Browsing: Middle East News

‘Even after the apparent cooling of tensions between Russia and the United States in Syria, it seems that the potential for direct military conflict between the two world powers is increasingly likely yet again. As has been typical in the Syrian conflict, the steps toward greater likelihood of confrontation is the result of the U.S. push to provoke Russia and threaten the Syrian military with repercussions for retaking Syrian territory from Daesh.

Ever since the SAA began its campaign to liberate Deir ez-Zour, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a collection of Kurdish and Arab terrorists working under the guise of “moderates,” has been racing toward Deir ez-Zour as well in order to prevent the SAA from retaking the city in full and to prevent the Syrian government from having access to its resources.

Now, as both the Syrian military and Russia attempts to break the back of terrorists in Syria, the U.S.-backed SDF forces have opened artillery fire on both SAA and Russian positions, prompting a warning from Russia itself.’

Read more: Russia Threatens To Fire Back On U.S. Proxies, Special Forces If Fired On Again

‘The Russian Ministry of Defense has released aerial images which they say show US Army special forces equipment north of the town of Deir er-Zor, where ISIS militants are deployed.

US Army special units provide free passage for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) through the battle formations of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, the ministry said in a statement.

“Without resistance from ISIS militants the SDF troops are moving along the left bank of the Euphrates river towards the town of Deir ez-Zor,” the statement reads.

“Despite the strongholds of the US armed forces units are located in the areas of the current ISIS troops’ deployment, there are not even signs of organization of a battle outpost,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

This could mean that the US military staff “feel absolutely safe” in the area which is held by the terrorists, the ministry of defense stated.’

Read more: US special ops equipment seen on aerial images of ISIS positions north of Deir ez-Zor – Russian MoD

‘Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the UN Security Council (UNSC) of failing to investigate war crimes and rights abuses by anti-ISIS forces in Iraq. The group said it’s a “flawed and selective” approach that turns a blind eye to abuses that have plagued the country for decades.

On Thursday, the UNSC unanimously adopted a US-backed resolution that sets up an investigative team to collect evidence of “war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide” committed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) members.

While many welcomed the decision, with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley saying the “landmark resolution was a major first step in addressing ISIL atrocities, especially against women,” Human Rights Watch said the UN Council has utterly failed to include abuses by anti-ISIS forces.

“This is obviously a flawed and selective approach, because it misses the opportunity to investigate crimes committed by all parties of the conflict,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of HRW’s Middle East & North Africa division, told RT.’

Read more: ‘Flawed & selective:’ UN Security Council failed to investigate crimes in Iraq – Human Rights Watch

‘Saudi Arabia is “not an ally of the United States,” according to Bernie Sanders, the independent senator and former Democratic presidential hopeful.

Sanders broke with the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill in an exclusive interview with The Intercept. The United States has long considered Saudi Arabia to be a loyal friend, supporter, and partner in the so-called war on terror.

Sanders issued a scathing denunciation of the Gulf kingdom, which has recently embarked on a new round of domestic repression.

“I consider [Saudi Arabia] to be an undemocratic country that has supported terrorism around the world, it has funded terrorism. … They are not an ally of the United States.”

The Vermont senator accused the “incredibly anti-democratic” Saudis of “continuing to fund madrasas” and spreading “an extremely radical Wahhabi doctrine in many countries around the world.”

“They are fomenting a lot of hatred,” he added. In June, Sanders joined 46 other senators in voting to try and block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition backed by the U.S. has been bombing Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen since 2015 and is accused of killing thousands of Yemeni civilians.’

Read more: Saudis exporting ‘extremely radical’ Wahhabism worldwide, Sanders says

‘Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim falls short of ruling out cross border operations if Iraq’s Kurdish region goes ahead with a planned independence vote.

“Naturally, it is a question of timing as to when security, economic and security options are implemented. Developing conditions will determine that,” said Yildirim on Saturday, in response to a reporter who asked if Turkey would engage in cross-border operations.

