North Korea has been on President Donald Trump’s place this week. Some serious and surprising developments may lay in store.
In Israel, preparations are underway to stop Hamas incursions into Israeli territory are underway. Find out how.
President Trump appears to be moving forward with cleaning up the Middle East with an eye on removing U.S. troops from there. But his method is leaving some scratching the heads.
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THREAT TO ISRAEL
In another aggressive move, Russian military forces have replaced the Syrian regime’s military presence in Daraa and Quneitra in southern Syria, and have built a base in the area. The move indicates that Russia intends to create a more permanent military presence near Israel’s northern border, and comes after the implementation of a Syrian cease-fire agreement brokered by the U.S. and Russia in July.
Russia, Turkey and Iran seem to be forming a closer alliance. The trio of nations held a special meeting regarding Quneitra. The meeting did not include any other nations, including the United States.
The three met to discuss how to establish de-escalation zones in Idlib, parts of Aleppo, Latakia and Homs, Damascus/Eastern Ghouta and as well as Daraa, on the Jordan border, and Quneitra, on Israel’s border.
The United States’ conspicuous absence from the meeting suggests President Donald Trump may be ready to pull U.S. forces completely out of Syria. Trump has already stopped funding the Free Syria Rebels and removed other CIA operations from Syria. It appears Trump may be relinquishing Syria in order to deal more effectively with China, according to Gatestone Institute. I will give more details on this in awhile.
For now, let’s look at Turkey’s role in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest public statements indicate that an operation by Turkey may be imminent against Kurds in northern Syria, who operate under the banner of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). At least this is the widespread impression he is giving. The reinforcement of Turkish forces along the Syrian border appears to confirm this as well. It seems more of a question of when, not if, this operation, which press reports say will be codenamed “Euphrates Sword,” will begin.
The operation to defeat the Kurds may be the first in many steps needed to fulfill the Bible’s prophecies regarding the Euphrates in the end of days.
Rev 9:14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
Rev 16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Expect skirmishes and battles to continue to rage over the Euphrates until the final battle.
A recent Turkish news report claimed that Washington had provided the Kurds with tanks, which increased Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s anger toward the U.S. The US Embassy in Ankara later denied the news agency’s claim.
The only thing that appears to be refraining Ankara at this time is its awareness that a new incursion into Syria that targets the Kurds is likely to be frowned upon by the United States and Russia. The risk for Ankara is that a Turkish operation that does not have US and Russian blessings could further weaken its hand in the Syrian talks. Erdogan nevertheless appears keen on this operation.
THE LEBANON QUESTION
The Middle East is spawning strange bedfellows. Governments and terrorist organizations that had been at each other’s throats are now in some sort of cooperation against a mutual enemy: ISIS.
US special forces were reportedly on the ground in Lebanon ahead of a push by the US-backed Lebanese army against the Islamic State jihadist group along its northeastern border with Syria.
“I can confirm the presence of US Special Forces in Lebanon,” a Pentagon spokesman told the Al-Hurra TV network on Thursday. “Our special forces are providing training and support to the Lebanese Armed Forces.
“That not only concentrates on operational type missions, but also tactical and strategic type missions. We also have a presence with Lebanese Special Forces in all aspects of training and special operations,” said spokesperson Eric Pahon.
Pahon would not elaborate on the nature of the operations by US troops and the number of special forces soldiers in the country.
Pahon also stated, “Our special forces are providing training and support to the Lebanese Armed Forces. That not only concentrates on operational type missions, but also tactical and strategic type missions. We also have a presence with Lebanese Special Forces in all aspects of training and special operations.”
According to the report, the US troops were in Lebanon to assist the Lebanese army in its upcoming offensive against the Islamic State — a campaign that the Lebanon-based, Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah was expected to join.
Last week, Hezbollah took credit for ending the presence of al-Qaeda elements in the border area, following a week-long military offensive and then a negotiated settlement that saw hundreds of al-Qaeda-linked militants return to Syria along with their families and thousands of civilians.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the army was perfectly capable of winning that fight against ISIS by itself, but offered his support to the U.S and Lebanese armies should it be needed.
What this amounts to is the U.S. and Iran working together to combat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) via local allies, this time in the barrens of the Lebanese-Syrian border. Their unofficial cooperation follows a previous, reluctant understanding in Iraq.
The alignment of U.S. and Iranian tactical interests in Lebanon mimics the one in Iraq, where both countries devoted extensive resources to battling ISIS despite significant political differences. After evolving out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s insurgency against the U.S. military and local Shiite Muslims, ISIS managed to take nearly half the country before spreading into neighboring Syria. The U.S. responded by forming an international coalition to launch airstrikes against the jihadists while at the same time supporting the Iraqi military and Kurdish forces on the ground. Iran stepped in by backing a number of majority-Shiite Muslim militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
In effect, the U.S. turning the Middle East over to Russia is tantamount to declaring Iran’s hegemony in the region.
So, why is the U.S. willing to do this? And why did the United States send American troops to defend Hezbollah territory? By what logic is the United States Special Forces helping Iran nail down its overland route to the Mediterranean Sea? That is exactly what is happening here.
The U.S. is creating the situation where Iran, the Shi’ite nation with the lead crescent, will be in a position of power within the region. But it will also allow Iran easy access to conquer Israel first, then Jordan, followed by conquering Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and the other nations listed in Daniel 11.
President Trump’s logic is confusing. On one hand, he moves against Iran with sanctions; on the other he provides everything that an ally would provide in a time of war.
This situation is a reflection of the complexity of the war against ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Undoing the Obama years in the Middle East is like wading into a muddy pond without knowing where the leaches are.
Ultimately, preparing to pull out of the Middle East is President Trump’s agenda. Working with known enemies like Hezbollah seems to be worth reaching that goal. However, he seems to have failed to understand the reach and scope of ISIS operations globally. Defeating them in the Middle East means only thing: They will scatter to the four winds to continue their global fight to bring another Caliphate to the world.
ISIS IN THE PHILIPPINES
As ISIS is driven out of its strongholds in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria, the ongoing siege in Marawi has become the new object of the group’s propaganda and funding. A first video attempting to recruit fighters to go to the Philippines was released in June. The latest recruitment video specifically addressed Muslims in Australia.
The Pentagon, this week, was about to launch an official military operation that may be named as early as Tuesday, two defense officials told NBC News on Monday. The operations would bolster support for the Philippine army, which has been battling Islamist fighters linked to the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf militants since the end of May in the city of Marawi, on Mindanao island, in the southern part of the country.
However, multiple Filipino officials said they have no knowledge of such an operation. Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met on Monday, but presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella told local media that they did not discuss the subject, and a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense reiterated the matter had not been discussed.
The Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said such U.S. involvement in the fight in Marawi city would have to follow a specific process.
He said, “A covenant must be had between the commanders in chief of both nations before that option may be adopted. Direct military actions may only be allowed during the actual invasion of the Philippines by another state actor. He was referring to the Mutual Defense Treaty regulating military collaboration between the U.S. and the Philippines.
FORGETTING SYRIA AND DEALING WITH NORTH KOREA
Now, let’s get some details on President Donald Trump’s agenda regarding Syria and China. What do these two nations have to do with each other in President Trump’s grand scheme?
This week, North Korea is in the headlines. North Korean state media has outlined details of the country’s Guam strike plan that is expected to be ready by mid-August. The attack will reportedly include four missiles fired over Japan and landing within a few dozen kilometers of US territory.
Missiles are set to “fly 3,356.7km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds” before practically reaching the shores of Guam, landing in the waters just “30-40km away.”
Apparently, U.S. officials believe Kim Jong Un will carry out this plan. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to reassure Americans that North Korea poses “no immediate danger” to US, while Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that Washington is sure about its military preeminence, urging North Korea to refrain from “consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
Trump’s national security aide Sebastian Gorka said, “This is analogous to the Cuban missile crisis” and warned North Korea against “testing America.”
For his own part, President Trump said, “”North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
These are words of fury flying between North Korea and the United States, but apparently there is some scorch behind them on both sides. Kim Jong Un’s bluster seems to have gotten President Trump’s attention.
How is President Trump attempting to handle this situation beyond being his old blustery self? It may be that President Trump has made a deal with Russia and China for the U.S. to completely pull out of Syria by trading for their help with North Korea. In fact, his resolve to do so has caused tensions with National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster.
McMaster is pushing President Trump to deal with Syria over China, but a former NSC official told the Daily Caller that McMaster is “subverting” Trump’s foreign policy at every turn:
“Everything the president wants to do, McMaster opposes. Trump wants to get us out of Afghanistan — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to get us out of Syria — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to deal with the China issue — McMaster doesn’t. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue — McMaster doesn’t.”
The concern in the White House this week is neither Syria or China. It is North Korea. It may be that Trump wants to deal with North Korea through China, but there are diplomatic issues between the US and China having to do with both nations escalating tensions in the South China Sea as well as economic policies.
Trump seems to believe that pulling the U.S. out of Syria is a good trade off for getting help to deal with North Korea through Russia and China.
Last Saturday, Russia and China joined the rest of the United Nations Security Council on Saturday in approving a U.S.-drafted sanctions resolution against North Korea. Russia’s and China’s decisions to support these sanctions probably had less to do with American resolve and more to do with North Korea growing exponentially more dangerous.
This is not for the reason many pundits think. It isn’t that China could care less about a war on the North Korean peninsula or a war started by North Korea with the West. The problem for both China and Russia is controlling the timing of those events.
Russia and China both have blustered in recent years with hints about a war they intend to have with the West. But Kim Jong Un is chomping at the bit to ride his horse into battle against the United States.
Trump may have difficulty getting China’s cooperation to stop Kim because China sees the U.S. and South Korea as the main instigators of the conflict, not North Korea. China could theoretically strangle the North Korean economy with a total blockade, but it is reticent to do so because of fears this would precipitate the collapse Kim’s regime.
The fall of the North Korean regime would send vast numbers of refugees pouring into China. On the other hand, Beijing fears that a unified Korea, should that ever happen, would mean a permanent U.S. military presence right on China’s border.
So, if Trump thinks the Chinese can be cajoled into putting enough pressure on North Korea to force it into submission, he is likely mistaken. They have made their position perfectly clear: They are willing to get just tough enough with Kim’s government to get to negotiations over a freeze of its nuclear program, not a total shut down of it. This tough and no tougher.
Exactly how did Trump get Russia’s and China’s attention this past Saturday? He gave China a break on sanctions. He appears to have granted Chinese banks dealing with North Korea a temporary reprieve from threatened U.S. sanctions to give Beijing time to show it is serious about enforcing new U.N. steps against Pyongyang. The White House has also held off on much-anticipated trade action against China after Beijing backed U.N. Security Council sanctions passed on Saturday, although it is unclear how long President Donald Trump will delay this given domestic pressures to make good on campaign promises to crack down on unfair trade practices.
At the same time, President escalated sanctions against North Korea. The new sanctions are aimed at countering the threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear program following the two latest ICBM tests in July. The new resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean labourers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.
It adds nine individuals and four entities to the U.N. blacklist, including North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank, subjecting them to a global asset freeze and travel ban.
Sanctions, being what they are, will likely not stop Kim from completing his plan. The United States may soon find itself needing firepower, but firepower is something the U.S. may be lacking right now.
Recently, when simulating missile attacks from North Korea or Iran, the U.S. military said its defense system and network of radars allowed it to successfully track and destroy incoming warheads. But the test conditions did not accurately mimic those of wartime and critics are skeptical the United States can defend itself.
On May 30, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) held its 10th successful test, in 18 attempts, of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, a network of radars, anti-ballistic missiles and other equipment designed to protect the United States from intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) launched from North Korea or Iran.
Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, the MDA’s director, told Reuters the defense met expectations and shot down the incoming warhead.
Within a few days of the test, the Pentagon’s testing office for the first time in five years upgraded its assessment of the U.S. ability to defend against incoming ICBMs like the ones North Korea is developing. Its assessment went from “limited capability to defend the U.S.” to “demonstrated capability”.
The test, however, took place during daytime and intercepted a single incoming missile. Few experts expect either of those assumptions to be likely if North Korea launched an attack. A lack of realism may have lulled the U.S. command, and Americans with it, into apathy. The system needs to be tested more strenuously against threats such as multiple warheads that employ devices to confuse missile defenses.
Scientists on all sides agree there is nothing easy about detecting, tracking and intercepting a nuclear missile. It is a mission often described as akin to hitting a bullet with another bullet, and there is no consensus on the quality of the MDA’s testing. Physicist Laura Grego, who studies missile defense at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has examined the publicly available data and disagrees with the Pentagon’s assessment that the system worked against a realistic threat. She says the test did not address the possibility of North Korea using complex countermeasures and decoys to confuse the anti-ballistic missile’s “kill vehicle,” which pops off the top of the defending missile above the earth’s atmosphere and seeks out and destroys the attacking missile’s warhead.
Decoys and countermeasures are meant to dupe the kill vehicle into attacking the wrong object, allowing the real warhead to pass unscathed toward its objective. Objects viewed from the onboard sensor’s field have very different brightness. Grego said an adversary could make decoys look very similar to the warhead to confuse the kill vehicle.
Phil Coyle, a former head of testing and evaluation at the Pentagon who has also reviewed the publicly available test data, said that instead of using decoys meant to look and act identical to the dummy nuclear warhead, the decoys looked like “specks of sand” compared to the “bright” dummy warhead. He concluded the infrared signature of the countermeasures was so low they would have been easily distinguished and avoided by the Raytheon-built kill vehicle.
Furthermore, the GMD system has never succeeded in hitting its target at night when the sun is not in the field of view of the kill vehicle. Coyle said the sun could blind or confuse the infrared detectors on the kill vehicle.
ISRAEL / HAMAS
The Israel Defense Forces is tackling the threat posed by tunnels that Hamas builds from Gaza into Israel by constructing a massive barrier. The project, estimated to cost 3 billion shekels ($833 million), will include a concrete wall fitted with sensors and reaching dozens of meters deep into the ground and standing six meters high from ground level. It will also stretch into the Mediterranean to stave off Hamas infiltration by sea.
Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir told reporters on Wednesday that building the barrier could cause an escalation, but said the army will continue building the barrier even if Hamas targets the work there.
The IDF is moving the entire border area a few hundred meters east, into Israeli territory. The current fence will be strengthened and improved, and to its east a six-meter-tall metal wall will be built. Between the old and new walls several mounds of earth will be built, to enable tank deployment and patrol roads both east and west of the barrier. The roads will enable troop movements and barrier maintenance.
The defense establishment hopes the underground concrete barrier will eliminate the threat posed by Hamas tunnels entering Israel. Sensors installed inside the barrier will sound an alarm if anyone approaches it and warn Israel of any future tunnel digging.
The barrier’s construction is also aimed at destroying the existing tunnels near the border. The army is using a huge drilling machine that crushes anything in its path to a considerable depth. This is expected to destroy the tunnels currently crossing the border from Gaza to Israel.
The 3-billion NIS structure is scheduled to be completed within two years.
Please go to Why Iran Is the King of the North And What the Gog-Magog War Has To Do With It and COULD PRESIDENT DONALD DRUMPF TRIGGER THE GOG-MAGOG WAR? to follow along with the continuation of this report.