment is both a cause and an effect of its unpopularity. “The PYD has a manpower problem,” said Fabrice Balanche, a French academic expert on Syria with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He estimates that 500,000 Kurds—half the population—have fled northern Syria, most of them for economic reasons. The US military has got wind of the YPG’s forced-recruitment practice. “We’ve heard of it. I don’t know if we’ve confirmed it,” Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the US Central Command, told The Nation. But, he added, “forced conscription is not something we are in there advising” the YPG to do. American demands on the YPG may be driving the number still higher. The problem begins with the YPG itself and its hostile relations with neighbors on two sides, Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In addition, the YPG is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a group on the US, Turkish, and European Union terrorism lists. While there may be military logic in teaming up the US military machine with a ground force that has a central organization, an officer corps, and combat experience, that’s also the drawback, for the PKK’s combat experience was gained fighting Turkey for some 30 years in an insurgency that flared up again in the summer of 2015. Related Articles Have the Syrian Kurds Committed War Crimes? Roy Gutman Turkey Is Supporting the Syrian Jihadis Washington Says It Wants to Fight Meredith Tax Iraqi Kurdish Leader Calls for Redrawing Regional Borders—And Attacks Fellow Kurds Roy Gutman The State Department claims the YPG is a separate entity from the PKK, a stance viewed throughout the region as fiction. Asked for evidence to prove its point, the department refuses to answer specific questions about US policy. At US behest, the YPG took a step in late 2015 to broaden its appeal by setting up the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, an umbrella group with a major component of Arab fighters but under YPG control. And that means PKK control. “Of course all orders come from Qandil,” said Balanche, referring to the Iraqi headquarters of the PKK. According to PKK defectors interviewed by The Nation, 70 percent of the YPG forces were PKK units based in Qandil. American support for the PKK’s Syrian front, which began during the Obama administration, has provoked an enormous public row with NATO ally Turkey that has played out on the battlefield. It has severely constrained arms and training Washington provides the YPG, and it appears to be a factor in the failure of the United States and the YPG to agree on political goals for the territory the militia captures from ISIS. All these factors have driven up the casualties and added to pressure on the YPG to recruit, no matter what the cost. Turkey is not the only US ally at odds with the YPG. Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government in late December threatened to use force if the PKK didn’t withdraw from Sinjar in northern Iraq, which the KRG insists is in its security sphere. (The PKK had moved into Sinjar in 2014 to fight off an ISIS attack against the Yazidi population there.) The US-Turkey row affected the fighting in Manbij, an Arab city northeast of Aleppo, which the SDF captured from ISIS last August with the help of US airstrikes. Ostensibly it was a triumph, but the cost in lives was enormous. Of the estimated 5,000 SDF fighters, as many as half of them Arab, at least 700 were killed in that battle, estimates Ibrahim Biro, who was a leading Kurdish opposition politician in Rojava until his arrest and expulsion just after Manbij fell. The official number published by the Rojava news media was 364, according to Rony, a PKK defector who held a senior position in the YPG forces in Rojava during the offensive. KRG officials, who keep tabs on Rojava, tell visitors the true number was closer to 1,000. Among the reason cited by Biro: ISIS’s effective use of suicide vehicles, poor training of the attacking forces, lack of public support for Kurdish-led fighters on Arab lands, and the fact that so many of the Kurdish fighters were foreign—from Turkey or Iran—and didn’t speak Arabic. PKK defector Rony said the operation should have been completed in 45 days but took twice that time because of ISIS’s effective defensive tactics (using civilians as human shields, laying mines around key objectives, and sending no fewer than 11 explosive-laden suicide vehicles against the Syrian Democratic Forces) and US failure to equip its ally. Like other defectors quoted in this article, Rony was interviewed outside of Syria and is using an assumed name out of fear of retribution by the group he abandoned. “We asked for heavy weapons. We got nothing. We asked for everything. All we got was ammunition and small arms,” he said. He said the United States did not supply flak jackets, helmets, night vision equipment, or mine detectors. “They [the Americans] sent us to die. They don’t want us to be strong.” —former Kurdish fighter American forces also refused to order airstrikes against suicide vehicles or to fire air-to-ground rockets at ISIS snipers. Supposedly, the Americans provided 12 advanced anti-tank missiles to the YPG, but Rony said he never saw evidence that they had. Instead, the militia had to rely on rocket-propelled grenades or other munitions, an ineffective defense against suicide vehicles, he said. Rony, who was in the PKK for more than 20 years until his defection in 2016, spoke bitterly about US military aid. He said he lost seven or eight friends to mines that ISIS had planted around the grain silos south of Manbij. YPG fighters were treated like cannon fodder, he said. “They [the Americans] sent us to die. They don’t want us to be strong. They tell us, ‘You can be here but not there.’ ‘You will be dependent on me.’” Another woeful deficiency of the YPG was inadequate training before the battle. But this is mainly a PKK issue—if Washington had taken over that task, it would have worsened the already strained relations with Turkey. Standard training for recruits is currently six weeks, but only one week is spent on weapons familiarization and tactics, and the rest of the time on ideology, another recent PKK defector told The Nation. This means reading the works Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the PKK, who’s now in a Turkish jail on Imrali island, close to Istanbul. They include a history of the region, a history of the PKK and the Kurds, and a tract on Ocalan’s political aims: to do away with the nation-states in the region and replace them with a vaguely defined system of “democratic federalism.” Mohar, a Turkish-born PKK defector, said he himself mastered the operation of tanks, sniper rifles, and mortars, but his training was on the job. The PKK approach, he said, is “if you have the ideology of Ocalan, you can fight, so it’s more important to understand the ideology than the military part.” Another PKK defector said his training had lasted three months, of which one month was devoted to military training and the rest to ideology. “Technically, the military training was very weak. But ideologically, we had very good training,” said Shiyar, a 20-year veteran now in his 40s. “They tried to work with our minds and make us ready to fight.” “The PYD itself has been an important ally of the Syrian regime.” —Ibrahim Biro, Kurdish opposition politician Another missing element in the war against ISIS is agreed war aims. The United States has been wary of the YPG’s political agenda ever since a negative experience in June 2015, when the militia captured the town of Tal Abyad from ISIS, kicked out or kept out the mostly Arab population, and then proceeded to “Kurdify” the town—it’s now called Giri Spi in Kurdish. In fact, the YPG has consistently stated that it intends to capture a band of mostly Arab territory across northern Syria in order to connect the self-styled Kurdish cantons and the cities of Qamishli and Kobani with Afrin. Turkey, the biggest power in the region, has vowed to stop the project, fearing that the PKK would link YPG-controlled land in northern Syria and predominantly Kurdish towns in southern Turkey, threatening Turkey’s territorial integrity. In August, Turkey sent troops into Syria to prevent that from happening. The United States has disavowed the militia’s goal of establishing the Kurdish corridor, but Washington has been unable to stop its moves on the ground. The YPG and Turkey have clashed repeatedly on Syrian soil. These obstacles also add to a YPG recruitment challenge—namely, motivating fighters to risk their lives capturing non-Kurdish territory they’ll eventually have to give up. Even the security forces have proven reluctant warriors. Early last August, some 300 Asayish were arrested for refusing to take part in the Manbij operation, the Rojava-based ARA news agency reported. If US policy appears conflicted, it reflects what may be a lack of understanding at the very top of the US security structure about the forces on the ground. Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in September that America’s “partners on the ground” now total 30,000 Kurds and 14,000 Arabs, up from “a few hundred vetted opposition fighters” in just one year. “We’re trying to grow it even more,” told the Air Force Association in September. The Syrian Network for Human Rights has accused the YPG of extensive forced recruitment of child soldiers. Dunford’s reference to “vetted opposition fighters” implied that the current and future force is opposed to the Syrian government, which is not the case. The YPG in fact has an umbilical link with the Assad regime. According to Biro, every component of the Syrian Democratic Forces “is a big ally of the Syrian regime—because the PYD itself has been an important ally of the Syrian regime since the beginning of the Syrian revolution” in 2011. The exception among the Arab militias affiliated with the SDF is Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa, or the Raqqa Revolutionaries, led by a Raqqa merchant who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Issa. But it has received short shrift from the YPG, possibly because it is opposed to the regime. Ready to Fight Back? Sign Up For Take Action Now The Assad regime’s ties with the PYD’s parent organization, the PKK, date back to 1984, when Abdullah Ocalan established the movement in Damascus under the sponsorship of Syrian intelligence, according to senior officials in the KRG. From that day until today, the PKK has stationed a liaison at the headquarters of one of Syria’s leading intelligence agencies in the Syrian capital, according to these officials. Syrian Kurds founded the PYD in 2003 with assistance from Iran and Syrian intelligence, according to a defected Syrian intelligence officer who said he took part in the first meeting. But when Ocalan was arrested in 1999 and brought to Turkey, the government in Damascus, wanting to ease relations with Ankara, forced the movement underground. Compulsory YPG military service dates back to June 2014, when the PYD-ruled legislative council in the self-styled Jazira canton issued a “law of performing self-defense.” It required every family to provide a male “volunteer” between 18 and 30 years of age to serve for six months. Families without an eligible male were encouraged to send females instead, leading to unrest throughout Jazira and the other cantons, Kobani and Afrin. The YPG has been raiding and arresting young men—as well as women and girls—since the beginning of 2014, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported early this year. SNHR has also reported extensive forced recruitment of child soldiers—adolescents under 16. Some 1,876 children were forcibly recruited between 2012 and 2015. “Children have been forced to use and train on guns since 2012 extensively,” SNHR said. Both the Pentagon and the State Department declined to respond to questions from The Nation. The YPG agreed in writing in 2014 to halt the recruiting of underage soldiers, according to Geneva Call, an NGO that lobbies armed groups to adhere to international norms in war. As of late 2015, 214 children under 16 had been demobilized and 49 others between 16 and 17 had been discharged from military service, the group said in a report early last year, according to YPG officials. “They told me that either I give up journalism and leave or they will kill me.” —Sadun Sino, Orient TV In the first year of force recruitment, local journalists produced many stories, in part because anxious parents approached them and urged them to report the news. But public protests were quickly suppressed, and independent journalism has been crushed. In 2013 Sadun Sino began working for Orient TV, an opposition news outlet in Rojava. After reporting on a series of assassinations of Kurdish opposition figures—all of which he believed were carried out by PYD operatives—Sino began regular coverage of protests, which usually erupted when the YPG seized an underage boy or girl. Sino said he produced at least 15 reports from his hometown of Derbasi, and other reporters in Amudah and Kobani produced even more. The YPG “staged so many roundups in Derbasi that I lost count,” Sino said. “People came to me asking me to report on it,” he pointed out. He reported on the conscription of girls, at least two of whom were under-age, and on PKK arrests of young men and women at checkpoints. “On one day in 2014, they took 40 men and boys at one checkpoint,” Sino said. “It was happening every day.” On another day, the YPG issued an order to round up 150 conscripts. Finally, the authorities cracked down on the news coverage. “They told me that either I give up journalism and leave or they will kill me,” Sino told The Nation. After being jailed four times, he fled Rojava in January 2015. “The PYD and the YPG violently suppressed freedom of assembly and severely limited freedom of speech.” —US State Department Jason Stern, a researcher with the New York–based Committee to Project Journalists until last week, said CPJ has found that censorship and arrests are routine in Rojava. “Too often the authorities there get glowing coverage for their role in fighting Islamic State, and, as a result, their regular practice of censorship is ignored,” Stern observed in an e-mail. “Journalists have been routinely detained for days at a time and then released—each incident sending a clear message to other journalists,” Stern said. Media affiliated with other parties or the Syrian opposition “are targeted” for censorship, he said. And he noted that the PYD withdrew the license of two major news outlets in August 2015, the KRG-based Rudaw news agency and the Syrian opposition station Orient TV. Both were banned permanently in February 2016, according to Saeed Omar Khalil, a human-rights lawyer in Erbil, the KRG capital. But this is only part of the picture of repression. In its annual human-rights report last year, the State Department, quoting Kurdish activists and press reporting, said “the PYD and the YPG violently suppressed freedom of assembly and severely limited freedom of speech in areas under their control.” In the past two years at least eight journalists have been abducted or arrested, according to Kurdwatch, a Berlin-based watchdog group. It reported a case in early 2015 where a journalist from the website of a news outlet affiliated with the Kurdish Unity Party was abducted by the Asayish military police, beaten with iron bars, and had a finger cut off. Lawyer Khalil gave The Nation a list of 57 political activists who had been arrested through last September. Among them was Yunes Assad, the head of the town council in Amudah, who was kidnapped, beaten, and tortured in May 2016. The severe political repression has also contributed to the reluctance of Kurds to serve in the YPG, Kurdish refugees said. As of last autumn, according to Kurdwatch researcher Eva Savelsberg, as much as 40 percent of the security forces in Rojava are recruited by force. The rest, mainly young men from poor families, join largely for the salary in a region where there are almost no employment opportunities. Despite the forced recruitment, the YPG was still short of fighters last year, so a new rule was issued on October 17 requiring nine months of service, with three more months tacked on for those who don’t register by December 1. Rojava opposition politicians claim that the PYD support base is no more than 10 percent of the population; as proof they cite the YPG’s closure of the border with Iraqi Kurdistan since last spring. KRG officials say that if the YPG were to open the borders to Iraqi Kurdistan, three-quarters of the population would flee. In Bani Shkawe, the public mood remains defiant. “Our village is surrounded by hills and valleys, and the village people know every valley and stone,” said a resident, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution. “Our youth go into hiding when the village is stormed.” “We don’t want anything from the PYD,” said the resident. “We just want them to leave us alone.”
