Wednesday, January 31, 2018

China And Russia Advance Technology For Satellite Destruction

Pentagon: China, Russia Soon Capable of Destroying U.S. Satellites


China and Russia are developing anti-satellite missiles and other weapons and will soon be capable of damaging or destroying all U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit, according to the Pentagon's Joint Staff.
The Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2, issued the warning in a recent report on the growing threat of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons from those states, according to officials familiar with the assessment.
The report concludes that "China and Russia will be capable of severely disrupting or destroying U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit" in the next several years, said the officials.
The capability to attack low-earth orbit satellites could be in place by 2020, the officials said.

A Joint Staff spokesman declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing internal reports.
The J-2 report echoes a similar but less specific warning from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in May.
"We assess that Russia and China perceive a need to offset any U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine," Coats said. "Both will continue to pursue a full range of anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. military effectiveness."
Coats added that both nations are pursuing information operations seeking international agreements that would limit U.S. defenses in space against such weapons.

Russia's space weapons include a "diverse suite of capabilities to affect satellites in all orbital regimes," Coats testified to Congress, including an airborne laser for use against U.S. satellites.
"Ten years after China intercepted one of its own satellites in low-earth orbit, its ground-launched ASAT missiles might be nearing operational service within the PLA," Coats said.
Both China and Russia also are developing debris-removing satellites that Coats said could be used to damage satellites.

Resilience is a term used by the Pentagon for protecting, hardening, or replacing satellites in a future conflict.
Low-earth orbit satellites operate between 100 miles and 1,242 miles above the earth and are used for reconnaissance and earth and ocean observation. Those low-orbiting satellites provide key military data used in preparing battlefields around the world for deploying forces in a conflict or crisis.
Also, weather monitoring and communications satellites, including Iridium, Globalstar, and Orbcomm, circle in low-earth orbit.

A number of critical intelligence and military communications satellites also operate in highly elliptical orbits that during orbit travel in an extremely low perigee close to earth where they will soon be vulnerable to Chinese or Russian attack.
All these low-earth orbit satellites are now highly vulnerable to Chinese or Russian anti-satellite weapons and capabilities.
Those capabilities range from several types of ground-launched space missiles, to lasers and electronic jammers, to small maneuvering satellites that can maneuver, grab, and crush orbiting satellites.

According to a report by the National Institute for Public Policy, as of 2016 there were 780 satellites in low earth orbit operated by 43 nations. At total of 37 highly elliptical orbit satellites will soon be vulnerable to Chinese or Russian ASATs.
"U.S. space systems are among the most fragile and vulnerable assets operated by the U.S. military," the report by former Pentagon missile expert Steve Lambakis states.
"This vulnerable communications and data collection, processing, and distribution infrastructure is worth billions of dollars and is vital to nearly every activity of the United States and, increasingly, the armed forces of U.S. allies," he stated.
China has deployed two road-mobile ASAT missile systems and is developing two more advanced ground-launched anti-satellite missile systems.

"With this range of direct-ascent ASAT capabilities, China may be capable of using hit-to-kill technologies to target and destroy surveillance satellites in low earth orbit, GPS satellites in medium earth orbit, and early warning satellites in geosynchronous orbit," Lambakis said. "Use of a single nuclear warhead in an ASAT role has the potential to decimate low altitude satellites."

Russia's anti-satellite forces have been rapidly built up in recent years, with estimated investments of $5 billion annually, after a lapse in the program after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Moscow's space weaponry includes development of a new ground-launch ASAT missile called the Nudol that was tested for the third time in December 2016. Other weapons include lasers and jammers that can blind or disrupt satellite electronics. Russia also has cyber weapons capable of disrupting satellite control systems on the ground.
Russia's newer surface-to-air missiles, including the S-300, S-400, and S-500 also are capable of hitting targets in low earth orbit, with the S-500 slated for deployment this year.

For maneuvering killer satellites, Russia in 2014 launched four satellites, including one that was observed maneuvering. The Pentagon suspects that satellite will be used for anti-satellite warfare. Two other of the remaining satellites were detected maneuvering after months of remaining in stationary orbit.

The Russian anti-satellite program also is expected to include an interceptor missile launched from a MiG-31 jet, similar to the now-defunct U.S. ASM-135.
Moscow also has developed high-altitude electro-magnetic pulse weapons that could be used disrupt the electronics of all satellites not hardened against EMP attack.

The Pentagon's Defense Science Board also warned of the strategic vulnerability of U.S. satellites in a report last March.
The board report said military satellite communications used for global operations, in particular, "will be contested by a myriad of effects ranging from reversible to destructive."
"The estimated and projected electronic threats against satellite communication (satcom) have rapidly escalated in the last few years and will continue to increase in the foreseeable future," the report, made public in March, said.
"Advances and proliferation in advanced electronic warfare (EW), kinetic, space, and cyber capabilities threaten our ability to maintain information superiority," the report said, noting "under severe stress situations, jamming can render all commercial satcom and most defense Satcom inoperable."
"This reality should be considered a crisis to be dealt with immediately," the board warned.

Making Totalitarianism Great Again

Europe: Making Totalitarianism Great Again

  • The European Union has programs in place that seek heavily to influence mainstream news outlets and journalists with its own agendas -- such as that of continued mass-migration into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. For this purpose, the European Commission recently funded the publication of a handbook with guidelines for journalists on how to write about migrants and migration.

  • It is seemingly in the interest of these media representatives to label competition from alternative or new media, "fake news".

  • A proposed French law would allow authorities to block websites during election seasons, a draconian measure to combat political opponents, which would place France in the same category as countries such as China and Iran that block websites that do not suit the agendas of the regime.

The European Union is intensifying its efforts to censor and marginalize voices that disagree with its policies, under the convenient euphemism of combating "fake news".

"The Commission needs to look into the challenges the online platforms create for our democracies as regards the spreading of fake information and initiate a reflection on what would be needed at EU level to protect our citizens," wrote Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, in May 2017. How considerate that Juncker, in totalitarian fashion, wishes to protect EU citizens from news that does not fit the Commission's narratives and agendas.

In October 2017, the European Commission announced its "fake news" policies and how it intends to "design solutions to address the spread of fake news". According to the Commission, "Fake news consists of intentional disinformation spread via online social platforms, broadcast news media or traditional print". Furthermore, according to the Commission, the EU's fake news policy is guided by, among other things, "the freedom of expression, media pluralism, and the right of citizens to diverse and reliable information".

This assurance of freedom of expression and pluralism comes across as rather laughable: the EU already does what it can to eliminate "media pluralism and... diverse and reliable information". The EU, for example, has programs in place -- such as the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC) - - that seek heavily to influence European mainstream news outlets and their journalists with its own agendas -- such as that of continued mass-migration into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. 

For this purpose, the European Commission recently funded the publication of a handbook with guidelines for journalists on how to write about migrants and migration. 

The handbook was launched on October 12 by the International Press Institute (IPI) -- an association of media professionals representing leading digital, print and broadcast news outlets in more than 120 countries. Specifically, with regard to Muslims, the guidelines recommend:

"... Take care not to further stigmatise terms such as 'Muslim' or 'Islam' by associating them with particular acts... Don't allow extremists' claims about acting 'in the name of Islam' to stand unchallenged. Highlight... the diversity of Muslim communities..."

The EU also financially supports a campaign, "Media Against Hate" run by the European Federation of Journalists (EJF), the largest organization of journalists in Europe, which represents over 320,000 journalists across 43 countries. That campaign aims to:

"... improve media coverage related to migration, refugees, religion and marginalised groups... counter hate speech, intolerance, racism and discrimination... improve implementation of legal frameworks regulating hate speech and freedom of speech..."

To further its nascent "fake news" policies, the European Commission recently appointed 39 "experts" to a so-called "High Level Group (HLEG) on Fake News and online disinformation":
"It comprises representatives of the civil society, social media platforms, news media organisations, journalists and academia....
"The High Level group will advise the Commission on scoping the phenomenon of fake news, defining the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, grasping the international dimension, taking stock of the positions at stake, and formulating recommendations".

The media representatives have been almost exclusively picked from the mainstream media -- giants such as ARD, RTL, Swedish state television, Sky News, AFP and News Media Europe, which renders any sort of balanced outcome that these "experts" might reach a rather illusory option. To the extent that they even view new or alternative media as a threat, it is seemingly in the interest of these media representatives to label competition from alternative or new media, "fake news". The high-level group held its inaugural meeting on January 15, 2018.

The EU is not alone in threatening the shutting down of free speech under the cover of combating "fake news". In France, President Emmanuel Macron has announced that he wants to introduce new legislation aimed at regulating "fake news" during election seasons, including "emergency legal actions" that would allow the French government to remove "fake news" from a website or block sites entirely. Macron said:

"If we want to protect liberal democracies, we must be strong and have clear rules. When fake news is spread, it will be possible to go to a judge ... and if appropriate, have content taken down, user accounts deleted and ultimately websites blocked."

A law like this would mean that the French state -- or whoever is placed in a position to act as thought police on its behalf -- would become the arbiter of what constitutes "truth", much in the same way as the new German censorship law requires social media networks to act as the privatized thought police of the German state.

The proposed French law, however, would go even further than the German censorship, in that it would allow French authorities to block entire websites during election seasons, a draconian measure to combat political opponents, which would place France in the same category as countries such as China and Iran that block websites that do not suit the agendas of the regime.

Things To Come: Earth's Magnetic Poles Show Signs They Are About To Flip

Earth’s Magnetic Poles Show Signs They’re About to Flip-Exposing Humans to Radiation and Planet-Wide Blackouts

 Kastalia Medrano,Newsweek 17 hours ago 

Report: Trump Prepared To Close PLO Offices In Washington

Report: Trump Prepared to Kick Palestinians Out of Washington

US President Donald Trump won't stop merely as cutting financial aid if the Palestinian Authority doesn't change its belligerent tune, and soon.
According to sources that spoke to Israel's Channel 2 News, Trump told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos last week that he might soon shutter the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) offices in Washington.
Those offices serve as a de facto embassy for the Palestinian Authority, despite the fact that under the "Oslo Accords" the Palestinians aren't supposed to be conducting foreign relations prior to a final status agreement.

In speaking to the press at the World Economic Forum, Trump addressed the issue of American aid to the Palestinians:

"They disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support — tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands. That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace."

The Media And CFR Connections

WikiLeaks Exposes How Most All Mainstream Media is Controlled by Council on Foreign Relations

It is no secret that over the last 4 decades, mainstream media has been consolidated from dozens of competing companies to only six. Hundreds of channels, websites, news outlets, newspapers, and magazines, making up ninety percent of all media is controlled by very few people—giving Americans the illusion of choice.

While six companies controlling most everything the Western world consumes in regard to media may sound like a sinister arrangement, the Swiss Propaganda Research center (SPR) has just released information that is even worse.

The research group was able to tie all these media companies to a single organization—the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Council on Foreign Relations links to major media holdings
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) January 28, 2018

For those who may be unaware, the CFR is a primary member of the circle of Washington think-tanks promoting endless war. As former Army Major Todd Pierce describes, this group acts as “primary provocateurs” using “‘psychological suggestiveness’ to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the U.S. population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover.”

A senior member of the CFR and outspoken neocon warmonger, Robert Kagan has even publicly proclaimed that the US should create an empire. 

The narrative created by CFR and its cohorts is picked up by their secondary communicators, also known the mainstream media, who push it on the populace with no analysis or questioning.

Top journalists and executives from all major media companies are integrated into the CFR. As the chart below illustrates, the CFR has even more control in the mainstream media than even the nefarious Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission.

As SPR points out, Richard Harwood, former managing editor and ombudsman of the Washington Post, wrote about the Council on Foreign Relations Recognizing that its members most likely correspond to what one might call the “ruling establishment of the United States.”

Harwood continued, “The membership of these journalists in the council, however they may think of themselves, is an acknowledgment of their active and important role in public affairs and of their ascension into the American ruling class. They do not merely analyze and interpret foreign policy for the United States; they help make it.”

To highlight just how much control over the media the CFR wields we need only look at the fact that they operate—in the open—and receive nearly no media coverage. The former chairman of the CFR, High Commissioner for Germany, co-founder of the Atlantic Bridge, World Bank president, and an adviser to a total of nine US presidents, John J. McCloy actually bragged publicly about the CFR hand picking US politicians.

“Whenever we needed a man [in Washington], we just thumbed through the roll of Council members and put through a call to New York [to the CFR’s headquarters office],” said McCloy.

Until the election of Trump the past four presidents have been the director of the CFR, George HW Bush, who was replaced by a member of the CFR, Bill Clinton, who was replaced by a family member of the CFR, George W Bush, who was then replaced by CFR aspirant candidate Barack Obama—who filled his cabinet with members of the elite group.

Persecution In Egypt, Anti-Semitism In The UK

Egypt’s Christians Suffer from “Very High Persecution”

Reprinted from Coptic Solidarity.
For another consecutive year in a row, Egypt has proven to be an inhospitable place for Christians, namely its most indigenous inhabitants, the Copts.  According to Open Doors, a human rights organization that closely follows the treatment of Christians around the world, Egypt is the 17th worst nation (out of nearly 200) wherein to be Christian; there, Christians experience “very high” level of “persecution.”[1]
“Islamic oppression” is the premiere driving force of this persecution.  As the report explains:

Islamic oppression (Very strong): In Egypt, Islamic oppression operates in different ways. Islamic culture sustains a view in Egyptian society whereby Christians are regarded as second-class citizens. This view causes the discrimination of Christians in the political realm and their dealing with the state. It also creates an environment in which the state is reluctant to respect and enforce the fundamental rights of Christians. In the family sphere, converts to Christianity face great pressure to renounce their faith. Christians also face pressure from Islamic oppression in their daily lives in their local neighborhood or at work. There have also been several violent attacks perpetrated by militant Islamic groups targeting Christians. Although the activity of such militant groups used to be largely concentrated in Sinai, during the WWL 2018 reporting period the number of attacks perpetrated by such groups in various parts of the country has increased.
Who, primarily, is behind this “Islamic oppression” of Copts?  According to the report, which surveyed a variety of societal classes, rating each from “Not at All” responsible, to responsible on a “Very Strong” level, two groups are “Strong[ly]” responsible: (1) “officials at any level from local to national” and (2) one’s “own (extended) family” (a reference to the persecution of apostates, on which more anon).
Three segments of society are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for the persecution of Copts:  (1) “non-Christian religious leaders”—meaning Muslim clerics, sheikhs, imams, and the rest—“at any level from local to national”; (2) “violent religious groups,” naturally meaning violent Islamic groups, the Islamic State being only the most notorious; and (3) “Normal citizens (people from the general public), including mobs.”
In other words, Muslims from every rung of Egyptian society—from highly educated Muslim clerics, to members of Islamic organizations, to the volatile masses, “whose views are shaped by intolerant and radical imams”—are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for and “significant drivers of persecution.”
“Government officials also act as drivers of persecution through their failure to vindicate the rights of Christians and also through their discriminatory acts which violate the fundamental rights of Christians.”  While authorities themselves are sometimes the persecutors—as when Muslim soldiers beat Christian soldiers to death on account of their faith, most recently in July 2017—they more often function as enablers, allowing a culture of impunity to thrive.

Muslim mob riots often flare out on the mere rumor that a Coptic man is involved with a Muslim woman, or that Copts are trying to build or renovate a church—or merely pray in their own homes; Christian homes and churches are often set aflame, and Christians are often left injured, sometimes killed.  Local authorities almost always respond with no arrests; and when the occasion of the uprising revolves around a church, authorities cite the incident as a “legitimate” reason not to open or renovate said church.  The report offers the following anecdote—one of many such examples over the years follows:

More than 1,600 Coptic Christians live in the village of Kom El-Loufy in Minya. For 5 years they have been unable to reopen their church or build a new one due to fierce hostility from local Muslims and due to the refusal by the authorities to grant the necessary license for the construction of a church in the village.  Several houses belonging to Christians had also been burned down due to suspicions that they could serve as places of worship for Christians.

While Christians of any gender, age, or status are susceptible to persecution in Egypt, as in other Muslim-majority nations, two groups are especially vulnerable:  First, as weaker, easier, and more appealing targets, Coptic women “are often subjected to harassment, forced marriage or marriage by abduction and sexual assault….   Such persecution causes great physiological trauma and pain to Christian families and communities.”
Second, because apostasy is a capital offense in Islam, Muslim converts to Christianity arguably “bear the brunt of persecution, most often from family members. The latter punish converts for abandoning the Islamic faith, often by means of beatings or house expulsion.”

A new report on anti-Semitism reveals a huge jump in anti-Jewish incidents throughout Britain.  The primary reasons for the sharp rise are found to be the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the influx of refugees from Arab countries into Britain.  The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported (January 22, 2018) that “The national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement in Britain, Jeremy Newmark, accused the Labour Party leadership of failing to deal with ‘a vast backlog’ of complaints about anti-Semitism in the party’s ranks.”  Newmark told the Guardian newspaper that in some cases, the backlog is over a year long.  The fact that a Labour Party aficionado and advocate, Jeremy Newmark, complained about his own party leadership is indicative of the dire situation the Jewish community in Britain is going through.  

The situation in Britain coincides with a report on anti-Semitism issued by the Israeli government Office of Diaspora Affairs.  It shows that in 2017, Britain reached a peak in anti-Semitic incidents, a 78% rise in physical violence against Jews, and a 30% rise in overall anti-Semitic incidents in Britain.  The Office of the Diaspora Affairs annually prepares a report on anti-Semitism in advance of the Annual International Holocaust Observance Day, on January 27.  (The day was picked because that was when the Red army forces liberated the Auschwitz Death Camp).  The BBC reported (July 27, 2017) that “anti-Semitic incidents have hit record levels in the first six months of 2017.  The Community Security Trust (CST) said 767 reports were made to them between January and June – a rise of 30% from the same period last year.” 

The CST reported a total of 80 incidents in 2017 involving physical violence, up from 45 the previous year.  David Delew, CST chief executive said that, “The hatred and anger that lies behind the violence is spreading.”  According to CST, members of the public reported 568 incidents of abusive behavior, including people being shouted at in the street for wearing Jewish related clothes.  51 additional incidents recorded damage and desecration of Jewish property, up from 32 in 2016.  Another 56 incidents involved direct anti-Semitic threats, 10 of which involved being threatened with knives, bats, sticks or vehicles.  There were also 12 cases of mass-mailing of anti-Semitic leaflets or emails. 

The CST has been recording anti-Semitic incidents since 1984, and many of those incidents were attributed to what is called “the new anti-Semitism” which is using Israel or anti-Zionism as the new excuse for anti-Jewish attacks.  Wars in Gaza or Lebanon involving Israel always carry an increase in anti-Jewish incidents in Britain (and other European states with a large Muslim populations).  In the case of Britain however, the “old and classical anti-Semitism,” that scapegoats Jews is occurring, and it is led by politicians and public figures who hold Jews responsible for all the evil in the world.  There are many in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party leadership who uphold such notions as Jews being responsible for economic crises, and who charge that Jews control major banks and media in the world.  

The Labour Party has been mired by accusations of entrenched anti-Semitism ever since Jeremy Corbyn took over as party leader.  Corbyn has been a radical anti-Zionist long before he was elected to lead the Labour Party in September, 2015.  From 2009 to 2012, he was a paid host on the Iranian state-owned Press TV. He has shared platforms with notorious anti-Semites, and has expressed his solidarity with genocidal Islamists, the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah.  Corbyn’s landslide victory in the race for the Labour Party leadership has empowered a fringe of anti-Zionists and far-Left activists, who now openly express their hatred for Israel and Jews.  To add insult to injury, “red” Laborite Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, declared on a live radio program, that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism.  Then there is the case of Labour MP Naz Shah’s widespread Facebook post, recommending the Israeli-Jews be relocated to the U.S.  Her post suggested that the U.S. has plenty of land to accommodate Israel as the 51st state, allowing Palestinians to “get their life and their land back.”  She added in her post that Israeli people would be welcome and safe in the U.S., while the transportation cost would be less than three years’ worth of Washington’s support for Israeli defense spending.

Israeli And Russian Delegation Continue Talks About Iran's Military Presence In Syria

High profile Russian delegation in Israel shortly after Putin-Netanyahu Moscow talks

Russia’s National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev and deputy foreign, justice and public security ministers arrived in Jerusalem Tuesday, Jan. 30, along with senior military and intelligence generals. 

They came less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sat down in the Kremlin with President Vladimir Putin. 

The Russian visitors are the guests of Israel’s National Security Council chief Meir Ben Shabat. They are to hold talks with their Israeli counterparts on questions relating to Iranian’s military presence in Syria and Lebanon and the amendments Israel seeks for the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, of which Russia along with the US and four other world powers were signatories.

No announcement was made on the duration of the high-ranking Russian visit.
DEBKAfile’s diplomatic sources note that it is unprecedented for a delegation of such eminence to get organized for a foreign mission in so short a space of time. Putin must have expedited it for three reasons:

  1. He told Netanyahu that the Iranian and Syrian issues could not be settled in a single conversation and called for a thorough appraisal. To this end, he was sending a high-profile delegation to Israel for a thorough threshing-out of all their aspects.
  2. Putin saw his chance to create daylight between Israel and Washington’s current posture in Syria which is confrontational
  3. Participants in the Jan 29-30 Sochi conference on Syria, which failed, were to be shown that Moscow has multiple options to pursue in Syria.
The Trump administration’s abrupt flight from its understandings with Moscow on Syria left Netanyahu with a blank agenda for his Moscow talks with Putin on Monday, Jan 29.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had been well primed for his meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He had come away from last week’s Davos Economic Forum and his talks with President Donald Trump and European leaders with a strong impression of amity between Trump and Putin, endorsed by key European leaders, on two critical issues: that Syria’s political transition from war to peace would lead to Bashar Assad’s ouster along with the eviction of all foreign armies, including those of Iran and Hizballah. This was the essence of the “non-paper’ drawn up by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in conjunction with Russia’s plans for Syria. Moscow planned to put this formula before the Sochi Syrian peace conference on Monday, Jan. 29.

But between the end of the Davos forum on Friday, Jan. 26 and Sunday night, Jan. 28, this deal was blown sky high in Washington, just hours before Netanyahu set out for Moscow. His agenda was to have centered on obtaining a Russian guarantee that the new military and political understanding with the Americans left Israel’s military with freedom of action in the skies of Syria and Lebanon among other topics. But in the light of the turnabout in Washington, he had to rethink his agenda. So, shortly before his plane took off from Tel Aviv, Netanyahu performed a second last-minute switch of accompanying advisers, replacing Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Hertzi Halevi with an officer of lower rank.

The issue of a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria is always on every Israeli agenda. But Netanyahu had already repeatedly made Israel’s position known on this to Putin. He already knew that Israel was determined not let Lebanon be used as an Iranian missile base, and this matter was not in any case at the forefront of Russian strategists’ concerns.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

U.S., Turkish Troops Headed For Military Showdown In Syria

US, Turkish Troops Headed For Military Showdown In Syria

Two days after we reported that Turkey valiantly demanded that US forces vacate military bases in the Syrian district of Manbij, when Turkey's foreign minister Melet Cavusoglu also said that Ankara is calling upon the US to cease any and all support to Syrian Kurdish forces and militias, not surprisingly the US refused, and on Monday a top American general said that US troops will not pull out from the northern Syrian city of Manbij, rebuffing Ankara demands to withdraw from the city and risking a potential confrontation between the two NATO allies.
Speaking on CNN, General Joseph Votel, head of the United States Central Command, said that withdrawing US forces from the strategically important city is "not something we are looking into."
Last week Turkish troops crossed into Syria in an push to drive US-backed Kurds out of Afrin. As part of the Turkish offensive, which is grotesquely code-named ‘Operation Olive Branch’, president Erdogan warned that the offensive could soon target “terrorists” in Manbij, some 100km east of Afrin.

“With the Olive Branch operation, we have once again thwarted the game of those sneaky forces whose interests in the region are different,” Erdogan said in a speech to provincial leaders in Ankara last week. “Starting in Manbij, we will continue to thwart their game.”
But not if the US is still there, unless for the first time in history we are about to witness war between two NATO members. And the US has no intention of moving.
Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for the US-led coalition, told Kurdish media on Sunday that American forces would continue to support their Kurdish allies – despite Erdogan’s threats.

“Turkey knows where our forces are in Manbij, and what they are doing there, and why they are there –to prevent any kind of escalation between the groups who are in that area,” Dillon told Rudaw TV. “The Coalition will continue to support our Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS. We have said this all along, and we have said this with the Kurdish elements of the SDF. We will provide them equipment as necessary to defeat ISIS."
However, in an apparent miscommunication, US NatlSec Adviser H.R. McMaster said a day earlier that the United States would no longer provide weapons to YPG fighters or the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – sending mixed messages about Washington’s relationship with the Kurds.

The latest Turkish offensive in Syria has further strained the already contentious relationship between Washington and Ankara. A White House spokesman remarked last week that the operation "risks conflict between Turkish and American forces" in Syria. In an unprecedented step, last week the Turkish presidency went so far as to correct the White House readout of the phone conversation between Trump and Erdogan, explicitly accusing Trump of lying.
The Afrin campaign follows Erdogan’s vow to “strangle” the US-backed Border Security Force (BSF) in Syria. As discussed previously, the US-led coalition announced in January that it would help create the 30,000-strong BSF, half of which would be comprised of the Kurdish-dominated SDF.
Meanwhile, confirming that Turkey has no intention of backing down, and if anything will keep pressing on assuring an armed confrontation with the US is inevitable, Jenan Moussa with Arabic Al Aan TV, reports that "a huge story is developing right now." Namely, that a big Turkish army convoy including APCs drove thru HTS controlled Idlib in Syria heading towards AlEis, a rebel controlled frontline with Syrian gov forces &allies. Turkish army convoy was escorted whole time by Al-Qaeda linked HTS group."

PM Netanyahu Threatens To 'Stop' Iran If It Tries To Entrench Itself In Syria

Netanyahu threatens to 'stop' Iran if it tries to entrench itself in Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday that if Iran continues to try and entrench itself in Syria, Israel will “stop it.”
“The question is: Does Iran entrench itself in Syria, or will this process be stopped. If it doesn’t stop by itself, we will stop it,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a telephone briefing, moments before taking off Russia en route to Tel Aviv.

“We also spoke about Lebanon, which is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will cannot accept this threat,” he added.
Netanyahu said that the weapons factories are currently “in the process of being built” by Iran.
“I explained our policy. These are not idle words,” he added. “The Russians understand our position, they understand well the significance that we give to these threats,” he said, acknowledging, however, that he could not say the Russians “accepted” the Israeli position.
Israel is determined to do whatever is necessary to prevent those two developments, Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said he and Putin also discussed the nuclear deal with Iran. “I raised our objections and also those I heard from US President [Donald] Trump. I can’t speak for the Russian position, but they understood that if certain changes weren’t made, it is very possible that the US would make good on its threat” to withdraw from the deal.
Netanyahu arrived in Moscow earlier Monday and had three separate meetings, spending several hours with the Russian president. He described the talks as “frank, very straightforward, in the positive sense of the word.”
Over the past year, Israel has warned repeatedly against Iranian efforts to set up weapons production facilities in Lebanon and establish a presence near the Israeli border with Syria.
The Hezbollah terror group, a major political force in Lebanon, is widely considered an Iranian proxy group. Its troops have fought alongside Iranian and Russian forces, helping Syrian President Bashar Assad during a seven-year civil war.
Israel has also warned against the establishment of Iranian missile factories in Syria, as well as the transfer of advanced weapons from that country to Hezbollah. Dozens of airstrikes on weapons convoys bound for Lebanon have been attributed to Israel by foreign media reports.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that Israel will not tolerate Iran’s military buildup in Lebanon, or Iranian efforts to establish a foothold in Syria.

