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  • Turkish media publishes photos of 415 YPG fighters killed in Afrin

    By Leith Aboufadel

    BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:35 A.M.) – The Turkish media posted a collage of pictures on Wednesday that showed the photos of more than 400 YPG fighters killed during Operation Olive Branch.

    Based on the photo collage, at least 415 members of the YPG had been killed in the Afrin region of Aleppo since January 20th of this year.

    While this number is rather high, it is substantially less than the 1,500 YPG fighters that have been claimed dead by the Turkish General Staff.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish General Staff has acknowledged that at least 31 of their soldiers have been killed since January 20th, with the majority of their dead coming in the last ten days.

    Despite their losses, the Turkish Armed Forces and their allies have managed to capture more than ten towns in the Afrin region over the 72 hours, leaving them in control of 11 percent of this area.


    • The next Iranian-Israeli engagement in Syria is due in late April, early May

      Feb 12, 2018


      It is then that Tehran will try to move a special Russian-backed Iraqi Shiite force from southern Iraq into Syria and so expand its anti-Israel war front.
      Since the Israeli Air Force hit a dozen Syrian and Iranian military targets on Saturday, Feb. 10, certain Israeli leaders have been vying for the most belligerent anti-Iran speeches (“They will never forget their next lesson” – Transport Minister Yisrael Katz; “We won’t let Iran set up a forward command” OC IDF’s Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick”). However, the plans Iran has in store for the next round may tax them with making good on their warnings, although one at least comes after the fact. Iran is already running three forward commands in Syria – one in Damascus, one at Abu Kamal in the east and a third outside Aleppo.
      Iran’s next challenge to Israel is likely to be more extensive than a lone Iranian drone intrusion and may start far from Israel’s northern border. Russia and Iran are trying to run a two-way, cross-border military movement between Iraq and Syria, which US forces in Syria have so far frustrated.
      DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the United States is in the process of establishing a new “Border Security Force” in Syria, which is composed mainly of Kurdish fighters.
      Iran and Russia are meanwhile building and training an elite “rapid deployment force” based on Iraqi Shiites. One of its functions will be to expand the front against Israel in both Syria and Lebanon. It is expected that the coming crossing into Syria of the Iraqi Shiite force may be used to detach a section for service on the Lebanese-Israeli border. Last month, an Iraqi Shiite militia chief traveled to Lebanon to inspect Israeli positions on that border. .
      The Iraqi group is composed of 5,000 Shiite fighters, who are undergoing special training course for combat in Syria. They were handpicked from two high-performance Iraqi Shiite militias: One is the Nujaba of Kaabil (Movement of the Part of God), which is the Iraqi version of the Lebanese Hizballah and is headed by Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi. It has four sub-units, the Ammar Ibn Yasir Brigade, the Liwa al-Hamad – Praise Brigade, the Liwa al-Imam al Hassan al-Mujtaba – Imam Hssan the Chosen, and the Golan Liberation Brigade. The other militia is the Abud al-Fadl al-Abbas Forces.

      This big difference between this elite Iraqi force and the other Shiite militias Tehran deploys in Syria is that it will be equipped with an air force, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources. Russian and Iranian air force officers are setting up an aviation unit called the Combat Helicopters Directorates, to consist of dozens of Russian Mil Mi-17 assault and freight choppers as well as Iranian Shaed 285 attack choppers.
      The bulk of the new force is expected to be ready to start moving west in the course of April and cross over into southeast Syria in the regions of Abu Kamal and Deir ez-Zour by early May at the latest. So far, the American forces deployed in western Iraq and southeastern Syria, centering in Al Tanf, have used live air force and artillery fire to push the vanguard back from the Syrian border.
      A US special operations contingent also frustrated a move in the opposite direction by Syrian and Hizballah forces trying to cross the Euphrates to the eastern bank across a floating bridge laid by the Russians. They were heading to link up with the incoming Iraqi militias. (Read DEBKAfile’s exclusive reports on Feb. 8-9). This major US operation that involved air force, artillery and commandos was somehow missed by the Israeli politicians and analysts who commented on how the US had abandoned the Syrian arena when they discussed the Israeli air offensive of last Saturday.
      Despite every effort to block the Iraqi force from reaching Syria, it may find a small gap in the 1,000km long Iraqi-Syrian border and manage to slip through. Israel’s government and military leaders will then face a decision that is much harder than whether to destroy the command vehicle controlling an Iranian drone. Part of the difficulty will be that before actin, Israel will have to keep an eye on the state of relations between the US and Russia which are at a low ebb at this time and how this plays out on the ground.
      Last edited by Vrej1915; 02-15-2018, 11:07 PM.