  14. So Iran has nothing to gain from having Yemen as an ally?
  15. The Iranian Land Bridge in the Levant: The Return of Territory in Geopolitics http://www.telospress.com/the-iranian-land-bridge-in-the-levant-the-return-of-territory-in-geopolitics/ With the re-establishment of Bashar al-Assad’s power in Syria, the strengthening of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and finally the political and military victory of pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, it is clear that an Iranian axis now prevails in the Levant. The strength of this geopolitical axis is reinforced by the territorial continuity between Tehran and Beirut via Damascus and Baghdad: “the Iranian land bridge” or “Iranian corridor,” controlled by Iranian troops directly and by proxies. Since the Shia militias joined the Syrian-Iraqi border in May 2017, the Iranian land bridge[1] has continued to expand, despite the U.S. troop presence on both sides, in the al-Tanef pocket and in northeastern Syria. Until spring 2017, the West seemed incredulous about this reality. However, at that time, it was already too late to block the Shiite militias in eastern Syria, and the Iranian land bridge became a reality. The construction of a land bridge brings us back to the past, to the theories of Friedrich Ratzel and the French-British struggle in colonial Africa: the French “Dakar-Djibouti” land bridge against the English program of “Cape Town–Cairo,” which culminated in the Fashoda crisis[2] in 1898. Today, in a global world, the principle of the network is alleged to have triumphed over territory, including in geopolitics. The Iranian strategy, based on territory, ought therefore be defeated by the power of the networks, the archetype of which was American strategy during the Cold War. This is how the French scholar Bertrand Badie[3] explains the American victory over the Soviet Union, a territorial power par excellence. Will the confrontation between the United States and Iran have the same outcome in the Middle East? Is the construction of the Iranian axis therefore also doomed to failure by its nature? One might think so, but will it be necessary to wait half a century, as was the case with the end of the Soviet bloc? Iran seems today in the same situation as the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War. Tehran and its local allies arrogate victory against the Islamic State and try to occupy the former land of the terrorist organization. 1. The Iranian Axis in the Middle East: A Geopolitical Construction With the end of ISIS in Syria, regional geopolitical issues are resurfacing. Iran is taking over the construction of its corridor that connects Beirut to Tehran via Baghdad and Damascus. The Iranian axis, also called the Shiite crescent, is the major objective of Iran in the Levant and probably in the Middle East more broadly. Support for the Houthi rebellion in Yemen appears more like a diversionary war to force Saudi Arabia out of Syria and Lebanon politically. The project of the Iranian axis dates from the first years of the Islamic Republic. Khomeini wanted to break the encirclement of Iran and export the Islamic revolution, and Saddam Hussein’s war with Iran forced him to focus on his western front. His alliance with Syria Hafez el Assad allowed Iran to challenge Saddam Hussein’s Iraq from behind. At that time, we should not consider the religious factor between the Alawites and Shia Twelvers to have played a major role in this strategic alliance. In contrast, in Lebanon, religious ties enabled Khomeini to find support in the Shiite community. Iran created Hezbollah in 1982 and used it to open a new front against France and the United States, which supported Iraq but also Israel. Israel became a prime target of the Iranian regime for both strategic and ideological reasons. However the end of the Iran–Iraq war did not end the anti-Israeli strategy of the Islamic Republic because of the primacy of the ideological motivation. The Fight against Israel The construction of the Iranian axis concretized one of the ideological dogmas of Tehran: the fight against Israel. Admittedly, the Islamic Republic faces condemnation from the Western countries and embarrasses its Russian ally, which no longer maintains the same anti-Israeli policy it did during the time of the Soviet Union. However, the Iranian regime is not ready to give up this pillar of the 1979 revolution, perhaps the only one that remains. Indeed, since 2005, the anti-Zionist discourse has only been getting louder in Tehran, notably with the voice of the conservative president Ahmadi Nejad. The regime is increasingly challenged by a new generation, born after the revolution, which demands more freedom. In response, Nejad ramped up the anti-Zionist struggle and mobilized Iranian nationalism as vehicles to guarantee national unity. This ideological parameter is just as important as the development of the Iranian nuclear program, another subject of “pride” and national unity for the regime. The extension of the Iranian influence to the west means that its anti-Zionist discourse can be more threatening to Israel than simple anti-Semitic speeches and caricatures.[4] Nejad’s anti-Zionist rhetoric has been reinforced by that of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, and not just because of his Palestinian headscarf. Ali Khamenei is an admirer and translator of Sayyid Qutb,[5] the ideologue of jihadism, whose anti-Semitism is very strong.[6] Ali Khamenei’s most recent statements about Israel are unambiguous: “Israel is a cancerous tumor that needs to be eradicated.”[7] He justifies his remarks by describing Israel as both the representative of imperialism and the enemy of Islam. It is therefore the duty of the Islamic Republic to fight against the Jewish state until its destruction. This fight involves building a territorial axis to the west to support the anti-Israeli forces (Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Syrian regime) and to participate directly in the fight. Thanks to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and the takeover of southern Syria, in spring 2018, Iran can claim to have a near monopoly in the confrontation with Israel and the defense of the Palestinian cause. It can further blame the Sunni Arab countries for renouncing this struggle and, on the contrary, for joining forces with Israel. The popularity of the Palestinian cause in the Sunni street transcends the Sunni–Shiite cleavage and allows Iran to emerge from its Shia and Persian confinement to find allies among the Sunni Arab populations. It can therefore use the Palestinian cause and anti-Semitism to weaken the Sunni Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, who are tempted to forge an alliance with the Jewish state to contain Iranian expansionism. The fight against Israel is therefore an excellent source of division inside the Sunni world, which is already divided, while Iran can rely on the unity of the Shiites. The fight against Israel is therefore an integral part of the regional conflict between Shiites and Sunnis. From the Fall of Saddam Hussein to the Re-establishment of the Assad Regime After the fall of Saddam Hussein and the unsurprising victory of the Shiite political parties in the 2004 parliament elections, Iraq was ripe to become an Iranian protectorate. It was enough for Tehran to wait patiently for the departure of the American troops, which Iran had accelerated by supporting the Shiite insurgency of Moqtada Sader and al-Qaeda. Like Lenin, who crossed Germany from Switzerland in a leaded wagon to come back to Russia in 1917, al-Qaeda terrorist Ayman al-Zawairi crossed Iran from Afghanistan, in 2004, with Tehran’s permission to organize guerrilla warfare against U.S. troops in Iraq. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 lifted the last obstacle to the formation of the Iranian axis in the Levant, but the rebellion in Syria and then the ISIS insurgency thwarted the Iranian plans. From 2011 to 2016, Tehran gave priority to safeguarding the Syrian regime, but as soon as it was restored and sure of success after its victory in Aleppo in December 2016, Iran returned to its primary goal: to establish a territorial continuity between Tehran and the Mediterranean. The completion of this process was made possible by the poor analysis that Westerners made about the outcome of the Syrian conflict and the international geopolitical scene. Most underestimated the resilience of the Syrian regime and the will and capacity of Russia and Iran to support it. Military developments in eastern Syria in the spring of 2017 showed that the United States did not believe in the Syrian regime’s return to that area.