Meanwhile, the Turkish parliament has extended a mandate authorizing the deployment of the country’s military forces in Iraq and Syria.

Also on Saturday, Hoshyar Zebari, a member of the Kurdistan Region Referendum Council, has stressed that vote would not be postponed despite opposition from neighboring countries.’

Read more: Turkey vows security, economic measures against Kurdish independence referendum

‘Bahrain has made overtures to Israel in a bid to normalize ties with the regime in defiance of growing public discontent in the Persian Gulf country.

An informed Bahraini diplomatic source has told the Middle East Eye news portal that Israeli and Bahraini officials had high-level contacts with the focus on exchanging visits between businessmen, influential social and religious figures.

The contacts would in time be followed by official announcements of business deals between Tel Aviv and Manama, the source added.

He also claimed that such moves were part of a new reality in the Middle East, noting, “Israel does not threaten our security or conspire on us.”’

Read more: Bahrain and Israel may establish ties next year: Report (Why wouldn’t they when they’re on the same side?)

‘The situation in Syria is reaching another critical point. There is an increased possibility of a large scale clash between U.S. and Russian forces. We had warned of such a clash over control of the rich fields east of Deir Ezzor. At least three incidents over the last days point to more significant escalations.

On the 17th the U.S. accused Russia of a light air attack on its proxy forces north of Deir Ezzor. Russia denied that it had attacked those forces.

On the 18th and 19th large contingents of Russian and Syrian troops crossed the Euphrates at Deir Ezzor in east-Syria. The U.S. Kurdish/Arab proxy force in the area actively tried to hinder that movement.

In parallel a large al-Qaeda attack was launched in west-Syria. The Russian forces accuse U.S. intelligence services of having initiated that campaign. (The Syrian-Russian forces defeated the attack.)

Today the Russian military accused the U.S. Kurdish proxies near Deir Ezzor of firing artillery on its forces. It threatened massive retaliation. The most dramatic incident was the al-Qaeda attack in Idleb.’

Read more: Syria – Russia Accusing U.S. of Attacks, Abduction Attempts, Team-play with Al-Qaeda

‘US-led coalition airstrikes on Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, have claimed many civilian lives and forced tens of thousands to flee. RT’s Ruptly agency spoke to the displaced locals who described how the city was leveled in front of their eyes.

The ancient city of Raqqa, which has recently become known as the de-facto capital of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria, is currently under siege by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia backed by the US-led coalition. The besieged city has come under heavy air bombardment while civilians have been trapped in IS-occupied neighborhoods, unable to escape…

“The coalition launched heavy airstrikes over the residential areas and the nearby towns in the western and northern sectors, especially northward, where they targeted ISIS headquarters, and also locations where civilians were killed,” Ahmad Ibrahim told Ruptly.

“Schools, where students were studying, have been targeted as well. There was nothing there, and they have just been hit and destroyed,” he said.

Entire swathes of the city have been reduced to rubble by the bombing, which the UN estimates kills an average of 27 civilians each day.’

Read more: ‘Raqqa was a beautiful city, now it’s completely destroyed’ – Syrians lament cost of US bombing

‘After this week’s UN General Assembly, it’s pretty clear that the Iran nuclear deal may be in jeopardy. Not from a European perspective, but from Washington’s end of things.

As I pointed out at the time, from the beginning of the agreement in 2015, the main resistance in Washington was coming from only two places – the Republican Congress and Senate and the Israeli Lobby. In the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” In reality, any deal was a bad deal for Israel, and what’s bad for Israel is meant to be bad for the United States of America, or so we’re told constantly by FOX News.

Despite Israel’s vehement opposition and Bibi’s grandstanding in front of the US Congress, the P5+1 nations successfully ratified a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran’s nuclear program that summer. In US terms, this was generally hailed as a success at the time and a major foreign policy success benchmark for the Obama Administration.’

Read more: E.U. to Trump: ‘We’re Not Renegotiating Iran Nuclear Deal’ – Israel Not Happy