      • Up to 200 Russian advisers killed in last week’s clash with US forces in Syria

        Feb 13, 2018

        In the first military clash between US and Russian forces in Syria, more than 200 Russian “mercenaries” are reported killed, scores more injured. US military sources first reported that 100 Russian “advisers” were killed and dozens injured in a US attack on Syrian and allied pro-Iranian forces on Feb. 8. By Tuesday, Feb. 13, those figures had doubled. Moscow has not confirmed the incident or the casualties, which would be five times more than Russian official losses since it entered the war in 2015. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment, saying the Kremlin only tracks data on the country’s armed forces. According to one Russian officer, the death toll continues to rise after scores of Russian wounded were flown to hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
        DEBKAfile’s military sources reported exclusively on Feb. 9 that US special forces had struck Russian military engineers laying a floating bridge on the Euphrates River near Deir ez-Zour for Syrian army, Hizballah and other pro-Iranian forces to cross to the east bank. That engagement unfolded when US forces posted in eastern Syria repelled a Syrian-pro-Iranian attack led by T-72 and T-55 tanks on a base held by American and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces east of the Euphrates River near the oil town of Tabiye.
        The strike force was fighting under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers. It included members of the Afghan Shiite militia imported by Tehran, pro-Assad troops of the Syrian National Defense Forces, local Arab tribesmen and Russian mercenaries. Those mercenaries were provided by Wagner, a Russian private military contractor, which supplies ground forces to fight for Assad alongside the pro-Iranian and Russian combatants.

        Against that fighting strength, the Americans used F-22 Raptors, F-15 Strike Eagles, Air Force AC-130 gunships, Marine artillery and Army Apache attack helicopters, as well as Special Operations forces, which stopped the multiple assault in its tracks.


        • «Ալիևի հայտարարությունից պետք է սթափվենք». Վազգեն Մանուկյան

          • Քաղաքականություն - 15 Փետրվարի 2018,

          «Անկախի» խնդրանքովԱդրբեջանինախագահԻլհամԱլիևի՝ԶանգեզուրնուԵրևանըգրավելումասինհայտարարություններըմեկնաբանումէՀանրայինխորհրդինախագահՎազգենՄանուկյանը:

          - Պատմական տեսանկյունից Ալիևի ասածները, իհարկե, անհեթեթություն են, սակայն պետք է հիշել, որ տարբեր ժողովուրդներ իրենց պատմաբանների միջոցով նմանատիպ կարծիքներ են հայտնում այլ երկրների մասին, բայց դա պետական մակարդակի չի հասնում: Այս դեպքում գործ ունենք պետական մակարդակի բարձրացված հռետորաբանության հետ:

          Պատմության տեսակետը հասկանալի է, բայց պետք է գնահատել, թե քաղաքական տեսանկյունից դա ինչ է նշանակում: Փաստորեն այդ գաղափարախոսությունը, թե իբր ադրբեջանցիները բացառիկ ազգ են, թե տերն են եղել ամբողջ այս տարածաշրջանի և այլն, տարածվում է իրենց երիտասարդության մեջ, այդպիսի դասագրքերով են դասավանդում իրենց դպրոցներում ու բուհերում, և այդ երիտասարդությունը ոչ միայն լսում է դա, այլև հավատում է դրան: Ավագ սերնդի մեջ, իհարկե, քննադատական մոտեցումն ավելի մեծ է, բայց Ադրբեջանն այնպիսի պետություն է, որ ոչ ոք չի համարձակվի դեմ խոսել: Եվ դրանով Ալիևն ազգային հարցերի շուրջ, առաջին հերթին հայերի և մեր պետության դեմ ուղղված, համախմբում է ամբողջ ժողովրդին, ինչը մեզ համար շատ վտանգավոր է: Բայց դա մի ամբողջ շղթայի ընդամենը մի օղակն է: Դրա հետ միասին Ադրբեջանն իր բանակը ժամանակակից զենքով զինելու, ռազմարդյունաբերական համալիրը, գիտությունը, նոր տեխնոլոգիաները զարգացնելու մեծ ջանքեր է թափում, միաժամանակ հսկայական լոբբիստական աշխատանք է տանում ամբողջ աշխարհում փողի և այն ամենի միջոցով, ինչը դեր է խաղում ժամանակակից աշխարհում:

          Պետք է ասել, որ Ադրբեջանը բավականին շատ գործընկերներ ունի: Բաքվում կազմակերպվում են խոշոր միջազգային հանդիպումներ, մշակութային, սպորտային միջոցառումներ՝ Ֆորմուլա 1, Եվրատեսիլ և այլն: Այսինքն՝ Ադրբեջանն իր պարտությունից հետո փորձում է մաքսիմալը շահել՝ իր պետությունն ու ժողովրդին առաջ տանելով ազգային հարցերում: Չմոռանանք նաև Ադրբեջանի հզոր դաշնակցի՝ Թուրքիայի մասին:

          Եվ, ի դեպ, դժվար է ասել՝ Թուրքիայի՞ ազդեցությունն է մեծ Ադրբեջանի վրա, թե՞ հակառակը: Հիշենք, որ հայ-թուրքական արձանագրությունները չվավերացնելու գործում հսկայական ավանդ ունեցավ Ադրբեջանն իր ակտիվ աշխատանքով Թուրքիայի ղեկավարության հետ: Իհարկե, Ադրբեջանը դեմոկրատական երկիր չի, Հայաստանը շատ ավելի մոտ է իրական դեմոկրատական երկիր կոչվելուն, բայց դա վճռական նշանակություն ունի՞ մյուս երկրների համար կամ վճռական նշանակություն կունենա՞ վճռական պահին:

          Ինչ է, Թո՞ւրքիան է դեմոկրատական երկիր, Սաուդյան Արաբիա՞ն է դեմոկրատական երկիր: Կամ Ռուսաստանը, որ սերտ հարաբերություններ է հաստատում Ադրբեջանի հետ, հաշվի՞ է առնում նրա դեմոկրատական լինել-չլինելը: Կամ Մեծ Բրիտանիայի բրեքսիթն ի՞նչ էր, եթե ոչ ազգային քաղաքականությունն առաջ տանելու նպատակ: Նույնիսկ դեմոկրատական Ամերիկայում է դա առաջնային. հիշենք Թրամփի քաղաքականությունը՝ «Ամերիկան՝ առաջին հերթին» կարգախոսով: Ի՞նչ է, դա համապատասխանո՞ւմ է համաշխարհային գլոբալիզացիայի, դեմոկրատիայի, լիբերալիզմի ընդհանուր արժեքներին:

          Սառը պատերազմի ավարտից հետո ամբողջ աշխարհում գնաց գլոբալիզացիայի, լիբերալիզացիայի ալիք, ազգային հարցերն այլևս առաջնային չէին թվում, բայց հիմա աշխարհը փոխվել է: Հիմա աշխարհում ազգային, պետական հարցերը շատ ավելի մեծ նշանակություն ունեն, և եթե մենք հույսը դրել ենք, որ Եվրոպան մեզ իր հովանու տակ կառնի, քանի որ մենք ավելի դեմոկրատական ենք, ապա պետք է գիտակցենք, որ այդ փաստարկի կշիռն այլևս այն չէ, ինչ 10-15 տարի առաջ: Դեմոկրատական երկիր լինելն առաջին հերթին մեզ է պետք, իսկ աշխարհին ցույց տալու և մեր հարցերն այդպես լուծելու համար այնքան էական նշանակություն չունի, որքան առաջ: Աշխարհը փոխվում է:

          Այնպես որ Ալիևի հայտարարությունից մենք պետք է սթափվենք, մեր պետական մարմինները հսկայական աշխատանք ունեն անելու այս հարցերում, մեր պատմաբաններն անպայման պետք է արձագանքեն: Իսկ մեր երիտասարդությանը պետք է դաստիարակենք այն ոգով, ինչ մենք ունեինք 60-ական թվականներին՝ հպարտ մեր ժողովրդով, մեր պատմությամբ, երբեմն՝ չափազանցված, բայց չէ՞ որ դա հանգեցրեց այն ոգևորությանը, որը պայթեց 88 թվին: Ես կարծում եմ, որ մենք հիմա լիարժեք չենք գիտակցում աշխարհում տեղի ունեցող փոփոխությունները և դրանից բխող առաջնահերթություններն ու շեշտադրումները:


          • Expanding regional rivalries: Saudi Arabia and Iran battle it out in Azerbaijan

            By James M. Dorsey

            It’s the pot calling the kettle black. As Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of seeking to encircle it with its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen as well as Qatar, the kingdom and the Islamic republic are extending their bitter rivalry beyond the Middle East into the Caucasus.

            The two countries’ latest battleground is oil-rich Azerbaijan, an authoritarian, majority Shia Muslim but secular former Soviet republic on Iran’s northern border with a substantial ethnic population in Iran itself. Recent Saudi overtures came amid reports that Azerbaijan’ s security services had warned the government about Iran’s growing influence in the country.

            The report suggested that an informal lifting in 2013 of a ban on preaching by Islamic scholars linked to Iran that had been quietly imposed in a bid to stem the flow of Azerbaijani Sunni Muslims joining the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq had enabled the Islamic republic to make inroads.

            “Iran’s religious activities have become particularly successful,” said Azerbaijani journalist Kenan Rovshanoglu in a study of religious freedom in the country.

            Published by Turan, an independent news agency, the study noted that 22 of Azerbaijan’s 150 madrassas or religious seminaries were controlled by Iran.

            Iran and Azerbaijan have long tiptoed around each other with both countries concerned that the other could use its religious and/or ethnic affinities to stir trouble. Azeri speakers account for at least a quarter of Iran’s population.

            Azerbaijan is, for its part, worried about Iran’s close ties with Armenia. Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked into a decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan.

            Iranian concerns about Azeri nationalism were fuelled when supporters of Tractor Sazi FC, a top club in Tabriz, the capital of the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, that is a symbol of Iranian Azeri identity, chanted Azeri nationalist slogans three years ago during protests against the government’s environmental policy and alleged anti-Azeri corruption in soccer .

            Azar News, leaked in 2015 a letter allegedly written by Brigadier-General Gholam-Asgar Karimian, the club’s former chairman, detailing how Traktor Sazi could be used to unite Azeris against what the general termed “racist and separatist groups.”

            Azar is operated by the National Resistance Organization of Azerbaijan (NROA), a coalition of opposition forces dominated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a group that enjoys Saudi support but was tainted when it moved its operations in 1986 to Iraq at a time that Iraq was at war with Iran.

            The letter said the groups were campaigning for a “study the mother tongue day.” It suggested that the mother tongue referred to was Talysh, a dying northwest Iranian language that is still spoken by at most a million people in the Iranian provinces of Gilan and Ardabil and southern Azerbaijan. The letter implied that the groups General Karimian was concerned included Azeri separatists.

            The letter appeared to advocate measures to weaken the separatists by combatting widespread racist attitudes towards Azeris and improving services in East Azerbaijan. Racial attitudes towards Azeris is something Traktor Sazi knows a lot about.

            “Wherever Tractor goes, fans of the opposing club chant insulting slogans. They imitate the sound of donkeys, because Azerbaijanis are historically derided as stupid and stubborn. I remember incidents going back to the time that I was a teenager,” said a long-standing observer of Iranian soccer.

            Discussing Azerbaijani policy towards Iran, Elkhan Sahinoglu, head of the Center for Applied Politics at Baku’s Western Caspian University, noted that Azerbaijan had no intention of interfering in Iran’s domestic affairs, but could not “disregard the future of the Azeris who reside in Iran.”

            Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corp said in November that it had “dismantled a terrorist team” in East Azerbaijan that was “affiliated with global arrogance,” a reference to the United States, and its allies, including Saudi Arabia. The announcement came weeks after Iran said that it had eliminated an armed group in a frontier area of the province of West Azerbaijan that borders on Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkey and is home to Azeris as well as Kurds.

            Columnist Huda al-Husseini highlighted Saudi interest in Azerbaijan in a recent column on Al Arabiya, the television network owned by Middle East Broadcasting (MBC) in which the government reportedly obtained a majority share as a result of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent asset and power purge packaged as a campaign against corruption.

            In an article entitled ‘Will Iran turn Azerbaijan into another Iraq?’, Ms. Al-Husseini, quoting an anti-Iranian Iraqi author, Raghd Abdel Rida al-Jaberi, asserted that Azerbaijan feared that it would follow in the footsteps of Iraq where Iran allegedly had destroyed the Iraqi military and turned Iraqis into slaves who had been convinced “that washing and rubbing the feet of Iranians who are heading to visit (Imam) Hussain’s tomb brings them closer to heaven no matter what they do afterwards.”

            In a media environment that appears to be pre-occupied with supporting the government’s often sectarian-tinted, anti-Iran policy rather than reporting facts, Ms. Al-Husseini suggested that Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev’s recent attendance of a cultural festival in the kingdom at King Salman’s invitation was part of an effort to resist Iranian encroachment.

            Military delegations from the two countries earlier this month discussed closer military cooperation including holding joint military exercises “as well as a number of other issues of mutual interest,” according to Azerbaijani media.

            Azerbaijan has also over the years built close military ties to Israel, which like Saudi Arabia, is staunchly opposed to Iran. Israel and Azerbaijan discussed, prior to the 2015 international agreement that curtailed Iran’s nuclear program, using Azerbaijani airbaseshad it opted for taking out the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities. The agreement put an end to talk about a military strike.

            The bottom line is that if Iran is seeking to encircle Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and Israel are trying to encircle Iran. The mirror image of Saudi Arabia’s belief that Iraq is Iran’s model for Azerbaijan is an Iranian suggestion that Lebanon is Israel’s model.

            “Tel Aviv wants to Lebanonize (Azerbaijan) under a ‘new periphery doctrine.’ This means that Tel Aviv intends to create a new periphery region and encircle Iran through its presence in the (Iraqi) Kurdistan Region and Azerbaijan,” said Iranian analyst Salar Seifoddini. Mr. Seifoddini was referring to Israel’s policy of periphery that seeks to forge relations with those bordering on Israel’s enemies.


            • Syrian air defenses spread out to target US as well as Israeli overflights

              Feb 16, 2018

              Both US and Syria (plus pro-Iranian allies) are massing strength in the south and east for military clashes in the continuing confrontation.
              Assad’s army with Hizballah and other pro-Iranian forces backed by Russia are massing for two objectives: a major offensive to capture Daraa on Syria’s southern border with Jordan; and at the Deir ez-Zour region in the east for another attempt to cross the Euphrates from west to east. US forces and allies are building up to ward off the two offensives. This time, Syria has positioned its Russian anti-air weapons for targeting incoming air strikes by US as well as Israeli air force planes. Syrian Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad articulated this threat when he said Wednesday, Feb. 14: “Syria will down any warplane that launches an airstrike on the SAA [Syrian Arab Army].”
              US military officials are cited by DEBKAfile’s military sources as estimating on Thursday that the combined Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah army massing on the western bank of the Euphrates in the Deir ez-Zour region will make another attempt to transfer troops to the eastern bank. They are expected to go for one of the oil or gas fields held by the US-backed SDF (Syria Democratic Forces), which is composed mainly of Kurdish YPG militiamen. Their particular targets are the CONICO gas facility and the al-Omar oil fields.

              That’s in the east. In the south, the Syrian, pro-Iranian, Russian-backed coalition is preparing to grab Daraa. In both operations, they are determined to come off best after major defeats in the last few days. On the night of Feb. 7, massive US air and artillery strikes thwarted a Russian-assisted Syrian, Hizballah attempt to cross the Euphrates; and on Feb. 10, after an Israeli F-16 jet was downed by a Syrian SA-17 air defense missile, Israeli warplanes bombed a dozen military positions in Syria. They included air defense emplacements, but also struck the secret Iranian Revolutionary Guards command posts that were preparing the combined assault on Daraa. Those preparations were resumed in the interim, with boosted protection against attacks from the air.


              • The Israel-Lebanese oil dispute – part of US-Russian Mid-East energy battle

                Feb 17, 2018

                Instead of accepting a US-brokered deal for Block 9, Hizballah and Iran make Israel’s offshore gas and oil fields a fourth war front.

                When six years ago, the US tried to mediate the dispute over Block 9, which straddles the maritime waters of Lebanon and Israel (offering 60 percent to Lebanon; 40 percent to Israel), Russia, Iran and Hizballah had not yet intervened militarily in that early stage of the Syrian civil war. At the time, too, the US controlled Middle East energy markets and Israel cherished the belief that its offshore gas and oil fields were rich enough to supply Europe’s annual consumption and make the Jewish state a Middle East energy power.

                But Beirut flatly rejected the US compromise then – just as it does now, except that, today, Lebanon speaks with a stronger and more aggressive voice, backed since then by Hizballah’s and Iran’s victories in the Syrian war arena.

                Israel, for its part, missed the train. Major international energy firms have since drawn away from investing in the development of Israel’s Mediterranean gas and oil fields, and it has fallen back on supplying its own needs and sales to neighbors, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians. Most of all, Israel has reason to rue its rejection of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated offer to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for Russian state firms to develop those fields, finance a pipeline network to Europe and provide security for the project. Putin maintained that neither Iran nor Hizballah would venture to attack rigs and pipelines under Russian ownership and protection. This rationale worked effectively in October 2017, when Iraqi and Shiite militia forces seized the oil city of Kirkuk from the semiautonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, while refraining thus far from laying hands on the oil fields supplying Turkey, because the Kurds had earlier handed them over to the Russian Rosneft energy giant.
                Netanyahu spurned Putin’s proposition at the time for the sake of Israel’s close ties with Washington.

                In the present geo-strategic circumstances, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources are strongly skeptical of the chances of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Acting Undersecretary David Satterfield pulling off their bid to broker a deal between Lebanon and Israel over Block 9. Even if a compromise is negotiated, Beirut will flout it before the ink is dry, just as it did UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which prohibited Hizballah from rearming after its 2006 war with Israel or positioning armed strength in South Lebanon.

                Five compelling impediments stand in the way of the US mediation bid:
                1. The Block 9 issue has evolved from the latest turn in the Syrian war into part and parcel of a broader test: US controls the oil fields and gas plants of eastern Syria which the US-backed SDF seized from ISIS last year, including the Conoco natural gas facility. Against this, Iran, Hizballah and Syria are in position for holding Israel’s Mediterranean oil and gas facilities hostage.
                2. A resolution of this impasse is contingent on the US and Russia reaching understandings on Syria. In their absence, US forces on Feb. 7, for the first time attacked Russian “mercenaries” helping Syrian and pro-Iranian attempting to cross the Euphrates and seize control of the Tabiyeh oil fields on the eastern bank; and Moscow, for its part, will not lift a finger to stop the Iranian Al Qods commander, Qassem Soleimani, or Hizballah’s chief, Hassan Nasrallah, from continuing to threaten Israel’s offshore rigs. Nasrallah said explicitly on Friday, Feb. 16: The region has entered “the battle of oil and gas. No one should look at this as a separate dispute,” he said. If the Lebanese Defense Council so decides, we [Hezbollah] are ready to disable Israel’s offshore gas installations in a couple of hours.”
                3. The Israeli-Lebanese dispute is not the only energy-related quarrel in the region, which Secretary Tillerson is trying to tackle. For months he has been trying without success to settle the feud which oil-rich Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are fighting with Qatar. Just as the former is tangled up in the Syrian crisis, the latter is caught up in the challenge the US and Saudi Arabia is presenting to Iran’s bid for control of the Red Sea and determination of the outcome of the Yemen war.
                4. The Trump administration’s perception of Lebanon’s government and mlitary structures is unrealistic. Its officials appear to believe that they are not fully under Iranian and Hizballah control and can still be rescued from those Shiite-imperialistic claws. Washington therefore continues to remit arms and funds to Beirut, although Hizballah takes the first cut.

                For Israel, the dispute over Block 9 is a major handicap for its strategic position against its foes. Until now, Israel had to contend with three belligerent Iranian-Hizballah fronts building up from Quneitra on the Syrian Golan, southern Syria and southern Lebanon. Hizballah’s threat to its offshore gas and oil fields has added a fourth.


                • Սերժ Սարգսյանին մյունխեն տարած երկու գործոնները. հարվածը Սիրիայում ուժեղ էր

                  Lragir AM

                  19 févr. 2018

                  Հարթակ հաղորդման հյուրը քաղաքագետ Անուշ Սեդրակյանն է: Հակոբ Բադալյանը նրա հետ զրուցել է Մյունխենում տեղի ունեցած անվտանգության հարցերի համաշխարհային համաժողովի, դրան Սերժ Սարգսյանի մասնակցության մասին: Հայաստանը փետրվարի 16-18-ը անցկացված հեղինակավոր հավաքին մասնակցեց բարձր՝ նախագահական մակարդակով, ինչը հազվադեպ երեւույթ է: Ինչո՞վ էր թելադրված այդպիսի մակարդակի մասնակցությունը: Անուշ Սեդրակյանը մատնացույց է անում Հայաստանի իշխանության վարքը պայմանավորողղ երկու առանցքային գործոն, որոնք Սերժ Սարգսյանին փաստացի «տարել» են Մյունխենի համաժողով: Սեդրակյանը ուշադրություն է դարձնում Սիրիայում զարգացումների, մասնավորապես ըստ տարբեր տեղեկությունների մոտ 300 զոհի հանգեցրած հարվածի մասին, որ ԱՄՆ զինուժը հասցրել էր ռուսական վարձկաններից կազմված ստորաբաժանմանը: Սեդրակյանի կարծիքով, Մյունխենի համաժողովը այլ բան չէ, քան պարզապես ՆԱՏՕ անվտանգության շրջանակի միջոցառում եւ այստեղ իհարկե Հայաստանի մասնակցությունը կարեւոր եւ դրական իրողություն է: Միեւնույն ժամանակ, քաղաքագետը անհրաժեշտ է համարում Հայաստանի անվտանգության լայն հայեցակարգի առկայությունը, որպեսզի չլինեն կետային քայլեր, որոնք չեն պարունակում տրամաբանական շարունակություն անվտանգության քաղաքակրթական փաթեթի շրջանակում: Անուշ Սեդրակյանը այդ տիրույթում քննարկում է պատմական միֆերի, մեդիամանիպուլյացիաների, Հայաստանի ներքին դաշտում տեղի ունեցող գործընթացների եւ իշխանական տարբեր խմբերի շահերի ու պատկերացումների, Հայաստանում հանրային նոր պատկերացումների եւ արժեհամակարգի ձեւավորման ուղղությամբ արեւմտյան ներդրումների, ազատ փողերի եւ դրանց հանդեպ իշխանության վախի խնդիրներն ու պատճառները: Մանրամասները՝ հաղորդման տեսագրությունում


                  • Ռուսաստանի ԶՈւ ԳՇ-ն հրամայել է խլացնել բջջային կապը Սիրիայի ռուսական բազաներում

                    Փետրվար 20, 2018
                    by Տարոն Հովհաննիսյան

                    Ռւոսաստանի զինված ուժերի գլխավոր շտաբի որոշմամբ Սիրիայի տարածքում ՌԴ ռազմաբազաներում բջջային կապի 2G և 3G ցանցերը կխլացվեն: Ռուսաստանյան РБК-ի տվյալներով՝ որոշումը կայացրել է ՌԴ ԶՈւ ԳՇ 8-րդ վարչության պետ, գեներալ Յուրի Կուզնեցովը:

                    Ըստ այս տեղեկության՝ 2G և 3G ցանցերի խլացումը իբր կապված է վերջին շրջանում Սիրիայում ՌԴ «Հմեյմիմ» և «Տարտուս» բազաների վրա հարձակման հետ, որի ընթացքում անօդաչու թռչող սարքեր էին կիրառվել:

                    ՌԴ ԶՈւ ԳՇ կարգադրության մեջ խոսք է գնում նաև անձնական սմարթֆոնների և համակարգիչների օգտագործման դեմ ուժեղացված պայքարի մասին: Նախատեսվում է, որ մաքսային ծառայության աշխատակիցները պետք է անձնական օգտագործման տեխնիկական միջոցների» առգրավման դեպքում զգուշացնեն ռազմական ոստիկանությանը:

                    Հավելենք, որ, հավանաբար, այս որոշումը կապված է ՌԴ ՊՆ-ի վերջին «խորհրդի» հետ: Ռուսաստանի պաշտպանական գերատեսչությունը զինծառայողներին «խորհուրդ էր տալիս» հրաժարվել սոցիալական ցանցերից, չհրապարակել ծառայության մասին տեղեկություն:

                    ՌԴ ՊՆ-ն արդեն իսկ սրա հետ կապված նախատեսում է համապատասխան փոփոխություններ իրականացնել «Զինապարտության և զինվորական ծառայության», «Զինծառայողի կարգավիճակի մասին» օրենքներում: Այժմ ընթանում է երկրի ուժային կառույցներում այդ փոփոխություների համաձայնեցման գործընթացը:


                    • Russia admits dozens of Russian casualties in Syria battle

                      • 20 February 2018
                      • BBC
                      Image copyrightAFP Image captionRussia gave no details about Russian volunteers fighting in Syria
                      Russia's foreign ministry has confirmed that "several dozen" Russian citizens - not regular soldiers - were killed or wounded in a recent battle in Syria.

                      The statement did not give a date. Previously the Russian government said "probably five" Russians had died in a clash in Deir al-Zour province.

                      Some reports have said more than 100 Russian mercenaries were killed in US air strikes on 7 February.

                      Russia does not divulge firm details of "volunteer" fighters in the conflict. What does Russia say?

                      The latest Russian statement said no Russian regular forces were involved.

                      The foreign ministry, quoted by the RIA news agency, described the casualties as "Russian citizens who went to Syria of their own accord for various reasons". Some were also from other ex-Soviet republics.

                      The statement did not specify the numbers of dead or wounded, but spoke of "several dozen" casualties, and said the wounded were being treated now in hospitals in Russia. Who are the mercenaries?

                      Officially, Russia's military role mainly takes the form of air strikes, helping President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

                      However, independent media have found evidence of other Russian citizens fighting for the Syrian government side.

                      Relatives of the hired fighters say they have been paid insurance money by unknown representatives of so-called private military companies, which bring their bodies back. Image captionYevgeny Alikov's mother, Nina Atyusheva, with her dead son's identification tag
                      One mother Nina Atyusheva, a pensioner from the north-west Arkhangelsk Oblast region, told the BBC she has been fighting to get the state to formally record her son's death: "I want to ask this question: in what way are the children sent by the armed forces different from those like mine, who went as a volunteer?"

                      Read more: The Russian guns for hire in Syria What happened on 7 February?

                      The US launched air and artillery strikes in Deir al-Zour province, which, it says, killed 100 militia.

                      It says it had to defend the headquarters of its allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was under attack by fighters aligned with the Syrian government.

                      The US says these forces crossed an informal demarcation line along the Euphrates River; the government controls the western side and the SDF the east.

                      The two sides have clashed over the past year while trying to drive Islamic State (IS) militants from their last major stronghold in the country.

                      The Pentagon said it had been in constant contact with Russia in the run up to the February operation.

                      The Syrian government called the attacks a "massacre" and said it would complain to the United Nations. How many Russians have died in Syria?

                      According to the Russian defence ministry, 44 official military personnel have died in Syria.

                      The number of dead private military contractors remains unknown.

                      A Reuters investigation showed that at least 131 Russians died in Syria in the first nine months of 2017 - a number thought to include private military contractors.