[8] The West generally seems to disbelieve Shiite Iran’s ability to impose itself in the Levant, where the Sunnis are the demographic majority and where the Kurds appear to be reliable allies of the United States. However, as I have shown in another essay,[9] that Sunni supremacy was overvalued in both absolute and relative terms because while the Shiites are united, the Sunnis have a capacity to divide and weaken themselves. As for the Kurds, they hardly believe that the United States can guarantee their autonomy after the capture of the Kurdish district of Afrin (winter 2018) by Turkey, without any American reaction, and the abandonment of Kirkuk to the Iraqi army (October 2017). Now the Syrian Kurds anticipate a near-term withdrawal of U.S. troops from their region. So do the Iraqi Kurds, who believe that their autonomy will be reduced again because the United States no longer will protect them against their enemies, including both Iran and the Baghdad government.[10] Shiite Militias Form the Last Piece of the Iranian Land Bridge In March 2017, Iraqi Shiite militias moved into Sinjar and reached Syrian territory under the control of the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK. The speed with which the Iraqi Shiite militias seized Tal Afar, a Turkmen Sunni-Shiite city west of Mosul, a few weeks earlier, indicated that the issue was more than just the recovery of Mosul. Analysts recognized that Iran now had a potential road between the Mediterranean and Tehran, since the Syrian army had reopened the road between Manbij and Aleppo[11] to the west. The YPG is only a tactical ally of the United States against ISIS. It can therefore form alliances with Tehran and Damascus if the circumstances demand that and officially open its territory. In May 2017, the Shiite militias made their junction on the Syrian-Iraqi border between the U.S. al-Tanf base and the city of al-Bu Kamal, opening the first direct route between Beirut and Tehran.[12] In addition, they blocked the advance of Syrian rebels to the north, reserving al-Bu Kamal. The liberation of al-Bu Kamal from ISIS in early November 2017, thanks to the Syrian Army and Hezbollah coming from the west and Iraqian Shiite militias coming from the east, has important consequences for the future of the Levant, as much as the French defeat at Fashoda had in 1898 for colonial Africa. The land bridge between Iraq and Syria, and more broadly Iran and the Mediterranean, is now firmly established. The pro-Iranian Shiite militias occupy the ground, and Iran is now trying to appeal to the local Arab Sunni population.[13] The next goal is to regain control of the entire Syrian-Iraqi borders and to expel the United States and its allies. Washington was been incredulous about the construction of the Iranian corridor for an extended period of time. The territorial continuity sought by Iran was probably not considered strategically important enough to cause an additional threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia. After all, Iran does not need land routes to send weapons to Hezbollah: it has made the transfers so far by air via Damascus and by boat via Latakia or Tartus. However, having land routes makes the transfers less detectable, as it is more difficult to monitor thousands of kilometers of roads than a port or an airport. However, in the case of an open war with Israel in Syria and Lebanon or a new insurgency in Syria, the land route will make it easier for Iran to deploy troops in the Levant and bring military equipment to its allies. The action of the Islamic Republic will no longer be susceptible to a possible air and sea blockade. Iran is above all a land power, and its aviation and navy are minor. It relies more on territorial continuity than on a network of bases, unlike the United States, which has a strong network of air and sea bases allowing it to free itself from the imperatives of territorial control. Here again, we find the old strategic opposition between the Spartan model (the land territory) and the Athenian model (the network of bases and alliances). Similarly, the former opposed Napoleon’s France to the latter’s Britain and then the Soviet Union to the United States during the Cold War. Protect the Western Front to the Sea The insistence and consistency with which the Islamic Republic strives to build a geopolitical axis toward the Mediterranean, in addition to its ideological anti-Israel motivation, are linked to its perception of the dangers that threaten it. Iran was scarred by the Iran–Iraq war (1980–1989) and believes that a new attack is possible from the west; the other borders are considered less sensitive. It must therefore build an area of influence toward the Mediterranean to prevent any future danger. The presence of Israel adds an ideological dimension to its policy of influence, but it is more Iranian nationalism that forms a consensus among the Iranian population. In early 2011, Iran was on track to achieve its goal thanks to the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. There was no longer any obstacle to the creation of the Iranian axis and the land bridge to Beirut. However, the rebellion in Syria blocked that process. Tehran’s discreet support for Bashar al-Assad against the rebellion changed in nature when the Gulf monarchies and Turkey saw it as an opportunity to break the Iranian axis. These Sunni countries were more worried than was the United States about the progress of the Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq. Therefore Iran had to prevent the rebels from winning at all costs, because Hezbollah would have been isolated and Baghdad could also switch to the camp of its enemies. The Iranian leaders did not want to see recreating their country’s encirclement, unacceptable for Iran’s security after eight years of a war (1980–1988) that nearly destroyed the regime. Despite the strong Iranian investment in Bashar al-Assad, his regime was struggling in the spring of 2015. The Syrian regime had lost total control of the province of Idlib and Palmyra. It risked losing altogether or at least being reduced to controlling only southwestern Syria, which would have undermined Iranian strategy. Yet ultimately the Iranian axis would probably not have materialized if Iran had not been helped by Russia. 2. The Iranian Axis Is in Accord with the Russian Interests in Middle East Since the beginning of the war in Syria, analysts have been tracking Russian and Iranian speeches for signs of any break in the relationship. The West continues to bet on the fragility of the alliance between Russia and Iran and the inevitable conflict that should break out between them. However, history is not an eternal beginning, and the long enmity between Iran and Russia, including the Russian Empire’s nineteenth-century amputation of part of the Persian Empire, does not mean that the two countries cannot find reconciliation. France and England were also long-standing enemies, but they ended up united against Germany in the twentieth century because the geopolitics had changed. Many analyses of this so-called fundamental Russian–Iranian conflict are based on a historical determinism that no longer has any relevance. Russia did not intervene in Syria simply to keep the naval base of Tartus, which has been limited to a simple wharf in the Syrian military port since 2008. It has much greater geopolitical ambitions. Of course, Islamic terrorism is a threat to its security because of the importance of Russian and Central Asian nationals in the jihadists’ ranks. Russia was anxious that Syria would become a jihadist base. However, all of this is secondary compared to its geopolitical aspirations. Putin wants to make Russia a great power again, and he therefore benefits from the relative withdrawal of the United States. This intervention gives him the opportunity to weaken two major U.S. allies in the region: Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which also threaten the economic fundamentals of resurgent Russian power. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Turkey had the ambition to extend its influence to the Caucasus and Central Asia, a Turkish culture area. The goal was also to drain the hydrocarbons of the area to Turkey, which would become an energy hub. The discovery of gas fields in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean was likely to compete with sales of Russian gas on the European market. By favoring the Iranian axis, Russia is completing Turkey’s encirclement. During the Georgian War in 2008, Russia placed the Georgian coastline under its tutelage,[14] forcing the Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan to negotiate with it in the transfer of their hydrocarbons.