Page 286 of 307

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 09 Jul 2018 23:08
by Singha
they will secure and stabilize the jordan border and trade routes first before approaching the last holdout - the golan front incl its isis pocket

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 09:09
by habal
take a look at lake Ram in golan heights, it is completely rain fed and always remains full. So the area receives ample and more rainfall.

A brief look at golan heights resources explains its vital position in making Israel water secure.

    * the Golan Heights contributes to quenching one-third of Israel’s entire water supply. Its catchments leading to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret – Israel’s main water source – receive long bouts of heavy rainfall, particularly during the colder months and occasionally during stormy season in the summer.

    *It also provides snow for Israel’s one and only skiing destination, the Mount Hermon Ski Resort. The mountain’s peak reaches 9232 feet above sea level and is Syria’s highest point.

    *The remunerative resort attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year; many of them, foreigners, who are conveniently unaware of the land’s disputation.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 11:56
by Singha
so control of the upper watershed is the driver for arid israel
same as control of indus-jhelum-chenab headwaters in cashmere for the pakis

water is the ultimate motivator. water is life.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 17:29
by Singha
syrians have taken the jordanian border posts except the ISIS owned part

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 17:30
by Singha
the ISIS is in possession of that 1000 sq km area backed by the golan heights.

they are next on hitlist.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 02:36
by Rudradev
It has been a mistake for us on BRF to compartmentalize discussion on the "Levant Crisis" vs. "West Asia/Gulf" in different threads, because it produced a blind spot of analysis at the point of convergence. ... with-putin

Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati Officials Privately Pushed for Trump to Strike a “Grand Bargain” with Putin

Adam Entous
July 9, 2018

During a private meeting shortly before the November, 2016, election, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, floated to a longtime American interlocutor what sounded, at the time, like an unlikely grand bargain. The Emirati leader told the American that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, might be interested in resolving the conflict in Syria in exchange for the lifting of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Current and former U.S. officials said that bin Zayed, known as M.B.Z., was not the only leader in the region who favored rapprochement between the former Cold War adversaries. While America’s closest allies in Europe viewed with a sense of dread Trump’s interest in partnering with Putin, three countries that enjoyed unparallelled influence with the incoming Administration—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E.—privately embraced the goal. Officials from the three countries have repeatedly encouraged their American counterparts to consider ending the Ukraine-related sanctions in return for Putin’s help in removing Iranian forces from Syria.

Experts say that such a deal would be unworkable, even if Trump were interested. They say Putin has neither the interest nor the ability to pressure Iranian forces to leave Syria. Administration officials have said that Syria and Ukraine will be among the topics that Trump and Putin will discuss at their summit in Helsinki on July 16th. White House officials did not respond to a request for comment.


M.B.Z. is regarded as one of the Middle East’s strategic thinkers. More than other Arab leaders of his generation, he hails from the school of Realpolitik. During the Obama Administration, M.B.Z. sought to establish closer ties between the U.A.E. and Putin, in the hope of encouraging Moscow to scale back its partnership with Iran, particularly in Syria. (Much like Israel, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia consider Iran their biggest strategic threat. They also lacked trust in President Obama.)

As an inducement for Putin to partner with Gulf states rather than Iran, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia started making billions of dollars in investments in Russia and convening high-level meetings in Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and the Seychelles.

It is unclear whether M.B.Z.’s preëlection proposal came from Putin himself or one of his confidants, or whether the Emirati leader came up with the idea. But the comment suggested that M.B.Z. believed that turning Putin against Iran would require sanctions relief for Moscow, a concession that required the support of the American President. If Hillary Clinton had won the election, the idea of accepting Russian aggression in Ukraine would have been a nonstarter, current and former U.S. officials told me. But Trump promised a different approach.

Israeli officials lobbied for rapprochement between Washington and Moscow soon after Trump’s election victory. In a private meeting during the transition, Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States and one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest confidants, said that the Israeli government was encouraging the incoming Trump Administration to coöperate more closely with Putin, starting in Syria, with the hope of convincing Moscow to push the Iranians to leave the country, an attendee told me.

Like M.B.Z., Netanyahu made courting Putin a priority, particularly after Russia’s military intervention in Syria in 2015. The Israeli leader wanted to insure that Israeli forces could continue to access Syrian airspace, which the Russians partially controlled, to prevent the deployment of advanced weapons systems by Iran and its proxies that could threaten the Jewish state. A senior Israeli official declined to comment on Dermer’s message but said that “Israel does believe it is possible to get a U.S.-Russian agreement in Syria that would push the Iranians out,” and that doing so “could be the beginning of an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations over all.”

