Saturday, 24 October 2015

A rapidly changing situation in the Middle East

Changing alliances in the Middle East


Little reference to the United States






TEHRAN (FNA)- Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in the town of Sochi called for Iran's greater role in resolving the Syrian crisis.

"I believe that there will be no success without Iran's more participation in helping to resolve the Syrian crisis," President Putin said during the meeting in the Russian resort town on Thursday night.

The Russian president and the Iranian parliament speaker discussed bilateral ties, and underlined the need to make use of the opportunities for the expansion of relations.

President Putin and Larijani both delivered speech in the final day of the meeting of Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi.

In relevant remarks on Sunday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov underlined the need for the reinvigoration of international and regional efforts to put an immediate end to the crises in the Middle-East through diplomatic channels.

In a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Amir Abdollahian said Moscow's recent war on terrorism in Syria has been effective and constructive.

The two senior diplomats stressed adopting political solution to regional crises, and called for expansion of international bodies' efforts to fight extremist groups within the framework of the international law and the UN Charter.

Amir Abdollahian and Bogdanov also expressed their concern on the deterioration of security crisis in Yemen, continued Saudi-led military aggression, and the escalation of humanitarian plight of the Muslim nation.

They called for termination of the Saudi-lad coalition aggressions against people of Yemen, bolstering of the political process and inter-Yemeni dialog as the only way out of the crisis in the war-hit country.

The Iranian and Russian deputy foreign ministers also supported efforts of the UN special envoy for Yemen to hold the meeting of Yemeni groups in the shortest possible time.




Iraq has been gripped by security vacuum since June 2014 when Daesh stormed Mosul


October 23, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "Anadolu Agency" - The Iraqi government authorized Russia to target Daesh convoys coming from Syria, a senior Iraqi official said.

The authorization for Russia to target Daesh inside Iraq comes amid security coordination between Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria.

Hakem al-Zamli, chief of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, told Anadolu Agency on Friday that the measure contributed to weakening Daesh by cutting off its supply routes.

Russia, an ally of the Assad regime, began carrying out airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30. According to the Kremlin, the strikes are aimed at weakening the Daesh militant group, an avowed enemy of the regime.

Turkey and several western countries, however, accuse Russia of targeting moderate groups in Syria opposed to Assad, many of which enjoy the support of Ankara and Washington.

Iraq has been gripped by a security vacuum since June 2014 when Daesh stormed the northern city of Mosul and declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

This is confirmed here -  Originally from http://russia-insider.com/en/military/iraqi-government-authorizes-russia-strike-isis-iraq/ri10701 - but I'm told 'access denied'


Baghdad Authorizes Russia to Strike ISIS in Iraq

Open season on ISIS convoys in Iraq

The Iraqi government authorized Russia to target Daesh convoys coming from Syria, a senior Iraqi official said.

The authorization for Russia to target Daesh inside Iraq comes amid security coordination between Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria.

Hakem al-Zamli, chief of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, told Anadolu Agency on Friday that the measure contributed to weakening Daesh by cutting off its supply routes.

Russia, an ally of the Assad regime, began carrying out airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30. According to the Kremlin, the strikes are aimed at weakening the Daesh militant group, an avowed enemy of the regime.

Turkey and several western countries, however, accuse Russia of targeting moderate groups in Syria opposed to Assad, many of which enjoy the support of Ankara and Washington.

Iraq has been gripped by a security vacuum since June 2014 when Daesh stormed the northern city of Mosul and declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.


Center to be used in a similar capacity to the one already in Baghdad


Russia and Jordan agreed to create a coordination center in Amman, which will be used by the two countries to share information on the counter-terrorism operations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Russia is already in touch with Iran, Iraq and Syria through a Baghdad-based center used for the same purpose.


Lavrov said Jordan would play a positive part in finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict through negotiations between Damascus and opposition forces, an outcome that Russia itself is pursuing.

Under an agreement between His Majesty King Abdullah II and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the militaries of the two countries have agreed to coordinate their actions, including military aircraft missions over the Syrian territory,” Lavrov said. His Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh said the center would serve as an efficient communication tool for the militaries of the two nations.

Speaking in Vienna on Friday, Lavrov called to boost efforts to defeat the terrorist group Islamic State and other militant groups in Syria

From yesterday..

Qatar says could intervene militarily in Syria but prefers political solution


DUBAI: Qatar, a major supporter of rebels in Syria's civil war, suggested it could intervene militarily following Russia's intervention in support of President Bashar al-Assad but said it still preferred a political solution to the crisis.