[15] If Turkey wants to become an energy hub, it must now negotiate with Moscow, as took place at the Erdoğan–Putin summit in St. Petersburg on August 9, 2016. Putin announced the passage of the Russian South Stream gas pipeline across Turkey in exchange for the cessation of Turkish support for the Syrian rebellion, while Turkey also gained permission to intervene directly in Syria against the PKK project to create a Kurdish statelet in northern Syria, from Afrin to the Tigris River. Russia’s other target is Saudi Arabia, the global regulator of oil prices. The Saudi choice to increase production in a context of falling prices was a catastrophe for Russia. Oil and gas each account for 15 percent of Russia’s GDP, two-thirds of foreign exchange earnings, and half of budget revenues. However, Russian oil is at least twice as expensive to produce as Saudi oil ($9 per barrel).[16] Saudi Arabia would have to be forced to reduce its oil production for prices to rise. They cannot reach the peaks of 2014 with a barrel over $140 because the world market is saturated. In addition, unconventional oil extraction in North America has made huge productivity gains in recent years, limiting the rise in oil prices. Nevertheless a barrel of oil above $60 a barrel is enough for the good health of the Russian economy and the replenishment of the foreign currency reserves of the state. To convince Saudi Arabia to reduce oil production, Russia and Iran have no doubt threatened the kingdom with destabilization. For example, the Shiites of Hassa, the main oil region of the country, are ready to revolt against Ryadh on the grounds of claims of discrimination. The Iranian land bridge project is therefore likely to succeed because it converges with Russian strategy and, since the summer of 2016, it has benefited from the benevolent neutrality of Turkey. For the latter, Iran appears as a better guarantor against the Kurds than the United States, which relied on them in their fight against ISIS, neglecting the consequences that this could have on the security of Turkey. Tehran and Ankara have a common interest in limiting Kurdish territorial extension and their desire for independence in Syria and Iraq in order to avoid contagion in their own countries. Saudi Arabia and Israel remain fiercely opposed to this Iranian axis. They are betting on the resistance of the Sunni population, especially in Syria where it is the majority and are assumed to be reluctant to live in a satellite country of Shiite Iran. On the one hand, the ability of Syrian Sunnis to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad has been overestimated. On the other, hand Iran and its allies will now be careful not to give them a second chance. In this, they can rely on Shiite militias who have recently proven their effectiveness in Iraq and Syria. 3. The Shiite Militias Are the Privileged Instrument of Tehran Shiite militias are the key to Iran’s expansion in the Middle East. They began in Lebanon with the creation of Hezbollah in 1982 and in Iraq during the U.S. occupation, especially after the ISIS offensive in 2014. In Syria, Shiite militias have multiplied during the civil war, but it is mainly the foreign Shiite militias who intervene on the Syrian ground because of the weakness of the Shiite population Syria. The advantage of militias over regular armies is that they can intervene outside their country of origin without an official military declaration. This transnational dimension has been affirmed by the Syrian civil war and the struggle against the Islamic State. However, the militias possess neither aviation nor a navy, which makes geographical continuity even more essential. Iran Use Lebanese Hezbollah as an Example to Follow In Lebanon, Hezbollah was founded in 1982 with the help of Iran. It is now the first military and political force in the country. The struggle against Israel, which occupied southern Lebanon until 2000, was its raison d’être. Once southern Lebanon was evacuated by the Israeli army, Hezbollah should have laid down its arms, but it refused to do so in order to continue the fight against the Jewish State and thus participate in the “liberation of Palestine.” The war of the summer 2006 gave Hezbollah the perfect excuse to keep its weapons. It is a real state within a state, with its own police but also educational, health, and charitable institutions. The Lebanese police and army cannot intervene in the Shiite territories under its control. In non-Shia areas, it relies on allies, such as the Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP) in northern Lebanon and Beirut. During the mini civil war of May 2008, Hezbollah seized West Beirut in less than 24 hours to the detriment of Walid Jumblat’s Druze militias and that of the Sunni leader Saad Hariri. Hezbollah then entrusted the control of the conquered neighborhoods to the SSNP because this secular party, made up of different communities, is better accepted in the multi-sectarian West Beirut than the Shia militia from the southern suburbs. In the Sunni territories Hezbollah has managed to create militias based on figures who are driven more by a hunger for power and money than by the liberation of Palestine. For example, in the conservative Sunni district of Tariq al-Jedideh, Hezbollah supported from 2008 to 2012, the Arab Movement Party of Shaker Berjawi. However, he was expelled from the neighborhood by militants of the Future Party, led by Saad Hariri. It is not difficult to recruit Sunni militiamen ready to fight against their co-religionists because of the massive unemployment that afflicts the popular Lebanese classes. The fight against Israel serves as an ideological smoke screen for much more material motives. In Syria, Hezbollah intervened in 2012. Initially, it wanted to protect the Shiite villages around Homs,[17] before committing to the Syrian regime on all fronts. Hezbollah went on to play an active role in all the main battles. In May 2013, it took over the city of Qussayr, and it was strongly involved in the fights for Homs, Aleppo, and Deir al-Zour. The other function of Hezbollah was to train the National Defense, the local militias controlling the territory in order to free up the regular army for offensive operations. However, these militias also quickly took the offensive because of the lack of regular troops and their better knowledge of the ground. At its peak, Hezbollah has had thousands soldiers in Syria, and the losses have been offset by a permanent turnover of its fighters. It can draw on its demographic reserve of southern Lebanon and the suburbs of Beirut. However, the supply is not unlimited. The Shia population in Lebanon is estimated at 1.5 million, its fertility is close to the Lebanese average, 2 children per woman, and this begins to create a recruitment shortage.[18] Iraqi Militias Have the Strength of Demographics The first Shia militias appeared in Iran with the Bader militia in the 1980s, fighting with the Iranian army against Saddam Hussein’s troops. In 2003, the militias multiplied with the help of Iran to fight against the American presence. In 2008, most of the militias turned into political parties, such as the Mahdi militia of Moqtada Sadr, and became integrated into the political game. Part of the Mahdi militia decided to keep its weapons and gave birth to Kataeb Hezbollah, which played a leading role in Syria. The Iraqi Shiite militias were reconstituted first in favor of the war in Syria, where Shiite populations and Shiite holy sites were an urgent concern. There was no question of letting Sayyida Zaynab’s Mausoleum in Damascus be destroyed, as was the case with the Samara Mosque in 2006. Then, the militias became involved with Hezbollah and the Syrian Army regarding various operations, especially in the siege of Aleppo. The arrival of ISIS in Iraq, the fall of Mosul, and its rapid progress to the gates of Baghdad gave a new impulse to the Shiite militias. In July 2014, Ayatollah Sistani launched a call for general mobilization. Tens of thousands of volunteers answered his call, while the Iraqi army was struggling to find recruits. The number of militia in one year exceeded 100,000 men.