Russia, Turkey & Iran to hold summit on Syria next week

Presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia to meet on Syria and regional developments next week; Russia vetoes renewing UN inquiry on Syrian army chemical weapons attacks; Russia: We condemn chemical weapons use, Nov. 17, 2017.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks on Syria with his counterparts from Turkey and Iran next week, the Kremlin announcing the summit Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will arrive in Sochi on Wednesday, November 22. According to Russian media, the talks will center on Syria, Kurdish forces and regional developments.

The summit will follow Russia casting its tenth veto of the United Nations Security Council on a resolution to renew inquiry into the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.

The resolution, which was drafted by the United States, was vetoed by Russia on Thursday, the inquiry of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons expiring Thursday. Out of the 15 member states, 11 voted in favor of renewing the inquiry with China and Egypt abstaining and Russia and Bolivia voting against. As Russia is one of five permanent members, it has veto power on UN Security Council resolutions.

The inquiry into the April 4, 2017 attacks on Khan Sheikhoun has been carried out for months, with an investigation on the chemical attacks that killed over 85 and wounded over 300. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry announced in September that it has evidence that the Syrian Air Force carried out the attacks, reporting “All evidence available leads the Commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Sheikhou.”

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzi responded to criticism on the veto Thursday, stating “We condemn chemical weapons use… We need a robust, professional mechanism that will help to prevent the proliferation of the threat of chemical terrorism in the region and you need a puppet-like structure to manipulate public opinion.”

 

 

Photo: Putin & Rouhani, CC, 2016

Iraq and Iran refuse humanitarian aid from Israel following earthquake

PM confirms Israel offered direct assistance to Iran and Iraq following earthquake; Red Cross in Iraq and Iran refuse assistance; Netanyahu: Our humanity is greater than their hatred. Israel continues to be a light unto the nations, Nov. 15, 2017.

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Israel offered humanitarian aid and support following the earthquake that killed over 500 and injured close to 8,000 Saturday, Iran and Iraq refusing the assistance.

Israel, as with all global natural disasters, attempted to act as a first responder to Iran and Iraq crisis contacting the Red Cross in both countries, both states refusing any assistance from the Jewish State. Prime Minister Netanyahu offered direct assistance and supplies, with the IDF Homefront Command preparing medical and search and rescue teams.

In a televised speech during a conference of the Jewish Federation of North America Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed that Israel offered assistance following the devastating earthquake.

He stated, “Now I just saw the pictures of the destruction in Iran and Iraq following this week’s earthquake. And I saw these heartbreaking images of men and women and children buried under the rubble. I am proud to announce that a few hours ago I directed that we offer the Red Cross medical assistance for the Iraqi and Iranian victims of this disaster.”

The prime minster went on to state “Now you heard me right. I’ve said many times that we have no quarrel with the people of Iran. Our quarrel is only with the tyrannical regime that holds them hostage and threatens our destruction. But our humanity is greater than their hatred. Israel continues to be a light unto the nations. And this is what I am proud of, and all of you can proud, of Israel’s morals and Israel’s might.”

 

 

Photo: PM address Jewish Fed. of N.A, 2017.

Russia: Iranian presence in Syria “legitimate”.

Russian FM reportedly claims removal of Iranian forces in Syria were not part of talks with the US, states that Iran maintaining presence in Syria as “legitimate”; Netanyahu informed US, Russia that “Israel will take action in Syria, including southern Syria, as we see fit and according to our security needs”, Nov. 14, 2017.

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Russia claimed that the ceasefire agreement in Syria does not include Russia’s commitment to remove Iranian forces from Syria, stating that Iran maintaining its presence in Syria is “legitimate”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the remarks on Tuesday, stating not only does Iran have a “legitimate” presence in Syria, but that “If you look at who is the greatest danger, it’s just the wards of the United States, various foreign terrorists, militants who are attached to those groups of armed opposition that the US supports.”

Lavrov reportedly stated that removal of Iranian forces from Syria was never part of talks with the United States and Jordan, reportedly stating, “If we talk about the pro-Iranian forces, then some will be tempted to call the entire Syrian Army pro-Iranian. And then what? Will it have to surrender? This is what they call wishful thinking.”

His remarks come after Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed Monday that he clarified directly to Washington and Russia that Israel would act in Syria if it need to, confirming he informed President Putin directly on Tuesday.

Netanyahu stated Monday, “We [Israel] are doing it with a balanced combination of strength and responsibility. We are defending our borders, we are defending our country and we will continue to do this. I have communicated to our friends in Washington… and also to our friends in Moscow that Israel will take action in Syria, including southern Syria, as we see fit and according to our security needs. That is the deciding factor, and it will continue to be the deciding factor.”

The United States, Russia and Jordan reached a ceasefire deal to eliminate “non-Syrian foreign forces” from the Golan Heights that pose a threat to Israel and Jordan on Saturday. The “US-Russia-Jordan Memorandum of Principles” was initially reported to focus on eliminating foreign fighters in Syria, including Hezbollah and Iranian-backed forces, from the Golan Heights.