The meeting took place a day after a senior IDF spokesman said Lebanon was being turned into “one big missile factory” in service of the Tehran regime.

"It is no longer transfer of arms, money, or advice," said Brigadier General Ronen Manelis. "De facto, Iran has opened a new branch, 'Lebanon branch - Iran is here.' The IDF is prepared and ready for all scenarios, and plans to further improve its capabilities and readiness throughout the year. As we have proven in recent years, and those who need to know about it know, our security red lines are clear, and we prove this every week. The choice is yours, the citizens of Lebanon."

Netanyahu echoed Manelis’ accusation Monday morning before he flew to Moscow, vowing to discuss with Putin “Iran’s effort to turn Lebanon into one giant missile site” for attacks on Israel.

In Moscow, Netanyahu said that Israel is "still ready to prevent any attempts of this type of ideology, in the first place Iran, which speaks of the intention to destroy us".

"We will stand before them [Iran] with all our might," Netanyahu said. "There will not be another Holocaust."

After the meeting, Netanyahu spoke with journalists, calling the meeting with the Russian leader ‘constructive’.

“This meeting took place in the midst of a larger period of change,” continued the Prime Minister. “This is a watershed moment in Syria. Will Iran establish a foothold in Syria, or will the process be halted. I made it clear to Putin that we will stop [that process]. If it won’t be halted on its own, we will take action – and in reality we are already working to stop this threat.”

“We also discussed Lebanon,” said Netanyahu, “and I told him that the threat of weapons emanating from Lebanon is a threat the State of Israel will not tolerate, and if we need to act – we’ll take action.”

Netanyahu pointed out that the missile factories in Lebanon were still in the early stages of construction, but emphasized that Iranian forces operating in the area must understand that not only Israel but also the US would not tolerate the manufacture of such weapons on Israel’s northern border.

“These factories are still in the process of being established. It is important for our enemies to understand that not only will Israel not accept the existence of these factories, but also the world powers will not accept them.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, telling him that the lesson of the Nazis was that murderous ideologies must be stopped before they can flourish — an apparent reference to the current situation with Iran.
Ahead of their meeting, which was expected to focus on Israel’s concerns over the Iranian nuclear deal and attempts by Tehran to set up a military presence in Syria, the two leaders visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, where they viewed  an exhibit  dedicated to the 1943 uprising at the Nazi death camp Sobibor, in occupied Poland, that was led by Jewish inmate and Red Army officer, Alexandr Pechersky.
“We see here a very moving exhibition of documents from the Sobibor revolt, in which a Jewish officer from the Red Army, against all odds, led the successful breakout, the breakout to freedom.”

“I think that main lesson learned from the rise of the Nazis and afterwards the defeat of the Nazis, is the need to powerfully stand up to murderous ideology in time,” Netanyahu said at the museum. “That is our mission also today, that is what I want to talk to you about: our joint efforts to advance security and stability in our regions, and of course on the mutual cooperation between us, between Russia and Israel.”

Putin responded by noting the historical tie that the Russian and Jewish people have over their suffering in World War II, during which six million Jews and some 20 million Russians were killed.

“As you know, in our country there were many victims, in nearly every family,” the Russian leader continued. “Among the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, there were many citizens of the Soviet Union. They are the ones who made a great contribution in the defeat of the Nazis. We will use this opportunity to talk about our bilateral relations and to discuss the situation in the region.”