[19] The Shiite population of Iraq is ten times larger than in Lebanon. Young Shiites prefer the militia to the Iraqi army because they are better paid, corruption is nonexistent, and everyone can choose a militia that suits him best. The Iranian al-Quds force commanded by Qassem al-Sulaymani provides military advisers and equipment, and is at the heart of the Iranian militia system. While militias loyal to Moqdada Sader and Sistani do not recognize the tutelage of the al-Quds force and are content to fight in Iraq, the others have a transnational dimension and obey Iranian directives. Their strategy is thus different from the simple control of Iraqi territory, as they participate in the construction of the Iranian axis. The battle of Mosul provides an excellent example. The Iraqi army seemed inclined to leave an exit door to ISIS west of Mosul. The jihadists could have fled the city, which would have avoided destruction and favored a rapid takeover of Mosul. However, the Shiite militias bypassed Mosul from the west and canceled any possibility of retreat. In March 2017, the Shiite militias took control of Tal Afar airport, a Sunni-Shiite Turkmen city west of Mosul, joining the PKK in Sinjar to the detriment of pro-American KDP militia. Iran took an option on the Syrian-Iraqi border at the expense of the Iraqi federal army, which was less malleable than the militias. Tehran was no doubt afraid that thousands of jihadists would retreat into Syria, in the province of Deir al-Zour since Raqqa was already besieged. Such a development would have complicated the task of the Syrian army in the low Euphrates Valley, because Deir al-Zour threatened to fall completely into the hands of the Islamic State at that point.[20] This Shiite militia maneuver in northern Iraq allowed the Syrian army and Shiite militias in Syria to take al-Bu Kamal before the American backed rebels from al-Tanf and the Syrian Democratic Forces from the north side of the Euphrates River. This was further evidence that Iraqi Shiite militias serve Tehran’s regional strategy. Syrian Militias Are not Iranian Tools In Syria, Iran lacks an important reservoir of Shiite Twelvers, in contrast to Lebanon or Iraq. The Shiite Twelver population is estimated in 2015 at 1% of the population. As for the Alawites (13%), Druze (5%), and Ismailians (1%), who are heterodox Shiites,[21] they are far from adhering to the ideology of Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militias. Hezbollah fighters have an aura among Alawite youth because of their warlike qualities, but that does not matter much. The heterodox Shiites are closer to the Russian way of life than the rigorous way of life that the Islamic Republic promotes. The National Defense, the umbrella that covers all Syrian pro-government militias, has more than 100,000 members; it recruits in all communities, but minorities are, of course, overrepresented. One of the most famous militias, “The Desert Hawks,” funded by the businessman Ayman Jaber, is composed mainly of Alawites from the coastal region, even if its preferred field of action is the Syrian Desert, where it has been taken over the sources of hydrocarbons from ISIS. However, his loyalty to Bashar al-Assad has a real value: he receives a percentage on the exploitation of its hydrocarbons fields. On the other hand, the Qaterji’s militia in Aleppo is essentially Sunni. It became famous in February 2018 by taking part in the battle of Afrin alongside the YPG. Qaterji is not a Kurdish independence militant but merely the YPG trading partner. In the province of Swayda, various Druze militias were formed since 2012 to defend the Druze territory against the rebels. The young Druze refused to be incorporated into the Syrian army, but they agreed to join a local militia. This solution allowed the regime of Bashar al-Assad to mobilize beyond the Alawite community. Moreover, the salary in the militias is greater than in the army and discipline less rigorous; however, the chances of being killed are equal. With the end of the coming conflict, the whole question is, what will become of these militias? In Iraq the government has given up on any plans to dissolve them, and they now constitute an entity parallel to the national army. Some of the fighters, however, chose to join the Iraqi National Army. In Syria, Russia insists that the militia be integrated into the Syrian army. As an example, the Desert Hawks have been part of the 5th Corps since January 2017. The objective is to improve the coordination between the different units in order to avoid a defeat as was the case in Palmyra in December 2016, when the Islamic State took over Palmyra because of the poor coordination of the loyalist forces, which were vastly superior in number. Russia, which originated the integration of militias in the army, however is faced with the opposition of Iran that wishes to maintain its power over this para-military armed force. With the exception of purely Shiite militias,[22] members of the National Defense are not religiously and ideologically related to the Islamic Republic. If salary and promotion no longer depended on proximity to the Lebanese Hezbollah or the Revolutionary Guards, Tehran would no longer have power over the former militia members. They would be more inclined to follow Russia, which already supplies most of the military equipment and to whom they are culturally closer. Militia power is an indispensable political and military leverage for Tehran. It allows Tehran to occupy territory and to influence the local governments. Iran therefore has a strong interest in the existence of militias based on the Hezbollah model. Admittedly, the integration into the regular army could be the opportunity to create a pro-Iranian officers lobby. However, unless the state is fully subordinated to Tehran, they will eventually return to the ranks and be emancipated from Iranian tutelage, especially since most of the military supply comes from Russia. While Russia is an ally of Iran, it intends to take advantage of its military and diplomatic superiority in the Syrian crisis to expand at the expense of Tehran. Russian intervention in Syria allows both the construction of the Iranian axis, but at the same time it lessens Iran’s strategic importance. Iran Is One Step ahead in the Levantine Chess Game According to a speech given by the then–U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, delivered at Stanford on January 18, 2018,[23] the Iranian land bridge project seems to be taken seriously by Washington. President Trump agreed to an indefinite military effort and a new diplomatic push in Syria in September 2018.[24] Now that ISIS has been defeated, the limitation of Iranian influence becomes the priority of the United States. However, does the United States, and more broadly the West, have a clear understanding of the chess game in Levant? In chess, the player who is content to respond to the attack by the adversary loses the game. The chess game played in the Levant is more complex for the West because it is played on a chessboard that has itself a dynamic called “sectarianism.” This Western ignorance or misunderstanding of these specifics “rules” allowed the Iranians to dominate Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s fall, Hezbollah to impose itself in Lebanon, and Bashar al-Assad to remain in power in Syria. By projecting a Western vision on Levant societies and neglecting sectarianism and tribal relations in favor of an artificial civil society,[25] the West can only lose the game against Iranians, who master the social and political architecture. Tehran moves its pieces on the chessboard without ending up on the ground and can instead put mines under the squares of his adversary. The victory over the Soviet Union was not only due to the difference in strategy: network versus territory. The economic and political system of the Soviet Union was the main weak point of the country. The Soviet Union did not have the means to sustain its geopolitics in the long term—no offense to Nikita Khrushchev, who was persuaded of the ultimate victory of the Soviet model, as he said during his famous trip to the United States in 1959. It is clear that the Iranian economy will not be able to compete with that of the United States in the end. Therefore, the Iranian geopolitical ambitions will eventually find their limit. However, in the middle term, probably the next ten years, Iran can very well succeed in dominating the Levant, just as the Soviet Union did in Eastern Europe. In the current geopolitical reorganization in Eurasia, this Iranian axis could find its place in the Chinese project of Silk Road and the new Russian “sanitary cordon” against the Western influence. Iran could thus obtain external support capable of sustaining its presence in the Levant, because its territorial strategy is congruent with Russian and Chinese territorial strategies as well. The return of the principle of territory in geopolitics is a reality at the world level, and not only in Levant.
