A Daily "Thought"

11/02/2015

Notations On Our World: On A Challeging Week in the Middle East




As we went to press this week, we decided to have a brief "snapshot" of some of the profound challenging developments throughout the past week:  


  • The Foreign Minister of Bahrain at a Security Conferenc ein the Capital, Manama, noted how Iran is a threat to regional security and compared Iran to Daesh (also known as IS/Islamic State/ISIL in Western Circles.
  • Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister went after the Saudi Foreign Minister Hard this past week as he noted that Saudi Arabia's crediblity was next to non-existent after the Hajj Disasters and having been the "banker" for many of the insurgent movements today.
  • Kuwait and Bahrain have been cutting spending due to the decresaed revenue.   Kuwait State Revenue is down 60% as a result of the massive decrease in Oil Prices.
  • Iran was invited to talks on Syria and there was a tacit acknolwedgement that any ultimate to the Syria question will not be possible without Iran.  This is as the Syrian Inferno continues to burn with no end in sight.   This is after John Kerry initially noted that "Iran is not at the Table".  How it all changes.    Our team felt that this from the folks @ Al-Monitor was worth the read to provide some historical context to the continued challenges as the fighting continues: 



No breakthrough in Syria possible without Iran

Kerry says Iran "not at the table"
Russia’s military intervention in support of the Syrian government has kick-started a new round of diplomacy toward a political transition in Syria.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu announced in Vienna on Oct. 23 that there will be a more expansive meeting on Syria, perhaps as soon as Oct. 30.
Kerry acknowledged that although the United States and its allies stilldisagree on the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a political transition, there is enough common ground, including a shared interest in a “unified Syria” and defeating the Islamic State, to initiate a new round of high-level talks.
The Geneva II conference on Syria in January 2014 faltered, in good part, on divisions between Russia and the United States and its allies over Assad’s role in a transition. The absence of Iran, which was invited and then disinvited to attend Geneva II, also contributed to the conference’s eventual failure.
Lavrov dismissed rumors that Russia has agreed on a plan for Assad’s departure after a certain period of time. “This is not true,” he told reporters Oct. 23. 
The very first Week in Review in November 2012 reported that “President Assad is the leader of the Alawites, until the armed Alawites decide otherwise. Simply put, until the Syrian Alawites themselves make a change, they will back Assad. Any initiative that therefore leaves out these same Alawites of Syria, and overlooks the sectarian, local and regional dimensions of the Syrian conflict, is a recipe for diplomatic failure and more deaths among all Syrians.”
Lavrov also said that Iran, as well as Egypt, must be part of the diplomacy to resolve the Syrian crisis. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini agreed, saying, “I hope that Iran can be part of this common effort in Syria.”
Kerry, however, said, “Iran is not at the table, and there will come a time perhaps where we will talk to Iran, but we’re not at that moment at this point in time,” although he later added, “We want to be inclusive and err on the side of inclusivity rather than exclusivity” with regard to participation. 
Kerry’s hesitance on Iran is puzzling, unless this is part of some necessary diplomatic choreography to be worked out over the next week. The US secretary of state led negotiations between the P5+1 countries (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States plus Germany) and Iran on the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28 that the JCPOA is a “development which can and should be the basis of further achievements to come,” implying that a UN multilateral effort might be applied to regional crises.
Syria cannot afford another diplomatic flop, so inclusivity would seem to be the best approach when deciding who is “at the table.” Ruling out Iran, whose generals and advisers are directing and coordinating ground operations with the Syrian military, would seem a recipe for a failure.
Hama sees "heaviest fighting"
Mohammed al-Khatieb reports from the front lines in Hama, including witness to the role of Hezbollah forces working with Syrian military units.
“The northern countryside of Hama is witnessing the heaviest fighting as the regime forces try to break the opposition forces’ defensive lines with dozens of tanks and armored vehicles under Russian air cover. Al-Monitor toured the towns of Hama’s northern countryside Oct. 10. We noticed the presence of large numbers of opposition fighters, mainly affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), such as the Knights of Justice Brigade, 13th Division, the 101st Division and the Central Division, in addition to Ahrar al-Sham and other factions, along with massive reinforcements, which foretells the critical importance of this crucial battle. FSA fighters use individual weapons and a car equipped with heavy machine guns as well as numerous TOW anti-tank missiles and a small number of tanks; while on the opposite side, the regime, assisted by Russian helicopters, comb the roads to allow its forces to launch their offensive under a heavy cover by Russian warplanes and rocket launchers. Hezbollah is also present in this battle along with the regime forces, and perhaps the killing of its prominent leaders — Hussein Hassan Haj on Oct. 10 and Mehdi Hassan Obeid on Oct. 12 — proves the extent of Hezbollah's role in this battle. News sites close to Hezbollah confirmed that both were killed during the battles against the opposition in Idlib and Hama.”


  • Russia, in the meatime, is flexing its' muscle as the United States reveresed its' policy of "no boots on the Ground" as it decided to deploy a contingent of Special Forces to Syria--we also saw very distrubing footage out of Syria as prisoners held by Syrian rebels were put in cages and used as human shields so that rebel held areas were not attacked as Assad got a new lease of life thanks to Vladimir Putin:  



A truly challenging week as a week commences.....



    
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