Presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran held summit on Syria, announce new “transparent” political process

Putin hosts Erdogan, Rouhani in Sochi; Joint statement boasts of its accomplishments and commitments to ending Syrian civil war; Leaders announce new political process and their commitment to seeing it through, Nov. 24, 2017.

Rouhani, Putin, Erdogan

 

The presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia met in Sochi Wednesday for a summit centered on Syria, the leaders announcing the beginning of a political solution to the Syrian civil war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey for the tripartite summit, announcing success in its efforts in creating a de-escalation zone and nearly defeating Syria’s “terrorists”.

In a joint statement released following their private meeting, the leaders “expressed satisfaction with the current level of tripartite coordination on maintaining and strengthening the ceasefire regime in Syria, of which Iran, Russia and Turkey are guarantors.”

They claimed that “following several years of international efforts to defeat UNSC-designated terrorist groups in Syria” claiming that in the past 11 months they are “closer the elimination of ISIL, Nusra Front and all other terrorist organizations as designated by the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] and agreed that Iran, Russia and Turkey will continue cooperation for their ultimate defeat.”

On the creation of de-escalation areas established, which Israel has refused to honor as they undermine its security, they claimed that the zones are “quite efficient and greatly helped to reduce violence, alleviate the humanitarian suffering, curb the flow of refugees, and start working to provide conditions for the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons,” and that “its achievements have become an effective instrument for contributing to peace and stability in Syria.”

The presidents confirmed they would continue with their “coordinated efforts to ensure that the progress in reduction of violence is irreversible,” and that their efforts would assist “restoring unity of the country” and “achieving а political solution of the crisis through an inclusive, free, fair and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process.”

They also claimed that the new political process would include “broad intra-Syrian dialogue involving representatives of all segments of Syrian society” and that “Iran, Russia and Turkey would have а positive effect on the overall situation in the region, and reduce the risk of ethnic and sectarian divide.”

Finally, the tripartite summit leaders called on the international community to “support the process of de-escalation and stabilization in Syria, inter alia, by sending additional aid to the Syrian people, facilitating the humanitarian mine action, preserving historical heritage, and restoring basic infrastructure assets, including social and economic facilities.”

The leaders announced they would hold another summit in the coming months.

The summit followed a private meeting between Putin and Syrian President Assad and a meeting held between the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Antalya, Turkey on Sunday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his counterparts Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, the meeting centered on Syria. Cavusoglu also praised the talks held in Astana, stating on the conflict in Syria, “We have come a long way with Russia, especially in terms of the establishment of peace on the field and forming de-escalation zones. The situation on the field is much better compared to last year… We now have to concentrate on a political process, while continuing to target terrorist organizations like Daesh [Islamic State].

Israel has been clear that the de-escalation zones do not meet its demands for security, leaders, both political and defense, reaffirming to the international community that it has a right to act when needed in order and will continue to do so.

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated following the de-escalation zone agreement “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.”

 

Photo: Rouhani, Putin & Erdogan in Sochi, 2017

 

 

Israel thwarts attempted smuggling of tons of explosive materials into Gaza Strip

New lab in cooperation with Defense Ministry created to identify materials used for explosives; Attempted smuggling of tons of substances into Gaza Strip thwarted, Nov. 22, 2017.

IDF soldiers on the Israeli-Syrian border (Reuters)

Israel thwarted the attempted smuggling of tons of explosive materials into the Gaza Strip. Israel’s Defense Ministry reported the recent incident and announced a new chemistry lab used in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Defense Crossing Authority on border crossings with Israel.

The lab, which was responsible for foiling the smuggling attempt, was recently established to use advanced technologies to identify the shipment of dangerous or illegal substances. The lab uses technology that is able to track and identify gases, liquid and metals used to create explosives.

The laboratory was created in cooperation between Israel’s Shin Bet and Ministry of Defense in order to combat and prevent the illegal transfer of substances used for weapons.

Last year, the IDF established a new Operations Engineering Unit “Yahalom”, a new company that would deal specifically with unconventional weapons including nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. The new company “Saifan” was established in August of last year.

Israel continues to bolster its security and borders with the Gaza Strip and Egypt. It is currently constructing underground borders on both Egypt and the Strip’s borders to prevent tunnels into Israeli territory.

 

 

Assad met with Putin in Sochi Monday, both leaders call for transition to political solution in Syria

Putin meets with Assad in Sochi in surprise visit ahead of Syria summit Wednesday; Putin announces he will speak with Trump, heads of state of Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar; Assad: We count on the support of Russia to ensure the non-interference of outside players in the political process, Nov 21, 2017.

Assad, Putin Sochi

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a surprise visit Monday, Putin announcing that the fight against “terrorists” in Syria is nearing an end, calling for a transition to a “political solution”.