  16. Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, Iran-backed militia attack Abadi http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/09/09/Popular-Mobilization-Forces-attack-Iraq-s-Abadi-Khazaali-demands-he-is-tried.html The Popular Mobilization Forces, declaring an open war against the prime minister on the wake of the deteriorating situation in the southern oil-rich city of Basra. (Supplied) Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Sunday, 9 September 2018 Text size A A A With the ongoing social unrest in Iraq, the political turmoil continues with further delays in forming a new governments while the two biggest parliamentary blocs called for the immediate resignation of the caretaker prime minister Haidar al-Abadi for the failure in attending to Basra crisis. Read more The latest calls on Abadi to leave office came late Saturday from his staunch rival Faleh al-Fayad faction of the Popular Mobilization Forces, declaring an open war against the prime minister on the wake of the deteriorating situation in the southern oil-rich city of Basra. A representative of the Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mehdi al-Muhandes said that the Popular Mobilization Forces- which played a major role in stinging defeats of ISIS- “started to respond to what is happening in Basra and that what happened was not carried out by the protesters.” Muhandes said: “Abadi did not commit to most of his promises and deliberately obstructed his own law” adding that his (Abadi) dismissal of Faleh al-Fayad from three positions is a very strange and dangerous move and we are against it.” Abu Mehdi al-Muhandes holds Abadi responsible for the deteriorating security situation in Basra. (Supplied) On August, 31, Abadi announced the dismissal of the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces. Full story The representative of the Popular Mobilization Forces considered Abadi and his government have failed in previous stages of running the country, especially in files related to services. He further said “What happened of victories in the previous four years, were not due to the Prime ministry position” in reference to the major role played by the paramilitary militia in defeating ISIS. Muhandes added: “We have no interest in renewing for Abadi” as new prime minister, pointing fingers at the United States involvement in Basra crisis, saying: “The Americans threatened to burn Basra” if Abadi is not given a new term as prime minster. Khazaali calls for a military trial for Abadi Meanwhile, Qais al-Khazaali, leader of Iraq’s Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, called for the trial of Haidar al-Abadi in front a military court, as he is the chief of Iraq’s armed forces. In a tweet, Khazaali said on Saturday that “it is not enough to dismiss the head of operations and the chief of police, but it is necessary to dismiss who gave them orders, which led to the deteriorating security situation and hold him responsible in front a military court.” Argument between Abadi and Basra’s governor Moreover, the parliamentary extraordinary session which was convened on Saturday to discuss Basra’s crisis witnessed a verbal altercation between Abadi and the governor of Basra, Asaad al-Eidani, about the security and services situation in the province. Eidani said during the meeting: “The ministers are talking about the conditions of the province, as if Basra is in another world” noting that the province suffers from a severe shortage of services, and did not receive any budget of the (law Petro dollars), which grants Basra $ 5 for every barrel of oil extracted from the province, to improve the status of services. He continued that the governorate did not benefit from the last 10,000 jobs launched by the government, pointing out that the security situation is unstable, as his house was burned during the protests, wondering: “Wat kind of security he (Abadi) is talking about?” Death toll rises in Basra For its part, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said on Saturday, that the death toll from the violence mired protests in Basra has risen to 15 death and 190 injuries.
  17. Can a new government solve the protests in Iraq? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/09/13/can-a-new-government-solve-the-protests-in-iraq/?utm_term=.6c17e2810c16 Mourners chant anti-government slogans while carrying the coffin of Abdul Salam Fathi, whose family said was killed in a protest, during his funeral in Basra, Iraq. With brackish water pouring from the taps, failing city services and soaring unemployment, the southern Iraqi city has seen weeks of violent protests. (Nabil al-Jurani/AP) By Zaid Al-Ali September 13 at 5:00 PM Summer protests have become a yearly ritual for Iraq, but the past few weeks were particularly intense. In Basra, young people came out in the thousands to protest declining standards of living. Protesters set government buildings, political party headquarters and the Iranian consulate on fire. Fifteen protesters and several security officers were killed, with many more wounded. A curfew is now in place, protest leaders claim they have received death threats, and two lawyers who offered to defend arrested protesters were assassinated in drive-by shootings. As the violence intensified last week, state institutions reacted as they usually do. The parliament organized an emergency session, the prime minister offered to intervene directly, and many have called for aggressive prosecutions by anti-corruption courts. All of these approaches have been attempted in the past, often by the same people who are suggesting them now, and are likely to fizzle in the same way they did in the past. There are no short-term solutions that will satisfy the protesters’ demands. But if catastrophe is to be avoided the next time electricity and water systems break down, Iraq’s government will have to do more. Calls for a technocratic government Inevitably, events in Basra affect negotiations surrounding Iraq’s next government. With a view to marking a break with the past, some of the country’s leading political and religious forces have resurrected the call for a technocratic government formed by sectoral experts (e.g. the minister of health should be someone with expertise in the health industry), independent of all political groups. This suggested approach is premised on the assumption that the reason successive Iraqi governments were so ineffectual is because corrupt and incompetent ministers ruled. A technocratic government would therefore resolve this situation by replacing those ministers with independent experts. There are many reasons to be worried about technocratic governments. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will resolve the issue of self-interest. In Iraq’s constitutional system, the scope for government action is limited by the annual budget law, which has to be approved by parliament. If an independent government were formed, it would immediately come into conflict with self-interest in parliament, which is a fight it would almost certainly lose. Over the years, past governments have included a few competent ministers, most of whom were ruthlessly marginalized whenever they complained too enthusiastically about corruption or government inaction. Independents can be just as corrupt as political party members. Whoever joins the next government will still operate within the same anti-corruption framework, which is woefully inadequate. Independents could easily make the most of it by enriching themselves or may find it impossible to control corruption by others. Proponents of a technocratic government will also have enormous difficulty finding competent administrators, mainly because so few Iraqis have any successful experience in managing organizations as unwieldy as government ministries. The tendency to cite academics — who have no relevant experience — as possible candidates for ministerial positions shows the depth of the challenge. A technocratic government can be just as internally incoherent as all of Iraq’s post-2003 governments. Ministers in all post-2003 governments have never agreed to a coherent strategic plan, do not accept joint liability for failure and are always prepared to undermine each other. Last Saturday, parliament organized an emergency session where all of these negative tendencies were in full display. On live television, government ministers and senior officials from the same political alliances angrily accused each other of negligence. A technocratic government will be defined by these same dynamics, precisely because there is no group of experts-in-waiting that has developed a convincing government program that has the support of parliament or of the wider public. The idea that a government composed of experts will suddenly agree to a plan of action and work effectively together, smacks of yet another mediocre attempt to resolve Iraq’s problems through wishful thinking. Looking ahead Protesters are demanding a convincing government plan to improve standards of living. A serious effort to remedy Basra’s situation will require a long consultative process involving think tanks, government departments, auditors and many others. That process will lead to the type of detailed agreement that is currently required, and of the type of individual who has the skills necessary to oversee the implementation of a national reform effort. There is good reason to expect that such an effort will not be undertaken. Past government coalition programs were embarrassing in their lack of detail, and consisted of one or two pages of bullet points. Iraq’s ruling elites have grown complacent, despite the overwhelming challenges that the country faces. There are many explanations for this, including the fact that many senior officials (some say 80 percent) keep their families and personal interests outside Iraq, to such an extent that they are not affected by the deterioration of services. Nothing stops dual citizens from high office or maintaining foreign bank accounts or properties. And officials often eschew Iraqi public services, sending their children to foreign schools and seeking treatment in foreign hospitals to benefit from the types of services not available to ordinary Iraqis. It is no surprise therefore that government officials have not taken Basra’s situation seriously — many are simply not personally affected. Ultimately, the prerequisite for a lasting solution to this crisis is good faith, which is in short supply in Iraq. But the wheels of insurrection are turning with increasing vigor, so whatever action is decided upon will have to bring real improvements to ordinary people, and soon.
