Ahead of the Putin-Trump meeting. Negotiating the Middle East

Assad Raises Syrian Flag Over Daraa, the Birthplace of the Uprising Against Him

Some 2,000 rebel fighters are holed up in the opposition-held part of Daraa city, along with their families

Syrian state vehicles, accompanied by Russian military police, entered part of Daraa city on Thursday and raised the national flag over an area held by rebels for years, witnesses said, leaving President Bashar al-Assad poised for another big victory in the seven-year-long Syrian conflict.
Cranes from the state-run Daraa municipal council erected a flag pole near the mosque where the eruption of large protests in March 2011 was widely seen as heralding the start of the conflict.
Read more at www.haaretz.com

Trump at NATO Summit: Iran Is in Pain, They Will Call Me and Ask for a Deal

Amid ‘Syria for Ukraine’ rumors, Trump says he is ‘unhappy’ with Russian control over Crimea – but blames Obama for it

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he expects Iran “at some point” to ask the United States for a deal.Trump was taking questions at a press briefing on the second day of the NATO allies summit in Brussels.
When asked about Iran, Trump said the Iranians are “treating the U.S. with a lot more respect right now.
“Iran at some point will call me and ask for a deal, and we’ll make a deal,” he said. “They are feeling “a lot of pain right now,” he added.
Read more at www.haaretz.com

Netanyahu says Assad regime is not Israel’s concern

Prime minister insists that Iranian forces will not be tolerated, ‘not near our border – and nowhere in Syria’

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12 July 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is not Israel’s concern, but it will not tolerate the presence of Iranian forces, backed by Assad, to operate in Syria.
“We had no problem with the Assad regime,” Netanyahu told reporters at a briefing before returning to Israel from Russia. “For 40 years, not a single bullet was fired in the Golan Heights.”
Read more at www.timesofisrael.com

Iran Supreme Leader’s Advisor Hails ‘Strategic’ Ties With Russia Before Putin Talks

July 12 2018

A top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed his country’s “strategic relationship” with Russia on Wednesday during a visit to Moscow, part of a diplomatic offensive by Tehran as it braces for renewed U.S. sanctions.
Ali Akbar Velayati, who is due to meet President Vladimir Putin, also took a swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his “unreliable” actions made Tehran’s close ties with Moscow all the more necessary.
Read more at themoscowtimes.com