Separately, a former U.S. official recalled having a conversation after Trump’s Inauguration with an Israeli Cabinet minister with close ties to Netanyahu in which the minister pitched the American on the idea of “trading Ukraine for Syria.” The former official told me, “You can understand why Russia’s help with Syria is a far higher priority for Israel than pushing back on Russian aggression in Ukraine. But I considered it a major stretch for Israel to try to convince the United States that U.S. interests are well served by looking the other way at Russian aggression in Ukraine. Of course, Trump may disagree for his own reasons.”

After Trump took office, the idea was raised again, by Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister of the U.A.E., during a private March, 2017, dinner that included several other guests. “Their message was ‘Why don’t we lift the Ukrainian sanctions on Russia in exchange for getting the Russians to push Iran out of Syria,’ ” an attendee recalled the foreign ministers saying. A senior U.A.E. official said that he did not recall the discussion. The dinner attendee told me, “It wasn’t a trial balloon. They were trying to socialize the idea.”

The Americans who heard the Israeli, Emirati, and Saudi pitches in late 2016 and early 2017 assumed that the idea was dead. But ahead of the Helsinki summit, Trump started making statements that suggested he could be open to making a deal with Putin after all.

On June 8th, Trump called for Russia to be readmitted to the Group of Seven industrial nations. (Russia was expelled four years ago, after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.) Then, during a dinner at the G-7 summit in Canada, Trump reportedly said that Crimea was Russian because the people who lived there spoke Russian. Several weeks later, when asked whether reports that he would drop Washington’s long-standing opposition to the annexation of Crimea were true, Trump responded, “We’re going to have to see.”


Israel, KSA, and UAE (IKU bloc) are working together to broker a deal between the US and Russia: US lifts sanctions imposed on Russia after the Ukraine conflict and the accession of Crimea to Russia. In return, Russia denies Iran and its allies strategic space in Syria (or at least, collaborates passively with Israeli efforts to deny Iran such a foothold).

The IKU bloc did not believe that Hillary Clinton sarkar would have been amenable to such a deal because of their inveterate antipathy to Russia (they would never reconcile to the partition of Ukraine). However they have been working on the Trump administration, which seems willing to make amends with Russia so as to isolate Iran.

US strategic thinking seems to be: divide the Shia belt that was beginning to coalesce from Iran to Lebanon with Russian godfathership. UAE and KSA have been investing heavily in Russia to try and buy Putin over to their side and away from the Iran-led pan-Shia alliance.

It looks like exploratory moves by both Washington and Moscow towards embracing the IKU bloc's program are currently under way.

This explains why the Israelis have been able to carry out airstrikes in Syria with impunity despite the existence of S400s there. It also explains why Trump is busy disrupting NATO, recommending that Russia be reinstated in the G8, and preparing for a conciliatory summit with Putin as of this week.

Implications for India: Pentagon has already asked US Congress for a CATSAA waiver for India's purchases of Russian arms. However Nikki Haley came to Delhi to personally warn us against any sort of continuing engagement with Iran. This shows that driving a wedge between Russia and the Iran/Shia-belt is of utmost strategic importance for the US, even insofar as it impacts the relations of other countries with Russia and Iran respectively. This is all in the immediate term.

Implications for other countries are also interesting. Trump has upped his trade war against China to the tune of tariffs against $200B of Chinese exports. China has stood firm and told the US that they will not give up one single inch of their maritime claims in the Indo-China Sea. So things look primed for increasing hostility between US and China, as well as between US and Iran, even as US moves closer to Russia via negotiations brokered by the IKU bloc.

What about Pakistan? I think this is a huge advantage for them. They are slowly running afoul of their CPEC masters, but luckily for them, at this very moment the US is likely wooing Pakistan once again to quickly resolve Afghanistan and possibly as a bulwark against Iran. UAE and KSA are old friends and sponsors of Pakistan and the Taliban, and will lend their voice to support the restoration of Pindi amongst Washington's favoured munnas. The US insistence on India cutting off engagement with Iran, and thereby losing access via Chahbahar to Afghanistan, is an additional bonus for the Pakis.

India must carefully consider the long-term implications of these profoundly shifting geopolitical dynamics.

-Greater US-China hostility
-Possible distancing of Russia-China relationship if the US-IKU wedge is successfully driven between them

-Russia and US, if brought together by IKU, cannot be easily played against each other to our advantage. They may even collaborate to deny us tech, for example (remember the cryogenic engine saga).
-UAE and KSA will push for the restoration of Pakistan's favoured status in Washington. Pakistan will gain leverage. Pakistan and KSA will have a free hand to continue pushing the Wahhabization of Indian Muslims as well as our near-abroad (from Afghanistan to Myanmar to Sri Lanka to Maldives). Cashmere is a theatre of particular concern.
-Iran, while no great or reliable friend to India, was a useful balancer and important energy supplier. It also could have provided some degree of access to Afghanistan via Chahbahar. Its isolation and possibly defeat/regime-change in a war with US-IKU will be bad news.

