Geopolitical Shifts in the Middle East

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says US will ramp up pressure on Iran

October 28, 2019
Occupied Jerusalem: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday the United States would increase economic pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, making the pledge during a Middle East trip that includes visits to U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Sanctions reimposed on Tehran by President Donald Trump after he withdrew the United States from world powers’ 2015 nuclear pact with Tehran have dried up Iranian oil revenues and cut Iranian banks’ ties to the financial world.
Mnuchin, speaking in Occupied Jerusalem to reporters alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged him to crank up pressure on Iran, offered no details on what new moves were in store.

‘If Israel continues attacking, there’ll be conflict with Iran’

Journalist Zvi Yehezkeli, News 13‘s Arab affairs analyst, spoke with 103 FM Radio‘s Nissim Mishal about the rising tensions on Israel’s northern border and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi’s warning that the situation may deteriorate.
Do the Iranians have an interest in conflict on the border?
“Certainly the answer is yes. The Israeli assumption up until now has been that Iran can hold back and does not want a general conflict. That’s beginning to crack. I’ll tell you what it’s about. Until now Israel has been attacking all bases and attacking all Iranian entrenchment in Syria, for over two years. All of this was done with the understanding that Iran would be exposed and not want to respond.
“But what happened? Things in the Middle East are changing and Chief of Staff Kohavi is warning us: ‘Right now we need to watch our step.’ And I’ll tell you, from Iran’s perspective, they’ve made a decision. They decided first of all to stop putting up with all the Israeli attacks. That means from now on there’ll be a response.

Read also:
WSJ on Turkish operation in Syria

How Russian Armed Forces view the situation in Syria and the Middle East, from the 2015 intervention till the agreement with Turkey

How Russia’s military operation in Syria laid groundwork for Erdogan-Putin agreement
By Mikhail Khodarenok
26 Oct, 2019
Preparations for the events in northeastern Syria began around a year ago. Now, after the US dumped the Kurds, they have no choice but to abide by the Russian-Turkish memorandum.
The Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey and Russia on northern Syria, adopted in Sochi on October 22, put an end to the Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurds, brought northeast Syria back under the control of Damascus and guaranteed protection of Turkey’s national security interests.
The Turkish-Syrian border is currently split into four stretches specified below in geographical order from east to west.

Trump approves $4.5 million in aid to ‘White Helmets’ in Syria

22 Oct, 2019
US president Donald Trump has authorized $4.5 million in aid to the so-called Syrian Civil Defense (SCD), aka “White Helmets,” calling their work “important and highly valued.” The group’s critics point to its terrorist ties.
“Over the course of the 8-year conflict in Syria, the SCD has rescued more than 115,000 people, including many ethnic and religious minorities,” the White House said, announcing the aid on Tuesday.
However, the source of this figure is the group itself, and it has not been independently verified. Likewise, the organization has only been around since 2014.
Washington pledged $5 million in aid to the group at a conference back in March. Last May, the Trump administration had announced it would stop funding the White Helmets, only to backtrack a month later and send the group $6.8 million.