Speaking before the press following their four-hour meeting in Sochi, Putin stated, “We still have a long way to go before we achieve a complete victory over terrorists. But as far as our joint work in fighting terrorism on the territory of Syria is concerned, this military operation is indeed wrapping up. A final and inevitable defeat of the terrorists is close in Syria. I think now the main thing is to move to political processes, and I am pleased to see your readiness to work with everyone willing to establish peace and find solutions.”

Putin claimed that a dialogue with the “opposition” is a result of “de-escalation zones” stating that the talks in Astana “managed to create de-escalation zones, and this, in turn, allowed us to start a real dialogue with the opposition for the first time.” The de-escalation zones.”

Putin also reported that following the meeting on Tuesday he would call President Trump, as well as heads of state in Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, announcing he already has a called scheduled with the Emir of Qatar. He stated Monday “Based on our meeting today I will hold consultations with the leaders of those countries… Today, a conversation with Emir of Qatar is already planned and, tomorrow, with president of the United States of America Donald Trump and then with leaders of the countries of the region.”

Assad voiced support for a political solution, claiming that many Syrian refugees have returned home and success in his regime’s fight, stating, “Huge successes have been achieved, both on the battlefield and on the political level. Many areas in Syria have been liberated from terrorists, and civilians who were forced to leave those areas have been able to return.”

He added “We believe that the situation we now have on the ground and in the political sense permits us to expect progress in the political process. We count on the support of Russia to ensure the non-interference of outside players in the political process. We are interested in dialogue with anyone interested in a political solution.”

Assad’s meeting came ahead of Putin’s summit on Syria to be attended by President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.

It also follows a meeting held between the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Antalya, Turkey on Sunday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his counterparts Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, the meeting centered on Syria. Cavusoglu also praised the talks held in Astana, stating on the conflict in Syria, “We have come a long way with Russia, especially in terms of the establishment of peace on the field and forming de-escalation zones. The situation on the field is much better compared to last year… We now have to concentrate on a political process, while continuing to target terrorist organizations like Daesh [Islamic State].

 

 

Photo: Assad & Putin in Sochi, Screenshot, 2017

Arab League held emergency meeting on Iran and Hezbollah

Majority of member state representatives attend emergency meeting in Cairo; Arab League condemns Iran, officially refers to Hezbollah as “terrorist organization”; Lebanon claims “Israeli aggression” and “right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means”, Nov. 20, 2017.

ARAB

 

 

 

 

The Arab League held an emergency meeting in Cairo Sunday, the meeting centered on Iran and its destabilization of the region and Hezbollah.

The meeting was arranged by Saudi Arabia with majority of member states sending ministers and diplomats to Cairo. Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain endorsed and supported the meeting.

Officials focused on Iran and its proxies in the region, mainly Hezbollah, which the League officially condemned as a “terrorist organization”, as well as Houthi rebels in Yemen and Iranian forces in Syria.

Following the meeting, the Arab League announced that it would inform the United Nations Security Council on Iran’s growth and efforts in the region, announcing possible future action. Chief of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit confirm the reports, stating “We have not taken a decision to ask the Security Council to meet, but we are just briefing the council and maybe the next stage will be for us to meet and call for a Security Council meeting and submit a draft Arab resolution.”

Iraq and Lebanon’s foreign ministers were not in attendance, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry claiming that the Israel and Saudi Arabia are to blame for instability in the region, stating “The solution to the region’s problems many of which are down to Saudi Arabia’s sterile policy, is not to publish such worthless statements but to stop following the policies of the Zionist regime [Israel] which seeks to stoke divisions.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun echoed Iran’s claims, claiming “Israeli aggression” as the reason for Hezbollah’s activities. He rejected the Arab League’s resolution, placing blame on Israel. He stated on Monday “Israeli targeting [Lebanon] still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means.”

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah increased significantly two weeks ago after Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, announced his immediate resignation in a televised address from Riyadh. He cited numerous plots on his life, Hezbollah and Iran, stating “In recent years, Hezbollah has used the power of its weapons to impose a fait accompli… I point very clearly to Iran, which spreads destruction and strife wherever it is, and witness to that its interventions in the internal matters of the Arab countries, in Lebanon and Syria and Bahrain and Yemen.” He warned, “Iran’s arms in the region will be cut off.”

Hezbollah accused Saudi Arabia for Hariri’s resignation with a thwarted missile attack from Yemen on Riyadh days following. Saudi Arabia reported and accused Iran as of carrying out the attack, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir reporting that the “missile launched from Yemen at Riyadh is an Iranian missile launched by Hezbollah, an area occupied by the Houthi rebels,” warning Iran that “The [Saudi] Kingdom reserves the right to respond in a timely manner to the hostile actions of the Iranian regime,” and that Iran’s “interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighboring countries and affect international peace and security. We will not allow any infringement on our national security.”