Your inputs please.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 03:04
by Rudradev
So India is already taking the side of the Israel-KSA-UAE bloc against Iran, though in a supportive noncombatant role: ... 300859.ece

Summary: At the request of diplomats from the UAE, India is giving medical treatment to GCC-backed Yemeni govt soldiers injured in the civil war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

No wonder Iran has started squawking:
India will lose 'special privileges' if it buys crude from Saudi Arabia, U.S.: Iranian diplomat

Note that these dire warnings were issued by the Iranian Deputy Ambassador not at the govt. level, but while addressing a meeting organized by the All India Minorities Front (!) in New Delhi. That itself is a different kind of warning.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 03:21
by V_Raman
The days of India fearing Pakistan being resurrected are gone. IKU or whoever it maybe - have learned their lessons with Pakistan. If we cannot handle Pakistan - we are good for nothing regardless.

We underestimate the leverage USA has on India. We have no choice but to passively go with IKU and USA at this stage.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 05:20
by Suresh S
Good analysis by RD. My 2 cents. Putin will not abandon Iran. Reasons are many. Historical enemity between Jews and orthodox Russians . Too much Russian blood shed in the Communist revolution by Jews including the murder of the last Czar and destruction of orthodox churches and murder of priests.Too many negative things done by USA against first the USSR and than Russia. Starting with the war in Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine. These things can not be reconciled that easily by UAE and saudis.We are in a tough spot and RDs analysis is on the money. But India must not abandon Iran, not that I love them at all, but I dislike and distrust the saudis a lot more. Unfortunately realpolitik will force us to take the side of UAE and Saudis . Oil, Indian expats sending money to India and investments in India by UAE and Saudis.If that was not enough our relations with Israel in defense tech and business relations with US will force our hand. A very tough situation indeed.If India can some how maintain a working relation with Iran through all this govt will deserve a gold medal.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 07:58
by chanakyaa
RD saar,

The IKU block you are referring to is really Israel (supported by ungle) bank rolled by KSA/UAE. With respect to Ruskies, there is nothing KSA/UAE has that it can offer to Ruskies (including any and all investments) except using the OPEC platform to keep oil prices elevated which is one thing that benefits Ruskies tremendously. Once oil prices stay high, KSA/UAE has nothing to offer to Ruskies; they are useless.

IKU bloc bringing some truce between ungle and Ruskies is nice wishful thinking, but neither ungle nor Ruskies are disillusioned to disregard what one has been trying to do the other.

Ruskies may agree to contain some Eye-ranian activities in Syria in exchange for sanction relief, but it will not let Eye-ran slip of its influence. The day Syria and Eye-ran falls, it is game over for Ruskies. It is an existential threat to Ruskies (read oil/gas). Primary reason why Ruskies is in Syria in the first place. In fact Ruskies may agree to proactively monitor Syria and Eye-ran, as a compromise, to ensure that there is no threat to Israel, but it would be foolish for them to let go of that leverage. All that S-X00 transfer is lot of hot air.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 10:42
by Singha
>> Ruskies may agree to proactively monitor Syria and Eye-ran, as a compromise, to ensure that there is no threat to Israel

seems to be the deal playing out in daraa. assad will reconquista all the border tracts , not push too much in the golan heights and rus via assad / iran will kind of ensure the hezbollah do not use the syrian side of the golan heights upto some distance to stir the pot in israel villages.

rus is waiting for DT to wind up the al-tanf project and pull out of more of eastern syria though a complete us withdrawal is unlikely because it is unsure of future iraqi govt posture wrt to us presence on iraqi soil. assad will seep in via tribal alliances where the us vacates.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 13 Jul 2018 22:49
by Austin
Yemeni forces shoot down #Saudi fighter jet in #Asir as it was returning from a bombing mission

Image ... 8023510018

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 14 Jul 2018 08:24
by Cain Marko
^Going by the tail, looks like an f15

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 14 Jul 2018 08:54
by Singha
yes the rectangular air intake is also seen. must have been on a low level mission. the wing has snapped and rotated upside down.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 16 Jul 2018 09:49
by Shanmukh
habal wrote:take a look at lake Ram in golan heights, it is completely rain fed and always remains full. So the area receives ample and more rainfall.

Majdal Shams, the biggest Druze settlement, is on the banks of Lake Ram. However, its population is just about 10K & it still does not satisfy all its needs from Lake Ram. The continuous drought has shown just how vulnerable it is. Take a look at the article.,734 ... 25,00.html

Secondly, Lake Ram is in the FOOTHILLS of the Golan, not on the plateau itself.

A brief look at golan heights resources explains its vital position in making Israel water secure.

* the Golan Heights contributes to quenching one-third of Israel’s entire water supply. Its catchments leading to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret – Israel’s main water source – receive long bouts of heavy rainfall, particularly during the colder months and occasionally during stormy season in the summer.

I looked at the hydrology data of Israel since 1980s. Here, you can see a limited part of the data in English. ... JORDAN.pdf. The full version is turned into a book in Hebrew called Israeli Water Resources by Haim Gvirtzman. The total Israeli consumption of water was ~2200 million cubic metres of water in 2016.

There you will see that the Golan supplies about 195 million cubic metres of water to the Lake Kinneret. The total capacity of Lake Kinneret & its sister reservoirs in the area varies between 600 & 650 million cubic metres of water. In short, not only is the Golan not responsible for 1/3 of the water resources of Israel, but not even 1/3 of Kinneret. The confirmed contribution of water from the Golan to Israel's resources is <10%, based on the contribution to the Kinneret.

There is one other bit of contribution of water from the Golan to Israeli water resources. This data is much more variable. The rivulets of Golan contribute to some extent to the Banias river. The amount varies (depending on the year) between 50 & 120 million cubic metres of water. Even assuming the full 120 [which is the maximum], one still ends up with <15% of the total water resources of Israel. Not sure where you are getting the 1/3 of the water sources of Israel from.

Secondly, even if the Syrians get control of the Golan, they cannot just turn away the water from flowing into the Lake Kinneret. Mt. Hermon, the highest point, sits smack in the middle of the demilitarised zone between Israeli Golan & Syrian Golan & almost all of Israeli Golan slopes towards Israel & the rivers in the area naturally drain into the Kinneret. Unless the Syrians find a way to do away with the Mt. Hermon, they cannot just redirect the water. The descent is extremely rapid. Golan's altitude varies from ~3000 metres at the highest point to 212 metres BELOW sea level at the lowest point. Consequently, it is hard to store the water, which anyway flows mostly into the Kinneret.

Finally, as I mentioned, the ability of the Golan to store water is extremely limited. That is why the area is so thinly populated, despite the region being annexed by the Israelis in 1981. Compare the number of settlers in the Golan (~20,000 in 2016) against the 4 lakhs in West Bank. If the region were so fertile & easy to cultivate as you are making it all out to be, why aren't the Israelis thronging the region in huge numbers? It was annexed practically by Israel nearly 40 years ago.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 16 Jul 2018 10:17
by kvraghav
Singha wrote:yes the rectangular air intake is also seen. must have been on a low level mission. the wing has snapped and rotated upside down.

Rectangular intake can also mean typhoon

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 19 Jul 2018 14:48
by UlanBatori
Yemeni UAV hits ARAMCO refinery in Ryiadh
Yemen Fights Back
‏ @YemenFightsBack
15h15 hours ago
For the 1st time, Yemeni unmanned aircraft reaches the Saudi capital of Riyadh and Aramco is its target.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 19 Jul 2018 14:48
by UlanBatori
Time to invest in oil stocks?

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 19 Jul 2018 14:49
by UlanBatori
Yemen Fights Back Retweeted
‏ @mowali75
17h17 hours ago

Mowali Retweeted المسيرة - عاجل

Saudi announces about a fire erupting in Aramco in Riyadh

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 19 Jul 2018 22:22
by UlanBatori
Brookingsfart: KSA & UAE have a disastrous Yemen strategy

result has been a disaster. This is true not only for Yemen, whose war and humanitarian crisis only seem to worsen by the day, but also for the UAE and Saudi Arabia themselves, with Iran in particular gaining influence at their expense...

Saudi Arabia and the UAE both look incompetent and cruel, a deadly combination. An end to their interventions would leave both of them, and Yemen, better off.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 20 Jul 2018 07:33
by Singha
Uae backed forces continue to advance up western coast of yemen trying to cut off houthis entirely from the sea

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 20 Jul 2018 10:03
by Y. Kanan
Rudradev wrote:Pakistan and KSA will have a free hand to continue pushing the Wahhabization of Indian Muslims

Can't we just outlaw foreign funding of mosques in this country? We've been hearing about this issue forever and no one ever proposes this solution. If we can't sell that to the public, and muster enough domestic support to weather the inevitable storm of indignation from our own muslim community, then do we even deserve to call ourselves a nation?

