Syraq SITREP 55: IAF Strikes Hezbollah Shi'a Foreign Fighters Training Base as US Warns Damascus Against Liberating Southwestern Territory Close to Jordan and Israel

U.S. and Israel Prodding Syria and Hezbollah into a Larger War, With Threat to Attack SAA If it Tries to Liberate Southern Syria from Al-Qaeda/ISIS Allied Jihadists

The warning issued by the U.S. State Department through spokeswoman Heather Nauert states:

As Germany-based blogger 'b' at Moon of Alabama notes, this leaves unsaid what exactly the United States will do if pro-Assad government forces push toward Daraa, as they have threatened to do via leaflet drops if tribes in the area fail to reconcile with Damascus. Moscow had previously promised Tel Aviv and Washington it would not support the presence of Iran's troops in the area, and Tehran's Ambassador to Jordan denies any Iranians were operating in southern Syria. Quneitra, still under jihadi control, was a bloody battleground during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It sits very close to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) occupied Golan Heights, which Israel recently said the United States may legally recognize its sovereignty to (and Genie Oil and Gas leases plus water rights to develop) in defiance of international law. Daraa, located further south, is close to the Jordanian border. It has been a key supply hub for the jihadists and foreign fighters through the seven year Syrian War.

Given the fact that Iran has no forces in the area bombarding SAA units advancing to liberate territory that indisputably belongs to Syria would be a deeply cynical and aggressive gesture, especially if it were justified by the Trump White House as fighting Iranian influence. Since Putin's historic Victory Day hosting of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Moscow has suggested that the Iranians and all other non-Russian foreign militaries leave Syria, now that Daesh/ISIS has been dispersed and Damascus is secure. The Syrian Arab Army recently released soldiers from their obligations if they have been in service since 2010, a sign that Damascus is increasingly less strapped for manpower than it was for the last several years.

However, the Russians have issued no ultimatums for the departure of Turkish or American troops, as Moscow continues to coordinate with Ankara and deconflict with the Pentagon. This week's border incursion by the Turks northeast of Latakia has angered the SAA, but Moscow is trying to defuse the situation. Jihadists who were shipped on the green buses with their families out of East Ghouta and other Damascus exurbs are now packed into Idlib, plagued by infighting and limited employment prospects -- besides working for Turks or trying to migrate through Turkey to Europe. The Turkish lira crisis, which is viewed by Erdogan's team as punishment for Turkey's recent alignment with Russia and Iran, as well as the U.S. Congress anti-Turkish vote to deny Ankara F35 jets if they buy S400 air defenses from Moscow, are a topic for another post.

For their part, the Iranians have said they will stay as long as Damascus wants them to stay. No statements have been issued regarding any timetables for the withdrawal of Iranian advisers from the war-torn country. Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah meanwhile, has warned Israel that the Lebanese Shi'a super militia is prepared to fight the Israelis on Syrian soil and repel any aggression. Clearly the IDF can fire heavy artillery at SAA units moving to take Quneitra and Daraa, and Syrian air defenses would be unable to repulse the volume of drones and missiles the Israelis could unleash. SAA use of Hezbollah like guerrilla tactics with small, dispersed groups of fighters equipped with ultra-modern and longer ranged Kornet D anti-tank missiles guided by small low-flying drones however, poses a serious threat to exposed IDF observation posts along the Golan Heights. Indeed, despite the cordial Putin-Netanyahu meeting and non-delivery of S300 air defense systems to the Syrian order of battle, Moscow appears to have supplied the Kornet D's to the SAA, as a credible deterrent against the Israelis going too far in their aggression.

After Russia Gate Failed to Take Down Trump, Will GCC/IsraelGate Damage POTUS?

Back in Washington, the concern that the Trump Administration may be leading the U.S. into a war with Iran or at least its Hezbollah proxies on behalf of Israel and its Saudi-led Gulf state allies is growing. Even the wildly hawkish towards Russia NBC News and New York Times, which over-hyped the deaths of a few Russian private military contractors from U.S. air strikes in Syria, is running stories citing former Obama State Department officials, who say Netanyahu's Iran nuclear program presentation was dishonest. Obama Administration officials who pushed for the Iranian nuclear deal are also alleging coordination between an Israeli psyops company Black Cube's attempts to defame them and Trump team members. The Israeli company has disavowed any connections to Trump or his campaign, but Israeli media outlets are reporting there is little doubt Mossad was aware of Black Cube's activities targeting supporters of the Iran deal like Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council.