 

 

Photo: Arab League meeting in Cairo, 2017.

 

 

Mercedes-Benz opens tech hub in Tel Aviv

Second deal made with Israel in auto industry following Mobileye acquisition from Intel Corp; Mercedes: Israel is among the top five ecosystems for innovation, digital technologies, new mobility services and car IT, Nov. 19, 2017.

MERCEDES.jpg

 

Daimler AG opened a Mercedes-Benz tech hub in Tel Aviv on Thursday, the second massive deal in the auto technology industry for the State of Israel in 2017.

The research and development center will focus on digital and mobility services, including biometrics, security and navigation.

Head of Mercedes-Benz cars, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, stated on the Israel’s capabilities “Israel is among the top five ecosystems for innovation, digital technologies, new mobility services and car IT. And it is one of the top four largest talent pools in the world. With our new Technology Center in Tel Aviv, we want to strengthen our global R&D network and tap into this vibrant mix of creativity, optimism and digital competencies to develop innovative mobility solutions for our customers.”

In March of this year, Intel Corp announced it buying Israel’s Mobileye, the autonomous vehicle technology company, in the largest acquisition of an Israeli high-tech company to date. Worth over $15 billion, the deal was one of the most significant acquisitions of Israeli technology by foreign investors. Intel also announced it will be moving its automotive driving division to Israel sometime later this year to be managed by Mobileye’s CTO and co-founder, Amnon Shashua.

Mobileye and Intel have been working together since 2016 and Intel currently employs over 10,000 in its Israel branches. Mobileye has been a world leading innovators of automotive technologies, including sensor fusion, advanced automobile camera tech, the Mobileye mono-camera, and mapping technologies. The company has been universally leading in driving safety with its Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keeping Intelligence.

It is best known for its Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and Full Autonomous Vehicles, the company working with Intel in collaboration with BMW since 2016 to produce and test the world’s first fully self-driving vehicles later this year. Mobileye is expected to deliver fully autonomous vehicles by 2021.

 

 

Photo: Mercedes, CC, 2017.

German court rules in favor of Kuwait Aiways ban on Israeli passengers

Following lawsuit by Israeli student who was denied flight given citizenship, Frankfurt court rules in favor of Kuwait Airways; Christian Lange calls on Merkel to ban airline from operation in Germany; IDF Chief: We are ready to exchange expertise with moderate Arab states and exchange intelligence information to face Iran, Nov. 18, 2017.

KUW

 

A German court ruled that Kuwait Airways has the right to refuse Israeli citizens on its flight Thursday.

A case was taken to court after an Israeli student studying in Germany was denied a scheduled flight to Bangkok with a layover in Kuwait city in August of 2016. Kuwait Airways cited the country’s ban on Israelis entering the country as well as the country’s boycott on contact with Israelis, the student filing a lawsuit in response.

A German court ruled in favor of Kuwait Airways, a Frankfurt court claiming that while they did not evaluate whether the “law makes sense” it did reject discrimination claims.

On Friday, State Secretary of the German Justice Department, Christian Lange, rejected the ruling, calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel to ban Kuwait Airways from operating in Germany. He stated on the case “We cannot say ‘never again’ at a remembrance ceremony, but then remain silent when activists in Germany call for a boycott of Israel, or, as in this case, when an airline refuses to carry Israeli citizen. Especially the German government must make clear that we reject this form of discrimination and hate, and that we stand by the side of our Israeli friends.”

The Arab League holds an active boycott on the State of Israel, with a total of 16 states banning Israelis from entering their countries, as well as a ban on doing business or having contact or relations with Israelis. They are Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

However, Israel’s standing with Arab states has drastically evolved, countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain siding with the Jewish State in the fight against radical Islam and Iran and its proxies in the region.

In September, the King of Bahrain announced he condemned the Arab boycott on Israel, officially removing the boycott and encouraging his people to visit Jerusalem. The King not only made history by breaking the travel ban to Israel, but was also the first Arab Head of State to compose, write and sponsor a document calling for religious freedom and protection for all religious affiliations in the Middle East. The document, entitled “The Bahrain Declaration on Religious Tolerance” calls for “people of all faiths to show respect for, and protection of, the rights of everyone to practice their religious affiliations in dignity and peace.”

In an interview Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, reported that Israel would be open to sharing intelligence with Saudi Arabia. He stated in an interview, “There is complete agreement between us and the Saudis about everything having to do with the Iranian axis and we are ready to share information if necessary. We are ready to exchange expertise with moderate Arab states and exchange intelligence information to face Iran.”