Stopping the foreign funding of Indian mosques and madrassas shouldn't be a contentious issue; this is an undeniable, clear threat to Indian security. How is that even debatable?

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 20 Jul 2018 13:09
by Philip
An expose of the covert support of the Syrian rebels and how they've been armed by shady western and Arab potentates,a gross interference in Syria's sovereignty. ... 51841.html

A Bosnian signs off weapons he says are going to Saudi Arabia – but how did his signature turn up in Aleppo?
Exclusive: The documents, some lying amid smashed guns and shrapnel, provided the most intriguing paper trail yet discovered of just who is producing the weapons that have armed the Assad regime’s most ferocious Islamist opponents

Robert Fisk Novi Travnik, central Bosnia
18 hours ago

Click to follow
The Independent Voices
Ifet Krnjic had recently retired from his position at the arms factory
Ifet Krnjic had recently retired from his position at the arms factory ( Nelofer Pazira )
In the basement of a bombed-out al-Qaeda arms storage building in eastern Aleppo last year, I found a weapons log book from a mortar factory in Bosnia – with the handwritten name of one of their senior officials, Ifet Krnjic, on each page. It was dispatched from the Balkans with a cargo of 500 120mm mortars in January 2016. But now, in the forested heart of central Bosnia, I have found Mr Krnjic, who says his company sent the arms to Saudi Arabia.

Sitting on the lawn of his home south of the weapons-manufacturing town of Novi Travnik, he brings his finger down onto the first page of the log book which I showed him. “This is my signature! Yes, that’s me!” Krnjic exclaims loudly. “It’s a warranty for the 120mm mortar launcher – this is Nato standard. It [the shipment] went to Saudi Arabia. It was part of a supply of 500 mortars. I remember the Saudi shipment well. They [the Saudis] came to our factory to inspect the weapons at the beginning of 2016.”

This is astonishing. Not only does Krnjic, the 64-year old newly retired weapons control director of the BNT-TMiH factory at Novi Travnik, acknowledge his signature – but he says he recalls the visits of Saudi officials and military personnel to inspect the mortars before their shipment to Riyadh, and insists all such sales were strictly in accordance with the legal end-user certificates which his company obtained from all customers, stating that the weapons were to be used only by the armed forces of the nations which purchased them.

A weapons guarantee paper signed by Krnjic in February 2016, found in the basement of a ‘Nusrah’ office in eastern Aleppo (The Independent)
Five-hundred mortars is a massive shipment of weapons – most European armies don’t have that many in their individual inventories – and some of them at least appear to have ended up in the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s Islamist Nusrah Front/al-Qaeda enemies in northern Syria within six months of their dispatch from Bosnia 1,200 miles away. Because the mortars left Bosnia on 15 January 2016 under a BNT-TMiH factory guarantee for 24 months – numbered 779 and with a weapons series number of 3677 – the documents now in The Independent’s possession must have reached Aleppo by late July of 2016, when Syrian government troops totally surrounded the enclave held by armed factions including Nusrah, Isis and other Islamist groups condemned as “terrorists” by the United States.

When The Independent asked the Saudi authorities to respond to the documents in its possession and their discovery in eastern Aleppo, the Saudi embassy in London replied that the Kingdom did not give “practical or other support to any terrorist organisation [including Nusrah and Isis] in Syria or any other country” and described the allegations raised by The Independent as “vague and unfounded”. It said Saudi Arabia had been a “leading voice within the international community in support of a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria, while at the same time working with our neighbours and allies to counter the growth of forces of extremism”. It made no comment on the weapon log book and arms control coupons, photographs of which The Independent had asked it to examine.

However, it is clear that Saudi Arabia’s strict Wahabi faith has inspired Nusrah, Isis and other violent Islamist groups in Syria. Saudi Arabia has often been accused of arming the rebels in Syria, and religious publications from Riyadh have been found in towns formerly held by the Islamist groups. Besides, Saudi Arabia has demanded the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and his government in Damascus.

Ifet Krnjic, former weapons control director at the Novi Travnik arms factory in Bosnia, whose signature was found on weapons shipment papers (Nelofer Pazira)
In the last stages of the 2016 siege of Aleppo, Syrian and Russian forces were condemned in the west for the daily bombing of civilian areas of eastern Aleppo, and video footage provided constant images of dead and wounded men, women and children. During this period, however, the city’s Islamist defenders – most of whom later departed under a promise of safe passage for jihadi-held areas of Idlib province – fired barrages of mortar shells at government-held western Aleppo.

In the weeks that followed the mid-December surrender of the fighters in eastern Aleppo, the square miles of wreckage remained sown with mines and booby-traps. There were whole districts still cordoned off when I entered three former military barracks of the Islamist groups in February 2017, rubble sometimes blocking my path; stones, bricks, sheet metal and bomb fragments strewn across the roads and inside still standing, though badly damaged, buildings. Inside one of these, lying half-concealed amid iron fragments and field dressings, I found piles of discarded documents containing firing instructions for machine guns and mortars, all of them in English.

They also included weapons shipment papers and arms instruction booklets from Bosnia and Serbia, the pages still damp from winter rains and some stained by footprints. I stuffed as many as I could in the satchel I always carry in wars, later finding – in another building – a Bulgarian weapons shipment paper for artillery shells. In a deep basement of a third building in the Ansari district, with the words Jaish al-Mujaheddin (Army of the Holy Fighters) crudely painted but still visible on the front, its upper floors clearly bombed by Syrian or Russian jets, lay dozens of empty boxes for anti-armour weapons, all marked with their maker’s name – the Hughes Aircraft Company, of California. The boxes were labelled “Guided Missile Surface Attack” with stock numbers starting with the computer code “1410-01-300-0254”.

These papers, some of them lying amid smashed guns and pieces of shrapnel, provide the most intriguing paper trail yet discovered of just who is producing the weapons that have armed the Assad regime’s most ferocious Islamist opponents – and how they apparently reach the fighters of Syria via countries ‘friendly’ to the west. While claiming that he would have to “search” for documents on the end-user of the 2016 mortar shipment, Adis Ikanovic, the managing director of the Novi Travnik factory, acknowledged to me in his head office that most of his company’s exports went to “Saudi Arabia, probably”. An email reminder to Ikanovic six days after our meeting, for copies of the 2016 end-user certificate papers for the mortar shipment, elicited no reply.

Adis Ikanovic, managing director of the BNT-TMiH arms factory in Bosnia. Most of his arms exports, he said, went to Saudi Arabia (Nelofer Pazira)
Milojko Brzakovic, managing director of the Zastava arms factory in Serbia, looks through the arms manuals I found in Aleppo – including a 20-page instruction document for the powerful Coyote MO2 machine gun which his company manufactures – and says “there is not a single country in the Middle East which did not buy weapons from Zastava in the past 15 years”. He agrees that the documents I presented to him, which included a 52-page manual for his company’s 7.62mm M84 machine gun, which I also found in the Aleppo ruins beneath a bombed apartment bloc which had ‘Nusrah’ painted in Arabic on its wall, were published by Zastava in Serbia, and that Saudi Arabia and the Emirates were among his customers.

Milojko Brzakovic, managing director of the Zastava arms factory at Kragujovac in Serbia, admitted Saudi Arabia was a customer (Nelofer Pazira)
Ifet Krnjic’s account of the mortar shipment from BNT-TMiH in Bosnia is both precise and detailed. “When the Saudis came to our factory to inspect at the beginning of 2016, there was a Saudi ‘minister’... and some Saudi officers who also came to inspect the weapons before receiving them. The officers wore civilian clothes. The minister was in a robe. All our production after the [Bosnian] war is under the control of the Americans and Nato who are always coming here… and they know each and every piece of our weapons which go outside our factory.”

Can you ‘rebuild’ an ancient mosque?
Krnjic, who lives in the tiny village of Potok Krnjic, Bosnian hamlets sometimes carry the names of extended families, south of Novi Travnik, describes how he recognised Nato officers visiting the plant, one of them “a Canadian officer, a black guy whose name is Stephen”. Ikanovic, the BNT-TMiH boss, confirms that all weapons shipments, including those to Saudi Arabia, were checked by the European Union Force Althea (EUFOR), the successor to Nato’s SFOR, and set up under the 1995 Dayton accords which ended the Bosnian war. Ikanovic says an Austrian general visits his factory for inspections, identified to me by other employees as Austrian two star Major General Martin Dorfer, the EUFOR commander. Krnjic says weapons from the plant are exported by Tuzla airport or through Sarajevo.

The Saudis, Krnjic tells me, “were never complaining because we have had a very good reputation for a long time, not only for our weapons but for who can give the shortest delivery date… I know I should not say all of this, but Nato and the EU have given us the green light to do this. Ours is the only mortar that can shoot from asphalt. Each mortar has a base plate, but other base plates from other countries’ mortars break – they can only be used on soft ground. With ours, the mortars can also be carried in sacs – they re three shells, one barrel, you shoot at a building and then you disappear. Only Chinese mortars are better than ours – I saw them in Iraq.”

Documents found in bombed Nusrah militia basements in eastern Aleppo
It transpires that although Krnjic has never visited Syria, he was employed in a weapons factory built by BNT-TMiH in Iraq in 1986, during the eight year Iran-Iraq war. “I was working inside the factory in Iraq – I wasn’t waging a war there” he says. “The factory there was more modern than ours [in Novi Travnik] – we were in Fallujah and Ramadi. By that time, we were already doing rocket launchers for Saddam, 260mm with a range of 500km. I saw Saddam three times.”

But Novi Travnik’s fortunes declined when the Bosnian war began in 1992, its once 10,000-strong workforce today reduced to fewer than 900. Much of the factory compound is now overgrown with rusted steel walls around some of its machine shops. Krnjic, a member of Bosnia’s Social Democratic Party and a veteran of the country’s civil war, retired from the company some months before Ikanovic was appointed managing director.

“I cannot export anything without a licence with the approval of five different ministers here in Bosnia, and it [the contract] is overlooked by Nato,” Ikanovic said. “We can only sell to countries which are on Nato’s ‘white list’.” Like Krnjic, and Brzakovic in Serbia, he says that his arms company must receive an internationally recognised end-user certificate for any arms export – but agrees that exporters had neither an obligation nor any way of preventing the further shipment of its weapons to third parties once they had arrived at their initial destination.

* This article has been updated to take account of a response from the Saudi embassy in London, received after a deadline for its receipt had passed and after the piece was initially published. 17.15 19/7/18

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 21 Jul 2018 22:00
by Singha
using carrots and stick policy the saa have nearly reached the golan border, the isis zone is only one left and they are next.
holdouts are being bussed to idlib, rest getting cases settled.
after the heavy fighting in east ghouta, the reconquista of sweida, daraa and quneitra regions has been swift and much less bloodshed.

the russians must have struck a deal with israel to not interfere in exchange for keeping the persians away from golan front


Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 22 Jul 2018 07:57
by Singha
Saa has reached golan border only isis pocket is left

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 22 Jul 2018 09:03
by chetak
Singha wrote:>> Ruskies may agree to proactively monitor Syria and Eye-ran, as a compromise, to ensure that there is no threat to Israel

seems to be the deal playing out in daraa. assad will reconquista all the border tracts , not push too much in the golan heights and rus via assad / iran will kind of ensure the hezbollah do not use the syrian side of the golan heights upto some distance to stir the pot in israel villages.

rus is waiting for DT to wind up the al-tanf project and pull out of more of eastern syria though a complete us withdrawal is unlikely because it is unsure of future iraqi govt posture wrt to us presence on iraqi soil. assad will seep in via tribal alliances where the us vacates.

Isn't there a route for an gulf based/sourced oil/gas pipeline that would go through syria and onward to europe to service that very huge and lucrative market that really complicates matters??

It may well be at the very root of the current crises with the principal players jockeying for the all important advantage to press home their own vital interests.

Why is there no serious analysis of this vital factor??. Many have often wondered as to why russia is involved in the gulf, in the first place.

Good old economics could easily explain many things.

Both russia and iran, but especially russia would be extremely wary of a move which would completely undercut the existing russian monopoly markets in europe



Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 22 Jul 2018 14:36
by Singha
Israel says it has carried out an evacuation of members of Syria's White Helmets civil defence group from a war zone in south-western Syria.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they had acted on a request from the US and European nations.
Some 800 people were evacuated to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight, Israeli media say.
The White Helmets describe themselves as a volunteer workforce that acts to save people in Syria's war zones.
Although they operate only in rebel-held areas, they say they are non-partisan.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 23 Jul 2018 07:18
by Singha
^^^ western assets were evacuated from this ISIS ruled pocket by prior warning. it will soon be over for isis there.

al masdar news
According to the military source, the Syrian Army entered the ISIS-held town of Jaleen, tonight, liberating several sites inside and outside of it.

The source added that the Syrian Army is now working to secure the entire town, as the ISIS-affiliated Jaysh Khaled bin Walid terrorists continue to retreat south.

In addition to their advance at Jaleen, the Syrian Army also scored an advance near the key town of Tafas, which is located at the northeastern corridor of the Islamic State pocket.

These advances took place tonight after the Russian Aerospace Forces launched a massive attack against the Islamic State terrorists inside the Yarmouk Basin region.

The Russian Aerospace Forces reportedly launched more than 30 airstrikes over this region in southwest Daraa, paving the way for the Syrian Army to advance through the terrorist group’s fractured defenses.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 24 Jul 2018 07:41
by Singha

the tattered remains of the revolution in southern syria


Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 24 Jul 2018 07:43
by Singha
unless the ISIS want to put up a fight and get supplies from israel and jordan, its all over but the formalities.

ISIS are not accepted in idlib. a new destination will need to be worked out for them if they want to surrender.

most might slip away into jordan via the mountains

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 24 Jul 2018 08:42
by Austin
Moscow's Syria Campaign: Lessons for the Art of Strategy ... n_2018.pdf

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 24 Jul 2018 09:41
by Singha
spetsnaz in syria

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 24 Jul 2018 09:42
by Singha
can anyone id the weapons they are holding?

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 24 Jul 2018 22:30
by nachiket
Top 2 are Ak-101 (or maybe Ak-74M) and Dragunov both silenced. Could not identify the sniper rifle at the bottom. Only a part of it is visible.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 25 Jul 2018 09:40
by Singha
may be on of this family the accuracy international AXMC ... 26SPB.aspx

its a british co with a big user base and russia is listed as a client . nice folding stock with a lot of adjustments . ... ic_Warfare

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 25 Jul 2018 09:52
by Singha
south syria has fallen so fast, the syrians dont have enough buses for idlib route and troops to occupy the fallen areas
FSA jihadists are being asked to stay in place until their turn comes lest ISIS creep back into the vacuum ... rds-idlib/

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 25 Jul 2018 16:51
by Singha
syrians are pressing on the isis pocket held by jaish khaled bin waled backed by the golan.

the IDF fired 2 patriot missiles and downed a Su22 near the border.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 25 Jul 2018 22:31
by dinesh_kimar
^ The sniper rifle held by Spetnaz is Steyr SSG 08.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 26 Jul 2018 09:09
by Singha ... SApp_Other
Surprise Isis attacks leave more than 200 dead in south-west Syria
Suicide bombers strike targets in Sweida city and launch simultaneous raids on nearby villages

Kareem Shaheen in Istanbul

Wed 25 Jul 2018 19.35 BST First published on Wed 25 Jul 2018 07.43 BST

More than 200 people have been killed in a brutal surprise offensive by Islamic State in Syria that involved multiple suicide bombings and simultaneous raids in which militants stormed villages and slaughtered civilians.

The attacks on Wednesday targeted the city of Sweida and nearby towns and villages in south-western Syria – areas that before the war were populated mostly by members of the Druze minority sect, and that are nominally under government control but have largely stayed out of the fighting that devastated much of the country over the last seven years.

The director of health for the surrounding Sweida province told the pro-government Sham FM that 215 people had been killed in the attack.

Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said the death toll had reached at least 156 people, and local journalists said the number was at least 175.

The militants are also believed to have kidnapped dozens of people and taken them back to their hideouts.

Local sources said the attacks began almost simultaneously in the early hours of Wednesday, between 3.50am and 4.30am.

“They attacked homes in a coordinated attack. They knocked on doors, and then entered the homes and killed people in there,” said Ahed Mrad, a journalist from Sweida. “A lot of victims fell before any bullet was fired because they were going into the homes and slaughtering people silently, at dawn, without anyone being aware.”

Isis claimed responsibility for the offensive, which developed into armed clashes with local militiamen. The terror group also launched two suicide attacks on the provincial capital, also called Sweida.

Syrian state media said government forces killed two suicide bombers before they were able to detonate their vests.

The offensive was one of the deadliest in Sweida and government-controlled areas in recent months. It occurred as the government of Bashar al-Assad continued to wage a campaign in the neighboring province of Daraa to reclaim control over all of southern Syria.

Isis still controls a sliver of territory in Daraa in the Yarmouk river valley, near the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The area has been the target of unrelenting airstrikes over the past few days to force the militants’ surrender.

The fighters who carried out the attacks may have emerged from Isis-controlled territory in Syria’s eastern desert, where more fighters arrived in May from the southern suburbs of Damascus after a government offensive that forced their surrender.

The militants, who once controlled nearly half of Syria’s landmass in 2015, have seen the territory under their command shrink under concerted campaigns by the US-led coalition and Syrian government forces over the last year. But they still pose a potent danger through isolated attacks and occasional coordinated raids as they continue to conduct an insurgency from their remaining hideouts.

The SOHR said government forces had battled jihadis who stormed the villages from an Isis pocket north-east of the city. Government troops and allied forces hold all of Sweida province except for that enclave.

The air force pounded militant hideouts north-east of the city, state media said, adding that calm had mostly prevailed in the area, but fears remained that the militants might launch follow-up raids.

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Syria condemned the attack, saying civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected and spared “the brunt of violence and conflict wherever they are”.

Re: Levant crisis - III

Posted: 26 Jul 2018 09:11
by Singha
sweida is one of the core druze areas and the hometown of late issam zahredine. must have been lightly policed and sleeper cells and raiders merged together for this lethal attack.

there are areas near al tanf known to be rife with isis sleeper cells and their fellow travellers - few days back someone published a map on twitter.