  18. "Muslims" today , I see attention seeking, however if you are serious go make Dua.
  19. I know they are, can't underatand why though they should represent Yemen not be foreign proxies.
  20. Sounds like what Bush, Obama and Trump all said "If it wasn't for us", reminicent of the White Man's Burden.
  21. You're right, May Allah purify the souls of the believers and seperate the sincere from the evil and support his Deen on this earth.
  22. New German Interior Minister: “Islam Does Not Belong To Germany” https://thegoldwater.com/news/20763-New-German-Interior-Minister-Islam-Does-Not-Belong-To-Germany We here at thegoldwater.com were quick to introduce you to Mr Horst Seehofer, Germany’s new Minister of the Interior in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government who already scandalously (by German standards) claimed last week that “the number of refugee deportations should be significantly increased.” Related coverage: thegoldwater.com/news/20296-German-Government-Number-Of-Deportations-Must-Be-Significantly-Increased Today, Mr Seehofer shocked the conservative German press even more with his latest interview, in which he stated that: "No. Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany is shaped by Christianity." "The Muslims who live among us naturally belong to Germany… That, of course, does not mean that we should, out of a false consideration for others, give up our traditions and customs. Muslims need to live with us, not next to us or against us." New #German Interior and Homeland Minister #Seehofer tells @Bild that "Islam does not belong to Germany" contradicting #Merkel from 2015. Either she's lost control of her Cabinet already or abandoned previous position https://t.co/XZ8gadxAzO — David Charter (@DavidCharter) March 16, 2018 Mr Seehofer made the comments in an interview with Bild, the most popular German newspaper, and are seen as highly critical to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of not wanting to offend any minorities. But given that her interior minister stems from the southern province of Bavaria where the CSU part of Ms Merkel’s CDU/CSU coalition wanted to be more critical of her immigration policy but wasn’t allowed and needed to follow party lines, the CSU lost many votes to the far right AfD. Mr Seehofer faces new regional elections next year in Bavaria and seems keen to win back the voters he lost. More than a million, mostly Muslim, immigrants arrived in Germany after Chancellor Merkel opened the doors to Syrian asylum seekers in 2015. As from 2017, she reversed this policy. Source: periodistadigital.com/mundo/europa/2018/03/16/horst-seehofer-nuevo-ministro-de-interior-aleman-el-islam-no-pertenece-a-alemania.shtml
  23. John Kerry deserves jail for secret Iran diplomacy https://www.aei.org/publication/john-kerry-deserves-jail-for-secret-iran-diplomacy/ In a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, former Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that he’s been working behind-the-scenes to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. “What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better,” he explained. Kerry’s backchannel with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has not been a one-time deal. “I think I’ve seen him three or four times,” Kerry said, and acknowledged that his talks were occurring without the Trump administration’s approval. Then Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, at the United Nations in New York, September 26, 2015. Reuters Kerry has always been an arrogant and aloof man. During his long career on Capitol Hill, Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle described him as the least-liked senator, an opinion repeatedly affirmed by his own office staff during his long career. He is disdainful of democracy. Simply put, he sees himself as above the law, deserving of privilege and special dispensation not only when he is in government, but also as a private citizen. Perhaps Kerry believes he is not violating the Logan Act of 1799 which states that: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.” There are exceptions, of course. Private citizens can register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This covers not only formal lobbying, but also providing advice to foreign governments or individuals about how to change or circumvent U.S. law. Indeed, a tangent of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into the Trump administration has been the numerous potential FARA violations on behalf of individuals working for Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. Other exceptions exist as well. In 1994, former President Jimmy Carter conducted sensitive negotiations with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il at the height of a crisis that the Clinton administration feared might lead to war. Many on Clinton’s team believed Carter overstepped his mandate, but he did coordinate his trip and actions with the White House. Years later, Bill Clinton sought dispensation to travel to North Korea as well but when the Obama administration demurred, he canceled his trip. Kerry is personally invested in the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA), from which President Trump walked away. The wisdom of Trump’s action is open to debate, but what is not is this: Trump won the 2016 election. He made clear during his campaign that he opposed the JCPOA, just like Obama made clear during his campaign that he supported outreach to Iran. There was no deception on either man’s part. And Trump’s decision to walk away from the JCPOA is not illegal. Julie Frifield, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under Kerry, acknowledged the JCPOA was unsigned and “neither a treaty nor an executive agreement.” In other words, it had the same status as the Bush-era agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland for anti-missile defenses which Obama voided when he came to office. There has been a temptation among polemicists on both the Right and Left to criminalize the policy debate, and this is unfortunate. But that does not mean anyone should get a free pass for what appears to be criminal activity. If Kerry wants to criticize Trump for walking away from the JCPOA, he is free to do so. And if he wants to plot and plan with Zarif, he can register as a foreign agent on behalf of Iran. But he should not remain above the law. To allow him to do so sets a horrible precedent for any future administration, for American democracy, and for coherence of U.S. policy. It is time both Kerry and the Justice Department understood that.
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