The comments by Qatar's foreign minister, made in a CNN interview on Wednesday, drew a swift reply from Assad's government with a senior official warning that Damascus would respond harshly to such "direct aggression".

Gulf Arab backers of Syrian rebels such as Qatar have been unsettled by Russia's three-week-old air strike campaign that has allowed Assad's forces to wrest back some territory to help secure his strongholds in western Syria.

Qatar has been a leading supporter of anti-Assad rebel groups, providing arms and financial and political backing....




A member of a Syrian opposition party claims that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s willingness to cooperate with the armed opposition in the country in the anti-terror fight shows that a comprehensive peace agreement is possible in the country.


MOSCOW (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — Syrian President Bashar Assad’s willingness to cooperate with the armed opposition in the country in the anti-terror fight shows that a comprehensive peace agreement is possible in the country, a member of a Syrian opposition party told Sputnik.

On Thursday, following Tuesday's talks with Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Syrian leader was ready to consider Moscow providing support to some Syrian opposition groups, provided their goal was to fight terrorism.

"It shows that there is a way for the Syrian Army and the combating opposition to sit around the table like what they currently do in different areas across Syria where they agreed on a ceasefire and to extend these local ceasefire agreements to comprehensive peace," Samir Aita of the Syrian Democratic Forum opposition party told Sputnik on Friday.

Syria has been in the state of a civil war since 2011, with troops loyal to president Assad battling several opposition factions.

The Syrian army and opposition forces have established several ceasefire regimes in various settlements across the country, but the conflicting sides have broken these truces.

Aside from the rebels, the Syrian forces have also been fighting against extremist insurgent groups, including jihadists from the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group.

Russia launched pinpoint airstrikes against ISIL extremists in Syria on September 30 at Assad’s request. The United States has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL in Syria since 2014, without approval from Damascus, as well as providing support to the so-called moderate opposition factions.

Since the beginning of Moscow's aerial campaign, Russia has repeatedly emphasized its readiness to cooperate with the US-backed moderate Syrian opposition.

Syria talks should be more ‘representative,’ include Iran, Egypt – Moscow




Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that a dozen actors ranging from international organizations to regional countries ‒ particularly Iran and Egypt ‒ should join the talks on finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

On Friday the foreign ministers of Russia, United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia held talks on the Syrian conflict in Vienna, Austria.

Many external actors and not only those four that gathered in Vienna are obviously involved in the Syrian crisis. For this reason, we called for our future meetings to be held in a more representative format that would include a range of regional powers,” Lavrov said after the meeting.

We specially stressed that it should include Iran and Egypt,” he stressed.


Meanwhile in Washington...

The Obama administration is reportedly embroiled in a new debate on the potential creation of no-fly zones and 'safe havens' in Syria.


The establishment of no-fly zones and safe havens in Syria topped the agenda of a White House meeting earlier this week, the New York Times reported, citing sources in the White House
During the October 18 gathering, US Secretary of State John Kerry and a number of other high-ranking officials approved the idea, while Pentagon chief Ashton Carter pointed to the extensive military resources required to enforce such zones in Syria.

Also on the meeting's agenda was establishing safe zones to render humanitarian aid to civilians, based on Syria's borders with Turkey and Jordan.

The meeting came just two weeks after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed the idea of creating a no-fly zone in Syria, which he said would distract the US-led coalition from the fight against Islamic State militants.

Previously, Turkey had proposed a buffer zone in northern Syria, but the United States and NATO did not support this initiative.

On October 5, the Financial Times newspaper reported, in turn, that the Russian operation in Syria had disrupted the implementation of Washington's plans to establish a no-fly zone over the territory of Syria.

On September 30, more than fifty Russian aircraft, including Su-24M, Su-25 and Su-34 warplanes, commenced precision airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria at the behest of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Earlier that day, the Russian upper house of parliament unanimously supported the request of President Vladimir Putin to deploy units of the Russian Aerospace Forces abroad.

Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad confirmed that Syrian Army strikes, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, were carried out against armed terrorist organizations, not political opposition factions or civilians.


CrossTalk: Syrian phoenix


It is now undeniable Russia is making a military difference in favor of Damascus in Syria’s horrific civil war. But what is next? Can new facts on the ground convince Washington and its erratic coalition to rethink what is most important – regime change or fighting terrorists?

CrossTalking with Pepe Escobar, Raghida Dergham, and Flynt Leverett.


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