Having failed miserably to prove the charge of collusion with the Kremlin to win the 2016 presidential election, Trump's political enemies are wisely shifting to the far more plausible argument: that team Trump led by the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner have accepted corrupting payoffs from the Saudis and Emiratis. The Never Trumper RINOs, many of them funded by aggressive neocons like William Kristol, are predictably focusing on the Gulf money and its alleged connections to Russia via OPEC channels rather than the Israelis.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, whose Russia focused mandate from the Justice Department can apparently expand at the drop of a hat, is reportedly investigating Trump Tower meetings between Donald Trump Jr. and the former CEO of Blackwater Erik Prince, in which a UAE lobbyist and an Israeli businessman offered their help to the campaign. In response, Joel Zamel, the Israeli-Australian CEO of WikiStrat, says through his lawyer that he neither made nor received any offer to work with the Trump campaign. But the spotlight has been focused on to what extent both the 'Anglo' and 'Zionist' wings of what regular RogueMoney guest The Saker calls the 'Anglo-Zionist Empire' use private spy firms for dirty tricks, including the Christopher Steele-employing Orbis Business Intelligence. As we observed in a previous Syraq SITREP, it seems the 'Anglo' wing of the empire centered in London used its asset Obama and U.S. intelligence agencies in a conspiracy to politically destroy Trump, while the 'Zionist' wing including the Zionists' GCC allies have been supporting Trump. At first glance, the Qatar story is an anomalous exception to this pattern -- though Doha has been tilting towards its neighbor Iran and fellow mega-gas exporters the Russians for quite some time.

A hacking campaign targeting President Trump's longtime businessman friend Elliott Broidy, for example, is the subject of a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles by Broidy against the ruling Al-Thani sheikhs of Doha. The Al-Thanis vigorously deny the allegations that they hacked Broidy's emails, and point to his lucrative contracts with the Saudi-aligned United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the motive for the lawsuit. But Qatar's relationship with the Trump entourage is not all bad or defined by the lobbying of their Saudi rivals. Jared Kushner's family real estate firm is reportedly receiving a bailout from Doha for their devilishly addressed money pit property at 666 5th Ave in Manhattan.

The Shifting Politics of Iran: Can Liberals Disentangle Themselves from the RussiaGate Dead End to Make a Common Antiwar Case with MAGA Conservatives and Libertarians?

In the big picture, the reporting on the Gulf states attempts to corrupt Washington, which included massive donations to the Clinton Foundation, ought to be welcomed by those opposed to wider Mideast conflagration -- even if those advancing the stories at NBC News or the NYT are doing so from hypocritical and partisan motives. Obama did after all, hand Libya with its vast oil wealth to the 'Gulfies' (as retired DIA analyst and Army Green Berets Col. Pat Lang derisively calls them) on a platter back in 2011. That was when Gaddafi was murdered and the North African country became a massive arms depot for the CIA-MI6-GCC backed Syria jihadists, as well as slavery and human trafficking into southern Europe.

Unfortunately, longtime Damascus correspondent Elijah J. Magnier is correct, that only Russia can seriously impede the U.S. should it decide to support Israeli military aggression to preserve a 'ceasefire (in reality a soft occupation) zone' in Quneitra or get directly involved. This is particularly true if Moscow's proposal to insert Russian military police into the area to act as peacekeepers while restoring Syrian sovereignty in Quneitra and Daraa is brushed off by the Israelis or the Trump Administration.

As the mainstream media is complicit in promoting the idea that militarily confronting Russia in Syria or elsewhere can be done on the cheap at little risk to American personnel, it seems difficult for a serious anti-war coalition to arise which an overcome nearly two years of RussiaGate propaganda. Nonetheless, a bipartisan amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed this week, co-sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC), declaring that the President has no mandate to strike Iran without Congressional authorization, represents a step in the right direction. Perhaps the larger Mideast war between the U.S./Israel and Syra/Iran/Hezbollah which 'W' the Intelligence Insider has been forecasting for many months can still be avoided?

So much now depends not on Russia, but also the Turks and ordinary Americans -- plus Europeans with their elites -- saying not just 'no' but 'hell no' to a war on Iran. But as we've seen with the campaign of harassing air strikes the Israelis have sustained for years, the thresh-hold just shy of an all out Mideast war abets a great deal of mischief and human suffering.