Israel on Sunday reacted the ceasefire deal, confirming that it does not meet Israel’s demands and security needs. Israeli MP Tzachi Hanegbi announced on Sunday that the agreement does not meet Israel’s demands and that the Jewish State has every right to defend itself, stating the agreement “does not meet Israel’s unequivocal demand that there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hezbollah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north,” adding that “there’s reflection here of the understanding that Israel has set red lines, and will stand firm on this.”

 

 

Photo, Sergey Lavrov, CC, 2016.

Israel: US-Russia agreement in Syria does not meet Israel’s demands

Recent agreement aimed at expelling Iranian, Hezbollah forces from Golan Heights “does not meet Israel’s unequivocal demands”; Israeli officials report agreement could allow Iran to get as close as 5 kilo. from border, Nov. 13, 2017.

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Israel on Sunday reacted to the recent “US-Russia-Jordan Memorandum of Principles” confirming that it does not meet Israel’s demands and security needs.

The agreement was created by Russia, the United States and Jordan on Saturday and is intended to eliminate “non-Syrian foreign forces” from the Golan Heights that pose a threat to Israel and Jordan.

Israeli MP Tzachi Hanegbi announced on Sunday that the agreement does not meet Israel’s demands and that the Jewish State has every right to defend itself, stating the agreement “does not meet Israel’s unequivocal demand that there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hezbollah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north,” adding that “there’s reflection here of the understanding that Israel has set red lines, and will stand firm on this.”

Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz emphasized that the agreement must result in actions and not just words, and that Israel will not tolerate the threats Iran places close to its border. He stated on Monday “Even though we view favorably the agreement on the need to eliminate the foreign forces, namely, the Iranian forces, Hezbollah and the Shiite militias from the area [and] the test will be on the ground, not in words but in deeds. Israel has already made it clear that it shall not accept Iran and its affiliates and proxies basing themselves in Syria, which will be a permanent threat and a constant source of tension, friction and instability.”

According to reports from Israeli officials, the current agreement would allow Iranian and Hezbollah forces to get as close as five kilometers to Israel’s borders in the near future.

During his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Iran’s threat close to Israel’s borders stating to his ministers “We will take a very firm stance against anyone who tries to attack us or attacks us from any area. I mean any source: rogue factions, organizations- anyone.”

The agreement was made following months of talks and negotiations between Russia and the United States with Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly centered his last meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow in August.

Major earthquake in Iraq felt throughout Middle East

7.3-magnitude earthquake reported in northern Iraq; Earthquake felt through Gush Dan in Israel, reported also in Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Nov. 12, 2017.

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An earthquake was felt through out the Middle East Sunday night, a major earthquake reported in Iraq near the border with Iran.

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake was reported to have hit Iraq near the southeast city of as-Sulaymaniyah. Initial reports claim that the earthquake was felt in Baghdad and in Azgaleh, Iran.

So far the earthquake was reported to have been felt through out Israel, Kuwait, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Residents through out the center and south of Israel reported feeling the earthquake. There were no damages in Israel.

US and Russia reach agreement to eliminate “non-Syrian foreign forces” from Golan Heights

Agreement reached on Saturday to protect Israel and Jordan from Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Golan Heights, Nov. 12, 2017.

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The United States, Russia and Jordan reached a ceasefire deal to eliminate “non-Syrian foreign forces” from the Golan Heights that pose a threat to Israel and Jordan.

The agreement was finalized on Saturday, the “US-Russia-Jordan Memorandum of Principles” focused on eliminating Iranian forces and Hezbollah from the Golan Heights, with measures to be eliminate the use of the “Syrian conflict over the last five years to increase their presence in this part of Syria, which has undermined the ceasefire and poses a threat to Jordan and Israel.”

The agreement was made following months of talks and negotiations between Russia and the United States with Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly centered his last meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow in August.

During the meeting between Netanyahu, Putin and Mossad Head, Yossi Cohen, Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Russia to act in order to secure Israel’s borders. He stated at the time “in the past few years we have met to discuss not only our bilateral ties, we are continuously working on them, but also the situation in the Middle East, which is now changing rapidly. Iran is increasing its efforts to establish its military foothold in Syria. That is dangerous for Israel, the Middle East and, I believe, the whole world. Iran is already in advanced stages of taking over Iraq and Yemen, and in effect it also controls Lebanon…”

He added “We do not forget for one minute that Iran continues to threaten Israel’s destruction every day. It is arming terrorist organizations and is itself instigating terrorism; and it is developing intercontinental missiles with the goal of arming them with nuclear warheads. For all these reasons, Israel continues to oppose Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. We will defend ourselves in any way against this threat and any threat.”

The ceasefire agreement comes following reports released over the weekend of Iran establishing a permanent military base in Syria, just 30 kilometers from Israel’s borders. Satellite images of the base were released to the public, the base 15 kilometers from Damascus. It is the second Iranian-built military base discovered in Syria this year. In August, Israeli intelligence reported a Scud missile factory being constructed near Latakia.

Iran continues to expand in the Middle East, providing arms, military bases and forces through out the region.

Be sure to watch Amir’s update on these events below: