In March 2005, Bush adviser Karen Hughes was named to a State Department post, Deputy Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. In late September 2005 she traveled to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to open a dialogue with important Muslim countries. Her task was to persuade them that Bush’s War on Terror was not a War against Islam.
On September 26, 2005, Hughes met with a small group of Egyptians who had studied in the U.S. She told them “it’s sometimes hard to talk about difficult issues,” but that “we’re open to ideas.”
Prominent Egyptians told Hughes that the U.S. can improve its image in the Middle East only by changing its policies, namely, that its policies on Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and what the U.S. said was inconsistent with its [favorable] treatment of repressive Arab governments. Continue reading
The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi drives home the consequences of the Trump administration’s refusal to champion democratic values around the globe.
The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi has shocked many in the United States, but it should not come as a surprise. Indeed, it is a logical outgrowth of the policies that the Saudi leadership has been pursuing for the past two years, and the support that it has found for its approach in the Trump White House and parts of the American establishment. Continue reading
When Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Oct. 2 that the “unified” S-300 air defense systems in Syria will be installed in Syria by Oct. 20, he really meant its integration in the Russian homeland system. This element of his report to President Vladimir Putin is the key to the real import of Moscow’s response to the downing of its Il-20 spy plane on Sept. 17, for which Shoigu blamed Israel. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that Putin seized on the disaster to establish in Syria an advanced air defense weapons system linked not only to the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia, but integrated in Russia’s own C3 command, control and communications system against nuclear attack. Continue reading
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Arab foreign ministers to discuss creating MESA.
According to the State Department, Pompeo met Friday with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council+2 group of nations. The department’s readout, provided by Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Heath Nauert stated: Continue reading
Neither Israel nor the US intervened when Iran broke new strategic ground on Monday, Oct. 1 by sending a squadron of 11 stealth UAVs to attack ISIS in E. Syria. DEBKAfile: The attack drones were greater cause for concern than the six surface missiles the Revolutionary Guards launched from their base in Kermanshah in western Iran. Like the missiles, the assault drones cut through Iraqi air space to their targets in Syria, without asking Baghdad for permission; but, unlike the missiles, they also returned to home base by the same route unhindered. Not a single Israeli or American aircraft took to the air stop them. Continue reading
At some point in the last 48 hours, the fallout from the Russian Il-20 plane disaster has evolved into hostile steps by Moscow against Israel, as reported by DEBKAfile.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Friday, Sept. 28 that Russia had already handed over advanced S-300 missile defense systems to Syria. This was a day after Russian National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev met in Tehran with his counterpart Ali Shamkhani. A tradeoff was to have been offered at that meeting, whereby Israeli would call off its air strikes in Syria if Iran stopped sending arms to Hizballah via Syria. Israel was given to understand by Russian officials that this deal would be sealed at an early face-to-face between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Until then. the S-300s would be held in abeyance. However, as Lavrov indicated, either Israel was misled, or Moscow sharply changed course in the last 48 hours. Netanyahu responded to the Russian disclosure by calling the S-300 handover to Syria “irresponsible.”
In a interview about fracking and the implications of making the United States less dependent on foreign sources of energy, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the Washington Examiner that the US Navy has the ability to blockade Russia from controlling energy supplies in the Middle East.
“The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade… to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” Zinke said on Friday at a Consumer Energy Alliance event in Pittsburg. Continue reading
The Pentagon is removing Patriot missile systems from several Middle Eastern countries next month, an a move that the Wall Street Journal says coincides with a “realignment of forces and capabilities as the military steps up its focus on threats from China and Russia,” citing multiple senior military officials.
The relocation of the systems out of the Middle East, which hasn’t been previously disclosed, is one of the most tangible signs of the Pentagon’s new focus on threats from Russia and China and away from the long-running conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Continue reading
UPDATE: Pompeo heckled by Iranian protestors: ‘We’re sick of you’
An Iranian military leader on Tuesday threatened to open the “gates of Hell” on the U.S. military if the Trump administration moves to attack Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, according to new threats that come on the heels of the Islamic Republic declaring that it will not engage in direct talks with President Donald Trump.
Iran has amped up its military rhetoric, threatening the United States directly in recent weeks as the Trump administration readies new sanctions expected to cripple the Iranian economy and further fuel ongoing popular protests against the hardline regime. Continue reading
Within two weeks, Russia will arm Syria with S-300 air defense systems and start jamming navigation in the E. Mediterranean – two of the three measures announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on Monday, Sept. 24 “in response to Israel’s role in downing the Russian IL-20” on Sept. 17.
Syria’s air defense electronic capacities will be boosted to level that of Russian forces in the country. But the most significant measure announced by Shoigu was: “Russia will jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the regions over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria.” Continue reading
The move comes despite opposition from Israel, which carries out regular airstrikes against Hezbollah in Syria
Syria’s armed forces, long dependent on outdated S-200 air defenses, will now receive the modern S-300 system, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced on Monday.
Russia’s decision comes one week after its Syrian allies, responding to an Israeli air raid on the coastal province of Latakia, mistakenly targeted a Russian Ilyushin-20 plane, killing the 15 military personnel on board. Continue reading
The Russian Ministry of Defense leveled several grave charges against Israel on Sunday, Sept. 23 as having caused the loss of the Russian IL-20 plane with 15 servicemen aboard. IDF sources responded that the Russians are hiding their own military lapses with “lies” against Israel over the downing of the Russian plane by Syrian air defenses on Sept. 17.
DEBKAfile: This exchange of insults is not helpful in the light of reports from a Kremlin source that President Vladimir Putin has decided not to let the negative MoD report mar his friendly ties with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and to let its aspersions remain in the “professional” domain. (i.e. versus the IDF and IAF). Continue reading
The Russian Defense Ministry suddenly announced Thursday morning, Sept. 20, the closure of the eastern Mediterranean to air traffic and shipping – from the Syrian and Lebanese coasts to Cyprus -due to a snap “military exercise.” Continue reading
The U.S. is increasingly finding itself at odds against not only Beijing as Trump executes a sledge hammer approach to ongoing trade disputes with China, but also with Moscow, a potentially more lethal and unpredictable opponent both geopolitically and on the energy front.
Much of Washington’s angst with Russia includes the country’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, it’s meddling in recent U.S. elections, being on opposing sides in the ongoing Syrian Civil War and having differing views over energy security for Europe.
Russia, for its part, with its long-entrenched hold on European gas markets, seeks to solidify its grasp by keeping its gas monopoly largely unchallenged and also by pushing through with Russian energy giant Gazprom’s controversial Nord Stream II gas pipeline project. Continue reading
BERLIN/BAGHDAD/AL AZRAQ (Own report) – Berlin is considering the establishment of a permanent Bundeswehr base in the Middle East, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said during her recent visits to Jordan and Iraq. German Armed Forces could be stationed at Jordan’s Al Azraq Airbase for an extended period in relative proximity to Iraq – similar to the US Persian Gulf bases. Despite the military victory already achieved over the IS, the Bundeswehr’s deployment will, for the time being, be continued within the framework of the Anti-IS Coalition, to help rebuild Iraq, the German minister announced in Baghdad. Berlin has been seeking new influence in Iraq, for quite some time, also because Iran has been able to enhance massively its position in the country over the past few years. German Tornados taking off from Al Azraq Airbase, have already furnished reconnaissance data leading to the bombing of a school. Their flights over Syria are possibly in violation of international law. Continue reading